Elida to Israel

The Swedish sailing vessel Elida arrived in Israel early October with 47 passengers on board – politicians, journalists, friends of Israel and volunteers in addition to the regular crew and music team.The goal was to express support for the area’s only democracy, Israel, and for the persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

The sailing ship Elida arrived in Haifa at the beginning of October after sailing 4,500 nautical miles from Sweden, about a quarter of the way around the globe. Photo: Ruben Agnarsson

On a daily basis, Elida stages quayside meetings around Sweden’s coasts and on the Scandinavian tourist routes in Spain and the Canary Isles. Her voyage to Israel, under the name ‘Pilgrim 2023’, took place the first time on Israel’s 70th anniversary in 2018, partly as a reaction to the Swedish-inspired project ‘Ship to Gaza’ which gathered a number of anti-Israel organizations before its sailings into the area.

At nine o’clock Monday morning, October 2nd, Elida arrived at Haifa after being guided into port by local pilot boats and with border police. In the harbour entrance, captain Stefan Abrahamsson played the Israeli national anthem Hatikva on the cornet before checking in the boat and its passengers. 4,500 nautical miles had been covered, approximately a quarter of the way around the earth, since Elida left port on Sweden’s west coast on August 19.

The day before arriving in Israel, Elida left Limassol in Cyprus for the last 15 hour stretch of its journey across the Mediterranean, in fresh winds and mildly rolling seas.

Haifa resident

Israeli Gabriel Confini from Haifa has sailed with Elida for several seasons.

– Up there’s my house, he says, pointing to Mount Carmel, which has welcomed multitudes of boat travelers throughout history as they arrived in Israel via the port of Haifa.

Philip Holmberg, one of the leaders of Ebenezer Operation Exodus, has been on board for the entire trip.

– It’s very exciting to come to Israel again, he says, and for the first time by boat; seeing Mount Carmel from the sea is absolutely fantastic.

– We’re now approaching Haifa and motoring the last stretch because the wind has eased. We have a meeting point with the pilot and the military boat will arrive shortly, said Stefan Abrahamsson before the arrival in Haifa.

During Elida’s visit to Israel, there were political meetings, celebratory visits to the ship and musical events where the music team performed in ports and centers with a repertoire that has been updated with classic Swedish songs.

Jerusalem – the capital

Member of Parliament, Magnus Jakobsson, from the Christian Democrats sailed with Elida to Israel. He was the first Christian Democrat to motion parliament to move Sweden’s embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.

Today this is the official policy of the Christian Democrats, among the ruling parties in Sweden’s government.

At the beginning of September, ten Swedish MPs from the Christian Democrats visited Israel, where, among other things, they met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.