A year or two after I arrived in Israel (Nov 1968) I was given a book (in English) entitled The Second Million. The first million were the immigrants that Israel had adsorbed in the years before and immediately following Independence.
The Second Million refeed to the target of attracting one million tourists to Israel in a single year.
This week my thoughts returned to that book and its (at the time outrageous) proposal following a news article that discussed attracting 10 million tourists to Israel.
Sometimes I’m slow on the uptake. It hit me earlier today that Israel’s greatest source of positive PR is the impression that visitors return to their own countries/communities.
To this, I’ll add 22 Syrians who have/are being treated in Israeli hospitals and would otherwise be dead. And a young Palestinian boy who has a future due to the parents of a young Israeli boy who died. Not sure that either story made the international papers – but there again why should it? Why show Israel in a positive light?
One group of visitors I met this week was from a major Nordic bank and was in Israel for the first time. Family, friends, and work colleagues had warned them to be careful, to appreciate that there are armed soldiers and police everywhere, and to be prepared for the worst!
Their only regret was that they were here for just 36 hours. Those 36 hours were nevertheless a game changer for them. Tel Aviv - a bright modern city, with good infrastructure, hotels, restaurants, friendly people, hi-tech and other businesses booming – they were stunned. And apart from a couple of female soldiers in uniform and the odd police car driving around, there was nothing “to see”.
Later in the week, met with visitors from Switzerland and their reaction was much the same.
Maybe 10 million visitors a year is a pipe dream, but isn’t that what Israel is about – achieving the impossible?
Not many in 1948 gave Israel a chance of survival and yet 65 years on the desert is blooming, there is prosperity and the country goes from strength to strength.
Israel somehow makes the old adage true – “the impossible can be achieved immediately, everything else takes time”.
What is critical regardless of 10, 9, or 8 million visitors is that each, no matter the reason for visiting Israel, returns home as an ambassador for the country. The more evangelists we have to counter the negative publicity put out by certain sections of the international media, the sooner a just peace can be achieved for all people of the region.
Caught the last 10/12 minutes of an Oliver Stone documentary on the history of the US, broadcast on Israel channel 8.
Stone articulated something that historians had long argued and that successive American governments were unwilling to admit, namely that it was not the US that turned the tide and won the war in Europe (WWII – 1939/1945) rather it was the Soviet Union and the pure brutally of Stalin’s regime together with the sacrifice of the Russian people that made the difference and brought Nazi Germany to its knees.
For me as a history buff, it was wonderful to hear the truth rather than the doctored facts as fed to us.
All credit to Oliver Stone for telling the truth
I have mentioned previously that I dislike reality TV.
I probably should have used the word hate.
And like almost everything in life, what any of us watch on TV is a personal preference.
Reading today's internet edition of the Daily Mail, I could not help but review an article entitled: “Pictured with their ‘sex surrogates’: British woman, 29, and IT engineer, 45, fly to America to lose their virginity in shocking new Channel 4 documentary”.
I’m no prude – far from it - but this shocked me, and I am not easily shocked.
And I think UK Mediawatch may be right when they said “(the) documentary could cross the line into voyeurism”.
Put another way this is soft porn!
My rant today (is once again) aimed at radio stations and the ad agencies that think up the most insulting, banal, and nauseating jingles.
And yes I know it pays the rent.
Tonight, for the sheer hell of it, I timed as best I could while driving home a sequence of jingles on 100 FM.
A few seconds under five minutes. Switching to other stations during this period, 88FM, 99FM, and Reshet Bet, all seemed to play more or less the same ads, almost at the same time. A conspiracy by the radio stations no doubt?
Do radio stations think that this is the way to retain audience numbers?
A rhetorical question!
Thank goodness for the CD player in the car.
Went to G Mall in Kfar Saba this evening intending to go to the supermarket.
I normally go at 7.00 am on a Friday. What a mistake. Ten minutes to get into the parking lot, and nowhere to park. People shouting and screaming at each other.
Eventually, I parked in the underground car park, only about half full. The problem is you can’t bring a shopping cart downstairs. Nevertheless, I tried.
At the supermarket more fighting over shopping carts.
Once inside the supermarket it is not only packed with shoppers fighting over items, many aisles were blocked with goods as the store staff repacks shelves.
The store was grinding to a halt, there was nowhere to go.
I dumped the cart and ran!
I have respect for people’s adherence to faith and customs.
Truth is I am sometimes envious of the unquestioning unwavering stance they take. The almost fanatical blind conviction.
There are issues with flights in and out of Israel and ultra-orthodox men refusing to sit next to a single non-related lady.
I have witnessed many such incidents over the years on European and US flights.
Strangely I don’t recall any incident of ultra-orthodox ladies traveling alone and refusing to sit next to a man who is not related to them!
I was in this position a couple of months back on an EasyJet flight out of Luton bound for Tel Aviv.