Israel Travel Guide
Island Trips Arab Destinations offers travel tips and information for top travel places and best destinations. We feature links, resources and large selection of budget airlines, chartered planes, sea cruises, ferries, travel agencies, land transports and attractions including beaches, medical tourism, retirement homes, historical and pilgrimage tours.
Sports and physical fitness have not always been paramount in Jewish culture. Athletic prowess, which was prized by the ancient Greeks, was looked down upon as an unwelcome intrusion of Hellenistic values. Maimonides, who was both a rabbi and a physician, emphasized the importance of regular exercise in preventing illness on the authority of Hippocrates and Galen. This approach received a boost in the 19th century from the physical culture campaign of Max Nordau, and in the early 20th century when the Chief Rabbi of Palestine, Abraham Isaac Kook, declared that "the body serves the soul, and only a healthy body can ensure a healthy soul". The Maccabiah Games, an Olympic-style event for Jewish athletes and Israeli athletes, was inaugurated in the 1930s, and has been held every four years since then. In 1964 Israel hosted and won the Asian Nations Cup; in 1970 the Israel national football team managed to qualify to the FIFA World Cup, which is still considered the biggest achievement of Israeli football.
Israel was excluded from the 1978 Asian Games due to Arab pressure on the organizers. The exclusion left Israel in limbo and it ceased competing in Asian competitions. In 1994, UEFA agreed to admit Israel and all Israeli sporting organizations now compete in Europe.
The most popular spectator sports in Israel are association football and basketball. Ligat ha'Al is the country's premier soccer league, and Ligat HaAl is the premier basketball league. Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem are the largest sports clubs. Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa have competed in the UEFA Champions League and Hapoel Tel Aviv reached the final quarter in the UEFA Cup. Maccabi Tel Aviv B.C. has won the European championship in basketball five times. Israeli tennis champion Shahar Pe'er ranked 20th in the world after competing in Dubai.
Beersheba has become a national chess center; thanks to Soviet immigration, it is home to the largest number of chess grandmasters of any city in the world. The city hosted the World Team Chess Championship in 2005, and chess is taught in the city's kindergartens. In 2008, the Israeli chess team won the silver medal at the Chess Olympiad. Israeli grandmaster Boris Gelfand is the current Chess World Cup holder.
To date, Israel has won seven Olympic medals since its first win in 1992, including a gold medal in windsurfing at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Israel has won over 100 gold medals in the Paralympic Games and is ranked about 15th in the all-time medal count. The 1968 Summer Paralympics were hosted by Israel.
Traveling, you realize that differences are lost: each city takes to resembling all cities, places exchange their form, order, distances, a shapeless dust cloud invades the continents. Italo Calvino
To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. Aldous Huxley