Compliments of Anglo Saxon Ra’anana Real Estate
Quote for the Week
“And You, Lord our God, have given us in love, festivals for rejoicing, holy days and seasons for joy”
From the Passover liturgy and we have much to be joyful about. Read below.
* Why is this week different from all other weeks? For a number of reasons actually; first, work is forgotten, well almost, and Israelis and the more than 300,000 visitors with us right now hit the trails en masse visiting the myriad natural beauty spots, at their most spectacular right now, that fill this tiny country: the Huleh wetlands, way station to millions of birds on their migratory path from Africa’s winter to a European summer. A fact; we treat our avian visitors so well that many of them go no further and enjoy Israel’s hospitality until October. The shnorrers! The Dead Sea, the stunning archaeological parks and the historical and religious sites that abound, close to the top of the list, Gangaroo which is the next best thing to visiting Australia at the other end of the world.
* Despite the heat and that’s not only caused by the sun, the south of the country drew more than 50,000 visitors on Wednesday where the locals had organized a multitude of activities mainly centered on horticulture to entertain the guests who came, relaxed and enjoyed and all within a stones-throw (!!) of the Gaza strip.
* Further north the kayaking season got off with a bang, well with a splash anyway as more than a thousand canoeists launched there little boats onto the waters of the Jordan, running strong and adding to the excitement. A thousand paddlers? – where do they find the room?
* The 60-meter-high Hiriya refuse dump, turned super recycling park – including a mega waste-treatment facility and an energy center that collects biogas to produce electricity, inaugurated its 25 kilometers of bike paths on Wednesday and there were hundreds of cyclists on hand to enjoy some spectacular riding. The next stage in the parks development will come in May, with the opening of an observation point offering a view that encompasses the Mediterranean to the west and the Judean hills to the east. And it wasn’t that many years ago that Hiriya had the dubious distinction of being Israel’s biggest eye-sore and a grossly unhealthy one at that.
* More than two-thirds of the 3.45 million tourists in Israel last year were Christians and that was almost double the number that graced our shores the year before, and about 40 percent of them defined themselves as religious pilgrims, so Israel’s Tourism Ministry caters for their needs on a regular basis. The latest addition is the Gospel Trail, trodden for the first time on Tuesday, footpaths, roads and bicycle paths linking areas central to the lives of Jesus and his disciples, that include The Mount of the Beatitudes, the sites of the miracles, Capernaum and Nazareth. 60 kilometers [40 miles] in length it will be officially inaugurated next week making our Christian friends feel even more welcome than they have been up to now and we can’t think of a better time to get it going than the Easter weekend.
* And now to the business of business and while the country may be in relaxation mode, the economy is forging ahead at an unprecedented rate and here are some of the indicators:
o Down on Ahad Ha’am St the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange roared and sent records tumbling with the prestige benchmark TASE 25 Index reaching an all time high at the time of writing [3 hours before close of trading on Thursday 21/04] of 1,342.75 points, breaking the previous peak of 1,340 points reached on January 19. All the other indexes were up too.
o Israelis are inveterate shoppers and there was a time when they reserved their rampant consumerism for trips to London, Paris or Istanbul at least. Not anymore. Everything is now available in Israel and survey after survey shows that they prefer buying Blue and White and what better time than Pesach to satisfy the shopping urge. From food to fashion and from matsah to motor cars most stores reported a double-digit leap in sales ranging from 20% to 30% more turnover than Pesach 2010. What can one say? We’ve got it good and long may it last.
o The Bank of Israel’s Composite State of the Economy Index that does exactly what it says it does and that is indicate the state of the economy, rose 0.5% in March 2011, and that reflects continuing healthy growth, driven by increases in domestic and export demand. Bear in mind too that the Bank of Israel revised the index for January and February upwards by 0.1 percentage point to 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively. Manufacturing production rose 2.1% in February, after a 2.3% increase in January. Trade and services are up 0.5% in February, after a 1.2% rise in January. Exports of services leapt a massive 13.9% in March, after rising 2% in February, while goods exports increased 2.6% in March, after rising 3.6% in February. Now those are data that would gladden the heart of any Finance minister.
o Going back to Q4 of 2010 Israel’s GDP grew by an incredible, and we don’t use the word loosely, 7.8% following a 4.6% increase in the third quarter and a 5.4% increase in Q2 bringing the business sector’s GDP up to 6.3% in the second half of the year. This is the third estimate –and each time it goes up – for the second half of 2010. What does all that mean? Well, it means that we’re a whole lot better off economically than most of the OECD countries of which we are one. We’ve reported all this before. So why are we reporting it again? Read on.
o Just in case you might be thinking that the fourth quarter figures – and those for the year as a whole – were some sort of wishful thinking or a statistical aberration on the part of the Central Bureau of Statistics, look at these figures for 2011 so far; Exports (excluding diamonds) climbed a phenomenal 27.3% between January and March 2011 and that followed a 19.9% increase between October and December 2010. Imports rose by 34% in Q1 this year according to figures released Sunday by the CBS. As we said above, we’ve got it good.
* It may not be the Olympic Games or World Cup Soccer, but the best young scientific brains from Asia and Oceania will be on show in Israel from May 1 when Israel will host the annual Asian Physics Olympiad (APhO) – an international physics competition for high school students. 18 delegations with a total of 134 participants will be competing. Some of the countries, including Indonesia and Cambodia, do not have formal diplomatic ties with Israel but they’ll be here, together with a home side of 8 Israeli youngsters selected from a group originally numbering 3000. Each of these young men and women is a rising star in the scientific firmament. Something to look forward to.
* Not the most glamorous of sports or one de4signed to capture the public’s interest, but ’pumping iron’ requires the same dedication and application as wielding a mean cricket bat or covering a hundred meters in under 10 seconds, so we salute Anatoliy Moshik who won a bronze medal this week at the European Weightlifting Championships in Kazan, Russia – the first medal Israel has won in the sport since 1992. 2012 and the Olympics are just around the corner.