Golan Heights cowboys

May 29, 2013

Golan Heights

By Nir Elias

On one of my recent visits to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights I bumped into a group of Israeli cowboys working their herd near the tense frontier with Syria, where a civil war is raging just several miles away.


After taking some photos of the men with the Hermon mountain range in the background, I was able to arrange a full day shoot. Arriving before the crack of dawn, I was welcomed with a steaming cup of coffee by the head cowboy, Nadav. Joined by four other riders, we saddled up and rode out.

Each cowboy made his own fashion statement. Nadav was dressed for the trail – no tassels or frills, just workers’ pants, a button-down shirt and a broad, weather-beaten brown leather Stetson. Alon looked like he had just walked out a fashion shoot, accessorizing his get-up with a Zippo lighter, a multi-tool Leatherman, an extra knife and a pack of cigarettes.

Yakir, who grew up with horses and cattle on a kibbutz, or collective farm, wore a simple t-shirt and jeans with a baseball cap.

I came away from my day on the range with a keen respect for the professional way the men tackled a tough job on rocky terrain. It was a refreshing break from taking photos of some of the more familiar images of the Israeli-Arab conflict and a reminder that unique, individual characters are very much part of the overall story.


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Not real cowboys, of course, as the real cowboys are Americans in The American Hemisphere and real Americans never travel across that ocean, needless to say. Maybe you can call them euroboys or chinaboys or afroboys or gayboys or something more descriptive to them?

Posted by Fit_And_Real | Report as abusive

After having been around REAL cowboys and the cowboy way of life since I was a kid, I can tell you that these guys ARE real cowboys. Real cowboys (and cowgirls) take care of their animals, take care of their families, are honest and hard-working. And they accept anyone who can live up to the code, regardless of what country or ethnic group they are from and they don’t take kindly to phonies. Clearly, Fit_And_Real doesn’t know what to look for and has never been exposed to the real cowboys.
The cowboys depicted in this article live tough life with extra dangers most of us never face. You can tell by the look of their livestock and horses, the way the horses are saddled, and how they are handling themselves that they know what they are doing and are the real thing.

Posted by TX-Roper | Report as abusive