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Friday, June 16, 2017

Yes that was gunfire and that is an ISIS held village.

Looking into Syria we could hear the war.
In my blog I can go a little deeper than just sharing pictures and I've been thinking about an experience we had two days ago.  First of all, it is very safe here traveling.  That being said, while looking over into the Syrian border we heard the unmistakable sounds of war.  There was gunfire, explosions and artillery.  It was a bit surreal.  Syria is in the midst of a civil war and there are several factions who are involved.  Along the border that we were following the Regime of Assad is engaged with ISIS.  In fact while we were following the border--something a usual pilgrimage trip doesn't do--we could literally see only a mile away, an ISIS controlled village. 

As we traveled along the border we were reminded that technically we were in 'occupied Syria' as the land was taken in the 68 war, and as we passed the rusting shells of tanks and memorials along the road we were reminded of the Yom Kippur invasion in the 70's and the fact that we were traveling in a part of Israel that has seen its share of bloodshed.  Finally we passed along to the Jordan border, you could see a bridge long ago destroyed, a reminder that it wasn't until the 90's that a peace deal was signed by Jordan and Israel.
See the tank on the hill?  A reminder of the various
wars in this region.

What was interesting was the reaction of the group to the sound of war.  One was very upset and pleaded for us to leave---we didn't.  Several rounded together and prayed, realizing that human life was most likely in peril within our earshot.  And some of us just looked and listened.  Our guide for the day, a seasoned French citizen, lit a cigarette and the bus driver took out his phone and played a video of when he was here before and the sound of fighting was much closer. 

Then someone asked, "and who is the US backing?"  It was a funny question since we were hearing the sound of the Assad regime fighting ISIS and so the answer was neither!  And who does Israel back?  Well they quite frankly are hoping the devil they know--Assad--well stay in power.   But of course the Russians are backing him, and even though Israel and the US are such allies, the US is (at least publicly) backing the resistance.  Meanwhile the Kurds are taking over the north, and while we are allies with Turkey---who does not want the Kurds to have a stronghold, we tend to like the Kurds as they help us fight with ISIS, so Turks have established their own little piece of Syria as well up in the North.  (Remember when the Russian jet was shot down by the Turks a year or so ago).  And we cant forget the Druze who are a distinct people (George Cloney's wife is a Druze) some of whom live in Israel and are loyal to Israel, some of whom live in Syria and are loyal to the Assad regime; but who are most of all loyal to each other.
An ISIS controlled village a mile away in
the distance.

So who are we backing?  Meanwhile pieces of shrapnel and metal projectiles are more than likely tearing through the bodies of soldiers, women, and children just across a border marked with a fence and a UN force that has been in place for decades to help keep the peace between Syria and Israel. 

So who are we backing?  I've come to the conclusion that I want to be on the side of peace.  Of compromise and of life.  Unfortunately no matter where it is carried out there is no "clean war."  This doesn't mean I'm a pacifist or somehow can be put in a box in regards to my political views, it just means but for the lack of mother nature and geography my family lives on this side of the border and I can get back on the air conditioned bus and continue on my way.  If it were my family across that border I would be fervently praying that someone might be on the side of peace and trying to do something to stop the bullets from flying.  
That's Jordan across the green belt.  they and Israel have
been officially at peace since the 90's

So what do you do.  I said a little prayer and found my sit on the bus. But for many reasons it was a little bit less comfortable.

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