Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Israel

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Israel Immersion Trip: Journal 2

Note: this entry was to be made on March 4th, however, due to human error, it was not properly posted at this time.

Jacob Surface ’10 – I ran around the Kibbutz this morning. Alex Avtgis joined me for the first mile. Afterwards, I headed out on the paved roads among the orange groves and wheat fields. It was very beautiful despite the cool rain. The rain almost made it more enjoyable and it was cool to see the clouds roll against the mountains not far away. As the sun rose and burnt away the rain clouds, there was a beautiful view of the mountains which shield the fertile farm valley.

We toured the Lebanese border with colonel Kobi today. His views are very interesting. He believes that the Israeli policy of avoiding escalation by not responding to attacks allowed the Hezbollah forces to gain more strength. He believes that Israel could crush their enemies by launching full scale ground operations, but Israeli society will not afford the cost of young lives and economic costs from the mobilization of reserve units. Kobi said that the people want Israel to be Switzerland. In such a small country, one life or one factory being closed down during war is a much larger concern than in the vast U.S. He was certainly more of a hawkish type, in light of a helicopter accident that killed about 70 Israeli soldiers in 1997; Kobi was troubled by four mothers that encouraged Israeli society to withdraw from Lebanon because they infuriated his efforts as a commanding officer. However, now he recognizes the value of their protest and understands the importance of societies involvement in the governmental decision making process.

            We also visited the Tel Dan nature reserve, the source of the Jordan River and the site of the biblical history of the tribe of Dan. We also saw excavations that revealed a gate which Abraham may have used before heading over the mountains to Damascus. This land is so rich in history that anywhere could be a future archeological excavation. 

            After grabbing a falafel and coke at a run down open mall, we headed to some old Syrian bunkers that Israel overtook in 1967. From the mount in the Golan we could see the UN outpost which is present to run patrols and ensure that Syria and Israel respect the international border. Syria and Israel have only signed a disengagement pact, never a treaty of any kind. Colonel Kobi mentioned that some Israeli’s would be willing to give up some or all of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace and normalcy with Syria.

            At Capernaum, on the coast of the Sea of Galilee, we visited a possible house of the disciple Peter, the rock of the Christian Church. It was interesting to yet again see the old under the new. One is able to see layer upon layer as societies overtake each other and build upon the old. I am constantly struck by the spectrum of peoples, history, and resident interests that constantly seem to be in some form of competition for recognition. Obviously, Jerusalem will be the biggest hot-spot for this. Tonight we stay at the Kibbutz again and tomorrow head down the Jordan Valley.

Photos: Top- Colonel Kobi, Middle- Tel-Dan Nature Reserve, Bottom- Capernaum