There is an old saying that you can find an equivalent to all the wonders of the world in the holy land, and therefore there is no need to ever leave it. After all, with the range of climates, rich history, variety of peoples who have migrated through the land and access to the sea what could you possibly need? Or perhaps this is just something poor Israelis say to make themselves feel better about the fact that they cant afford to fly anywhere where they would actually be welcome. Husband has often made fun of Israelis that have never left their country, hooting with laughter when our charedi neighbour informed him that he has only ever left once, to go to Paris! Don’t they ever wonder about the rest of the world?
Well having visited Gan Guru in the Beit She’an valley, I have to admit Israel is well on it’s way to fulfilling the old saying. They have actually imported half the Australian outback, to good effect. You can find kangaroos, wallabies, a solitary koala, emus, a cassowary and various birds all living right here in the Galil. They all looked far more at home than many of the other Australian olim I have met since being here, suggesting that perhaps the Ministry of Absorption could learn a thing or two. For a start they all had the necessary foliage and/or food, which is obviously vital to their integration. If you have ever heard an Australian oleh lamenting the loss of vegemite, you will know just how much a person can miss their creature comforts. We, the People of the Marmite Island, stand together with you.
It was actually quite entertaining spying on people’s picnics. Everyone seems to have their own idea of how to cater pesach tiyulim. You have the sefardim, who always have to be the most glamorous, setting up picnic tables and tablecloths laden with rice, meat and salads. Then the charedi lot, cavorting around with giant hat boxes filled with dreadful looking matza. All the children were eating fistfuls of those red crisps [apart from Jojo, since thankfully nobody has decided to declare raisins “kitniyos”]. Bamba is apparantly ok too if you do kitniyot, which is a relief as without it I would imagine half the Israeli population under-12 would suffer serious withdrawal symptoms.
Leaving Beit She’an and driving past the infamous Beit Hashita [feel free to make the usual joke – we did] and up past the dreaded Afula we decided to avoid the traffic on Route no. 65 and take a short cut throught the Arab towns of Araba and Sachnin. It’s amazing to see what a different world these towns are, you don’t feel like you are in Israel anymore. Their architecture, fashions, streets… you might as well have crossed the border. Despite these towns being modernised [plenty of Israelis come here to shop] they still appear to have no rubbish collections and no parks. Well I didn’t see any. What do the kids do all day? It’s hardly suprising they come to Karmiel to stick their kids on a slide. We also discovered Deir Bet Hana, by far the most beautiful Arab town I have ever seen, with some gorgeous houses.
Anyway, all in all I am thrilled that my 2 year old can now identify a kangaroo and koala if he ever meets one in the street. He is actually really priveleged, I didn’t see one til I was on honeymoon, and I am sure there are plenty of people who will only ever see a stuffed one.
Just another reason to join us up here in the Galil….
I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before somebody re-houses a polar bear in Mt. Hermon.