Thursday, December 27, 2007

This is the Reality of Haifa

This weekend sees the end of the month long “Holiday of Holidays” festival here in Haifa, In such a multicultural city as Haifa all events and festivals in all religions are celebrated.

The “Holiday of Holidays” festival marks the co-existence of Hannukah, Christmas and the Festival of Sacrifice, Eid al-Adha.

The central feature of the festival held in the neighbourhood of Wadi Nisnas is a handicrafts exhibition dedicated to the works of the women of all cultures

In addition there street parades, stage shows, exhibitions, an antiques fair and an arts fair; in fact smething for everyone.

A formal cultural evening for Eid al Adha and Christmas was also held In the presence of Mr. Raleb Majadlla – the Minister of Sports Culture and Science with and performers, dance groups and music.

Although Wadi Nisnas is one of the main multicultural neighbourhoods in the city, Kababir is a neighbourhood well integrated within the city of Haifa, close to the Mercaz ha Carmel (the Carmel Center), which is inhabited by Muslim residents of the city who belong to the Ahmadiya sect. The Mahmoud Mosque is situated in the center of the neighbourhood.

This is the reality of Haifa

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Education Israeli Style and Palestinian

With Kassams and mortars falling every day, it is reported 1 every 3 hours on average, the education of children in a kindergarten takes a different form.

The video below is self explanatory

Meanwhile Sheik Palazzi has a lot to say about the Arab system of education Commenting on pressure from the United States on Saudi Arabia since Sept. 11 to reform its educational system, Sultan Al Saud, the Saudi Crown Prince told the Saudi TV on 16 Sept. 2005, “America and the rest of the infidel world should go to hell. We are not going to change our education system which is based on the best religion of the world. We are proud of being Muslims and having an Islamic education system.”

However, on the same web site Sami Alrabaa says "Unless the Arab states drastically change their education systems, they will stay backward, weak, and a breeding machine of parrots and fanatics."

I say to this "you couldn't be more right"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Do the Palestininas want Peace?

Ray Hanania is a Palestinian columnist and author. has completed his latest trip to visit Palestinians. He reports that he has begun to understand that an obstacle exists which many Palestinians are afraid to acknowledge.

He goes on to report “Maybe because I was raised in America, or because I am a realist, I see this obstacle clearly: Palestinians are too focused on the past. Progress is impossible because Palestinians have chained themselves to what they call "normalization" - in reality a commitment against genuine normalization.

"Normalization" is the act of refusing to accept reality. Palestinian activists use "normalization" to keep Palestinians in line like sheep. Extremists pull the strings of suffering and frustration, throwing down the "normalization" card whenever a Palestinian tries to break free of mental bondage and address the reality of the Israeli occupation.

By working with Israelis, Palestinians argue, they might somehow undermine their rights or the struggle against the occupation. Maybe Palestinians haven't looked around, but they are dealing with Israelis in every circumstance, location and on every level humanly possible.”

For sure Israelis and Palestinians are working together in many ways and in many fields but one is not allowed to publicize these events. The consequences of actually publicizing such cooperation can be dangerous for the participants. Let’s take the example of the organization One Voice.

One Voice tried to organize a dual event in Tel Aviv and Ramallah that allow Palestinians and Israelis to work together for peace. Music. Speeches. And genuine normalization. Of course, the extremists spoke out against One Voice, and so did PA President Mahmoud Abbas. He reportedly spread the word that he did not support One Voice, and the plans for the music festivals were cancelled.

Hanania goes on to report “As most know, Abbas's son Tariq is the head of a Palestinian marketing firm called Sky. Tariq Abbas recently declared in a news interview that he didn't believe it was possible to work with Israelis in the current situation. But what really shocks me is that Abbas's son is involved in professional marketing. Why?

As a journalist and former executive for an American PR and marketing firm, I recognize that the Palestinians have no formal PR or marketing strategy whatsoever. The dismal nature of this Palestinian failing in the communications arena is apparent throughout.

During my latest trip through Palestine I worked closely with many Palestinian journalists, trying to help them find ways to navigate through this real tragedy of Palestinian immobilization.
All said they wanted to attend a journalism conference in which editors and reporters of several prominent Israeli newspapers were also scheduled to speak. But they said they were pressured to stay away. "Normalization," they said, means Palestinians are not yet ready to deal with Israelis as regular people. Only as enemies.

To my Palestinian compatriots I say: Why not just be honest and tell the truth. You don't want peace. You want revenge”.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Donor's conference for Palestinian aid

This week sees the gathering of the international community to garner support for a $5.6 bill package of aid for the Palestinians. I really wonder if anyone on Wall Street would consider investing in a company with such a proven track record of failure?

Although Tzippi Livni, the Israeli Foreign Minister said “We certainly support the strengthening of the PA and the appropriate international mobilization in order to bring about an improvement of the Palestinian residents' daily lives, especially by upgrading their own economic infrastructure that will not be dependent on the State of Israel once the appropriate administrative institutions are established.”, I wonder how much of the petro dollars will be “gifted" to the Palestinians. Further even if an Arab country pledges a contribution, according to past history, there is no guarantee the money will actually be paid.

It is interesting to note from the graph that as donations to the Palestinians increase, so the GDP goes down. Now one has to ask the question, yet again, just where is all the money going if not to create jobs, infrastructure, institutions etc? And what did happen to those greenhouse industries inherited from Israel after withdrawing from Gaza. What happened to those industrial zones that were to be created to provide employment opportunities?

The chart below perhaps gives some of the answer. Just imagine, reader, wherever you live in which ever country, just imagine a missile landing in your neighbourhood every 3 hours over the period of the last two years. Imagine just how you would react?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sderot - and still the missiles fall!!

Missiles are falling in Sderot and the Western Negev without end. Over 700 Kassams and 1500 mortars this year alone. And the Palestinians have the chutzpah (cheek)to say that if Israel responds, they cannot continue with the "peace" process.

Does the world really know what life is like in Sderot. I hope this film gives a better idea.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Relaxing and away from it all

I was whisked away by the family to celebrate an important birthday milestone of mine over the weekend. We booked into a Moshav guest house, Hofetz Haim. The accommodation was rather like a wooden Swiss style chalet with an en suite bedroom for ourselves, including jaccuzzi. In addition to another bedroom suitable for sleeping 4 children, there was a gallery ostensibly for a children’s “overflow” sleeping area.

This gallery became quite an attraction and we found ourselves “hosting” 6 granddaughters after they had moved mattresses from the bedroom and up to the gallery.

The moshav is in the south of the country and because it is situated in an enclosed area, children are free to run around without getting lost, thus relieving the parents of quite a lot of responsibility.

The food was plentiful, the company of all the children, grandchildren and in laws was great and the computerized presentation of my life, prepared by the children was quite a surprise.

Such a weekend is available at so many kibbutzim and moshavim and it makes a great place to take the family at reasonable cost. With small children, a hotel can be a daunting affair since they cannot run around without disturbing other guests. The atmosphere in country style accommodation is quite unique. There are the views, the close proximity to the residents of the kibbutz or moshav and also the opportunity to see how they finance their community other than through tourism, often by maintaining dairy cattle or light industry or agriculture.

It isn’t always necessary to fly off to distant parts for a period of relaxing. There are some great places close to home.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Where are the Christian Communities?

I have to say that I find it incredible that more protests are not voiced concerning the ever decreasing population of the Christian community in the Palestinian controlled areas. This week an Israeli human rights lawyer states explicitly that Muslim persecution is the main reason for Christians leaving their homes.

Bethlehem, the cradle of Christianity, a town of 30,000 had a majority of Christians is now barely 20%. The overall picture shows a reduction from 15% overall some 25 years ago to barely 1.5% today. And this story is also repeated over the border in Lebanon. The country which had a significant Christian population is inexorably being taken over by the Muslims.

And with so much apathy prevading the world at large, it is just going to happen unless the Rip van Winkles of this world wake up.

Similarly, the Durban conference of 2001 at which Zionism was equated with Racism, (later rescunded after a major campaign) is to be repeated in 2009 and is likely to be hijacked yet again, as was the first conference by the anti Israel brigade. The motto of BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) will be paramount at this conference chaired by the most honorable members from Libya and backed up as vice chairman by Iran!! What a world we are living in.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Post Annapolis - can we expect something?

According to Tzippi Livni, “last week was a good week for Israel, and we succeeded in meeting the goals we set for ourselves regarding the peace process”, she said at a cabinet meeting.

According to all the polls carried out post Annapolis here in Israel, around 50% of the population thinks otherwise. This represents the gut reaction of the man in the street who has had negative feelings about the whole process from the beginning.

Nevertheless, Livni claims:-

a) the text of the Joint Understanding contains several key issues regarding the peace process and several points which were not included in the document, are no less important than those that were included.

b) The implementation of the Roadmap is paramount and our implementation of the agreements will be conditional on an examination of actual implementation on the ground of the first phase of the Roadmap.

c) Israel's hands will not be tied: There will be no agreement on core issues at this early stage, no inclusion of issues problematic for Israel within the framework of the negotiations - such as the Arab League initiative which includes some issues that are awkward for us - and Israel will not be bound to a time table.

d) True negotiations are in Israel’s interest but there was no commitment to a time table that will bring direct international pressures to bear on Israel.

e) There will be no international involvement throughout the process, the entire dialogue must be bilateral.
f) Another important subject was the participation of the Arab countries, as part of the emerging struggle between moderates and extremists. The participation of the Arab countries at the foreign minister level, as well as their moderate demeanor, is not to be taken lightly.

g) Annapolis was also a success in that it was made clear to everyone that negotiations do not limit Israel's freedom to act on security issues. From Israel's point of view, the Roadmap is the minimum basic demand. Security arrangements will also be part of the ongoing talks and serve as the basis for our positions.

One can only hope that these principles are adhered to, past history doesn’t give too much hope but maybe, just maybe there is a chink of light, who knows?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Annapolis - still here? - Is one permitted to yawn?

“The King is in his altogether, his altogether and altogether as naked as the day when he was born,” sings Danny Kaye. The parley at Annapolis needs someone to say it as it really is.
The Arab States, having been cajoled into attending the conference are quite happy to continue with their 3 “no’s” of yesteryear and no-one is prepared to say anything. They must be laughing from kafiyah to kafiyah. The Israeli press cannot meet representarives of the Arab States, Zippi Livni is being snubbed by the same Arab States and claiming she is a “pariah”.

And why should they? Israel is quite prepared to go on giving and conceding and unless I have missed something, I haven’t read of anything Abbas is conceding. And why should he? He is not in a position to implement anything otherwise his life is in danger.

Another anology appeared in the Jerusalem Post in an Op-Ed this week by Michael Freund Why try to be inventive when, in these few words, he captures the view of 68% of Israelis according to recent opinion polls. He writes, watching the carnival unfold at Annapolis this week, I am inspired to reach for Lewis Carroll's classic Alice in Wonderland, where the main character falls down a rabbit-hole into a world far removed from our own, one where the rules of logic and common sense simply do not apply.

And how about the Mad Tea Party, where the March Hare, the Hatter and the Dormouse crowd together at the table and proceed to lambast and insult Alice to her face? With that image in mind, consider how Israel has been greeted by various Arab participants at the Annapolis gathering.
Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal declared that he would not even shake Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's hand, and on Monday, the Saudi embassy in Washington expelled Israeli journalists from its premises for seeking to attend a press conference.

The outcome of this process, like the trial presided over by the King and Queen of Hearts at the book's end, is a foregone conclusion. In the story, at the very opening of the hearings, before even a word of evidence has been presented, the King turns to the jury and declares, "Consider your verdict."

And that, quite sadly, is what Annapolis and the process it is meant to spawn, is all about. For everyone, it seems, including many members of our own government, views Israel as the party which must submit to the other side's demands, regardless of whether truth, justice and morality would dictate otherwise.

However, Alice's nightmare finally comes to an end when she can stand it no longer. Turning to the Queen and her assembled guests, the newly-assertive young girl realizes the folly of the proceedings around her, before telling them, "Who cares for you? You're nothing but a pack of cards!"

It was, after all, just a bad dream, one which fizzled away as soon as Alice came to her senses and stood up to her would-be aggressors. May Israel and its leaders finally do the same, and realize that fantasy worlds such as Peaceland exist only in their imagination.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Reservoir inaugurated in Acco

The Water Authority in Israel announced today that last winter 2006-7 only 80% of the average annual rainfall actually fell. In the event that the forthcoming winter will be dry there will have to be cuts in water allowance for agriculture

The level of the Kinneret, as of November 14: was -212.62 metres below sea level and the red alert level: -213.00. Meanwhile, this winter, the rains have not yet arrived and indeed, next week we are expecting hot dry sharab winds

On the positive side, a new reservoir has been commissioned, which will store the effluents of the city of Acco and local villages. The new reservoir covering 415 dunam, has a three million cubic meter storage capacity. As a result, Acco sewage will no longer be dumped into the ocean, and local farmers will use the recycled water for irrigation. The Shomrat Reservoir joins 197 other reservoirs that were built by KKL-JNF throughout Israel and is the sixteenth reservoir in Western Galilee. These reservoirs add about 200 million cubic meters of water to Israel’s water system.

This reservoir solves a serious environmental problem. Until now, the sewage of Acco and local villages flowed untreated into streams and the ocean. This situation was untenable and constituted a serious environmental hazard, which endangered the health of local residents.

Local farmers are also very happy about the new reservoir. While irrigation with freshwater can cost up to NIS 1.87 per cubic meter, irrigation with recycled effluents costs no more than NIS1.00 per cubic meter, which means savings of hundreds of thousands of shekels annually, depending on the size of the irrigated fields.

An official commented: "Over 50% of water used for agriculture is recycled water, which is the highest percentage in the world. Agriculture, as the main customer of recycled water, serves the environment, and lessens the pollution of streams and water sources. Using recycled effluents instead of fresh water is part of our water policy.”

Thursday, November 22, 2007

And the Heavens Opened

This week the heavens opened finally. The picture shows a sight not often seen in Israel, taken in Zichron Yaacov. After a great two weeks of summer style weather for our visitor from the USA, Monday saw a rapid change. The extensive rains will hopefully bring some much needed water to the Lake Kinneret. The Kinneret which provides water to Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan under the terms of the peace treaty started the winter 3.75 meters below its maximum.

In a good year the winter rains can bring a further 2 meters of water to the lake so unless we have an exceptional winter, we are going to see the lake move into the next summer still well below its maximum.

The heavens also opened for the Annapolis conference. America has once again backed down from its stated position that the conference will deal with the Israel Palestinian issue only. Now it is crawling to Syria and offering them the chance to raise the Golan issue at the conference. What hypocracy.

The enemies of the West build on the certainty that with enough resolution they can get what they want without giving up on anything. Syria is just the latest example.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More on Annapolis

It concerns me that we seem to becoming immune to the daily (yes daily reports) such as the one below received from the army spokesman’s office.

“Overnight, 3 Palestinian gunmen attempted to infiltrate into Israel through the security fence between Israel and the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

An observation force identified the three gunmen as they were attempting to cross the fence into Israel in the area of the Israeli community of Nativ Ha'asara. The gunmen exchanged fire with an IDF post near the security fence.

A Golani brigade force responded by firing at the gunmen and identified hitting two of them. There were no injuries to IDF soldiers.

Yesterday, approximately 25 Kassam rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. Over 135 were fired since the beginning of November.”

Yet here we are off to Annapolis in a matter of days (even though the invitations have still not been issued) and we don’t even know who is going to attend.

In today’s paper, only one commentator was expressing optimism, all others pessimism as to the outcome. Meanwhile the army is on high alert and expecting attacks as Annapolis approaches. The army reports at “least 10 high level alerts”.

Further, at a time when so many are pessimistic as to the outcome, in the Western Negev, the reactions to Annapolis are apparent day by day. Since the beginning of the month, official sources say that 110 Kassam rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza into the Western Negev.

Almost 200,000 Israeli citizens -- including Ashkelon, Sderot and over 20 kibbutzim and Moshavim, now live under the daily bombardment of kasssam missiles fired from Gaza, while Egypt has facilitated the flow of hundreds of thousands of weapons, Ammunition since Israel's disengagement in August 2005, whole allowing Hamas to build a well trained organized army which numbers 13,000 fighters, many having had special training in Iran.

This is the surreal situation we are in.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mohammed Al Dura tapes from France 2

Finally France 2 has produced some 18 mins of the tapes of the Mohammed Al Dura incident out of the 27 mins they pocess.

See the reactions of some of those present at the hearing in the video clip below
I don't think any further comment is nessary

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Are We Facing Another War?

Yuval Steinitz, former Chair and Current Member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee gave an interesting talk here in Haifa this week in which he stated that much of the over optimism and, to some degree, arrogance in the Israel Defense Forces has now been eliminated after the consequences of the second Lebanon war last year.

He was also advocating a much stronger role for non army personnel in security decisions; he himself came from the department of Philosophy at Haifa University.

In his view, future warfare is more likely to be carried out by lazer technology and much effort and money is being invested in this field. He pointed out that almost 90% of the cost of an attack aircraft is the defense systems installed to protect the aircraft, whilst only 10% of the cost is designated for the attack role of the aircraft. He believes much more needs to be invested in defense systems for the military infrastructure.

Steinitz was a member of Peace Now in the past, an organization dedicated to the land for peace solution to the conflict but he stated that after the experience in Lebanon and Gaza, it is now not a case of land for peace but a case of land for war and continued incitement.

With the Annapolis conference in everyone’s sights now, he felt that, the attempts to strengthen Abbas were, in his opinion, doomed to failure. The reason for this, he felt was that Abbas was not in a position to give anything in return, since, on the one hand, by not giving anything in return, he could maintain his position vis a vis the Palestinian population at large. On the other hand, by giving something in return, he would be considered weak. This is the trap facing Israel.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Where are the future water supplies coming from?

The International Water Technologies and Environmental Control exhibition - WATEC 2007 - was full of innovative ideas for the desert regions of the Middle East held in Tel Aviv recently, aiming to find solutions for the world's desperate need for new sources of fresh water.

The exhibition, which featured over 2,000 visitors from 80 countries worldwide, dealt extensively with Israeli-developed water technology in fields as diverse as desalination, waste recycling for agricultural purposes, security from pollution and water terrorism, and the joint Israeli-Jordanian Red Sea-Dead Sea Conduit (RSDSC) project.

With the Israeli water management expertise leading the way, hundreds of overseas visitors came to survey the latest developments on display. Visitors from the governments of China, Italy, France, Austria and Germany were on hand to discuss partnerships with Israel aimed at alleviating the planet's water resource problems.

Abounding with lasers, filters, pipes and other gadgets, the exhibition room was a revelation into the multi faceted dynamics of water technology. In one of the largest displays, representatives from Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research mingled with exhibition-goers to talk about the 11 bilateral cooperation projects currently operating between Israel and Germany.

The SMART Project – a cooperative venture between research institutions, private sector companies and government organizations in Germany, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan – aims to boost the availability of groundwater in the Lower Jordan Rift Valley.

Amongst other devices shown were:-

- a device for purifying wastewater, rendering it fit for agricultural irrigation by using bacteriological treatment. Israel currently recycles 75% of its wastewater.

- a company offering to provide water security against accidental as well as intentional chemical and biological pollution, also known as water terrorism.

- and one of 20 Israeli startups who exhibited, introduced its personal purification device- a compact 100-gram water filter that fits onto the top of most standard narrow-neck bottles, and allows its user to drink from almost any groundwater source.

Looks like after the success of the high tech industry, followed by the biomedic field, water is going to be the next “Silicon Valley” industry

Friday, November 9, 2007

Annapolis here we come??!!

So, it seems the Annapolis conference is on its way. A date of November 25th is being suggested. As one who has been involved in negotiations with the Trade Unions of the UK in their heyday before moving here, it seems to me that the “shopping list” of demands is somehow rather distorted.

On November 5th, Mahmoud Abbas spoke in Ramallah, in Arabic of course, and made clear his commitments and demands. Now, I have no experience of international negotiations but having looked at the translation, I feel that no further comment is necessary.

For the Palestinians, Abbas reiterated that he is committed to implementing and abiding by the obligations under stage one of the road map. What that really means is anyone’s guess, since stronger leaders than Abbas have said the same and not implemented a thing. So, what confidence there can be in the weak Abbas’s statement that he will implement anything?

Abbas then continued for the rest of his speech on his expectations of the commitments from Israel:-

a) Freezing settlement activity, including natural growth
b) Removal of settlements
c) Opening institutions Jerusalem that were closed prior to September 2000
d) Release of prisoners
e) Removal of checkpoints in the West Bank
f) Israel to stop its military aggressions in the West Bank and Gaza
g) Stop confiscation of land
h) Stop demolition of houses
i) Stop construction of the wall
j) Stop assassinations
k) Not to affect the humanitarian needs of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.

Now if negotiations were to be really serious, I would have thought that somewhere in the speech there would have been some reference to terror, the need to build a social infrastructure for the Palestinians (Israel built the hospitals, Universities, clinics, etc, in the period 1967 -1990, nothing has been built since), the need to develop a judiciary, but no. What I see is the longer shopping list of demands with no specific plan for dealing with the root of the problem.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Humanitarian Crisis?

“If the economic sanctions that Israel has applied against the Gaza Strip in reducing fuel supplies are to be regarded as collective punishment, so should the economic sanctions that were imposed against South Africa during the apartheid years, or those against Iran today”’ writes Dan Izenberg in the Jerusalem Post.

Although there is lots of talk about cutting off supplies of electricity and fuel to Gaza and the humanitarian crisis that would result, the courts are preparing to hear this week a petitioners' request for a show-cause order to cancel the original decision.

What has actually happened thus far is that amount of gasoline allowed into Gaza had been cut from an average of 350,000-400,000 liters per week to 300,000 liters and the government is also considering a further, gradual reduction.

Diesel exports were cut from 1.4 million liters per week to 1.2 million liters. A government spokesman stated that "according to government estimates, the amount of fuel necessary to fulfill the Gaza Strip's humanitarian needs does not amount to more than 50 percent of the amount supplied today, and this is a conservative estimate which provides a significant safety margin."

The spokesman added that the export of diesel for use in Gaza's power station had been reduced from an average of 2.2 million liters to 1.75 million per week. It said that in September, the Palestinians in Gaza had added a third turbine to provide additional power. When only two turbines operate, the power station produces 55 megawatts of electricity. When the third one functions, supply goes up to 63 megawatts. The drop in diesel exports imposed by Israel last week means that the amount of electricity provided for Gaza will return to the pre-September level.

All in all, hardly a humanitarian crisis but meanwhile at least one woman was suffering from shock after three Kassam rockets were fired at Sderot late Sunday morning, Israel Radio reported. One of the rockets hit a house and another hit an electrical line, causing a complete blackout in the western Negev town.

The siren system and 106 emergency hotline were offline following the attack, leaving the town's residents without even the means to prepare in case another rocket salvo would follow later in the day.

And so the deliberate targeting of the Israeli civilians goes on.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Same Story

Having just returned from a lecture tour in the UK coupled with a bit of holiday, it seems nothing has changed here in Israel the 2.1/2 weeks I have been away. Three reports below from the local press seem to confirm that nothing will change unless some action is taken.

The military option may be exercised after the Annapolis "peace" conference. another option is that of of cutting off supplies of fuel and electricity. The hypocracy of so many governments is highlighted again concerning this second option by complaining of collective punishment. The Europeans were double quick in cutting off all supplies when they were not being paid. In Israel's case the proposal is only to cut off up to a maximum of 20% and this should not create any humanitarian issues.

a) Fire Rocket Barrage at Israel - Shmulik HadadPalestinians in Gaza fired a barrage of 13 Kassam rockets at Israel Thursday morning. At least nine rockets landed in Sderot and its vicinity. One of the rockets landed near Sapir College, just five meters from a campus employee, but did not explode. Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. (Ynet News)

b) See also Palestinian Terrorists Fire Mortars at Israel from Gaza Schoolyard - Hanan GreenbergIDF Intelligence has released a video of three Palestinian terrorists launching mortar shells towards Israel from a courtyard outside an elementary school in the town of Beit Hanun in northern Gaza. A senior IDF officer said Wednesday that Palestinian terror organizations continue to abuse the civilian population in Gaza by launching attacks against Israel from their midst. "They don't think twice about firing Kassam rockets near crowded public areas, even though they're fully aware that they're endangering innocent civilians," said the officer. (Ynet News)

c) IDF Thwarts Suicide Attack in Hebron - Efrat WeissAn 18-year-old Palestinian youth aroused the suspicion of Border Police securing the junction leading to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Wednesday. The troops called to the youth to stop and lift his shirt, where he had concealed a firearm and two knives. On further inspection, soldiers found a suicide letter detailing the youth's intent to die as a martyr in an attack. One of the knives was inscribed with the words: "With this knife a Jewish soldier will be murdered." (Ynet News)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More on the Co Existence in Acre

Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award Winner

On 6th September 17 year-old Alaa Korabi, our first Duke of Edinburgh’s International Gold Award recipient, cast a golden light over the entire Centre, a light which shone even brighter when he represented the Arab sector at the 50th Birthday celebratory event attended by HRH Prince Edward. In perfect English Alaa said, “Six million young people from 120 countries have taken part in the Awards since it began 50 years ago in Gordonstoun School in England. And here I am this evening, standing here before you, Alaa Korabi from The Sir Charles Clore Jewish-Arab Community Center, Acre, a Gold Award Winner… It has changed my life!”

Currently visiting the UK, it is interesting to hear the attitudes of the various Jewish communities towards their life in the UK. There is an underlining trend of serious concern regarding their future in the UK which seems to confirm what many writers and analyists, who are termed "doomsayers" project in their articles.

More on this when I return

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Israeli Arab Co-Existence in Acre

The Sir Charles Clore Arab-Jewish community centre in Acre, about 15 miles north of Haifa is involved in many programmes aimed at building cooperation and co-existence between the two communities.See

In its recent October report, two examples given:-

a) The Young Enterprise – “Learning By Doing” Business Programme
Last winter twenty 15 year-old Arab elementary school pupils took up the gauntlet and enrolled in this demanding leadership, achievement and business development programme! Working resolutely as a cohesive group, each one has developed exceptional leadership qualities, admirable entrepreneurial skills and according to their teachers, has shown a marked improvement in their school grades. With Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award Alaa Korabi as their mentor, and having won first place in the regional finals with their invention, the versatile Flying Carpet game, the group is heading towards the national finals on October 18th where they will be up against 13 other finalists. If successful, they will compete in the International Finals in Basle, Switzerland next March. Fully aware that good English is essential in the business world; the group is working hard to improve its language skills.

A website has been created and a promotional video. The group will continue to develop marketing and sales techniques in the coming year. At a recent board meeting the members voted to invest a percentage of their (meager) profits in the new Young Enterprise group.

Encouraged by the accomplishments, enthusiasm, improved school performance and growing reputation in Acre, the Centre has begun its recruitment campaign for its pilot mixed Arab-Jewish Young Enterprise group

b) The Women’s Centre - personal, educational & economic empowerment
From 1st November, the new Women’s Coordinators will begin an aggressive campaign to reach out to Acre’s marginalised Arab and Jewish women at risk, in particular single mothers and uneducated women.
· The Women’s Club and Computer Centre
· Baby Massage - Connecting with Newborns
· Mother–Child Parenting, Mentoring & Support Workshops
· High School Matriculation, Job Preparation Empowerment & Development Course
· Women’s Enterprise – Business Mentoring & Training Course
· The Listening Circle – Communication, self-expression & conflict resolution

Such programmes are another small step in the development of improved relationships between the Arab and Jewish communities in Israel

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Living the Ecological Life on the Carmel

It is a reasonably good assumption, that "ecological awareness," "respect for the environment," or "economic sustainability" are not the things for which Israel is known. However a recent report in our local papers unearthed someone who wants to change these perceptions.

The report gives the example of , Amiad Lapidot, from Moshav Kerem Maharal tucked into the Carmel mountain range just 10 miles south of Haifa , is out to change that. Thirty-nine years old, married and the father of two children (one aged three and the other four months old),Lapidot has dedicated his life toward changing Israel, saving its environment, revitalizing the world's ecosystem and bringing all of "Spaceship Earth's passengers" closer together in a new world of peace, cooperation and interdependence.- see full story at

Don't laugh. He may just succeed.

For Lapidot and the mostly young volunteer staff , "sustainability" means that we can live well today, meet all of our needs, preserve and improve the quality of our lives - and present future generations with a natural environment that is cleaner, greener and healthier than the world's environment today,

We can do this, he says, if each and every one of us learns to live like a tree. "Every day in the life of a tree, it wakes up and asks itself, 'Okay, what am I going to do today? I will take the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and change it into oxygen. With my roots, I will clean the water in the ground.

With the leaves that fall from me, I will enrich the soil. I will give fruit for birds and other animals.' Every day, because of that tree, the environment is cleaner and richer. The underground is cleaner. The air is cleaner. The oxygen is more plentiful. The soil is richer. And all of this happens every day. How can we live with this kind of model? What can each of us do to make the natural environment a little stronger every day?"

"With the millions of things we do every day, we are destroying nature's ability to do its work." says Lapidot where he saw that the problem was particularly acute in Israel, which, per capita, is the second largest producer of garbage in the world after the United States, and where entire rivers are polluted due to chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture, as well as industrial waste. "The earth is like a spaceship, and we are all fellow passengers," he says, "Whatever we do, good or bad, affects our spaceship and our ability to live on it."

Built largely with the help of friends, Lapidot's house is perhaps the major "attraction" at Kerem Maharal . The frame is made from four used marine shipping containers, and the exterior walls from blocks of bailed straw, grown by Lapidot in his own fields. "It's wonderful to grow the materials for my own house in my own fields, with no pollution at all!" he exclaims.

The interior bricks come from local soil - much of it dredged from a nearby river during its annual cleaning by the local authority and strained through a homemade filter by Lapidot to make clay. , .

"The house knows how to warm itself in winter and cool itself in summer. All the windows in the bedroom face south with sunshields. The sun gets into the rooms in winter and makes them warm. In the summer, the sun hits the sunshields and doesn't get into the house. And this is wonderful."Lapidot points to a small hole at the base of one of the bedroom walls and explains that this will one day be connected to a pipe running deep underground and will also contribute toward cooling the house.

After building his house, he decided-to concentrate on garbage. "If we look at the garbage produced by the average Israeli family, we find that around 40% of it is organic. It's material that originally came from the soil - like fruit from a tree - but is not being put back. Ifs being .put in the same - garbage containers as tin cans, newspapers, plastic bottles and plastic bags, and then it is trucked away to land fill sites. The organic material then decomposes in the open air and turns into methane, a greenhouse gas. If we don't learn how to deal better with our garbage, next summer will be hotter than this one is, and the following year's summer will be hotter and so on, year after year. The simple .solution is to take the organic garbage, turn it into compost and give it back to the trees, which will use the nutrients to make more fruit - and more trees."

Today, composting is the core of Lapidot’s work, drawing visitors from all over Israel. He is most importantly; however, recycling upwards of 100 tons of garbage per year, and sparing the Earth's atmosphere some 50,000 tons of greenhouse gasses.

Lapidot's voice assumes a missionary zeal as he concludes, "So let’s live like we see the trees
living in this wonderful forest. We can live together in balance. We could save the world if everyone began to think this way. I want to have as many people as possible come here, learn the concept and spread it all over the world”

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why is the Christian World Silent?

The following report appeared in our press this weekend. "A Palestinian Christian activist was killed this weekend in Gaza. Rami Khader Ayyad, head of the Protestant Holy Bible Society in Gaza City, had been threatened by militants who wanted him to stop selling Christian religious materials. Earlier this year, someone blew up the Society's shop in Gaza City. The 32-year-old was abducted Saturday night, and found dead yesterday with gunshot and stab wounds, the Associated Press reports. AFP says his body, which showed signs of torture, was found by Hamas-affiliated police. 'We will pursue anyone who is found to be involved in this case,' the regime said in a statement. 'We will not be merciful with those who abuse the security and stability of our people.' Ayyad's wife is pregnant with their third child."

The deafening silence to this and other acts against the Christian community in Gaza is truly amazing. Has Europe given up it's Christian traditions?

The only country in the whole Middle East where Christians live at peace and are increasing their numbers is - guess where - yes of course Israel

Monday, October 8, 2007

Peace conference pending

Of course, the topic of all the newspapers both at home and abroad is the pending "Peace Conference" sponsored by the Americans in Annapolis. There is much hype and positioning by the main players but the average man in the street in Israel is highly skeptical. There is the usual talk of concessions, land swaps, release of prisoners (a proportion do go back into terrorism in spite of signing a committment not to do so), etc., etc.

There is no talk of what is expected of the Palestinians, it seems they can continue with their way of life, corruption, freedom for terror groups to act, incitement of the population at large in the weekly sermons in the mosques and of the children in particular through their text books and TV programmes.

Where is the Palestinian social programme to build a state for peace instead of revolution?

This week, a Katyusha was fired from Gaza, the first of its type. A missile with a 22km range which brings Ashkelon into its range - see picture.

And yet Israel is still being depicted as the Goliath instead of the David. The Palestinian refugees are discussed incessantly whilst there is absolutely no mention of a slightly greater number of Jewish kicked out of Algerai, Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia, Iran to name just 5 countries.

Tom Carew of Dublin writes in the Jerusalem Post today, "when the UK granted independance to India and Pakistan some 7.5 million Muslims were displaced, moving from India to Pakistan, while some 711,000 Arabs (UN estimate) left Israel. An equal number of Hindus and Sikhs moved in the opposite direction exactly as happened with Jewish refugees fleeing Arab lands and Iran to Israel "

The only talk today is of the "right of return" for the Arabs, nothing is mentioned of the same number of Jews who escaped from Arab countries with only their clothes on their backs. If there is be any justice, ALL aspects of the "right of return" should be on the table

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

As One New Soldier Starts, Another Leaves

Paula Stern writes in her blog "A Soldier's Mother", her experiences as a mother of a new soldier in the Israel Army. Today, we came to the end of an era as our son was discharged from the army and his 18 year committment to reserve duty.

His army service was performed at an air force base "somewhere in the north of Israel". Together with between 1000 -1500 other visitors, families and parents, we were received on the base for almost a full day of activities.

The proceedings started with food and drinks (of course why not? we haven't eaten enough over this holiday period!!). The official part of the proceedings commenced with speeches and films of the activities of the base after which we were able to wander around a display of aircraft, munitions and equipment in use on the base. One of the base commanders told us that a child's service on the base was a unique experience for that child but also involved the whole family - how right he was.

An exercise in air rescue was demonstrated followed by the scrambling and take off of two of the attack aircraft on the base. Our son spent most of his time dealing with the technical equipment in the control tower and so, for the first time in my life, I found myself in a control tower watching the minute by minute operation of the team as aircraft took off and landed.

It was a great opportunity to see at first hand what our son was actually doing during his army service. We were told of some of the technical innovations he had introduced in his service on the base so naturally as his parents, there was a sense of pride.

In the not too distant future the older grandchildren will start their service, in what field, who knows?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Haifa Planning for Boom

With one hotel already having undergone a major refit to bring it to 5 star rating and up to 600 other hotel rooms to be built, the Haifa municpality is expecting a boom in visitors.

Last year over 920 conferences or congresses were held in the city putting the hotels under great pressure to accomodate everyone. This is certainly encouraging news but tourists to this beautiful city are still a small proportion of the total tourist trade. Of course, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have their attractions but it seems to me that few really know the splendour and beauty of Haifa. . The beaches, the forests, the nature reserves, the bars and pubs and the cultural life offer something for everyone.

Whilst last year's war is fading in the memory of some, according to a business report by the local chamber of commerce it indicates that 41% of business owners say that the businesses have suffered as a result of the war whilst 49% say it has been unaffected and 4% actually say that business has improved.

Overall, things are looking up for the city with a record number of jobs on offer, up over 70% from last year. It really isn't a bad place to live!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Forthcoming Peace Conference?

With the comments made by Mahmoud Abbas recently, one has to wonder if there is any way he can take part in the November “Peace Conference”. As a negotiator between employers and trade unions in a former life, the success of any negotiation involves give and take. From all the comments by Abbas in the media there seems to be no way that he is able to negotiate anything with the agreement of all the Palestinian factions.

As Khaled Abu Tomeh of the Jerusalem Post reports this week “The shift in the PA's position toward the conference is largely attributed to Abbas's failure to persuade the majority of the Arab countries to take part. The Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians and Qataris are said to have informed Abbas that they see no point in attending under the current circumstances, especially in light of the ongoing power struggle between Hamas and Fatah”
So where do we go from here? It seems to me that neither Olmert nor Abbas has the backing of their electorate but neither wants to be the one to call the conference off. Each seems to be playing “chicken”, leaving the decision to the very last minute.

Abu Tomeh goes on to say that “Abbas is also reluctant to participate in a highly controversial conference held under the auspices of the US at a time when the Palestinians are more divided than ever. He knows that any deal he brings back will be severely criticized by Hamas and many other Palestinians, who will accuse him of succumbing to American and Israeli pressure.“

Meanwhile the Palestinian population is still being bombarded with jihad messages on their TV’s and in the sermons in their mosques. The last film to be seen from Palestinian TV shows a 2 year old planning for his personal jihad, yes a two year old!!
And from this we must go to peace? It seems to me it will take more than a generation to switch the present mindset, or am I being pessimistic?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Year Resolutions??

Following the New Year holiday, the news broke about an Israeli overflight of Syrian territory with the usual condemnations by Syria and then North Korea. For once the Israeli press was tight lipped (most unusual) and it seems prepared to adopt the line of the government of non disclosure.

In a country where everyone has a relative or knows someone who has access to information, it is rather rare to find such self control in censorship. The fact that, apart from Syria and North Korea, no European or Arab country has condemned the action suggests that whatever action was taken over Syrian territory, it met with general approval. Of course there is conjecture by many of the overseas media outlets but since Sky News felt it more important to take a "flesh look" at Israel on TV and on its website.,,30200-1284368,00.html , it is an indication of their priorities!

Meanwhile, Sunday was a fast day for Jews (it needed to be after all the food eaten over the New Year holiday) and, of course in the middle of Ramadan. It was reported that members of the government hosted an Iftar dinner on Sunday evening (16 Sept) at the King David Hotel to break the day's fast. Forty guests participated, among them Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Information Minister Riad al-Maliki, Egyptian Ambassador Mohamed Assem Ibrahim Mohamed, Jordanian Ambassador Ali al-Ayed, and Mauritanian Ambassador Ahmed Ould Teguedi. Other guests included Israeli public figures and Muslim and Druze mayors and council heads.

Foreign Minister Livni welcomed the guests and commented that the evening's significance went beyond merely breaking the Muslim fast of Ramadan and the Jewish Fast of Gedaliah. The event, she stated, symbolized co-existence and common values based on the belief that joint efforts can bring peace.

Livni added that the religious tolerance demonstrated by Jews, Muslims and Christians sitting and eating together emphasizes the need to denounce the extremists who misuse religion in order to spread their radical ideology.

At the dinner, speeches were also delivered by the Palestinian prime minister, the Egyptian and Jordanian ambassadors and some of the Israeli leaders.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is It Getter Hotter or Cooler?

Weather wise I wonder if we are over the worst of the summer heat. Although the days have temperatures in the upper 80’s, the evenings are starting to be a bit more pleasant. We actually haven’t switch on the air conditioner on the last two evenings.

Another week and the clocks will go back as we go off summertime and on to wintertime. Meantime the country is preparing for the New Year holiday, shops are bustling with shoppers stocking up for the 3 day weekend, this being an unusual occurrence in Israel, 2 days of the New Year holiday and 1 day for the Sabbath.

However as the weather may be cooling down, the political areana is heating up. Last week, the official Syrian Arab News Agency began to report a claim that Israel Air Force jets had flown over northern Syria the previous night, and had been spotted and engaged by Syrian air defences. According to the initial reports, the Israeli planes broke the sound barrier and dropped munitions over uninhabited areas of northern Syria, before leaving Syrian airspace. The claim of dropping munitions was later changed to a claim that the Israeli jets had jettisoned fuel tanks which had landed on Syrian soil. Subsequently, the Turkish authorities showed photographs of what was purported to be the fuel tanks on Turkish soil.

The fact is that in spite of resolution 1701, the Hizbollah have threateningly announced that they have now rearmed and have 20,000 missiles available for attacking Israel. Last year before the war they had 14,000. In spite of the evidence, the United nations force seems unwilling or unable to stem the flow of weapons from Syria.

Meanwhile missiles galore rain down on Sderot and terrorist attempts continue unabated. A Palestinian teen detained by an IDF force at a checkpoint near Nablus Sunday was found to be carrying three pipe bombs meant to be used in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. IDF officers said terror organizations in Nablus, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front and Fatah, were making intensive efforts to launch attacks into Israel.

In the midst of all this we read that Hamas security forces wielding clubs on Friday beat protesters, hurled stun grenades and fired into the air to disperse open-air prayer meetings held by Fatah in defiance of a Hamas ban on such gatherings. Medical officials said 20 people were treated in hospital. Hamas men had set up checkpoints Friday morning throughout Gaza to prevent Fatah supporters from reaching the prayer sites. Demonstrations against Hamas were also held throughout the West Bank.

On the other foot, Palestinian security allied with the Fatah rulers of the West Bank beat Hamas protesters with clubs at a demonstration Sunday outside Hebron University. PA security forces forbade journalists from taking pictures, confiscating the camera of one photographer. Some journalists were also beaten. The Tel Aviv-based Foreign Press Association issued a statement condemning the behavior of Palestinian security.

Let’s hope the New Year will bring us peace.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A New School Year

The new school year in Sderot got off to a fiery start with a bombardment of Sderot and its educational institutions by Hamas using Kassams and mortars. The Israel army struck several rocket launchers in northern Gaza soon after, saying” it refuses to allow Hamas to guard its rockets by placing them in populated areas.”
Hamas claims that three teenagers and children were killed in the air strike. What they did not say, however, was that these children had been sent by Hamas terrorists to adjust the launchers. The army identified five launchers with suspicious figures moving among them and launched the strike.
An army correspondent is quoted as saying that “this is not the first time this has happened. This phenomenon of Hamas paying ten shekels ($2.50) to children in order to retrieve the launchers has become the norm. The terrorists launch the rockets from afar via remote control and know that if they approach the launchers they will be hit, so they send young children.”
An army statement said: “As part of the ongoing defensive activity to protect Israeli civilians from terror threats this afternoon, the IDF targeted several Kassam launchers in the Beit Hanoun industrial area, which were placed by Palestinian terrorists and aimed at Israel. Several Palestinians were identified handling the launchers at the time. This area is often used to fire Kassam rockets at Israel.”
Nearly 300 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel from Gaza in the month of August alone.
The previous night, soldiers intercepted a 15-year-old suicide bomber dispatched from northern Gaza.
This cynical use of children is, in my opinion, a direct consequence of the on-going indoctrination of Palestinian children. Now every Monday afternoon Al-Aqsa TV, the most important medium in Hamas’ media empire, broadcasts a children’s program called “Brilliant Children,” on which child experts in various fields are interviewed. The September 3 episode, a special for the beginning of the school year, featured a child named “Ahmad” (a name symbolizing all Palestinian children), whose field of expertise was defined as jihad (holy war). Such programs are meant to indoctrinate the younger generation of Palestinians with Hamas’ radical Islamic ideology, at the core of which is jihad. Such ideology is indoctrinated through Hamas’ educational system (kindergartens, schools and universities) and other means as well. It is all part of Hamas’ long-term strategy to train new generations of brainwashed Hamas operatives who will participate in the violent campaign to destroy Israel and wipe it off the map in accordance with its charter.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Toast to the New Year (Rosh Hashonnah)

Today I attended a gathering at the Haifa City Hall ( of new immigrants to Haifa over the last few years togther with those families that give assistance to these new immigrants in the form of providing advice, a shoulder to lean on, assisting in finding employment or introducing them to the social scene.

The purpose of this gathering was to raise a glass of wine to toast the imminent New Year (Rosh Hashonnah, ) and to give the new immigrants the opportunity to relate their experiences starting a new life in Haifa.

A representative of the council informed the participants that the City council policy was to coordinate the activities of the immigration organisations and to provide as much practical assistance as possible. Although the number of immigrants reaching Haifa is small compared to other cities in Israel, the numbers are, nevertheless, increasing. With the growth in the economy showing a healthy increase over each of the last 5 years, the number of job opportunities in Haifa and its environs are increasing.

Immigrants from France, USA, UK, South America, South Africa were present giving a truly international flavour and the musical interlude was provided by a harpist, also an immigrant from the former Soviet Union

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rock and Stroll

One sign of the summer holiday coming to a close is the annual rock concert organized on the Haifa student beach. For the average Haifa citizen to go down to the beach for some rest and relaxation, the outing is fraught with difficulty. Driving to the beach area is frustrating with bottlenecks making a 10 minute journey turn into a 30-40 minute one.

Rock concerts are also taking place in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in the next week with artists coming from overseas supplementing the local ones.

Now the Haifa concert is completed and the beach area is returned to all the citizens. With the temperature and humidity dropping a little, my wife and I drove to the beach for the first time in a few weeks for some exercise along the promenade. (We have been walking around the air conditioned shopping mall for our daily exercise in the extremes of temperature and humidity that we have been having.)

At the beach people are swimming, surfing, sleeping, BBQing, playing, building (sand models), walking, jogging and the hundreds of things one does there. Two brides, to be married that evening were posing for photographs against the backdrop of a multi colored setting sun and the whole atmosphere was one of peace and enjoyment.

Hard to think that around 7 minutes flying time from Beirut or Damascus can bring our enemies planes to this area of tranquility and 40 seconds for a katyusha.

Monday, August 27, 2007

“Summertime and the livin' is easy”

Well the “easy” life of the summer holidays (for the children) is drawing to a close, not so easy for the parents. The shopping malls are regaling the shoppers with all the books, accessories and school bags required for the new school year. It is reported that parents are spending around $2 billion on their children on back to school items. Ahead of the new school year, local industries have invested heavily in the design and development of new orthopedic back packs and school bags in a sector that employs over 5000 people.

Meanwhile in the south, in Sderot parents are apprehensive about the new school year because of the incessant barrage of mortars and kassams being fired from the Gaza strip. Palestinian infiltration attempts from Gaza are increasing. The Israeli army reports almost on a daily basis on the attempts at infiltration. Over the past three weeks, 10 gunmen have been killed while trying to plant bombs alongside the security fence. "Our goal is to stop anyone who approaches the fence; sometimes it's civilians, sometimes it's terrorists and sometimes it's terrorists pretending to be civilians," said a military official. "We have no intention of harming civilians, but it's often impossible to ascertain the intent of each individual infiltrator.

Here in the north we cannot be complacent as Iran helps to build a presence in Lebanon. Media reports are full of what is happening in Southern Lebanon under the noses of UNIFIL,0,4226946.story Along the roadways of southern Lebanon, thousands of banners festoon street lights and utility poles. They feature a distinctive symbol, a red inscription from the center of Iran's flag, protectively swathing Lebanon's iconic green cedar. The emblem belongs to the Iranian reconstruction organization. Its presence delivers a message that is not lost on those who have watched cratered roads filled in, damaged school walls resurrected, and life return to some semblance of normalcy over the last year.

Iran is a Shiite Muslim majority country that sees itself as the patron of Shiites around the world, including those in Lebanon, who make up a third to half of the population. Whenever the Lebanese government, nonprofit organizations or other donor nations have faltered, Iran and its ally Hizbullah, which dominates most of the municipal governments of the south, have quickly swooped in. For example, when Qatar slowed reconstruction efforts several months ago because of corruption worries, Iran quickly upped its contribution.

As the summer peaks it ain’t going to get any easier

Friday, August 24, 2007

Education for Peace??

We are used to seeing excerpts from the children’s programs on TV in the Palestinian areas which advocate jihad and the destruction of the State of Israel. Now the children of southern Lebanon are also being indoctrinated through the use of computer games.

A local TV news program reports that a new computer game allows the players to raid Israel to capture soldiers, battle tanks in the valleys of southern Lebanon and launch Katyusha rockets at Israeli towns -- the game puts players on the frontline of war with the Jewish state. "Special Force 2" is based on last year's 34-day conflict between the Lebanese guerrilla group and Israel.

"This game presents the culture of the resistance to children: that occupation must be resisted and that land and the nation must be guarded," said a Hezbollah media official. But the Israeli Foreign Ministry responded by saying: ''It should come as a surprise to no one that Hezbollah teaches children that hatred and violence are positive attributes.''

Designed by Hezbollah computer experts, players of "Special Force 2" take the role of a Hezbollah fighter, or Mujahid. Weapons and points are accumulated by killing Israeli soldiers.
The game, launched on Thursday, recreates key phases of the conflict, which was triggered when Hezbollah forces raided northern Israel and captured two soldiers, saying they wanted to negotiate a prisoner swap.

Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group backed by Iran and Syria, declared the outcome of the conflict a "divine victory." "Through this game the child can build an idea of some of ... the most prominent battles and the idea that this enemy can be defeated," the spokesman said.

The 3-D game forces players to think and use their resources wisely, reflecting the way Hezbollah fights. "The features which are the secret of resistance's victory in the south have moved to this game so that the child can understand that fighting the enemy does not only require the gun.
"It requires readiness, supplies, armament, attentiveness, tactics."

And this is the way forward to peace???

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Rhetoric, like the Weather, is Hot

We are heading for another heatwave by the end of the week with temeratures here in Haifa heading for 37C (100F). The Palestinians in Gaza are suffering again at the hands of their leaders as the supply of electricity is the latest subject of conflict between Fatah and Hamas, while the European Union has frozen payments due to Hamas syphoning off some of the money for its own agenda. Meanwhile, some 600,000 citizens have little or no electricity.

Also a "hot" subject is the renewal of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, following the second Lebanon war last year.

Has it helped? I feel like most of my friends, very sceptical. Without getting into the siscussion of who won or lost, the fact is, that this resolution, like so many others has been only partially implemented, and the vital provisions have been left unattended :

1) South Lebanon was not demilitarized and Hezbollah and the other terrorist organizations remained and were not disarmed

2) Iran and Syria continue replenishing Hezbollah's arsenal and rehabilitating its military force

3) The arms embargo has not been effectively enforced and weapons are steadily smuggled into Lebanon from Syria

4) No significant progress has been made in the issue of the abducted IDF soldiers.

Further, Hizbullah is buying up large tracts of land owned by Christians and other non-Shias in southern Lebanon as the militant group rebuilds its defenses in preparation for a new war with Israel. The forested wadis, or valleys, north of the Litani River make ideal terrain for Hizbullah's brand of guerrilla warfare and, just 10 miles from the border, are within rocket range of Israeli cities.

"Christians and Druze are selling land and moving out, while the Shia are moving in. There is an extraordinary demographic shift taking place," said Edmund Rizk, a former Christian MP for the area. Wealthy Shia businessman Ali Tajeddine, who made his fortune trading diamonds in Sierra Leone, is said to be using Iranian funds to buy land from destitute villagers at up to four times the going rate.

Critics fear a grand scheme to create a strip of Shia-controlled land connecting southern Lebanon to Hizbullah's other power center in the Bekaa Valley. "It is part of Hizbullah's plan to create a state within a state," said Walid Jumblatt, a Druze leader. He also pointed to the four-lane road being built to connect the Hizbullah stronghold of Nabatiye in the south to the western Bekaa. Banners openly proclaim the source of the road's funding: "510 km of new roads paid for by the Iranian Organization for Sharing in the Building of Lebanon."

Yes, there is cause for concern not just here in the north but throughout the whole country

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Holocaust Education in the UK

Much has been written and misreported on the subject of Holocaust education in UK schools. I have also received many letters claiming that the UK government has stopped the teaching the Holocaust in its schools. The Guardian in the UK pointed out that "Teaching of the Holocaust is expected to become compulsory under the new national curriculum from next year". It only quotes the report as giving examples of two schools, which makes the opening paragraph that says that "Schools have avoided teaching the Holocaust grossly misleading”

A teacher who has written to me, has been teaching history since 1981 and has taught Holocaust studies throughout in a variety of schools, including one with a substantial Lebanese population has worked very closely with the Dept. of Education who funded the Historical Association --- the association of historians in the UK --- to produce a report called "Teaching emotive and controversial History 3 – 19" In his opinion, "the report is an excellent, well researched piece of work that in no way justifies the way the Guardian have sensationalized a tiny part of its observations on what has happened in a couple of schools. If the content of this report and its recommendations were acted upon", he believes, “we could all sleep at nights”.

To quote from the intro on their website :The National Curriculum for History and GCSE and A-level History qualifications often include areas of study that touch on social, cultural, religious and ethnic fault lines within and beyond Britain. Such areas of study include the Holocaust and aspects of Islamic history. These areas are sometimes avoided by teachers to steer away from controversy in the classroom.

The teacher goes on to say that this avoidance is not a government policy but a misguided example of local choice being exercised in some schools. The report has specific recommendations on how to support teachers working in sensitive subject areas.The way such past events are perceived and understood in the present can stir emotions and controversy within and across communities.

The Historical Association's report will gather examples of effective teaching that deals with emotive and controversial history in schools across all key stages from the ages of 3 to 19. This will allow teachers to obtain a comprehensive view of current best practice in teaching these and similar issues. It will recommend proven and successful approaches that enable teachers to tackle these issues in ordinary lessons through rigorous and engaging teaching while at the same time challenging discrimination and prejudice.

I hope this information will finally put this issue to rest.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The North last Year, the South for a Year Plus

Whilst some of the world’s media do occasionally report a Kassam or mortar attack on S’derot in the south of the country, no-one (to my knowledge) seems to cover the daily trauma experienced by the residents of the area. This is an exact repetition of last year’s war in Lebanon, when you were hard pushed to find any reports on the trauma facing the northern population.

A friend in the south relates his and his wife’s personal experience last Thursday. As he starts his letter “I hope that none of you have to go thru a day like we had yesterday.”

He then goes on to tell how his day went; “we were not hurt nor anything like that but it was just a nerve racking day.

A group of Jewish American media people came to visit our senior center and hear from us and two more people who live in my area on what it is like living under the daily threat of Kassam and mortar shells.

Every thing went well until they were going to leave us when we had 3,yes 3 color red warnings about incoming Kassams. One of the Kassams landings we heard there may have been more booms but that was the only one I heard.

When we got home, we heard two big booms but until now we have no idea of what it was and if there was any damage.

In the evening I went to spinning and then later in the pool I heard a color red warning and I heard one boom from far away and another one close by.

In the mean time at home, my wife heard two large explosions and this time it was Mortar shells falling very close to the living area on the Kibbutz.

She also told me, when I got home, that there was a lot of weapons firing before and after the mortars.

My wife was asked by one of the visitors, why we don't leave S’derot and her answer was simply because this is our home. I glanced around at the visitors and it seemed to me that the answer was enough for them for I saw a few write down the answer and giving the expression of a good answer had been received.

Kibbutz Nir Am, which is going thru a tougher time then we are; they have been hit at least 20 times this last few months with Kassams and a lot of damage to their Kibbutz and like one said ‘many hours without things like electricity because of damage to their electoral supplies and electricians afraid to come to fix it’.

However, to finish on a good note; today, (Friday morning) they invited us and others for breakfast and a chance to show our solidarity with them. A large number of people from the neighboring Kibbutzim and from S’derot were there and a good time was had by all. The only problem was for me is that I ate too much and if you didn't know, I am on a diet!! Ah well back to the first week of the diet for me"

The ongoing trauma of living such a life is telling. Sounds that appear as though a siren is about to sound, still stirs the heart for many people momentarily for others more long lasting.

Just try to imagine a place not more than 5-6 miles away from you home being bombarded by "cheap, inaccurate" missiles, as reporters often report the Kassams

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Co Existence in the Holyland

I am often asked about the schemes for cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians and as usual I believe these are never reported in the International media. Therefore I take the opportunity to publish details of the few of these organisations with thanks to the Israeli foreign Office for the information

The Israel / Palestinian issue is all too often portrayed solely in terms of the conflict, with little coverage of life beyond the politics. But there are many examples of groups and individuals who have taken up the challenge of fostering coexistence between all peoples in the region. They are just the tip of the iceberg, and there are many more organisations which work towards bringing people together, with the shared goal of breaking down barriers and stereotypes, and building bridges and understanding.

The Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development (CJAED) which is a is a non-profit organisation, established in 1988 by a group of Jewish and Arab businesspeople, with the overarching belief that healthy economic development and relations, are key to peace and stability in the region.

Shemesh, the organisation for Jewish-Arab Friendship and Coexistence in the Galilee. Shemesh works to nurture understanding and respect for cultural differences, and build towards a peaceful future for all peoples.

Givat Haviva, is an institute aimed at educating for peace, democracy, coexistence and social solidarity; to resist racism and all forms of discrimination, crucial to achieving peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states.

Save A Child's Heart, which provides urgently needed pediatric heart surgery and follow-up care for children from around the world, regardless of race or religion.

The Abraham Fund initiatives work to advance coexistence, equality and cooperation among Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens by creating and operating large-scale initiatives, cultivating strategic grassroots projects and conducting public education and advocacy that promote its vision of shared citizenship and opportunity for all of Israel’s citizens. Typical programs are
Coexistence Network- A national network of organizations that address Arab-Jewish relations
Police-Community- efforts to improve police - Arab communities relations
Government Training & Advocacy- equal opportunities for Israel's Arab citizens

The Network of Organizations For Jewish-Arab Coexistence In Israel . Its mission is in recognizing the profound need to deepen and develop links between Arabs and Jews in Israel, as well as the immediate necessity to create an equal, pluralistic, just and fair society for all of the country’s citizens, both Jews and Arabs, the Network of Organizations for Jewish-Arab Coexistence in Israel was established.

Peaceworks is a not-only-for-profit company. We have proven that we can build and sustain a profitable company AND do a little good in the world.
Together with people striving to co-exist, we create and deliver unique and exciting specialty foods- only the freshest ingredients, always all-natural, always delicious.
PeaceWorks currently does business with Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, South Africans, Turks, Indonesians and Sri Lankans.

Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is a cooperative village of Jews and Palestinian Arabs of Israeli citizenship. The village is situated equidistant from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

Neve Shalom - Wahat al-Salam gives practical expression to its vision of an egalitarian society through pioneering educational work at
The School for Peace, Children’s Educational System and Pluralistic Spiritual Centre. Besides its educational work, NSWAS and its members also conduct other projects such as Humanitarian aid program. Occasionally, summer programs are offered for overseas guests.

Shevet Achim was founded in 1994 with the purpose of helping non-Israeli children receive lifesaving medical care in Israel. Our name is taken from the Hebrew of Psalm 133, which promises that unity between brothers leads to life; we believe this to be true of the troubled relationship between Isaac and Ishmael (Jews and Muslims) in the Middle East.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Real of World of Trade Unionism

Recently, the mighty Transport and General Workers' Union in the UK, in order to perpetuate the political agenda of the minority activists in the union voted to boycott Israel. Meanwhile, in the real world, Palestinian and Israeli transport union representatives met to further co-operation.

Israeli and Palestinian transport unions have forged a groundbreaking cooperation agreement at a special meeting held under the auspices of the ITF.

Around 20 Israeli and Palestinian transport union representatives met together in Limassol, Cyprus on 31 July – 1 August as guests of the ITF’s Cypriot affiliate the Federation of Transport, Petroleum and Agricultural Workers. There they discussed common issues such as collective bargaining, delayed payment of wages, loss of union membership and the increasing outsourcing of work to contractors.

They agreed to establish a joint liaison committee to provide a mechanism for dealing with practical problems faced by transport workers in the region and for building trust between Israeli and Palestinian transport unions.

I wonder if these “practical problems” involve the issue of the boycott. It will be interesting to see further developments.

The full report of the special meeting and a video of the signing ceremony can be seen at

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Humanitarian Aid is still getting through to Gaza

There are many misconceptions about the aid the Palestinians in Gaza are receiving. In spite of the many difficulties im[posed by Hamas, various crossing points are being used to get essential supplies into Gaza.
- The Erez Crossing: still operates keeping a low profile. It usually serves for the passage of individuals, and is used by Palestinian civilians and foreign nationals with special advance authorization (primarily for those given humanitarian consideration).
- The Karni Crossing: opens and closes periodically. The volume of merchandise passing through it has decreased significantly. Mostly grain passes through.
- The Nahal Oz Crossing: open. Fuel and gas pass through.
- The Sufa Crossing: open. The crossing continues as the main conduit for merchandise and foodstuffs into the Gaza Strip (2,847 trucks have passed though since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip).
- The Kerem Shalom Crossing: opens and closes periodically. Four hundred and twenty trucks have passed through since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Two More Sides of the Education Coin

Most of this week has been spent with 7 of our granddaughters touring the north to theme parks and organizing activities in the home with play dough, making dolls, clowns and other artistic pursuits plus the traditional visit to the local beach, where finally the jellyfish seem to have given up in the coastal waters making swimming a more pleasurable.

The children enjoyed an occasional video when we needed a rest with such favorites as Bambi, Snow White etc.

This somehow seems so normal and yet not so many miles away, children of another culture are still being brainwashed in the non acceptance of Israel and the need to kill the Jews.

Palestinian Media Watch reports that Hamas’s Al-Aqsa television station recruited a new children’s character to “continue” the legacy of its star martyr, Farfur – the Mickey Mouse lookalike who was beaten to death by an Israeli on the previous program. The new character on the children’s show Tomorrow’s Pioneers, a bee named Nahool, tells the hostess he is Farfur’s cousin and that he wishes to “continue the path of Farfur… the path of martyrdom, the path of the Jihad warriors… and in his name we shall take revenge upon the enemies of Allah, the murderers of the prophets...” The expression "Murderers of the prophets" is an Islamic expression used by the PA religious leaders to refer to Jews. Defining the Jews as the enemies of God is common in PA religious broadcasting.

The following is an excerpt from the program:Hostess Saraa’:

“Who are you? And where did you come from?”

Nahool: “I am Nahool [the bee], Farfur’s cousin.

”Saraa’: “And what do you want?

”Nahool: "I want to continue the path of Farfur, the path of “Islam is the solution”. The path of heroism, the path of martyrdom, the path of the Jihad warriors. Me and my friends shall continue the path of Farfur. And in his name we shall take revenge upon the enemies of Allah, the murderers of the prophets [i.e. the Jews], the murderers of innocent children, until Al-Aqsa will be liberated from their filth.

”Saraa’: “Welcome! Welcome Nahool.” [Al Aqsa TV (Hamas), July 13, 2007]

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The united nations of Israel

We spent this weekend celebrating the bar mitzvah ( of twins of friends of ours at a village some 20 miles east of Haifa. Since there were no hotels in the village, all the guests were accomodated in various homes in the village.

In the first of many coincidences, our hostess turned out to be the daughter of friends of ours here in Haifa. But the coincidences didn't finish there. As the sabbath of celebrations went on, we met a family from New Zealand, visiting specifically for this event who knew friends of ours living there.

Another family had connections to the town in the UK where we first settled after our marriage. Yet another family, the husband from Finland and the wife from the UK lived in the same community as our our son and daughter in law. And so the weekend went on; this one studied with one of our in laws, another knew friends in the UK and so on.

The united nations of Israel amply demonstrated its versatility with perfomances by the guests of the traditional New Zealand dance, the HAKA , Irish songs, hebrew verse, exhibition of juggling by the twins etc., etc.

The proceedings finished with an inspired demonstration of fire twirling by one of the younger guests and everyone returned home with a great feeling of having taken part in something special.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A period of calm - really??

A couple of days ago I received an e-mail from a contact in South Africa who thought "we now had a period of calm"!! Really??

From an army report yesterday, it was stated that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) operated in the Gaza Strip as part of the continued effort to intercept terrorist activity intended to harm Israeli civilians. In parallel the IDFcontinues doing its utmost to prevent uninvolved civilian casualties.

The IDF targeted the following terror operatives in the southern Gaza Strip:
a.. Palestinian gunman armed with an anti-tank missile near an IDF force.
b.. Three senior Islamic Jihad terrorists: Omar Khatib, Khalil Daifi andAhmad Abed Alal, who were recently involved in attacks against Israeli civilians.
c.. Two Palestinian gunmen armed with an anti-tank missile in proximity to a force.
d.. An aerial attack of gunmen that opened fire at an IDF force. Due to suspicion of an unarmed civilian being among the gunmen the missile was aborted although the target still posed a threat.

Two Qassam rocket launchers and two armed gunmen preparing to fire Qassam rockets installed on the launchers from the northern Gaza Strip into Israel were targeted. On July 22nd of this week, the IDF also targeted Qassam launchers and two gunmen who used them to fire rockets which hit the Sapir College in Sderot injuring an Israeli woman, a school in the city and another community in the western Negev.

During the past week there were over 55 projectile launchings, approximately 30 of which landed in Israel. Among these, there were about 20 Qassam rockets, 11 of which landed in Israel in the past week. At least 9 civilians were wounded by Qassam fire, including a baby girl in a Kibbutz, as well as structural damage that was caused to property in the western Negev.

In the past month over 120 rockets and mortar shells fired from the GazaStrip hit Israel. There was one attempt to infiltrate into Israel from the northern Gaza Stripthis week. On Saturday night, July 21st, an IDF force identified two gunmencarrying rifles and grenades attempting to infiltrate Israel, while hurlinga hand grenade and activating an explosive device at the force, whichresponded with fire and hit the two.

If that is calm I wonder what action means?