Thursday, July 3, 2014

The "Real" Israel

Tourists visit pretty places. Scrolling though my purple iPHone camera roll I see beautiful photos that burst with culture and history. I see photos of hills and valleys with houses super glued to the sides of mountains that amaze my eyes. All five senses are stimulated as I look at each beautiful place we have been to. From the beautiful Mediterranean Sea to the Old City in Jerusalem.

Israel is the Holy Land, it is perfection within itself. Despite the holiness there is still issues far beyond what we hear on the news. I have seen the real Israel. The not so pretty images and stories that are not plastered on to tourist brochures and postcards.

The purpose of I speak Israel is to advocate for Israel. In order to advocate for a country it is necessary for a journalist to know the "good" and "bad" parts of the country. I am confused. What constitutes a good or bad part of a country?

As we arrived at our youth hostel in Petah Tikva, many of the comments made by the participants were, "This looks like a jail cell." I personally would not consider this a "bad" part of Israel, but the giagantic cockroaches would ultimately change my mind. The cockroaches are the least of the worries for the residents who live in the building during the school year. The youth hostel we stayed at is a boarding school for teenagers who have bad home lives from poverty to sexual abuse.

Lior and I were on an adventure-these are her words, not mine. As we wandered around the boarding school we saw two boys sitting down. They both spoke Hebrew. Not to worry, Lior is my personal translator. We first started with small talk,"Where are you from? What's your name?" We told the boys where we had been and the plethora of sites we had visited. One of the boys responded, "Tourists only visit pretty places." He completely threw me off, because it is true. He continued to talk about his home life, that he was abused by his father. He said that after his father would beat him at night he would go out to the beach by his house and thank G-d that he was alive. This absolutely shocked me. He said that many people envy his mindset and try to emulate his attitude. Although I have not visited the "bad" parts of Israel, I have met beautiful people who have found love within the fire.

-Dana Brown

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