Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In the footstepts of my father

We toured around Nazareth in the morning. I'm looking forward to spending more time in this beautiful little town. My father mentioned at one point that during his travels he visited here and schemed to climb Mt. Taber. On his way up he realized that he didn't have enough daylight to finish his trip and was invited into hospitality by a random resident of one of the nearby villages. I'm hoping that when I come back up here, I can have my own attempt at the mountain... though light fades quickly in this winter season.

From Nazareth we traveled west to Haifa. Haifa could be California... in fact, most of the western coast of Israel resembles northern California. The water is blue, the air is warm even in January and everything is so green! We say the Baha'i gardens and walked around the old city. It was really interesting to see all the falling down old houses that were abandoned by Arabs during the 1967 war. We met visited briefly with the Mossawa foundation and heard a bit about what they are doing in the area to advocate for Arab Israeli rights.

From Haifa we went up into the mountains to have lunch at a restaurant high in the hills. About a month ago fires had swept through this land and we saw evidence of such. The restaurant was in a village called Ein Sud which had gone unrecognized by the Israeli government until about five years ago. There are over 100 forgotten Arab villages that the Israeli government refuses to acknowledge which means these villages are refused access to water, sewage, electricity and education. The people of these villages were displaced in 1967 and then barred from returning to their homes. So they set up new villages in the mountains but since have not be recognized.

The restaurant showed us a documentary film on the villages which was beautiful. These are Israeli citizens completely forgotten by their government and treated like second class citizens when they try to advocate for their rights. On our way out we visited a Arab town that had been demolished by the Israeli's and then turned in to a national park. Apparently its the custom to plant treas and shrubs around the destroyed houses to hid the destruction from the view of the landscape.... Ahhh!

From there we finished our tour by visiting Cesarea. I'm not sure if its the exact place my father visited when he was around my age, but he told me a story of sleeping out on the beach and he also told me about the beauty of Cesarea. Though all those years ago, you didn't have to pay to see the Roman ruins, the shore is still breathtaking. I could have hung out and played by those waters for hours. My brother would have loved the spot too. There were tide-pools and all sorts of birds. It was a beautiful end to our tour of the north.

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