As outsiders, when you initially think of Israel, you think of a region torn by conflict. In the news media all you hear about are the problems Israel faces with terrorist organizations or controversies over settlements. For example, these recent news headlines reflect the common thoughts regarding the situation of modern Israel: “Israel and Palestine conflict forecasts” (The Economist, 6/12/15), “Israelis take on rebuilding Gaza” (CNN, 6/1/15), and “Israeli Report Backs Tactics by Military in Gaza War” (New York Times, 6/11/15). When you see these headlines, the place seems like it’s in constant chaos. Direct observation, though, paints a more accurate picture.
In reality, Israel is a place where most people are living healthy, normal lives in peace. You see families having barbeques and hear the sound of joyous children playing in the background. If you were to be dropped into the city of Kiryat Shmona you would have no idea there were any problems in Israel. It is just like any small city in the America with malls, flea markets, and a steady flow of traffic. Lots of people just living regular lives.
This is not to say the problems in Israel are not newsworthy, just that we too often build perceptions based on what we hear in the news. Because their lives unfold out of sight of the cameras, we do not take into account the daily experiences of normal Israelis. Contemporary media culture seeks drama, and anything less is clearly not a newsworthy topic. Of course, crises really are newsworthy, often because of the effect they may have around the world. Still, living here provides a richer perspective.
Just because a place in the world has problems does not mean it is an out of control war zone. I know from experience with foreigners that America is often perceived to be like the craziness in the movies shown in Hollywood. This is of course not very accurate. Needless to say, there are some very notable problems here in Israel, but there are lots of peace and happiness too. I have had an amazing time in Israel, thus far. It is one of the most beautiful countries you can visit, with a vibrant culture, and most of all wonderful people.