Sunday, April 23, 2017

Putting Avivim on the map

I have to admit that we stumbled on Avivim purely by accident, when searching for a pitstop. This sleepy Israeli town nestles on a hilltop right on the Lebanese border.

The tranquility is deceptive. During the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, IDF soldiers caught up in the battle for another small town - Bint Jbeil just inside Lebanon - came across  detailed plans in which Hezbollah had marked out every house in Avivim for attack.

Map of Morocco (
I asked the administrator of the town where was he born. 'Israel', he answered. But his parents came from the High Atlas in southern Morocco.

'What about the rest of Avivim's inhabitants?'

'They're all from the High Atlas mountains.'

I remarked that it was curious that a community of Jews from the High Atlas mountains should have ended up perched on top of one of the higher peaks inside Israel. " Maybe they thought we would acclimatise better," the administrator laughed.

When the Zionists came to Morocco to take the Jews back to Israel, the community gathered up their meagre belongings - the High Atlas was one of the poorest and most primitive regions in the country - and followed them.

Did they have any regrets? " There is nowhere like Israel," he said, simply.

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