Friday, June 1, 2007


A few days ago I received this e-mail from a friend:
Hi friends:
While we are in Israel this summer, we will be travelling with some Y'rusalyim friends to the Galil Elyon. Nadav outlined a very interesting 2 days. He also described driving from the Kinneret through the Jordan valley to Jericho and then to Y'rushalayim. I wrote back and said I was uneasy about driving through the West Bank and would not look forward to that tense and anxiety producing 2 and 1/2 hours of driving. He said that it's fine with him to not go that route but that most people in Israel wouldn't give it a second thought.
I am writing to all of you and hope you will let me know how you feel about driving from the Kineret to Y'richo via the Jordan Valley. Am I being overly cautious?
…… I would greatly appreciate a short response.

I followed it with my overly long reply:
Dear S-----.
I understand you “would greatly appreciate a short response”, but no can do. So this answer may bore you, but I’m not good enough to do “short”. Just remember……you asked.

I assume that most people will tell you there is no problem traveling on route 90 from south of the Kinneret down to Yam Hamelach.
Yes. It is evidently safe, and also perhaps more natural and quieter than the alternative routes. It is also, by far, the quickest route.
During these past few years I have reluctantly traveled that route twice.
Still ……. Reluctantly each time.

Why reluctantly?? My reasons are called political, though I think of them as moral. I prefer to stay out of all “conquered territories” except for humanitarian or “friendship-building” purposes.

For me these territories are generally out of bounds because their legal owners don’t want me there, nor do they want to see my Israeli license plate speeding thru lands which are today forbidden to them.

For me the status of all conquered territories is one of a land held conditionally under military rule until and for the sole purpose of reaching an agreement of peace or co-existence between us and the Palestinians. It is not an area for casual Israeli civilian use. The fact that we’ve settled and usurped so much of the land for our own civilian use has brought us into the realm of criminal and immoral behavior.

“Eeloo” we didn’t have Israeli settlements in Yehuda veShomron; Eeloo we didn’t have 500 road blocks that bring the economy in Yehuda veShomron to a standstill; Eeloo we didn’t have our Jewish civilians destroying their neighbor’s olive groves in Yehuda veShomron; Eeloo our soldiers were stationed in Yehuda veShomron only in order to protect Israel until we reach an agreement for co-existence, rather than spending so much of their time protecting Jewish settlers and settlements that shouldn’t be there; Eeloo we would be building a wall that was only separating us from the Palestinians rather than also separating farmers from their land, and families from their schools and hospitals; and Eeloo a few more “Eeloo”s………, I would probably have less of a guilty conscience while using Palestinian land to get from Kinneret to Yam Hamelach.

But these are my own hang-ups, and I guess no real political or moral harm can come from your driving down that route.

Be well.

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