The tradition of a free press, an integral part of Israel's democracy, is expressed by the publication of seven Hebrew-language dailies and eleven in other languages, including Arabic, as well as a large number of periodicals. Two television channels, cable and satellite TV (local channels as well as dozens from around the world) and several radio stations present a wide variety of programs, including news, interviews, panel discussions, game shows, films and entertainment, in addition to educational and cultural features. Programming in Arabic is geared to the interests of the Arab population, while that in other languages caters to the needs of immigrant groups and tourists. Shortwave broadcasts are transmitted regularly for listeners abroad.
Soccer and basketball are Israel's most popular sports, with swimming, tennis, volleyball, gymnastics, track-and-field and other activities gaining additional enthusiasts every year. Local teams participate regularly in league competition before large crowds of loyal fans, while national teams represent the country in international championships. Israel's major sports organizations (Maccabi, Betar, Hapoel and Elizur) sponsor local teams in various sports as well as programs for youth in which the country's future champions are trained. Jewish athletes from all over the world come to Israel to compete in the Maccabiah and Hapoel Games, each held at four-year intervals.
Special events such as the annual marathon run around Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) and the swim across it, as well as the Jerusalem March, draw thousands of participants. Camping and hiking are becoming increasingly popular, with about 6.5 million visits registered annually at the numerous national parks and nature reserves across Israel. For those with a taste for adventure, off-the-beaten-track hikes are organized in some of the world's most spectacular scenery, scuba diving expeditions explore themagnificent coral reefs in theGulf of Eilat and opportunities for horseback riding along the forest trails of Galilee,on the Mediterranean beaches and in other parts of the country range from an hour's outing to trips of severaldays' duration. In recent years, participation in bicycle and automobile racing, hang-gliding, rappelling, sailing and windsurfing has also been growing.
The 18th Maccabiah 2009Sport for All