A missing tourist scattered Bible pages in Israel’s desert. Is ‘Jerusalem Syndrome’ to blame?

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Source: The Washington Post

By Alex Horton

The Negev desert was imposing, but Moses sent 12 scouts to survey the rolling dunes in what is now Israel to search for sanctuary, the story in the Hebrew Bible goes.

Now the region is being combed by an entirely different search operation following the bizarre disappearance of a devout Irish gardener in November. He may have suffered from Jerusalem Syndrome — a rare but unsettling psychotic episode in which tourists in Israel suffer delusions of grand religious missions and sometimes even believe they are biblical figures.

Oliver McAfee, a 29-year-old living in Essex, England, was due home in early December following a bicycle adventure along the Israel National Trail, a 631-mile pilgrimage running north to south that includes religious sites.

But he vanished in November, with few clues about his whereabouts. He was last seen on the trail near Mitzpe Ramon, and hikers found his bike, tent, clothes and other equipment, said Micky Rosenfeld, an Israel Police spokesman, who did not know the day McAfee was last seen. Media reports suggest other travelers last saw him Nov. 21.

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