Israel and Iran have way more in common than they realize. Both have insane governments – yet absolutely amazing people!
I had the opportunity to visit Israel in 2022 and it absolutely lived up to the hype…I had the chance to drive from Acre, to Tiberias, to Haifa, to Mosada national park and it was absolutely amazing. It’s funny, you can see beach culture, country living, world-class metropolitan living and more all within this country the size of New Jersey. And driving here (including in Tel Aviv ) was a breeze.
My political feeling on Israel are complicated. The phrase A land without people, for a people without a land… comes to mind. However, this wasn’t a land without a people – Turks and Palestinians were living here long before the establishment of the Jewish state. That’s not opinion, that is a fact.
That being said – the jewish people needed a place to live and thrive – I get that part. But all the way back to the days of the Balfour declaration where prominent Jewish people of the day lobbied for favor with the British who were in control at the time all the way up to Netenyahu’s stance of ignoring settlements and the theft of Palestinian land…in present day Israel, i have unresolvable issues.
Being an Irish guy from Boston – I have no dog in the this fight. Which I believe allows me to view the situation with no agenda or bias. Just seeing the facts for what they are. I visited Hebron and that’s where i got a real feel for the true divided state that present-day Israel is. On a separate day, i visited Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, Nablus and Ramallah. It was eye opening to say the least…
This region – as a general rule – has a view on time that is incongruent with say the American timeline. The jewish people and arabs of the region both have histories going back thousands of years here. And i think that informs the modern Israeli and Arab mindset on the silent (and sometimes not so silent) war between Israel and Palestine. What do i mean by this? Well, it’s a war of attrition. Slowly break away their culture, slowly break down their spirit, slowly take their land. Slow enough to not invite unified international condemnation and not to summon international intervention… It could take a hundred years and it will all have been worth it. I honestly think this is the viewpoint of the extremist zionists. Do i think all Israeli’s ascribe to this way of thinking? No, not at all. In fact, we’ve seen many protests where jewish Israeli citizens were fighting for Palestinian rights! So just to be clear – i’m not saying all Israeli’s ascribe to this war of attrition.
Does one visit to Israel make me an expert on this matter? Absolutely not. While it’s true it’s been a subject of interest of mine for many years – an expert this does not make me. But, i can’t ignore what i saw with my own eyes. I’ve been wanting to do a blog post on this subject for so long, but i thought how could i do it without seeing this country (a very large swath of it, including the West Bank and the refugee camps) with my own eyes…
I could go on and on on this subject, because again – it is such an area of interest of mine. But i’ll digress. It’s not hard to infer where i stand on this subject. And i have to say – i was so impressed with Tel Aviv and some other areas, they are absolutely amazing and it’s incredible and commendable what they have done with this land in the last 100 years. Truly a sight to be seen.
Akko is a nice little seaside town in the northwest tip of Israel. It was home to a nice citadel and some caves and had a lot to show for such a low key town.
Another beautiful seaside city… in northwest Israel. I had no idea it was such a beach town. Reminded me of some seaside towns on the Californian coast.
Dead Sea and Masada National Park
The drive down to this area reminded me of Iran. In fact, the differences in these two landscapes are imperceptible. Down by Mosada National Park there was a lot of wildlife as well. Lizards, mountain goats etc. Pretty cool to see.
An extremely historical region with lots to see. Three religions claim their birthright here, so it’s a natural hotspot for tensions.
Damascus gate, Jerusalem.
Some restaurants have been in East Jerusalem for over 100 years…
The Western (wailing) Wall, in all its glory.
You could just feel the weight of history in this area, the Dome of the Rock, Temple Mount, every last nook and cranny was oozing with history.
A beautiful and relatively new Imperial Hotel.
Here was my first introduction to the wall. While Banksy’s The Walled Off Hotel was eye-opening, nothing could take a shadow to the wall itself. It was imposing, unmistakable and restrictive. And the kicker? It’s all for a parking lot so folks can use this as a starting point for trekking and other activities.
I got to walk through a mosque which was being overtaken by an adjacent temple. Pretty odd to see.
Two kids dressed up for a wedding…
I went to Hebron because i had seen videos describing peace and harmony between Israelis and Palestinians. But what i witnessed was the exact opposite. A (previously) open-air market where piss and shit was thrown down on the arab markets down below the settlements. This was also my first introduction to the checkpoints. As an American, i was ushered through quickly. However, i couldn’t help but notice the exhaustion and all eyes on me for moving through so quickly. Below was an IDF soldier manning a checkpoint. He was born and raised in NYC and was manning this post as part of his repatriation to Israel.
Israeli citizens on the left, Palestinians on the right.
The netting above the open air markets to catch trash and i presume some fecal matter from the patrons of the lower Arab market. The buildings above the satellite dish in the photograph are all Israeli-owned.
The Arab version of a full bucket of KFC chicken. =)
I had low expectations coming here…I thought it would be full of refugee camps and misery. And while there may be some of that, this was a metropolitan city through and through. 5 Star hotels, some pretty cool cars and nice shops. I left impressed, not all Arab areas are depressed here. I didn’t get many photos here unfortunately…
I had the chance to visit a remote Israeli settlement at a friends house outside of Jerusalem. He had some pretty sweet rural living here.
The gates to the settlement. Full with a watchtower and alarms.
It was an amazing time in Tel Aviv. Surpassed all expectations. A major metropolitan city right on the beach… It left an indelible impression.
The view from my office building.
All buildings in Israel require a bomb shelter in the center. My company made their shelter a music recording studio… holy hell. Pretty morbid, yet cool at the same time.
A really cool food court next to the government complex. The last photograph i got before i left.
It’s an extremely bifurcating experience in Israel. On the one hand, you know some shady shit is going down. On the other – wow look at that shiny cool city. I’m still processing what i saw there to this very day.