Israel doesn’t have tall trees.
When I first moved here, it was a thought that occurred to me regularly. I thought about it when I pushed my kids on the swing at a sunny playground. And as I took walks on hot summer days, making a dash from tree to tree for relief from the sun’s harsh rays.
But while it’s true that most towns aren’t full of tall trees, the same can’t be said about Israel’s countryside. The area around Jerusalem is thick with tall, pine tree forests. They’re not as tall as trees in Yosemite– but they provide lots of beauty and dark shade.
Is Israel a beautiful country? In October, someone who grew up experiencing New England autumns may say: no.
In late August, someone might compare Israel’s dry landscapes to midsummer rain in America. They might not think that Israel is particularly beautiful.
But why only negative comparisons?
Compared to pretty much any area its size that I can think of, Israel has the most incredible variety of natural beauty. In Israel, there are forested mountains, desert canyons, and gorgeous beaches – all within an hour’s drive.
In February, you can take a warm weather vacation at the Dead Sea – the lowest point in the entire world. You can sit gazing out on a beautiful body of water while you bask in sunshine. The next morning, you can drive two hours away to Nahal Tavor: lush green mountains full of colorful wildflowers and a cool river running right through the valley.
Scotland may be the most beautiful country in the world… in August. But in Israel, you can explore the Land’s beauty year–round. The mild temperatures mean that it’s never cold enough not to go outside. And beautiful waterfalls and beaches keep us refreshed on hot days.
How can we take for granted that there are desert canyons, sand dunes, and hidden oases – only an hour and a half from the holiest city in the world? And that this very city sits in the middle of miles of thick woodland, full of hiking trails?
The next time you feel like you’re deceiving yourself when you say Israel is a beautiful country, think again. Israel’s natural world is objectively incredible.