Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel – two different cities lying between conservatism and libertinism

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel – two different cities lying between conservatism and libertinism

We can hardly find two cities as different as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. They are separated by only 70 kilometers, but they are completely different worlds. On one side is the conservative, austere Jerusalem, and on the other, the downright frivolous Tel Aviv. Why are they like that and what makes them special?

According to the Israeli government, Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel. It is mentioned more than 600 times in the Bible alone, and its founding dates back 6,000 years. Here you will find 1204 synagogues, 158 churches and 73 mosques. Religion really plays a big role in it. On the streets you can find chaste dressed devout Christians and Muslims, as well as orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jews. Jerusalem is the center of three world religions, a city of history, humility and piety.

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel - two different cities, lying between conservatism and free-thinking

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel are two different cities, lying between conservatism and libertinism.

Tel Aviv is considered the capital of the Jewish state by most countries of the world, which is one of the reasons they have their embassies here. Founded in the early 20th century, it is especially popular among Israeli youth for its wild clubs and bars and beaches, where meeting young Jewish women in miniature bikinis is certainly not uncommon. The city is growing very fast and attracts Israelis with its modern lifestyle as well as a very tolerant and open environment, for example, it hosts one of the largest gay pride marches in the world. Despite occasional negative reports in the media, the security situation in both cities is very good. The biggest worry for tourists is the desire for good hummus or falafel.

Jerusalem: Crossroads of History

Calvary and its Temple of the Holy Sepulchre is the site of one of the most powerful stories of Christianity. Thousands of pilgrims head here every day. If you arrive early in the morning, you can enjoy the temple almost alone. The shrine is administered by six different churches and because of the constant disputes between the different denominations, after the conquest of the city, the general Saladin had already installed members of the Muslim Nusseibeh family as porters of the shrine, who unlocked the shrine every day. In 1187 he gave the key to the shrine to the Joudeh al-Goudia family who guard it. Both families continue to fulfill their responsibilities to this day. This is also the essence of Jerusalem, where Jews, Muslims and Christians have lived in mutual symbiosis for centuries.

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Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel - two different cities, lying between conservatism and free-thinking

Jerusalem: Crossroads of History

The Wailing Wall is the holiest place in Judaism. The remains of the Second Jewish Temple are a true symbol of the history of the Jewish state. Thus, almost everywhere you can see a photo of Israeli paratroopers who occupied the holy place in 1967 . Remember that the entire area around the wall is a synagogue, so it is advisable to behave with appropriate humility.

Another symbol of the city is the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, whose golden dome shines like the crown of Jerusalem. But the most important structure at the top is the Al-Aqsa Mosque, an inconspicuous building of great religious significance. If you are planning to visit the Temple Mount ask as soon as possible if the access road is open. This is because the only possible entrance for non-Muslims is the Mughrabi Bridge, which is controlled by Israel and the “working” hours of the inspectors can change unexpectedly.

Every politician and tourist should visit the memorial dedicated to the greatest Jewish catastrophe. The modern Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum presents the history of anti-Semitism in Europe and its consequences during World War II. The exhibition includes a catalog of all the victims in Jewish families from around the world.

The Old City is full of real life

Don’t be afraid to enter the alleyways of the Muslim part of Jerusalem. Few people come here, but real life is boiling there. While the Jewish, Armenian, and Christian neighborhoods have been transformed by tourism, the Arab section is still filled with ordinary people. There are schools and stores serving the residents of Jerusalem.

Nothing to worry about, at most you’ll spend a shekel on a great meal. Just a short walk from the bus station, at the very edge of Jerusalem, is the old Arab village of Lifta. What is left of it. Its inhabitants fled in 1948 during the Israeli War of Independence , nothing has changed since then. It is unique in that it is the only such village in all of Israel. The others have been demolished or absorbed by development. So, if you want to walk through the Palestine of the first half of the 20th century, this is your chance.

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Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel - two different cities, lying between conservatism and free-thinking

Shopping at Mahane Yehuda Market is a little walk through the Middle East. Jews who left various Arab and other Islamic countries for Jerusalem after 1948 settled here. You will meet vendors from Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Yemen and other countries. The variety is reflected in the goods on offer, and tasting everything from olives to sweets is commonplace.

Many cafes and restaurants can be found in Jerusalem. Just outside the Damascus Gate, in the midst of the stores, there is an “unnamed” tea store that serves excellent Arabic coffee, excellent tea, and hookahs. Local men come here to chat and watch soccer. Hummus, falafel and shawarma are part of the flavor of the city and are offered in almost all restaurants, but the best can be found at small street vendors that hide in winding old alleyways. It’s worth cutting back a little on comfort and staying in the heart of Old Town . Hostels offer double rooms and the chance to soak up the atmosphere of the city. Some of the most popular accommodations include Cinema Hostel or Stay Inn Hostel.

The Capital of Israel: Jerusalem or Tel Aviv?

Turning to official sources is even more confusing. The Russian news may include one or the other city, depending on editorial policy, but the state media always refers to Tel Aviv. What is the correct name?

There are now no foreign embassies in Jerusalem. Most of them are concentrated in or around Tel Aviv, with the few exceptions of Paraguay and Bolivia, which have set up their diplomatic missions in Mevaseret Zion, the nearest suburb of Jerusalem. The Russian, French, British and American embassies are all a stone’s throw from Tel Aviv’s beach. Only the U.S. Consulate General is in Jerusalem, but not the Russian one. So Tel Aviv?


Not at all. Israel calls the city of Jerusalem its capital. The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, the Supreme Court, all the ministries and the president’s residence are in Jerusalem. Here on Sundays the government opens the work week. Foreign diplomats often travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for receptions. After all, that is where the Prime Minister of Israel works.

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On July 30, 1980 the Knesset passed the Law of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, which states: “Jerusalem, one and indivisible, is the capital of Israel. This law was given the status of basic law, equal to constitutional law, meaning that it is more difficult to repeal than ordinary law.

Where does this ambiguity come from?

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East and the world. The first settlement here appeared in the fourth millennium B.C.

The Hebrew city became Jewish in the 11th century BC. Both Temples were located here, without which full realization of Judaism is impossible, because a considerable part of 613 obligatory for execution by Jews commandments is connected to this place. That is why this city is called a holy city.

In 70 A.D. the Second Temple was destroyed, and in 135 A.D., with the suppression by the Romans of the Bar Kokhba rebellion, most of the Jewish people were outside their homeland.

The Jews began to return en masse “to Zion” in the nineteenth century. Jerusalem then belonged to the Turks and was then controlled by the British Mandate in Palestine. The 1947 League of Nations plan implied that the territory of Palestine would be divided between Jews and Arabs, and that Jerusalem and its environs, including Beit Lechem, would be included in a special territory under international control. The Jews, after some hesitation, accepted the plan, the Arabs rejected it.

In May 1948, Israel declared independence, and war broke out. When the fighting ended and the smoke cleared over the battlefields, it became clear that the western half of Jerusalem was under Israeli control, while the eastern half, including the Old City, was in the hands of the Transjordanian Arabs. The latter hurried to blow up the synagogues in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and to expel its population.

In 1950, Transjordan unilaterally annexed the territory of East Jerusalem. Only three countries – Great Britain, Pakistan, and the Soviet Union – recognized the legality of this step.

Tel Aviv

The Declaration of Independence of Israel was read on the porch of the first mayor of Tel Aviv, Meir Dizengoff. The Council of the People met here, with David Ben-Gurion at its head, which decided that Tel Aviv would be the temporary capital of the Jewish state until the opportunity to move to Jerusalem arose.

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The very first session of the Knesset, at first called the Constituent Assembly, took place in the building of the Jewish Agency (Sohnut) in Jerusalem. But because of the hostilities, the Israeli parliament was forced to move to Tel Aviv for nine months. The parliamentarians first met in the home of the hospitable mayor, and then moved to the Kesem movie theater and the nearby San Remo Hotel, which were replaced by the Migdal Ha-Opera office and residential complex.


On December 5, 1949, the Israeli government decided that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Three weeks later – on December 26, 1949 – the Knesset formally “changed the registration” to Jerusalem. Of course, this only concerned the western part of the city. Thanks to the efforts of Israeli diplomats, 24 states moved their embassies here. True, this did not include the US and the major European powers.

In the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel took control of both parts of Jerusalem and extended its sovereignty over the whole city. At first the locals rejected Israeli citizenship, hoping for a return to Jordan, but over time they did accept it.

In the late 1970s, political pressure on Israel increased dramatically with the active participation of the bloc of non-aligned countries where the Arab and Islamic states set the tone. At the Sixth Conference of Heads of Non-Aligned Countries, a protocol was adopted stating that “the city of Jerusalem is an integral part of occupied Palestine. It must be completely abandoned and unconditionally placed under Arab sovereignty.”

These protocols were dated July 22, 1980, and they forced Israel to dot all the “i “s regarding the status of the city. Eight days later, the Knesset passed the Basic Law of Jerusalem, which affirmed the status of the city as the Israeli capital and established the protection of the holy sites of the three Abrahamic religions from desecration and any action that might offend the feelings of believers.

The UN Security Council, in Resolution 478, declared this action illegal. The resolution was only advisory, but it called on countries whose embassies were in the Holy City to leave it. Thirteen states listened and moved their embassies to Tel Aviv that same year. Other countries gradually followed. The last to leave Jerusalem in 2006 were Costa Rica and El Salvador.

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In 1988, the Jordanians gave up their little-recognized rights to Judea and Samaria in favor of a future Palestinian state. As a result, the Palestinians began to claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their yet-to-be-created state. The Palestinian position has been supported by other Arab and Islamic states, adding to the confusion of our question. Today Jerusalem is one of the key issues in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.


seaside Tel Aviv has become Israel’s economic center. But it is important to Israelis that it is Jerusalem that remains the spiritual and political capital of the country.

That is why Tel Aviv is not annexed to the satellite towns that are actually grown into it – Bat Yam, Holon, Ramat Gan, Givatayim and others, and to Haifa – Krayot. This underscores Jerusalem’s status as the most populated city in the country. In 2013, Jerusalem has more than 800,000 inhabitants, 64 percent of whom are Jewish Israelis.

One may have different views about Israel and whether or not to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. But mentioning Tel Aviv as the Israeli capital indicates either ignorance of historical facts or dishonesty. Therefore, for ethical and professional reasons, it is better to do without mentioning the name of the Israeli capital than to write a deliberate lie.

Nor has there been any precedent in history for anyone to assert the right of a state to determine its capital. And still less has this right been challenged not by the state, but by a national autonomy, which emerged much later than both the city and the state.

The right to determine which city is the capital is an integral part of the sovereignty of the state. Challenging this right effectively challenges the sovereignty of the country. But it is pointless and absurd to do this to a self-sufficient and successful state recognized by the world community and which has existed for more than half a century.

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