Jerusalem: Summer 2020 Starting Ready or Not

Jerusalem: Summer 2020 Starting Ready or Not

Skies over Jerusalem, Israel, were not as bright this morning, with a partial eclipse of the sun. Sadly, my attempt to get a photo failed.

June clouds over Jerusalem Israel skyline

However, the clouds over the Jerusalem streets last week were amazing.

June clouds over Jerusalem Israel streets

Here’s another image of clouds with a view of the center of town.

Summer is a time for a vacation in Israel. After inbound tourism to Israel had reached a historic high of 4.55 million tourists at the end of 2019, the industry expected to break another new record of 5 million tourists in 2020. But as a result of the global tourism crisis, the tourism industry in Jerusalem has been hard hit.

Some smaller venues and the Tower of David Museum have started to open.

Israel Museum in Jerusalem closed because of coronavirus regulations

But the Israel Museum gates are shut. It stands empty at the start of summer. In the past, it would be a time filled with people of all ages from around the world.

Israel Museum no people grounds empty midday in June COVID-19

I always wanted a photo of the Israel Museum’s  ‘Turning the World Upside Down’ by Anish Kapoor without people standing around and in my way. Certainly, I never imagined it would be finally possible with the world turned upside down due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. As people around the world Zoom into funerals, conferences, and weddings, standing outside the Israel Museum all I needed was a simple zoom lens.

Construction on Israel National Library progress even during coronavirus restrictions and closings

However, across the street, the National Library construction was proceeding and visible well above ground. Interesting to compare to what the library site was like five years ago. 

The larger hotels, like the King David, Crown Plaza, and Orient are still closed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Israel’s first international state visitor at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem. In the framework of the G2G meeting between the governments of Israel and Greece, he met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Greek and Israeli flags at Beit Hanasi for official state ceremony

Before COVID-19, Greek officials were received at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence with blue and white flags.

And an honor guard red carpet welcome, with national anthems, and media invited to attend and record.

But, the current smaller-scaled reception resulted in the signing by ministers of three MOUs – on cyber, agriculture, and tourism. Plus, it was announced that it will be possible for Israeli tourists to travel to Greece and possibly return from Greece and Cyprus without a quarantine requirement by August 1, 2020.

Prime Minister of Greece and President of Israel at Beit Hanasi
Photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)

Besides the important agreements, there was an official photo with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece and President Reuven Rivlin at Beit Hanasi.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece:and Israeli President at Beit Hanasi bump elbows
Photo credit: Mark Neyman (GPO)

And the new coronavirus greeting of bumping elbows and not shaking hands.

There was also to be an official visit from Cyprus, but it was postponed as the numbers of coronavirus cases has started to rise again in multiple Israeli locations.

Knesset in 2017 opening session Tzipi Hotovley

It was announced that MK Tzipi Hotovely is leaving the Knesset to replace Mark Regev as Ambassador to the United Kingdom. The usual anti-Israel sources are protesting the appointment. Remembering when Brazil would not accept Dani Dayan?   The best thing that happened to Dayan was when he went to New York as Israel’s General Counsel and has done an outstanding job.

View of Gaza from Israel where IDF monitors border

Back in November 2018, we were on a media tour near the Israeli border to see the IDF view of Gaza.

Israel Gaza border Tehilla Friedman on tour

There was Tehila Friedman in her signature red hat having a private guided tour. With the new Knesset arrangements, Tehila is one of the newest Knesset members. As Knesset members, the two female politicians are from different parties with very different political views, but both are concerned with the welfare of Israel.

New Jerusalem Israel summer tourist hamburger food trucks

The red food truck came back, with labeling for burgers, both meat and vegan burgers.

I love the name of Beyond Burgers in Hebrew – ביונד מיט-הדור הבה

In time for today’s International Yoga Day, Abraham Hostel announced rooftop Yoga.

What a contrast to two years ago and the big events for the first day of summer.

Man praying in Valley of Cross park area

Now a man praying alone in nature is more likely scene than group yoga.

Wildflower in Jerusalem Israel park area

The summer flowers around are blooming.

The sights and smells of summer abound.

Wild flower in Jerusalem Israel

Even this bead tree or Indian lilac flowers were pretty, though it’s toxic and intrusive.

The pleasant senses of nature will have to suffice.

This summer of 2020 the large annual festivals are not happening.

Protests from the cultural community, one of the daily protests near the Prime Minister’s Office and Knesset, could be heard from kilometres away.

I will leave you with one of the favorite sights and sounds from the Jerusalem Light Festival of 2018.

Here’s to hoping next year – or better – this year to see you on the Jerusalem streets.

Jerusalem Building Up and Out of Sight

Jerusalem Building Up and Out of Sight

I am a Stephen Harper fan.

When he was the Prime Minister of Canada, I admired his strong support for Israel.

Jerusalem, Israel visit by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife

In 2014, when he paid an official visit to Jerusalem, Israel, with his wife Laureen,

Cat under Israeli and Canadian flags for Prime Minister Stephen Harper visit

I arrived so early that only a cat was wandering around with me.

Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu at official reception ceremony for Stephen Harper of Canada

I don’t remember what Harper’s remark was that got the Israeli Prime Minister laughing.

But thanks to Stephen Harper’s inspiring pro-Israel speech at the Shurat Hadin conference, I now have a great quote to share along with these photos I have been saving.

Near the conclusion of his speech which came out strongly against BDS, Harper said of Israel, “Built from nothing to be one of the most successful countries on earth.”

While not many people are attending all the multiple conferences and various leadership meetings this week, it is hard to avoid the building going on in Jerusalem, Israel.

Building site in Jerusalem Israel

Construction sites around Jerusalem are similar to this one. First, earth-moving equipment digs down, down into the ground.

Jerusalem man on crane

Look up and you will see a crane.

Building crane in Jerusalem Israel

Cranes tower high above Jerusalem buildings.

New building for Jerusalem hospital under construction

This huge hole in the ground is to be the new Shaare Zedek Hospital building.

Photo of planned hospital at Shaare Zedek

An underground radiotherapy specialty unit is to rise on this site.

Jerusalem Israel National Library construction

These cranes, a lovely sight at night, are busy all day and late into the night, working on the National Library.

Jerusalem Israel construction new National Library

Earth moving equipment is now shoveling the huge pile of stones. The Knesset across the road is seen clearly in this image.

Sign with Jerusalem National Library on construction fence

A photo of the new library is on the construction fence.

Jerusalem Israel construction site of new national library

It is finally up to ground level and looks like this.

Old hotel in Jerusalem valuable property derelict

While there are still some of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the world in disrepair,

Shneller new buildings on property day man fell

other locations have buildings going up to new proportions. This housing complex is being built on the old Shneller grounds in Geula.

On the day this was taken a worker fell and was transported to hospital by ambulance. Building safety is a serious issue.

Construction site in Jerusalem Israel

The old Moment Cafe was hit by a suicide bomber in 2002 and the memorial is visible in this construction fence. In its last restaurant life, it was the site of Cafe de Paris.

Truck in building site former Moment Cafe

Now construction has begun on luxury apartment units.

Old Moment Cafe, Cafe de Paris new building as seen from street promotion

In one peephole was the image of the future building.

Old photo of Ben Maimon Street Jerusalem Israel

This is an image of how that corner looked in the past, an empty lot in old Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Israel First Station - Takana Rishona

And the old Jerusalem train station has been fixed up as a tourist attraction.

Jerusalem Takana Rishona

It is now called, Takhana Rishona, or First Station, note this piece of land and the tree.

Image cable car from First Station to Old City

The Jerusalem cable car line is to be located at First Station.

Jerusalem cable car

This cable car line is proposed to take thousands of visitors to the Old City.

No more sitting on buses in traffic? We will see if and when.

Talpiot Jerusalem Israel location to ear outside

In the shopping area of Talpiot, these red shelters were built for passers-by to have a bite to eat,

Jerusalem Israel Talpiot red structure

or perhaps to hang out while someone else shops.

Jerusalem Israel graffiti in Talpiot

Graffiti has been added in multiple locations to brighten up Talpiot.

Jerusalem Israel Getaway building project

But with all the building around Jerusalem, it is the Jerusalem Gateway project which is designed to bring the biggest change.

Jerusalem new entrance to city sign

Roads are closed and traffic has been redirected at the entrance to Jerusalem.

Construction in Jerusalem Israel

Construction is ongoing and the area looks different every time I see it.

new Jerusalem court building

The municipality published images of the new court buildings to be built along Jaffa Road.

Jerusalem new court building

With the housing and new business district to be built at the entrance to Jerusalem, the skyline of Jerusalem in the future will look very different than in the past.

Colorful umbrellas over Kikar HaMusica

At least the colorful umbrellas are again a familiar sight over Kikar HaMusica, Music Square.

Jerusalem lit on String Bridge at night

The Jerusalem Chord Bridge glows with lights at night.

Hi rise building in Jerusalem

Lights or flags, Jerusalem is going up and up and out of sight.

I heart Jerusalem sign

Even the Old City walls have a new-age ‘I Love Jerusalem’ sign.

As he ended his speech Stephen Harper said he admired the building and what had been accomplished in Israel in seven decades.

It is a wonder with all the outside and inside forces working against Israel, that so much has been built.

So much is happening on these Jerusalem streets.

Look down. Look up.

Building for the future while preserving the past.

Jerusalem: Summit, Hackathon, and CleanTech

In Jerusalem, Israel, this week,

the sky was blue

path in Valley of Cross in spring Jerusalem Israel park

and the open spaces were green after winter rains.

My walk through the Valley of the Cross to

the Israel Museum is a favorite,

but I kept stopping to take photos.

 I was on my way to the Israel Museum

for the Forbes Under-30 summit.

Love Ahava sculpture in Rose Garden Israel Museum

600 young “game changers” attended, 

200 from US, 200 from Europe and 200 from Israel.

Forbes 30 under 30 at Israel Museum Jerusalem, Israel conference

This is an annual event to swap ideas, collaborate,

create partnerships and to learn.

Monica Lewinsky moderating panel at Forbes 30 under 30

One session was led by Monica Lewinsky,

who is currently working to prevent cyber bullying.

It was hot outside in the sunny garden,

Israel Museum Billy Rose Garden Jerusalem, Israel

but Regis, a delegate from France, posed for me anyway.

I sure hope he met Konstantinos from Greece,

who also has an internet site to help young volunteers.

Also, this week,

the Israel National Library

has its cornerstone laying ceremony.

Book cover used as centerpiece at Israel National Library event

It was a well-planned and fancy affair,

down to the book-themed centerpieces, buffet tables and coffee.

This was not the “real” streets

as the streets were blocked and traffic was stopped

for the Israeli government officials and royalty to attend.

Most of the 350 library staff members were not invited.

Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with David Gottesman as Lord Rothschild watches

In the center, is Lord Rothschild, or

Nathaniel Charles Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild, BtOMGBEFBA,

as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached to shake hands

with another major donor to the library, Mr. David S. Gottesman.

Israel National Library was started on Mt Scopus but had to move in 1948, new one to be built in Jerusalem

The original library was built on Mt Scopus in 1930,

but had to be abandoned in 1948,

and the collection was scattered around Jerusalem in various locations

before being consolidated in present Givat Ram location.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at Israel National Library cornerstone ceremony

The Prime Minister was one of the speakers.

The new complex is between the Knesset Building

and the other leading museums.

Museum heads were present,

as were other prominent community leaders.

Heads of Israeli Museums at National Library corner stone event

Let’s see who remembers our friend on the right?

But there was so much more happening

in Jerusalem, Israel, this week!

Hansen House Wikimedia Hackathon Jerusalem Israel

Hansen House hosted Wikimedia Hackathon Jerusalem.

Hundreds of “techies,” computer programmer volunteers,

Hansen House courtyard Wikimedia Hackathon Jerusalem Israel

gathered to work on data, photos, and media

that goes with and supports Wikipedia.

Wikimedia Hackathon Jerusalem at Hansen House

In the old renovated leper hospital,

ultra-modern technology was being developed.

The Wikipedia-Wikimedia community wants to make

Wikimedia Hackathon Jerusalem at Hansen House

 all knowledge free and accessible to the world.

Hansen House grounds for Wikimedia Hackathon Jerusalem Israel

The Hansen House gardens were green,

and noticeably improved from their sad state a few years ago.

I love seeing the new coming from the old in Jerusalem.

But there was yet another first time in Jerusalem, Israel,

conference this week.

CleanTech2016 was held at the Ramada Hotel.

Co-sponsored by my friends at JBNF,

the Jerusalem Business Networking Forum,

this 20th international conference dealt with

energy technologies, waste systems and sustainability.

It was fascinating to speak with a woman from China,

Sino-signapore Chinese at CleanTech conference in Jerusalem, Israel

who was here representing a Sino-Singapore project.

They are planning a new development complex outside

 China’s biggest city and are looking for investors and technology.

She knew English and seemed well-educated.

However when I told her about Wikipedia,

she said she had never heard of it.

Thousands of people came together in Jerusalem.

Many were first time visitors at these first-ever events,

call it a summit, hackathon or conference,

Clean Tech conference Jerusalem, Israel china booth Sino-Singapore

it was a meeting of minds, all working for a better enlightened future.

What an amazing week in Jerusalem!

From London, China, Greece, Germany, US, France, and more,

 people were able to see what was really happening.

All these great things and the good things

that the mainstream media ignores.

No blood. No story. Does not sell.

So please enjoy the good stuff and share.

More Under 30 photos HERE.