Traditionally, empires ruled the Middle East. They would rise like a wave from the depths of the horizon, building to a crest so powerful its explosion would take everything that lay in its path. But like all waves, these empires eventually rolled back, leaving only a wet shore as proof of their past existence. And that is Jerusalem—a withered maze of ancient empires, built literally atop one another.
If Haifa was the city of Arabs and Jews, then Jerusalem was the reef that caused it all to break. Yet Jerusalem would be a sort of strange detour for me—the place to go because I couldn’t cross the closed Israeli-Lebanese border to Beirut, not more than twenty miles from the Haifa surf crew and Carmel Beach. And so the Holy City would be a sort of portal for me. The place I’d walk out of Jewish culture and take my first steps into the Arab world. No fine lines of transition. Just a barrage history and myth that makes Jerusalem the prized shore of nearly every cresting empire . . . and the crossing of the best medieval costume party on Earth.
(Note: Both these pictures will be featured in the insert of the hardcover book.)