Israel makes up a small part of West Asia, and it is barely a speck on the globe. However, Israel is more than just a little country with a long history – it is a state that has been constantly in the limelight ever since it was established in May 1948. However, what do you actually know about the only Jewish state in the world? Read on, to learn more about the State of Israel, and see why it continues to fascinate so many people!
Did you know that Israel is one of the few countries across the globe that requires women to serve in the armed forces? It’s true. At the age of 18 years old, young women must serve at least two years in the Israel Defense Force. They take both combat and non-combat positions.
Life’s A Beach
Everyone enjoys spending some fun in the sun. It goes without saying that Israelis are huge fans of the beach. There are 137 official beaches in the country, despite having a coastline of only 273 km. It is easy to see why the Zohan likes to spend his days on the beach!
World Record Flight
El Al, Israel’s national airline, holds the world record for carrying the most passengers on a commercial plane. This was accomplished during the time of “Operation Solomon,” when they transported Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia in the year 1991. Interestingly, two babies were welcomed into the world on the Boeing 747.
You know what they say, dogs are a man’s best friend. This appears to have been true for thousands of years! You can find the oldest dog cemetery in Ashkelon, Israel. The dog remains discovered here are believed to have come from the 3rd to the 5th centuries.
Einstein For President
Are you aware that Albert Einstein was Jewish? The genius theoretical physicist is best known for developing the theory of relativity, and he was even offered the position of the state’s first prime minister. He was flattered by the offer, though he did ultimately turn it down.
Some countries might be very conservative towards gay rights, though Israel is not one of them. The country has been holding a Pride Parade in Tel Aviv every year since 1979. The number of attendees had gone up to 200,000! Israel has been hailed the gay capital of the Middle East by Out Magazine.
There are only two countries in the world that welcomed the 21st century with more trees than it had before. Israel is one of them. You can attribute this status to a project named KKL, which encourages the planting of trees.
There have been plenty of talented people who hail from Israel. Natalie Portman is one of them. She was actually born in Jerusalem and comes home to visit whenever she possibly can.
Apart from working as an actress and a model, she is also Wonder Woman! She served in the IDF, and it is safe to say that she is a very impressive lady. Regardless, she doesn’t let it get to her head, as she remains down-to-Earth as well.
When it comes to models, Israel was actually the first country to place a ban on underweight beauty contestants. In the hope of fighting anorexia, they made it a requirement to have a BMI of over 18.5. In addition, models must pass a 3-month health report before they could participate in a shoot.
Jews Against Israel
There might a population of Jewish people who do not support Israel’s policies, though there is a small extremist sect that you might not know about. “Neturei Karta” is an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect that believes Israel should not exist. They meet with well-known enemies of the state like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The group apparently wants “peaceful dismantlement of the State.”
Robert Kennedy’s Assassination
24-year-old Palestinian Sirhan Bishara Sirhan shot Robert Kennedy at the Los Angeles establishment, the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968. He ended up shooting him 3 times and inflicted wounds on others at the site. Apparently, he was furious at the politician’s support for Israel in the Six Day War that had taken place a year earlier.
Money For The Blind
Up next, we have another bit of trivia that will make any country proud to hold it. The bank notes in the country actually come with braille markings in order to make it easy for blind people to use.
Borat In Israel
The British actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen created the silly mockumentary called “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” in the year 2006. It might not have been welcomed in all parts of the world, though Israel certainly welcomed it. Most of the so-called “Kazakh” language was, in fact, Hebrew.
Take a glance inside a Pakistani passport, and you will find that it reads, “This passport is valid for all countries in the world, except Israel.” This is one way that Pakistan boycotts Israel. However, you must know that Pakistan is not the sole country in the world to do this.
High Life Expectancy
Israel actually holds the highest life expectancy for Arabs in the region. People are expected to live up to 79 years here!
Here’s another thing that any country would be proud of: Israel actually has the greatest ratio of college degrees to people in the country. They clearly know their priorities!
In Israel, sign roads are typically written in 3 different languages. However, the country only has two official languages: Hebrew and Arabic. Regardless, it must be helpful for tourists that English is also included.
In the movies, you will always find the good guys carrying a cool little submachine gun. You would be surprised to know that this piece of weaponry was actually invented by an Israeli. It was devised by Major Uzi Gaf as an easy-to-use gun. In 1954, it officially became used by the IDF.
Israel is a small country, but they know how important museums are. In fact, the Jewish State also has more museums per capita than the rest of the world!
A Low Point
Israel also has the lowest point on Earth. Yes, we are talking about the Dead Sea that borders Jordan. It sits at 1,315 feet below the sea level. The water here is so salty you can float on it without exerting any effort! There might be no marine life here, though you will certainly have a tough time submerging yourself.
A Spot In The Middle East
Israel is surrounded by other fascinating countries, though they do not have great relations together. In the north, the country is bordered by Lebanon, Syria to the northeast, Gaza in the southwest, Egypt to the south, and Jordan to the east.
Regardless, Israel has been able to establish peace treaties with two of these neighbors. The first one was Egypt. In 1979, they signed an agreement that made them the first country in the MENA to recognize the State of Israel. Next, there is Jordan. The country signed a peace treaty in 1994 that made it the second Arab country to acknowledge the State of Israel.
If you are familiar with Jewish customs, you will know that there are rules about the food they eat. This is why even the stamps they lick before mailing a letter must be kosher as well! How cool is that?
Israel is the only country in the world where you will find kosher McDonald’s. There are over 50 kosher outlets in the country. However, those who practice the religion strictly tend to avoid the cheeseburgers, as it is not kosher.
Bus Stop Charity
While you wait for the bus to arrive, there is the opportunity to do an act of kindness. Plenty of bus stops in the Holy Land come with a charity box connected to the bus stop. This is where people can donate to charity organizations and needy families.
Leave A Message After The Beep
Did you know that Israelis also invented the technology used to create voicemail? If you have a Jewish mother, then this makes sense!
When you go to the so-called party capital of the Middle East do not forget to get at the numerous sushi restaurants! Lovers of Japanese food will be thrilled to hear that there are over 100 sushi joints in Tel Aviv alone.
Israel also has the highest rate of entrepreneurship among women and individuals more than 55 years old. How empowering must that be?
Transgender Pop Star
When Israel sent Dana International to participate in the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest, they likely did not expect she would do so well. The transgender performer brought home the first place award!
Good And Bad
Israelis know how important it is to take care of their health…though they are also huge fans of sweets. The country has been declared the third highest consumer of both sweets and vegetables.
Israel had its first female prime minister in the year 1969. She was none other than Golda Meir. At the time, she was also only the 3rd woman to become the head-of-state in modern history.
Tel Aviv is a great city if you want to observe Bauhaus architecture. Israel actually has the most Bauhaus buildings! This is an impressive title when you consider how small the country is.
It seems like there is simply no shortage of innovation and ideas in Israel. The state actually has the most number of startup companies in the entire world.
What must be like constantly exposing your computer to malware? Anti-virus systems have become commonplace, though we have to thank Israelis for their invention all the way back in 1979!
About two millennia ago, the Jews started reading the “Torah.” However, it is interesting to know that the whole country is reading a lot more in general. The country has translated more books into Hebrew than any other country!
Let us talk about the people even better than chess masters – the grandmasters, of course! In the southern part of the country, Beersheva has them in spades! They have the most grandmasters in terms of per capita.
Look at this small subways system! The 1.8-kilometer track in the Haifa subway system is nothing short of adorable if you ask us. It is just like a large train set!
Reviving A Language
The Hebrew language is always associated with Israel and rightfully so. It became the first and only country in the world to have brought a dead language back to life, even making it their national language!
Still Burying The Dead
In Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, they still use the Mount of Olives to bury the dead. It is the oldest cemetery in the world that is still presently being used.
Look at that beautiful Mohawk! The Hoopoe is the national bird of the country. It is beautiful, and it is an honor to watch it peck at trees.
You might have heard of insect repellent, but have you heard of jellyfish repellent? Israeli inventors put in the time and effort to create something that will ward off jellyfish. This is especially useful during the summer months when these creatures are most present in the waters.
To Space And Beyond
Did you know that there are only eleven countries that can launch a satellite into space? You guessed that right – Israel belongs to this list. The rest of the countries are China, France, India, Iran, Japan, North Korea, Russia, UK, USA, and Ukraine.
Curing Bad Breath
There might be many things that are worse than foul-smelling breath, though the others aren’t relevant to us right now. Israeli scientists worked to find a cure for this condition. How we wish we had access to it!
In Israel, about 44% of the lawyers are women. That is an impressive fact, especially when you consider that this is typically a male-dominated field!
Libraries On The Go
At public places like the bus stations and train stations, you will find bookshelves filled with second-hand books. The purpose of this is to let travelers borrow books while waiting for the train or bus to arrive. They can even drop it off at the next stop if they wish!
Love Is In The Air
Everyone enjoys sending their loved ones flowers, right? However, you should know that Israel provided over 60 million flowers to Europe the previous Valentine’s Day! Wow.
The Middle East region might be big, though Israel is not a particularly large constituent. In fact, it only makes up 1% of the region’s land mass!
The Iron Dome
You might have heard of an iron fist, though it’s not quite you think. Israel is the sole country to have come up with an anti-ballistic missile system that can intercept and destroy rockets directed to its civilian population.
Another fun fact: Israel was the first country to implement the “Kimberley process.” It meant that they would only deal in “conflict-free” diamonds.
There might have been some recent changes in its immigration policies, though Israel is still the biggest immigrant-absorbing country in the world.
Lending A Hand
Did you know that a third of the Israeli population volunteers? Whoa! It would be great if we can follow their example and teach our people to get involved without asking for compensation.
In Vitro Fertilization
Israel has more in-vitro fertilization per capita, and it is hard to believe that they offer it for free as well! It seems like having a baby does not have to hard in this country.
Surviving Cancer Patients
Israel should be proud that it carries the highest survival rate among cancer patients! The country appears to lead in more things than just technology.
Let us talk about suffrage this time. It is the civil right of all their citizens once they turn 18 years old. They possess this right regardless of gender, race, or religion.
The peanut butter-coated snack “Bamba” plays a part in every Israeli child’s upbringing. This must be why peanut allergies are not common in Israel! It is significantly lower than anywhere else in the world.
Letters In The Wall
It is customary for travelers and worshipers to write a note and leave it there whenever they drop by the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The content of the letter is believed to directly reach God. Over a million notes are left in the wall every year.
Unexploded Land Mines
In the northern region of Golan Heights, rumors say there are still unexploded mines in the fields. There are areas cordoned off with warning signs and barbed fence, though it is unfortunate that cows do not understand and unwittingly walk into the high grass.
The @ Sign Is Not ‘At’
When you are talking to an Israeli, call the ‘at’ sign something else. They might misunderstand you when you call it a ‘strudel!’ That might be a pastry to us, though that is simply what they call ‘@.’
It is no secret that Israeli women are beautiful. Maybe this has something to do with the Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean mix? Regardless, Linor Abargil is a great example of Israeli beauty. She won the 1998 Miss World competition. As a lawyer, she also led an “anti-sexual abuse” campaign!
The Israeli inventor Rafi Yoeli is presently working on the creation of flying cars. How great is that? We can finally say goodbye to busy traffic!
During Passover, religious Jews refuse to eat wheat-based products such as bread and pasta. This rule even extends to the animals they feed at the zoo!
The Soccer World Cup
Israel also produces some excellent athletes, though soccer is not yet something the country particularly excels at. However, they did get to the World Cup stage in 1970, so there is that!
Foreign Humanitarian Aid
When countries are ravaged by natural disasters, Israel never fails to send a team of rescue volunteers. In 2017, Iran had a terrible earthquake. Israel wanted to send experts to help them out, though the Iranians declined the offer.
In 2018, the World Happiness Index ranked Israel as the 11th happiest country. It actually ranked even higher than countries like Belgium, France, Germany, the UK, and the USA!
Benjamin Netanyahu is the present Prime Minister of Israel. He is considered the first person to hold the title to have been born after the establishment of the state in 1948. It is fascinating to learn that he is the only prime minister who has been reelected thrice in a row!
A lot of people have been suspecting that Israel has its own nuclear weapons. Well, we’re sorry to tell you, but the government has yet to confirm or deny this speculation. That is why you will find the word “alleged” repeatedly when discussing the country’s nuclear program.
Israel is not at all a stranger to wars and enemies. That is why the state is considered to be a top battle-ready country. Israel spends a huge amount of money on its national security, the 6th highest on the planet, in fact.
Israel is also considered to be the home of the self-defense martial arts called “krav maga.” It is presently a standard component of the training citizens undergo in the IDF. This martial arts style was created by Jews subjected to antisemitism in Europe back in the 1930’s.
The Israeli work week is pretty much the same as ours, though there is one huge difference. They usually go to work on Sundays! They do, however, get Friday off. That means their Sundays are like our Mondays!
Since there is a constant need to upgrade the weapons, the Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI) came up with a customized assault rifle named the “Tavor.” It has since become a standard rifle in many units of the army.
Mock Arab City
Warfare in the region has evolved into a guerrilla style of fighting. This has pushed the IDF to reconsider its strategy. There is a mock Arab town developed by the army for the purpose of training. This is considered the biggest of its kind and the country’s allies sometimes join the training sessions.
Tel Aviv has been referred to as the vegan capital of the world! The reason? Well, you will find over 400 vegan-friendly joints in the city. Moreover, you will find over 200,000 vegans in Israel. Impressive!
This little tidbit will blow your socks off! Cows in the country actually give more milk per cow than the cows in other parts of the world! South Korea comes at a come second.
The Power Rangers
Can you believe that the Power Rangers TV series was the brainchild of an Israeli? Yes, we are talking about none other than Haim Saban, an Israeli-American philanthropist and businessman.
In 1966, Shmuel Yosef Agnon became the first Israeli to have received the Nobel Prize. He was given the prize for his efforts in the field of literature. Overall, the state boats of 11 recipients of the prestigious accolade!
Israel is mostly made up of deserts, so you might think snow is unlikely here. However, you need to know that it is not impossible. In fact, Israel suffered a huge snowstorm in 1992. It even snowed in the Negev!
Love That Ice Cream
We have all heard of corruption and bribery, but what about politicians who spend a lot of money on desserts and ice cream? Apparently, Benjamin Netanyahu’s office spent a fortune on ice cream in 2012! If you want the specifics, they spent 10,000 shekels on it.
Religious diversity is not exactly common in the Middle East region, though Israel is an exception to the rule. Just take the Bahai faith for example. Their World Center is located in Haifa and Acre.
Respecting Your Elders
If you take the public trains and buses, you will likely find a sign with a quote from Leviticus: “You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old.”
Basketball fans in the country rejoiced when Israeli baller Omri Casspi made it to the NBA draft in the year 2009. He was the first Israeli to have accomplished this!
Did you know that there are more Israeli Microsoft employees than any other nationality? Wow!
Israel is a great spot for birdwatchers. These people will appreciate the fact that over 500 million birds cross the airspace on their migration routes.
If you ever find yourself in Israel, be aware that plenty of names are used for both girls and boys. That’s why you shouldn’t be quick to judge any name! Examples include Ofek, Rotem, Shahar, Tal, and Noam.
Did you know that 90% of Israeli residence receive hot water using solar power? Go figure! When there is that much sunshine, it is the only way to go.