Diplomat Interviews

Israel: Home to the Lowest Point on Earth

A treat for food lovers and a delight for nature enthusiasts

From the holiness of Jerusalem to the Palace of King Herod in the Dead Sea, and everything in between – we help you to explore the wonders and highlights of the Holy Land. The country leaves no stone unturned, and offers something or the other for each age group. Explore the nightlife, the museums, art galleries, and much more.

TravelJingles tells you about the beauty of Israel in a rendezvous with H.E. Mr. Naor Gilon, Ambassador of Israel to India.

Tell us about the three must-visit places in Israel for first-time travellers.

There are many reasons why people are attracted to Israel. For some, it’s the fascinating contrast between the ancient and the modern. For others, it’s the rich, illustrious history, culture and food.

I strongly recommend first-time travellers to visit the Old City of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa. Visitors should also explore the Ramon Crater, the Negev Desert, and the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, which is well known for its nightlife and carefree atmosphere.

Israel has something to offer for everyone. You can spend days on end just exploring museums and art galleries. For nature lovers, Israel offers many beaches, lakes, waterfalls and streams.

In fact, Israel has become a new and exciting tourist destination for many people, including Indians, in recent times. This is because there are 3 direct weekly flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv. This has made travelling to Israel easier for Indian tourists. 

Israel is the world’s Hummus capital. Tell us about the gastronomy of the place.

Israel has a wonderful fusion cuisine because it is a country of immigrants from more than 100 countries.

Israeli cuisine is rich in locally-grown fruit and vegetables, olive oil, nuts and fish, and local delicacies, such as hummus (chickpea spread) and tahini (sesame seed spread). Hearty meals and egg dishes inspired by both European and Middle East traditions are part of the Israeli food culture.

A big family meal is a central part of every holiday. Our cooking styles are inspired by immigrants from around the world, together with Jewish recipes from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean traditions.

Another thing that Israelis love is wine. The Jewish love of wine is no new phenomenon- for 3,000 years, ceremonial wine has been an integral part of Jewish holidays and the Sabbath. Today there are hundreds of wineries in Israel, producing excellent red and white vintages and sparkling wine.

Travel to you is…

Travel to me is a journey to explore new places, local food and culture.

Israel is very supportive and (Tel Aviv) has been named as the gay capital of the Middle East. What initiatives have been taken to support the Queers in the country?

Israel is at the forefront of gay rights issues. In fact, Tel Aviv is one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world.

Israel prohibited workplace discrimination in 1992, allowed openly homosexual soldiers to serve in the IDF in 1993, and granted spousal benefits to same-sex couples in 1994.

LGBT organisations and community centres continue to be active throughout Israel, advocating for LGBT rights.

Since its establishment, a core value of Israeli democracy has been that all citizens are equal, irrespective of gender, religion, or race. On an individual level, the rights of every Israeli are fully protected, in law and in practice, whether they are male or female, Jewish or Arab and heterosexual or LGBT.

 The opening scene of the Al Pacino film The Insider was shot in Israel. What makes it a filming destination?

There are many reasons. Israel has a beautiful landscape, with a long coastline and many historical sites. Israeli cities, towns and villages also offer beautiful sceneries and different aspects of Jewish culture. So, there are many choices for filming destinations throughout Israel, which has a good climate and year-round accessibility.

The city of Jerusalem and the city of Varanasi are one of the oldest and most continuously inhabited cities in the world. Tell us about the similarities that Israel shares with India.

Both countries were born at the same time, less than a year apart. We are two ancient civilizations with shared history, close cultural links and strong family values. We also have many similarities when it comes to our festivals

For example, Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of Lights, has many similarities with the Indian festival of Diwali. Both commemorate the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Hunukkah is celebrated by lighting candles and Diwali is celebrated by lighting earthen lamps.  Preparation of traditional dishes and sweets, as well as distribution of gifts among families and friends, are an integral part of both the festivals. 

Another festival- Purim- is celebrated around the same time as the Indian festival of Holi. Both share a similar celebration style.

Which is your favourite travelled destination in the world, except for Israel, and why?

It’s Incredible India, of course!

I arrived here for the first time only last year, but I have already fallen in love with this country. I have been lucky to explore some tourist places with my family and it has been an amazing experience for all of us. My next target is to travel to more places, meet new people and explore the local food scene in different parts of India.

Israel is home to more than 130 beautiful beaches. Tell us about the water adventures the country offers.  

Israel is blessed with a long coastline and many beautiful beaches. Locals and visitors enjoy a range of watersports such as surfing, kayaking, sailing, parasailing, kite surfing and stand-up paddle boarding.