Despite recent showcase events like the Eurovision Song Contest and tourism promoting advertising campaigns, when most people think of Israel their thoughts probably still turn first of all to Jerusalem, and specifically the Old City with its iconic religious landmarks. Then, perhaps, they will picture some kind of acrid desert landscape. Of course, the tragic conflict with the Palestinians is never far from mind either.
But to focus on just these things is to miss much of what the country has to offer. In Tel Aviv in particular Israel boasts one of the great modern cities. It has a beautiful beach, arts, night life, and unspeakably delicious food. It is perhaps the only city on Earth where you can be a Jew and gay and feel no conflict between those two elements of one’s identity or a need to hide them. On buildings and beaches the rainbow flag flies proudly next to the blue and white Star of David. It hosts one of the world’s biggest Pride events.