If your only exposure to Israel was just the TV News channels, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this is a place where daily life is full of tension, conflict and violence. And, while those are certainly unfortunately frequent elements of the situation here, and whatever you may think about the rights and wrongs of what's happening in Israel; many people tend to forget that away from the flashpoints of the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, that life goes on here fairly normally.
In fact, as we enjoyed the relaxed holiday atmosphere of Tel Aviv, you'd never have guessed that there were all those tensions under the surface. We were meeting up with our friends who live in Tel Aviv, and getting to know their 3 lovely children (2 of whom we'd never met before).
As we visited prosperous neighbourhoods, frequented by trendy young things in their shorts and flip-flops, you could have been in any chilled out beachside city in the west. If was fun to visit the lively Carmel Market, which was a wonderful mixture of East and West, a combination of the best of Europe and the Middle East.
In fact, it seemed like the quality of life in Tel Aviv is pretty good – if you can ignore the underlying threat of terrorism which is sadly a part of everyday life here in Israel. Actually, we heard that the biggest issue facing most young people here, is a familiar one to most people in the west – it was the ridiculous price of property and the high cost of living. Our friends told us that food, drink and property prices are roughly equivalent to what we pay in London, yet salaries are about half those of London. It must be especially hard for young people to get on the property ladder.
We went down to Tel Aviv's beautiful sand beach with the kids, where they frolicked in the sea and delighted in splashing me. As they giggled and screamed with delight on that sun-kissed beach, it made you think that surely someone, somehow can come up with a solution to the conflicts here, so that these kids, and the kids of their Palestinian neighbours can both have the bright future that they deserve.
There's so much to be positive about with Israel, somehow that positivity needs to be channelled into the peace process.