Israel: A Jewish Homeland Essay, Research Paper
Israel: A Jewish Homeland Israel is a country that seems as though it is far on the other side of the world.People of a different culture in a land that appears foreign to the western world. Who arethese people? What are the geographic features of this country in comparison to othernations? What species of plants and animals exist? How is their diet different from othercultures? How is their religion different from others? In all actuality Israel is not anymore different than any other nation we know. Located in the Middle East, at the southwesttip of Asia, Israel has many bordering countries (”World Factbook” 1; Facts 2).In the north, Lebanon creates the border, Syria in the northeast, Jordan in the east andEgypt in the Southwest (”World Atlas” 10). Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, islocated relatively in the center of this small country, at the exact coordinated 31′N,34′E (”World Factbook” 1). Israel’s moderate area of 7,960 square miles has manydifferent geographic features (”World Almanac” 24). Bordering Israel on the westis the Mediterranean Sea, in the south the Dead Sea, and in the east the Jordan River, andLake Tiberias complete the border (Hammond and Hammond 103; Israel 5). In addition, theinterior features include the Negev Desert in the south, Mt. Meron in the central regions,and along the Mediterranean coast, a low plain. Another amazing geographic feature ofIsrael is the Jordan Rift valley, an extension of the Great Rift; this continuous Rift isthe reason for the formation of geographic features throughout the Middle East(”World Factbook” 2). Generally, Israel’s climate is very temperate (”WorldFactbook” 2). An example of this mild climate is the rain season, which is betweenOctober and April. Averaging 70 cm of rain during this season is the northern region ofIsrael, the central 48-53 cm, and the Negev desert 2.5-20 cm (Adams 3). Of wide variety,the plant and animal life of Israel is extremely abundant. Many different forms ofagricultural plantlife, such as a variety of fruits, vegetables, and many other produceplants, thrive throughout Israel (Albini et al. 23). Olive, mulberry, sycamore, and datemake up just a few of the many familiar trees of the country. Forty different varieties oftropical plants are believed to exist in the Negev desert region. The Garden of Gethsemaneholds one of Israel’s most ancient plants the red juniper. Along with the abundance ofplants, thousands of different species of animals roam across the many regions of Israel.A small portion of these includes camels, gazelles, wolves, and leopards. 350 differentspecies of birds also inhabit the country (Facts 20). To create the balanced ecosystem ofthe Middle East, many different species of animal and plants come together. SurprisinglyIsrael’s ethnic groups can be described in two major categories, Jewish and non-Jewish.These different ethnic groups reflect the different religions of the country. The majorreligion of the country, Judaism, overcomes the others by 68%. Encompassing 14% of thepopulation, Islam is the second leading religion. Christian only occupies 2% along withDruze and other minor religions. As one can see, Judaism is the dominant religion withinIsrael and this reflects greatly on the lifestyles and traditions of the citizens(”World Factbook” 3). On 14 May 1948 Israel declared its independence fromformer controlling nations. Today Israel has a parliamentary Democracy lead by PrimeMinister Benjamin Netanyaha (”World Almanac” 24). Similar to the United States,Israel has three main branches of government executive, legislative and judicial. On theother hand, they do not have a formal constitution. Consequently, various documents, suchas the Declaration of Establishments, fill this void (Adams 1; Wright 594). Throughout thecountry is steaming political debate, which is rare to the Middle East, because themajority of the surrounding countries are dictatorships (Sanger 22). Although Hebrew isIsrael’s official language, elder oriental Jews and Knesset, the parliament, speak Arabic.Throughout the country other languages are taught and spoken depending upon culture andorigin. English and Yiddish are just two of the many which exist. All of these languagesare taught across Israel in uncostly schools, up to age 15. Around 90% of the Jewishpopulation are considered literate. After they graduate from school, students have avariety of preceding choices. Students can attend one of the country’s seven universities,they could join a youth movement, or they can receive vocational training (Metz 8).Currently, Israel’s population is an estimated five and a half million people. Of this
relatively small population, about 90% live in urban areas and 30% is under the age of 15.This population is increasing at an annual rate between 1.5% and 1.8%. An Israeli’s lifeexpectancy of a male to age 75, and that of a female to age 79 (”World Almanac”24; Metz 8). A comfortable clothing ensemble is required for the difficult and active lifeof the modern Israeli. Men and women both wear either khaki shorts or trousers and somesort of a khaki shirt. Most complete their outfit with some sort of a beret (Albini et al.50). An Israeli meal is a very interesting cuisine. Andrew Sanger best describes theIsraeli’s meal in Exploring Israel: An Israeli meal is served from a melting pot ofcultures. Menus reflect cooking styles from around the world. The robust, fillingAshkenazi (East European) and more delicate tastier Shepardi (Mediterranean and MiddleEastern) cuisine are both well represented, together with American (or international)dishes, and more exotic options like the exquisite spicy food of the Yemenite Jews .(Sanger 88) Milk and greens are a main part of any Israeli’s diet. Each day is begun withan enormous salad, which is a rare custom to any part of the world. Milk is mostly eatenin the form of various cheeses. Many different flavors and textures of cheese are presentin different regions of the country (Sanger 88). Wide varieties of natural resources existthroughout Israel. They include copper, phosphates, bromide, magnesium, natural gas, andcrude oil. Water is not a part of this list, and because of this, much land must beirrigated. An estimated 2,140 square kilometers of land is irrigated in Israel(”World Factbook” 2). Many countries throughout the world have environmentalissues and Israel is no exception to this. Industrial and vehicle emission air pollutionis one of such instances. In comparison to other much larger countries this is only aminor problem. Groundwater, chemical fertilizer, and pesticide also pose an environmentalproblem for the country along with industrial and domestic waste (”WorldFactbook” 2). Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his finance manager, DanMeridor, are presently attempting to cut 2 billion dollars (6.7 million shekels) out ofthe country budget of 187 billion dollars (”Dim” 2). Reasoning for this drasticcut in the budget comes from the increase of Jewish immigrants into the country between1990 and 1995. This increase has raised unemployment, and increased housing problems(”World Factbook” 5). Straining on the budget of this size is too much forIsrael. Israel has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, which is causingIsraeli lifestyle to change quickly (Sanger 28). Despite the lack of natural resources inIsrael, very developed agricultural and industrial economic sectors exist. Employed by theindustrial sector is 22% of Israel’s workers. Agricultural, combined with fishing andforestry, only employ 3.5%. The service section employs the remaining workers (”WorldFactbook” 5). Citizenship law of Israel, which is a document that helps to replace aformal constitution that allows any and every Jew to settle in Israel, has caused manymigration problems. Between the years of 1948 and 1978 the population grew five times itsoriginal amount. This increase is on a steady rise (Facts 104). Between 1993 and 1995 thispopulation increase also showed where and estimated 233,000 Jews migrated to Israel. Withthis rapid increase in population Israel will eventually be faced with the problem ofhaving to make many adaptations to their culture in order to survive (Hunter 744). Toallow for many different tasks to be accomplished using these networks, Israel’stransportation network is of a large variety. Road networks, railroads, ports, andairports all allow for Israel’s importing and exporting. In 1995 Israel had 27,982,000dollars in imports compared to 17,897,000 dollars in exports. Along with allowing fortrade these transportation networks link many major centers including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv,Haifa, Beersheba, and Ashdad (Metz 10; Hunter 747). Israel’s communication networks aresurprisingly up-to-date. Within the country, three earth-based satellite stations providefor a variety of government and civilian uses. Linking the country together through voiceare 1.9 million telephones in 1986. Also, Israel has a vast cable network (Metz 10). Inconclusion, Israel, is a land of strong and faithful people. This is a nation of loyalcitizens who are led in majority by Judaism. Israeli’s lifestyles and traditions haveechoed their faith throughout time. Temperate, this climate aids this country’s ability toexist and prosper. A small country tucked neatly between four powerful nations, Israel,leaves a quiet and proud environment that makes “A Jewish Homeland” for itspeople.