20 Tishrei 5778
10 October 2017
Our Trip Through Samaria (Part 2)
Yesterday, I promised some pictures from our trip to Samaria on Sunday. But to give you some context, allow me to repeat:
Your humble servant and his wife spent Sunday out deep in Samaria with an amazing group “Christian Friends of Israeli Communities” (CFOIF). This group, which is led by the incredibly energetic, knowledgeable, and Orthodox Jewish woman Sondra Baras, is engaged in numerous projects around Judea and Samaria from building kindergartens to buying security apparatus.
The bottom line of CFOIC is that Judea and Samaria is Israel, and anyone who uses terms like the two-state solution, occupation, settlements, settlers is completely ignorant of the true situation. To CFOIC, the Oslo Accords were a disaster from which we are only now beginning to recover.
Yesterday, we loaded our bus in Jerusalem at 8:15 am with our guide for the first part of the tour, Avital. My wife and I were the only non-Christians and the only Israelis among the 32 people on board. But you would be badly mistaken to call the other 30 people Christian “tourists”. These were people from all over the world (such as the Netherlands, Scotland, England, the United States, the Philippines, and Australia) who had been to Israel on numerous trips (ranging from 10-50), had volunteered in many capacities here, had donated tens of thousands of dollars to various projects, and totally shared the philosophy of CFOIC.
But lest you think that this sensational group had been together before, let me assure you that most of them had never met anyone else on the bus. They had seen the tour promoted online and signed up. During the course of the day, we talked to all of them, and to a person they were a delight.
About the day: we traveled through the heart of Samaria on Road 60 to:
—ancient Shilo to see where the Tabernacle holding the Ark stood before the First Temple was built;
—Itamar where the Fogel family was butchered
—the 3 Seas overlook from which you can see Elon Moreh (where the Oak of Moreh stood and Abraham talked with God), the Mediterranean Sea, Shechem, the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley, Jordan, and the Kineret (Sea of Galilee)
—Karnei Shomron, a community of some 7000 people where Sondra lives–and where she invited us into her home to sit under her and her husband Ed’s succah and have a lunch feast
—Rehelim, an isolated and vulnerable community near Ariel which has a first class winery, Tura
On this trip we traveled down what is one of the more dangerous roads in Israel, Route 60. While we encountered no “rock” or Molotov throwers, we had plenty of young Palestinian children making vulgar signs as we passed.
But here are some of the pictures (more will come tomorrow):
First a picture of the bus we were on:
Second, a series of pictures which may seem strange. All you hear in the media is about the poor Palestinians. Well, let me tell you that all the way out to Shilo we went through rural and urban Palestinian settlements and towns that were anything but poor.
Picture 2: the hilltops were dotted with Palestinian mansions:
Picture 3: another group of Palestinian homes:
Picture 4: a picture of the Samarian countryside:
Picture 5: a picture of a Palestinian settlement:
Picture 6: another picture of a Palestinian village:
I am showing all of the above pictures just to illustrate that the information you get from the media about the plight of the Palestinians in terms of poverty, food and water deprivation, etc. is demonstrably false. The areas that we passed through were green, well-kept, and exactly what you would expect from any middle to upper income community anywhere.
And there were plenty of billboards along the way, though not carrying messages you might think.
Picture 7: a picture of a billboard (note the KFC advertisement):
For the last picture, we will start to get away from the theme of the pictures so far. As we were traveling, we of course passed numerous Jewish communities. I leave you with this final picture today to illustrate how so many Israelis gets killed and wounded in Samaria:
Note the Jewish community member, who is either hitchhiking or about to be a bus passenger, standing beside the yellow posts. The posts are there to stop bulldozer attacks where Palestinians attempt to ram their cars into Israelis. And note the two IDF soldiers stationed at this bus stop to try to thwart such attacks. The next time you hear or read about an attack at a bus stop, keep this picture in mind.
Tomorrow we will continue with more pictures focusing on Shilo, Itamar, Karnei Shomron, and Rechelim.