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Walking the Land
A History of Israeli Hiking Trails
Published by: Indiana University Press
Israel has one of the most extensive and highly developed hiking trail systems of any country in the world. Millions of hikers use the trails every year during holiday breaks, on mandatory school trips, and for recreational hikes. Walking the Land offers the first scholarly exploration of this unique trail system.
Featuring more than ten thousand kilometers of trails, marked with hundreds of thousands of colored blazes, the trail system crisscrosses Israeli-controlled territory, from the country's farthest borders to its densest metropolitan areas. The thousand-kilometer Israel National Trail crosses the country from north to south. Hiking, trails, and the ubiquitous three-striped trail blazes appear everywhere in Israeli popular culture; they are the subjects of news articles, radio programs, television shows, best-selling novels, government debates, and even national security speeches. Yet the trail system is almost completely unknown to the millions of foreign tourists who visit every year and has been largely unstudied by scholars of Israel. Walking the Land explores the many ways that Israel's hiking trails are significant to its history, national identity, and conservation efforts.
Note on Transliteration, Translation, and Language Use
Introduction: Israeli Hiking Trails and Their Spatial, National, and Existential Dimensions
1. The Construction of a Jewish Hiking Culture in Palestine, 1904-1935
2. The Palmach and the First Marked Hiking Trail, 1935-1948
3. The First Israeli Hiking Trails, 1949-1963
4. The Foundations of the Country-Wide Trail Network, 1963-1979
5. Completing the Network and Creating a National Trail, 1980-2001
6. Postscripts, 2001-2021
Shay Rabineau is Assistant Professor of Israel Studies and Associate Director of the Center for Israel Studies at Binghamton University. His research is at the intersection of Middle East history, geography, politics, and environment.
"Shay Rabineau's Walking the Land offers a fascinating history of a largely unstudied topic - the creation of a network of trails in Palestine and Israel since the early 20th century and the development of a thriving recreational culture among natives and visitors. Who would have suspected that trails themselves reveal a slice of a country's history? The author's choice of illuminating maps and evocative photographs will draw the reader right onto the trails."~Jehuda Reinharz, Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish History, Brandeis University
"In his deeply original Walking the Land, Shay Rabineau takes what seems like a surface-level issue – hiking trails – and explores their profound implications in and on Zionist thought, Israeli society, and Palestinian national aspirations. He does so with the seriousness of a scholar and the sparkle of a great storyteller who has enjoyed an adventure or two himself on these winding paths. "~Christa Case Bryant, former Jerusalem bureau chief for The Christian Science Monitor
"Rabineau's book, in short, offers an authoritative introduction to the history of hiking and trail-marking in the Land of Israel, and it is certain to become a 'go to' work on these phenomena for the foreseeable future."~David Rodman, Israel Affairs