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Wonderland

by Noga Gur-Arieh

March 6, 2012 | 1:17 pm

This past November, the world chose the new Seven Wonders of the World. The Dead Sea, located in Israel, was a leading nominee throughout the voting period, but eventually came 14th place.  Israel is well known for its geographic location, and thus for its military and political actions. Sometimes I think this is the only reason people know of our existence. Honestly, this is a shame, for Israel is the one of the most unique places on earth, and a very small percentage of the world population is aware of it. Israel is mostly perceived as this teeny-tiny piece of land that for some odd reason people are fighting for.  I heard of a research that was held a couple of years ago. Those who were behind it gathered a group of people of many nationalities and opinions, and asked them to describe an Israeli home.  “The man of the house opens the door. The wife and kids are not allowed to leave the house, because it is dangerous outside,” they said. To the question: what color is most common in this environment? The common answer was: grey. The house and its environment are made of concrete. There are only cities. Barely forests. The society was described as very old fashioned and non-modern and the landscape was described as boring.  When I heard about this research, the only word that came to mind was: really?!

Israel is the most fascinating place on earth! Where else can you find such a small piece of land with so many different landscapes?  Within only 22,072 square kilometers (about 1/7 of Geogria’s territory) one can find various kinds of landscapes that cannot be found all together in any other country in the world. We have deserts, and one snowy mountain. We have three very different types of settlements (City, Moshav and Kibbutz). There are beaches and craters. There are mountains and valleys, archaeological findings and nightclubs.  Where else can you find simply everything? So many sceneries, so many unique views.  We have the most unique combination between the holy and the secular. Between silence and voices. Between old and new.

The world may see Israel as a grey, boring place. Where blood is spilled in vain and where it is not safe to leave the house.  Many people choose not to visit Israel because of that.
I go outside every day. Once a month I go on a trip, mostly up north. A one hour drives for some green, city-free air. This monthly trip is my way of relaxation. One or two days where I take a break from everything, but still a phone call and an hour drive away from home. When I feel like getting a tan, I pick up my friends, and we drive for 20 minutes to the closest beach.  When I feel like shopping ‘till I drop, I drive to Eilat for the weekend. A six hour drive for shopping without having to pay taxes. When I feel like connecting to my religion, I drive for 45 minutes to Jerusalem.
When It’s too cold outside- I drive to Yehuda desert. When it’s too hot outside- I drive to the snowy Mount. Hermon.

But sometimes I don’t feel like going anywhere. I sit at home, reading an article about the new Seven Wonders of the World, and think to myself: There’s no place like home…   

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My name is Noga Gur-Arieh, and I’m an Israeli Journalist, currently studying for my B.A degree in Media and Political Science, at Tel Aviv University.

I am very socially...

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