Modern Israel's beginnings can be traced to its days as a backwater (1518-1917) of the Ottoman Empire, when Jews began trickling back from the Diaspora.

But it wasn't until May 14, 1948, that the state of Israel was established. With this the nation's golden anniversary year, visitors may want to focus on sites that figured in the development of today's Israel.Here are several stops suggested by Phil Blazer, publisher and editor of the Los Angeles-based National Jewish News.

Begin at Motza, on Jerusalem's western edge, where Theodor Herzl, father of Zionism, planted a cypress tree on his 1898 visit to Palestine. Then move on to the Mamillah Road guest house where Herzl stayed.

Other Jerusalem sites are the historical King David Hotel, built in 1933 and hostelry for all visiting heads of state; the Old Yishuv Court Museum in the Old City, with exhibits detailing Jewish life from the early 1800s; Mount Scopus, site of the first Hadassah Hospital, founded in 1925; the virtually unchanged railroad station, built in 1898 for the visit of Kaiser Wilhem II, and the first Parliament building, now the Ministry of Tourism, on King George Street.

In Tel Aviv, the beach near Allenby Street, where the all-Jewish city was established in 1909; Independence Hall, where David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the state in 1948; and Ben-Gurion's home.

In Rehovot, the home of Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first president, on the grounds of the Weizmann Institute, and the Ayalon Institute, an underground ammunition factory at a nearby kibbutz that operated beneath the bakery and laundry and practically under the noses of the British.

Additionally, the early "kibbutzim" - collective farm - in Israel's north - Nof Ginosar, Kfar Giladi and the pioneer Degania Bet, established in 1910. And, of course, in Akko, the former British prison made famous in the movie "Exodus."