By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
June 20, 2017
Rosh HaNikra, the northernmost point of Israel, borders Lebanon. On Saturday, June 10 (the Israeli Sabbath) I found myself at the entrance gate to Lebanon discussing the intricacies of Israel-Lebanon relations with a junior commander of the Israeli army. As I looked up at the darkening clouds that were enveloping the sky I thought of a world of so much beauty that is blemished by the suffering caused by the many wars that are fought in the name of peace.
I thought I would have seen more frenzied activities at the border since the claim has been made that Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, is Iran’s proxy in Lebanon and the two countries may be heading for “a new, devastating war” (Independent, April 6, 2017.) To my surprise there was little activity. We drove up to within 100 yards of the checkpoint, alighted from our vehicle and walked to the gate.
There was one guard at the gate. However, complex electronic devices are used to monitor the movement of everyone. I began an easy, friendly discussion with a 23-year old commander. His parents are from the United States and he has embraced Israel where he was born. He was the embodiment of professionalism.
The Israel-Lebanon border may have been quiet since the Hezbollah fighters joined the fight to support President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Apparently religion has trumped ideology. Supporting the Shia of Syria is more important to Hezbollah than contesting the wrongs, apparent and real, that were/are inflicted on the Palestinians. Hundreds of Hezbollah fighters have been killed in the on-going onslaught in Syria.
I had no intention of visiting this border post. I wanted to see the northern part of Israel which I did not see when I visited Israel two years ago. We began our two-hour journey at about nine in the morning. Midway along the way, we stopped at the Yoqneam Kibbutz shopping centre to treat ourselves to an Israeli breakfast.
We arrived in Nazareth about noon. The narrow winding roads had the feel of an ancient trading town built for the pastoral activity of the first three centuries. Today, it is overwhelmed by motorized vehicles. The few animals that were visible reminded us of the mystical/religious aura that characterized this village (it is now a large town) from the beginning of the Christian era.
We visited the Basilica of the Annunciation, the site at which the Angel Gabriel announced that Mary would give birth to the son of God. In the first and second centuries, the site of the Annunciation was turned into a place of worship. In 427 AD the Byzantine people built their church on that spot only to be superseded by the Crusaders who, in the 13th century, built their church on the ruins of the Byzantine Church.
The modern Basilica was consecrated in March 1969. It consists of a Lower and Upper Church. The former is built around the grotto of the Annunciation (the original shrine where Mary received the good news); the latter was grafted onto the walls of the remains of the Crusader’s endeavor. Some of the noblest sculpture, contributed by artists from around the world, graces the walls of the Upper Basilica.
From the Basilica of Annunciation, we drove to the Mount of the Beatitudes, where Jesus performed his miracles using two fishes and five loaves to feed thousands of his followers. This miracle was performed against the backdrop of the Sea of Galilee which was in walking distance from where we stood.
From the Mount of the Beatitudes, we drove down to Tiberias then circled back to the other side of the Galilee. From there we climbed Mount Tabor where it is believed Jesus’s Transfiguration took place. On that mountain, James, Paul and John saw Jesus surrounded by light as he conversed with Moses and the prophet Elijah.
Next, we stopped off at Rama, a Druze Village where we enjoyed a hearty dinner at the Al Anwar Restaurant. The Druze, an ethnic and religious group, is an easy-going people. About a million of them live in Israel. Their religion, a mixture of Islam, Hinduism and Greek classical philosophy, places a heavy emphasis on philosophy and spiritual purity. At a certain age they go through a religious ceremony through which they pledge absolute secrecy about their religious habits. From Rama, we drove to Rosh HaNikra where everything was quiet.
On Sunday, I drove to East Jerusalem where Palestine is located. We passed through Ramallah where Daniel Barenboim, the Argentine-born Israeli master conductor, was performing at a concert for a foundation that he set up with Edward Said to provide music education for young Palestinians.
This concert coincided with the 50th Anniversary of the Six Day War in which Israel captured Palestinian lands. A fierce critic of the Israeli’s government, Barenboim warned that Israelis “are losing ‘all sense of decency and humanity’ because of their country’s occupation of lands earmarked for a Palestinian state” (Financial Times, June 13).
I enjoyed being in Israel and admire its technological and scientific achievements. How I wish they could heed Barenboim’s warning and set up the necessary conditions for peace.
3 thoughts on “On the Israel-Lebanon Border”
Dr. Cudjoe – great reading the story of your recent trip to Israel. However, Barenboim is known as having a narrow agenda and he rarely talks about the Palestinian side of the equation. We Israelis do indeed want to live in peace with our Palestinian neighbors, but they too have to set up the necessary conditions for peace. One of those conditions is a single Palestinian government, yet sadly there are two: Fatah in Ramallah and Hamas in Gaza. Hamas leaders are very, very clear: they will never make peace and their goal is “Palestine from the river to the sea.” In the last week Hamas leaders said again that their charter that calls for Israel’s destruction is still valid, and that despite the new ‘document’ they issued last month, Hamas will never recognize Israel or sign a peace treaty.
So I will continue to enjoy Barenboim’s music, but I will also continue to ignore his one-sided ‘warnings’ and hope that he will instead call on the Palestinians as well to set up the conditions for peace.
No one must have an anti-Israel opinion,as a TERRORIST state,any individual, group or state saying anything negative about Israel must be refuted and rebuked by their agents. Truth be told , the ZIONIST ruling Israel presently, do not want peace.Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat and Arafat signed a peace deal at camp David, in the 1990’only to be brutally murdered by the anti-peace movement in Israel, the former USA president JIMMY CARTER, labeled Israel an APARTHEID state, he was ridiculed by people like you Brien Cohen,the world has and continue to over the last 60+yrs see the level of inhumanness that exist in dealing with the people of original CANAAN.We don’t have to read of the atrocities done by Israel, its right in our faces on the nightly news.Israel is endowed with one of the most potent militaries in the world today, killing Palestinian, man, women and children, who in most cases are only throwing stones, their homes are bulldozed to make room for converted jews of central Europe and Russia who really don’t have any linkage to the Palestine.wasn’t HAMAS created by Israel to cause havoc between FATTAH and the peace process?with the USA on your side,murder incorporated is the continuous norm.Resolutions and sanctions at the United Nations are imposed on every nation, while Israel continue to have immunity, international LAW does not pertain to them.The world’s religion with their doctrine tied into JEWISM, have refused to speak out against injustice, and in so doing have been part of the degradation that exist in the world presently.Israel, have and continue to build walls in the name of security, but we are not fooled, our eyes are not wide shut, i believe most of us are in a position to say what is wrong or wright.HOTEP.
I hope to go on a pilgrimage to the holy land one day. To walk where the master of the universe walked. In my life time I have moved at least 10 times. Each time like Abraham I was blessed. I can recall each blessings at each place. The birth of my son, the birth of my daughter, new job, change in career all intricately tied to my residence. I say all of that to say that the land is not worth fighting and dying over, my soujourn is but a short time and as such I prefer the pursuit of peace over possessions.
Lebanon was a strong Christian nation, the pearl of the Middle east. Rich Muslims sent their children to the universities, and with open arms the Lebanese welcome them. Soon their numbers swell and they decided to wage jihad on their host slaughtering thousands. The entire region is filled with stories of religious nut case best confine to asylums but unleashed upon the peaceful majority. The DNA of Islam is found in the scripture that describes Ismael as a wild man. And thus this religious embedded in the psyche of the Arab/Ishmalite race is the perfect death trap for nations that once possessed the highest level of intelligence. Persia, Egypt, Babylon, all great centers of learning and freedom now confided to endless sex and plotting jihadist.
The Jewish people were scattered across the earth in 70 AD, the great Jewish historian Josephus describe the brutal Roman invasion of Jerusalem, he noted blood flow down the streets like a river. Titus the Roman General inflicted the most brutal punishment on the Jews. A thousand years of Jewish history obliterated in one act of totalitarianism and unimaginable brutality.
To Jews and Christian, Israel occupies a special place in human history. The same as Mecca and Medina to the Muslims, or Ajodha and Varanassi to the Hindu. Jerusalem is the center of Judhaism and Christianity. Yet the mosque of Omar sits as a symbol of Islamic conquest, same as the Babri mosque in Ajodha. Islamic nations possessed millions of acreas of land. The Palestinians aka Arabs could be easily repatriated to Saudia which is 103 times larger than Israel. Thousands of Jews has returned to the holy land. Nothing is wrong in moving. I am a citizen of earth. Not of a particular nation. The earth belongs to all of us and it only became obvious when astronauts looked at this planet from deep space. They looked and saw no boundaries, all they saw was this beautiful life giving planet called HOME.
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