15 things Israel is famous for and famous for

For a country the size of a pinhead on your average world map, it’s incredible how much culture, amazing geography and diversity Israel has to offer. Not to mention the history of the holy land thousands of years ago!

Israel is known for its proximity to the Dead Sea, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the bustling high-tech metropolis of Tel Aviv, and the ancient beauty of cities like Jerusalem and Haifa. Its geopolitical position, history and culture make it unique not only in the Middle East, but in the entire world.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the things Israel is most famous for.

1. A Nation of Immigrants

Israel is truly a melting pot and has been since 1948! When the country was founded, its population was only one thousand (some estimates are even lower). Most of these people were the ancestors of today’s Palestinians, as well as the Bedouin and some other minority groups.

Oh, and then there were a few dozen Jews. Some of them had been there since biblical times, while others had migrated to the Holy Land later for religious reasons.

Then, in 1948 came independence. And with that, the population swelled practically overnight. Suddenly, this small plot of land with no major cities was a land of millions!

Then and now, this unique blend of hundreds of backgrounds has created a culture that can only be described as Israeli. Almost nowhere else on Earth is holding another citizenship or “visiting relatives” flying across five time zones to a different continent as common as it is here.

Today, Israel’s mix of countless subcultures, ethnic groups, and backgrounds make it one of the most unique countries on earth.

The influence of this immigrant culture has been enormous, with many loanwords borrowed from Hebrew over the years from music and entertainment.

2. Hebrew language

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Israel was founded in 1948 as an independent national home for the Jewish people. Therefore, it was natural that Hebrew was chosen as the official language.

While the revival of Hebrew has been underway since the late 1800s, Israel is known as the only country in the world where daily business is conducted almost entirely in this ancient language.

And this is no small feat, since the majority of the early Israelite population knew no Hebrew before moving into the land. Special fast-track language schools, called Ulpanim, were established to address this problem.

Considering that learning Hebrew is so difficult, it’s almost a miracle that this approach works so well! It does not share much in common with other living languages ​​except Arabic, and its grammar, spelling, and various pronunciation rules are notoriously difficult to master.

3. Sun, sand and beaches galore

Apart from being the holy land and the only national refuge for Jews around the world, there may be another reason why millions immigrated to Israel after the war.

Of course, I am talking about the fact that it is one of the most picturesque places in the world!

Despite being so small, Israel has a lot to offer. To the south is the Negev, a vast desert. The temperature may seem a little crazy, but the view is definitely worth seeing!

Along the coast, there are some of the most beautiful Mediterranean beaches you will ever see. Haifa, Tel Aviv and even Ashkelon have places that make mouths water and run out of sunscreen bottles at record speed.

And to the north, the Galilee pictures dense forests and high mountain ranges. The climate here is so mild that the cities get a lot of snow in winter.

That’s something considering that just 200 miles to the south, summer temperatures regularly reach 105 degrees!

4. Hi-Tech Yash

Did you know that ICQ, one of the first instant messaging services, was born in Israel? It’s true! From its humble beginnings, Israel has transformed into what some call a “startup nation”. You won’t find young companies that innovate in the field of IT and computing anywhere.

From the Intel processor chips that now power everyone’s PCs to the FaceID you use to sign into your devices, many technologies we take for granted were developed in Israel! Oh, by the way – if you’ve seen or used a website built on Wix.com, it’s also Made in Israel.

That’s why the area around Tel Aviv, home to the largest number of tech startups in Israel, is nicknamed “Silicon Wadi”!

Not only hundreds of Israeli companies, but many international powerhouses like IBM, Google, Microsoft and others have set up shop here in recent years.

5. Scientific progress

It is not only in the burgeoning high-tech industry that Israel has become a surprising leader. He has also been a rising star in scientific research for years!

Already in the post-war period it was evident that austerity had struck. The country’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, was a famous biochemist who pioneered industrial fermentation processes.

In the 1960s, an Israeli researcher discovered THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Even the first epilator was designed and built in Israel!

Of course, Israel’s long history of conflict means that the military has also innovated a lot. For example, an Israeli field doctor invented what we now call “The Israeli Bandage,” a unique bandaging design that has saved many lives and is now taught to medical personnel around the world.

Oh, and if you  have a friend  who can’t show off his drone flying skills, let him know. Yes, the Israel Air Force was the first to use “light pilotless aircraft,” as they were called all the way back in the early 80s.

6. Olive drabs everywhere

For better or worse, Israel has a national history full of conflict and wars. Depending on how you keep count, Israel has been involved in ten different military conflicts. This is a lot for a country that is barely 70 years old!

The first of these wars was fought in 1948, when an all-Arab coalition invaded the country. This happened just the day before the Declaration of Independence was signed!

Amazingly, since that war of independence, Israel has never once lost a large-scale engagement. Their army is now considered one of the strongest in the world.

Israel accomplished this by drafting not only all grown men, but women as well! Since basically everyone gets to serve, the military is seen as a rite of passage into adulthood.

Therefore, it is quite common to see people of both sexes walking around in uniform in public in Israel. And military helicopters flying overhead aren’t a cause for concern either, promise!

7. Does James Bond like falafel?

With their military experience and technological expertise, it was only a matter of time before Israel developed a capable secret service. So he went and made two of them.

Shin Bet is an internal intelligence agency. It primarily serves as a security force that assists the police in keeping citizens safe from harm in public places. For their excellent track record and reputation, Shin Bet agents are also employed by countries around the world, for example airport security.

The Mossad is the Shin Bet’s more glamorous sibling, and for good reason. Internationally, it has become notorious for its high-stakes espionage missions.

Actual Mossad operations often serve as the backdrop for espionage novels and are considered second only to the CIA in terms of power and influence.

8. Floating in the Dead Sea

Do you know how to swim? At the Dead Sea, there is only one answer: Yes!

The Dead Sea is actually a giant lake and contains the most salt in the world! This gives the Dead Sea a natural buoyancy that allows us to easily float to the surface. Every summer and spring, thousands of people from the Middle East and around the world visit the Dead Sea to see it.

Drowning  is a bigger challenge than trying to swim in the Dead Sea  ! In fact, due to the salt content, diving here is practically impossible.

9. Clash of Beliefs

More than any other place on earth, Israel is famous as the home of many world religions, all of which call this land their holy place.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Jerusalem.

At the Western Wall, Orthodox Jews pray just five minutes from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites. Christians also flock to Jerusalem to see the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Jesus was crucified and later resurrected.

And this is not to mention the numerous minority religions that call Jerusalem and the rest of Israel their home! From the Baha’i Temple in Haifa to the ancient Samaritan religion in the northeast of the country, Israel is a place of faith.

10. Delicious Food Everywhere

Like our people, Israel has imported its cuisine from every corner of the earth. Of course, most of the food you’ll find here is Middle Eastern.

From falafel to shawarma, many of the popular dishes associated with Israel these days come from traditional cuisines in Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and other countries. Shakshauka, a delicacy of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, was brought to the country by immigrants from North Africa.

However, imported cuisines from places like Russia, Poland and Latin America also abound. Case in point: Pita, Israel’s most famous universal street food combined with literally anything you can imagine, comes from Greece!

What this means for you today is that in one visit to the streets of Tel Aviv, you can experience delicacies from around the world!

11. Cottagecore, before it was cool

During the Cold War, Israel was the only Western-friendly country to allow the Communist way of life to flourish locally. The hundreds of small kibbutzim and moshavim found throughout the country today are his product.

These living communities are unique because they follow communist and socialist principles. For example, in most kibbutzim, all ownership is traditionally shared among the members of the kibbutz. Everyone works together and the fruits of their labor are distributed “to each according to his ability, to each according to his need”.

Although truly communist kibbutzim and moshavim are rare these days for political and economic reasons, the model has strongly influenced national culture.

Since most of these communes, especially in the past, are based on agriculture and craftsmanship, Israel has a surprising number of people who are as good as a sickle with a smartphone!

12. Dangerous Sky

If you’ve watched news broadcasts about Israel on TV, you’ve probably seen scenes like this. For decades, Israel’s territory near Gaza in the southwest has come under fire from missile barrages. For the most part, these are initiated by the Gaza-based terror group Hamas.

The sounds of sirens are very familiar to people living in the cities of Ashkelon, Beersheba and Ashdod in the region.

Because neutralizing the terrorist threat has become so difficult and evacuating such a large part of the country is not an option, Israel has developed a unique missile defense system, the Iron Dome.

Thanks to that, and the inclusion of underground shelters in most houses and apartment buildings, these routine bombings today rarely hurt anyone.

13. Hebrew Names

If you know what to look for, you can usually identify an Israelite by what their name looks like. But how can this be in a country that has existed since 1948?

As I mentioned before, Israel was in its infancy and is still a nation of immigrants, more so than any other country. To make the transition easier for people and to make this diverse population feel more integrated, Israel’s government implemented several unique policies.

In one of these, almost all Jews who became aliyah (immigrants) until the 90s were forced, or at least urged, to take their original Hebrew name instead of their native name.

Ever heard of David Grune? No, not a German lawyer – it’s the birth name of Ben-Gurion, one of the country’s founding fathers.

14. A little mother Russia

This point is a bit controversial for many Israelis, but it’s true: Israel is known for harboring one of the largest Russian communities outside of its homeland.

An exciting political thriller will be created in the background of these developments. In the 90s, millions of citizens of Russia and former Soviet countries immigrated to Israel. Most of them were Soviet Jews who had been denied permits for passports before the fall of the communist regime.

However, some non-Jews were Russian or former Soviet citizens who claimed to be Jews for easy immigration! Such immigration of non-Jews to Israel was unprecedented. Some have called it an attack on the country’s entire identity. Every Israeli citizen of Russian descent quickly became a potential suspect of crime or immigration fraud.

As a result, there has been chronic tension between the Israeli-Russian community and the rest of the population.

It doesn’t help that Russian-Israelis place more emphasis on both sides of their identity than previous generations of Israeli immigrants.

For one, they don’t tend to Hebrewize their names. And in many neighborhoods in cities like Haifa, Russian is widely spoken on the streets, Russian books are sold in bookstores, and storefronts display text in Russian rather than official Hebrew-Arabic-English signs.

15. A peer leader

After all, the last thing Israel needs, especially in recent times, is its strength to fight emergencies. Of course, I am talking about the way the country has dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Israel immunized the majority of its citizens faster than any other country in the world and now leads the world in the proportion of its population that received booster shots in 2022.

With a vast military and security infrastructure operating around the clock, and a national culture shaped and hardened by war and disaster, it’s no wonder Israel has done such an exceptional job of fighting the pandemic!

15 things Israel is famous for and famous for

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