We have been spending the last few days in Northern Israel, focusing on the significance of the land to the protection of all of Israel. Because of its mountainous nature, the highest mountain shows deep into Israel, the northern Kibutzim, and Syria. When Syria controlled the area, it was easy for them to see what was happening on in Israel, giving them a dangerous strategic advantage in the past attacks on Israel. Israel finally gained control of the land in the Six-Day War in 1967.
It is important to highlight that Israeli control over the land is NOT a strategic step in controlling a greater Middle East, but key in ensuring the safety of all of Israel. With ISIS getting stronger in Syria, we are so lucky to have control over the Golan Heights to make sure that Israel is not forcefully attacked as it was in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Even more than national security, we have deeply established roots in this land, seen in the archaeological findings in the ancient city of Katzrin. Archaeologists have discovered synagogues and olive oil presses in the Golan Heights region, connecting us to our ancient Jewish roots in the region.
The next morning we volunteered with Hasomer Hachadash- The New Guard- to the West of the Kineret. This organization helps local farmers and landowners ensure the safety of their fields from criminals who wish to illegally destroy or squat on their land. With volunteers guarding the area, these criminals recognize that the land is being guarded and do not interfere.
I had the opportunity to work in the fields, clearing away thorns so that the farmer does not need to do it all on his own. It felt important to help in this way because we need to be the ones protecting the physical land as well.
The advocacy work we do on campus means nothing if we can’t help people working every day to maintain uninterrupted ownership of their home. My relationship to all of Israel was drastically changed from being ideological to having a physical connection to the land. The small amount of work that I did had such an impact on the people who permanently protect our homeland and ensure that the Jewish connection to Israel is always recognized. It is not enough to look at the past for validation; we must work to strengthen our current and future permanence in Israel.