North America, Asia · 10 Days · 27 Moments · March 2017

Marc's journi to Israel

23 March 2017

Finished this amazing trip with a stop at BFL and saw gudado, maor and Yair again. They had a massive bbque and cold beers. Took a shower and one of the brothers took us to BG

23 March 2017

We started off our last day of the Zin fellows trip with a visit to The Man's - David Ben Gurion's house. So interesting to see how simply he lived, despite being one of the greatest modern leaders of this century. His only picture in his bedroom is of Gandi. He learned about buddism and even meditated. He shoveled shit just like everyone else in the kibbutz. We then had a group end of seminar wrap up and decided on our group gift, 100K, to fund 2 undergrads at BGU in perpetuity, in honor of Doron. We then had our graduation ceremony at BG's grave overlooking the beautiful Zin wilderness. A remarkable trip, my brain still marinating in everything we have experienced and learned.

22 March 2017

Finished up the day with a visit to the sde boker campus of BGU to hear and see some of the research being done there. Went to the Ben Gurion archives to see his correspondence and learn what was going on in his mind during the critical moments of the creation of the state. Had dinner at the home of 2 professors at the university with there 2 boys. Such nice salt of earth folks
We did a 3 hour 4x4 tour of the mitzpe Ramon crater, the largest erosion crater in the world. Some fun 4 wheelin, incredible harsh place, more Nabatean ruins, learned about franckinese, the stuff they burned in the temple to hide the smell of blood and guts of the hundreds of slaughtered animals. Finished up with a delicious lunch at a remote farm of a guy who grows Argun, a desert nut tree from morroco. He had 5 kids and his wife left him and the kids in this crazy remote place-wow!!

21 March 2017

Mitzpe Beersheet hotel. The beautiful sights of this stunning hotel, including critters and artwork
A visit to Dimona, best known as the center of Israeli nuclear weapons. Under the image with the balloon is the nuclear center. The town itself is extremely tired and run down. Met with 3 young israelis that are trying to make a difference. Impressive people that were so eloquent and truly cared about their communities
Visited the first kibbutz/settlements in the Negev, "Revivim". This place was established before the 1947 mandate and was under siege for a year during the war of independence. They survived on airdrops (hence the airplane). The interesting fact is that the negev was NOT part of the partion plan to be part of Israel but this settlement was such a success in terms of making the desert bloom that the powers to be (UN) gave it to 🇮🇱
One of the 3 wow sights (so far) on my Zin Fellows trip. We had special permission to visit the Kerem Shalom border crossing. Situated on the Gaza, Egyptian and Israel border, this facility is super secure and totally off limits to everybody. The president of BGU got us permission:). We were escorted by Miri Eisen, a retired colonel who is now an israeli security expert. We were given strict instructions about photo taking and how to behave. Hamas is on the other side. The whole place is surrounded by concrete blast walls. We were taken around the place by a very colorful guy who's in charge of the place, Ami Shakked. In his office we watched live with these super video feeds hamas drilling tunnels on one side while the Egyptians were drilling holes to discover them on the other side. Completely crazy situation. The israel side supplying up to 1000 trucks/day while the hamas guys are trying to kill them. We heard automatic weapons fire 3 times. Nobody even looked up.
A visit to a government funded farm to teach the Bedouin community to sustainably farm. Goats are the main feature of the farm which is still being built. Underwhelming

20 March 2017

After the goat farm lunch we traveled to the ancient Nabatean city of Avdat. Very well preserved city that thrived and became rich in spite of the harsh desert conditions. From the water collection techniques, building, wine making-yes they had a massive industry growing , making and exporting wine all over the world. Quite impressive. Finally went to the beersheet hotel on the edge of the Mitzpe Ramon erosion crater. Very high end lux place. Went out for dinner at a vegie restaurant in the small town and also a wine tasting!
Today we learned about current modern day israel and civilizations that existed and thrived in the Negev over 2,000 years ago. After leaving the Soviet style hotel called the Leonardo in Beersheba we did some sightseeing in the city. We visited another war memorial, Turkish train station and an incredibly progressive school from day care age to high school. Saw very young kids learning math by 3d printing in an extremely modern lab. Many of these kids are very underserved. All taught by this very well spoken younger man. Wish we had such progressive thinking in our schools. We then traveled back to BGU to hear about how the IDF is transferring all of their bases in the central part of the country to the Negev, interesting but a snooze fest. Of course no visit to Israel is worth its salt unless you are stuffing your face every 3 hours so we went to a goat farm in the middle of the Negev for lunch. Interesting goats and people.

19 March 2017

Very special morning! The itinerary said we were visting an air force base but inside took an almost 3 hour helo ride over quite a bit of Israel (see map pic). Highlights were old city, dead sea, masada and ramon crater
After arriving in the helos at Beer Sheva hospital, feeling like rock stars with hundreds of people watching and pappazarri clicking away we got a tour of this very impressive facility. About 20000 students from all over israeli. We saw women in full hijabs to soldiers, very diverse campus. Different than US campuses in that student body is older as most have to serve 3 yrs in military. We visited a nano lab that is researching extremely promising technology in health, vision and energy. The next lab was a biomedical lab that is trying to create realistic feedback in remote surgeries-really smart people!! Next week went to the cyber security building and met the head who scared the crap out of us showing how easy it is to hack. We are total slaves to our electronic devices and are so vulnerable to their vulnerabilities. We finished with an amazing morrocan meal and i sat next to the university president, so smart she has a genetic disorder named for her which she discovered!!

18 March 2017

Carlton Hotel, Tel Aviv. Zin Fellows starting tonight, lily going home early tomorrow. We had a wonderful mini vaca together!!
Spent a few hours looking at very old rocks and archaeological excavations at Tel Meggido on the way down to Tel Aviv. King Solomon had a palace there and according to one of the books in the New Testament, the final battle between the forces of good and evil will take place here, Armageddon

17 March 2017

Quick visit to rosh hanikra, at the very northern end of israel. Interesting place to see and like everything in Israel, has very interesting history. Spent the night at the Nea hotel in Nachariya and walked around the old town of Acre.
We had 2 lovely nights in Safed at the Artist Colony Inn run by 2 Canadians who made Aliyah 4years ago. Very orthodox town with tons of synagogues, many extremely old. Also town were kaballah was created. Danny the guy from the Inn gave us a really great tour but as it was friday, everything started to shut down very early so we missed alot of the artists. Very cold and rainy, brrr...

16 March 2017

After an awesome lunch in the Druze village of masa da we spontaneously went to a very small winery, called 3 Vines at a Mushav in ramot naftali in the upper galilee. Yossi, the owner, a 70 year old guy does everything himself from pruning to selling and treated us to an amazing tasting. A lebanese village was visible only 2 miles away. We had a great time
We had quite a day today to say the least! With a 4x4 tour with a guy named Elan from a kibbutz in the Golan Heights who was incredibly knowledgeable about the latest goings on with the politics in the area. We went right to the border fence of syria and heard shooting, saw al queda guys on the other side, a huge abandoned town called Quinetra. Pretty scary, especially hearing the shooting, which although far away was unnerving.

15 March 2017

New digging below the City of David with some of the artifacts from 1st temple period. An incredible $200 million dollar project that will uncover the street leading from shiloh pools entrance all the way up to the Temple mount. Incredible engineering.
Amazing back of house tour by Mosh, one of our BFL sons who works for the Israel Antiques Authority. Awesome amazing archeological stuff going on underneath the streets of Jerusalem
Pretty good flight! 2 glasses of wine and an Ambien seemed to make the plane faster

14 March 2017

The BFL greeting committee 😁
First stop straight from airport to Beit Achim. Saw some of our Israeli sons
Nothing like an Economist magazine for a long haul 15 hr flight
Marin Airporter to SFO
Special pre flight meal prepared by Oma. Chicken tortilla soup