Welcome to

The Desert and the Cities Sing: Discovering Today’s Israel

Morning on the boardwalk in Tel Aviv–Yafo

ISRAEL: the word conjures up such potent images. A land of challenge and abundance, solemnity and chutzpah. A vortex of ancient ritual and persistent strife. A spiritual homeplace. A country of mind-boggling creativity and enterprise. 

THE DESERT AND THE CITIES SING: Discovering Today’s Israel takes you to this fascinating land, and provides an experience that will surprise anyone whose knowledge of Israel is based solely on front-page news. 

Each section of this website highlights a different aspect of Israel’s creative achievement and innovation:

The Land: on new agricultural developments

Innovations: on breakthroughs in science, technology, and education

Arts & Design: on Israel’s creative scene

Eat, Sleep, Play: on wine, cuisine, hotels, and fun

THE DESERT AND THE CITIES SING offers an unexpected entry point and a new kind of navigational tool for Israel. This unique project explores a complicated and vibrant country moving quickly into the future.

Portfolio of
25 frameable photographs
by Neil Folberg capturing



THE DESERT AND THE CITIES SING: Discovering Today’s Israel

was conceived by Lin Arison and Diana C. Stoll, veteran travelers who have worked together on previous books about France and Italy. They developed and produced THE DESERT AND THE CITIES SING with the collaboration and talents of photographer Neil Folberg and art director Michelle Dunn Marsh. 

Lin and Diana realized early on in their investigation into Israel together that this project would be far more than a travel memoir. Without denying the conflicts that dominate world headlines about Israel, THE DESERT AND THE CITIES SING shows that there is far more to the country. The project encourages a fuller understanding of Israel as it moves forward, by focusing on the best of the best in a range of fields, and by looking at some of Israel’s many pockets of cooperation and peacefulness. 

Like every land, Israel is a complex living organism in a perpetual state of change and growth. It is our great pleasure to explore it—in our idiosyncratic way—with you at this juncture in history. Perhaps, like us, you will fall in love with Israel.  

LIN ARISON is the author of Feast for the Senses: A Musical Odyssey in Umbria (2010), which was selected for the J. P. Morgan Summer Reading List in 2010. Her previous publications include A Love Story in Mediterranean Israel (2002) and Travels with Van Gogh and the Impressionists (2007). With her late husband, Ted Arison, she lived in Israel for more than a decade. Together Lin and Ted founded the National YoungArts Foundation in 1981, and the New World Symphony orchestra in 1987, with artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas. She divides her time between Miami and Israel.

DIANA C. STOLL is a writer and editor who has guided and shaped dozens of publications for arts publishers, major museums, and other cultural institutions. She is the coauthor of Feast for the Senses: A Musical Odyssey in Umbria (2010). 


NEIL FOLBERG’s photographic monographs include And I Shall Dwell Among Them (1995), Celestial Nights (2013), and Serpent’s Chronicle (2013). He has collaborated with Lin Arison on three previous projects. 


Photo of Lin Arison by Lisa Leone. Photo of Diana C. Stoll by Lynne Harty. Photo of Neil Folberg by Yaakov Folberg.