GOLAN HEIGHTS, Israel—Last week I took a trip to an area of Israel known as the Golan Heights, in the northeast corner of the country. Describing the Golan is difficult—above all else, it’s beautiful like a fairytale land that breathes life from every molecule of rich, volcanic soil.
The sense I had there was of floating in the clouds—the Golan sits on a plateau that gently slopes downward on two sides. This feeling lasted throughout my two-day background tour with a group of journalists. Traveling in our small bus with the staff of the organization that coordinated the trip, we went from the south of the Golan near the ancient Sea of Galilee to the heights of Mount Hermon at the Syrian border.
To say the “Syrian border” is actually a bit of an inaccuracy, or an incomplete statement, depending on whom you talk to. In 1967, Israel occupied most of the Golan. By 1974, due to instability and firing of weapons, there was a cease-fire and the U.N. established an observer force that acts as a buffer between Syria and Israel. So going west to east, there is Israel, a cease-fire line, a demilitarized zone (DMZ) where the U.N. sits, and then Syria.