Our map stood up quite well to the rigours of travel. This is a very accurate and timely map of a part of the world that is a rock of stability in a region mired in turmoil. Yes, Israel has its problems, and of course life would be simpler if the on-going war in next-door Syria weren’t so disrupting, but that’s politics and this is travel. By the nature of physical reality, it is impossible to have a map of Israel that excludes Palestinian-controlled areas, but the focus of this map is to include both Israeli-controlled ‘Palestinian’ areas (almost 20% of the population of Israel is Arabic) and to show the entire region to advantage. Mapping Israel is a bit like walking on eggs; one has to be careful not to offend, and we hope that this map is as non-political as any map can be in the minefield of Middle Eastern politics. Circa today, my own ‘feel’ for the country is that it is stable, it is prosperous, it is developing, and it is well-worth visiting. The Palestinian-controlled areas are sensitive, and Gaza is off-limits, but all sides appear to be trying hard not to provoke incidents that would be disruptive. Given the situation in Syria and to a lesser extent Lebanon and the risks faced by Jordan, Israel appears open, welcoming, and sensible. It has a well-developed infrastructure, including a marvelous car rental industry, tons of restaurants, historic sites everywhere, excellent accommodations, and a climate that would be the envy of most countries.
The name Palestine is used in this map to indicate the general geographic area occupied by both the State of Israel and the Palestinian-controlled territories without trying to be judgmental or overly political. The borders of Israeli-controlled areas are, for example, quite controversial, and we have made no attempt to show the exact areas of control, nor do we show the security wall separating Israeli-controlled and Palestinian-controlled areas. In the context of mapping, Palestine is a geographic area that encompasses all the people living in this area at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean. It is difficult to imagine a realistic border that could create a viable separate country called Palestine, but it is also difficult to imagine two very different societies living together in one country peacefully. How to resolve such a situation is the world of politics and mapping will follow; for now, realistically, one cannot create a map showing anything more than reality on the ground. There are areas of Arabic (Palestinian) dominance and areas of Israeli dominated land. These areas are subject to change in political governance, but not in physical reality. Bethlehem remains Bethlehem regardless, and the Dome on the Rock remains one of the most beautiful mosques anywhere. Such is Palestine. Go, see for yourself, enjoy, listen, and don’t be judgmental. The people living in this part of the world have to find a way forward; what we can do is try to understand.