‘The Israel Trail: Week 1, Join the Journey’ by Udi Goren from Israel

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Udi Goren is an Israeli photographer, member of YaLa young Leaders since 2012. A month ago, Udi decided to walk the entire Israel National Trail – The Israeli Trail is a hiking trail that waves through Israel from North to South for 940 km and to invite people to join him along the way. Frustrated by the economical, political and social situation in Israel, he chose to look at his country in a different way and to remember what he loved about it.

Here is the story of the first week of his journey:

The Upper Galilee doesn’t hold pity for those who walk it. It’s face is scarred with shoe loving rocks and trees that will gladly reach for your bag. However, it also holds a blissful abundance. Each day of the trail is worthy of a story, but Wadi Amud has left a very powerful mark. In spite of having hiked it in the past, somehow I underestimated its force and grandeur.

The creek is even more unique because of the findings in its caves: the largest humanoid skull ever found was discovered in the Zuttiyeh cave and it’s considered to belong to a species that was a transition between the Neanderthal and the modern Homo Sapience.

One of the things I find myself doing over and over again is imaging how everything looked before we harnessed nature to our needs- when water still flowed in natural river beds and trees and bushes supplied all our needs. Wadi Amud, this deep scar in the landscape around it, was probably heaven to this “Galilee man” that lived in the cave.

imageIn the 70′s a huge dirt mound was placed there in order to pave the road, without taking into consideration the environmental impact it may have. Who knew? After all, it was a time when people still thought smoking is cool, that eating meat and dairy is good for you, and made asbestus roofs. The mound was critically destructive to the creek- it disturbed the water flow, cut off wildlife populations and effectively disconnected the lower part of the creek from the top part. Now, along with broadening the road, the National Roads Company of Israel and the Committee  for National Infrastructure, which are in charge of the project, decided to bring down the mound in spite of the immense cost and right the wrong.

Oddly enough, this brought forth my frustration with Israel. Why? Since we can’t really suspect our governmental companies with being too concerned about ecology and wildlife wellbeing. This act, of putting so much into an environmental project (and not a military project or anything that has to do with “national security”), testifies to the obvious: where there’s a will, there’s a way. Here’s my hypothesis: someone influential released what was the right thing to do, put his foot down and made it happen. The right, obvious, moral and ecologically-sound thing happened. Would any Israeli expect that? Would any Israeli expect any governmental body to do anything that doesn’t fall into its people’s interests or “national security” needs? I think this is one of the things that make me most furious- I truly believe there’s a high rate of talented, intelligent and sophisticated people here. but the ruling norms are wrong: “Me first. Then my family and associates and the hell with everything else. To do the work I’m paid for? Only if I have to- I’m no sucker!”

imageIt all starts with the higher ups: we no longer have any expectations from our politicians. They steal, they cheat, they lie, they only do for their own. And us? We keep voting them in. We keep saying “there’s nothing to do” and “that’s the way it is”. We accept all the crap they shove in our faces and get mad at anyone that dares to claim there is a different way and that it’s actually not the way it works everywhere else. As long as our solution is going with the flow and only taking care of our own; to steal, cheat and lie to make it because that’s what everybody does, instead of rising up and screaming that that’s not how you build a country or a society- as long as this doesn’t happen- Israel will stay the way it is.

You can read the full story on Udi’s blog: http://udigoren.com/

You can also contact him if you want to join him on his hike.

Want to know why Udi started this trip? Follow the link to check out his first blog and invitation to walk together

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