Young Ambassadors Update: Day 6

18 Jun

We woke up this morning on the shore of the Kinneret after having slept under the stars last night. The Sea was beautiful at sunrise, as was the city of Tiberias on the coast opposite to us, with the light of the sun shining orange on the white buildings. We left our campsite at 8:00 and travelled to a guest house to eat breakfast.

After breakfast, we boarded the bus and went to the Golan Heights, which is a section of land in far northeastern Israel, near the Syrian border, that was captured by the Israeli army from Syria at the tail end of the Six Day War. As we walked up the incline to the overlook point on top of the hill, the path was lined with bizarre scrap metal sculptures of dinosaurs and dragons. Boaz said that these sculptures were created by a Dutch sculptor who donated them to this park we visited in the Golan Heights. After about ten minutes on this path, we reached the overlook point. My first observation was that the scenery from the top of the hill was unbelievable, with farmland and mountains all around us. Perched on the rocks that made up the viewing platform were several metal cutouts of snipers and lookouts. Quite honestly, these figures seemed slightly cheesy to me at first. Then I noticed a sign that pointed to different places around the world and gave distances for each place. It said “Damascus 60 km.” This sign coupled with the snipers and lookouts made the depth of the Golan Heights really hit home. First of all, I was standing in a spot where bloody fighting had taken place just forty-seven years ago, during the Six Day War. Secondly, we were able to see the Syrian border, only two miles away at the most. We were looking into the country that has been all over the news every day for years thanks to its ongoing civil war. We were looking into the country that has been oppressed under the fist of its dictator, Bashar al-Assad, for a very long time. Most significantly, we were looking into a country whose government hates the notion if a Jewish State. Our time in the Golan Heights fully drove home the fact that Israel must remain a state, as our proximity to such a terrible place with such terrible things happening in it every day made me realize that Israel is an oasis of democracy and peace in a sea of theocracies and war.

After our rather serious morning, we travelled to the shores of a tributary of the Jordan River for rafting. After an hour on the water, which was packed with the traffic of hundreds of other people in rafts, we got ready for ziplining, high ropes, and rock climbing. After I ziplined into the river and returned my harness, I met up with Jared, and we were soon joined by a dark-skinned boy who could not have been more than eleven years old. The first thing he asked us was if we are Jewish, and after we said yes, we asked him the same question, and he also said yes. He held out his dark brown arm and said “But we are different colors!” He did not speak much English, but with the help of Boaz, we gathered that his grandmother made Aliyah from Yemen and that he lived in a city in the West Bank right near Jerusalem. Because of the boy’s apparent happiness at the fact that he lived in the West Bank, I wondered if the West Bank is really as unsafe as the media portrays it.

After we left the river, we travelled to Galita, which is known for producing chocolate, located on the very first kibbutz established in 1909. After making our very own chocolate wafers and lollipops, we watched a video about how African cocoa beans eventually arrive in Israel and turn into edible chocolate.

After leaving the kibbutz, we came to Zikhron Yaakov, which is named after Jacob Rothschild, who was an English Baron who decided to help the first settlers of the town financially. We took a short walk around the downtown area, and then it was back to the hotel for dinner and bed. Off to another great day tomorrow.

Adam C. is a participant on the 2014 Bob Malkin Young Ambassadors Teen Leadership Program.

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