Hej kära vänner!
So… Originally I wanted to write this letter in Swedish, but I gave up on the idea since my Swedish is far from being perfect and since I want to convey my message as coherent as I can.
I read some of the letters here, and they’re very touching letters about the conflicts here in Israel and about the terror attacks and all of the threats we are dealing with from all of our neighbors. Unfortunately, our neighbors are not Norway, Finland and Denmark, to say the least :-).
I do have a lot to say about the political aspects, about the European hypocrisy and the ”human rights” activists, who are falling into the trap of Hamas and terror organizations. I have a family in the South of Israel, and my brother spent his birthday in a shelter, and in general I have much to say about the conflict.
I don’t want to focus on the negative and problematic sides, but on the positive ones. Because that’s how I am. I guess that most Israelis and Jews are like that – ”everything will be alright” (”Allt ordnar sig”). Maybe because my people have been through so much…
In order to truly understand the mentality, the way of thinking, the culture, the conflict and all what you might thought or heard in the news about Israel – you just have to come here. There were so many people who completely changed their mind about Israel after visiting. There is so much ignorance in the Western world in the Israeli subject, it’s just unbelievable. In my four visits in Sweden, there were Swedes who thought the language we speak is Jerusalem, some thought that Israel is in Africa and were surprised to see that I’m white; others thought women have to work with their faces covered, and so on. The only way to fight that ignorance is to come, see by yourselves and tell your friends the truth. Så kom!
Before I tell you what Israel is for me, I’ll tell you a bit about myself. My name is Dan, I’m 21 years old and I live in Tel Aviv. I was born in Moscow and my parents immigrated to Israel when I was one year old. I grew up in Be’er Sheva, a city in the South of Israel. I moved to Tel Aviv just after high school because I got accepted to Law studies at Tel Aviv University. This year I’m finishing the fourth and last year of my degree, and afterwards I go to the army to work in the law unit there. I speak Hebrew, English, Russian, Spanish (from TV shows I watched when I was a kid) and some Swedish. My romance with Sweden started a long time ago, in the beginning with the Eurovision and the Melodifestivalen. Since March 2009, I visited Sweden 4 times and also started studying the language. I really like your country, the culture, the people, the music and even the weather (probably it’s the Russian genes…).
But anyway, we are here to talk about Israel. Do you remember Mika’s song, ”Grace Kelly”? It has a sentence – ”I could be brown, I could be blue…”- If someone would ask me what the magic of Israel is, and why people fall in love with it, I would answer, without any doubt, that it is its diversity.
Israel can be the Holy Land, with all of the sacred places for Jews, Christians and Muslim people and you can feel the Holy Spirit in the different holidays, as well as during the weekends in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Safed, and more. Jewish Rabbis are praying in the Western Wall, Priests and nuns are walking down Via Dolorosa road in the old city of Jerusalem, and Muslims are looking at the beauty of the Dome of the Rock. If there is a G-d watching us from above, he is definitely overlooking at Jerusalem and the holy places.
But at the same time, alongside with the religion and the tradition, we can see at the same Jerusalem city bars and pubs and night clubs, celebrating the miracle of life until dawn. If you go a bit west you will find Tel Aviv, the most liberal city in the Middle East. With endless night life, it earned the name ”the city that never sleeps”. Pride parades, amazing beaches and a beautiful port, big club scene, Parties – all of those contributed to the image that Tel Aviv got – young, funky and maybe a bit of a crazy city!
Israel is known for also other unique places: The Dead Sea, where you can lie down and relax. Go in the footsteps of the heroes in Masada, explore the Negev desert (and the craters there – a night walk in the desert with all the stars above is an amazing experience!), look at what is left in Caesarea, use Israel’s ski resort (yes, we also have snowy mountains) in the Hermon Mountain, swim in the sea of Galilee, enjoy the water in the Mediterranean sea all across it’s shore – including Haifa and the outstanding Baha’i gardens, dive and swim with dolphins in the Red Sea, in the beach of Eilat, Israel’s southern city, and much more.
It has everything for everyone: different religions trips, families, young travelers, adventurous people, straight, gay, and practically – each and every one of you will fall in love with Israel and will find what he likes. We truly made the desert blossom. Once you also meet the people and communicate and listen – you can understand the truth and the beauty of it. You can find a lot of information and pictures once you search the stuff I put in bold online, but I also made a collage that shows the different extraordinary places in Israel.
Other than the different cities and religions in Israel, another aspect of this diversity is the diversity in languages, people and ethnicities from all around the world. In every corner you will find a mix of a truly Moroccan spirit, the Polish or ”Yiddishe Mame”, French accent, flags of Russia, Hungarian Kiortosh, Egyptian pride, American youngsters, Argentinian meat and ”Assado”, and much more. The reason is of course the gathering of all of the Jews around the world in this small country. I think that makes life much more interesting. People from different backgrounds, with different mentalities meet, know each other and even get together. It can also be very funny and amusing, when for example a Russian lady tries to find her way in the line to a Falafel store. No wonder it’s called the ”Melting Pot” of the Israeli society!
The diversity is also shown in political views; from very right political parties, to the most left. There is a joke about Jews – ”Two Jews, three opinions”. It seems that you can’t describe the Israeli inner political conflicts in a better way. As a democracy, Israel allows all inoffensive opinions to be expressed (with Arab Muslims in the parliament). That’s why also a lot of political parties rise and fall; because they had the illusion they could unite most of the people into one opinion. Due to the different background and mentality of every person, it’s almost impossible.
In any case, please, before you say one more thing about Israel, or before you judge Israel because of something you heard in the media, come here. We’ll show you around. :-)
I will be happy to get in contact with you, if someone also plans to come or just to ask any question – you can find me on Facebook (Dan Erukhimovich).
Shalom och hej,