Please allow me to once again thank you for the great 5 day tour you provided. Not only was it informative, your presence made it that much better. It became very much as if of I was touring with a friend. I also apologize for getting you soaked in the Mediterranean, but chasing that Israeli gun ship was worth it. And besides, I am sure by now, you have already dried off.
I learned a great deal about the Promised Land during the week I spent with you. My trip, more or less reinforced what I already knew, and my commitment to Israel. But, it also opened my eyes to a reality I never would have realized had I not made the journey.
Israel is far smaller and more geographically vulnerable than I ever imagined.
I think one has to see Israel up close and personal to fully understand how close everything really is to each other. For example: when one thinks of the Caves at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, originally being in Jordan pre 1967, one thinks in terms of real distance. But, it is yet another thing entirely to see how close Qumran is to the epicenter of Israel.
It takes about the same time for a Montrealer to drive to the Laurentian Mountains, as it took us to get to Qumran from Jerusalem.
When someone who has never personally visited Israel, thinks of the West Bank, he/she thinks of a region some distance away. But; not literally next door. Or more precisely, across the street.
I was shocked when I learned that Bethlehem and Ramallah were less than 7 minutes from where I was staying at the Dan Pearl Hotel. And in the case of the Ariel Hotel, where I spent my first night, only five minutes to Bethlehem and the war. The closeness of everything puts a very different perspective on one’s viewpoint of Israel.
As I said to you concerning peace in the Middle East, I am absolutely positive that it will come much sooner rather than later. The Arabs really have no other choice. If necessary, Israel can continue to live in suppressed prosperity with “controlled security”. On the other hand, the Arabs desperately need Israel.
If Israel were to actually construct security perimeters as they seem to be planning; the Palestinian economy, and whatever chance they would have of creating a social infrastructure would be decimated.
After seeing the unbelievable contrast between Israeli cities and towns compared to the Arab cities and towns, it is as if I was moving between the best of the 21st century and the 19th century or prior.
The only clean and well maintained Arab village we saw was the Lebanese Christian village at the Shebba Farms area. The Moslem villages, including East Jerusalem were a disaster.
I find it hard to understand how or why people would choose to live like that, when they can see a better way just next door. But then again, Canadian cities have sections which are slums as well. However; the major difference, is that the whole of the Arab towns and villages we visited appeared to be slums rather than just some areas within.
It is only a matter of time when Arafat and the corrupt gang that surrounds him ceases to carry any political weight. And when that happens, a strong and determined Israeli leader will be able to make a real peace with people who want to better themselves. I believe this will happen soon. For the Palestinian people, there is no other choice.
I have also included several photos of our property, including the river that runs on two sides of it. This river is about the same width as the Jordan River, between 20 and 30 feet across. And by Canada’s standards, it isn’t much more than just a stream.
I have sent you three maps. The first is a map of Canada so you can see the size of my country. The second is a map of Vancouver Island with Israel (including the West Bank) set beside it for a size comparison. And the third is a map of Lake Michigan with Israel placed inside of it. Lake Michigan is one of our 5 Great Lakes.
Canada is more than 4,000 miles long, and about 2,500 miles wide. And it has five time zones. It took 10 hours to fly from Toronto to Tel Aviv. It wouldn’t take all that much less time to fly from St John Newfoundland to Victoria British Columbia.
What also put the size of Israel in a much better perspective for me, was the driving time it takes to get from the furthest Northern part of Israel at Lebanon, to the furthest southern part at Eilat; about the same time it takes to drive from the eastern portion of Montreal to Mississauga, just west of Toronto proper. And for us, that drive is virtually around the corner.
I was also amazed at the lack of water in the entire region. The Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) is 13 miles long by 7 miles wide. In Canada, this lake would be considered small to average sized. But in Israel, it is the source of 95% of all your fresh water.
The St Lawrence River is Canada’s largest river at 800 miles long, and 90 miles across at its widest part.
Of the 5 Great Lakes, four are shared between Canada and the USA, Lake Michigan is entirely within the USA. The largest lake is Lake Superior, which in square miles is at least twice the size of Israel. 350 miles by 160 miles (57,600 square miles).
Lake Winnipeg, which is located on the Prairies in the Province of Manitoba, is 260 miles long, and is part of a massive water system that could easily handle all of the water needs of the entire Middle East. Lake Winnipeg is not that much smaller than all of Israel.
Most Canadians don’t realize that the Sea of Galilee is essentially fed by two small rivers which form the Jordan River, coming from the hills of Lebanon and Syria. It wouldn’t take much for the Arabs to divert these two “streams” and starve Israel from all its water.
When people say that Israel should just give the Arabs back the Jordan Valley, it also means the surrender of Israel’s water supply. Just on past experience and current Arab declarations to throw the Jews into the sea, I can clearly understand Israel’s reluctance to trust their Arab neighbors with their water. THEIR ONLY WATER.
So, I guess you can now better understand my fascination with your water supply. Or lack thereof.
I came away from Israel with a newfound respect for the Israeli people, and all you have accomplished, especially under so many adverse conditions. And now that I have learned, what I have from being in Israel, I find it even LESS puzzling WHY so many “journalists” and world leaders are so critical of Israel.
They are most probably anti-Semites with a deep disdain for all things Jewish. Or so anti West and USA, that hurting Israel is not much more than a simple knee-jerk reaction. There are no other plausible explanation other than stupidity. But; they can’t all be that stupid.
To see and experience Israel, is a reason to be supportive of the Jewish State, and not to condemn it. It is remarkable how the Western world, particularly Europe ignores the backwardness, tyranny and misogyny of the Arab world, and at the same time condemns Israel for its modern high tech progress, social structure and democratic values.
Compared to Israel, life in Canada is far easier. We take so many things for granted which you have to fight for and earn at every level. But; on the other hand, you seem to take far more pleasure out of your social structure than we do. Your appreciation of what you have is far greater than the appreciation we have for our things. And the people in general seem to be far closer to each other than we are in the West.
I was also fascinated by the many Israeli Arabs I met, who are as Western as we are, and have no intention of living like their relatives on the West Bank.
It is quite remarkable how much I learned about Israel and about myself in just seven days. A good part of it with your help and information.
Remember my offer. Whenever you feel like visiting Canada, let me be your guide.
Best Regards . . . Howard Galganov
Very good column.
We know it is not the majority of the US people but a State Department age old hateful relation with Israel.
Pollard paid the price for a crime long ago and has, since, been shamelessly used as trade goods.
Terrible having to accept that.
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