Israel Myth: Seeing Past Popular Misunderstandings about the Holy Land
I’ve lived in Israel for over two years, called it my home, and had made some of the best friendships I ever made living there.
Israel not just the hotbed of religion, it is also, for many unfortunate reason, the hotbed of controversy. I cannot even begin to start telling you about the preconceived idea that people have about Israel around the world, and this post is my attempt in debunking some of those myths.
Israel Myth #1: You won’t be allowed into Israel if you have a passport stamp of an Arab/Muslim country.
Fact: That is not true! Israel recognizes that you are a free traveller and may have been to countries that do not have good diplomatic relations with Israel. But this does not mean that you won’t be allowed into our beautiful country – the Holy Land – because you have been to an Arab/Muslim country whether on the same trip or before.
In fact, Israel has open borders with Jordan and Egypt, both Muslim countries. If you have stamps from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Syria, you will most likely be asked questions at Immigration, but immigration will let you in.
Israel Myth #2: Israelis are constantly at war and have no semblance of a normal life.
Fact: Any progressive nation faces threats from hostile countries, and Israel is no different. Israel has a strong army, and they work non-stop to keep Israel safe, so people living there may live their lives the way they want to.
They are not afraid of getting on buses, watching movies and going to concerts, malls or restaurants and live life just as normal as yours. I can personally vouch for this – in our everyday lives, never once have I felt that we are under threat or been scared of a stray shrapnel.
Israel Myth #3: Israel sends its youth to fight at the borders
Fact: We have mandatory military service for everyone at the age of 18, but that does not mean our young men and women are immediately packed off to combat. It is strictly training, and involves various disciplines – technology training, combat training, army intelligence, etc. It is the same kind of military training people receive when they enlist for the army in UK or US.
This method of training is very popular all over the world where youth have to serve in the armed forces for a certain amount of years. However, Israeli’s love to have a great time and can easily seem them hanging out in all the local places and enjoying life.
Israel Myth #4: People are very surly in Israel
Fact: Not in the least. In fact, Israelis are essentially warm people who know how it feels to be on the receiving end of bad behavior so we steer clear of it. Those born in Israel are known as Sabra’s, a plant that is prickly on the outside, and the fruit inside is super sweet.
Israel Myth #5: There is nothing to do in Israel except pilgrimages
Fact: No, not quite. I agree, a large part of tourism revenue comes from people interested in the pilgrim sites in the country, but Israel has a lot more to offer than just pilgrimages. Tel Aviv has a bustling nightlife and really knows how to party. Dead Sea is a prime attraction for people who want to feel its gravity-defying buoyancy. We have more museums per capita than anywhere else, and our natural sights are spectacular!
These are only some of the myths that exist about Israel. The country is incredibly safe and never did I feel unsafe or unwanted in all the times living there. My wife (she was my girlfriend then) had lived with me there also and she fell in love with the place, too. We had gone to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem together. It always seems you’re meeting fascinating people from all over the world and there truly is so much to see, do, eat, and enjoy.