Sunday, June 17, 2007

We want to see Lebanon

Gus and I took the car up North this morning. Wanted to show him the border area, how you can see across the lines into Lebanon, where Hezbollah is. Or was, as we found out.

I won't divulge any military secrets if I inform you that in general if you go North far enough in Israel you will eventually reach the border with Lebanon. The particular turning from the main highway that we chose took us through some beautiful
forests to the front gate of a Kibbutz. The gate was closed, but eventually opened for us. The Kibbutz is surrounded by a wire fence, in places you can see the remnants of older barbed wire that was outside of it, and there are old rusty watchtowers, and slightly newer concrete bomb shelters as well.

After a bit we got out of the car and started to walk up the hill along the road. There was a gate in the fence that was welded shut, so we kept going. The next gate was open, and there was a group of Israeli soldiers on the other side.

We were refused entrance, even though I spoke (in pretty good Hebrew I think) telling them that we wanted to look at Lebanon. A couple of the soldiers came over to where we were and showed us a white road that runs just a few meters on the Israeli side of the line. Beyond that is Lebanon.

The rocky terrain is lovely in all directions, with some mixed forests of pine and some scrubby brush I don't recognize from American landscapes. Looks vaguely like a Greek hillside perhaps. We were told that it is indeed peaceful, except when it isn't.

It was a few kilometers from there that the Hizbullah kidnap operation that started last years war took place. Someday it will be a fine spot for hiking and tourism, but not yet.

Later the three of us went to Safed (or Tzefat) which is a beautiful village on a hilltop in the Galilee region. For many hundreds of years it has been a center of Jewish spirituality. We were surprised to learn that many Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 settled there, as did a group of 300 Eastern European Jews in the 1770s. The Ashkenazi synagogue established by that community is still there, reconstructed after the earthquakes, and open for visiting.

Possibly the high point of the day was when a very small Hasidic boy pointed at Gus and exclaimed that he was the Messiah. With his thin beard and curly hair Gus does rather look the part, though as his father I might be expected to have some different feelings in the matter. The baseball cap advertising Guiness that he wears might also militate against the conclusion, but perhaps he will turn water into beer.

Still no pictures, maybe tomorrow. We were planning on visiting the Banias in the Golan heights, but since the road there passes through Kiryat Shimona we will probably give it a pass. We had the radio on and heard the report of Katyushas landing there. Bummer.

Yesterday we were in Akko and Rosh Ha'Nikra, both worth the visit. I would tell you about the great food we have been having, but I am very tired. Suffice it to say that if you are thinking "I would like to go to Greece or Italy, have some excellent food, see some sights, relax at the sea" then you should immediately add Israel to the list of options, as it can hold its own with any place on the Med.


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