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The Changing Face of Israel

REVOLUTION will always make the headlines. Readers love to read sensational stories and the commercial media depends on readership for survival.

But EVOLUTION is something else. When things just happen without a story to be told, nobody really cares. Certainly not the media.

As Israel continues to grow, despite constant efforts by hostile neighbors hell-bent on destroying us, the nature of the country is changing to accommodate the increasing population, year after year.

Nowhere more so than in real estate, where many rural areas are now being developed for urban living.

How many people are aware of what is happening in cities like Afula, Karmiel and Migdal HaEmek in the north or Arad, Dimona and Kiryat Gat in the south, areas well away from the center of the country?

This is evolution and that is changing the face of Israel. As the need grows, the supply grows with it.

Nof Hagalil

nof hagalil

One example of urban development is the city of Nof Hagalil, just north of Nazareth.

Nazareth is the largest city in the northern district of Israel with a population of nearly 80,000 people. 

Biblical Nazareth has deep meaning and significance for Christianity, but today the city is more commonly known as the “Arab Capital of Israel” where the Arab citizens of Israel have developed the heart of their cultural, religious and economic activities.

In 1957 it was decided to open a new town north of Nazareth overlooking the city and the Jezreel Valley. It was named Kiryat Nazareth and situated in a very fertile region where economic growth could be fostered.

Later the name of the town was changed to Nazareth Illit, (Upper Nazareth.)

Nazareth Illit became economically successful and in 1963 was granted the status of a local Council. As the population continued to grow, in 1974 it was classified as a City of Israel.

In 2019 a further change was made. At that time around 70% of the population were Jewish and to avoid confusion with the city of Nazareth it was renamed Nof Hagalil.

Today, Nof Hagalil is a city with a population of about 45,000 people.

Israel’s Urban Growth

We are all too familiar with the two major cities in Israel. 

Jerusalem, the capital of the State and the center of diplomatic and religious activity.

Tel Aviv, the commercial heart and alive with non-stop sparkling entertainment.

The combined population of the two major cities is no more than 20% of the total population of Israel.

Many people, especially young families, are moving away from the big cities where facilities for raising children are wanting. They are looking at the smaller cities with more suitable features.

Nof Hagalil is a prime example of how the country is providing alternative living conditions free from the congestion in the major cities.

Looking around Nof Hagalil set in a refreshingly green area, it’s hard to imagine that once this region was a desert.

Furthermore, recreational parks, swimming pools, playgrounds for children and the like are rare in the big cities, but not in Nof Hagalil. This is a major attraction for families with young children.

The city prides itself on being environmentally friendly.

Buildings are equipped with solar panels, streets are lit with Led lighting and underground trash cans keep the city free of garbage.

And one very important point to consider. The price of real estate and rental rates are lower in the smaller cities. As the demand for housing grows, there is always ample land on which to build more apartments.

Kibbutz Life

Although there are about 270 kibbutzim in Israel, the total population is less than 5% of the total.

Kibbutz life, once the heart and soul of the early days of Statehood since 1948, has now given way to an urban lifestyle in keeping with more modern Western trends.

And this is where cities like Nof Hagalil are growing and in many cases blossoming with creative projects and unification of their residents.

Although some distance from the major cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa, Nof Hagalil is self-sufficient with ample shopping facilities and numerous social and educational programmes.

Looking Further Ahead

There are other benefits of living in smaller cities. There does exist an atmosphere of relaxation and friendliness which is not a feature of big cities and bustling crowds.

Such an important factor in Israel where the population is so diversified in so many different ways, though looking further ahead it may be self-correcting as the bulk of the population who were born here will share a more common Israeli identity.

Clearly, the changing face of Israel, designed for improved family lifestyle should have significant appeal, not just for the current population, but for those contemplating aliyah.

Lloyd Masel made aliyah from Perth, Australia in 1999. He had been active in Zionist Federation programs in Australia, and was the Conductor and soloist of the Perth Hebrew Congregation male choir for 30 years.

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