"Visit Israel now and you’ll find the country in flux. Yet, ironically, weekly demonstrations against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul Israel’s judiciary and weaken the country’s supreme court have become something of a tourist attraction. Not least in Tel Aviv, where visitors stand on balmy Saturday nights to watch the sea of Israeli flags flooding the streets as the people chant, sing and unite in protest."
That is how British journalist, Angela Epstein, described her impression of the Holy Land on a recent visit, writing for the Daily Mail. While traveling to various parts of Israel, such as the Dead Sea and the southern port city of Eilat, the weekly demonstrations against Netanyahu's proposed overhaul of the judiciary caught Epstein's attention.
Epstein additionally described how her sister-in-law experienced Israel when she visited. "‘It’s carnival-like, so much camaraderie – just people demonstrating for their votes. It’s one big 'social', which is what Israelis love,’ my sister-in-law, Fiona, who visited recently explains. ‘That’s why the tourists love to go and watch too.’"
"And given that Tel Aviv is one of the world’s priciest cities, it’s free entertainment," she wrote.
With typical dry British wit, Epstein gave her impression of Israel's lackluster driving culture. "In between some hair-raising moves – motorists here work on the principle of ‘don’t mirror or signal before manoeuvre’ – our driver gives us a potted history of the current situation, which ends with him describing the PM as a ‘lunatic’."
‘You’re from Manchester – as in Manchester United?’ wonders Avi, one especially charming waiter. ‘It’s just a place of football and rain, no? So much better to be here'," Epstein wrote of one encounter.
’Yet Israel is also a place where the welcome is palpable. Its people are inquisitive, direct and just utterly thrilled you want to visit," she wrote.
Other than exploring Tel Aviv and Jaffa, seeing the bustling restaurants, bars and cafes, and watching out for the constant stream of electric scooter riders on the walkway adjacent to the Mediterranean shores, Epstein also ventured to Masada, Caesarea, the Dead Sea and sealed her vacation with a visit to Eilat.
"There’s tons to do if you have the energy, from snorkeling to kayaking. But, feeling lethargic, we limit our water activities to taking a tour on a glass-bottomed boat," she described her experience in Israel's most southern city.
Keep in mind this isn't the first time that protests against the judicial overhaul have made their way to international publications that focus on tourism. The Drone Photo Awards, held in June, was won by none other than 38-year-old Or Adar, who took first prize for a photo showing a bird's-eye view of the massive Kaplan Avenue demonstration marked by the words "Must Resist," showcasing a photo of Netanyahu alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran's former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
"I'm documenting the fight for a democracy from the angle of a drone," Adar, a former Air Force navigator, said. "I feel like the protest's aerial assist."