Up to 70 sailboats, surfboards and powerboats with Israeli private individuals met Elida outside Netanya to go with her during the last sail to the port of Herzliya, just outside of Tel Aviv.
The day of glory was Elida's railing adorned with a large numbers of Israeli flags, and both the Swedish and Israeli flags waved in the wind as the boat slipped along the coast of Israel. On deck, a pianist and violinist played songs such as Israel's National Anthem Hatikvah, "Hevenu Shalom Alechem" and the Israeli winning song from the Eurovision Song Contest 1979 – Hallelujah.
The surrounding boats apparently would not be worse, but contradicted to let Jussi Björling's version of "You Old You Free" and Abbas's winning song from the Eurovision Song Contest 1
Well in place in Herzliya, a large press booth, an official reception committee and hundreds of private individuals waited. In the flagpoles, both Swedish and Israeli flags waved. And on a big sign opposite Elida's quayside there was a message in Swedish: "Welcome."
In the quayside, the world today met the preacher KG Larsson, who, along with his wife, Gun Eva, brings 46 people on a Bible and holiday week in Israel. For the group, Elida's arrival has been a "snack" all week, he says.
– The whole group has looked forward to this. I think this means very much here in Israel, because the image of Sweden in Israel is otherwise very negative. This could hopefully help change the image.
After the Elida's (19459005) crew, Israelis and some other Swedes had danced to the tones of Israeli folk music, the official part of the reception took place. Captain Stefan Abrahamsson spoke and told about the purpose of the sailing. As the world has said earlier, the sailing is about to alert the world to the situation of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, as well as highlighting the only democracy in Israel – Israel – and helping to shine up the frosty relations between Sweden and Israel.
One of the speakers At Thursday's reception, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry was from 2011, Dan Shechtman. He said in his speech that he traveled a lot through Sweden – "from Kiruna to Lund", as he says – in his work together with Swedish Vinnova. Shechtman stressed that Sweden and Israel have much in common.
– Both Sweden and Israel are small countries. You have had peace for 200 years, and we hope to have peace for 200 years, he says a little playful.
One who has been happy about Elida's arrival is the former ambassador to Sweden – Isaac Bachman. Together with his wife, Osnat, he was in place to meet the Swedish boat. In his speech, he conveyed both gratitude and encouragement.
– Thank you for coming here as pioneers. This is something new and we are so grateful that you are here. I want to encourage you to go back to Sweden and be loud. We need your voice for Israel in Sweden, said Isaac Bachman.
After dance and speech, mingles, snacks and drinks were waiting. When the world today met Stefan Abrahamsson after the reception ceremony he was noticeably taken of all the love he met. He said, among other things, that he was talking to some of the boatmen who sailed to meet Elida.
– Everything they have heard about Sweden in recent years is negative. When they heard that there would be Swedes who like them, it was obvious that they went out and met us. It was a huge response, almost impossible to maneuver the boat, Elidas captain explained.
On the quay he had mingled with Swedes and Israelis, Nobel Prize winners and ambassadors. But a meeting with an Iranian girl seems to have made a particularly strong impression.
– She really cares with her whole face when she realized we came here too for their sake.
The most common question Stefan Abrahamsson has received from Israeli journalists is about the Swedes' view of Israel. In live broadcasts, he received the question of why Sweden is so bad about Israel.
– I was told that we are many Swedes who love Israel, but I also apologized for the bad treatment Israel has received from our government and explain that by our presence we want to tell you how much we like the people who live here.
What did you receive for response when you said this?
– The reporter's spontaneous response was a "Wow! "So I think the message reached.
The continued program during Elida's stay in Israel is spotted. Dinner invitation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, official visit to the Knesset, concert for Israeli soldiers and meetings with different minorities in Haifa are some of the elements.
Stefan Abrahamsson is pleased with all events and the great media attention. But what he's most looking forward to is something else.
– If we go down here and show ordinary people that we love them – by offering a cup of coffee and a Swedish bully – we have succeeded. That it has since become much attention in both newspapers and television, that's just a bonus, says the Swedish shipwoman with a big smile.