The modern city of Tel Aviv was originally founded on the outskirts of the ancient city of Joppa (contemporary “Jaffa”) in 1909. In the scope of Israel and the Middle East, this would classify Tel Aviv as being a relatively ‘new’ city. Tel Aviv’s growth eventually took over a large portion of the area and now encompasses the historical city (Joppa). They were merged together in 1950. Its name means “Ancient Hill of Spring.”
All of what would be considered contemporary or secular (“this worldly”) in Israel is found in Tel Aviv. It is second in population (over 440,000) to Jerusalem and is ranked 34th in economic scale to the global community. It has a large technology sector industry that is known as “Silicon Wadi” in parallel comparison to “Silicon Valley” in California, USA. It has earned the reputation of the “party capitol of the Middle East” and boasts a round the clock entertainment business culture. Since its founding, the city was purposed to be modeled after cities in Europe.
In contrast to the contemporary nature of Tel Aviv, the ancient city of Joppa is mentioned in historical antiquities dating as far back as Thutmose III in the 15thc BC. The Papyrus Anastasi I describes the Syro-Palestinian geography of the 13thc BC, which included Joppa. Located in the tribal territory of Dan (Joshua 19:46), the cedar timbers from Lebanon used by Solomon to build the temple were shipped through Joppa and transported by land to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 2:15). It is also mentioned as the port at which Jonah hired a vessel to flee from the presence of God to go to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3).
When reading history concerning Tel Aviv, much of what is written is based on an anti-Israel revisionism. Inhabitants from Israel are often referred to as “immigrants” to the region. This gives the notion that land had never been conveyed to them by God and was originally belonging to the Arabs. Moreover, revisionist history is being taught in most major universities that Israel essentially did not exist until May 14, 1948. Tel Aviv had been the temporary location for the State of Israel governmental affairs, until moving to Jerusalem as a capitol in 1949. However, in 1980, continued Muslim objections became a point of contention and the UN assembly directed over 13 embassies to be relocated from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. While many US presidents, including the last 6, have promised to move the American Embassy back to Jerusalem (thus, recognizing it as the capitol of Israel), it has not been until this year under President Trump that the event has actually occurred.
Tel Aviv is currently estimated at 93% Jewish, 1% Christian and 1% Muslim. The remaining 5% are non-affiliated. There are a reported 544 synagogues. However, the overwhelming percentage of “Jews” should not be misconstrued as all being directly related to religiously practicing in Judaism. In Tel Aviv there are 2 major factions of Jews – one religious and one secular. As of 2008, a center for secular Jewish studies has been established in the city. This may pose as an oxymoron to some, but the title ‘Jew’ is no longer singularly defined in religious terms in Tel Aviv. Instead, it is taken more in reference to the historical and cultural concerns therein.
Additionally, the secular influence has also become a segue to the pro-homosexual movement in Tel Aviv. The city hosts the largest annual homosexual parade in the Middle East and Asia. As labeled by American Airlines as the “best gay city in the world,” Tel Aviv is one of the most popular homosexual vacation destinations in tourist travel.