the Jordan River

August in Israel is a time when lots and lots of people take vacation, go off to the country, and enjoy nature. The northern part of our country is especially attractive to vacationers, though there are some who go to the south. Country folk like visiting the city, and city folk like going to the country. There are cities that boast their gorgeous beaches, and others that are famous for their night life or culture. And of course, quite a few of my countrymen go abroad to enjoy the mysteries and pleasures of foreign lands.

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I’m sitting with a dear friend on lawn chairs on the green grass of the bank of the Jordan river, reading a book, but letting my eyes wander from book to the river, as people of all ages float downstream. The sounds accompanying the happy vacationers as they pass us by, turn from one style to another every few minutes. One hears the splash of water as someone jumps from a boat into the river, and the sounds of different types of music coming from music players of different kinds. There are shrieks of excitement, song and laughter; a never ending stream of sounds… but all of it quite positive and cheerful.

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Whatever you might have heard, Israelis love peace. For centuries now, we’ve been looking for peace, chasing peace… even if we haven’t always been successful in finding it. The Jordan river is sparkling and light. The grass is green, and it smells good. We’ve had a picnic and we’re coasting on delight. Above us on the ridge, bicyclers ride by. With baskets on some bikes, and few kids pulling kites. There are young men and women, and children, and a few oldsters too. What a pleasure it is, on a bright summer’s day… to tour on a bike; to stop for a beer or a bite to eat. It’s vacation time, and life is sweet. All over the Galilee, there are art festivals, and music festivals… even a sculpture festival not far away. And even the most enthusiastic vacationer would be unable to fit all the opportunities in his schedule, and so we have to choose just a bit of this plenty, and in any case we’ll miss a lot of good things happening every hour of the day, in every direction.

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But just a few miles from us… in the north and in the south, all hell is breaking loose. Stunned by the immensity of the cruelty, we watched the news on TV this week. A greeting card from Egypt. Saw the bodies of 25 policemen who had been shot in the head with their hands tied behind them, and lay on the highway dead, killed by their fellow countrymen, in revenge of the murder of political prisoners who were killed while trying to escape from prison.

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And north of our borders, where the ‘president’ of Syria has been systematically killing his opposition… more than a hundred thousand of his own citizens killed in the last year, and millions of refugees who’ve escaped with their lives, living in tents and primitive conditions in Turkey and Jordan. But Bashar al-Assad of Syria has not managed yet to bring the opposition to their knees. So called for his thugs, the Hezbollah of Lebanon, whom he funds, and to whom he provides weapons and ammunition, plus rockets and missiles coming from Iran, and these Hezbollah have been killing and razing villages and towns of the disloyal. So the allies of the revolutionaries in Syria, thought to attack Israel from the land of Lebanon, in the hope that we would retaliate and kill some of the Hezbollah, ‘cause it served them right for crossing from Lebanon and killing the revolutionaries there in Syria’. Last night… all of a sudden… dare we say out of the blue…? missiles started falling on our northern towns and cities. Fortunately, just a couple of years ago we invented something called ‘the iron dome’ which intercepts missiles headed our way, and with our good luck, no one was killed in this latest attack. There was just damage to properties and cars.

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But the citizens of Syria itself have not been so lucky. Three days ago, their president decided to put an end to opposition in one of the suburbs of Damascus the capitol, and bombed that neighborhood with poisoned gas, killing 1300 men, women, and children. We saw the bodies lying on the floors of school rooms and assembly halls. People who had not been shot or stabbed with the sword, or blown up by terrorist bombs. Complete normal people, just lying there after having breathed poison gas.

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And what does the world say? The hypocrites that we usually hear from might condemn the barbaric attacks. But they won’t do much. They won’t save the unfortunate victims of the barbarity. They’re good at talking and giving advice. And the journalists too, won’t be crowding around to record the devastation. When Israel is involved in some action, they enjoy staying in our country. The hotels are comfortable here, and the bars are a pleasure to visit. They can even interview enemies of the state, and know that they will be protected and safe. But when reporting from some of our neighbors, it’s a lot more dangerous, and uncomfortable. Some have been beaten, raped, and killed.

So, here’s best wishes from a fool’s paradise.

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79 responses to “the Jordan River

  1. Shimon, this is such an important post. It makes me sad, but I know you speak the truth. I appreciate your sharing your country with us. I have read about it my entire life, but know I will never see it any other way. It is beautiful, and so important historically. My heart aches for the people there, however. Peace.

    • Every country and every people have their advantages and their disadvantages. Some areas are visited by hurricanes, and others suffer from extreme cold or heat. There are some who live in the shadow of a volcano, and some who don’t know how to govern themselves. We happen to live in a very bad neighborhood. Thank you very much, Ann. Thanks for your blessing of peace.

  2. Thanks for your perspective. Great photos and nice balance between the vacationers and the reality so close to them.

  3. Dear Shimon, our hearts go out, yet again, in this terrible time for your region of the world.

    I was born in Northern Ireland, a land divided by religion, and fortunately moved to Scotland in1962 when I was 17, and I have observed the conflict from afar, in safety.

    We have just returned from a short holiday in Croatia, which 20 years ago, was in the middle of a terrible ethnic war. We first visited it in 2000, just 5 years after the end of the war, staying near Dubrovnik, and found a beautiful people in a beautiful country.

    We went to the north end of the country in 2003 and the war was not being spoken about. A visit to Montenegro a few years after allowed us to see ‘the other side’ and their point of view.

    So this revisit of Dubrovnik, allowed us to see the Pearl of the Adriatic at its best, with happy smiling people.

    The feeling now is that there is peace, which they now wish for the whole world. Their prayers and our, go to you all, and may you enjoy your holidays.

    • Thank you very much for your beautiful and touching comment, Harry. Here, when people want to give an example of true undisturbed peace, they often mention Switzerland. As it happens, I had the opportunity to spend some time there, and also to learn a bit of their history, and I know that they too were attacked, and had to fight for their freedom in the past. This does seem an era in which people have higher expectations and more understanding of peace and freedom. I do hope we will see it soon.

  4. Lovely. I’ve been 3 weeks in Israel now.

    When Israel responds to attacks the world goes menthal, but when neighbouring countries do far waorse things, the world shrugs its shoulders.

    • How nice to hear that you’re spending some time with us here, Cardinal. I hope you will have a very joyous and enjoyable holiday. Thank you for your comment.

  5. Shimon when I read yesterday that katusha rockets were fired into the Galilee my heart skipped a beat as it always does. Thank g-d no one was hurt. Am I boring you when I say that this was an excellent post…again. I find the world always seems to gloss over what is happening in the country’s neighbouring Israel but when Israel is involved…well that’s a different story altogether. I think its time people understand the brutality and atrocities that are occurring in these countries.

    • Yes, people are not always judged by the same standards. We have expectations from some… and antagonisms towards others. Sometimes there are prejudices myths that last for generations. I can imagine how your felt. As you say, we are grateful that this time, no one was hurt here. Thank you very much for your comment, Edith.

  6. I am touched that you find beauty near you, that you appreciate the good that there is to be had in life.

    I think I might have shared this with you sometime over the past several months, but the Jordan River here in Utah was named after your Jordan River over there. The Mormon pioneers referred to yours as “The River Jordan,” as it is referenced in their holy books, so they changed the name a little bit to respect the symbolism of your river, while claiming theirs as their own. We also have two towns (cities?) in the Salt Lake metropolitan area named “West Jordan” and “South Jordan,” again, in reference to your river in Israel. The world has gotten so much smaller…and connected.

    Wishing you a good weekend, Shimon…and thank you, again, for being here.

    • I did enjoy seeing some photographs of your Jordan River in your blog, Scott. And I know that just as the names of some European cities are found in the new world, so one can find reminders of our own history and geography in different places of the world. It’s always touching to find such a connection. Thanks for the good wishes.

  7. Shimon,
    The contrast that you identify here brings with it a contrast of emotions. Pleasure, sadness, joy, anger, and I guess this is part of the human condition. I wish for you and all those in your region peace.
    Cathy

  8. I’ve watched the news re Egypt and Syria with an ever growing sense of horror, mans inhumanity to man chills me to my very core and leaves me numb. I keep thinking I’ve seen the worst horrors, then something else, even more terrible comes along. And all the time, behind the scenes, people are playing mind and power games and greedy grasping rulers sit safe while the ordinary people burn. I always feel so helpless, I’m just going about my day to day business, enjoying what ever comes my way, while people in so many parts of the world suffer starvation and war….I really don’t know what to say apart from I’m sick to death of it and wonder if there will ever be peace and harmony in this world.

    And dreadful to hear missiles were aimed at your country too Shimon, thank God no-one was hurt.

    A very powerful and moving post. xxxx

    • I hear what you’re saying Dina. You know, we often congratulate our generation on the blessings of technology that we enjoy, and consider how wonderful it is that nowadays we are somewhat in touch with all the world. But there are drawbacks too. We’re much more exposed to the sinister aspects of man. And we get bad news so much more often. Sometimes it seems that we have to become either heartbroken or hardened to the afflictions of others. Best wishes to you. xxx

      • I forgot to say how beautiful the river is, and how lovely it is to see people having such fun….that is what life is about. Enjoying the beauty of the world that is on your doorstep…ahhhh, and, sorry to be so negative….I await, and look forward to the day when I can become hardened to it all, for then it would be so much easier ,….also, beautiful pics.

        I do admire how you cope with the strife in your region, I would be so bitter if I lived there……You have such grace, I do admire and love that. .xxxx

        • I don’t consider you, or any of your comments, negative. On the contrary. And of course, I know you will never be hardened to cruelty and injustice, just as I won’t. I know some people who’ve become hardened over the years, and grown a thicker skin, and I often admire them. But I can’t go that way. But there are times when I don’t listen to the media, and concentrate on more positive things, so as not to lose my sanity. Thank you so much for remembering the beauty we find here, the river, and the laughter in the air, Dina. xxx

          • You are right of course re me being hardened to this world we live in…..so here’s to shutting down the news and and hearing the laughter in the air…I love that, and will keep that in mind. You do warm the cockles of my heart. xxxx

  9. The violence and worst behaviors currently displayed by terrible representatives of humanity have been, and continue to be, covered quite thoroughly in our news media; the coverage of Egypt’s violence sickened me enough yesterday to make me turn off the television. Bathing in such images repeatedly is as destructive, I think, as pretending they do not exist, or denying that the potential for such behavior exists in each of us. Like SnowBird, my response is to be kind to the next person and situation before me, to choose to enter life with more compassion than judgment, to check my small self (ego) and be aware of my energy, words, and choices…it’s hard and I fail, often, but most people, it seems, at least try to live this way, and that is hopeful.

    I am sorry that the lovely and life-giving peace of your river time is marred by the proximity of such fear, anger, violence, and suffering…but I am deeply, deeply touched that so close to such horrendous suffering, others are choosing, in community, to choose joy and the light of the love, healing, and peace offered by something as simple and profound as floating merrily down a river…blessings on your vacation time, Shimon; it seems its utter delight and deep cherishing is the greatest rebellion one can possibly offer against those who believe–and act upon the belief–that life must be lived in violence, fear, domination, cruelty, and destruction.

    • Thank you very much, Kitty, for your very positive reflection on the situation. On a personal note, I have to admit that often I turn off the radio and TV, and purposely ignore some of the things that are making ‘news’. But when it gets close… there are times too, when I taste despair.

  10. Israel has throughout its long history so often been the battleground of conflicting neighbours. I am glad that today at least you are able to enjoy peace and freedom on the beautiful banks of the river. Horror and cruelty, violence and barbarism are never far away, but we do nobody any favours if we are so entrenched in these versions of hell that we fail to appreciate the beauty in our midst.

    • I can only agree with you, Gill. And yes, I am very grateful for these days of relative peace, and the pleasures of nature… and the shrieks of laughter and fun of the people near me. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Your perspectives of the north and south of the river is sobering. Our long history is full of cruelty, violence, suffering,.. we can name these evils.
    The Snowbird said it all for the rest of us…

    • Thank you Amy. Unfortunately, we don’t even have to look back in history to see a lot of cruelty of man to his fellow man. It’s timeless, and I believe it’s one of the hardest questions we have to deal with. Snowbird reaches out, and tries to give aid and shelter to animals who are often the victims of man’s cruelty. For the past year, we have been giving medical help to some of the injured coming across the border, desperate for care. But we never know when the hatred and weapons will be turned on us.

  12. Your photos of beautiful light and scenes of tranquility and happiness are visions of what could be for everyone…if people would just have love and compassion in their hearts instead of evil.

    • Yes. That is what I would wish for myself, Angeline. Though in most cases, I know it’s not evil, but a culture that has gone astray. Reaction to reaction till it reaches some terrible madness. And those who are caught in the hell fire, can only try to defend themselves or find some sort of protection.

  13. Ah, the contrast is striking and one that you live with every day. I hear that our government is concerned about the effect of the Syrian problem on Israel. And of the Egyptian coup too. There is much instability in your part of the world. It affects all of us. I think our president is reluctant to intervene since our past interventions caused more misery than good. Besides, you do know that our aid to Egypt is in the form of monies deposited with the Federal Reserve and paid to our own aircraft manufacturers for aircraft that is sent to Egypt. If we withdraw aid, our own companies suffer. The irony…

    Ah, Shimon. Take your peace wherever you can find it today. Peace will not come to Israel in our lifetimes.

    • Many many years ago, I read a delightful science fiction story. I don’t remember who wrote it, but it stayed with me. An outer space alien (looking just like we do, of course) lands on planet earth. And the first thing he sees is a bird killing a worm. He tries to educate the bird on the rights of all living things to peace to peace and happiness. The bird stops till he goes away, and then goes back to kill the worm. And eventually the alien in his frustration kills a lot of creatures. As you say, George, the best I can do is try to enjoy the little of life I have left, and hope for the best. Irony abounds.

  14. Please don’t believe that all americans are at peace wit the happenings over there. It’s frightening and sad. Our political groups are so pathetic it’s embarrassing to Many many of us. We sit here frustrated that we are helpless. We really wonder if the UN is actually functioning as was intended. We hope our drones will soon take care of the situation. The politics and the money are totally absurd.

    I’m surprised at how crowded your river is. I’m sure it is a very pleasant activity and the kids would certainly love it. The water color seems strange to me.
    So nice to read you once again Shimon.

    • As you know, Bob, I have had the great pleasure of seeing the good side of America, and I have a special fondness for your country. I also know that there are many different kinds of people in every society, and that despite our good intentions, there is very little we can do to change the character of man. As it happens, I have also known Arabs that I have loved and admired. The river is not usually so crowded. This is the peak of vacation time, and a stretch of the river where we like to play. Thanks very much for the comment.

  15. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    “Whatever you might have heard, Israelis love peace” – oh Shimon! I’m positive they do 🙂

    Looks great joy, Shimon, just wonderful time in the sun.

    • Unfortunately, a lot of people have just the opposite impression. They think we like war and injustice. But we were the victims of that just a short while ago, by our reckoning, and we’ve learned the importance of self defense… even if it gives us a bad reputation. Thanks so much for your comment, Noeleen.

  16. Wishing you peace in your heart, if not in your country. This article was so eye-opening to realize that the peace of the countryside and the horrors of war are so near to each other.

    • Yes, we live in a very tough neighborhood, Gypsy Bev. Sometimes, the way the news is reported, people don’t realize that. Thank you for your good wishes. I believe that peace in one’s heart is the first step to peace on earth.

  17. Powerful post and a reminder that whilst we enjoy our comfortable lives there are those that are not so fortunate

  18. The Jordan river is such a lovely place, so beautiful. It’s a pity it runs through such a war torn area. I wish peace for all people in the region.

  19. If we could only do away with ego driven, power hungry politicians and warlords, what a truly wonderful world we would all live in. As it is, we have to find the beauty where we can find it as you have done Shimon.
    I have given up with the news for the most part this last year or so. It doesn’t seem to have changed much since I was a boy and I find it all so distressing as of course I’m powerless to change it. I’ve selfishly retreated to this beautiful peaceful corner of a generally peaceful UK and unplugged the television and the wireless. I connect with the world through my PC where I find ordinary folk the world over are fundamentally just the same as I am, just wanting to get on with their lives in peace.
    My thoughts are with all the peoples of the region and hope that one day, you can all find peace.

    • Like yourself, Chillbrook, I appreciate finding like minds and some beautiful people with whom I connect by way of the internet. But after some traveling in this world, I have learned that there are vast differences between cultures and people. And one of the differences between you and me, is that things were a lot worse when I was a boy. So, when I’m having a good time and enjoying life, I am always aware of the transitory nature of these blessings. But I am grateful for the good, and very happy to enjoy it. Thank you so much for your comment and good wishes.

  20. A powerful post Shimon. I struggle to understand how so many of the wars throughout history have been fought in the name of Religions. The concept of tolerance of another person’s right to hold an opinion that is different from your own has died.

    • There are so many religions in this world, Andy. And many of them have great tolerance. But unfortunately, the two ‘break away’ reforms of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, found themselves competing with their source. I believe that this influenced them towards fanaticism. But even so, if we look at what Jesus offered his students, there are some important messages on respect for one’s fellow man and tolerance. I certainly don’t see the signs that tolerance is dead today. On the contrary, there seems to be more tolerance, though there is resentment towards religion, and the state… and maybe a little intolerance to those who are not politically correct (just for the smile).

  21. It is utterly beyond my comprehension that anyone at all can think he or she benefits in any way from hate and the devastation to which it leads. A truly poignant post. I am breathless.

    • The hate part is not at all important in the way they see things. Honor is very important. Killing a woman who is thought not to be a virgin before she is married, for instance, is called an ‘honor killing’ for example. They often see their enemies as a cancer or a pest, and so it seems quite rational to them to do whatever they can do to get rid of them. Thanks for your comment, Kathryn.

  22. Your holiday on the Jordan looks so lovely and reminds me very much of the way we have spent our own vacation time here in the US…floating down the river in Vermont and riding bikes through the trails in the woods. We are not so different in that regard, and many others too, I’m sure. I have been reading about Egypt and Syria and trying to understand the conflict. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems a rather complicated conflict. Though the leaders in power are no good, it seems those who are trying to take over are no better. I will say that getting to know you a little bit, Shimon, has changed my perspective so much on the Middle East because now when I hear that rockets were launched at Israel or anything else of that nature I do not just think it’s a shame, I think of you specifically and hope you are safe and well. Reading about your life and seeing your pictures has added so much humanity to this conflict. Thank you for bringing hope and beauty out in what might otherwise look like a hopeless situation.

    • It is a very difficult situation, and the impression you have gotten from your reading is quite true. Very often, both sides are inhumane and cruel… and neither really believes in freedom and human rights. I had some sympathy for the revolutionaries in Egypt, and was very disappointed to see that the side that won (since deposed) suspended many rights and were on their way to changing the constitution in their favor. What particularly upsets me, is that the UN regularly passes condemnations and votes against our country, when in fact we are defending ourselves against a ruthless enemy, but doesn’t seem able to get it together when another country turns part of its population into slaves (Sudan), or when a local despot like Assad kills off his own people in huge numbers. Thank you very much for your comment Kari Ann.

      • I agree, what started in Egypt looked like a good thing. I was happy for the Egyptian people having a voice and choosing a leader. I was disappointed though when the Muslim Brotherhood started to take over and I’m afraid the Egyptian people would have been worse off in the end for it. If I understand right, there is a similar struggle in Syria. Obviously Assad needs to go but it seems like he will only be replaced by other extremists. I agree with you though that Israel absolutely has the right to defend itself and its people. You are a small country surrounded by extreme and dangerous countries and it only makes since to protect yourself and the peace you want for your people. I hope you can stay safe and well and enjoy peace in your beautiful country.

  23. Dear Shimon,
    This is a very important post. It saddens me, but it is important to speak out. The situation in The Middle East is so disheartening. Thank you for the reminder that we must remember those who are fighting and who have fallen for the cause of freedom, and for our sanity we must also look for peace–even in bits and pieces–wherever we can.

    • Yes, we live in a very difficult neighborhood. And what’s happening now, has been going on for a long time. Peace is very important. And many of us know that it starts from within, and moves outward. But freedom and the dignity of man cannot be overlooked when looking for solutions to some of our problems. Sometimes when we have it, we take it for granted. Thanks so much for the comment, Naomi.

  24. The world is indeed concerned about the use of chemical weaponry in Syria. It’s just that they want to be really sure, before taking action, who actually used the chemical weapons. It might not have been Assad’s government forces. It might have been the rebels. After all, it’s not like hostilities between Israel and the “Palestinians” where, if chemical weapons have been used (and even if they haven’t), it’s obvious that it was the Evil Zionists who used them , because hey – that’s what “the Zionists” do ;-( (Irony most definitely and bitterly intended here.)

    • Thank you so much for your tongue in cheek comment, my fellow Jerusalemite. Unfortunately, many of the people in the west don’t realize that dictatorships far outnumber free countries in the UN, and that that August body does not always reflect the realities on the ground. I usually avoid these subjects. But the news seems to have gone to my head lately. Your comment brought me a smile, Shimona.

  25. But when they sum it all up

    They can say,with hand on heart..
    they were just following orders
    Then the grieving will start.

    • This business of ‘following orders’ is just an excuse. There is a spirit in the air, and people accept it or not. Whether it be good fortune or bad, we are a herd animal, and we are influenced by the conventions of the times, and the people around us. In a free country, one can refuse to take part in something because of conscience. But the vast majority of the countries in the middle east are not free… at all. Thanks for the comment, Kathryn.

  26. Yes,I know that now.A lot of the responsibility is due to the British Empire and government
    I always feel emotional seeing images of the river Jordan.As a little child I read Bible stories where it featured and now I read about you you sitting by it in 2013!
    It’s as if we saw Aristotle walking around Athens talking to a favored pupil.

  27. I truly enjoyed this post Shimon, the images are o beautiful. I would love to be there it looks so peaceful x

    • Thank you very much, Scarlett. Since you are young, and you like travel, I imagine you will find an opportunity to visit, and that you will enjoy the place.

  28. Thank you for your heartfelt insights, Shimon. This piece is very touching, and profound in its simplicity. Irony piles on irony. If most people want the same thing – to be happy, healthy and safe, to have food and shelter and the means to earn a living, to take enjoyment from the simple things, then how is it that small minorities – for whom these things are not enough – always manage to wreak such destruction and misery in the world. One might hope that we have reached a stage in our development whereby conflict – wherever it might be – could be resolved by rational negotiation. I suppose the question we always come back to is: who benefits? Having just been reading a lot about the First World War, the only conclusion I come to is that it can only be the arms manufacturers, and those commanding the resources necessary to fuel conflict. The UN seems to be the only body we have for major conflict resolution, yet the powerful nation states do not seem to stand wholeheartedly behind it as we saw with Iraq.

    • I regret to say, that after a full life, and much experience in this world, I don’t believe that all people are the same or want the same things… even to be happy, healthy and safe, or to have food and shelter. Right next to us, in the city of Gaza, free of any Jewish presence for the last eight years, parents send their children to summer camp where the children dress up as terrorists and suicide bombers, and at a very young age, find their pleasure jumping through rings of fire. Moreover, if I look back in history to the time of WWI, I wouldn’t say that the massive slaughter of the Armenians by the Turks, the first genocide of the 20th century, could be blamed on arms manufacturers, and I could bring many further examples, to my great sorrow. Adolf Hitler was the democratically elected leader of the Germans at mid century. And on and on it goes, including some extremely painful stories in Asia and Africa that didn’t get much space at all in the narratives of the post modern western culture. And Iraq, though it did not have nuclear weapons, did commit massive slaughter on a small minority including poisoned gas. It would be easier for me to believe that there was a small minority who was sacrificing all humanity for monetary gain, but it really doesn’t look that way to me. Thank you very much for your comment, though, Tish. I appreciate a lot of what you have to say, even though I might disagree with you here and there.

  29. Hi Shimon,
    First of all I wish you and yours a good new year. I would dearly love to be able to make the same wish for all those displaced and injured people we see and hear so much about, many of whom, you have talked about in this post.

    The Jordan seems to have a good water flow. The inflatable boats tell me that it is probably too shallow to host a deeper draft. On the other hand, those craft are nimble. In addition, the inflatables are easier to transport than the traditional wooden boats.

    I have interesting memories of a trip to the Jordan river. Your pictures reminded me of the fecundity of the surroundings.

    Shalom

    • I remember when there were many wooden boats, canoes and rafts… but these inflatables seem to have captured the enthusiasm of the visitors these days. The different stretches of the river seem to attract different crowds. Thank you very much for your wishes for a good year, and along with you, I hope for a good sweet year of plenty and happiness for all, Jews and non-Jews as well, and peace and happiness for all of our neighbors.

  30. You set this post up very well. I was peacefully joining you along the river, and then you transitioned to the horrors of Syria and the trials & tribulations of Egypt. Will humanity ever learn? …. I fear not.

    • Actually, Frank, though my life included one of the great humanitarian tragedies of history, and though I continue to see much injustice and terrible inhumanity around me, I do have hope. And it seems to me that some conventions have changed over time. We have a greater reading public all the time, and whereas in the time of Jesus, people were publicly displayed hanging from crosses, today, the death penalty is not accepted in Europe, and often inhumane behavior is hidden. I pray for a better future. Thanks very much for your comment.

  31. Hope, yes. It is there (and here) threading through the rivers and the conduits and the veins. A beautiful/ugly world.

  32. Shimon – we do worry about you and yours, surrounded by all of those events.

    • Thank you Bill. I like to think that we have learned our lesson in the past, and will remain on guard to defend ourselves. What is tragic, is that you we hear so many high sounding phrases about humanity, and the ideals of an enlightened society, but on the ground we often see that these are nothing more than sentiments. When you’re under attack, no one else is going to save you. It’s a bitter lesson, my friend.

  33. I see the extremes of your peaceful holiday with the extremes of “life” around you Shimon.
    I know there are a myriad of views out there, for me mine is a pacifist based route – I see no gain in military action especially when it is bound up in the words of “revenge and retaliation” – we need to think differently in the 21st century.
    I wish you well

    • Thank you for your good wishes, Claire. Yes, there are many views… many different faiths in this world. And there were in the past too… pacifism in not new, not an invention of this new century. I hope with all my heart that you’ll never have the personal experiences that might change your viewpoint. Unfortunately, I have had those experiences. But I thank you for your beauty and the strength to declare your faith.

  34. In one post, you have shown heaven and hell. For a while I sat with you on the banks of the Jordan river, listening to the laughter and songs of the people floating past. I even climbed into one of the boats and leaned over the edge to splash some water on you as I drifted past.

    Then I looked northward … to the Syrian border and through your eyes saw the devastation. And from your words a reality which our press here in America doesn’t cover so fully. When I turn on our news, I feel manipulated at every turn by journalists sitting safely in their TV studios giving whatever slant their particular station favors. i see our president … a truly good man who desired peace from the day he took office, being pushed and pulled and attacked from all sides …. right here in America. I bleed for him and for a vision he saw but opponent in his OWN country won’t let him follow … and fI bleed or the people whose bodies litter foreign soil while politicians sit an strategize. I would like to think for the world’s problems …. but I know differently. II is for themselves.

    I step back into the little boat and float away from the carnage …. but as I dip my hand into the water to toss a few drops at you … I have only tears,

    Blessings and protection dear Shimon.

    • You are a true sweetheart to splash a little water at me. It made me smile. There is a lot of manipulations. The journalists themselves come with preconceived notions, and often learn the truth painfully. You’re right about your president. He came to power most innocently, and came face to face with paradox and contradictions that he couldn’t have predicted. The world is going through changes, and that includes even the most powerful countries. Those who have learned history understand it better than those who’ve studied law. But we can’t cry all the time. The river has its source, and when we’re floating downstream we will be swallowed by the sea. There is time for laughter too. Let me blow a kiss in your direction.

  35. Hello Shimon,
    Well, my comment is rather late here due to my absence on WP. As you know where I stand on my ancestral homeland and the politics in general in the region, I’d just like to add that I really appreciate the clever contrast in your post: the photos of the tranquil Jordan River in Israel and the mayhem surrounding Israel that you wrote on. The world should see this, and now it has thanks to you.
    Stay well, Leah x

    • Thank you very much for your comment, Leah. Though I try to stay away from the subject of the middle east conflicts, there are times when I just can’t refrain from sharing my own point of view. But every time I’m tempted, I soon learn that most of the people I communicate with, in other parts of the world, can’t understand what I’m saying at all. If I were to continue in this vein, I would have to go back to writing in Hebrew, and direct my thoughts to my countrymen and women. And if I desire to converse with others, I have to limit the subjects… and smile.

  36. Well, it’s quite the Catch-22 and I hate that you have to limit your subjects. I’ll never understand the attitude of some in this world, but I think your post was inoffensive and a point was made. I suppose growing up in the US, where I am a minority, gives me a different vantage point. I met a Christian woman recently (Methodist) who was so excited I was Jewish and is very supportive of Israel and so worried about what is going on. I’ve met the others, as well. The bad apples ruin it for the bunch, unfortunately. By the way, there’s a documentary-type show about Israel on TV right now. 🙂
    Take care, Leah

    • Thank you for your comment, Leah. It is always very good to hear from you. Fortunately, I live in my own country, where there is both free speech, and a whole lot of different opinions. And I can discuss the situation with my own people in my own language. It is something of a thrill for me to meet different people from all over the world, and to share my opinions with them, and some of the things I’ve learned. But I don’t expect them to understand what goes on here as well as one of my own countrymen might. I don’t see that as a Catch-22 situation, but rather as an indication of the difficulty of putting ourselves in another’s shoes.

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