Jerusalem is a strange and wonderful place to visit. With luck it won't get nuked any time soon (Update: On Dec 14, 2001, former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (still a big wheel in Iranian politics, I gather) stated publicly that nuking Israel would be a really cool idea. He claims that he wasn't actually advocating it, just sort of... waxing poetic or something. The western press didn't consider this worth reporting). I've only been there once.

There's an Old City, the walls of which are new, having been built during the Crusades. The Old City is not large enough to qualify as a "city" by modern standards, but since 1948 a modern city has grown up around the original town. It's the capital of Israel, after all. The odd thing is that much of Jerusalem, this unthinkably ancient place, is newer than most of Boston. Inside the walls, however, in the Old City, you are in an old place and you can't miss it. It's a maze, and many of the streets are barely wide enough to get a single car through.

Tourist attractions include:

  • The Western Wall (a.k.a. the Wailing Wall), which is very sobering and impressive. When I was there, it wasn't being bombarded with rocks and firebombs by what CNN, the AP, and the BBC call "peaceful protesters".

  • The Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus is believed to have taken from the court to Golgotha where they nailed him up. The Stations of the Cross are marked along the way, with little plaques on the walls of shops. It runs right through the Muslim Quarter.

  • Assorted other sites of Biblical stuff that happened in Jerusalem, like the Mount of Olives and so on.

  • The Al-Aqsa Mosque, which occupies the site of the Second temple on Temple Mount (sez ariels, "The first temple stood a bit downwards from there towards the City of David"). On that spot (if I recall correctly), Mohammed is believed to have ascended into heaven for a visit. The official Palestinian position is that both Temples either never existed, or were located somewhere else; meanwhile, artifacts from those temples have been turning up on the black market regularly. Since 1967, the Israeli government has left the al Aqsa complex under the administration of the Islamic Wakf. Consequently, Jews are forbidden to pray there.

As for Blake, he had cause for concern: The mills in question were being advertised at the time as "fifty percent darker and more Satanic than the other leading mill". Or maybe he was thinking of John Stuart Mill? I seem to recall that J. S. Mill was later, though.