Michael Totten is blogging his way through the Middle East. When he gets to Israel, he gets culture shock.
Arab countries have a certain feel. They're masculine, relaxed, worn around the edges, and slightly shady in a Sicilian mobster sort of way. Arabs are wonderfully and disarmingly charming. Israel felt brisk, modern, shiny, and confident. It looked rich, powerful, and explicitly Jewish. I knew I had been away from home a long time when being around Arabs and Muslims felt comfortably normal and Jews seemed exotic.
First impression are just that, though. They tend to be crazily out of whack and subject to almost instant revision ...
As often, it's an interesting, complex analysis from Michael. And, as his photo above suggests, a not entirely bleak one.