Perhaps not on the list of conventional tourist attractions in Israel, the Shouting Hill up on the Golan Heights has recently become a bit of a tourist spot, especially for those interested in seeing the pain of the Middle East conflict at close hand.
The Middle East’s own special precursor to Facebook and Twitter, the Shouting Hill is located on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, next to the village of Majdal Shams, at the bottom of Mount Hermon, but separated from Majdal Shams by a valley. On one side of the valley sits the Israel security zone, while on the other side of the valley it’s Syria, monitored by a UN observation post.
This situation arose because of the Six Day War in 1967, in which Israel gained control of the south-western part of the Golan Heights. The partition of the Golan Heights however meant many Druze families were separated by the new border. With Syria and Israel still officially at war, communications between the two countries have been non-existent ever since ’67. As a result, some people started to visit the hill to talk (or rather shout via a megaphone) to their family members on the other side of the border. OK, not quite Facebook or Twitter, but perhaps the roots of status updates to your friends and family…?
The Shouting Hill is actually 1100 meters high, while the exact place people come to shout is 3km from Majdal Shams and 2.5km away from the border.
With the advent of mobile phones and the Internet (and, of course, Facebook (pretty much banned in Syria) and Twitter), the Shouting Hill has become less popular, though is still used for important occasions, such as weddings or births. Even deaths can become part of the shouts on Shouting Hill, though I really don’t know how you’d confront the news that a beloved family member has died via a megaphone shout…
Dearie me, the heartbreak and pain of the Middle East.
How to get to the Shouting Hill: Basically you’re aiming for the top north-eastern corner of Israel, which can be reached by bus or car. Not sure if the bus stops at Majdal Shams but you can drive straight to Majdal Shams, while the Shouting Hill is located on the eastern side of town. If you’re looking for a hotel there is the recently opened Narkis Boutique Hotel, with what looks like 21 very nice rooms.
Of course, you could also become a fan of Majdal Shams on Facebook…