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January 30, 2004 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-01-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

OTHER VIEWS

High On The Golan

Jerusalem

Canadian, have always been fascinat-
ed that their father grew up with
snow. They were psyched big time
when I suggested our Golan trip
include the Hermon. Then, two days
before we left Jerusalem, the evening
news reported the season's first
major snowstorm had blanketed the
Hermon in white.
There was no turning back now. If
even the mere sight of flakes falling
from the sky is a surefire crowd
pleaser in Israel, the promise of a
day in deep snow — walking in it,
jumping in it, sliding on it, throw-
ing it, taking a chairlift over it — is
cause for euphoria.

L

iving in Jerusalem, I always
appreciate getting away for
a few days to bucolic parts
of the country rarely in the
news. The Golan Heights fits the bill
perfectly.
Recently, I went there with my •
family for a brief holiday. Nothing
in Israel beats the Golan for
unspoiled nature and tranquility.
We'd been there often in the past,
but this time we. planned something
different — a day on Mount
Hermon in the thick of winter.
Situated on the northeastern bor-
der with Syria, "the Hermon" (as
Israelis affectionately call it) is the
sole place in Israel where winter is
white for more than a day. It even
has a ski resort. At a height of 6,630
feet above sea level, the Hermon is
Israel's only real mountain and a
vital, strategic asset. With sophisti-
cated monitoring devices installed
on its peak, the Hermon has long
helped the army watch over
unfriendly neighbors.
My children, who are half-

Robert Sarner is a senior reporter/edi-

tor on Israel s only English-language
daily TV news show. Before moving to
Israel in 1990, he was a writer and
magazine editor in Paris and Toronto.
His email address is

rsarner@netvision.net.il

Top Of Israel

Our kids were also intrigued at the
idea that by going to the Hermon,
they'd be in the highest, most north-
ern point in the country, kind of like
being on the top of Israel. The other
extreme is much closer to our home
in Jerusalem.
Just east of the capital, on the
steep, winding road descending
toward Jericho, a marker indicates
that you've reached sea level.
Continue 15 minutes further and
you hit the Dead Sea and the lowest
place on earth and the bottom of the
country.
From there to the top of Israel, it's
about a four-hour drive north. It's
worth the trip, especially the final

hour that takes you through
of northern Israel, Syria and
the Golan up to the Hermon
Lebanon. Their only disap-
ski resort. The day we were
pointment was that the sun
there it was a mob scene.
set so early, at 4:30 in the
Many of the visitors had
afternoon, ending their fun.
never seen so much snow
Losing The Golan?
before and it showed. People
were ill prepared for the
, . "I think this will be one of
bone-chilling cold situation.
our best years since the site
RO BERT
They lacked gloves, boots or
opened
in 1971,"
SA RNER
even winter coats. Amazingly,
Menachem
Baruch told me.
Sp ecial
they didn't seem to mind.
A
resident
of
nearby Kibbutz
Com mentary
They were simply in awe of
Neve Ativ, he has managed
the soft, white splendor
the ski resort since 1997.
around them, savoring this majestic
And what does Menachem think
escape from their normal, hard-
of all the recent talk, yet again, of

edged reality. Such is the Hermon's
possible peace negotiations with
exotic lure during the winter that on
Syria leading Israel to lose the
an average weekday it attracts some
Golan.
3,000 Israelis, and a lot more on
"I really don't think most Israelis
weekends.
would ever agree to give up some-
By international standards, the
thing so strategic as the Golan
Hermon's skiing facilities are mod-
Heights, especially to a dictator-
est. Few Israelis go skiing or snow-
ship," says Baruch. "Our best ally is
board there and clearly many who
the Assad family [that has ruled
do should take a lesson or two
Syria for decades]. As long as an
before hurtling down the slopes. We
Assad is in power in Damascus, we're
watched in wonder that they didn't
in good shape. They don't genuinely
crash into other skiers and actually
want to make peace with Israel."
made it to the bottom in one. piece.
Based on the latest polls, most
Our kids had a magnificent time.
Israelis have little confidence in
It was the high point (pardon the -
Syrian President Bashar Assad and
pun) of our Golan trip. They played
even less in a peace agreement that
In the snow, rented sleds to slide
would require yielding the Golan
down hills, rode the Alpine Coaster
Heights. And it's not because of the
and took a chair lift to the top of
snow. ❑
the Hermon for the spectacular view

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2004

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Israel Insight

THE ISSUE

The question of demographics,
specifically the growth of the Arab
population between the
Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan
River, seems to be driving the dis-
cussion of a unilateral Israeli:with-
drawal from the West Bank and
Gaza. Such a withdrawal, it is
argued, would maintain Israel's
Jewish majority, but in a smaller
geographic area. But what about
the Israeli Arabs, living in that
smaller Israel, who number. over 1
million in population today?

BEHIND 'ITHE ISSUE

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According to the most recent cen-
sus conducted by Israel's Bureau of
Central Statistics, the Arab-Israeli
population is 19 percent, remaining
fairly constant as a percentage of
the overall population.
--- Allan Gale, Jewish Community
Council of Metropolitan Detroit

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