Today was reserved for more tourist-y stops. The only political place we went to was E1, a site in the West Bank where Israelis would like to build another extremely large illegal settlement. International forces and Palestinians are very opposed to this plan, because when finished, the settlement would cut the West Bank in half. This would make a two state solution much more difficult as the Palestinian territories would become even more fragmented. Currently, E1 is the site of a police station. There are roads and electric wires (and most likely water and sewage pipes as well) and the hills have been flattened into terraces. Building is ready to start as soon as it is approved. In a way, this is quite disconcerting. This shows the Israeli disregard for Palestinian territory, regardless of legality (or in this case, illegality) of their actions, and how they are willing to go to any lengths to isolate the Palestinians even further. It also shows how Israel is not looking for a solution to the conflict, because it is widely accepted that this would only exacerbate the conflict.
After stopping here, we drove off the Dead Sea. Along the road, Bedouin shack villages and suburban Israeli settlements dotted the hills. Along the way, we stopped at a very old Christian monastery carved into the side of the mountain. It was very beautiful. While there, some Bedouins tried to sell us things, but I’m holding off until we go to the Bedouin village as a group.
At the Dead Sea, the saltiest body of water and the lowest point in the world, we covered ourselves in mud and went floating. The mud at the dead sea is known for its moisturizing qualities, and it made my skin very soft. It is also impossible to sink at the Dead Sea, since it is so salty. Overall, it was very fun and we all had a great time. Afterwards, we grabbed lunch and went shopping. I got some packets of Dead Sea mud and a small bag of Arabic coffee for my dad. Then, we drove back to the hotel in Tel Aviv. For dinner we went to Max Brenner, which is also in New York. Many of the dishes were the same, and it was just as good (and expensive). We tried to go out dancing at a club, or even find a busy bar, but it was nearly impossible. All the clubs were closed and the bars were very quiet. This was because Monday is the first day of the work week in Israel, like Monday in the United States. We eventually gave up and went back to the hotel.