On Thursday, July 6th, we attended a seminar about Israeli national security. We felt an enormous amount of pride knowing that the Israeli security strategy not only executes a strategic mission to keep Israeli citizens safe, but also provides humanitarian assistance to it’s allies.

We visited the Golan Heights and viewed the nation of Syria from the Israeli border. In the distance, a few small Syrian villages and the former United Nations border gate were visible. The border gate was utilized prior to the Syrian civil war. Two of the visible Syrian Villages were still (fortunately) under the rebel control, but the other village was under the control of the Assad regime. Our short time at the border was peaceful, quiet and the natural scenery was beautiful. However, just within the past couple weeks, the Israeli military targeted and struck the Assad regime military infrastructure due to a number of projectiles fired into Israel (publicly reported information on 6/24/17).

Additionally, over the past few years, the Syrian people have suffered through genocide where biological and chemical weapons have been used by the Assad regime to murder children, women, and men. As Jews, the use of these weapons on any human is especially disturbing and terrifying. Seventy plus years after the Holocaust what has man learned? How could this be happening again to anyone? And how could (once again) the world’s superpowers look the other way as people are dehumanized, stripped of their dignity and murdered. Surely the world’s super powers…the USA, Russia, EU, and the Arab league could come together with unilateral force to remove Assad and his regime, yet sadly nothing is done…just like nothing was done in the time of the Holocaust, yet the world knew what was happening then as well. We hope and pray for an end to the Syrian civil war and that the end of a Syrian conflict will bring a life of dignity and stability to its citizens. We also hope an end to the Syrian conflict will bring additional security to Israel.

As we toured the Golan Heights our tour guide discussed the Six Day War which occurred 50 years ago last month. In the spring of 1967 multiple Arab countries were aligning themselves to unilaterally attack and possibly destroy the Jewish state. Egypt had uprooted the United Nations members on Sinai and began to setup military infrastructure on the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan was preparing to attack from the West Bank. Israel brilliantly struck first and destroyed the Egypt Air Force and forcefully marched through the West Bank defeating the Jordanian army. Ultimately a military decision was made to use force in Syria to capture the Golan Heights. This was Israel’s greatest military victory, as it unified the Jewish people’s eternal capital, Jerusalem and created a control of land that would lead to more security for Israel. We felt an incredible amount of pride viewing these locations, learning more about this military operation, and felt a deep level of inspiration and gratitude for the sacrifice made by the Israeli soldiers. Nearly every Israeli citizen has been directly impacted by military operation casualties and/or terrorist attack fatalities. As American Jews, we must also remember and honor the sacrifice of these soldiers! Without these soldiers, a safe and secure homeland for the Jewish people would not exist!

Today we also put a new meaning to the term “riding dirty.” We had the opportunity to take ATV’s through the Golan mountain range in groups of two-four. The bumpy ride was not only exhilarating but very scenic as well. With dirt flying in our faces and trees brushing on our arms we saw gorgeous views of Lebanon and surrounding mountains. A bonus to our ride was a herd of milking cows grazing the fields. Whether you were the driver or a passenger it was an adventurous ride of a lifetime.

After we visited the Syrian border, we attended an informational meeting/ question and answer session at the Rayan Nazareth Employment Center in Nazareth. This location is one of twenty-one centers, each with a holistic approach for promoting employment. Currently, Israel has about an 80% Jewish population and 20% Arabic population. Due to the unequal government budgeting, closing the social economic gap amongst these populations is one of the big challenges that this employment center addresses. The center provides vocational training and Hebrew speaking education for men and women looking to join the workforce. Such training and the increased government investment creates employment opportunities that allows for integration and a shared society between the Jewish and Arabic population.

We then checked into the Dan Panorama Hotel, located across the street from the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, to begin our stay in Tel Aviv! Our night was free to explore the amazing city, restaurants, and nightlife. We had an absolute blast!