A strange thing happened on our final full day in Israel. We laid eyes on literally thousands of Muslims — seemingly all at once — and didn’t see a terrorist in the bunch.
It was shortly after noon on Friday. My wife and I were atop the Mount of Olives, where we could hear the Muslim prayers coming from inside the walls of the Old City. We trekked down from the hilltop to Lion’s Gate, at the eastern wall.
Then came the crowd, and I mean it was huge. The prayers had ended and the folks who had congregated inside the Old City began filing out through Lion’s Gate. They streamed out, and kept streaming out for what seemed like an eternity.
My wife and I waited patiently for the crowd to begin to thin out. We waited some more. And some more. We both were struck by a peculiar notion, which was that no one paid us any attention. Each member of the throng of thousands seemed intent on getting to wherever they were headed, and paid zero attention to a pair of foreigners.
I looked for a suspicious character in the crowd. I’ll be darned if I could find one. Little boys and girls giggled as they unwrapped their frozen fruit treats. Women dressed in their traditional Muslim attire trudged along among the masses of men who comprised the vast majority of the massive crowd.
I asked an Israeli police officer nearby, “How long will this take?” About 10 minutes, maybe more, he said. We waited another 10 minutes or so. My wife joked that perhaps we were witnessing a parade and that everyone was just walking in a long circle.
Then the young officer stood up and waved us over. “Do you want to go now?” he asked. “Yes,” we both answered.
So, we got right behind the heavily armed officer as he forced his way through the crowd into the Old City. We were riding in his “wake” as he nudged steadily through the crowd, walking in the opposite direction of where the outgoing throng was moving.
It helps to know people, right?
But in this post-9/11 world in which some folks actually believe all Muslims are intent on killing us “infidels,” a refreshing reminder of the fallacy of those beliefs arose from the masses of folks who had just said their prayers on a blazing hot day in the Holy Land.