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Reflections On Israel

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We left Israel and four hours later we arrived in Frankfurt, Germany. Adele and I had an amazing two weeks in the state of Israel. It has been home to the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years, but the modern state of Israel is nothing short of a miracle. We were blown away by this tiny country; my birthplace.

This nation has been in a constant state of war and military alertness since independence. What other nation has had hostile neighbours threatening to annhilate it? While today, Israel has peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt, there are other actors threatening: Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza. Yet despite or because of the threats, Israel has evolved into a first world country.

Israel is a leader in technology, both military and non-military. The are second in the world in start-up companies. A bullet train will commence operation in September, and they have been leaders in desert irrigation, solar systems and biomedical devices. Israelis are tenacious, inventive and innovative... and their driving, that’s another story. Like every place, Israel has its positives and negatives

Positives

1. There is a lot to see geographically and the distances are so short, that you can ski on Mt. Hermon in the north and in the same day be on a beach in the south.

2. There is so much ancient history here and the country is basically one big archeological dig, with discoveries every year.

3. The food in Israel is great; a mixture of Middle Eastern and European. The breakfasts are something to behold with fruit, nuts, vegetables, fish, assorted cheeses, eggs, pastries and the list goes on. We didn’t have one poor meal and the coffee in most places was excellent.

4. Israelis are very conservation conscious and make the most out the little land that they do have.

5. There is a strong sense of family and community perhaps because of shared experiences in war, and because it is a small land.

6. This could be positive or negative, but Israel has one of the most powerful militaries in the world. They train others here. We saw soldiers from Rwanda who were in Israel for training. Every able-bodied Israeli has to do military service: three years for men and two years for women.

7. Israel is safe; they take their security serious. Everywhere there are armed security personal. At the airport there is a security stop before you get to the terminal and another security check before you even go through the main security with the x-ray scanners.

8. People are often surprised at the diversity in Israel. The country is a democracy so jews, Christians, Muslims, Armenians and even Druze intermingle. It has been described as a tapestry with every skin colur on display. It is a free country for all!

Negatives

1. The cost of living is very high with respect to real estate. Tel-Aviv has one of the highest housing prices in the world. Accordingly, hotels are very pricey. Don’t expect a cheap holiday if you come to Israel.

2. They have a 17% VAT, and you can only get a refund if you spend more than 400 shekels ($130 U.S. dollars). Unfortunately, because I had to come in on an Israeli passport, I couldn’t get a refund. We’ll know for next time to book things in Adele’s name.

3. If you’re thinking of driving, be prepared. Israelis rank up there with Italians for their driving aggression, horn honking and recklessness. Rush hour in Tel-Aviv is something to behold.

4. Israelis can be brash and rude, definitely not as laid back as Australians.

5. Israelis, especially in Jerusalem, take the Sabbath seriously. Little is open. Religious Jews spend time on their day with family and friends sharing foid and praying in synagogues. They see it as down time from the hectic week. For tourists it can be somewhat limiting as most tour operators who are Jewish don’t work on the Sabbath.

So if you can afford it, go to Israel. There are tour operators who do personalized or group tours, whatever fits in with your budget.

Posted by PassionRetirees 13:21 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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