Thursday, August 28, 2008

Humanitarian Aid or Shooting Ourself in the Foot?

I promised myself to take a 10 day break from the blog, which has turned out to be a "bit" longer but thankfully now that the grandparental committments have been fulfilled for this summer, life can now return to normal?

The question is, "What is normal?" Well, I am sure of one thing, it is not sitting in an easy chair with my feet up, there is no shortages of things to do!!

Volunteers are voting with their feet and visiting Israel in increasing numbers under the Sar El army program where they get involved in a wide range of activities. The madrichim (group leaders) are phoning me to invite me to give lectures on how to get involved in advocacy for Israel and this week has been no exception. I spoke to a group from many different countries, USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Holland, Denmark and Korea, see photo.

Many of them signed up to be kept informed of events going on here since, in their words, there is less and less reliable reporting in their local media.

A report appeared in the Jerusalem Post some days ago, of a Syrian who was shot trying to infiltrate the border with Israel. he was taken to the hospital in Poriyah near to Tiberius. It was suggested that he may have been trying to create a drug running route. What was not reported however, however, was the follow up to this incident. My friend who is a surgeon at Rambam hospital was woken by a phone call at 2:30 am calling him to his hospital. It seems the infiltrator had been transferred to Haifa. And so in the middle of the night, he went " to work". This involved a 9 hour operation after which he had to continue with his other patients.

His afternoon surgery was in Tel Aviv and he was unwilling to cancel all his patients there and thus, together with his wife, keeping him awake, they travelled to Tel Aviv after a 15 hour day in his hospital. His call to duty to my mind was exemplary, but how well was he able to deal with his patients in Tel Aviv after such a day, a day in which it was considered necessary to utilise our scarce mediical resources to save the life of a drug runner. Are we shooting ourselves in our own feet or not??

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why Not Market Haifa?

Well this is going to be it for the next 10 days. My brother in law arrives from Amstrerdam for a few days, for the first time in Haifa and then we have our annual grandchildren's summer camp.

The summer camp this year will involve 7 of our "monkeys" and we will be visiting the Gan Garoo Australian wildlife park, a theme park, a visit to the beach, making wine with our feet, horse/pony ridiing and lots of other interesting things. Then we can flop and get back to normal.

The north of the country has so many opportunities for trips with children and from now until school starts in just over a couple of weeks time there will be crowded roads and crowded country side. Of course one can stay in Haifa. One of Haifa's citizens, Ilene Bloch-Levy, feels so full of life in Haifa that she put her feelings in an e-mail. This is how the average person views life here - what better way to sell our city? Last week, the students orientation tour was a great success and as a follow up I saw a great pictorial representation of the city at (click on "The Haifa Project - Part 3 - From the Carmel to the Sea" English version). This says it all.

"At first glance," says Ilene, "Haifa offers the ideal setting for vacationers -- towering mountains overlooking an azure sea and miles of pristine beaches. True, Haifa is a wonderful tourist spot, but it is also a wonderful place to live.

The capital of the north and Israel's third largest city, Haifa touts itself as a "friendly, family-oriented city." The city sits on three tiers of the Carmel Mountains. The lowest level is the center of commerce and industry; the middle and upper levels are residential neighborhoods boasting a population of 280,000 and a magnificent view of the Western Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea.

But two years since the Second Lebanon War, Haifa has made enormous strides in bringing new life, new industry and new bustle to the city's hub. Massive sums of moneys have been invested in infrastructure: redeveloping beaches, new parks, restructuring the seaport, and adding to its already massive industrial base -- the largest high tech industrial park in Israel -- by concentrating on developments in nano, bio and clean technology, with the aim to building the largest biotechnology center in Israel.

About an hour and a half north of Tel Aviv, Haifa's cultural life comfortably competes with the center of the country. There are museums, concert hall, symphony orchestra, theater, public libraries, zoo and community centers including religious ones in Ahuza, Neve Shaanan and Kiryat Shmuel. Haifa also is home to two academic universities: Technion and Haifa Universities, with combined populations of some 35,000, and a number of private colleges and teachers seminaries.

For English speakers, Haifa is a veritable haven. With its active AACI, English speaking national women's organizations local chapters, and 10% of the population identified as English speakers, Haifa offers poetry readings, theater groups, an excellent English library, choir, and an Anglos parshat hashavua women's group.

Religious life in Haifa is strong and growing. Religious live primarily in three neighborhoods: Neve She'enan, Ahuza, Kiryat Shmuel, and in the Ultra-Orthodox Hadar neighborhood as well.

In recent years, there has been a major effort among community groups to galvanize their resources to make Haifa even more hospitable and welcoming. Haifa is officially part of the Jewish Agency's Communal Aliyah & Absorption Program, so that in addition to the 'standard' basket of financial help and services new immigrants are entitled to, choosing Haifa as your first home means you receive additional incentives. On top of that, the newest "welcome wagon" group, made up of representatives from several synagogues, who cooperate with the municipality, will liaise with individual olim and relevant government bodies to help them through their initial absorption.

So, if Haifa is so perfect for so many different groups of people, who isn't it for? Well, it's certainly not a city for snobs. Haifa offers reasonably priced housing, excellent public transportation services (buses, train and even a cable car), and just plain down home hospitality."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

US Visas Rescinded - Israel's Advice Ignored

The “sad” story of three HAMAS affiliated “scholars” finally came to an end last week, in case you missed it writes a blogger in Ohio

After all the razamataz, three Fulbright Scholars from a university in Gaza were denied entry visas into the US after originally receiving them. There are many unfortunate wrinkles in this story, from the US pandering to these supposedly ‘victimized’ residents of Gaza by carrying high-tech fingerprinting equipment to an Israeli checkpoint just to facilitate visa interviews (after Israel had issued warnings against these students leaving Gaza). Secretary of State Rice made an absolute fool out of herself by “personally taking up the case” and publicly basically told Israel that we don't know what we are talking about.

However, the fact is that even after the Shin Bet warned of these “scholars” and their “potential” baggage (i.e. links to HAMAS), Rice pushed forward only to eventually make the US once again eat humble pie on the international scene!

A State Department spokesman said.“We decided that we needed to take a closer and harder look at them in light of the additional information we received” . He also said the visas were canceled under a prudential revocation clause in immigration rules that allows them to be rescinded based on information gleaned about the holders after the visas had been issued.(really? AFTER? What about the information from the ShinBet in Israel?

In the aftermath of this debacle, Sec. Rice has ordered a top-to-bottom review of the entire Fulbright Scholarship Program.Maybe when the State Department dives into those files they will find more people that have come to the United States under the guise of “furthering their education” that are actually there to subvert the country and way of life (possibly via some sort of, umm, ahh . . . Grand Jihad?). Maybe when they appoint some investigators, they will see that the Gaza University that these folks came from was the Islamic University of Gaza is a bastion of HAMAS activity.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Pillow

I received another wonderful story of the real Israel from my friend Larry at the Emek Medical Center which for the umpteenth time shows what real people are like here. I think it woorth repeating in its entirety - no need for any further comment

I was standing near the entrance / exit of the hospital’s main lobby at about 4:00 PM when I overheard what sounded like an interesting conversation. I heard a middle-aged Arab saying to a Jew, “… and here I am leaving while he’s staying.” I introduced myself and that’s how I met Ahmed from Kfar (village) Manda, a large Arab village about ¾ of an hour northwest of Afula.

Ahmed is in his 50’s and has the lean hard suntanned body of a man who has worked the land and a deep-lined face that has seen, up close, the reality of Israel. He had been hospitalized in our department of Internal Medicine and had nothing but praise for the multi-ethnic staff that attended to him. What transpired today between him and his Ethiopian Jewish roommate (Gadi), as told to me by Ahmed, is what I shall share with you now.

“Gadi and me, we stepped outside the ward to have a cigarette”, Ahmed began. Smoking is prohibited throughout the hospital campus and I suppose that is why it’s such a popular Israeli pastime. “We were talking, just like you and me now, when all of a sudden Gadi stopped talking and was staring at some place on the wall above us.” Ahmed shuffled his feet a bit and looked off in the distance, mimicking what was obviously his roommate’s silent facial expression. “I asked him, hey Gadi – what are you looking at? He didn’t answer.” He then explained to me that Gadi went rigid as stone, began shaking and then collapsed unconscious against the wall. “I grabbed his body that suddenly felt like a bag of cement and lowered him slowly to the ground. I kept my hand under his head – propping it up like this,” as he gestured to me with an upturned right palm. “Like a pillow, so he wouldn’t bang his head on the stone floor. Gadi began convulsing and his head was banging up and down against my hand and not the hard floor.” Now Ahmed’s open palm was gesticulating in a quick up and down motion. “”Drool and foul smelling liquid ran out of Gadi’s mouth and onto my hand, but I would not let him go.”

What passersby saw was Ahmed from Kfar Manda in his hospital pajamas kneeling in an outside corridor next to an unconscious middle-aged Ethiopian Jew, pillowing his head with his own hand to keep his dark-skinned acquaintance from injuring himself.

Help was only seconds away and Gadi was returned, unharmed to his bed. He awoke not long after that, not remembering falling or being held. They had joked earlier today about Gadi going home and Ahmed having to stay behind. And there we were at the exit, with Ahmed telling me in a jovial tone, “And here I am leaving while he is staying behind. Funny how life, with no warning, can suddenly flip around.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Israeli Jerusalem Rat

This recent newspaper report has got to take first prize in the ability to stretch people’s "imagination". I wonder when the BBC will pick this up as surely they will!!

The report published by two Palestinian newspapers – one of which, “Al-Hayat Al-Jadida” is an official Palestinian Authority organ directly controlled by the office of PA President Mahmoud Abbas - are accusing Israel of releasing rats to chase away the Arab residents of Jerusalem."

According to the PA papers on July 18th, this amazing creature, the "Israeli-Jerusalem" rat, no doubt secretly developed in Dimona, or other secret place is:

- Immune to rat poison

- Aggressive and larger than usual
- Unafraid of cats and able to scare them away
- Highly fertile, with females giving birth to 140 young rats a year, four times the normal average

and now best of all!!

- Able to distinguish between Jewish and Arab neighbors!!.

Now there is a non military way to solve the woreld's problems!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The "Terrible" Treatment of Sick Palestinians from Gaza

Sick Palestinians 'asked to spy' - so reads a BBC report following on from a report by Physicians for Human Rights. The Non Governmental Organisation claims it has documented around 30 cases of treatment being denied to Palestininas from Gaza because the patients refused to become "informants".

Now forgive me for being sceptical but as with many newspaper reporters, the comments of Palestinians are accepted at face value without any checking of the validity of such statements.

1) Everyone coming into Israel through any entry point is questioned automatically, especially when there is a high risk of them being part of a terror organisation. Wouldn't Hamas love to get some of their terrorists into Israel?

2) there have been cases were so-called "sick" patients were caught trying to get into Israel to comitt terror attacks.

3) every day between 20 -50 cases are documented of Palestinians being allowed into Israel for medical treatment.

4) even the Fatah terrorists from Gaza being hounded to death in Gaza have been allowed into Israel for medical treatment Of the 188 Fatah members who entered Israel, 35 were sent back to Gaza on Sunday at the request of Abbas, who had initially asked Israel to treat the wounded and only facilitate the transfer to the West Bank of five members of the Hilles clan, including its leader Ahmed Hilles.

Yes, it is easy to make statements that "fit" an organisation's agenda but of the information that is reported , where do we see confirmation from an independant source?

According to all opinion polls, the Palestinians still favour violence and resistance. Are we to ignore this and not to question those that want to come into Israel?

Oh, and as a postscript. Where are the comments on the total and absolute closure of the Rafah crossing into Egypt? Why can't the sick be treated by their Egyptian "brothers"? Now there's a thought!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Heart Saved of 3 year old Boy from Angola

2000 children from 33 countries have been helped by Israeli Save A Child's Heart

Recently a 3-year old Angolan boy is the 2000th child to be treated by Save a Child's Heart (SACH), the Israeli-based international humanitarian project providing life-saving heart surgeries and follow-up care for children from developing countries.

A 3-year old boy from Angola underwent life saving heart surgery on Tuesday (July 29 2008), at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. Dalton Antonio Domingos is the first Angolan child to be operated in Israel and is the 2000th child to be treated by Save a Child’s Heart.

Dalton was brought to Israel, with three other children from Angola, by Save a Child’s Heart and by the Israeli “LR” group, who initiated and paid for the flights and for the treatment of the children. “LR” group” operates in Angola in various fields, including agriculture, and helps the society there recover and unite after the civil war.

Angola is the 33rd country from which Save a Child’s Heart brings children for life saving heart surgery.

Dalton will stay in Israel with his mother another month to recover and then will return to his father who is waiting for him in Angola.