Israel and Middle East

Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress – Excellent!

by Steve Ray on March 3, 2015

I thought his speech was brilliant and I’m embarrassed that our president and so many of our leaders refused to attend. They’re acting like spoiled brats.

Here you see a real world leader — I wish we had one. Here is the link to listen and watch if you missed it earlier today.

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Rob Kaczmark and his new wife Kimberly joined us in the Holy Land last September. They own Spirit Juice Studios which is a new and talented production company. While they were with us they took magnificent and artistic pictures along the way. Never have I seen such eye-popping images of the Holy Land. Enjoy!

Join us on a pilgrimage to Israel (it is very safe regardless what you see on CNN), Poland, St. Paul Mediterranean Cruise, Guadalupe (brochure coming soon for Dec 2016), Fatima, Avila and Lourdes, the Holy Shroud of Turin and a detailed tour all the way to Rome, and much more. Visit www.FootprintsOfGod.com.

Click here to see eye-popping artistic photos of the Holy Land

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Since we, and our thousands of pilgrims, travel to Israel many times a year, I thought these statistics were very interesting. Of all 3.3 million in 2014 not one was hurt or in danger. The media makes it sound like Israel is dangerous. The facts and statistics on the group prove they are wrong.

We are now on a flight from Tel Aviv back home to the US. We had a wonderful “Christmas Pilgrimage” and went home with tears of joy and sadness about leaving. We also had our daughter Charlotte and her husband Wes. It was a perfect pilgrimage and everyone laughed at those who told them it would be dangerous. We had a marvelous time.

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Despite Operation Protective Edge, the number of tourists in 2014 remains similar to that in 2013, thanks to the significant increase in the first half of 2013. (Communicated by the Ministry of Tourism/ Ministry of Tourism Statistics Department) 

  • Leading source countries for incoming tourism: USA, Russia, France and Germany
  • 56% of incoming tourists were Christian
  • Tourism’s contribution to the economy: about NIS 41 billion
  • Satisfaction levels range from very good to excellent (4.3 out of 5)

Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau: “This year, despite Operation Protective Edge, we succeeded in maintaining the same number of tourists and hotel overnights, mainly as a result of the Israeli response to the “Vacation in Israel Now” campaign in the midst of the Operation. Israeli vacationers filled the hotels in the peak season of August, thereby supporting businesses in outlying areas and the Israeli economy…”

 Ministry of Tourism Director General Amir Halevi: “This year, we put our emphasis on digital marketing aimed at independent travelers (FITs), who are keen to exploit the prices from the open skies policy and are ready to enjoy the city breaks we have on offer – to run marathons in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Galilee, to cycle in the Negev, to enjoy opera at Masada and in Akko, and to have fun in Tel Aviv.”

Tourism by mode of travel

 Out of 3.3 million visitors, 2.5 million arrived by air (78%), a decrease of 2% compared to 2013. About 400,000 came through the land borders (12%), a 5% increase compared to 2013.

 Tourism by country of origin 

 As in previous years, tourism from the USA continued to represent the largest country of origin for incoming tourism to Israel, with 626,000 visitors arriving in 2014, (representing 19% of all incoming tourism), 1% more than 2013. In second place is tourism from Russia with 567,000 visitors, a decrease of 6%. Tourism from France takes third place, with about 301,000 visitors, followed by Germany (196,000) and the United Kingdom (179,000).

 Tourism to Israel: characteristics

  • 56% of incoming tourism was Christian tourism (41% of which is Catholic, 26% Protestant and 22% Russian Orthodox), 24% Jewish tourism, with the remaining of other religious denominations or non affiliated.
  • 58% of tourists were first time visitors, and 42% returning visitors.
  • 21% defined their visit as part of a pilgrimage, 26% as tour and travel, 11% as vacation and leisure. Overall, 58% defined their visit for tourism purposes, 23% visited friends or relatives and 11% came for business or to attend conventions.
  • 27% came as part of an organized tour, 10% on a package deal, and 63% came as FITs (frequent individual tourists).
  • 64% of tourists stayed in hotels, 22% stayed with friends or relatives and 5% stayed in youth hostels, 1% stayed in religious hostels. 6% stayed in rented or owned apartments. 

Cities and sites visited

 Jerusalem is the city most visited by incoming tourists in Israel, (82% of all tourists). Tel Aviv-Jaffa holds second place with 67% of all tourists having visited and in third place, the Dead Sea area with 54%. Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee holds fourth place with 38% of all tourists followed by the Galilee area with 34%.

The most visited sites in 2014 include the Western Wall (74%), the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem (68%), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (59%) and the Via Dolorosa (53%) and the Mount of Olives (52%).

 Tourist satisfaction

The satisfaction level of tourists visiting Israel in 2013 was very good to excellent (4.3 out of 5 – excellent). Services that received a high rating included: archeological sites (4.5); tour guides and organized tours (4.4); personal security (4.3). Among those services which did not rate so highly: public bathrooms (3.5),  taxis (3.4), and value for money (3.1). 

 Tourism’s contribution to the Israeli economy

 Total revenue from tourism in 2014 is estimated at about NIS 41 billion, a slight decrease on 2013. 

 The number of employees in the Israeli economy as a result of tourism activities totals about 110,000 in 2014, approximately one third of whom are employed in hotels. The total number of employees in the tourism industry (direct and indirect) stands at about 200,000, 6% of all employees in Israel.

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Two Great Jewish Movies

January 3, 2015

Since we are in Jerusalem, I thought I would share two of our favorite Jewish movies. Recently watched “Everything is Illuminated” again. It is funny and profound about a young man (Elijah Wood – Frodo in “Lord of the Rings”) who discovers his Jewish past after Nazi fascists occupied Ukraine. It is one of my [...]

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“You are Peter” in Jesus’ language of Aramaic

December 30, 2014

Since we recently visited Caesarea Philippi, the site where Jesus renamed Simon as “Peter” or Kepha (Matt 16:13-20), I thought you would find this interesting. So, what did it sound like at Caesarea Philippi when Jesus renamed Simon and made him the rock of the Church: “And I tell you, you are Peter [rock], and [...]

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Womb 2 Tomb; Bethlehem 2 Jerusalem; Biking on Christmas thru the Holy Land

December 26, 2014

  We are in Israel with my daughter Charlotte, her husband Wesley and my wife Janet. We are picking up our bus full of people tomorrow at the Tel Aviv airport. We are looking forward to a wonderful pilgrimage through the land of Our Lord. We arrived a day before our group so my son-in-law [...]

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Jerusalem Over a Hundred Years Ago

December 26, 2014

Old Aerial Photos of Jerusalem Below: original pictures; Above: my notations The Old city sure has changed in since these photos were taken. Does anybody know what the date these were taken? They were shot early in aviation history. My guess is they are about 100 years old. Since we arrived in Jerusalem today awaiting [...]

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Personal Letter from Jerusalem Patriarch Twal; What WE do on Pilgrimage

December 14, 2014

Since Christians are only 1.5% of the population in the Holy Land, don’t you think we should support them when we visit Israel? YES! If not, we fail to do our moral duty. Right: Personal Letter from Patriarch Twal Christians are leaving the land in droves due to lack of opportunity, persecution and tremendous pressure [...]

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Join Us in the Holy Land! Ah, but is it Safe?

December 10, 2014

December 26-January 4, 2015,   May 2015,   September 2015,   December 2015 We are leaving for the Holy Land on December 26th. We will be spending the rest of the Christmas Season there — with Mass and a day in Bethlehem where it all got started. We are expecting it to be a glorious [...]

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Joint Statement by Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew (Peter and Andrew)

November 30, 2014

On Sunday Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew signed a joint declaration affirming their common commitment to full Christian unity as well as their support for suffering Christians in the Middle East. “We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years,” the joint statement reads. [...]

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Was Jesus Really Born at THAT Place in Bethlehem?

October 13, 2014

It is often asked: how do we know these are the real sites where Jesus and Mary lived and walked. The earliest Christians realized the importance of these sites and immediately viewed them as sites to be remembered and venerated. Small chapels were built and pilgrims came from around the world to visit these spots [...]

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5000 Years of Middle East Control in 90 Seconds

October 12, 2014

No part of the world has changed hands and governments and religions more than the Middle East. This is a fascinating “moving map” of all the changes over the last 5,000 years.

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Jews as Proof of God’s Existence & Faithfulness

October 10, 2014

Winston Churchill wrote “Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.“ He is absolutely right! I have often said they are remarkable people –gifted in a [...]

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History of Religion; Muslim Demographics, the World

October 4, 2014

Watch this 7 minute video (below) titled: MUSLIM DEMOGRAPHICS: THE TIDAL WAVE (15 million have viewed this video)   See the world your grandchildren will know–different from the world we know today. It is my opinion that Islam is maybe the greatest threat to the world, to peace and to freedom. Islamophobic, hysteric? Hardly. I am [...]

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Iraqi Nuns Slam Media Silence on Middle East Christian Persecution

September 23, 2014

Sometimes it takes a David to defeat a Goliath – or, in this case, unassuming nuns to speak where the media remain silent.  Speaking out for Christians persecuted in the Middle East, Mother Olga Yaqob and Sister Hatune Dogan slammed the American media for keeping silent. The nuns spoke with MRC during the In Defense of [...]

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Roller Coaster Day: Holy Sites and Wonderful Adventures.

September 3, 2014

Today what’s an incredible day of many adventures. We started the day with Mass at the Mount the Beatitudes where Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount. Then we went up to the Golan Heights to visit Caesarea Philippi where Jesus said “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church”. Lunch [...]

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