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Israel – The Magic Land at the Holy Land

  • Published in Travel
The Holy Land of Israel is steeped in age old traditions, culture and history, holding many wonders to be explored and enjoyed. This country is blessed with a unique abundance of findings and sites, animals and plants and a wide variety of different landscapes. The land mass of Israel equates to the size of New Jersey in the USA.

The geographical location of the Land of Israel and the fact that it has been a land bridge throughout history has given the Land of Israel great importance and interest in the eyes of various rulers throughout history, believers of many religions, pilgrims and travelers from all over the world and even in the eyes of various animals... Traveler along the Land of Israel descends from an Alpine environment on Mount Hermon (at the north end of the land) to the central mountain range in the Galilee, Samaria and Judea, will cross desert territory in the Negev and will eventually reache the Tropical coral beaches of Eilat, the southest point in Israel. Traveling from the coastal plain (located along the Mediterranean Sea) eastward crosses the Judean low land and climbs into the towering mountains of Jerusalem, descending immediately afterwards through the Judean Desert and reaching a huge cliff (part of the Syrian African Rift Valley) which descends to the Dead Sea - the lowest point on earth.

The Land of Israel is a unique tiny piece of land where you can find holy places of numerous faiths and religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha'i, Samaritan, Druze etc. The 2 monotheistic faiths, Judaism and Christianity, were created here, while Islam - which was created in the 'Arab Peninsula - has its 3rd holiest place on earth in the Land of Israel.

Israel is not only a land with great bonds to the past, but holds, also, well founded links to the present, having great importance worldwide to science and technology. Israel is ranked fifth among the most innovative countries in the world. Many renowned inventions that changed the world were created here, in this fascinating land of milk and honey: The first computerized instant messaging-chatting program ICQ (by the way, the company was called ICQ based on the English phrase "I Seek You"). Try to imagine your life without USB flash drive – yes, this was also invented here. Waze, a social network navigation application, was invented in Israel. Dripping irrigation system was invented in Israel, a land on the verge of the desert. DiscOnKey, Firewall and the list goes on and on in varied fields. It seems that fulfilling the BDS message may only harm the wellbeing of humanity.

Visiting the Land of Israel open hearted will eventually make the visitor realize the great achievements accomplished here during the past 70 year. No doubt, there's still a great deal of work to do, but we should keep in mind that nowhere else did a newly born state absorbed refugees numbered 1.5 times of its local citizens - immediately after a painful independence war, waged against 5 armies. Dire as it was – the size of the achievements may just be magnified… This is indeed The Magic Land at the Holy Land.

Hope to see you here soon!

Shai Shvalb

Israel Tour Guide


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230 Ukrainian Immigrants Arrive in Israel for Passover, Part of Effort to Rescue Embattled Jews

JERUSALEM, More than 200 new immigrants (“olim”) from Ukraine landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport on a flight organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), allowing many of the olim to celebrate the Jewish Festival of Freedom of Passover in Israel for the first time. The Freedom Flight is part of The Fellowship’s ongoing rescue of embattled Jews around the world.

Israel's minister of immigration and absorption, Sofa Landver, greeted the olim, who included 78 families, with four Holocaust survivors and more than 40 children. Most are expected to settle in Israel’s north and center of the country. A second flight arriving from Ukraine on Wednesday will bring the total to 232 new olim.

Some of the olim came from war-torn areas in Ukraine where they’ve lived as refugees in their own country in recent years amid violent conflict with Russia. Many have also suffered economically, as Ukraine has experienced an intense economic crisis fueled by the conflict.

Olski and Irina L. came to Israel with their daughter from the city of Dnipropetrovsk. “Life in Ukraine has become life without a future, especially for families with children. Because of the continuing war the economic situation is also terrible. For us it was clear: if we are looking for a future for our children, it is better to do it in the land of Israel,” the couple said.

Yitzchak B., a Holocaust survivor, said: “World War II began when I was 12. The Jews were asked to gather to register. My family heard a German soldier yell out, ‘Death to the Jews,’ and immediately understood the source of the urgent registration. In a split-second decision, my family left the place and asked Polish friends to please hide us. They agreed and we hid throughout the whole war. Now that I am making aliyah [immigrating to Israel], I feel a strong sense of mission and commitment to the State of Israel.”

Landver greeted the immigrants as they disembarked. “I am very happy about the continued wave of aliyah and am sure that together we will provide the olim who just arrived with the best possible care and optimal absorption in every part of life so that they will immediately feel at home,” she said.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president and founder of The Fellowship, also told the immigrants, “The new olim that have joined us today are carrying with them the burdens of a political war and an economic war. The open opportunity for the olim to come here and begin a new life, living in a strong and independent country, constitutes a rescue for them. The holiday of freedom that we will all celebrate soon is a significant expression of the concept of freedom that the olim will feel in Israel for the first time. I call to all of the people of Israel to remember the olim, invite them to their homes for the seder meal, and celebrate their freedom with them.”

The flight was made possible thanks to the support of The Fellowship’s 1.6 million Christian donors in the United States and around the world. Since December 2014, The Fellowship has brought more than 7,100 immigrants to Israel from 25 countries where Jews are facing rising anti-Semitism, conflict or economic challenges. Nearly 80 percent of the immigrants (5,178) have come Ukraine.

The new arrivals will receive $800 for each adult and $400 for each child from The Fellowship, in addition to having their flights financed. This support comes in addition to an “Absorption Basket” of aid and benefits the olim receive from the ministry of immigrant absorption.
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Ambassadors Against BDS: 2,000 gather at United Nations HQ in New York in support of Israel

The World Jewish Congress and Israel’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations on Wednesday hosted more than 2,000 dignitaries, public officials, NGO representatives at the UN headquarters for the second Ambassadors Against BDS summit. The opening session of the conference was held in the iconic General Assembly Hall of the United Nations.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said: "The effort to delegitimize the state of Israel being waged on college campuses and the anti-Israel obsession at the UN are one in the same. They both seek to deny Israel’s right to exist. [...] They are both extensions of an ancient hatred. And how tragic is it that, of all the countries in the world to condemn for human rights violations, these voices choose to single out Israel.

"Iran, Syria, North Korea and other barbaric regimes are excused by the BDS movement. It makes no sense. And it has no connection to any reasonable definition of justice," said Haley.

In his keynote address, WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert R. Singer, who spoke on behalf of WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, thanked Haley for standing with Israel and standing “up against the bias that prevails here.”

Singer also criticized the anti-Israel BDS movement, saying: “The boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement says it wants peace. It claims to fight under the banner of human rights. But this movement is based on lies, incitement, and deception. BDS is not about peace. BDS is not about helping the Palestinians. BDS is not about human rights. What BDS really wants is to deny the Jewish people’s right to a homeland in Israel.”

“We must tell all who question Israel’s very right to exist: The State of Israel is not up for negotiation. The State of Israel is here to stay,” Singer declared. Pointing to recent measures taken by governments and other institutions against BDS, he added: "Operation Fightback is underway, and we are winning." Singer noted that the "Winds of change are blowing even here, at UN Headquarters."

Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Danny Danon, welcomed the particpants of the summit, also criticizing the United Nations anti-Israel bias: "The halls of the UN are now being infiltrated by the boycott movement. The UN’s Human Rights Council is creating a blacklist of companies and corporations operating in parts of Israel. This is pure anti-Semitism, and together with the US, our greatest ally, we will keep fighting until BDS is eliminated.”

“We are here today with a simple message for those who seek to harm the Jewish state and the Jewish people. We will keep fighting until we eliminate BDS completely, from the campuses to the UN, and we will keep fighting until anti-Semitism is finally defeated,” Danon added.

Other speakers at the opening included Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky and Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice.
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Lauder welcomes Ban Ki-moon’s ‘long-awaited’ admission of UN bias against Israel

WJC, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder has welcomed outgoing United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s “long-awaited and impactful” recognition of the UN’s ongoing disproportionate stance on Israel and his demand that Hamas once and for all renounce the use of violence and recognize the right of Israel to exist.

However, Lauder added that it had “been incumbent” upon Ban to make such remarks over the course of his near 10-year term, and to voice opposition to the anti-Israel resolutions that have abounded.

“In the nearly 10 years that he has been in office, Ban Ki-moon has vigilantly supported a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, a shared sentiment that we encourage and respect.

"But his tenure has been replete with some of the most shocking and anti-Israel resolutions of our time, including repeated Human Rights Council decisions singling out Israel for crimes against humanity, while ignoring the fate of nationals in other parts of the world whose lives are constantly at risk due to the horror and terror of extremists in their midst, as well as UNESCO decisions that blatantly and aggressively deny Israel of its historic Jewish ties to Jerusalem and accuse Israel of aggression in its sovereign capacity.

"We believe that criticism of Israel can be sounded when due, but many of the resolutions of the last few years have been so clearly biased and damaging to Israel.

“We welcome Mr. Ban’s final speech to the UN Security Council, particularly his assertion that there is indeed a bias in the international organization he has led for nearly a decade, and the fact that there is incitement and violence ongoing against Israel. As we’ve said so many times before, the UN has been hijacked by states focused on their own political interests that target Israel disproportionately at the expense of real human rights crises desperate of international attention.

“It was incumbent upon Secretary General Ban to issue statements such as these over the course of his near decade-long tenure, but it is encouraging to hear now, even in his waning hours in office, and we very much hope that the message will be absorbed by the bodies operating under the UN in the years to come.

"We stand ready to assist in every diplomatic measure possible to ensure that Israel and the Jewish people are given fair evaluation and treatment in the world’s preeminent international organization,” declared Lauder.
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New survey: 80 percent of impoverished Israelis believe their children will remain poor

Majority of Israeli poor express increasing anger and despair, says new study commissioned by The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews


JERUSALEM,  A new study of Israel’s poorest citizens commissioned by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), by the Shvakim Panorama research institute, reveals a growing sense of anxiety, anger, and despair among a vast majority of impoverished Israelis feeling increasingly disconnected from state institutions and society in general.

The study, of a representative sample of 494 poor Israelis, was released today at The Fellowship’s Conference to Reduce Poverty and Social Inequality in Israel, at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa.

According to the most recent study of Israeli poverty, about 22 percent of Israelis, or some 1.7 million Israeli citizens including 776,500 children, live below the poverty line. The Fellowship study showed Israel’s poor are experiencing growing social isolation and hopelessness, including that:

• 81 percent of Israeli poor say they lack the ability or opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty;

• 80 percent believe their children’s economic futures will not significantly improve;

• 25 percent (one in four) would leave Israel for another country if they could;

• 29 percent (nearly one-third) know someone who has considered suicide due to economic and social pressures;

• 24 percent report a family member has started using anti-depressants in the past year due to their socio-economic difficulties;

• 43 percent do not feel part of Israeli society;

• 65 percent have lost their faith in the country’s main institutions (including the judicial system, government ministries, and the Knesset), with 29 percent saying they don’t vote in Knesset national elections;

• 63 percent do not want their children to serve in the army.

“The survey reveals extremely worrisome statistics on the severity of poverty in Israel, and should serve as a wake up call for leaders of our country and its citizens,” said The Fellowship’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. “Poverty is a real threat to Israel’s social fabric and ability to function. It is time for the Israeli government to declare all-out war on poverty with the same determination and the same financial commitment it makes to combat security threats.”





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Ronald S. Lauder praises countries for helping Israel to fight fire blazes

The head of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) on Thursday expressed concern about the wild fires currently raging in Israel. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel, especially those in the areas most affected by the fires.”

Wild fire spreading near Modiin on ThursdayWild fire spreading near Modiin on ThursdayThe WJC president thanked the countries – among them Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Russia, Turkey, and the United States – providing emergency relief and support for Israel.

However, he expressed indignation about the fact that despite the danger a number of Arab communities, as well as their Jewish neighbours, were facing by the fires, some Arabs had now “gleefully taken to social media.” Hash tags such #TheZionistEntityIsBurning or #IsraelIsBurning were shared widely on Twitter.

On Thursday, firefighters struggled to contain blazes raging through the northern Israeli city of Haifa and dozens of small- to medium-scale conflagrations throughout the country.

Firefighters also battled flames in a forest near the capital Jerusalem.
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PM Netanyahu: Israel cares more about Palestinians than their own leaders do

PM Netanyahu remarks on Hamas' misuse of humanitarian aid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement:

"I'm going to say something now that some of you will not believe.

But I'm going to say it anyway because it's true.

I, the Prime Minister of Israel, care more about Palestinians than their own leaders do.

Israel cares more about Palestinians than their own leaders do.

That sounds incredible, right?

But consider the following:

A few days ago, the world learned that Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules Gaza, stole millions of dollars from humanitarian organizations like World Vision and the United Nations.

Innocent and impoverished Palestinians were denied vital aid supplied from nations around the world.

Hamas used this stolen money to build a war machine to murder Jews.

I want you to think about that. Let that sink in.

Hamas stole critical support for Palestinian children so that they could kill our children.

So I ask you – who cares more about Palestinians?

Israel, that facilitates the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, every single day?

Or Hamas, that robs Palestinian children of that very same aid?

Israel, that treats wounded Palestinians from Gaza in its hospitals?

Or Hamas that prevents injured Palestinians from getting help?

Imagine, just imagine, where we might all be if Palestinian leaders cared as much about helping their own people as they did about hurting our people.

The Palestinian people deserve better.

And today, I express my deepest sympathy with innocent Palestinians and those well-meaning nations who generously donated money to help them.

The cynicism and cruelty of Hamas is hurting all of us.

It's hurting peace."
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Amid Rising Tensions in Ukraine More Jews Seeking to Move to Israel

The Fellowship, which has brought more than 3,200 Jews to Israel, has received 1,700 new inquiries the past month from Ukraine Jews about making aliyah, expects demand to grow if strife continues


KIEV, Ukraine – The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), which has helped thousands of Ukraine Jews immigrate to Israel, was flooded with hundreds of phone calls and emails in the past two weeks from Ukraine Jews seeking to immigrate to Israel and expects the demand to grow amid escalating tensions with Russia over Crimea and the eastern Donbass province.

In total, The Fellowship has received more than 1,700 inquiries about aliyah (immigration to Israel) in the past month in Ukraine, where The Fellowship also provides one of the world's poorest Jewish communities with life-saving assistance such as food and medicine.

With the Ukraine situation increasingly unstable, The Fellowship’s office in Kiev has opened six phone lines that are constantly busy, fielding 720 calls in the past month, while staff has received more than 1,000 emails about aliyah. There are an estimated 260,000 Jews still living in Ukraine, and The Fellowship says there are about 5,000 Jews in the disputed Donbass region who are eligible to make aliyah.

Since December 2014, The Fellowship has led a major immigration effort that has brought more than 3,280 Jews on 27 flights from Ukraine to Israel. Ukrainian-Jewish aliyah has become a major part of the Fellowship’s global aliyah initiative enabling Jews facing economic and security threats to move to Israel. In recent months, The Fellowship has helped nearly 4,000 Jews make aliyah, not only from Ukraine but from other countries where Jews face economic and security challenges including Bolivia, Brazil, France, Uruguay, Venezuela and Turkey and other countries.

Because of military checkpoints and attacks, many poor Ukraine Jews in the cities of Donestk and Lunhansk in the Donbass region remain unable to reach Ukraine to collect their already meager monthly state pension of some $40. Tensions have been rising between Ukraine forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and Crimea since July, and the Jewish community is caught in the middle.

The Fellowship reports that pro-Russian forces have been shelling the disputed eastern province of Donbass, with scores of attacks over the past several days. The Fellowship says local authorities in Donbass detained and jailed a Jewish communal official who also helped The Fellowship administer its local humanitarian programs, before sending the Jewish official west to the Ukraine capital of Kiev.

The rising interest in aliyah among Ukraine’s Jews comes as Ukraine says its forces last week were put on high alert as Russia massed 40,000 troops along the Crimea-Ukraine border, with both sides accusing one another of raising tensions ahead of the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence. Pro-Russian forces annexed Crimea in 2014, in a violent conflict that has cost thousands casualties.

“The plight of the Jewish people in Ukraine is deteriorating,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of The Fellowship. “Our support for them will mean the difference between life and death, whether we’re providing critical aid such as food and medicine or helping those who wish to immigrate to Israel.”



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233 North Americans, 75 Lone Soldiers set to move to Israel

233 North Americans will board an El Al Boeing 777 chartered by Nefesh B’Nefesh and immigrate to Israel together from JFK Airport on August 16. The flight is being facilitated in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah & Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel (KKL), JNF-USA and Tzofim-Garin Tzabar.

The passengers include 75 young men and women who will become Israeli citizens and volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). They are moving to Israel as ‘Lone Soldiers’, youngsters who left their families in the US and Canada to move to Israel and volunteer for the Israeli Army. They will join the over 900 Lone Soldiers from the US, and the 3,000 Lone Soldiers from around the world who are currently serving in the IDF.

The flight’s other passengers include a diverse mix of people from 22 US states and one Canadian province, including 24 families, 78 children and 10 medical professionals. Ages of immigrants range from 3.5 weeks to 85 years old.

With this flight, NBN will celebrate its 50,000th immigrant brought to Israel with the organization, which was founded in 2002.





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Global Jewish fashionistas visit Israel on 1st-of-its-kind delegation

JWRP brought 35 Jewish women from the US, Canada, Australia, Estonia, Greece, Panama and S. Africa to meet Israeli fashion personalities

JERUSALEM, Thirty-five Jewish women from around the world who are also fashion industry mavens experienced the journey of a lifetime over the past week, seeing Israel beyond the headlines while connecting with Israel’s fashion leaders.

The special delegation, July 26-Aug. 3, included Jewish fashionistas from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Estonia, Greece, Panama, and South Africa. For eight days, these women traveled from Safed in the north to the Dead Sea and Masada in the Judean Desert, on a one-of-a-kind trip to strengthen their Jewish identities, connect them to their Jewish homeland and inspire them to return home to create positive change in their industry.

This Momentum trip, organized by the Maryland-based Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) and Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, also brought the women to key spots on Israel’s fashion map, from the TLVstyle fashion boutique tour and the “Fash-Tech” co-work space WMN for women entrepreneurs in Tel Aviv, to jewelry and fashion designers in Jerusalem.

“Our trips aim to inspire Jewish women to make a difference at home, in their communities and in the wider world,” said JWRP Founding Director Lori Palatnik. “Our fashion trip allowed us to inspire influencers around their shared passion through the lens of Israel and Jewish values.”

This special trip, the first of many planned industry-specific trips aimed at connecting key influencers with Israeli industry leaders through their common Jewish values, also featured an exclusive JWRP fashion show in Tel Aviv’s Jaffa neighborhood headlined by leading Israeli fashion names.

Since 2009, more than 8,000 Jewish mothers from 150 partner organizations in 26 countries spanning several continents including Australia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America have experienced the Momentum trips. Participants commit to getting involved in activities when they return home, including community events, Israel engagement programs, Jewish education, global learning, leadership development and Momentum Israel missions for husbands.


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