Israel is portrayed in an extremely flat, one-sided and negative way throughout mainstream media.
Because of this, it’s easy to get lost in stereotypes, politics, and prejudices.. and too easy to forget the humanity of the people living there. Contrary to what your TV or the AP shows you, Israel is not composed solely of rockets and soldiers. Grandmothers, children, hipsters, liberals, art students, and every other type of person you can imagine lives in Israel.
While I loved the food of Israel, and the beautiful sights, my favorite part about Israel is the people. That (almost) everyone speaks English makes it even easier to get to know them. And you should! Israelis tend to be well-educated, incredibly well-traveled, and super friendly. They are patriotic, family-oriented, innovative… and excellent cooks! I can’t wait to go back.
I interviewed several Israelis as part of this ongoing series through the end of June, to share their vision of Israel (positives AND negatives) in their own words.
We are flooded with opinions about Israel through the viewpoints of outsiders, but now you can learn just a bit about the country from its own people, about an Israeli’s Israel.
The following answers are provided by a 26-year old Israeli guy who is from outside of Haifa. After finishing his military service, he moved out of Israel to work for the embassy and for international security organizations. He has lived in 3 countries, and traveled to more than 20. His degree is in Middle East studies and he speaks 4 languages (including Arabic, Hebrew, English).
His opinions aren’t reflective of the opinions of every Israeli – but they provide insight into a nation that is so much more than is shown on the news.
Could you describe your city in 3 phrases?
Could you describe Israel in 3 words? And Israelis?
What do you think the biggest misconception about Israel is? And the biggest misconception about Israelis?
That just because we are the strong force does not mean that everything is our fault. We receive a lot of blame because we are the winners in a complicated fight (that continues), but if we were the losers, there would not be an Israel to discuss.
That we are fighting about a piece of land in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, when in actuality we are fighting for our very existence. If the obstacle to peace was these areas or more, Israel would give it up. The war is not about territory or land – the Islamic world of the middle east believe that every piece of this land (what we call our home, Israel) is instead Dar el Islam (the land that belongs to Muslims) and that Shariah law (strict Islamic law) should be enacted here like most of the rest of the middle east.
That we love the situation we are in, and that we enjoy controlling the Gaza Strip and West Bank, or that we have any kind of enjoyment from the settlements.
That Israelis don’t want peace. The truth is, we would do anything in our power to have peace. If someone told us tomorrow that we could give half of our country to have peace and we would never have to send our men and women to war again – almost every single Israeli would agree to this. Unfortunately, the past shows that this is not an option (this solution was put into place and taken advantage of, with the two-state solution when Israel was then attacked from all sides by the Arab nations. this happened several times).
Why should people visit Israel, and what is important for them to do, see, or experience while they are there?
People should visit Israel because it is a diverse mix of cultures, it is one of the most unique countries in the world. I’ve traveled a lot and I’ve never seen such a multicultural place where so many differences are accepted, and so many different people feel so close like they are brothers. You can see people of backgrounds from Ethiopian, German, Russian, Moroccan, American etc who are all Israelis.
There are so many amazing historical sites as it is the birth place of two of the major monotheistic world religions. There is history in every stone and tree.
What do you like (and dislike) about your country?
Knowing that Israel means never again (*regarding to the Holocaust*)
The fact that a whole army would go to war to save one person. The feeling that everywhere in the world, any Israeli would help me. It’s a brotherhood and we help each other anywhere.
What is incredible about Israel?
The richness of the country in such a small place, everything from the fruit and vegetables, to the innovative and lifechanging startup companies.
More interviews available by clicking here
Questions about Israel? Email them to Steph or ask anonymously here. Israel Q+A to be published on June 30 – there’s still time to get your questions in and published as long as you submit before June 29 at 11:00pm (EST)!