Thursday, June 28, 2007

Humanitarian Aid to the Palestinians

I know this is not exactly in line with the purpose of this blog but with all the talk of a humanitarian disaster in Gaza, I have to wonder if the information I just received today of the amount of aid shipped into Gaza yesterday 27th June is publicised around the world. Thought it worth posting. Note particularly the last paragraph.

Despite the volatile security situation in the Gaza Strip, the IDF is continuing its efforts to provide a response to humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip.
Throughout the day the following humanitarian aid was transferred from Israel into Gaza through the Sufa crossing with the coordination of the Gaza District Coordination and Liaison Office:
· 581 tons of animal feed
· 319 tons of straw
· 327 tons of sugar
· 164 tons of flour
· 5 tons of semolina
· 143,000 liters of oil
· 134 tons of rice
· 27 tons of seedlings
· 32 tons of salt
· 30 tons of baby formula
· 24,000 liters of hypochlorite (a water purifier)

In addition, 24 trucks of humanitarian aid were transferred through the Kerem Shalom crossing. 50,000 vaccinations were transferred through the Erez crossing and 22 Palestinians were taken for medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.

Oh my Gosh, it's Abu Gosh

What a beautiful setting for a wedding!! The Arab village of Abu Gosh was established in 1520. It is named after the Abu Gosh family and almost all the villagers are their descendents. Originally, the people were probably Caucasians who came from the mountains of the Caucasus. The villagers are well known for the friendly, close relationship they have with their neighboring Jewish inhabitants. For many generations the village has provided a stopover for pilgrims and travelers on their way to Jerusalem, and it was at this site they paid a toll fee for their transit.

Our coach full of guests left Haifa (strangely, I don't ever remember wedding hosts providing coaches to transport their guests to a wedding in the UK) with everyone in good spirits. It gave us an opportunnity to talk to friends that we don't get to see too often.

The setting of the wedding was like that from a film set and around 350 guests mingled on the terraces, eating, talking and some dancing.

Towards the end of the evening, our daughter from Jerusalem arrived with a couple of grandchildren that we took back to Haifa for a bit of spoiling.

Today it was reported that the first commercial shipment of goods since the Hamas takeover had passed into Gaza With mortar attacks on the various crossing points and the damaged caused in the Hamas takeover, one has to wonder just what Hamas expect to achieve for the Palestinian population at large, yes they are suffering .

One further intetesting story concerning academia today. It was reported that a Jordanian woman became the first Jordanian to be awarded her masters degree in desalination tecniques. Where? At Ben Gurion University!! She is the first of seven Jordanians finishing her studies there as part of her degree. Next year it is planned that 5 Jordanians and a Palestinian will begin their MA studies. May this type of information should be shouted from the rooftops in the British Universities

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's mighty hot in these parts

We are in the middle of quite a heat wave. Temperatures here on the top of Mount Carmel where we live are 30-33C (86-90F). The usage of electricity is reported to be at an all time high and with our limited reserve generating capacity, if the usage goes much higher we could expect some cuts here and there. It is said that the present heat wave will sidside by Friday. (they also said by Wednesday) but I am not sure which week they were talking about!!

We all have our own way of keeping cool in the heat. Instead of our usual excercise of walking on the Dado beach,, we have taken to viisting one of the shopping malls and a brisk walk up, down and round three levels in the air-conditioned atmosphere for 45 mins keeps us in trim.

One of the big potential problems with these heat waves, just like anywhere else in the world, is fires. Here in Israel, however, and particularly in the Carmel National Park,, we have had many instances of fires being started deliberately. This is not counting the 750,000 trees that went up in smoke during last summers barrage of Katushas from Lebanon.
To help the fire fighting effort, it was reported today that Friends of Israeli Firefighters are donating 100 new quick response fire engines. These will be especially useful in rough ground and areas hit by rockets.

I am hoping the heat will wane a little tomorrow as following tonight's wedding in Abu Gosh we will be bringing two grandchildren back to Haifa for a bit of TLC and we hope to go cycling up near the Lebanese border. Let's pray for a little let up in the heat wave.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Another Summit, more promises

Another summit has been concluded with more of the same words and promises as has happened so often in the past. Money given (this equates to ammunition for Fatah) and prisoners to be released (equates to future terrorists)

I know this seems very negative and I would really like to find positives in what went on but history has shown us that nothing has changed in Fatah. I would love to feel the the Palestinians, at least on the West Bank, would have a leader of the stature of Nelson Mandela but everything not said by the Palestinian leadership indicates a continuation of the failed policies of the past. Incitement on TV and in the schools continues unabated.

A report by a Palesinian journalist this week, received from Palestinian Media Watch, says “We knew that they would do it, especially in Gaza, where a mother brushes her young son's hair at 7:00, so that he will be killed at 7:30, and where the children learn that death is preferable to life! We knew that they would do this, it was clear to us: with language overflowing with the rhetoric of death and the norms of killing, in the religious rulings [Fatwas] and in Friday and holiday sermons.” [Ghassan Zaqtan, Al-Ayyam, June18, 2007]

Real progress can only be made if there is a willingness for peace on BOTH sides.

Much talk is heard in the coffee shops on the possibility of renewed violence in the north this summer. One of our contacts writes; "We are very concerned about the situation here - the only thing to hope for is that the Hamas takeover of Gaza will somehow serve as a catalyst for something to happen that will tip the scales towards peace. I am wondering what will happen in the summit in Cairo next week. No one is optimistic about what will happen up north, and people on both sides of the border are getting very jumpy. Last Monday's rocket attack on Kiryat Shmona was an isolated incident, but I think it would not take a lot to set things off again. So we are hoping for a hot but quiet summer."

Meanwhile, this week is full of joy and celebration within our circle of friends. we all enjoyed a wedding blessing ceremony on Sunday. The son of friends of ours had been married in London and to compensate their Israeli friends who could not attend the wedding, a party was held in Kibbutz Bet Oren just 15 minutes away from our home in the middle of the Carmel Forest, what a romantic setting.
On Wednesday, we will be travelling a little further afield to the Arab village of Abu Gosh, just 15 mins west of Jersualem for the wedding of another friend's son.

It never ceases to amaze us how every wedding we attend has its own personality. no two weddings ever seem to be the same. with so many different cultures represented in the country, this should not be surprising.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

This modern technology!!

I suppose it is about time that I caught up with this blog technology at this late stage in my life. I have been writing a personal diary from here in Haifa, Israel since the first day of the Second Lebanon War, last July. At that time, the diary was a daily record of our lives in the city being bombarded by Katyushas. When the war ended, many of the recipients of the diary asked me to continue so for the last 10 months, a weekly edition has been going out to the network of people in over 20 countries around the world.

Until I retired, I was travelling around the world in the field of International Marketing and on so many evenings when work had finished, with a glass of beer in my hand, an agent, customer or dealer would say to me:- "You are from Israel, what do you think about......" . In the course of the ensuing conversation, it was quite clear that the person or group I was talking to didn't really know anything other than what they had read in the media or seen on TV. I thus found myself relating to my listeners often just the simple description of our lifestyle and that of our families.

That is now my intention with this blog; to try to convey how our family lives its life in an area of the world that so many people are ready to express their "expert" views without ever having visited the country to see things for themselves.I am not a politician, I want to try to steer clear of politics, I am not a spokesman for anyone other than myself. In future postings, I will try to convey to you, the readers (hopefully there will be some!) something about our lifestyle, our hopes for the future and some interesting anecdotes.

We have lived here since 1981, Our 3 children, all married, live in different parts of the country and they have presented us with 15 grandchildren, some of their stories may also be of interest.Well, this is the first posting. Let's see how it goes