Written by CAMERA trip participant Rachel Wolf
On the seventh full day of the Israel trip, students met with Hadar Sela, the managing editor of the BBC Watch. The students also went to Majdal Shams and met with one of the prominent leaders there, watched an Oz 77 film about the 77th Battalion in the Yom Kippur War at Kibbutz Elrom, and kayaked down the Jordan River.
Hadar Sela (left) is the managing editor of BBC Watch. BBC Watch is a part of CAMERA’s British Department which monitors the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and handles its inaccuracy. BBC Watch helps keep the BBC, which is a publicly funded news program, accurate and fair. Sela discussed her work with the students, explaining how the BBC Watch was started and why it was so important. Additionally, Sela showed the students Kibbutz Kfar Haruv, where she lives. What is unique about Sela’s kibbutz is that it is in the Golan Heights, an area that was under Syrian control prior to being under Israel’s, meaning that if Israel were to ever give back the Golan, Sela would be sitting in Syria. Furthermore, there have been “red alert,” or air raid, sirens in the north not because of spillover from the Syrian civil war that is currently going on. This fact made the students realize the difficult situation that Israel is facing right on its border.
The students then went to Majdal Shams, a Druze village in the north, and met with one of the leaders in the community. He discussed the differences between the Druze in the north and the Druze in the south. The main difference is that the northern Druze still have some ties to their communities in Syria. Israel even lets these people cross the border to see their families.
After meeting with Hadar, the students went to Kibbutz Elrom to watch Oz 77, a film about the 77th Battalion in the Yom Kippur War. The film features real footage from the Yom Kippur War that is shown alongside interviews with friends and relatives of deceased soldiers as well as surviving soldiers. The film gives a new and unique perspective, making one feel as though he is on the frontlines of the war.
Later that day, the students went kayaking on the Jordan River. They broke up into small groups and were given a meeting spot near the end of the river. Some students even decided to race each other down the river. This was the highlight for many students, as it was not only a hands-on way of learning about Israel, but it was also a lot of fun.