Day 2: The Golan Heights

Today was our day to tour the Golan Heights. It began with a drive through the Hula Valley, past Dan, past the Nimrod Fortress, and then up past waterfalls (normally dry) gushing with the recent, and ongoing, rains, through a couple of Druz villages and onto the Golan Heights. We stopped to visit Kibbutz El Rom, which was destroyed in 1973 during the Yom Kipur War. The kibbutz is the leading/largest studio for subtitling and dubbing of television and cinema in Israel. While there we vied Oz 77, a short film about the battle of the Valley of Tears in the Yom Kipur War and how a small tank division held off forces 10 times their size and better equipped.

After Kibutz El Rom we visited the UN observers compound on the Syrian border (we just observed it from the outside) and then traveled on to Mount Bnei Rasan, and extinct volcano, where we hiked in the pouring rain and stiff wind up to the army bunker at its summit, where a wind farm also resides, and had a history lesson on the wars in the Golan Heights from our guide Dani while underground in the bunker. The view from the summit into Syria was completely obstructed by the low fog/clouds, but the lesson was a good one.

From the mountain we drove down to lunch in Katzrin where I had what I think must be the fastest prepared felafel in Israel by an awesome proprietor who hopped his counter to dance with Birthrighters to “Call Me Maybe”. I also found some TimTams at a nearby shop, I’m so excited!

While lunch did allow us to warm up and dry of a little bit, our next destination offered to really warm us up, but get us very wet. We we’re off to visit the hot springs at Hamat Gadar. The hot springs were a resounding success and are obviously enormously popular with the locals. The heat was most rejuvenating, even if the sulfuric smell was the price to pay. It was a great way to end the traveling portion of the day.

Once back at Kibbutz Makia we had dinner, wound down with a discussion on the observations we’ve made so far and the conflicts occurring throughout Israel and were offered some local viewpoints which certainly altered my perspective. For all that the American news media claims objectivity and factual reporting, they sure leave out a lot of important information. Granted they can’t be one’s sole source for information, but they certainly aren’t helping Americans, and other viewers, understand the situation in Israel. I’ve got a lot to think on and about before I can make any solid conclusions of my own. I’m going to sleep on it and see what I think tomorrow.

That said, I’m off to bed. We’ve a long, mystic day tomorrow, starting in Tzfat and working our way to a winery and then again to the Sea of Galilee. Until tomorrow!

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