Monday, 12 March 2012

Journey to Israel - crossroads of religion and politics

Many religions - including Jews, Christians and Muslims - consider Israel and the Occupied Territories to be the Holy Land. The tiny strip of land is squeezed in between the Mediterranean Sea in the west, the desert of Jordan in the east, Lebanon in the north of its giant neighbour Egypt in the south-west. Israel is a spiritual, magnificent place full of history, myths, legends and holy sights. The world's only Jewish-majority state is a place where ancient civilizations find their roots, where history was made and is being made, where wars were won and lost and where some of the best movies ever made were shot. It is a country that keeps fascinating millions of people around the world, politically, historically and spiritually: Israel and the Occupied Territories truly are crossroads of religion and politics.

Below you can find some pictures that I took during a recent trip to Israel. After entering the country via the border with Jordan, we crossed Israel, heading for the coastal city of Tel Aviv - the country's largest and most vibrant city as well as its financial centre - followed by a trip to ancient Jerusalem, for many the spiritual and religious centre of the world. Our journey was concluded in Jaffa, just south of Tel Aviv, an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Modern Jaffa has a heterogeneous population of Jews, Christians and Muslims. For someone who is fairly non-religious, it was an interesting and eye-opening experience. In my view, you could say that the country's name reflects the current state of the country and its neighbours: Israel comes from Yisrael, meaning 'the one who wrestled with God'. Whose God remains unclear.

Entering Israel

Approaching Tel Aviv

In Jerusalem's Old City
Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter

At the Western Wall, Jerusalem

Dedication at a young age

Dome of the Rock Mosque

Sunset. View from the Mount of Olives
Gathering of Israeli soldiers

Entrance and exit to the Old City, Jerusalem
Eatery in the trendy area of Florentine, Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv skyline

Sunset in Jaffa

Ben Gurion Airport

Michiel Willems © 2011-2012 London, UK.