Alarming News

August 31, 2009

View from Israel

Before I show a montage of photos, I just want to say this: It would probably surprise many so-called anti-Zionists to learn that Israelis desperately want peace with the Palestinians. When you talk to a mainstream Israeli, you’re talking to a person who has served in the Israeli army, whose children will serve or have served in the Israeli army. The fight with the Palestinians isn’t an abstraction for them, it’s a reality. Nobody wants a war that will last forever. I don’t believe the same can be said of the Palestinians. I don’t believe that getting Gaza and the West Bank and even part of Jerusalem will ever be enough. The existence of Jews will always be the ultimate insult to them. The Israelis I spoke to hope this is not true. I do too. Maybe I’m just more cynical because I am removed from the situation and I can hope without ever really relying on the Palestinians to change. Anyway, I knew this to be true before I went but it was brought home again and again during our visit. Israelis want peace. If the other side did too, peace would already be here.

Some pictures from our trip:

Voice of Peace recording in Tel Aviv:
Voice of Peace broadcast, Tel Aviv

Sign on Tel Aviv beach:
Go In Peace sign, Tel Aviv

Graffiti in Tel Aviv:
Tel Aviv graffiti

View from our room in Tel Aviv:
View from room

I don’t know what this ad is for but Yankees represent!:
Yankees cap

Madonna was coming and people were very excited:

Business card for money-exchange in Haifa:

Last time I was in Israel, in 1991, soldiers with machine guns were everywhere. Now they are a really rare sight. This was taken at Rosh Hanikra on the Lebanon border:

Best hummus in the whole world, at Abu George in Arab city of Akko:

Women watching men pray at the Western Wall (not sure why as women have their own section):

My husband at the wall, wearing his Dallas Cowboys hat, putting in his prayer:

Notes in the Western Wall:

The unfinished security wall:

Amid history and religion, dashes of modernity:

More graffiti in Tel Aviv:

This was a fashion shoot in Tel Aviv, I think for the brand Dolce&Gabbana:
Photo shoot

Apparently the recession is causing Israel to deport their illegal immigrants and, like here, not everyone approves:

Loosely translated, “hey hippie, get a haircut”:

One of the finalists of Israel’s version of “American Idol”, called “Kochav Nolad”, performed an impromptu rock show on the corner of a Tel Aviv neighborhood called Florentin. The cops showed up about 20 minutes in but the show was over by then anyway:

Sunset over the Mediterranean, last day in Tel Aviv:

All in all, a great trip. Israel feels so familiar to me, as it does to most Jews, I think, even those who don’t visit for years at a time (my last time there was when I was 14. 18, ahem, years ago). It isn’t home, exactly, I’m always American first and foremost, but in a pinch it could be. I also think Israel is definitely worth a visit for non-Jews too. It’s a really special place, obviously in a religious sense but also in a cool-country-to-spend-a-few-days way.

Posted by Karol at 10:27 AM |
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My sister (one of em anyway) spent summer 2008 in a place called Oush Ghrab in the West Bank working for the Alternative Information Centre (main director is Jewish btw).
Her experience was such that she saw clearly the Palestinian desire for peace and their own state. They didn’t want to kill Jews or see their existence as an insult, they wanted to be left alone and for ideological settlers to stop stealing their land at gunpoint.
She did make the distinction between economic settlers and ideological ones (most western media makes no distinction at all) and saw many times instances where economic settlers, israeli soldiers and Palestinians were able to do things as innocuous as play board games together. The problem there were the settlers who believed they have a divine right to all the land in the area and were happy to use machine guns (she actually saw this) to take it.

Posted by: Nick at August 31, 2009 at 11:59 am

Nick, Arabs and Jews live side by side within Israel but the idea that such a thing could exist in any Arab territories is considered completely impossible. Why? Why can’t Jewish areas exist in a Palestinian state?

Posted by: Karol at August 31, 2009 at 12:04 pm

what will happen in 20 years when Israeli Arabs outnumber Israeli Jews ?

Posted by: John Ryan at August 31, 2009 at 12:04 pm

There is no good or rational reason why such a thing could not or should not happen.
Problem is the Jewish areas don’t want to be part of an Arab state. they go in attack the locals and then scream for the IDF to defend them (it can hardly do otherwise to be fair to it). The settlement is then absorbed into Israel or placed under quasi military occupation.
In Oush Ghrab there was a Palestinian Mayor. He couldn’t do anything unless the IDF agreed. Not Israeli territory and yet the representative of the people couldn’t do anything unless the IDF acquiesced. Example: Settlers carrying sub machine guns complained that my sister and her colleagues armed with digital cameras were intimidating them!!!!!!! Result. IDF forces Natasha and the others to leave.
Question for you. Why should these guys be allowed to go in at gunpoint and throw someone out of their house??

Posted by: Nick at August 31, 2009 at 12:11 pm

John, I don’t know. Are you referring to right of return or naturally?
Nick, such a thing will NEVER happen. No, Jewish areas might not want to be part of a Palestinian state but they let go of Gaza when they had to even though that meant leaving behind their homes and neighborhoods. And why? Why couldn’t they continue to live in Gaza?
And if IDF is in the area that means it’s under Israeli control so I am behind whatever security measures they need to take. I don’t know your sister but most Europeans working with the Palestinians have no idea what’s going on and are fed total propaganda about people being “thrown out of their house”. Please. The only people being thrown out at gunpoint are the settlers when Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinians.

Posted by: Karol at August 31, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Yeah, I could live there, easily, and I’m not religious in any sense of the word. Beautiful country, beautiful people.

Posted by: Tanya at August 31, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Wonderful pictures !
Netanyahu is unleashing capitalism, and Israel’s economy will pick up.
Israel is already one of the world’s leading producers of scientific and medical research & development—a key motive for the Marxists and jihad-sympathizers to hate Israel even more.
There’s nothing like success to intensify the resentment of ankle-biters.
When Iran’s Rethuglican Guard runs into the streets cracking heads of Muslims whom are peacefully protesting, the Israel-haters among “The West” are conspicuously silent.
The Israel-haters among “The West” are also conspicously silent when women are being flogged for being seen in public with a man whom is not her husband, and they’re also silent when Christian villages are murdered and burned in Pakistan, and they’re also silent when little girls in Afghanistan have acid thrown in their faces as punishment for…going to school !
I swear, one almost gets the idea that the Israel-haters don’t care about standing up to any of that “other” stuff.

Posted by: IamTheWalrus at August 31, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Oh yeah, my LJ buddy-list is filled with Israelis begging for an extra ticket to Madonna concert – even if it means 3000+ shekels! Mishigine, I tell’ya.
The view from your hotel was beautiful – but how was the sea compared to Caribbean? Was it as humid there? Did you have a chance to go to Eilat?

Posted by: Tatyana at August 31, 2009 at 5:44 pm

The Mediterranean is bath-water warm compared to Caribbean, and hot-tub hot compared to our LI beaches in NY. It was super humid in Tel Aviv but not so bad in Haifa and Jerusalem. And we didn’t get a chance to go to Eilat, we had a lot of family stuff to do in and around Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Posted by: Karol at August 31, 2009 at 6:19 pm

awesome photos. At the Western Wall the men’s side is always more festive and interesting than the women’s side which is probably why they are always peering over the wall. Once i was singing and dancing on friday eve and someone told us to quiet down so the men wouldn’t hear. So yeah, party’s usually over on their side.

Posted by: Jessica at August 31, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Wearing a Dallas Cowboys hat cancels out any prayer you say wearing it.
It’s in the Torah.

Posted by: Oschisms at September 1, 2009 at 10:39 pm

lots of bar mitzvahs at the kotel; women might be female relatives watching.

Posted by: Yehudit at September 2, 2009 at 4:01 am

What Karol & Tatyana say abt “it’s not home, I’m not planning to move, but I could see living there” – I feel the same way. It’s just a cool little country. Israelis are so creative & have such zest for life.
But it’s so tiny and hemmed in. Imagine you live in New Jersey & if you want to leave you have to fly out, you can’t just take a long road trip from your state out elsewhere. And you have 1/2 degree of separation with all other NJites. And Penna, NY, and Maryland all hate you.

Posted by: Yehudit at September 2, 2009 at 4:14 am
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