I was in Israel in September of 2005 and some of my memories already faded, but abnormally (at least for me – luckily) are still alive. Those are feelings of war zone that inhabitants accepted and got used to through decades. Despite I was invited to come to Israel, I felt guilty but not yet convicted, already when I came and even more when I left the country. There were armed security beside x-ray machine not only at the airport but at the entrance of a hotel as well. Paranoid for me but for Israelis common and necessary.
Tel Aviv is modern town with long white beach, where a lot is happening out of season too. Beside pubs children playgrounds are very well visited at nights as well. For me it was really unusual to see a dad in a tie playing with a few years old child on a playground at 10 p.m. His working day doesn´t allow him to be with his family at normal hours. Screw a job like this! In a firm, I saw windows plastered with posters. It wasn´t aesthetic and I assumed that the sun that shines in monitors bothers employees or that they don´t want to see nice weather because they have to spend their whole days in the office. However, the truth was different – they were afraid of snipers. 🙁
Tel Aviv´s beach on south concludes in Jafa, ancient port where religious wars were battled in the history. Moreover, there is no end in sight of religious wars in this part of the world. On touristic part of town the atmosphere was nice, but a few blocks away it was like in American action movie from 80´s. Citizens (Arabs) looked at us suspiciously and hostile on poorly illuminated narrow streets, when an army jeep drove by with rifles sticking out. Just one wrong move and it would burst in a fight… for real, not with fists. On the market there wasn´t pleasant atmosphere as well, a taxi driver showed us a gun in passing, saying he used it before. Even women in shopping malls were obviously armed. Our host showed us a bar where bomb exploded a few months ago. The bar was restored in a few days and nightlife continued. You get used to, they say. For contrast to all of that, on a sand beach there was yogi standing in a tree position, relaxed, for more than 15 minutes and his dog was by his side, knowing he has an eternity of time.
Jerusalem is one of the most interesting towns in the world, for sure. In ancient part, there are four quarters – Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian. They all live in one town, wow! But there is high concrete wall that uncompromisingly divides town on two parts and negates delusive appearance of coexistence. The wall was built under pretense of safety but I am convinced that it brought only more hate among Palestinians in east and Jews in west side.
The most famous part of Jerusalem is wall of tears. This is last remnant of Salomon´s Temple and the most sacred symbol of Judaism. Believers put notes with wishes in crevices between big blocks of rock. There you can see many conservative Jews with hats and long sidelocks and they look funny, but they are symbol of defending their truth as the only one or, as we would say, symbol of narrow-mindedness. Nevertheless, it is majestic sight, because a big part of history was going on there. But even more interesting are Jerusalem´s narrow streets that I believe haven´t changed much in centuries. I don´t know where Monty Python´s Life of Brian was filmed, but the scenery is the same! The only difference is in products being sold, and they have electricity and one very interesting architectural addition. On corners of small squares stand metal or concrete containers that look like glass recycling containers. Maybe there are even some bottles inside, but their purpose is deactivating hand grenades.
On the top of Mount Zion is grave of king David, but I was more interested in the view. It happened that I met an Arab there and he looked at me, as he would want to shoot through me and spited: “Watch this wall, just watch it!” and he was pointing with his finger on the big wall. I still don´t know whether he didn´t like that I took a photo of that wall, but I understand that this wall has really big meaning. How wouldn´t it?
Common Israeli segregation to “us” and “not-us” ends with food. Jews swear not only to American food but without hesitation to Arabic food as well. In Jerusalem, we visited delicious Lebanese restaurant and there were many Jews. It is still hope for peace; just taste buds should take control over fear, anger and hate.
Mostly beautiful memories remain after visiting new countries. Memories that make me want to go back. Sadly Israel is the only country where I don´t feel attraction, but reluctance. And I still don´t understand why Israel is part of EuroBasket and Eurovision.