Notes and stories from Galilee, Israel

An Israeli-American in search of my new-old land

GALILEE, Israel, Sept. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ --

I'm an Israeli-American who'd lived in Los Angeles many, many years.  In 2011 I returned to Northern Israel (Galilee) with my wife and twin teen-age daughters.  I am of two lands, of two cultures and I'm reporting from my new-old country.  While I lived and worked in America, I wrote several novels and short-stories.  Now I write of my experiences in Israel, particularly from Galilee where Jews and Arabs dwelled for centuries.


 Galilee, Israel is short on geography, long on history.   Here they talk in millennia and centuries, not decades.

 You can't kick a rock around here without tripping over a ruin, fragments of scripture, a marble column. Every hill, outcrop, ravine, valley, mountain, rift, river, stream, creek, wadi, has a name whose origin is prehistoric, biblical. Jews call one settlement by one name, the Moslems by another and they both claim the high road. Throw in the Christians (not to the lions, please), with all their splinter groups (Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Protestants, Assyrians, Armenians, to name a few) and you've gone one wild Hannuka, Christmas, Ramadan party.

What does Galilee mean? It depends who you ask. To Christians it's where Jesus performed miracles, practiced his ministry. To Moslems, it's where they've lived for centuries, where they drove away the Crusader armies. To religious and observant Jews, it's the battle of Devorah against the armies of Sisra, it's where the Tribes of Naftali, Dan, and Asher lived, it's where the scholars and sages in Tiberias studied, it's the center of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, in Zefat. To secular, urban Jews from Tel-Aviv -- a two-hour drive -- the Galilee evokes vineyards, hills, valleys, hikes, a week-end destination for yuppies with money to burn at roadside Zimmers (Bed & Breakfast, in German), or skiing down the snowy Mt. Hermon instead of the Swiss Alps. To them it's also a place of kibbutzim, moshavim (collective farms), industrial parks, and failing towns which had absorbed immigrants in the 50s.

The Druze, who are Arab but draw influences not only from the three religions but also from Greek philosophy and Hinduism, the Galilee is a sacred place. To the Circassians, fair-skinned and blue-eyed, who were driven from the shores of the Black Sea by the Russians, and who'd become expert horsemen and warriors under the Ottoman empire, and who'd converted from Christianity to Islam, the Galilee is their last refuge from persecution. And I have yet to throw into the mix the Bedouin tribes, the nomads.

 We're all living side by side but not with each other.  Jews read the Hebrew road signs, Arabs read the Arabic, foreigners read the English.  There are three languages on bags of potato chips, three languages on milk cartons, three religions at every turn.  And here's the rub.  The man (son of God), who preached of brotherly love, brought about such friction after his death (resurrection), that we mortals are still dealing with it today.  Or is it all a master plan to see if we can survive together on this "rocky" terrain?

The stories told of Galilee are humorous, something biting, but always draw on several points of view.

  Take a look at my reporting and stories at the blog below:

Media Contact: Maurice Labi Maurice Labi, 818-990-8888,

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SOURCE Maurice Labi



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