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5 Tiyul (Hike) as an Act of Consecration of Space ORIT BEN-DAVID EDITOR'S COMMENTS Orit Ben-David's "Tiyul (Hike) as an Act of Consecration of Space" discusses hikes organized by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Ben-David shows that these hikes can be understood as combining two aspects: the ritualistic and the taxonomic . The ritualistic aspect of the hikes is evident in their contemporary expression of valued actions found in earlier versions ofZionism: on actualization (hagshama) ofa link to the land. Thus she suggests that for many Israelis hikes are a means for 'marking' territory and for declaring ownership of the land. In other words, hikes, like similar rituals found the world over, are means for effecting a legitimate connection between people and land. The symbolic aspect ofthe hikes lies in their designating a distinction between culture and nature, between civilized areas and 'untouched' spaces. On Saturday, November 4, 1989, about four thousand members of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel as well as members of various youth movements, set out to protest against the intention of the air force to expropriate an area in the Arava (a valley that is part of the great Rift Valley between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba) in order to turn it into a site for military exercises. This particular site was selected because a broadcasting station for the Voice of America was to be erected in the area that 129 5 Tiyul (Hike) as an Act of Consecration of Space oRIT BEN-DAVID EDITOR'S COMMENTS Orit Ben-David's "Tiyul (Hike) as an Act of Consecration of Space" discusses hikes organized by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Ben-David shows that these hikes can be understood as combining two aspects: the ritualistic and the taxonomic . The ritualistic aspect of the hikes is evident in their contemporary expression of valued actions found in earlier versions ofZionism: on actualization (hagshama) ofa link to the land. Thus she suggests that for many Israelis hikes are a means for 'marking' territory and for declaring ownership of the land. In other words, hikes, like similar rituals found the world over, are means for effecting a legitimate connection between people and land. The symbolic aspect ofthe hikes lies in their designating a distinction between culture and nature, between civilized areas and 'untouched' spaces. On Saturday, November 4, 1989, about four thousand members of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel as well as members of various youth movements, set out to protest against the intention of the air force to expropriate an area in the Arava (a valley that is part of the great Rift Valley between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba) in order to turn it into a site for military exercises. This particular site was selected because a broadcasting station for the Voice of America was to be erected in the area that 129 130 Orit Ben-David serves at present as an exercise area for the air force. Erection of the broadcasting station would necessitate extension of the training zone, which would in turn prevent many nature lovers from hiking in the region, because entering training areas is forbidden except on certain public holidays. In order to demonstrate their commitment to prevent this move, which they viewed as extending civilization, thousands of hikers from all over the country converged on the Arava. In the framework of the demonstration, the participants hiked in the area for five hours in desert landscape void of any point of scenic interest or historical significance. It was a tiring walk in the hot sun, and an effort had to be made to complete the course. The hikers perspired, looked at the scenery, listened to the sounds, and smelled the plants. For a short period they were "part of nature." In an explanatory leaflet that was handed out to the participants by the organizers, it was stated: "This is an area of unique natural resources and primeval scenery as yet untouched by man.... It is completely unacceptable that due to outside interests and alien considerations the citizens of Israel should be forced to give up this priceless scenic heritage.... We [Society for the Protection of Nature] call on you to come and join us and help remove the threat." I suggest that the hike cum demonstration in the Arava is a declaration of territorial claim, and a consecration of...

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