Day 7

May 2, 2022

By Aaron Biel

Monday morning, early risers greeted a tranquil sunrise on Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, and our cohort fought (or, enjoyed,) another seemingly endless Israeli breakfast at Kibbutz Ginosar – and wow, the chocolate crunch was phenomenal!

We traveled to Kibbutz Merom Golan in the North-Eastern Golan Heights, and enjoyed offroading in Jeeps – up and down circuitous paths to a vantage point a couple hundred yards above the Israeli-Syrian armistice line (for Syria and Israel have never formally recognized the border.)

There, our tour guide elucidated the challenges Israel has faced here, particularly in context of the Syrian Civil War, which began in response to the “Arab Spring” in 2011, and grew into one of the most deadly human conflicts in recent history.

We ascended Mount Bental, and retired Lieutenant Colonel Eyal Dror briefed us about Operation Good Neighbor, an initiative by the Israel Defense Forces to build trust and understanding with neighboring Syrian communities.  He detailed how Israel came to provide life-saving medical care, for several years, to any Syrian approaching the border for help, and described the impact this good will gesture has made in building rapport between the Israelis and the Syrians.

After another bountiful Israeli lunch at Kibbutz Merom Golan, we traveled to Tel Aviv to be treated to a hotel on the beach!

Representatives from IsraAid met at our hotel to introduce their organization, an Israeli NGO that leverages the unique skillsets and rapid responsiveness of Israelis to quickly arrive (frequently first) on scene to provide emergency assistance during and after major disasters around the world.

They led us through a hands-on activity that simulated the complex decision-making required to respond to recent disasters around the world – including among these the Russia-Ukrainian conflict of 2022, and the La Soufriere volcano near Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 2021.

We ended the evening with some free time to explore the vibrant life of night-time Tel Aviv.