First of all, I don't own a camera. All I have is a phone and I don't point my camera/phone onto everything that I see so remember it later, even though this might not be bad sometimes :)
I just returned home to Israel from studies in Germany. It's only for a short period (2.5 months) and then going back to europe.
I have to admit, this is the first time I feel comfortable about being back home and not freaking out after 2 weeks. I have also been trying to break out of my comfort zone as I mentioned in a previous post.
I would like to start with a story. Before I left Israel, I was pretty much the social outcast. Being mobbed at school for being the "white" boy at an arabic school is a weird situation to be in but I wanted out and I did it. One of the first people that started to beat me at school was a guy called Hamza. I used to despise him. He had no base for what he was doing and it felt like what he was doing was just to gain attention. I did not think that I would ever encounter him again, and I would not want to.
About 9 years later, this same guy is a changed person. He left Israel to study english in the UK, became an outdoor sports guide and is running an outdoor traveling business in my hometown. Vegetarian, atheist... In short, everything that I would have never expected from him.
A few weeks ago, he called out of the blue and asked me if I would like to join him on rock climbing trip in the Carmel mountains, the same are that was burned down in one of Israel'S deadliest fires.
Something that I like doing when I am back home is visiting places that I remember as a child. I have brought you pictures from two of those places...
Nablus is a city in the West Bank that is famous for its amazing Knafeh, a very sweet desert made out of cheese and some orange noodle-like stuff on top (probably made out of sugar too!). It also has a nice old market where you can find anything from Caroub tree drink to Shisha/Nargileh tobacco!
Nablus is also situated relatively high compared to the center of Israel like Netanya or Tel Aviv. At some point on the way back home we were able to see the cities of Netanya and Hadera, which are around 13km away, reminding us of how short the distances in this country are.
Another place I used to visit with my family was Park Canada. A park on the way from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, starring a few old arabic villages whose inhabitants were forced to leave in 1948. It is one of those places that has been kept in a good shape and also a good place to pick wild Za'atar for cooking. About 10 minutes away from the park is the Latrun Monastery, the only Trappist monastery in Israel, the priests there are known for their excellent wine!
An interesting event during the first month happened on the 20th of April. 420, yes, weed... Jerusalem had a 420 gathering. Basically it was organized on facebook as a picnic for stoners, sounds fun, so I went there... the police blocked the entrance to the park, so we gathered in front of the park, more and more people came, here is a picture of the intersection before things escalated.
About 5 minutes after this picture was taken, police on horse backs started to march through the masses. 30 people were arrested and beaten, typical israeli police reaction...
This is a little temple we built. A palestinian girl, a jewish friend (her boyfriend), my two best friends from home and me. We went to the beach, a little bit of sun, some swimming, talking, drinking and Shisha/Nargileh.
We were on our way home, I was the only one left at the beach, checking if we have lost something and an older man asks me if the rubber ball in his hand was ours. I told him that it is not ours and turned my head. He then asked me, a little confused, where we were from. He heard many different languages and couldn't really put the pieces together. I explained the situation and why were were talking in arabic, hebrew, english and german. And had a smile on his face.
He did not believe that he would see that happening. Arabic and jewish young people enjoying the beach together. Out of the blue he said: "I was part of 6 battles in the past 50 years, I am sorry for each one of them..."
He gave me his hand, told me to keep doing what we were doing and he hopes that someday, this will become the norm :) What a cute grandpa!