Just before I started my Master in London, Nikita and me flew to Israel. We spent some days in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem.
On the first day of our trip, we had the inevitable, very long and passionate discussion about Israel and Palestine. I remember turning Nikita’s harmless intention to have breakfast in the sun into a UN debate in which I defended the view that Palestinians do not have complete access to human rights. After about two hours, and after forcing myself to leave and open end to the dispute, I think we both secretly agreed to be more diplomatic during the rest of the trip. The intention was to be “observers observing”, thus to stroll around the country gathering as objective data as possible to form a media-independent opinion about the Israel-Palestine affair. (I mostly gathered instances in favour of my thesis, but Nikita with his usual stoic approach to things, first tolerated me and secondly, actually pinpointed at some counterexamples.)
It is a pity to obliterate the outcomes, but doing the converse could only end in infinite superficiality, so I will only say that I have a more balanced view of the dispute now.
Nevertheless, there is an incredible density of beauty and culture that cannot be denied, and I tried to capture some impressions of it in the pictures below.
Tel Aviv is, despite my expectations mostly based on 0 amount of data, actually very progressive. There is a huge LGBTQ+ community, life seems to roll as it does in most countries I can think of, and even though the muslim community is mainly located by/in the Yaffa, the population in Tel Aviv seems quite homogeneous. There is certain agreement about the best Hummus, which truly is Uncle Abu’s. (https://www.abudubi.com/)
Yaffa by day…
…and at sunset.
Market streets at Yom Kippur
Bread left over
Jerusalem looked very different from Tel Aviv. It is home to some of the holiest sites in Abrahamic religions and Islam and since splitting the city fairly is one fundamental issue dividing Israelis and Palestinians, the atmosphere was a little more tense. We saw a plethora of soldiers and orthodox Jews.
A walk through the old city.
The dome of the holy sepulchre.
A fellow of the Coptic church (in black). There are ca. 20 million Coptic Orthodox Christians worldwide, which are mostly in Egypt.
Two young boys secretly smoking in Jerusalem. We were walking by and they started rolling their cigarettes.
A young man looking down to the building site taking place just in front of the Holy Wall in Jerusalem. When I took this picture I thought about the intrinsic symbolism: the orthodox jew confined to witness the progress of the world despite the desire of preservation and conservation.
In the tram in Jerusalem: a tired young man on the way to the Old City and behind him, an Israeli soldier.