Experiencing Israel

People sometimes contact me about the experience of visiting Israel, what is it like? Is it safe? Here is a post by a friend of a friend that I saw on Facebook. Farhana Rahman, who came to visit Israel (this was her second trip) from New York City shared her feelings about her time here. I asked her if I could share parts of it and she graciously agreed.

Israel is a tiny magical land that has everything. What do you want?

Snow capped mountains? ✔︎
Waterfalls? ✔︎
Big cities? ✔︎
Ancient sites? ✔︎
Ruins preceding biblical times? ✔︎
Historical landmarks? ✔︎
Nightlife? ✔︎
Booming enterprises? ✔︎
Organic farms? ✔︎
Vineyards? ✔︎
Wildlife? ✔︎
Ginormous shopping complexes? ✔︎
International restaurants? ✔︎
Scenic views of skies, greenery, and deserts? ✔︎
Acclaimed universities? Concerts? Beaches? ✔︎ ✔︎ ✔︎

It’s all there.

That’s what I do, share the Israel experience with you, like only a local can, whatever your interests. At the same time you get a professional, experienced and passionate guide.

And Orthodox Muslims enjoy  all that Israel has just fine alongside the Jews. THE ONLY DRAMA THAT HAPPENS THERE IS CAUSED BY EXTREMISTS. And when it happens, it happens. When it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s NOT a freaking constant war zone throughout Israel!

A good counterpoint to the present reality. A 38 year old woman, Dafna Meir, may her memory be a blessing, mother of 6 children was stabbed to death yesterday in her home in Otniel and a pregnant woman was stabbed in Tekoa, a Jewish community across Nahal Charitoun from Herodium where I’ve guided many times.

It’s almost crazy how many Muslim women I saw driving, shopping independently, studying, working, and enjoying life in Israel. Freedoms they couldn’t even dream of elsewhere in the Mideast. And yes, many of them were all burka’ed out to the nines. Also, it’s way safer to walk outside late at night in most parts of Israel, than in NY. Because the people are civil and good.

Life in Israel is not perfect but this is NOT apartheid. There is a young Muslim woman who wears a traditional hijab (head kerchief), who is a medical technician at the health clinic in our neighborhood. I saw her walking the other day on Emeq Refaim with an oud, I guess she is taking lessons on how to play this traditional stringed instrument. A couple of years ago while guiding in Tel Aviv I entered a branch of Bank Leumi, one of the major banks in Israel, and the teller was a Muslim woman, wearing a hijab, who was fluent in Hebrew and English, along with her native Arabic. There is an Israeli-Palestinian theater group, YTheater – in a region raw with conflict and pain,  Muslims, Jews, Christians and Druze  collaborate and rehearse for better life together.

Don’t listen to what the media, or what low-res overly shared graphics say against Israel or the IDF (may God bless them.) Take everything you hear as inspiration to try to figure out what the real story is for yourself by getting straight to the source. Believe me, the people of Israel are always open to talk about these things in depth from their firsthand accounts. Don’t blindly go by the ridiculous headlines and stories by the media.

Take what you hear with a grain of salt, and do your own digging by going straight to the source. And also pay attention to the other side of the story. Apply this with any issue you hear about in mainstream media. Your efforts will unearth all that isn’t covered by mainstream media. And that is a LOT.

The best way to “figure out what the real story is” is to come visit Israel. And when you’re planning your trip, drop me a line and I’ll help you sort it out. I’ll be waiting.

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