Israel is just another small European country

Yes, I know, Israel is in Asia. Geographically speaking. But so is Cyprus, and Cyprus is a member of the EU. Obviously, the EU is no authority on geography, since they denied Morocco the membership based on Morocco not being a European country, while admitting Cyprus. Also, the EU would readily admit Armenia into the union, even though Armenia is entirely in Asia. Geologically, Europe is just a peninsula of the Eurasian continent anyway so the whole discussion of “what is a European country” is a political rather than a geological one. Since Israel is a full-fledged member of UEFA, for the purposes of this weblog its a European country.

The hike on ramparts of the Old City of Jerusalem offers unparalleled panoramic views and a sneak into the daily life of the city under your feet

More than twenty years ago, I came to Israel from the then still existing Soviet Union. The thing I remember the most as a first impression is a very non-European feature of Israel, are the cactus groves. Seemingly everywhere, huge cactus bushes were growing, heavy with yellow-reddish fruit. Since then, I never ceased to be surprised by Israel. The amount of languages spoken on the streets, for example. Or the huge diversity of the landscape, the result of the geographical location on the meeting point of Europe, Asia and Africa. Or the road signs to places such as “Armageddon” or “Sodom”. While Israel is genuinely Middle-Eastern in (political) climate, its population and cultural genome are certainly European to a large extent. Descendants of probably all European countries live in Israel, establishing Romanian grill restaurants, Societies of former Thessaloniki inhabitants and Scottish Jews Clubs. If you want to visit all of Europe in one country – come to Israel.

Sodom - conveniently signposted

Nowadays, I keep being surprised by Israel, especially by the intensity of emotions it arouses in Europeans. Time and again I am astonished as to how little Europeans know about Israel and the Middle East in general and how strongly they believe that they are entitled to assign “right” and “wrong” labels and allow themselves to pass moral judgement on all parties.

Dr. Saadia on 45 King George Street in Tel Aviv - the best falafel in town

Politics aside, visiting Israel as a tourist is a very special delight, and one always returns wishing one has had more time to spend there. So while the winter is briefly coming back to Europe this week, I am planning my next trip to Israel, where the sun is bright and the falafel is good.

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3 Comments

Filed under Europe, Just another small European country, Small European things

3 responses to “Israel is just another small European country

  1. the Sabihh is the next big thing here. I promise to take you to eat some when you and evette will come here, Bro.

  2. wait to see you here and eat some of the good new things here…

  3. I join on the Sabih recommendation – best one is right next to my workplace in Jerusalem.

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