Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Beauty Of Israel Through The Eyes Of A Muslim Physician

Fascinating narrative on her first visit to Israel by Dr. Qanta Ahmed, professor of medicine at State University of New York at Stony Brook. She's a Muslim of Pakistani heritage who got the grand tour via helicopter, or as she puts it "how God sees it."  Uri, her tour guide, an Israeli air force vet.

On the Golan:
 No one has prepared me for the soft beauty of the Golan. In my brain I had conjured images of a demilitarized zone, barren, desecrated and godforsaken. Instead I see a landscape which speaks England. Neat fields, intensely green, pepper the landscape. Soft brown hills evoke the Scottish Highlands save the purple heather. This land was host to conflicts and wars, bunkers and bombs? Somehow, like the rest of Israel, the resilient land has recovered and not only repaired, but blossomed, responding to destruction with incredible vitality and bold beauty. What spirit, this land!
On the greening of the desert:

After fifteen years of traveling to the Arab Gulf, I find it impossible to believe desert was once here.
Irrigated green strips interrupt freshly tilled soil eager for crops. On the Jordanian side I see more nascent cultivation, but greenery nonetheless. “It was part of the peace agreement” Uri tells me “Israel had to share its irrigation and agricultural technology with Jordanians as part of the deal. Israel even had to share its water.”

On the border fence:

After two weeks of being in Israel, I now accept there are many things here I will not understand, including how Israelis can move towards not only tolerance in peace, but nurturing partnerships with those once their mortal enemies.
We pass an innocuous fence. I can hardly see it. Uri becomes even more animated. “Can you see it? Can you see it? THAT’S the border!” At first, I see nothing. Straining, I finally spy the slender wire fence which separates Israel from Jordan. This, a border? Couldn’t possibly be. There is no separation. Compared to the borders of the United States or Pakistan or India or Afghanistan – all of which I have visited – this is incredibly intimate. But good fences, an abiding and treasured value of observant Jews (to define, separate, enshrine, and through this separation respect and honor) -make for good neighbors. Israel’s neighborliness is visible from the air.
On Israel in general.

This is the Land. This is what my American Jewish friends in New York City, surviving on the other side of The Holocaust, yearn for without words. This is the fabled place to which deeds from the 20th century are still treasured by Palestinian families long gone. This is the scene from where Islam’s Prophet began his night journey. This is what he must surely have seen as he charged ahead on Barak.
This is the Land. Ha’Aretz. And I learn, quite simply: like many, I had long loved her without knowing, and will love her wherever I go, whomever I become, whomsoever I worship. Wherever destiny may choose to pit me upon her unseen path, this will always be Israel.
She loves and appreciates Israel.

Along with photos, read about her trip here.

H/T Israpundit

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