Before I left for Israel, I was asked why on earth I would want to go there. Political issues tossed aside for once, I am here today to answer that question. Israel is more than terror, religious conflicts, and disagreements on territorial entitlement.
Israel is really pretty.
Let me give you ten good reasons to bravely face the endless security checks.
1. The Mediterranean Sea.
Israel has a 273 km long coastline with the Mediterranean Sea. In Tel Aviv, there are the most beautiful beaches where you can catch some salty air and sandy feet. Tel Aviv is like the cool big brother of European Mediterranean cities: It is full of parties, sushi restaurants (TLV has the highest sushi restaurant density after Tokyo!), and diversity.
2. Female Power
Did you know that Israel is an absolute frontrunner when it comes to gender equality? They have more female professors than male! The Zionist movement was one of the first to include women as proper members. They were one of the first countries to ban underweight models!
Speaking of coastlines, sunsets are amazing in Israel, because there are so many breathtaking shores. I can recommend the Northern city Haifa, but we basically had 10/10 beautiful sunsets and some pretty sunrises, too.
Let me tell you about the food: It is a-ma-zing. Hummus, Falafel, fried cauliflower, Tahina, pickled eggplants, freshly baked pita bread – I will have to stop there, because I could go on forever. Israeli food is a mixture of different cultures, but it is almost all mouthwatering, healthy, and inexpensive. It also very easy to be vegetarian.
In the Negev Desert you can ride camels. Do you need any more incentive to go? There are camels, and they are the most adorable, goofy looking, badass animals. They might hurt your butt already after an hour, but still you won’t want to ever get off.
6. New History
Israel has been the refuge of many people of all religions, but especially for Jews after the Holocaust it was a crucial turning point in their grief-stricken history. All tourists, German or not, should try to understand this country’s complex history of the last century and less. If you have the time, please visit Yad Vashem in Jerusalm, the Israeli museum and monument for the Holocaust and its victims.
7. Ancient History
Building anything anew is quite difficult in Israel, because there is so much ancient history everywhere. Having been the showplace for prophets, kings, armies, sieges, Jesus, and pilgrimages, there is so much to explore. How about a visit to Massada, King Herodes’ winter palace and location of the Great Rebellion AD? It is also great at sunrise.
8. The Dead Sea
If you are going to Israel in the off-season (September-May), please go visit Ein Boqeq. It is the beach you have dreamt about your whole life. The turquoise water, white ground, and orange sand will make all your friends extremely jealous. Plus, Dead Sea water and mud is very healthy. (Do not shave beforehand. I repeat: DO NOT SHAVE BEFOREHAND.)
9. Attractive people
10. Good stories
Public transport in Israel is very good in theory, but a bit dysfunctional in practice. We waited for so many busses in vain, got off at the wrong stop, were forced to take a taxi or hitchhike, and created hilarious stories on the way. Once we accidentally took the bus far too far, but found a beautiful lookout on Lake Nazareth, a stray dog, and a rain storm.
Side note: Don’t hitchhike by yourself, especially as a woman.
Israel has in the Western World mainly been perceived for its problems and political choices. While these problems and choices are very real and controversial, the country is also far more than just that.
Israel has an extremely diverse geography, population, and cuisine. It offers much on a terrain half as big as Switzerland. Besides its problem areas, it excels in other areas such as gender equality and democratic principles as the only country in its region.
I understand if you do not agree with its choices, but as with all things in life, there are several sides to this story.