Sunday, May 22, 2005

Back to the US

It's Sunday night, and I'm heading back to the US via Amsterdam on a 5:30am flight (fun!).

For my last day here, I took a bus trip from Herzliya to Jerusalem to visit my dad before I leave the country. The bus system is amazing here -- the full trip was about $6. Security at his hotel is pretty tight because apparently the first lady is staying a few floors above him. I guess she had some trouble at the holy sites earlier today. Unfortunate.

I've uploaded, rotated, and tagged most of my photos. Here's a link to the Flickr set -- Israel, Spring 2005. If you're truly bored, check out the slideshow.

I've seen and experienced so much over the last 2 weeks. It's incredibly hard to recall and share it all here and now, but I hope people have found the updates and pictures at least somewhat interesting. I suppose the one closing thought I have on my way out has to do with what Israelis call "the situation". Earlier today, I found myself comparing this trip with the six previous trips I've taken, three of which I was age sixteen or older (1997, 2001, and 2003).

On this trip, I felt by far the safest. There's an optimistically cautious expectation of peace and stability among the people here, and believe me, the people here have plenty of reason for doubt and cynicism. But after over a year of relative calm, there seems to be more hope and confidence than fear and doubt. It's not something that's understood back in the US. Sporadic bits of protest and violence make for good CNN news clips, peace and relative calm do not. I would compare the US media's coverage of the Middle East to the local news coverage of Los Angeles or Detroit -- driven by fear and violence.

I'll add, as a quick aside, that CNN Europe is so incredibly different than CNN US. The stories have substance -- they're more than hyped up short bits with sensationalized titles like "America At War" that are overlayed with more effects and fancy camera work than MTV.

I've intentionally stayed away from making statements on the situation here on my blog. It's such an involved, deep subject and it becomes all to easy to make sweeping statements or do it injustice. But as tourism begins to pick back up here, I hope Americans (and Europeans and everyone else) feel motivated to come to this special place and see and learn through their own eyes.

That's all for now. Next post will be from the states.

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