+972 bloggers and journalists discuss where Israel starts and stops. In his journey The Round Trip, Yuval Ben-Ami set out to explore the State of Israel’s first border – the 1949 armistice lines, also known as the 1967 borders. Haggai Matar, on the other hand, is presently investigating a newer frontier, the one created by Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank. Listen to them discuss the geographical, political and moral implications of a land with shifting limits, in +972's third podcast. View both projects in full: The Wall - 10 Years On The Round Trip +972 Podcast - Haggai and Yuval…Read More... | 5 Comments
the round trip
From Ashdod to Tel-Aviv via Yavne, Rehovot and Jaffa, the final leg. The sun is setting over Ashdod, where Ruthie and I came to relax following the hospital experience. There is nothing wrong with Ashkelon, but Ashdod, a fifteen minute drive up the super-urbanized coast, somehow turned into our romantic getaway over the past few months. We even came here for our Valentine's Day date. If you wonder about this strange attraction to a modern mammoth of a port city, ask our taste buds. Ashdod is Israel's answer to Palestinian Nablus: a culinary paradise of a town, and while Nablus…Read More... | 11 Comments
From Nir Oz to Askelon via Agadir, the land of broken pots and the city of dirty bunkers Ewan and I build a fire outside Kmehin, both to warm ourselves and to impress a very special newcomer. Ruthie is here. She took the train to Beer Sheva, then caught a bus to the border and made it on time to enjoy the fireworks. After both fireworks and fire die down, the big sphere of flames rises again over the desert and allows us to take a good look at our whereabouts. We are in one rare corner of the Negev…Read More... | 10 Comments
From Eilat to Kmehin via Eritrea, the days of yore, and the middle of nowhere Tonight at sundown, the Day of Remembrance for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism will begin. I picked a fitting city in which to pass this evening. Eilat is the one Israeli town that never knew war. In 1948, Palmach units arrived at this stretch of coastline and found it vacant. The forces of the Arab legion withdrew of their own accord, and the minute hamlet of Umm Rashrash was abandoned. The combatants produced a flag using a bed sheet and a small ink jar…Read More... | 18 Comments
From Taba to Taba via trouble. The government issued a severe travel warning, urging Israelis to stay out of the Sinai Peninsula. I've bumped into those occasionally in newspapers and on the radio over the past few days, yet am still planning to venture in briefly. It's not that I doubt the sincerety of the warning: while much Israeli fear-mongering is unfounded propaganda, Sinai terror alerts are sometimes followed by a fair bit of blood. I simply owe my readers and myself a true taste of the Egyptian border. This will be a difficult border to follow. The road running…Read More... | 15 Comments
From Aqaba to Eilat via an intolerant electric appliances store, a metaphoric volleyball court, and a strange play of reflections. The first thing I notice in Jordan is a picture. It is hanging over my hotel bed: a representation of Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem in its "before" state (for its "after" state, see the end of part 13). The second thing I notice are tall curbs. Jordan has insane curbs and consequently so do many West Bank cities, which were once subject to Jordanian civil engineers. I figure that such curbs impede parking on sidewalks, but they must also force…Read More... | 4 Comments
From Neot Hakikar to the Arava border crossing, via a land bereft of food, a plant for neutering flies and the home of a two-headed snake. Zoe, Mairav and I are looking for something to eat. We head down to Neot Hakikar, a small moshav on the southernmost tip of the Dead Sea. Google claims that it is home to a restaurant named "Fata Morgana" (a mirage). "I hope it doesn't vanish when we reach it," Mairav says. The restaurant is real enough, but only feeds large groups and only with advanced reservation. The other culinary establishment in town, a…Read More... | 3 Comments
From Ein Gedi to Sodom via three Hebrew songs, two versions of paradise and one magnesium plant. Tine likes the Dead Sea, conceptually, that is. She likes that it's called the Dead Sea and that no form of life survives in its waters except for tourists. We camp out at a place that turns out to be very much alive: a beach near Kibbutz Ein Gedi. The families that come to spend Friday night here provide a good idea of which groups in Israeli society can't afford hotels: small town Mizrachim (Jews of Arab descent), Russian immigrants, Palestinian-Israelis and Bedouins,…Read More... | 6 Comments
From Lehavim to Masada via South Hebron Hills tent dwellers, God-fearing settlers and a Russian minimarket. Someone very special is waiting for me this morning outside the train station of Lehavim, north of Be'er Sheva. It is Tine Fetz, the German artist who got into the legal trouble with me on the September Journey, and then illustrated those events that we were not able to photograph. Tine is back in the country and ready to get in trouble again. She picked quite a day to join me: this is to be the final one along the Green Line, and having…Read More... | 7 Comments
From Jerusalem to the Lachish hills via a silent house of white robes, a Jewish Afghanistan and a Argentinian dance class. As the sun sets over Jerusalem, Holocaust Remembrance Day officially begins. It begins with a disaster: The wild wind of that sand storm toppled a stainless steel tower that held a light fixture above Mount Herzl. There, by the tomb of national Zionism's founder, a televised commemorative ceremony was to be held, but the collapse killed one 20-year-old female officer and left five others wounded, and it is now unclear what will be of the event. Having touched down…Read More... | 15 Comments
From Ramot to Rachel's tomb via Brooklyn, a haunted house, a threat of very painful eternal damnation and two fjords. Ira, Ezra and myself are having breakfast in the sunny kitchen of Givon Hakhadasha. Ira eats what she terms a "kibbutz" breakfast: white cheese spread, some bread and a chopped salad of tomatoes and cucumber. She talks of the settlement's oddities, from an eccentric neighbor who claims unconvincingly to have served as a secret agent, to a peacock whom she once saw walking down the leafy streets, next to a little girl who tried to feed it ice cream. Another…Read More... | 13 Comments
From Kafr Qasim to Givon Hahadasha via a salvaged olive grove, a once-imprisoned pool-hall owner and a Portuguese-styled shower. On the train from my soft bed back to Rosh Ha'ayin the following morning, I read the freebie "Israel Hayom," Israel's most widely read newspaper. The chief headline refers to the brutal treatment of the Danish demonstrator (who by now deserves to be named, he is Andreas Ias) by a high-ranking Israeli officer (who also deserves to be named. He is Shalom Eisner. The headline reads: "Made a mistake, too bad." Next to this heartwarming expression of acceptence, a smaller headline sets…Read More... | 20 Comments
Brom Barkai to Rosh Ha'ayin, via a tragic location for charming weddings, an educational paradise, a fallen people's republic and a Yemenite drug dealership. At the Border Police monument, Israel becomes exceedingly slender. Less than 20 kilometers separate the Green Line from the sea shore. Here I am also a quick 40-minute drive away from Tel Aviv by sherut (minivan). It only makes sense, therefore, that while exploring the western edge of the West Bank, I'll spend my nights at home. The city overwhelms me. Nine days in the countryside caused me to forget its magnitude, and the one night…Read More... | 10 Comments
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