December 29, 2009

my conclusions follow

when traveling, the locals i meet often ask "so what do u think of my city/country?". i think israelis are even more curious about this, perhaps for understandable reasons, opinions may vary and have political tones. everyone is asking. and as i dont have a very strong opinion about Tel Aviv for example, i think they are disappointed. i just dont often really love/hate a place... all in all TLV doesnt bring out strong emotions in me. if i think of things that come to mind first, it would be

-car city, built for cars, lotsa traffic jams etc, poor public transport
-city design (streets in grids) and skyscrapers and said car culture come from the US i suppose
-US companies and culture is also quite present everywhere
-then theres the middle eastern things, including foods and shared taxis for example
-people are relatively friendly, but not very, however this is often case with bigger cities, and in jerusalem for example everyone seemed super friendly
-there is a few places everyone says u need to go to; the center (for shopping and bars) which is Rotschild, Alenby & King George -streets, the beach & the harbour.
-the gay culture it seems is active and they are *relatively* well accepted, u can walk hand in hand, marriages taking place abroad are acknowledged here. from a branding point of view this does set israel nicely apart from its neighbours.
-i dont think id want to live here, mostly cos of the american city -style, but as an experience i liked it a lot

as for israel or its people in general; i have concluded the following:
-many different kind of opinions can be found which is interesting for me of course. from liberal to extremes.
-sense of time is veeery flexible, plans change, shift or get cancelled... planning anything too strictly ahead doesnt seem common, except with people who work in business, they are usually on time as well. i had hard time with this, particularly i suppose cos i have had a busy schedule trying to meet people, so when plans change a lot it gets hard... and my culture is the opposite of course.
-things happen quite late from my perspective. people get to work by 10. lunch at 1. dinner at 8. out to bars or clubs at 11 maybe.
-everyone is driving so going out means 3 beers at max.
-saturday, which is like a holy day, is really freakin holy. shops closed, even restaurants in many areas, trains don't run...
-smoking in bars is not allowed but the rule gets broken a lot, people really like their cigarettes
-and speaking of smoking, marijuana is very popular, seems people are more into that than drinking (health-wise i guess its even smarter that way)
-all the people i personally met have been very nice and hospitable, willing to show me around etc. i would find this typically southern behavior, very nice :)
-calling is favoured over txt messaging, and messages get answered in their own time, usually not in minutes
-the 'extremely religious' jews, that wear black and the men have those curls on the sides etc. dont need to go to the army because of an agreement they made with the first minister of israel or something. instead they go to their own school and study the Torah. this pisses several
people off.

many people here would say there are mistakes on both sides of the conflict. but it seems like most israelis, the liberals ones for sure, would prefer 2 state-solution, however the case of jerusalem causes division among people again, some suggest it was international territory. palestinians are concerned about the government and leadership, but felt the problems are more less caused by the israelis, and the israelis have said the palestinian leadership is just so fucked its impossible to deal with. i also understood that israel has suggested some solution in the past, which however was not acceptable by the palestinians because they felt the suggestion was not fair (it was i guess internationally accepted though). so there is some sense from the israeli side that the palestinians are ungratefully not accepting the bits offered, and also that they fight the war sometimes (or mostly?) unfairly. bombing a school or the electricity center that provides them power seems irrational. the palestinians feel that they are doing what they can in order to get some attention and not completely give in. they feel they are trying to be completely forced out of the region. and they seem to miss the almost perfect peace in the past when 'everyone lived side by side' in harmony. i have not studied this period of time in history but an israeli referred to it being correct. however it is apparently not something that could be reached again....things have radically changed.

most israelis feel that the settlers (in settlements in or near palestinian areas) are the most extreme when it comes to opinions and i am sad to not have spoken to any. especially in Hebron, both parties agree, the situation is "on the edge", riots can start any minute and there is hostility on both sides. regardless of what you do in the army during your 2 or 3 yrs, at some point you will have guarding duties by the settlements. and especially in Hebron it seems tough, as i was explained to by someone who worked for the army for a couple years after service, the soldiers there are often quite confused about who are they really protecting. maintaining law & order is their task, and that means also putting any violent jews in control. so they are more less protecting both sides, and then get hated by both sides as well. not an easy task.

anyway, as far as israelis go, that was pretty much that, nice people like anywhere else.

and a newspiece to wrap this up
BBC: Israelis and Gazans reflect on the war on year on

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