ZF UK Trip to Israel

I recently started working for the Zionist Federation in Sweden, and last week I had the privilege to join the ZF UK on their trip to Israel.
This happened to be my tenth visit to the country since 2008, and I was yet again astounded by how much this tiny country has to offer.

Below are some of the highlights from the trip.

–       Briefing by British Ambassador Matthew Gould

As I’m not British I had no knowledge about the Ambassador. I do follow a lot of British people on social media though, so I was familiar with the fact that there are many similarities in the way(s) Israel is seen and is being treated in Sweden and in the UK respectively.
Especially so when mainstream media is concerned. The situation is very depressing in both countries.
It was a nice and welcoming little briefing, and turned out that the Ambassador had a lot of humour. Which is always nice.

–       Meir Amit Center – Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center

This was definitely one of my favourite places that we visited – and a place I had never heard of before.
The “terror rooms” with various “memorabilia” from the PA were scary, interesting and somewhat depressing.
I’d seen a lot of the “It’s fun and fabulous to be a suicide bomber”-brochures online, but it was fascinating in a sickening way to see them “live”.

We got to hear a few stories about the people that had died – whose names were written on the walls – and they were all very interesting and well deserving of becoming movies.

ITIC. Photo credit: Kim Milrell.
ITIC. Photo credit: Kim Milrell.

–       Kfar Isfiya

I’d read some about the Druze people but never really understood it, so travelling up north and being introduced to the Druze lifestyle and religion was interesting indeed (and left me wanting to know more).
This was another place I’d never had visited on one of my “regular” trips to Israel. (And the Druze lunch was very tasty indeed.)

–       Ofakim – Student Village

I very much admire the spirit of the Ayalim Association and I first learned about them on a seminar a couple of years ago, when I’d been asked to write a short piece on the subject for Menorah Sweden.
I appreciated seeing one of these villages and listening to people’s personal stories on how they became involved.

–       Gilad Shalit

We met Gilad Shalit at his Herzliya University and to me, personally, it was magnificent to see the young man in person, as I started blogging about Israel at about the same time that he got kidnapped, and I wrote about him many many times.
However, the “event” itself, which was a very low-key lunch, felt very awkward.
Gilad was obviously very uncomfortable with the attention and as we weren’t allowed to ask about the things we all really wanted to ask about, it all felt pretty unnecessary. However – nice to see the man!

gilad shalit
Gilad Shalit. Photo credit: Kim Milrell.

–       Shmuel Ben Tovim

I admit that I felt very out of place. Economics, numbers… Not my area at all. However, I love statistics and I did get something out of this briefing. (Israel is growing stronger and stronger.)

–       The Stern Gallery

What I very much appreciated with this trip was the diversity. From Israel’s economy in the morning to Israeli art in the evening.
And I felt more at home at the art gallery… This event was a nice little surprise. I like art although I don’t “know” art. It just so happened that I “got” the art that was presented to us.

–       Space IL

This interesting project I first heard about online quite some time ago. A huge project of course, and indeed very fascinating.

–       Herzl Museum + Gil Hoffman and Mark Regev

I had never visited the Herzl Museum before and it was a pleasant surprise. What a wonderful museum, full of surprises!

The speeches by Hoffman and Regev were brilliant. Informative and also fun at times.

–       Micky Rosenfeld + The Western Wall Tunnel

It was the day before the Pope’s arrival and Jerusalem was pretty chaotic and closed off. Chief Inspector Micky Rosenfeld spoke about how the police operates in Jerusalem and it was all very interesting and felt extra relevant on this particular day.

The Tunnel was very very long and although the guide was very annoying and too much “on fire” (at least for a laid-back Scandinavian person) the stories and the history was fascinating.

i24news kim milrell
“I’m a huge fan!” Photo credit: Kim Milrell.

–       i24News

As a huge fan of this television channel, the last day of the trip was my favourite day. First of all, to step into the building felt epic. And seeing the studios!
Meeting the CEO Frank Melloul and news anchor Lucy Aharish was just too good to be true!

i24News. Photo credit: Kim Milrell.
i24News: CEO Frank Melloul and news anchor Lucy Aharish. Photo credit: Kim Milrell.

All in all – a very good trip!

kim milrell zionist federation
Yours truly. Photo credit: Kim Milrell.
About the Author
Kim Milrell da Costa is a Pro-Israel blogger, writer, and activist from Stockholm, Sweden. However he currently resides in a small town in southern Finland. He writes about 'Everything Israel' on his website, and has worked for the World Zionist Organization's Swedish subdivision: The Zionist Federation of Sweden. He is also a news junkie and he cares too much about what's going on in the world. Constantly worried.