One of my favorite places in Israel is not visited by most tourists. (Come to think of it, that’s true of most of my favorite places.) I like tells and I love panoramic vistas. But I also love to sit back, put my feet in the Sea of Galilee, and relax. Give me a book or give my kids a raft and it’s all the better. I’ve probably watched the sun set over the Sea of Galilee from here more than 200 times.
The place is En Gev, and it hasn’t always been a beautiful holiday resort. In biblical times, people were settled on the tell in the middle of today’s kibbutz. Some have identified it as “Lower Aphek.”
In the 1930s, courageous Jewish pioneers settled this uninhabited area with a “tower and stockade.”
The compound became a kibbutz, and from 1948 to 1967 residents lived below the Syrian-controlled mountains of the Golan Heights. Shelling was frequent and bomb shelters became bedrooms. Since 1967, Israel has controlled the Golan Heights and Kibbutz En Gev has developed a flourishing tourist industry, including the holiday village, tourist boats, and fish restaurant.
As you drive along the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee today, there is relatively little development. One reason for that is the hostile conditions until 1967 and the uncertainty since then of the Golan Heights’ future.
The second photograph is one of 600 high-resolution images in the newly released Northern Palestine CD, volume 1 of The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection. Photo: Library of Congress, LC-matpc-03684.