While wine, womanly pursuits and song are not the most obvious reasons to visit Israel, the country is nevertheless becoming a fabulous holiday playground for hedonists.
Even those who thought they knew the country well may be surprised to find its vineyards are winning international prizes and opening up to visitors. And where there is wine, centres of well-being are never far away, particularly in the north, close to Israel's most noted spas and retreats offering numerous opportunities for New Age-style spiritual renewal.
El Al has announced it is to operate three daily flights in each direction between Ben Gurion and Eilat, commencing in March.
The airline, which ceased direct flights between the UK and Eilat in 2007, is adding the internal flights to improve access to Israel’s Red Sea resort for visitors flying in to Israel from Britain and other, mainly European, destinations.
Lord Levy isn’t happy. Actually, that isn’t strictly accurate; sitting in warm sunshine, eating breakfast with his wife Gilda, in Bubbe’s, one of two breakfast venues at Eilat’s Royal Beach Hotel, the chairman of Jewish Care seems remarkably happy and relaxed, especially at the end of a year during which JFS (of which he is president) has been riven by seismic legal judgements, and in which he underwent emergency heart bypass surgery.
It’s midnight outside the Tel Aviv Cinematheque and the place is humming. The last cinema-goers have left but the open courtyard in front is suddenly a mass of wheels — bicycles and trollies, but most of all rollerskates.
EasyJet, the budget airline, has announced plans to fly to Israel with six flights a week between Luton and Tel Aviv, launching on November 2.
The Luton-based airline is offering single fares from £71.98 and return fares from £102.98, including all taxes. It will also cost £8 each way to check in a bag. Flights will depart daily, except Friday and have now been launched on the firm's website, where hotels are also on offer from £80 per night.
Andy Harrison, easyJet’s chief executive, described the launch as “a major breakthrough”.
As far as the eye can see, there is sand. Somewhere over the horizon to the south west, there is Egypt; Gaza is close by, too. But one can see no landmarks, no signposts.
And then you turn on your heel and you see familiar net-covered structures, signifying Israeli agri-tech. And right here, in the middle of this vast Negev nothingness, a group of people are growing food in the sand.
The Israel Government Tourist Office in London is once again under investigation by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority for an advertisement promoting holidays to Israel.
The latest complaint is over a poster which features a map of Israel that includes the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, beneath the slogan “Experience Israel”. The poster is part of a £40,000 IGTO Think.Israel campaign.
The complaint was lodged with the advertising watchdog last Friday by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.