Tel Aviv had ignored its amazing seacoast for decades. Then real estaters suddenly realized the city faced away from the coast, and poof, the construction was on, redirecting the direction of the entire coastal area, and making a tasty spot for coffee during the day, and romance at night. Nice hotels. The most literate crowd in the region — 98% literacy, more than the US, actually.

Ari Oliver adds:

I was in Tel Aviv about two years ago. I was amazed at the number of second hand bookstores. It seemed like they were on every second block. It's amazing what books you can get. Obviously it is indicative of a strong intellectual climate.

J. P. Highland writes:

I'm currently in Israel, where I plan to stay for the next two weeks. This morning while visiting the Western Wall I heard a blast and screaming coming from the other side of the wall where the mosque is located. Everyone ran to take cover while I found a safe spot next to the CNN crew.

Israelis are digging next to a mosque and some Muslims are convinced that this is a plan to destroy their sacred place. Now everything seems to be OK. Fortunately, my hotel is next to the U.S. Consulate in case things go terribly wrong.

I've been in Israel for only 24 hours but I'm highly impressed with the country. Infrastructure in Tel Aviv is impressive, people are nice and well-educated and food is great. A lot of construction seems to be taking place. 

Marion Dreyfus replies:

Israel has the highest per capita literacy level, much higher, in fact, than that of the U.S. Large clumps of the U.S. have little truck with book-learning, whereas in Israel, few can be so far from civilization that books are not a really proximal commodity, and preferred in many instances to the next choice. The Israel Philharmonic is, this week, 70 years old, which — doing the math –pre-existed the very birth of the State of Israel. Theatre and music are also highly attended, democratically priced and appreciated.

It is a truism that Israel is technologically advanced far beyond its age and size. In a recent science exposition I attended at the Science & Industry Library in NYC, there was a globe with countries represented in proportion to the patents sought and achieved. Israel was as large as Germany and Japan on this 'globe' of science interest. To some extent, Israel has no choice. Lacking easy access to raw materials, Israel thrives on intellect, or perishes.


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