I traveled to the Holy Lands (Israel and the Occupied Territories) in late January and early February 2004. My trip was bookmarked by violence by Palestinians against Israelis and vice versa. The more than three-year-old al-Aqsa intifida was in full swing, and a terrible mood hung over historic lands I had wanted to see my entire life. Few people I saw, Israelis or Palestinians, expressed any joy. Virtually no tourists were to be seen in Jerusalem, the site sacred to the world’s three great monotheistic faiths: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. In fact, Israeli authorities had all but blocked all foreign visitors from going to Bethlehem or other areas in the West Bank. All these factors soured my visit. Still, I befriended good people from all sides: Jews, Christians, and Moslems. I also had some magical moments at the Mar Saba Monastery, at the Dead Sea, in the Negev desert, and in Jerusalem, particularly at sunrise and sundown. I only hope peace can come to the region.

Armenian Patriarch of JerusalemPalestinian Tea Shop ManagerEntrance to the Tomb of The Virgin Mary, Mother of JesusJerusalem, Winter's Morning LightFlashpoint of ControversyAvdat RuinsThe Judean WildernessGolgathaInside the Church of the Holy SepulchrePilgrimsMar Saba Monastery