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?