At the behest of a good friend I’m off to visit Israel soon for a few days. For the simple pleasure of riding my bicycle, in good company, in a spectacular environment.
When I posted this revelation on Facebook I was chastised by another friend for embracing a regime that oppresses some of its citizens. I hope I’m not embracing or condoning any government simply by visiting a country. If I chose all of my travel destinations based purely on politics I would have nowhere to go. In fact I would need to go and live in isolation on a desert island.
My friend has every right of course to air his grievances and I respect him for it. As an individual I also like and respect him very much.
Other friends have been aghast that I’m considering venturing in to what they believe to be a war zone. It isn’t a war zone and it is just a safe/dangerous as anywhere else in the world.
My depth of knowledge on the Israel/Palestine situation is sadly rather ignorant. Like most people I only really know what I’m drip-fed by the skewed western media. I have very little respect for virtually all global media but that is another story.
The truth is that most governments and national media aren’t a genuine reflection of the people living there, in fact far from it.
The vast majority of the world is perfectly safe and the vast majority of the worlds population are perfectly nice too; just like you and I. I have no doubt whatsoever that there are Jews and Arabs living side by side as friends and neighbours. I also have no doubt that some of them won’t be.
Most people will open their doors, and their hearts, and welcome you with open arms, regardless of your origin, religion, race, sexual orientation, or anything else that makes us “different”. That is because we are not different, we are the same. Most of us are busy making a living, providing food and shelter for our families, and dreaming of achieving something a little better; people are the same the world over.
The only tangible difference between us all are our cultures and that is what makes us interesting. The mundanity of my day to day existence is fascinating to someone else, just as the mundanity of their life is fascinating to me.
Another sage old friend once said to me, during some discussion or other, that “there are three sides to every story – your side, their side, and the truth”.
And that is the truth!
In my experience the only way to find out the truth is to go and see for yourself. Engage with communities, take photographs, spend your money in the right places, Most destinations are surprisingly different to what you expect. Preconceptions versus reality are never the same thing.
What I’m really hoping to get out of this trip, like every trip, is to experience and embrace a different culture. To meet new people, to make new friends, to ride great trails, and to enjoy a few days of warmth away from the dreary British winter. The warmth of the sun and the warmth of the people.
But it really is just about going for a bike ride with a friend in new and exciting destination, and then to come back here and tell you all about it so that you can also decide for yourselves.