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Birthright and Beyond: A Look into Israel and the West Bank

After intifadas, peaces accords and even amidst the Arab Spring, one may expect the Middle East to be war-torn, dangerous, and anything but beautiful. I can’t speak for the entirety of the region, but my experiences in Israel and the West Bank are very much to the contrary. The lens – both literally and figuratively – from which I viewed the region was tempered by Taglit, a program for Jewish young people to Israel, as well as independent time spent with Palestinian friends and international colleagues. I experienced culture shock, absolute awe, broken preconceptions, and inspirational hospitality. Here is a collection of images detailing the differences betwenthe Jewish state and its unseen and unsung minorities.

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

A boy becomes a Bar Mitzah as others pray at the Wailing Wall

Candles hang within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

An Israel flag greets tourists in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City

A woman walks outside a Mosque to Temple Mount.

The Baha’i Gardens settle at the heights of Haifa

Sunsets over the port of Old Yaffo

The dunes of the Negev Desert seem endless

Countless goods can be found in bazaars scattered throughout the region

A display of hijabs in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City

Markets, often called ‘shuks’, are filled with merchants selling their fresh produce

Banksy’s infamous artwork in Bethlehem criticizes the Israeli occupiers

An Israeli IDF soldier displays various helicopters at an army base outside of Haifa

Palestinians Graffiti artists express their discontent on the Separation Wall between Israel and the West Bank

A teen brings fresh baked bread through the streets of Tel Aviv

Candles alight the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

A man in solitary prayer outside the Dome of the Rock

A woman shops in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem

A break in the barbed wire separating Palestine from Israel opens into a children’s playground

Tufts students hike through the Negev.

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