USIC Blog Archive

US Israel Center Blog

  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 17, 2014

    December 17, 2014
    by Christina Littler

    The end of the first day in Israel has come and already the complexities and promise of our surroundings have revealed themselves. A mere twenty minutes into our northbound journey from Tel Aviv, we found ourselves skirting the 67 border between Israel and the West Bank. The division is as striking for its unremarkable appearance as it is for its convoluted history. A simple fence traces much of the line between cities, notably absent of the high concrete walls and open conflict so widely portrayed by the media. Our guide Muki narrated our journey, weaving together history, politics, and culture to explain the ever-changing patchwork of temples and minarets we see. Still, it is clear that some dynamics at work here can only be fathomed with time.

    USICA mere two hours from our starting point (but halfway across the country!) we arrived at Golan Heights, a site of conflict between Israel and Syria. To the east we could easily see Syria’s border towns. UN soldiers stood nearby to monitor action in the region. From this vantage point above the towns, we saw a brief plume of smoke – evidence of the war that still riddles the country.

    USICDespite the extensive fighting that occurred here, Israelis have transformed the region into a wine-producing hub. A visit to Golan Heights Winery provided an up-close look at the local industry. Forty different types of wine are produced in this small area, ranging from a savory pinot noir to a sweet Riesling. We stopped into the bottling warehouse, where a kosher white wine was being corked, labeled, and packed for shipment to destinations around the world. Our visit would not have been complete without trying the wines for ourselves, which we did over a delicious Mediterranean lunch.

    USICFrom there, our journey continued to Nazareth, one of the many holy sites in Israel for Christians. The Church of the Ascension, located in the heart of the city, provided a perfect backdrop to the city’s multi-dimensional character. Visitors are welcomed to the church with Scripture in Hebrew and verses in Arabic, displayed side by side. Inside, the church is a blend of old and new, with contemporary figures from around the globe mixed with the remains of the first church from Byzantine times. Our final stop for the day is at New Generation Technology (NGT), a venture capital firm specializing in Arab-led biotechnology and IT startup companies. The company’s leading executives, including Board of Directors member Gary Jacobs, spoke about their successful business model that incorporates government subsidies with private funding and venture dollars. Most notably, each employee emphasized the importance of Israeli-Arab cooperation in business. USICAs they said, it is not only a step in the right direction for a population that frequently falls below the poverty line, but also a step in the right direction for Israel’s own economy. Cooperation, it seems, is a critical component to continuing the growth of Israel’s technology innovations.

    Over a bounty of food in Nazareth this evening, our group recapped the many events of the day. With minds and stomachs full, we look forward to the upcoming two weeks and cannot wait to see how we can contribute to the success of this remarkable country.

  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 18, 2014

    December 18, 2014
    by Issa Moody

    Our group stayed at Nof Ginosar, a kibbutz hotel by the Sea of Galilee on Wednesday night. Staying at this hotel was a great idea. As you can see, the water was beautiful in the morning...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 19, 2014

    December 19, 2014
    by Pete Moellenberndt

    The third day of the immersion trip started with a visit to the Independence Hall...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 20, 2014

    December 20, 2014
    by Damon Olson

    Today is Saturday and the Rady crew, as well as, the city of Tel Aviv celebrated Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath)...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 21, 2014

    December 21, 2014
    by Anne Shah

    We started our morning like all the others, gathering in the hotel lobby for the Mediterranean buffet breakfast consisting of green salads, fruits, assorted breads and pastries, and the best dish of all...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 22, 2014

    December 22, 2014
    by Brant Walz

    Today was a busy day that included four meetings jam packed between traveling around greater Tel Aviv.
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 23, 2014

    December 23, 2014
    by Will Bigham

    Today was our first full day in Jerusalem, and aside from the change in setting it marked a significant departure in tone...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 24, 2014

    December 24, 2014
    by Leszek Lisowski

    We are in the Holy City of Jerusalem, only 20 min from the birthplace of Christ – Bethlehem. But before the celebrations of Christmas begin...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 27, 2014

    December 27, 2014
    by Ryan Sheidt

    Today is our last full day in Jerusalem. As we head down to the lower lobby for breakfast together we have to make sure to avoid...
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 28, 2014

    December 28, 2014
    by Mark Kondrat

    This morning we left Jerusalem for more adventures in the Negev desert. After almost getting lost enroute due to the Waze app trying to navigate our bus through the West Bank, we made our way to the Nevatim Air Force Base in the middle of the desert.
  • USIC 2014 Immersion Trip - December 29, 2014

    December 29, 2014
    by Eric Yang

    After spending the night at Kfar Hanokdim, a remote Beduin camp located in the desert, the group got off to an early start as they deliriously piled into the bus around 5:30, running off sweet tea and crackers. After a short nap, the group arrived at Masada, 7 minutes before it opened. As we were the first group to arrive, and it was pitch black, we wondered, what was the rush?