A Saturday in Majdal Shams


The scenery heading north to Israel’s border with Syria in the Golan Heights is both dramatic and serene, with giant lopping trees hanging over winding roads that run through country rich with volcanic rock, leaving the land slate gray amid the green. Every few feet, though, your eye catches a warning sign that the hills are alive with landmines, in terrain that makes it hard for Israelis to clear them out. Unlike in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in the 1967 war but did not annex, there is no movement to settle the Golan with a significant number of Israelis, aside from the scattered villages, moshavim, kibbutzim, and industry that already dot the landscape. Additionally, there are 20,000 Druze who lived (or descended from those who lived) on the land when it belonged to Syria and who still consider themselves citizens of Syria today. The largest village, with half of the Golan’s Druze population, is Majdal Shams, at the foot of Mt. Hermon, Israel’s only ski resort.

more from Jo-Ann Mort at Dissent here.