I am still trying to process my recent eight day experience in Israel. I entered Israel from Egypt, driving from Sharm el Sheikh to the Israeli border at Talba and walked into Eilat. The trip through Sinai was amazing, awesome and beautiful. It took me about ten minutes to cross the border and neither side was very interested in asking my questions. My bag was not opened by the Israelis. I wrote a bit about my experience in Sharm and driving through the Sinai here.
I spent the bulk of my time in Israel in Tel Aviv. I love Tel Aviv. It is one of if not the most exciting city in the world. It has the excitement of New York but the weather of LA. The town never sleeps. I was having dinner at mid night every evening (unfortunately for me, I still woke up at 6:00 am every day as is my norm). You also do not see or hear anything that would let you know that just some 40 miles or so to the south is Gaza. And the West bank some 15 miles or less. I know a lot of people and got to participate in conversations. The Palestinian situation seemed to be pretty low on the list of thing to speak about. The economy is booming. There is amazing real estate construction everywhere in Tel Aviv (and Israel I think). When I ask what people think will happen with respect to Palestine, I generally get the answer that the person I ask does not know. People have various views from the extreme right who really think the Palestine’s are useless and their on worse enemies to those that feel a strong responsibility for some of the injustice they perceptive is taking place especially by the armed forces. But these people can all be friends and share a meal together. Most people think that the political system in Israel is awful (it is even worse than the USA system). But everyone is just going on with their lives which generally are intense, creative and productive. The Israeli’s live pretty much in the moment. Technology development is everywhere but also many other industries are developing in Israel and taking a world leadership position. The wall has a lot to do with the sense of security (false sense I think) that Israeli’s have.
But then the Israeli’s are very philosophical. One friend in his 60s said that he was born in Israel and there have never been clear borders his whole life. He asked ” maybe borders are no longer needed ?” but of course there are borders, they just change and are not agreed upon. In talking with someone I meet during this trip, I got an insight. It was actually something I have been thinking for a while but did not put into words. Israel is the only country that cares about the Palestinians and the only country that can really help them. Egypt is building even a bigger wall around Gaza. Jordan wants to isolate the Palestinians and yet they could be so helpful. Iran could care less in reality. They just use the Palestinian cause for their own cynical purposes.
You see a lot of south eastern Asians working as guest workers in Israel as well as some Africans. They are taking jobs that use to be done by Palestinians. Israel has taken in a lot of Somalians
I asked my friends if the Americans were helping or hurting the peace process. Everyone I spoke to thought they were helpful. But no one expected anything to come out of it. I never talked to any one that supported the settlements which I think have to be stopped. But given Israeli politics, will they stop?