We noted last week the inauguration of the “Gospel Trail,” a 40-mile route that runs from Nazareth to Capernaum. Tom Powers has noted an article in Haaretz that discusses the need for a $700,000 expenditure to create a trail with essentially the same purpose and route as one established several years ago.
All well and good, but a brief perusal of the map of Israel reveals that another route was dedicated three years ago and goes by a few names, among them the “Jesus Trail.” It follows a slightly different route, 65 kilometers in length, with orange trail markings, from Nazareth to Lake Kinneret, and caters – until recently, with the enthusiastic encouragement of the Tourism Ministry – to exactly the same clientele.
The creation of the older route began as an initiative of Maoz Yinon, a 35-year-old entrepreneur who owns the Fauzi Azar hostel in Nazareth, plus another hostel in Jerusalem. At the time Yinon won the support of many groups for his plan, among them the Tourism Ministry, the Israel Trails Committee (part of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel ) and several local authorities. Together with an American Christian named David Landis, he developed a route based on three principles: It would have a connection to Christian tradition, it would feature hiking in beautiful landscapes and it would encourage the involvement of local communities.
Tom references a blogpost (that I cannot locate) on the Jesus Trail site which distinguishes between the two trails. In Tom’s words (slightly reformatted):
The new Gospel Trail does not
- take into account hikers’ need for regular water sources,
- it bypasses too many important Christian sites,
- it was not planned in cooperation with local communities,
- and the places visited are not truly representative of Galilee’s diverse social fabric – more specifically, it steers the trail users away from Arab towns and villages in favor of Jewish areas.
I’m sure that the Israeli Ministry of Tourism will have a different perspective to justify their expenditure of 3 million shekels.