"To Israel? Are you crazy?“ My girl-friend looked at me very shocked, when I told her about my newest plan.
Servas Israel had installed a new program . The guest can stay 4 weeks ,live with Israeli families and learn Hebrew. The 2 days rule is put aside. The organiser Claudia has made a travelplan for me. So I could visit 7 hosts and some dayhosts, who should help me with my studies . In all, I met 23 servas members (7 hosts plus Zvi in Sede boker), all of them were very friendly and helpful..I am grateful to them.
I wanted to take part in this program because I was always interested in Israel with its famous history.
As a servas traveller I am aware that the world is not a children`s zoo. So I didnt pay attention to the considerations of my girlfriend and entered the plane to TA on the 27th of dec. 2015 in an optimistic mood.
Finally I arrived in TA what is a modern vibrant city with many Hi-Tech companies. Which reminded me more to Chicago or London than of Tunis or Algiers. I wanted to rent a car, but my hosts said it is not a good ideea because of the traffic jams. It was a good advise. The traffic is chaotic. But Israel has a brilliant public transport system. My hosts didn't believe that.
TA has a high living standard, long beaches, nightlife and many young people. Unfortunatly the pricelevel is relatively high.
The state has high military spending. Men have to serve 3 years in the army ,women 2y. The orthodox and the Arabs don't serve in the army . But the Druze do. I am not used to the permanent presence of soldiers with machine guns in the streets and trains and buses. That should help to improve the security. During my stay in TA there was an attack in the Dizengoff street in a bar with 2 deaths and 5 injured people. But the inhabitants do their best in these situations and don't become hysteric.al But I could feel the pressure on the people.
From TA I went south. I visited a kibbuz and I was with Arthur the „leopardcatcher“ on tour. With some other Israeli families I made a tour with offroaders into the Negev desert.
With my next hosts I went north. I was interested in the crusader city of Akko and the battlefield of Hattin.
I went to Galile,where Jesus had lived, was in Nazareth, at the lake of Galilee,where the mountain sermon took place,Taghba,Kaparnaum. It is a beautiful countryside. Unfortunatly 1 year ago a church was burned down by orthodox jews.
In Migdal I was in a house for retired people. I was impressed by a woman from Leipzig who flee the Nazis 1938 to Palestine. She still speaks fluently in saxonian dialect. Her parents didn't survive the war.
I met many children of holocaust survivers but I never met any anti-German resentment. The people were very interested in the current situation in Germany.
I had a very remarkable stay in Peq-in. It is a druze village with 6000 druze inhabitants and one well known jewish old lady and a jewish couple where I stayed. They immigrated from the Netherlands and speak German. In the beginning they had many difficulties with their integration. Some Jews were chases away 10 years ago. Finally the neighbours and some VIPs of the village helped my hosts. So now they can live in peace I hope that will be so in the future and the Hizbollah doesn't shoot rockets from Lebanon any more. The hosts love their village nevertheless and don't want to go back to Holland. I've got to know some friendly villagers and their druze culture.
I made a sad visit in Bir-am, an arab Christian village that Zahal destroyed it.In the center , among the ruins,was a repaired church with a xmas tree
I passed TA again and finally went to Jerusalem, the holy city. A Servas member had shown me the city and held a interesting speech about the Hebrew language.
The modern Jerusalem is very beautiful but diffrent to TA .There are many religious people. The Old town is dangerous. There are many cameras like everywhere in Israel and checkpoints. There are not many tourists and the mostly Arab merchants were very frustrated of that. But I've never heard that foreigners were attacked deliberatly. Still I didn't felt safe there. I didn't feel in religous ecsatasy there either.
Of course i visited some touristic highlights like Masada , the Dead sea, and I watched a footbalmatch of the 1st israeli League. In Haifa i visited the sites of he Bahai religion.
I was never boring in this little country and there many things left to discover or to discuss.
My hosts have ancesters from many diffrent countries and they had a interesting, often sad ,family history. The israelis know very well foreign languages. So it was easy to travel and to talk.
Nowadays there are many immigrants from France . They feel safer in Israel than in Europe.
We spoke very often about current politics in Israel especially about the difficulties of living with the Arab community, and the cultural differences, the danger of stabbing and the IS. Most of the hosts critcized the settlers policy in the westbank. There is no high optimism to get peace.
I traveled in some Arab countries in the region. But in comparison to them Israel is the most free and best organised country despite all problems.
The whole situation seems to me very difficult. The autorities of both sides should use their heads not only to have a nice hairstyle.The european do-gooders should be more careful with their jugdements The arabs and jews should find their own way together.
I can recommend to go to Israel. The Servas people gave interesting hints.
My hebrew should be better but in some situations it helped me. I started learning hebrew only some weeks before went to Israel. I tried to find a crashcourse but it was not possible. So i studied by myself via internet. I think it was not enough. It needs minimum 1 year preparation in a school to learn the structure of the language with a teacher. After these basics the trip would be perfect.. (For my English the trip was very helpful) I met every day new people. We spent much time with intrduction a.s.o Miriam had a good book what was better than mine. With her book it is possible to learn alone because there are translations. I have discussed this with Zvi. In his Kibbuz the foreign volunteers learned very fast hebrew, every day the same work , the same people, no distractions. … But nevertheless I began to like the language. It is very interesting and a challenge but not too difficult. The sound is very exotic and it opens the gate to the culture. But the letters are very difficult, the one who invented it, had a bad day. I always tried to read the signs in the streets. Reading the letters doesnt mean to understand how to pronounce the word. So it needs always someone to help because of the lack of the vowels.
I came home on the 21st of jan. and I opened the newspaper. I have lost may appetite on a good german sausage and a good german Beer immediately. The lunacy here became worse. But now I am mentally very well prepared for the future of Germany.