Ha’Matzav (the situation)


People always ask, “aren’t you afraid to go to Israel” and my answer is always not afraid any more nowadays than going to the movies, into a post office, store, or just walking on the street.  It’s a sad commentary.  Syria is in the news daily and we visited the Golan Heights captured by Israel in 1967 after the Syrians had constantly barraged Israeli towns and farms from the heights (4000 foot peaks) You can see villages and towns on the Israeli side up to the base of the mountains.  It’s safe to say that whatever happens in the future Israel is unlikely to give this strategic area up.  There has never been a peace treaty between Israel and Syria as there is with Jordan and Egypt but in the 1970s the UN was able to broker a cease fire with a 9 mile demilitarized (no mans land) between the two.  It’s been peaceful ever since.

Things are so complex in this region and more and more it’s hard to know if there is even a way to proceed to peace, whatever that means.  While we have been here we’ve heard about the sad events of Nice, Istanbul, killings on the streets of the US and some attacks here as well.  It’s a different world and more and more the rest of the world seems to be becoming more like this volatile part of the world.  I have to hope for more enlightenment going forward but it’s hard to see how or when.

This is my last blog post for this trip as we are making our way home.  It’s been amazing as always and with the “growing” family looks like I’ll be back in Jerusalem very soon.

Girls walking to school by themselves. In the US one hardly ever sees children so young without adult supervision. Isn't it ironic for the place that is supposed to be so "dangerous" that the risk to children is so minimal.
Girls walking to school by themselves. In the US one hardly ever sees children so young without adult supervision. Isn’t it ironic for the place that is supposed to be so “dangerous” that the risk to children is so minimal.
In the orthodox communities there is no "screen time" so kids are outside playing, riding bikes, jumping rope, and being kids as we were in the "olden" days.
In the orthodox communities there is no “screen time” so kids are outside playing, riding bikes, jumping rope, and being kids as we were in the “olden” days.
Unfortunately this is part of the security fence that separates Israelis and Palestinians. I would hope that one day this wall could come down but it's looking less and less likely.
Unfortunately this is part of the security fence that separates Israelis and Palestinians. I would hope that one day this wall could come down but it’s looking less and less likely. 
There are checkpoints between Palestinian areas and Israeli areas and some within Israel itself especially between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and close to the airport. I would not be surprised if we start to see this in other countries as well.
There are checkpoints between Palestinian areas and Israeli areas and some within Israel itself especially between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and close to the airport. I would not be surprised if we start to see this in other countries as well.
Building is even going on in the Palestinian areas, which can be seen as a positive thing although this is West Bank, not Gaza.
Building is even going on in the Palestinian areas, which can be seen as a positive thing although this is West Bank, not Gaza.
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Mileage markers on the Golan Heights to Baghdad (80 kilometers), Damascus (60 kilometers),  Jerusalem (240 kilometers)
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Mileage sign to Washington DC (can’t read how many kilometers but many) and Amman (135 kilometers), Kiryat Shmona on the Lebanese border (25 kilometers)
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UN observers: New Zealand, Switzerland, Netherlands. They are monitoring the cease fire between Israel and Syria from inside Israel because of the danger inside Syria.
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Looking out over Syria it’s hard to believe that this peaceful landscape is close to where a war zone and tremendous suffering is happening.
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Israeli tanks on the road up the adjoining mountain with radar surveillance at the top. The no mans land between Syria and Israel is an area where neither one can be, but the rebels in Syria of course don’t abide by any rules and are there so it requires constant monitoring to keep them out of Israeli territory.
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On Mount Bental overlooking the Golan Heights are sculptures made from scrapped military hardware. This one  is George and the Dragon.
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This one is a shopping kangaroo!
Just one more reminder of how contested this "holy" land is.
The epic view of one of the holiest sites on the planet and also one of the most hotly contested.  From left to right the Muslim quarter with the minaret of a mosque, the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish Temple, and a covered walkway up to the Temple Mount when they have it open for visitors.
In the Arab Shuk in Jerusalem you can purchase Jewish, Christian, or Muslim religious articles all in the same place. Also fake antiquities from Egypt and the Near East.
In the Arab Shuk in Jerusalem you can purchase Jewish, Christian, or Muslim religious articles all in the same place. Also fake antiquities from Egypt and the Near East.
And here is the tee shirt seller who has "Free Palestine" tee shirts alongside "Israeli Army" tee shirts.
And here is the tee shirt seller who has “Free Palestine” tee shirts alongside “Israeli Army” tee shirts. Business in business…

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