Israel 2017–Day 3

24 Pictures

At 6:00 AM I go down to the big public swim area and join wetsuited surfers and guys with beards and moobs jumping in the water.  In the locker room on my way out, I see their tzitzit and big hats hanging on hooks.


After breakfast we travel north through areas of high rise condos under construction, the average one costing about  1.5 million dollars. Gabi tells us there’s a serious housing shortage throughout Israel and especially in Tel Aviv.  Young people staged massive protests about it in 2011. The government makes efforts to promote affordable housing but cant accomplish much. Israel, she said regretfully, is changing from a socialist, egalitarian society to one of extreme capitalism and deepening separation of rich and poor.

Riding north, we notice Arab communities recognizable from “organic” growth and building patterns, families making additions to houses without observing strict planning guidelines in effect elsewhere in the Jewish areas. Though all Israeli rooftops have solar water heaters provided by the government, just before Caesarea, we pass an immense coal-fired power plant, the country’s biggest source of electricity.

King Herod built the port of Caesarea in tribute to his patron, the Roman Emperor Augustus.  At the visitor center we watch a movie with archaic special effects taking us “back through time,” and then walk quickly through the large archaeological site, featuring an amphitheatre now used for rock concerts, a hippodrome, ancient public toilets, a submerged port, and chunks of carved marble imported by boat 2000 years ago.



The Roman ruins were covered by those of a Byzantine city, later destroyed and rebuilt by Muslims, then Crusaders (11-12 centuries) and finally by Turks.

Next stop is Atlit internment camp historical park, like Ayalon, preserving a heroic national memory with original artifacts, restored buildings, multimedia presentations, and the lectures of youthful guides.  Here the story is of smuggling Jewish World War II refugees into the country in violation of the prohibitions of the British Mandate.

We proceed to the village of Izfiya at the top of the Mt. Carmel ridge. We’re welcomed to a private multistory home with ocean views by a local guide who tells us something about the Druze culture of the village. It’s a variant of Islam that’s feminist and tolerant, restricted to descendants of families evicted from Egypt in the 11th century. They believe in reincarnation and are certain that the population of the world has not changed since the creation. The Druze are supportive of and favored by Israeli society.


Our guide helps serve a delicious meal of dishes prepared by the woman who owns the house.  Around the table, we start getting to know some of our fellow tour members. I find common ground discussing chain saws and chippers with Bill, an arborist from Kentucky, and Jan discovers a fellow Rotarian in Milton, a Korean war veteran, who has spent most of his life in the foreign service.


The road down to the sea from Mt. Carmel winds through neighborhoods of elegant colonial houses and gardens. We stop for spectacular views of our destination, Haifa, and of the Bahai Gardens.


Our hotel, “The Bay Club,” a former private mansion, provides a generous happy hour.


Afterwards I walk around the neighborhood in the dark, stopping at the big playground across the street now filled with Arab families replacing the Jewish ones who occupied it earlier in the day.

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