On May 25th I got on a plane and flew to Tel-Aviv. I was filled with expectations and excitement. This was an adventure I had been waiting for, an adventure that by chance found me and an adventure I wasn't sure I was prepared for.
The media is a wonderful thing and in most ways it is beneficial and a way to seek knowledge from far away places. People control media and people have opinions. People also say they are unbiased and neutral but at some point they drift off to one side of the picture, sometimes without knowing they are doing so and the product that comes out of this drift is therefore unintentional.
We are all humans and I know I have been presented a certain side of media coverage here in Canada. I went on this trip to see, explore, take in culture, practice language skills, participate in positive projects and ultimately learn about this place that so many people have an opinion on. I wanted the chance to form my own opinions and also feed myself lots of shawarma and hummus with a big side of pita.
Most travel blogs focus just on the travel aspect and tend to leave opinions about politics out of the writing and focus on delivering an opinion about the accommodations and food. While I love doing that, I feel that this is a special place where you have to mention the politics in order to mention the people and the culture and all of the important things that make Israel and Palestine such a unique and wonderful place.
You meet people and they ask you what you think about the conflict. Especially after they ask what you study in school and you say International Relations, specializing in Middle East politics. Yeah, I sort of set myself up for that one.
People are curious as to why you are travelling there if you are not Jewish, not learning Hebrew, not visiting family, have no religious group affiliation and are not taking on the Bible Lands one holy site at a time. Why did you come here? Well I avoid mentioning volunteering. That is basically saying, 'Oh, you know, I've come to fix your country'. That is definitely not my intention through the volunteer work that I participated in.
So why did I travel to Israel and Palestine? Well, honestly because I am fascinated by this part of the world and I wanted to experience the beauty it had to offer.
I hope you enjoy the pictures and stories I have to share and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me by leaving a comment below or privately through email.
The pictures shown are from the neighbourhood in Jerusalem where I lived for the majority of my time in Israel, it was my own little corner of the world for a time and I miss is like crazy!
Labels: 2014, Adventure, Israel, Middle East, Operation Groundswell, Palestine, Travel, Volunteer