Throwback Travel Snaps: Israel

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By Joli Switzer

Our visit to Israel in 2014 was a memorable one we’ll never forget.

Aside from our desire to visit the Holy Land, honestly, Israel also became a clear choice for us for practical purposes… Because both of us were able to visit visa-free!

Yes, even Philippine passport holders can visit Israel for free! Hard to believe, right?!

That’s because every other developed country requires Filipinos to apply for visas. But not Israel.

Apparently, this visa-free rule was largely influenced by the Israelis’ gratitude for the Philippines’ decision to welcome Jewish refugees before and during the holocaust.

This was a controversial decision at the time, since many other countries closed their doors and wanted to remain neutral. A total of about 1,200 European Jews moved to the Philippines before 1941. The first time I read about this story, it brought tears to my eyes…and it still does when I think about it. I also get filled with great pride for our country’s then-president, Manuel L. Quezon. After all, isn’t there a famous Jewish saying that says, “He who saves a single life, saves the entire world.”

I’d love to discuss this story in more detail… But that’s for another post. In the meantime, back to our trip to Israel…

We did our research and had a few hesitations about visiting at first, given all the warnings from friends and the stories coming from the Middle East. But we took the leap anyway, and we are sooo glad we did! We loved all the sights, sounds, food and of course, the very kind and educated people.

Walking into the Western Wall — dream come true!

We found plenty of kind people on the streets of Israel. Whether they were Jews, Muslims, Arabs or Christians, we were often greeted with smiles!

In fact, we even dared to inquire about political questions sometimes, but not one of them said anything hateful towards other people who were not of their race or religion.  At the end of our discussions, they all didn’t really seem to care about politics–at least the ones we spoke to. They just said that all they sincerely wanted was peace.

And that is what we wish for them–peace.

We know the situation and tensions there are far too complicated for foreigners like us to ever explain or even comprehend.

What we’re sure of though is that we are so lucky to have made it there–and to be able to visit so much of this beautiful land full of history–from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Tiberias, Masada, Dead Sea, Haifa, Caesarea, etc.

Our only regret about visiting Israel? We were too busy sightseeing that we forgot to take a dipkiss photo there! Maybe we’ll return to take another one someday 🙂

As you know this is a new website and we’ll be sharing more of our old and new travel stories in the future, including Israel. For now though, here’s just a glimpse of our favorite memories and snapshots in the Holy Land!


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  1. Emilio Dutch

    Wonderful web site. A lot of interesting information here. Never knew about the history between the Philippines and Israel.

  2. Paige

    Your photos are so stunning. It sounds like this was a wonderful pilgrimage. I had no idea that Jewish people being oppressed during the holocaust were welcomed in the Philippines. That’s a beautiful piece of heritage you should be super proud of.

  3. candy

    What an interesting piece of information about the visa for Filipinos. It makes me happy to hear that doing something good was not forgotten 🙂 So funny that you forgot the dip-kiss photo! That means you really were having an awesome time to forget your signature pose.

  4. Vibeke

    I have no idea if I can go to Israel without a visa. Israel must be such an interesting place to visit. Must be so interesting to be there and see the mix of so many religions. I would definitely visit the Dead Sea. Hope I can visit Israel soon.

  5. Cori

    When I went to Israel I never made it to the Dead Sea. Your pictures look like it was a lot of fun! One of these days I’ll make it back and get to see the rest of the country.

    My experience was similar in that no one I met was pro-war. People want peace and a solution that works for everyone. If only it were that simple to implement!

  6. Rhonda Albom

    It is interesting that the Philippines took in Jewish refugees during the holocaust. I found the same thing happened in China in Beijing. The Nazis even attempted to ship the refugees offshore on a barge so they could sink it. I am happy that the people you came across in Israel all wanted peace. I’d like to think that they are in the majority. I do plan to visit Israel someday.

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