Welcome to the holy land. Fought over for thousands of years. If you think the current conflict is something new, think again. Everybody who was anybody has claimed this land, from ancient Babylon to the old Egyptians, and from the Muslim Arabs to the Christian Crusaders, right on until this day and age. This Biblical land has endured more than any country should have to. On the plus side, all those invaders and occupiers have left their mark, so Israel is strewn with ancient sites.
Israel is a fascinating place to visit and its people are not as homogenous as you might think. It’s not all Jews that live in the Jewish State. There is a sizeable Muslim Arab minority. Apart from the Muslims, the Jews themselves are not one people, but many people from many countries, reflecting the spread of the Jewish diaspora. There are Ethiopian Jews and Polish Jews, Indian Jews and American Jews, Uzbek Jews and Moroccan Jews, French Jews and Iraqi Jews, and they have all brought the traditions from their respective countries with them, making Israel a great place for food connoisseurs. The national food though, if there is any, is hummus. And they make the best hummus in the world, so don’t skip it!
Whether you are here to party in Tel Aviv, or carry a crucifix up the Via Delores in Jerusalem, want to dive the Red Sea or float on the Dead Sea, camp in the Negev Desert or ski the Golan Heights, or simply want to eat your way through the myriad foods that are available, in Israel it is all possible.
Come visit this tiny country on the sea, and see what all the fuss is about!
Highlights from Israel
- Holy Jerusalem should not be missed, with the Temple Mount as its focal point, don’t skip the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
- Party all night in Tel Aviv, then nurse your hangover on the beach the next day
- Dive the Red Sea in Eilat
- Visit the various churches in Nazareth
- Camp in the Negev Desert
- Admire the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa
- Float on the Dead Sea
- Swim, or hike around Lake Galilee
- Clamber up Masada the last redoubt of Jewish resistance to Roman rule
- Ski at Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights
Hints and Tips for Israel
- For those who want to travel the Muslim world after visiting Israel, remember that many countries will refuse entry to anybody with a Israeli stamp in their passport. You can ask for it to be put on a separate paper.
- On the whole Israel is a safe country to visit, but be aware that terrorist attacks do happen occasionally.
- If you plan on visiting the West Bank, realise that you might not always like what you see, and that some of the more orthodox Jewish colonists might abuse you or even throw stones at you.
- When at the Western Wall, be discreet when taking photos as it isn’t always appreciated.
- Most Israeli’s speak English as well as Hebrew, so getting by shouldn’t be a problem.