Thursday, March 21, 2019 will be remembered in the history of the modern state of Israel.
President Trump recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The beautiful Golan.
Softy undulating hills, remnants of abandoned stone houses, a wine press, an IDF fort.
We, American tourists, bounced along, holding on to the frame of our jeep.
The vista that greeted us was unexpected.
No crowded beaches, no museums, no ancient Jerusalem, just sun, sweet air and wildlife, mostly birds, gliding about on the thermal drafts.
And always, in the distance, the young soldiers, manning their guns, searching, searching for incursions.
We didn’t stay long.
You don’t do that in the Golan.
Our driver and guides both had weapons.
That was part of life in the Golan as well.
I wondered that one of the most peaceful looking places in the Middle East, was for the most part, inaccessible, a veritable “No Man’s Land.”
Timing is everything they say.
The United States President’s statement about the Golan Heights was made on the same day as the announcement of the defeat of ISIS.
ISIS has cost Syria and other countries, hundreds of thousands of civilian victims. It has shocked the world with its brutality, especially against women and children, its slaughter of entire peoples such as the Yazidis. It destroyed towns and villages and archaeological sites that had existed for millennia.
ISIS was funded by those forces that wanted to create and sustain terror, violence, destabilization and of course, the death of Israel.
But the war is not over.
It may never be over in this conflicted region.
For the near future, however, with Syria reeling from its bloody war and in no position to “defend” the Golan, the circumstances spoke in favor of Israel making “real” their de facto control of the Golan.
Will age-old, irrational, self-destructive martial behaviors change in the long run?
Maybe not, but for the present, those who support countries in the Middle East hoping to improve the lives of their inhabitants through peaceful co-existence there is a respite and like the descendants of the avian witnesses to the historic death and suffering in the Middle East, there is hope and regeneration.