I saw your request on Facebook and think it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, I do not know much about Sweden. I have never visited your country and my ideas about Sweden are purely based on the media stereotypes of blond haired blue eyed people who enjoy a high standard of living. I presume that most Swedes opinions on Israel and Israelis are based on similar misconceptions.
My name is Dalia and I have lived in Israel for over twenty years after having been born and grown up in England. Life is very different here from the one I knew in London, but although I still miss certain aspects of the UK I love it here. It has been my experience that Israelis are a very warm and caring people. I remember when my children were babies, absolute strangers would stop me and offer me advice. They did not mean to be rude. It is just their way to treat each other as family, which sometimes can be annoying , but is always assuring. Israel is a family orientated nation and cares about its children and parents. Last summer we had the social justice demonstrations. I think that we were the only country in which these demonstrations were not violent. In view that most of the year it is hot and the sun shines, we enjoy an outdoor life, whether it is in our many parks or on the beach or in outdoor coffee shops. There is less crime than in a lot of the world and therefore the kids have a freer life. I feel safe walking alone at all hours of the day and night, something I cannot do in London anymore. Most people here are worried about the same things that people worry about all over the world, work, health, family, finance, global warming etc. Most people here are busy on a day to day basis with the same things people do all over the world, school, work, bringing up their kids, computer etc.
Israel is the home to people of different faiths and in my expereience there is mutual respect for each other. When I first came to Israel I studied at the Hebrew University and nearly all the students in my department were Arabs, Christians and Moslems. There were cultural differences, but it didn’t stop us from being friends. When I have had the misfortune to be in hospital with one of my kids, he has shared a room, Israelis and Palestinians together and the children and families have got along with no problem.
Unfortunately, the outside world does not experience everyday life in Israel, but is only exposed to news items about the Israeli Arab conflict, which often are incorrect, or at least misleading. I have never met an Israeli who did not want peace. Peace with the Arabs is taught in our schools and on our television. All children learn about peace. I remember when my children were in kindergarten and they were asked what they wanted for the New Year, nearly all the children answered peace, not Lego sets or dolls as would be the case in a different country.
It would be a pity if you take isolated incidents you see on TV as being the norm in Israel. That is far from the truth. Most people here would be happy for the Palestinians to have a good and prosperous life side by side with us. However, we cannot afford to be naive and in view of the terrorist threat in which we live, security cannot be ignored. I think that tolerance is a key and this is something that must be learnt.
I hope that as here in Israel, the Palestinians succeed in educating their children to want peace with us, in order that we can live without harm or obstruction to either side in a peace based on mutual understanding and respect.
I also hope that you visit our country to see for yourself and experience the warmth and many positive aspects it has to offer. I would be surprised if you do not leave with a positive view of this much loved piece of land.