As I turned on the television to discover news of the latest violent Israeli-Palestinian clashes over a religious site in Jerusalem, my heart sank – not only for the people losing their lives or sustaining injuries in this latest wave of tension, but upon thinking about how this will reflect on the region now, when people around the globe turn on their TV sets and are met with the scenes of blood, violence and tears. Certainly, taking a trip to Israel is not going to be the first consideration that enters their minds.
Having just returned from Israel, looking at these images of Al Aqsa mosque where I had stood obnoxiously taking selfies just a week before, now a battlefield shrouded in the smog of tear gas instead of the peaceful, serene garden I had witnessed, I felt deeply saddened.
Saddened because I had spent time in both Israel, and Palestine’s West Bank, and these images that I saw dancing across the television set simply did not reflect the Israel and Palestine that I got to know and fell in love with. Saddened because these places as I know them never get the opportunity to show their faces in the media and their true identities remain concealed behind this ill fitting mask of danger. As an experienced solo traveler, little fazes me but I accept that for many people , this instance alone is enough to put them off taking a trip to Israel in favor of “safer” destinations.
The Israel that I know almost doesn’t exist in the eyes of the Western media. The incredibly welcoming, kind Israeli people, and the jaw dropping scenery which extends from the rugged Golan heights in the North, all the way down to the beautiful beach resorts in the South were among my highlights during my trip to Israel, but you never see this beauty in the media or splashed across the front of tabloids.
I love taking photographs that capture local people in their typical lives. What is seemingly so ordinary for them, looks so beautiful when looked at from an outside perspective. I’m also learning that when I approach people to say that I’m a Travel Writer and I’d like to photograph them, they are often enthused and more than willing to participate! Here, the vendors of Jaffa flea market pitch and haggle their wares. From fresh homemade baklava, to beautiful, elaborate tapestries and old trinkets. #middleeasttravel #israel #oldjaffa #solotravel #girlslovetravel #jaffa #telaviv #travel #travelingram #travelphotography #travelblogger
Why is that? Well, because shocking tales of violence, war, conflict, sex, or anything generally outlandish is what sells in the media, whereas stories of friendly locals, flavorful foods, and scenic hiking trails do not. It’s as simple as that. People want to read sensational news, and Journalists want to sell stories. It’s a twisted supply and demand of which one unfortunate byproduct is a narrow, skewered version of reality causing us to not consider travelling to these regions, and damaging their reputations.
“The World is too small for walls” As-salamu Alaykum from Palestine. I’ve crossed the border into the West Bank and I’ve been exploring some of the graffiti across the separation wall. Much of it is beautiful in its own way, and sends an important message, really putting things in perspective as to the hardships the Palestinians face every day. #palestine #visitpalestine #westbank #solofemaletraveler #solofemaletravel #bethlehem #seperationwall #travel #middleeasttravel #middleeast #travelingram #girlswhotravel #girlslovetravel #wearetravelgirls #sheisnotlost
Unfortunately, for all of the work that Tourism boards and those working in the travel industry can do to remedy this, their reach and scope is often not as far and wide as tabloid newspapers, making it difficult to put out these fires.
In Israel itself, it’s business as usual. In Jeruaslem’s Mahane Yehuda market, the fragrant aroma of spices lingers high in the air, a cloud of saffron, cumin, and caraway seeds. The savvy local shopper haggles with the Jewish trader, determined to ensure that he is not out-witted in his negotiations, adamant that he will secure a competitive price for the ingredients of his Shabbat dinner.
If you find yourself in Jerusalem, the Mahane Yehuda market in the north west of the city has lots of excellent local produce and traditional Middle Eastern foods, not to mention it’s a lot more authentic than the crowded, touristic markets within the old city. 😋🍉 #middleeast #middleeasttravel #travelingram #jerusalem #israel #visitisrael #mahaneyehuda #foodmarket #travel #solotravel
Passing through the narrow walkways observing this scene, a Mother straightens up the crumpled dress of her fidgeting daughter on their way to meet family. These regular, not especially interesting scenes depict the reality of life here 99.9% of the time – the media may have one assuming that Israel is something of a war-torn state, but in actuality, it’s a country filled with people, just like you and I, simply living and going about their daily lives. As with many countries around the globe, particularly during these turbulent times we find ourselves in, incidents do happen in Israel from time to time, but they are certainly not the daily norm.
I hope that you can take the opportunity to take a trip to Israel, if it should arise for you, and see that the situation on the ground is far different to that on the TV screens. (For a few tips before you go, click here)
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Note: My trip to Israel was kindly organised and sponsored by Abraham Hostels and Abraham Tours who hosted me for ten days. I would certainly recommend using them if you are headed to the region. They have hostels in several major Israeli cities and offer shuttles between each. Dedicated tour and activity staff on site at each hostel can offer expert recommendations on things to do while you’re in town, and help you make the most out of your trip.