Thoughts on being called 'Brave' for visiting Israel • Continent Hop
Thoughts on being called 'Brave' for visiting Israel • Continent Hop
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Thoughts on being called ‘Brave’ for visiting Israel

Thoughts on being called ‘Brave’ for visiting Israel

 

Apprx. Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

 

The only thing I was terrified of, when I decided I was going to visit Israel was the security while leaving the country. Apparently they asked too many questions, emptied your bags, messed it a lot.

 

Being a stickler for organized stuff and being usually awkward, that was not a good feeling.

I do not like strangers messing my stuff.

 

Not once did thoughts like ‘What if there’s a nasty episode, like the one shown on TV?’ cross my mind.

I went with a clean slate…to write my own interpretations.

 

All my parents said to me was ‘Stay safe, keep in touch, pray for everybody’. I was visiting the Holy Land after all. Maybe that was why they didn’t nag. Unsure if it would be the same for other countries. Still to test that.

 

Sunny skies and long immigration queues greeted us. I asked the immigration officer not to stamp my passport. He suspiciously asked “Why do you ask that?”
Caught off guard, I said “Just like that!”

 

After silence for a couple of minutes we were on our way to Jerusalem.

The place where the dead will arise first when the Messiah comes, the place where the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven as did Prophet Muhammad.

 

is it safe to travel to israel

 

It looked like a blend of a Middle-eastern and a European city and it was definitely a developed city.
It was almost sunset and our ‘Sherut’ (a shared mini-van) snaked it’s way to the top. I glimpsed Jews wearing their traditional attire, hats included. I glimpsed vendors trying to make a sale.

 

Children ran along the streets and soldiers in military attire, guns included, shared tea and snacks.

 

I dragged my luggage to the hostel. On the way I was stopped by a guy who winked at me and tried to convince me his store had the best liquor. I laughed my head off and he was taken aback at my reaction. I told him all I needed was a shower and then maybe I’d come back to have a chat with him.

 

After getting refreshed, I headed off to Abraham Hostel for a party. Yes, a party. People in Jerusalem know how to party.

It was utter mayhem. People making hummus. People drinking. People dancing. People sharing stories from around the world. There was good music. It was eclectic.

 

is it safe to travel to israel

 

After mingling around for a while I decided to call it a day.

It was past midnight.

 

Tipsy, we slowly traipsed uphill back to the hostel. It was Sunday night and while Sunday nights are dead silent here in the UK (everyone dreads Monday) it was quite the opposite on the streets in Jerusalem.

 

Some stores were open. Music drifted from the clubs. Many others like us were wearily walking back home. Some were sharing a falafel.

 

Although I slept peacefully, I continued to hear conversations and the noise of trams throughout the night. It seemed that about 5 am everyone finally made their way back home (or to work!)

The city was bustling in the morning.
Trams were filled to capacity. Children were being dragged to school. Some great clothes were on display in the stores.

 

is it safe to travel to israel

 

We headed to Jaffa Gate and made our way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

My eyes were brimming. It was a very emotional moment, about which I shall write more later. After spending some time at the Church, we headed to the Western Wall.

People were crying. People were lost in prayer. Children recited from the Torah. They smiled and nodded as I touched my head against the wall.

 

is it safe to travel to israel

 

It wasn’t any different at the Dome of the Rock. People were lost in prayer here too, feeling blessed to be present at such a Holy site.

 

We made our way back to Jaffa gate and had a salad and a pizza. Kosher and tasty.

 

It had been a day like any other, although it wasn’t.

 

I was in an ‘unsafe’ city.
A city that was filled with history and culture, where life continued as normal. Not once did I feel any more safer than I ever have anyplace else. Not once did I feel out of place.

Where the sun shone brightly and made me feel all warm and happy.

I had more fun than I have had in a long time. I ate and I partied.

 

Was I ‘Brave’?

I made an attempt to see a place for myself and have my own perceptions. I ran away from cloudy skies to catch some sun. I immersed myself in the most historically rich place I have ever been.

 

Would you call that being ‘Brave’?

 


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  • Rachel Heller

    I so can identify with what you’re saying! It makes me so uncomfortable when people say I’m ‘brave’ for visiting Israel, or for traveling alone, or whatever. It’s not brave; it’s doing what feels right.

    • It is uncomfortable especially when it’s friends! It is always about doing what feels right.

  • I had similar questions when i travelled to iran and lebanon. Fair enough, it is good to read up in the news what is going on. Both destinations offered so much and felt safe. I dont feel brave for going there. I informed myself and prepared well and got so much in return. Hope israel will still let me in one day as Jerusalem is high on my bucketlist

    • I’d love to go to both, Iran and Lebanon. I agree, if you’re well informed and are aware of your surroundings, you’re bound to have a great time. I hope you get to visit Israel too :)

  • Jill Bowdery

    I was in Israel last September. I never once felt I was unsafe as a tourist, although I’m told it’s a bit different when you live there and the more extreme followers of each religion are best given a wide berth.

    Getting in and leaving was fine too. They’ve stopped giving passport stamps (I asked for one and was told no!) and you just get a slip of paper now. They do cross question you when you leave and they were ages with me as they wanted to know about every trip to a Muslim country (I have a lots of stamps in my current passport), but it was all pretty relaxed and friendly. I adored Jerusalem and wouldn’t hesitate to go back!

    • It does take time for some people to get in and out but it didn’t for me and they have definitely stopped with the stamps. I loved it there too and would definitely return.

  • Fabulous photos!

    No, I don’t think you were brave. I’ve been called the same thing too, mostly when I went to Iran alone in 1999. Was I brave? No, because I wasn’t afraid. I think ‘brave’ is such an overused word. Being brave is doing something that scares you. It’s running into a burning building to save somebody, it’s endangering yourself to help others. It’s not going on holiday to a place you’re not scared to go to just because everybody else is scared.

    To be honest, I didn’t even consider Israel would cause people to react like that. I loved reading about your experience as I’m really keen to visit my dear friend who lives in Jerusalem.

    • Thank you!
      Brave – “It’s not going on holiday to a place you’re not scared to go to just because everybody else is scared.”
      Beautifully put.
      You should definitely go. So many unique experiences!

  • I don’t think you’re brave (no offense)… I just think others are too scared!

    I find it so curious that people are afraid to visit Israel. It has one of the most high tech defense systems in the world, is incredibly developed and tech savvy, and the majority of its citizens are trained in martial arts! Um, not really sure what more one could ask for.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your Israel trip—it’s a beautiful country, and though its government is doing some terrible things, I think it certainly merits a visit from every traveler, religious or not.

    • Nope not brave, atleast not for this! :)
      I agree with what you said…..sometimes you need to visit a country just to visit it because its beautiful. Unfortunately because its only violence that’s portrayed on media, that’s the image people create and put it off radar.

  • Lavi! This is a great post and I loved reading your perspective :)

    As someone who has lived in the country for half my life now and lived in the UK for the other half, I get asked a lot if it’s safe and I have honestly always felt safer in Israel than I ever did in England. And I don’t think that you were necessarily super brave, simply because you weren’t afraid to begin with.

    In my opinion, it has less to do with your courage and more to do with you being more mentally independent, you knowing that you can’t always trust the media and you deciding that you are going to find out for yourself what the country is actually like. The people who have called you brave, are assuming that you’re as dependent on the media for (mis)information as they might be and that you don’t question what you’re being told like they might not.

    I think you’re pretty bad ass. Not for your courage, but for your independence of thought & action :)

    • Thanks Ella! Loved your post too….Things will keep happening no matter where you are, it does not mean you run away from them or believe in whatever is being told to you. There’s always a different side and sometimes its amazing! :)

  • jacklyn.

    I love this post! People are so condescending and I don’t mean to offend when I say I don’t think you’re brave – I just think that people need to open their minds a bit more.

    • Thank you! I don’t think I was brave either, atleast not to have fun!
      People definitely need to see beyond what’s shown on media :)

  • Jo

    Well people tell others not to visit India and I am “from” India so I guess everywhere else is safe”ish”?
    Btw why did you ask imm officer not to stamp ur passport? Just curious..i didnt know that was even a thing/ okay?