Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Northern Israel Trip - Druze Lunch and Mount Arbel Hike

This last weekend we toured North Israel to see a different part of the country and to also learn more about other minority groups in Israel.  Following a day in the Negev Desert learning about the Bedouin population’s culture, we had a three-day trip to multiple sites in the north. 

We learned about the Druze culture and enjoyed a lunch of traditional foods.  Historically most closely related to Islam, throughout history Druze believers have blended into varying religions and societies in hopes of avoiding religious persecution.  There are multiple Druze communities in Israel and groups are found in many places around the world.  Divided into secular and religious, the secrets of the religion’s beliefs are known only to those who are the religious (more devout leaders in the religion).  

Traditional Druze Hospitality Lunch
Today,  multiple units of Druze currently serve in the Israeli army.  Druze communities located in the Golan Heights cross the border and trade on a regular basis within Syria.  Some of these groups still identify with the Syrian government, as before the 1967 Six Day War this area fell under Syrian control.  Many Druze communities within Syria fight alongside the Assad regime instead of the rebel forces, as Druze historically are usually very loyal to the government’s they live under. 

Israel - Syrian Border (Golan Heights)
Farmland along the border

During our trip to Northern Israel we also hiked down the side of Mount Arbel.  Below is a fortress from the time of King Herod built into the side of the cliff.  It served as protection for the Jewish community who resisted his rule in the area.  Focused on fighting those hiding in the fortress, King Herod devised a pulley system that served as an elevator to lower soldiers in baskets to breach the fortress walls.

View from the hike

Looking up at the fortress

Fortress in the cliff

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