Israel and Middle East

Interesting Facts About Israel which Will Amaze You

by Steve Ray on January 3, 2019

We are in Israel today and thought you might like to see this impressive list. I found this list several years ago but it still applies today.

Geography:

1. Israel is only 1/6 of 1% of the landmass of the Middle East.
2. Israel is roughly half the size of Lake Michigan.
3. The Sea of Galilee, at 695 ft. below sea level, is the lowest freshwater lake in the world.
4. The Dead Sea is the lowest surface point on earth, at about 1,373 feet below sea level.
5. Israel is the only nation in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees.
6. Jericho is the oldest continuously inhabited town in the world.
7. The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem is the oldest, continually used cemetery in the world.

Demographics:

1. Israel’s population is half the size of Metro New York City.
2. Israel has only 2% of the population of the Middle East.
3. Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees per capita in the world.
4. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation in the world – by a large margin.
5. Israel has the highest number of scientists and technicians per capita in the world – by a large margin.
6. Israel has the highest number of engineers per capita in the world.
7. Israel has the highest number of PhD’s per capita in the world.
8. Israel has the highest number of physicians per capita in the world.
9. Israel has the largest percentage of its workforce employed in technical professions in the world.
10. Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation in the world, per capita.
11. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population has grown over the last 50 years.
12. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians, Muslims and Jews are all free to vote.
13. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where women enjoy full political rights.

Economics:

1. Israel has the largest number of startup companies per capita in the world.
2. Israel is the world’s largest wholesale diamond center, most cut & polished diamonds in the world come from Israel.
3. Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies outside of the US and Canada.
4. Israel was the first country to have a free trade agreement with the United States.
5. Apart from the Silicon Valley, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world.
6. The cell phone was developed in Israel at Motorola’s largest development center.
7. Voice Mail technology was developed in Israel.
8. In the early 80’s, IBM chose an Israeli-designed computer chip as the brains for its first personal computers.
9. The first anti-virus software for computers was developed in Israel in 1979.
10. Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed in Israel by Microsoft.
11. Both the Pentium-4 and Centrino processors were entirely designed, developed and produced in Israel.
12. The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel.
13. Israel has the highest number of home computers per capita in the world.
14. The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ was developed in 1996 by 4 young Israelis.
15. Israel was the first Middle Eastern country to launch a satellite, the Ofek 1, on September 19, 1988.

Culture:

1. Hebrew is the only case of a dead national language being revived in all of world history. Hebrew had not been spoken as a native tongue by anyone for centuries. Today it is the native tongue of millions of people.
2. Israel has more museums per capita than any other nation in the world.
3. Israel has more orchestras per capita than any other nation in the world.
4. Israel publishes more books per capita than any other nation in the world.
5. Israel publishes more books translated from other languages than any other nation in the world.
6. Israel reads more books per capita than any other nation in the world.
7. The most independent and free Arabic press in the Middle East is in Israel.

Military/Security:

1. Israel has the largest fleet of F-16 aircraft outside of the US.
2. Israel has the world’s most impenetrable airline security.  Israel spends more money per capita on its own protection than any country in the world.

Other:

1. Israel’s dairy cows are the most productive dairy cows in the world.
2. They average 25,432 pounds of milk per cow per year, compared to just 18,747 pounds from American cows; 17,085 from Canadian cows; 13,778 from European Union cows; 10,207 from Australian cows; and 6,600 from Chinese cows.
3. Israel has more in-vitro fertilization per capita than anywhere in the world, and it’s free.
4. Israelis, per capita, are the world’s biggest consumers of fruits and vegetables.
5. Of the 175 UN Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel. Of the 690 UN General Assembly resolutions voted on after 1990, 429 were directed against Israel.

I still believe the reason for all of this is God’s covenant with Abraham 4,000 years ago which he has kept.

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Step into a Time Machine and imagine what it would be like going back in time on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Steve and Janet Ray 100 years ago!

I have used actual pictures from over a century ago to re-create what it may have been like. I hope you enjoy!

And, I expect you’ll appreciate all the modern amenities that we are so used to on a pilgrimage today ?

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“Rabbi, I can see the coastline!”

by Steve Ray on December 27, 2018

I cannot describe the sensation I feel every time we look out the window and see the coastline of Israel from the window of the plane. Yeah, we are exhausted — 8 hours from Detroit to Amsterdam, 3 hours layover, and 4.5 hours from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv. Some who travel with us come from California, Texas or other states which add even more hours and layovers to their flights.

IMG_6006Yet, even though our eyelids are at half mast and our feet a bit swollen, the excitement of descending over the Mediterranean Sea with the land of Israel appearing below is beyond words. Janet and I have had this experience over 65 times but it never fails to thrill us.

I will never forget the first time our family landed here in 1995 a year after converting to the Catholic Church. It was the rustic old airport (gone now, rest its ugly soul). With my 40 pound backpack on my back I stepped off the plane, descended down the steps to the tarmac and fell to the ground sobbing and kissed the blacktop. I WAS IN THE HOLY LAND LAND — ISRAEL!

I was overwhelmed with emotion after reading the Bible for so many years and loving God and his land finally — I was here! The thrill has not abated after over 150 visits.

Once I struck up an interesting conversation on the plane with a Rabbi named Rabbi Friedman. He and I talked all the way from Amsterdam to Israel. He was suspicious of me at first — me being a gentile and all — but after he learned how much I loved the Jewish people and their Bible he opened up. He talked to me about the Psalms and the Law. He was insightful beyond description. This old Jew with his wagging beard and lively eyes thrilled me.

Toward the end of our trip I looked out the window, saw the shoreline and said, “Rabbi, I can see the coastline; there’s Israel!” He broke into loud sobbing, almost uncontrollably.

IMG_6007I said, “Rabbi, is this the first time you have come here?” Through his tears he said, “No, I have been here many times; but it is the land our Our God!” I will never forget that. I visited him in the US several times after that experience. He taught me many things about God and the land of Israel — and, unknown to him, about who I was as a Catholic.

It is now in the middle of the night — 1:30 PM Israel time — and we can now see the lights forming a crooked line along the sea as we approach the airport. We will soon arrive at the new and very modern Ben Gurion Airport, so much easier and convenient than the old place. I am already excited — I will soon be walking on the very ground where God walked. I will be opening doors of wonder to pilgrims who will be experiencing this land for the first time.

The Patriarchs and Prophets walked here. The Kings and Priests and Warriors of Israel lived here. Mary and Jesus traversed on the ground my own feet will touch. The Apostles and Apostolic Fathers walked here and some died as martyrs here. We will celebrate Mass at their sites.

I will go walking each day in the very places where they lived, prophesied and died. Nothing is like this! I am proud to be Catholic, to love the Jewish people — our elder brothers in the faith — and the Palestinian Christians and religious orders like the Franciscans who have preserved these holy sites through the centuries against much opposition and against all odds. How could I NOT come here to support and encourage them!

Thanks be to God as tears well up in my eyes again — for about the 150th time!

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We Leave for Israel Today – Joining a Record Number of Tourists

December 26, 2018

ANOTHER RECORD FOR ISRAEL AS TOURISTS FILL HOTELS In October, approximately 1.36 million tourist stays were recorded, an increase of 12% compared with last year. Economic Research Department of the Israel Hotel Association published data for October 2018 for tourist stays in hotels compared to the same period in the past two years. (Pictures: Our Ron […]

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Update on the Opening of the Holy Sepulchre but Warning it is Not Over

February 28, 2018

Statement on Municipal threats and the discriminatory “Church Lands Bill” The heads of Churches in charge of the Holy Sepulcher and the Status Quo governing the various Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem, are following with great concern the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of […]

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Holy Sepulchre Church Closed over Taxation Dispute with Israel

February 27, 2018

As many of you already know, last week the major Christian groups within the Holy Sepulchre and the Patriarch of Jerusalem decided to close the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as a protest against the punitive taxes and confiscatory collection process being imposed by Israel through the municipality of Jerusalem. Closing the Church is a great burden […]

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History of Middle East in 90 Seconds

February 11, 2018

Fascinating moving map. Click the image below to see biblical and modern history of the volatile and ever-changing Middle East.

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How Do We Know the Holy Sites are Authentic (Protestant Skeptic)?

February 7, 2018

Since today we are at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, I thought I share an e-mail I received from a man whose Protestant friend just returned from the Holy Land a bit disillusioned and skeptical. Here is the e-mail I received: Hi Steve, Here’s the question in brief (read more if you have time). How […]

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3,000 Years in 90 Seconds

February 3, 2018

Very cool map animation. Watch the history of the Middle East (and beyond) unfold with an interactive map showing the various civilizations that have ruled the region from ancient Egypt to modern times.

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Security in Israel: Safe to Travel with Steve & Janet?

December 26, 2017

UPDATE 12/11/17:  Watching the mainstream media today and making a few observations. 1) The images they keep showing are not current events but are pulled from stock video footage from the past. I doubt that any of the images of rock throwing and tear gas is current video. 2) They are making this violence, which is very small at […]

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Was Jesus Really Born at THAT Place in Bethlehem?

December 18, 2017

In a few days we are leaving for Bethlehem. We will have Mass next week at a lot of holy sites with our group of Catholic families. To the left is a picture of Gethsemane on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. How do we know this is really Gethsemane? In a few days […]

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My EWTN TV Show with Dr. Scott Hahn, Michael Hernon and Dr. Regis Martin

November 30, 2017

Here is the show aired a few weeks ago on EWTN. It was my appearance on the Franciscan University Presents with Dr. Scott Hahn, Michael Hernon and Dr. Regis Martin. It was a fun show about “Abraham: Father of Faith and Works” and the whole story of salvation. Enjoy!

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Muslim Palestinian Explains Why He Serves in Israeli Army

November 29, 2017

I know many other Arabs in Israel that feel the same way. It needs to be known to a wider audience.

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Jews as Proof of God’s Existence & Faithfulness

November 3, 2017

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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U.N. Condemns Israel – then Silenced with Lone Voice of Reason

July 5, 2017
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I’m thinking we are wrong about Assad and Syria…

April 8, 2017

My recent Tweets: I’m thinking we were wrong about Syria, who used the gas and President Assad. Why was attack launched before full investigation? What did Assad have to gain? Why do local Christians support Assad? Too many questions. Bishop of Jerusalem told me USA was wrong and Russia right in regard to Syria. The […]

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