This is the impression Israel made on bloggers from Belgrade, Serbia who returned to their country enamored with the Jewish state.
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The six skillful and curious bloggers who write on an array of topics were brought to Israel on a joint Foreign Ministry-Tourism Ministry venture.
They spent time in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Masada, Akko and the Galilee. Upon their return to Serbia they wrote that they are "completely in love with Israel."
Throughout their visit they tweeted and posted messages on their blogs on their Israel experience. Orosh Igniacivic, who runs an online tourism group tweeted: "The moment the plane flew over Tel Aviv, we felt as if we were landing in New Belgrade. We felt as if we are wandering around our own home. We met wonderful people, the food was outstanding and the views, splendid."
Feeling at home at Carmel Market (Archive Photo: Dudu Azulay)
Another blogger, Milan Maglov, mainly active on Facebook (with 115,000 friends) wrote on his page: "How unfortunate that only few Serbians know what Israel can offer. I feel that I am on a dreamlike expedition. Serbia, brace yourself for a boom of great stories and pictures!! Our Israelization begins now."
Another blogger named Milan Kamponeski, who writes under the pen name "Amitz", wrote in his blog read by 100,000 monthly readers: "I felt at home in Tel Aviv. At the Carmel Market I asked for 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of candy and the seller pushed a whole kilo (2.2 pounds) on me. I felt like I was in Belgrade.
"Israel is a land of contrasts. Soldiers who look like mere teenagers wandering around with big guns and huge smiles and they are much nicer than our civil servants."
Israel's Ambassador to Serbia Yossi Levy hosted the bloggers upon their return to Serbia. "It is good to hear such warm words from the mouths of such a happy, colorful and young group of Serbians, all of whom are not Jewish and who never visited Israel before. We didn’t hear one bad word, not even about the airport security checks," said Levy.
"Israel, as it is perceived through tweets and Facebook pages, is a beautiful, young, open, friendly, safe and fun country. There is no doubt that over the next few weeks, thousands of young Serbians will discover Israel from a new and especially pleasant perspective."
According to him, "this is the most effective and best way to circumvent stereotypes and to demonstrate to young, dynamic European audiences what the real Israel is."
Itamar Eichner is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent
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