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Is Israel Safe? (To travel to)

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We recently went on a 10 day trip to Israel and Jordan with the awesome Abraham Tours. When we told our friends, family and fans we were headed to Israel many of them immediately said:

Is Israel Safe?

So this is what this post is all about - is Israel safe to travel to?



Disclaimer: I understand that each person's experience of Israel will be different depending on who they are/where they're from/what they look like or even just the time they go. As a white, straight, non-religious couple I recognise we are protected by white straight non-religious privilege a lot of the time. Our story would no doubt be different if we were Arabic for example. 

And ten days isn't really enough time to judge whether a place is safe or not,  however, we were there for a much longer time than any of the people who recommended we didn't go to Israel (as they were all people who'd never been to Israel). 

So, in our experience was Israel safe?

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer:

Is it safe to visit Israel as a woman?


Whilst I can't speak for the religious/non-white/non-straight people of the world, I do have some first-hand experience being a woman in Israel, and I can tell you first-hand, that experience was a breath of fresh air.

Too often do we go to countries where I'm starred at or even glared at just for having a vagina. It's annoying. 

Anyway... back to my point: when I was in Israel I felt completely safe and un-stared at - even regardless of what I was wearing. When we first arrived, I was kind of conservative in my dress, but it was hot so I quickly got less conservative, here's some proof:

Day 1 outfit:





Day 3 outfit: 



behold my tempting thighs *rolls eyes* 


but no one ever made me feel uncomfortable and  I felt very comfortable walking around alone at night too - which cannot be said for most countries we've been to! 

Of course that's not to say it will be the same experience for every woman. However, I did speak to my cousin who has lived there for a long time, and she said she feels safer walking there, and letting her two daughters walk there, than she ever felt in England. 



Anddd super blogger best friend Sab from JustOneWayTicket said that she thinks Tel Aviv is one of the safest places in the world to solo-female travel. In fact it was her blog post 10 Things To Do In Jerusalem Israel that made me want to visit Israel in the first place. Thanks Sab! <3 

Is Israel safe for the LGBT Community?


Before we visited Israel, we knew that Tel Aviv is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, if not the most gay friendly city in the world so nothing surprised us there (unofficial gay beach, massive poster of a gay couple, pride flags everywhere). 

But we wondered if Jerusalem would be the same story, being uber religious, but there were pride flags there too and, one of the best things I've ever seen travelling - an elderly couple, both male, and also actually different colours.. so a biracial, homosexual, elderly couple walking down the street holding hands. This is something we've never seen before, because they were like super old. It was so lovely. 

There are so many countries around the world where you're not free to love who you love - you can be prosecuted, imprisoned or even killed for being gay, obvi we're against that, so any country that's LGBT friendly gets a massive thumbs up from us! 


Is Israel safe for children?


One thing we really noticed about Israel were the children - there are children everywhere, hanging out, playing, sometimes with their families sometimes not - but from what we saw, they were always playing so nicely! I mean look how cute this is:



I don't really like children, so I notice when they're around - Israel seemed really kid friendly. 






Is Israel safe for vegans?


I mean like as far as I know, nowhere in the world is unsafe for vegans... but many places can be uncomfortable. Okay I'm stretching, I just really want to tell you about vegans and Israel.




Israel as a whole, but Tel Aviv especially, was completely vegan friendly. There's falafel and hummus everywhere (of course) and Tel Aviv has over 28 completely vegan restaurants. 

Right next to the Tel Aviv Abraham Hostel is a place called Nature Boys that does the BEST burgers ever. Even if you're not vegan go there because the food there is cheap for a Tel Aviv Restaurant (and so so good). Plus they're really friendly... I'm not working for them or anything I promise! I just loved it there.



And talking about Abraham Hostels, we were really impressed by their vegan friendliness. They offer a great buffet breakfast to all guests and most of it is vegan - salad, fruit, olives, bread and tazini of course but vegan chocolate spread and rice milk too! We've stayed at many fancy places around the world, but most of those couldn't even get it together to offer those.  



Gun situation in Israel


So check out this photo of us in Jerusalem :



Did you notice the guy in the background to the left of us with a gun?

I didn't either, and I'm so self absorbed I didn't even notice it afterwards when I was looking through the photos - I was like ahh we're so cute, I'll send it to Tanbay's mum. She immediately replied like omg that guy has a gun :O :O. oops

We didn't notice the guns, apparently a lot of people carry them. If you're from America this is something you're probably used to (I mean you probably don't like it, but people carry guns where you're from). We're from the UK and Germany where gun carriers are police people, army people, thug people or hunters. We don't like guns.

In an ideal world no one would have guns. But going back to Israel, we never felt unsafe in terms of guns - like no one threatened us with a gun or shot anyone or anything horrible like that. That's not to say it doesn't happen of course, I'm just saying when we were there we didn't even notice the guns. 


Are you safe in Israel - from the sun(?!)



Our guide made a joke about the sun at the Dead Sea being safer than anywhere else in the world.  We thought this was funny, but apparently the UVB rays really are weaker there and you don't have to worry about sunburn. 



Yey.

Is the border safe to cross in Israel?

We didn't cross all the border points in Israel, obviously. But we did cross the border from Israel to Jordan in the north, came back at a different spot via the West Bank and went near the border at a spot on the Dead Sea:

Which is where we saw this sign:




Apparently there are mines there. 

As a general rule, we hate border crossings. Back to my ideal world, there would be no borders, preventing people from crossing from one country to another feels like a human right's violation. And it makes no sense that just because you were born on one piece of land (that men made up borders for), it should not mean that your travel is restricted. Like seriously it's so dumb.

Ramble aside, we hate border crossings - officials take your passport away; there are always people trying to scam you there (read more in our 3 Scams at the Bangkok - Siem Reap Crossing post).. 

When we went from Israel to Jordan, Abraham Tours took us the whole way through and we were so grateful for that, it made everything super easy and smooth. 



Coming back was harder, because our Jordanian guide couldn't come through with us. It wasn't that we didn't feel safe, we just felt super uncomfortable for a few reasons:

1) They take your bags off you, but instead of the usual 'you can see where your bags go through the x-ray and you catch them a few seconds later after you've also walked through the x-ray', the bags were waiting on the other side, like 20 minutes later. With all your valuables  worldly possessions in, that's not cool. 

The bag system is completely unfair too - you're allowed to take one small bag with you, and the rest go off on the 20 minute adventure. I flirted with the bag-guy and was allowed to take two medium bags through. Tanbay didn't flirt and he had to give up his tiny bag - what. 

2) They ask weird questions, like what's your father's name. Our friend Noah was held up there for ages because his name (Noah) is a Jewish name. They asked him if he was Jewish. He's not. They asked him what his father's name is - it's also a Jewish name. They asked him again if he was Jewish. 

From what we understand about the West Bank border from Jordan to Israel, Israelis can't use it, but Palestinians can. Hence all the Jewish questions. 

I think it's the only border Palestians can use and people can get detained there for hours and hours. Which just isn't right.

But I've gone off the topic of safety - this is more about human right's and borders being stupid and unfair. 

When we left Israel (flew from Tel Aviv airport to Budapest) this woman asked us so many stupid questions - did you go to Jordan, did you meet anyone there, did anyone give you a present, do you know anyone in Israel, did they give you a present?!?!

Again, I didn't feel unsafe, I just felt like it was stupid. 


Army presence in Israel 




When we were in the Old City in Jerusalem I was shocked by how little security/army presence there was. We were expecting it to be full of army. We were there for five hours and only saw about four soldiers. Two of them were taking selfies with a tourist:



This made me feel super relaxed - mostly when I see soldiers and armies it puts me on edge (in my perfect world there are no armies :p). But the fact that they were smiling and taking selfies with tourists, I was like okay fine. 



When we climbed Masada we complained the whole way up that it was a hard climb. On the way back we saw some army people carry a stretcher up as part of a training exercise: 



That made us shut up about how hard it was to walk up haha. 


What you're used to


I feel like how safe you feel abroad is often linked to what you're used to - someone from the UK will feel pretty safe in Canada or Australia because the laws and cultures are pretty much the same and this is reflected in the architecture, the food, the language - all key things to make you feel at home.

The great thing about Israel is the cities are so completely different, it can feel like you're in a different country. Thus, if you're worried about homesickness, head to the city most like your own one:

Tel Aviv


Felt super European, super cosmopolitan, there were families with dogs everywhere, hipster restaurants and cafes, and a massive Southern European feel. 

Jerusalem


Is more conservative and the three major monotheistic religions are all very well represented there.



Nazareth

In the North felt very much Arabic - the food, the music, the clothes etc. There are lots of Christians there too. 


So depending where you're from and what you're used to, maybe you'll feel safer in one of those places. Personally, we felt safe in all three of them, but we're used to all of those types of places. 


Abraham Tours


If you're still feeling a little unsure about the safety of Israel, I highly recommend a tour with Abraham Tours - they managed to perfectly toe the line between making us feel safe and like everything was sorted, but at the same time let us feel independent and like we were free to discover Israel in our own way. They really encouraged us to make our own decisions about Israel and gave us ample opportunity to do that. 

Even if you don't fancy taking a tour, you absolutely have to stay at Abraham Hostels - we (infamously) have a lot of distain for hostels - they're not our thing - but Abraham Hostels completely won us over, it was like being part of a massive happy family and it was the perfect place to meet people from all walks of life. They have a hostel in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem and a guest house in Nazareth. We stayed at all three and loved them all! There is also a free shuttle offered between the three places. 

Seriously, especially if you travel solo, go here to make friends quickly and easily. 


Conclusion



So there you have it, in our opinion Israel is safe to travel to. This is based on our own experiences having actually been there, but we appreciate things are different for different people. I would go back and I'd recommend anyone who wants to go to visit. 

If you're scared about travel in general, think about it this way - people have bad things happen to them all over the world, especially in their own home countries in their own homes. Life's too short to be limited by what the news tells you.


Disclaimer: Travelling Weasels were invited as guests of Abraham Tours but as always all opinions are our own, we would never recommend something we haven't personally tried out and loved because that would be unfair to you, and we're trying to discourage unfairness in the world <3 


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We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same!

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