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?