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    Note: This page discusses the modern incarnation of Israel. For ancient Israel, see The Bible and Useful Notes on the Ancient Near East.

    The undisputed world champion in geopolitical buzz per square kilometer of dirt.

    Israel is an Asian country whose population consists primarily of Jews and secondarily of Arabs, although other ethnic communities (notably Druze) are also present. It declared independence from the British Mandate of Palestine on May 14, 1948.

    Much of Israel's history has been dominated by armed conflict; previous peoples who laid claim to the area include the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Sassanians, Byzantines, Arabs, Fatimids, Crusaders, Mamluks, and Turks. Also on that list, and also in charge since the modern state's foundation, are the Jews. Notably, in terms of territory, modern day Israel pales in comparison to its ancient counterpart under the rule of King David, but the current generation has far more pressing concerns than expansion.

    This in particular owes itself to the Arab-Israeli Conflict, which is the result of both Jews and Muslims laying claim to the same land. There has been a small Jewish presence in the area that is modern-day Israel since Biblical times, though they were by no means in charge. At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, Jews began returning to Israel en-masse. Israel, at the time, was a desolate, end-of-nowhere wasteland ruled from afar by the Ottomans. The Jews were willing to pay many times the going rate for the land, still considering it holy despite it being desolate, and the landlords had little interest in swamps and deserts - which was everywhere that wasn't Jerusalem, which was itself a run-down, dirty city. With years of effort and incredible amounts of money being sunk in, eventually the some of the land was made arable again. The Jews built Tel Aviv completely out of the sand, and dozens of suburbs of Jerusalem (the new, modern city) sprang up on Jewish dollar. This, in turn, brought in large numbers of Muslims and Christians to what is also their Holy Land (most holy for Christians, third-most holy for Muslims), which was flourishing once more. There was sporadic tension and hostilities, but by-and-large the situation worked.

    Cue World War One. Britain conquered Palestine (as the area in question was then known) from the Ottomans. In the wake of the war, all of the colonial interests were freed, and that included the Middle East. Fun fact: the representatives of what are now Israel and Iran worked together to get statehood from the League of Nations. They both got it.

    Then came the Mandatory period, where the British were assigned to make sure that the Jews became ready to run their own state. Obviously, this job was given to the British on their stellar reputation for not being antisemitic and not destroying every and any country they ran by setting everyone against each other. That, like in many other places, was when shit started hitting the fan.

    For the better part of the next two decades (through WW 2), the British mismanagement of the situation lead to increasing tensions on all sides, which lead to further mismanagement. By the time WW 2 was wrapping up, the Jews and the Muslims were waging guerrilla warfare against each other and the British.

    Through the course of this, the British removed what is now Lebanon from the original plan of land to give to the Jews from the (now defunct) League of Nations. They also more-famously partitioned the remaining land among the Jews and Muslims, in the final schema that they presented to the new United Nations General Body - who didn't and still doesn't have the right to create a country, it should be noted; since the dissolution of the League of Nations, only the United Nations Security Council can do that legally - who did pass the resolution to divvy up that land and finally present it to the Jews and Muslims living in Israel. The Jews accepted the plan, the Muslims rejected it on the grounds of not getting all of Israel - something the UNGB couldn't have ever legally done, mind!

    This whole time, most of those Jews and Muslims had been trying to live normal lives in peaceful cohabitation (except the ones trying to kill each other, and even them sometimes). However, with the British doing their usual divide-and-conquer gambit, and foreign Muslims leaders (especially those of Egypt and Saudi Arabia) egging on the violence, it couldn't last.

    The day that Israel declared independence, it was invaded by the armies of the seven Arab nations; those armies were roughly equal to the Israeli population. The local Muslims left the country at the urging of those armies; the latter recommended a several-day holiday, avoiding the grimness of the war, and then returning when it was over and all the Jews dead. Obviously, against all conventional military wisdom, this didn't happen. However, at this point the Israelis couldn't well let collaborators back into the country - you try telling Jews to trust "just collaborators" so soon after the Holocaust...

    Since then, the "Arab-Israeli Conflict" has perpetuated. In part it's grievances that are somewhat legitimate, such as the issue of those refugees, who incidentally are the only people in the world born into refugee status - normally a refugee is only someone who personally fled a country, but in this case the rule is different and all descendants of refugees are refugees themselves, which makes no sense at all. It's also in large part still the prodding of Saudi Princes, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, the other usual bad actors. The street-circus of news companies - even among otherwise very-reputable news sources - doesn't help a jot, either. As an interesting aside, technically Israel has only ever successfully made peace with two Arab nations (Jordan and Egypt), and thus is still at war with at least five of them, making the "Arab-Israeli Conflict" one of the longest wars in history, although that's not the usual usage of that term.

    On less inflammatory aspects; Israel is known for having one of the best education systems in Asia, and for a thriving computer industry; cell phones, texting, laptops, hard drives; many of these things wouldn't exist without Israel. It is one of the most economically and technologically advanced countries in the Middle East, despite having only been founded relatively recently. Compounding this effect is the large influx of intellectuals from foreign nations, particularly those who fled Nazi persecution, the more recent surge of immigrants from former communist states (which, in contrast to Cold War-era propaganda, are very well educated), the studious nature of Jewish culture, and Israel's particular defense needs (the current Israeli high-tech boom was spurred by veterans of one fighter plane project).

    Israel is a popular tourist destination, especially for Abrahamic religious tourists, as it contains many holy sites, and possesses control over the sacred Abrahamic city of Jerusalem. However, most Israeli business is conducted in Tel Aviv.

    Famous Israeli things include the Desert Eagle, and its unique cultural practices, which are partly inherited from Jewish traditions in Europe and the Middle East[1].

    Recently, Israel received a new, conservative Prime Minister following parliamentary elections and the assembling of a new governing coalition. Of the four core parties in the current coalition government, three were part of the previous coalition government.

    Although Israel definitely sits on the Asian continent, it participates in a fair number of European institutions, for varying reasons. Israel can participate in the Eurovision Song Contest because it can receive radio signals from a "proper" European country (or some such), it participates in the European Football Championship, and it is a member of the Western European and Others group in the United Nations. This is all partly because Europeans consider it culturally European, and partly because the Arabs wouldn't have them in the Asian/Middle Eastern equivalents.

    Prominent artists:[edit | hide | hide all]

    Useful Notes

    • Arab Israeli Conflict
    • Israelis With Infrared Missiles (The Israeli Defense Force, the national military of Israel)
    • Israeli Political System -- Israel has a Westminister-style parliamentary democracy with universal suffrage and--significantly--a party-list direct-proportional system based on that of The Netherlands, with a very low threshold. This explains why their government often seems crazy: coalitions can live or die if as little as 2.5% of the vote swings to one party instead of another.
    • The Common Law -- Another legacy of the Mandate period, Israel follows the same general legal system as the UK, the US, and the members of The Commonwealth. The exception is personal law (mostly marriage, divorce, and inheritance), where Israel follows the Ottoman tradition of allowing the laws of the person's religion to apply.[2][3]
    • Law of Return -- Anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent (who has not converted away from Judaism) or who has converted to Judaism has the right to immigrate to Israel, be naturalized, and become a full citizen.
    • Jerusalem


    Tropes visible in Israel include:
    • All Jews Are Ashkenazi - Averted, obviously.
      • Played somewhat straight in Israeli politics, since as of 2010 there has not been a single non-Ashkenazi Prime Minister. There have been Sephardic and Mizrahi Presidents, but th President of Israel is just a ceremonial figurehead (plus, the most recent Mizrahi President, the Iranian-born Moshe Katsav, got himself chased out of office with accusations of rape, unfortunately for Mizrahim who wished to have nothing to do with him).
        • He was later convicted due to very, very strong evidence. He is still proud and claiming he’s innocent.
      • Images of Israel tend toward this, too. Also, Mizrakhim tend to be discriminated against.
        • This is more of an issue when it comes to much older generations. For anyone who’s in their twenties and younger in Israel today this is essentially a non-issue.
    • Exclusively Evil / Always Lawful Good - Try to find any media on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that don't present one side as Exclusively Evil and the other as Always Lawful Good.
    • Base Breaker: Israel is one of the biggest ones in geopolitics.
    • Canon Discontinuity- Maps without Israel in them are a popular accessory in schools the other side of the conflict. A strong contender for most audacious Canon Discontinuity in the history of ever.
    • Curb Stomp Battle - The Six Day War. Take a look at the statistics. Consider the geography. This evidently should have ended in about six days, but in the other direction.
    • Defeat Means Friendship - With Jordan and Egypt. Or at least "Defeat means a begrudging mutual acceptance that it would be best if we just settled whatever it takes for us to stop shooting at each other for the time being".
    • Godwin's Law: It might soon become illegal to invoke this trope in Israel.
    • Grey and Grey Morality - all over the freakin' place. STRONG Internet Backdraft warning if you ever try to sort this out.
    • Have You Seen My God? - And HOW.
    • Enemy Mine - Desperate for any support in the face of an ongoing campaign against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, pro-Israel lobbies have resorted to allying themselves with a sect of Christians in America who believe that when all the Jews are in Israel, and the Palestinians are not, Jesus will return and throw all the unbelievers in the lake of fire.
    • Hero with Bad Publicity / Villain with Good Publicity - A lot of the buzz surrounding the Arab-Israeli Conflict pertains to exactly which of these Israel is, if any or both. News coverage would have you believe that the Israeli government doesn't give two figs what the rest of the world thinks about its behavior, but within the Israeli public and media at least a popular sport is obsessing over exactly this.
    • Issue Drift - Every piece of fiction generated in Israel has GOT to be about some ISSUE (difficulties of immigrants, Arab Israeli conflict angst, the spreading of poverty, the spreading of crime, it just goes on and on...). The prime directive seems to be, "something is wrong with this country, and we will now pick at it for maximum pain", and this is what all TV shows are about and what all the books are about, always. There is pretty much no such thing as Israeli-written fantasy or Israeli-written science fiction, or at least not any that has garnered any serious following.
      • No, that’s just the exported stuff, and not even all of that (In Treatment is Israeli, you know, and so are several other television programmes bought by US cable companies).
    • Last Words - Folk myth has it that the dying words of Joseph Trumpeldor, protecting the settlement of Tel-Hai, were "It is good to die for the sake of our land". According to at least one eyewitness, Trumpeldor actually said "who's the idiot that opened the gate". Sadly, the state of modern Israeli education is such that if you asked a teenager who Trumpeldor was they would in all likelihood mention something about a kindly old wizard. (They learn about him in history class and then promptly forget about him and go update their facebook status.)
      • No-one actually knows what he really said. Others say it was actually a curse in Russian. Though it does make sense that the myth is true--if it is, Trumpledore’s last words were a reference to Horace’s famous quote ‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’ (it is sweet and worthy to die for one’s homeland).
    • Peace Through Superior Firepower
    • Properly Paranoid - Spends a ridiculously disproportionate amount of its budget on its military for some odd reason.
      • Also, founded in a post-holocaust world. For the first few decades, it was essentially an entire nation suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, fucking up the country's entire psyche in a myriad of interesting and terrifying ways that are still being studied vigorously.
    • Spell My Name with an "S" - There are a few conventions to write Hebrew into English, and there's no preferred method. One may find road signs with different English spellings than what a map will tell you. Fortunately, for the most part, place names (a town, city, moshav, etc.) tend to be consistent.
    • The Squadette - Girls, like most any other Jewish 18-year-old in Israel, get a compulsory drafting into the military where they spend a few years hanging around wearing khaki uniform and holding M-16 assault rifles. Though the majority of them probably fill support roles, it should be noted that some 'support roles' in the army are far, far removed from sitting in some air-conditioned office and filing paperwork. And then there are girl-only combat units. Legend has it that in the past they tried having mixed male and female combat units, but whenever the girls would get hurt the guys would drop everything to make sure they are all right to the detriment of whatever it was they were supposed to be doing instead.
      • That first try was during the 1948 War of Independence, when desperation was the main motivation to include women. There's a mixed-gender brigade or two that got put together in the last decade or so.
    • Western Terrorists - Prior to Israel's foundation (that is, during the British mandate over Israel), la resistance-esque organizations Etzel and Lehi. Etzel specifically was led by about the nerdiest-looking guy ever, under whose command British officers were hung and civilian-filled hotels were blown up. He later shut Etzel down to make a political party out of it, became prime minister and signed the Camp David peace treaty with Egypt.
    • What an Idiot! - Lord Balfour, for promising the land to three different groups, all three of which were either not that powerful, or in the case of France, had their own reasons for fighting the Kaiser.


    Examples of Israel and Israelis in Fiction (Outside the context of the Arab-Israeli Conflict) include:
    • Moishe Sharoff, Israeli telecommunications mogul serves as one of the directors of Quantum in the rebooted James Bond series, appearing briefly in the Lake Constance Opera house.
    • Legion, the Israeli son of Professor X.
      • And Sabra, of the Israel Super Soldiers. (It's implied there are others, but they've never been seen.)
    • Ziva David, of NCIS. A Mossad agent who soon transfers to NCIS.
    • The Simpsons go to Israel in one episode, though there are very few countries they haven't been to at this point. Notable that Homer was able to get all religions in the holy land to agree on one thing: that they hated him.

    The Israeli flag[edit | hide]

    Flag of Israel.svg

    Notes

    1. the latter particularly in the area of cuisine--no matter how much the country looks to the West, the Israeli kitchen is very firmly Middle Eastern--to the annoyance of many Arabs...
    2. This is a very sore point among secular Israelis, particularly as regards marriage; Israelis trying to marry but running afoul of the religious authorities usually end up going to nearby Cyprus to get married.
    3. A similar rule applies in the world's largest common-law jurisdiction, India.