Galilee ‘Trail Wars’ heat up — “Jesus” vs. “Gospel”

A marker stone along the new Gospel Trail. Haaretz photo: Nitzan Shorer

Much has already been written about the two Christian-oriented hiking routes through the Lower Galilee, one a private initiative and the other a project of the Israeli government, both starting (at different points) in Nazareth and ending at Capernaum, and both vying for essentially the same clientele.

Now, the people promoting the Jesus Trail, inaugurated some three years ago as a resource for Christian tourists and pilgrims, have posted — apparently just today, 05 DEC 2011 — a comparison of their route with the similar and nearby trail recently unveiled by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, the “Gospel Trail”. Their analysis of the two routes is found on the Jesus Trail web-site, HERE (apparently not viewable in Firefox); note that the Jesus Trail folks have cleverly secured the domain name “www.gospeltrail.com” for this  comparison section, in addition to their own main site, http://jesustrail.com.

Among their complaints are that the Ministry of Tourism, while formerly supporting and helping promote the Jesus Trail initiative, has now removed all mention of it from Ministry-produced material and maps. Other points: 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.

story in today’s Haaretz newspaper gives more background on the two routes and some of the personalities and issues involved in what now seems to be growing beyond a friendly rivalry.

UPDATE / 13 APR 2012:  I have just discovered that, even before the Haaretz article appeared, award-winning travel writer Matthew Teller posted his very relevant observations HERE, on his “Quite Alone” web-log. Well worth a read for those interested.

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