Driving Toward Jerusalem
HEAD out along the bay toward Acre rather than south along the road to Tel Aviv, turning inland at Nesher by the great four-chimneyed cement works. It’s an unpromising beginning for a scenic route, a dismal industrial sink of smokestacks and foul tarns that could pass for New Jersey were it not for the occasional fronds of an asthmatic palm tree. Soon, though, I’m out of it, past suburban Tivon and skirting the western edge of the Valley of Jezreel. To one side is the well-watered valley, heroically green after six months of rainless summer, dotted with kibbutzim and moshavim, whose little red-roofed houses look requisitioned from a Monopoly set.
Purple bougainvillea athletically scales their white walls. A combine is harvesting cotton in a field, elephantine, covered with white burrs. Sprinklers whir and jerk, their jets forming Gothic arches in the air. Visible in the distance are the gray mountains of Samaria, the heart of Arab Palestine, whose curving spine runs southward from Jenin, untouched by Jewish settlement to this day. It’s a long-cut to Jerusalem, adding half an hour to the trip, but if one isn’t in a hurry, the empty roads and mountain views redeem lost time.
About the Author
Hillel Halkin is a columnist for the New York Sun and a veteran contributor to COMMENTARY. Portions of the present essay were delivered at Northwestern University in March as the Klutznick Lecture in Jewish Civilization.