Home

A Picnic on the Jordan

Much of modern Israel, with its freeways, shopping plazas and palm trees, feels a lot like California -- until you come across a soldier in uniform sitting at a bus stop. 

This is a country in a constant state of alert. 

Today we saw why. We drove up to the Golan Heights northeast of the sea of Galilee for a spectacular view of the rolling hills west of the Jordan River. This is the site of two hard-fought battles with Israel's neighbor, Syria, which prior to the Six-Day War in 1967, continually shelled Jewish kibbutzim on the other side of the Jordan River. Twice -- in 1967 and 1973 -- the Syrians tried to invade Israel from the Golan Heights and twice they were repelled by Israeli soldiers.

Our tour guide, David Raz, was one of those soldiers. He was a paratrooper who was dropped onto the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War to help surround the Syrian army. 

While David is proud of the soldiers' efforts, this retired lieutenant colonel does not relish the idea of war. He experienced it first hand and, as he shared with us this afternoon, "it was no picnic." He hopes for the day when Israelis and Syrians can feel secure enough to picnic together on the Jordan.

Thomas Nobbe
Adjunct Professor of Communication

Notre Dame faculty and staff members at the Jordan River.
Notre Dame faculty and staff members at the Jordan River.                         Photo by George Leggiero