Friday, June 17, 2011

golan heights and galilee

cypress tree on my israeli friend's kibbutz

i've been visiting one of my closest friends, who is israeli - she spent over a week showing me her country. she took me to the kibbutz in the north where she was born. on the way we passed the syrian border where just the day before a number of syrians were killed trying to cross over. 


these instances are always reported on differently in the u.s. media and i watched an israeli army spokeswoman taking her punches from a u.s. reporter. the israeli soldiers used 4 levels of engagement; calling out warnings to the men in arabic, deploying a form of mace, shooting at their feet and only as a final resort when the men did not respond to the first three warnings, deadly force. let's be honest, these men were on a suicide mission, not trying to emigrate to israel. the syrians used them to make israel look bad in the media and are trying to win a war of disinformation. it works so well. 


my friend's daughter is in the army and her boyfriend's - also in the army - unit was on duty at the border and they were the ones who faced this situation. 


we visited the cemetery, where her grandparents, who founded the kibbutz, are buried. it is tradition to lay a stone on the grave to show you were there.  

we passed the sea of galilee - known as kinneret in israel, where a group of russian tourists was visiting. i liked the way their figures cast shadows on the ground in the bright sunlight.

native israelis are called sabras - named after the cactus, which is prickly on the outside and sweet on the inside. i have found this to be true.

we stopped for dinner at an arab restaurant, where they serve traditional mezze - a collection of small dishes, including tahini, tabbouleh, hummus, pita, yogurt based dip, pickled vegetables and felafel. 

it's traditionally served with a delicious drink known as limonana. i became addicted to this mixture of lemons and sugar mixed with fresh mint. 

on the way back to her home in the outskirts of tel aviv, we visited the ancient site of caesaria. the magnificent roman aqueduct runs along the beach and you can admire the glittering mediterranean through its graceful arches. 

next stop: the markets of tel aviv.........

14 comments:

  1. You had me time traveling again to when I visited Israel in 1974....My best friend was sabra....It is such an interesting place....the ancient culture and the most modern of nations. I love their food and what you pictured just makes me want to return....I worked in Eilat for awhile and it made me so sad then, that you could not step off the highway for fear of bombs....terrible stress to live in such a war torn area.....we can only hope....now to make some limonana...great post!

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  2. My family is from Syria. Your post has stirred such a maelstrom of emotions in me I barely know how to respond appropriately.

    Thank you for the pictures of the food. That seems such an inane comment but please understand that it comes from a space within that is finding it difficult to articulate much else-- and that I mean that expression of gratitude more than the simple words are capable of conveying.

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  3. You remind me again of our time in the Middle East, about 20 years ago.

    The wind swept down the Golan Heights and across the sea, whipping huge waves up on the western beach, and breaking the windows on the beach-front hotels. The second-story windows, actually.

    I watched the burial of Menachem Begin, saw jets and helicopters return from raids in Lebanon, as we travelled the country from the Lebanese border to Eilat.

    I hope you have much more fun.

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  4. wonderful post..great writing..glad to have stopped by :)

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  5. Hello! I am headed to the Near East in a couple of days to visit family(Lebanon), and this post has given me a lot to think about. I loved the pictures of the food - I can't wait to eat some real falafel!

    Your comments about the Israeli soldiers and media bias really struck a chord. Just keep in mind that there are many, many sides to a story like this. The important thing for all of us to remember, in the end, is that we are all human beings who deserve love, peace, and dignity, no matter where we live or where we are from.

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  6. sue - i share your wishes. the israeli people are living in a place where they are surrounded by most who do not want them there. it is a bad situation for all involved. if all citizens in the region were given the opportunity for better economic prospects, and over time became less influenced by propaganda or generational prejudice the situation would improve overnight.

    suze - i would like to visit syria some day. there are many archaeological sites of great important and i have heard wonderful things about damascus. i think if it were up to the peoples of each country we'd have a better chance of understanding each other as many citizens in the middle east are more similar than they are different. sadly, governments and more likely, individuals intent on promoting violence make it worse for everyone. i believe most citizens on all sides just want to get along. if they were only given the opportunity for a better economic future that would go a long way towards helping that become a reality. everyone in the region deserves a life of peace with prospects for a brighter economic future.

    r-bear - you did a lot of traveling. even though israel is only the size of new jersey, a trip from the lebanese border to eilat seems biblical from an historic vantage point.

    lines and shades - kinds thanks and welcome ;-)

    maggie - i completely agree with your sentiments which you have voiced so eloquently. all human beings deserve love, peace and dignity - amen to that. thank you for visiting and for your comment.

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  7. Thank you for taking us on this journey with you and showing us more than media ever provides... safe travels, dear Amanda.

    Bises,
    Genie

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  8. Oh those mezze ... mmm ... That cactus grows here too. It's the cactus that gives us prickly pears. There is so much in common throughout the Mediterranean - including Roman remains.

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  9. You do stir something something buried very deep in my soul but not dead.
    My Greek roots and that old Pagan atavism are awaken by this post.
    Epharistôpoly.

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  10. A fascinating report Amanda, full of emotions... Will people ever be able to simply get along with one another, and forget all the blood shed in the past ? All the wrongs added up, compounding interest over the years, will never make a right, if no one is willing to give anything but hatred and bullets. What is happening in Syria today is tragic. I was there a few years ago, and would love to go back, but fear it may be a long time before that becomes possible again. I imagine the borders are shut up tighter than a clamshell today. A shame... be well and travel safely...

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  11. The region is full of history and culture. Unfortunately there is no peace!

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  12. That sounds like a fantastic trip and truly amazing places to visit. What an experience, not just in sights and sounds, but also very intellectually and culinary pleasing.
    Great images.
    xoxo

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  13. Your photos are amazing!!And I will not lie..my mouth began to water at the site of the hummas..oh yummy!!The last photo of caesaria is wonderful..I can only imagine how breathtaking it must be see it up close.Hugs,Cat

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