An invitation to walk together by Udi Goren, Israel

Some of you may already know me, but for those who don’t- allow me to introduce myself briefly: My name is Udi Goren and I’m a professional travel and lifestyle photographer. I went to university in the US and came back to Israel 2.5 years ago. tumblr_inline_ndhdh1borc1sag8l3I wanted to share with you a new project I’m launching and the story behind it. In only a few days, I will begin walking the entire Israel National Trail – The Israeli Trail is a hiking trail that waves through Israel from North to South for 940 km. It should take about 2.5 months to cover it by foot, hauling a big backpack and a full set of camera gear. But this is more than just the physical challenge on a long-distance trek. it is also about my survival in Israel in a much broader sense. Since I came back to Israel, I’ve been struggling every day with the challenges that life presents here. Most of these challenges (political and social) are not  as inevitable as people often claim. The cost of living in Israel is now so crazy that the middle class will soon need to struggle hard to stay the middle class- it’s either down to poverty or up to upper class. And of course…the extreme violence we’ve been experiencing and the intensification of racism, intolerance and fascism, proudly led by our brave leaders. It seems that racism is almost mainstream today, going by, un-condemned and even instigated by some leaders. The public services budgets’ are cut back year after year with different excuses (while the budget for the army grows larger- someone has to pay for our wars!). There’s a lot more to about, but this post is not about complaining. This hardship was actually one of my motivations to join YaLa young leaders- I felt I had to do something to try and make things better. However, the recent war in Gaza was the final straw. It depressed me to the point that I felt I had to leave. I felt I didn’t belong in my own country anymore. The reactions of politicians, the Israeli public and even of people I know  made me feel hopeless and angry. After much contemplation, I  realized I should do the exact opposite of what my instinct was telling me to do:  I would stay and I would walk through this country and experience this land; far from the news headlines and the friction. I would reintroduce myself to Israel and its people and look for its true essence. My goal would essentially be to remind myself what it is that I used to love about this place… This is something I’ve been meaning to do for years, but there’s never been a good time to take 3 months out of life. This time I was so overwhelmed with what was going on, that I  didn’t care anymore- I had to do it.   The reason I’m sharing this post with you is that I want to invite anyone and everyone to walk with me. Come for a day, for a night, for a meal. If you like the place you live in and you feel it’s worth sharing- invite me over! I just hope you’re not camera shy… With the risk of sounding like a cliche, I especially want to extend this invitation to our Israeli-Palestinian friends on the group: if you can come and join, please do. This is your land just as much as it’s mine- let’s enjoy it together! I leave next week, hopefully on Sunday. I’ll be updating constantly, so you’d know where I am. Come
Udi, YaLa Young Leaders Follow Udi’s Blog Here

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