Between Beach and Bombs

A German intern in Tel Aviv during war.

It has been four weeks now. Four weeks of a new life, moving from well protected Hamburg, Germany to well protected Tel Aviv, Israel. But meant in another way. Hamburg is such a safe city and Germany seems such a secure country that it can be, don’t get me wrong, even boring sometimes to live there. Not that I am a catastrophic seeker, but if you have never been confronted with war and threat, you develop in a different way for sure.

I arrived in Israel in a time of war.Hamas members kidnapped three Israeli teenagers whose deaths in June provoked a spiral of violence that led to the war in Gaza. German Newspapers and Broadcasting Channels showed a picture that was one-sided in most cases. Israelis pictured as the perpetrators and Palestinians as the victims. One out of five newspapers also reported about Hamas storing weapons in schools, hospitals and mosques and therefore initiating the death of thousand civilians.

First of all my flight got cancelled twice because Hamas shot a rocket close to Ben Gurion Airport Tel Aviv. Confronted with all kinds of worried opinions from friends and family but on the other hand calmed by my fellow student Nico who already started his internship two weeks before right at the time war began, I had to make a decision. I knew Israel had the Iron Dome and Tel Aviv was a bubble, the risk anything would happen to me would have been probably higher if I walked through the streets of Shanghai with all the traffic. I decided to book another flight which would definitely go and started my journey from Berlin.

When I arrived at my home for the first four weeks in center of Tel Aviv, close to work and Rothschild Boulevard, I met my Israeli roommate Nitsan, his German girlfriend Kathrin and the two cats Milky and Coffee. The weekend went by quickly and the first day of work was about to start. A two months long internship at, a video production marketplace that connects small businesses with a community of videographers around the world. Founded by four friends who came out of film school and, instead of doing what they love, were forced to work as waiters and bartenders. They were tired of the difficult process of finding film work, so they decided to change the game and was born. My job was to get international clients as well as new filmmakers for their portfolio. I liked to start working right away, just after two days of my arrival because it gave me the chance to immerge into the country in an authentic and fast way. The guys took me to food places during lunch brake and rooftop parties on the weekend. Nice!


Tel Aviv, a city during war but fully functional, with normal work life, packed beaches and crowded bars in the evening. Of course people were discussing about politics and the actual situation a lot but Iron Dome enabled them to live a secure life with short brakes of physical awareness of war.

My first bomb alarms were quite surreal. After doing a short power nap the sirens ripped me out of bed and I had 90 seconds to reach the stairway. While I was slipping over my trunks, I started running and shortly sat beside the lesbian landlord and her girlfriend who was wearing a helmet, to ensure additional protection.

Boom! One rocket detonated and as the first car horn sounded I knew “normal” life in Tel Aviv went on.

Another time I was on my way to sports when I heard the siren, stopped my bike, dashed it against the next house wall and ran into the same building. A mother with two children asked me to carry one of them up the stairs and protect it with my body. We waited a few seconds, the rocket boomed, another one exploded and we could leave the house again.

Once I was swimming I saw the iron dome fume in the sky and thought about this crazy and surreal moment.

But of course there were lots of beach visits without threat and danger. Beautiful Tel Aviv beach, clean, hot and sexy. Bathtub warm water, the beauty of the Israeli girls higher-than-average. Nico and me, lying in the warm sand, comparing notes on our jobs, he was also doing his internship in Tel Aviv, working for an accelerator program and after that studying for one semester at the Tel Aviv University, like me.

We had our first humus and tahini on the beach and were very happy that we stayed the course and went to Israel.


About the Author
Max Engelke, born 1982 in Hamburg, Germany, after finishing school and one foreign exchange year in the USA went to acting school in Germany. With a diploma degree in acting and six years experience at state theater and Film and Television, he started his MBA in Media Management at Hamburg Media School and is now interning at the start up in Tel Aviv, followed by a foreign semester at Recanati Business School, Tel Aviv University.
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