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?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Fast of Av and the Future of Israel?

The fast of Tisha B'av has just been completed. This fast commemorates many tragedies that have occurred in Jewish history and specifically, the Israelites' temple which was destroyed 70AD by the Romans. Large numbers of the Jewish population were exiled to Rome where they became slaves (from whom some later became Christian); and their political state was crushed by the Romans who removed their name from the map of the Middle East, replaced it with Palestine (Philistine).

From this time forward it was a province of the Roman Empire and thus, the Israelites were living in their ancient land as a conquered people under the Romans. Then in 700AD the land was conquered by Salah HaDin and the Ottoman Turks. The Israelites were not freed until 1948 when the State of Israel was declared.

Now once again the country is under threat from Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas. With the appointment of Tony Blair as the quartet’s special envoy, Israel will again be pushed for concessions to the Palestinians. British Parliamentarians softened their demands for negotiating with Hamas and said that while it is critical for the group to renounce violence, it does not necessarily need to recognize Israel for preliminary contact to be established with the European Union,

In a report to be published this week , a subcommittee of the House of Lords' European Union Committee said that the EU should avoid an "undesirably rigid" approach to dealing with Hamas that would risk undermining progress in building viable and democratic Palestinian institutions, a prerequisite, they say, for any peace settlement.

I wonder if these parliamentarians have read the Hamas charter. It should be compulsory for everyone. Judging by recent references with "Hamas" and "moderate" in the same sentence, it could well be that many UK MPs and journalists are in happy ignorance. Strange that the charter never gets quoted in the media - it seems to be a no go area.

The Hamas Charter is as up front as Mein Kampf. One can't understand the Israel/Palestinian conflict without it. To read it all see

If you read nothing else, articles 22 and 30 which could have been taken directly from the notorious Protocols of Zion. Also a must read is Article 32 which speaks about the Zionist aim to control the world and quotes the Protocols as the evidence.

For Tony Blair’s attention, article 13 makes it very clear there is no acceptance of the role of negotiators or peace initiatives and article 18 is about mothers teaching their children to be fighters!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Big Summer Holiday

We are now in the middle of the long summer holiday for all the school children. This is the time when grandparents are dragged (well sometimes) kicking and screaming to look after their grandchildren in order allow to their parents to go to work.

The first half of this two month holiday is usually taken up with organised summer programmes, sometimes run by the local councils, sometimes private and sometimes by independant organisations. They can be general in nature or specific, for example tennis camps, or science camps and a multitude of other subjects.

However as the end of July approaches and these programmes come to an end, then the parents have to beg, borrow or steal some help with the children so they can go to work (at least most of the time!!).

This is when the grandparents come on the scene. So what sort of activities can they undertake. Of course it depends on the ages of the children. the little ones are happy to take a dip in the sea or in the pool on the balcony, others get involved in jewellry design, boys can go cycling or bowling, then there are zoos, theme parks, snake parks, safari parks, monkey parks, kangeroo parks, nature parks and so on. Of course they are all attractive places to visit, but when you are taking 4-8 kids out for the day, it becomes rather expensive by the time one has paid for entry and then bought ice creams all round and other "incidental" costs, if you know what I mean.

The grandchildren get spoilt, the grandparents get worn out and before you know it the children are back in school and everything goes back to normal.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Two Tales of Education

Two reports below show two faces of the complex problem of education in the Palestinian curricula. I wonder which one will succeed? No prizes for guessing.

From a report in Palestinian Media Watch we now see a new character on Hamas’s Al-Aqsa television station 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 Palestinian religious leaders to refer to Jews. Defining the Jews as the enemies of God is common in their religious broadcasting.

Without apparent regard for the sensitivities of their child viewers, the show’s creators killed off the Farfur character in a particularly violent way that allowed them to continue the show’s rabidly anti-Israel messages.It is now clear that these messages will continue through the new Nahool character.

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.”

On the other side of the coin, a recent report of educational cooperation reveals that Palestinian high school students from Ramallah, Bethlehem and east Jerusalem are working on technology projects alongside their Israeli counterparts from Beit Shemesh, Mevaseret Zion and west Jerusalem in the MEET (Middle East Education through Technology) program being taught at the Hebrew University's Givat Ram campus.

"I didn't realize they must serve in the army when they graduate from high school until we once spoke about it. I was shocked to hear they have to serve until the age of 21."

This sentence might not sound so surprising if it was coming from an overseas visitor. But the speaker is Anwaar, a 17-year-old Palestinian from east Jerusalem. She was talking about Amit and Nadav, fellow participants in MEET whom she has known for two years. "I don't know yet what I'll do in the army, I just know it's something I have to do," said Nadav. Amit added, "And we're happy to do it."

Most of MEET's funding comes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

When Anwaar and Manal, also from east Jerusalem, get together with Amit and Nadav, who both study at Leyada high school, also located on Givat Ram, they seldom, if ever, talk politics.

During this summer's school vacation they are busy writing commercial software for GHOST (Global Hosted Operating System), a Palestinian start-up company, developing a compatible task management application that will be accessible to users from any computer.

"I think being here while not talking politics really helps you to get to know each other. This situation helps with rearranging our ideas and minds about the other side," said Anwaar. "I will still be a Palestinian when it ends, but I'll have more experience and I'll get to know the person regardless of his citizenship."

MEET is in its fourth year; all 85 participants receive a scholarship that covers tuition, transportation, food and even the notebooks.

It's difficult to get into MEET. Thirty new students are chosen each year from about 440 applicants, after a selection process that includes a written exam, group dynamics and a personal interview.
Wissam Jarjoui, a 17-year-old Palestinian from Beit Hanina in north Jerusalem, completed the MEET program last year. This fall, he enters MIT with a full scholarship.

While Jarjoui works on his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering or nuclear physics - he hasn't decided which - his friend Lior Kastel, 18, also a graduate of MEET, will be serving in an IDF intelligence unit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Just "Normal Days at the Office"

The last few days have been interesting, not necessarily because of what we’ve done, more with the people we have come in contact with.

With friends visiting from the UK, we took the opportunity to take them to Acre and visit the old city. I am sure many of you will know that over 40% of the city are Arab citizens and within the old city, the percentage is probably nearer to 80%.

So as we wandered around the narrow alleyways, passing families sitting in their courtyards, all we basically heard spoken was Arabic. Exiting into a piazza, one house of note was the home of Ramonda Tawill, the mother in law of Yassir Arafat. It was Tawill who, with financing of the Ford Foundation and certain European countries, founded the Palestinian Press Service in 1984 and used the service to propogate the revision of history.

The weather was rather warm on that day, so we stopped for some liquid refreshment at a café owned by one of the Arab residents next to the entrance to the large mosque which dominates the skyline of the city.

A day later on a typical train journey to Tel Aviv, I found myself sitting with a family of Arab citizens, who were traveling to enjoy a day out in that city. Their conversation varied between Arabic and Hebrew. I didn’t get the opportunity to engage them in conversation but everything just seemed so natural.

And finally, I received a request from a contact in the States to check out a family in the Christian Arab quarter of Haifa. It seems their son was going out with a girl in the States and the American family wanted to know if the family was known as a good family. Putting on my Sherlock Holmes hat and visiting the local pharmacy, run by a Christian Arab, it transpires that the family is indded known as an honorable family.

Yes this is normal Israel, a picture so often misrepresented by the media.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

What to Do Now About the Palestinian Authority?

Khaled Abu Toameh, Palestinian, has produced several documentaries on the Palestinians for the BBC and other international networks. The headlines below are based on his presentation at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs in Jerusalem on May 24, 2007 - before the Hamas takeover of Gaza in mid-June.

To read the full presentation go to

· Within a few months after Abbas came to power, Palestinians started realizing that he was not delivering. Instead of fighting corruption, he surrounded himself with the same Arafat cronies. There was a decrease of perhaps 30-40 percent in the level of corruption but an upsurge in internal violence.

· The January 2006 election that brought Hamas to power was mostly about: "Let's punish these Fatah thieves." Hamas was building schools and kindergartens and clinics, while the PLO was building a casino and villas for its leaders. I believe some 30-35 percent of the Palestinians who voted for Hamas did so as a vote of protest because they were unhappy with the way the Palestinian Authority was running the show.

· Let Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO and Fatah start rebuilding their institutions, reform themselves, get rid of the corruption, and come up with a new list of candidates. Then run in another free and democratic election and offer the Palestinians a better alternative to Hamas.

· The Palestinians do not need more guns and military training. If the U.S. has $86 million and wants to help the Palestinians, then help them build civil institutions, help them build freedom, educate them about good things. What's the point in taking 200 Presidential Guards to Jericho to train them? Who are they going to fight at the end of the day? In Gaza they were defeated.

· What should Israel do at this stage? Nothing. There is no one to deal with on a serious basis on the Palestinian side. Abbas doesn't even have control over his own Fatah militias. Israel should just sit and wait. Don't repeat the mistake of unilateralism, when Israel left Gaza to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.

· It is ironic that the West is supporting the guys who are suppressing the moderates and people who want democracy. The West is actually undermining its own goals.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Just where is all that money going?

With an average of 50 terror alerts daily, the security forces are kept on their toes to avoid these alerts becoming a reality. According to reports from the Herzliya center for terror information there were still over 2000 terror related incidents in 2006 but thankfully a considerable reduction in the number of fatalities and injuries

The amount of international aid going to the Palestinians is unbelievable:-

US aid to the Palestinians 2005: $400m 2006: increases to $468m
European Union aid to the Palestinians2005: $711m 2006: increases to $916m
International Monetary Fund and UN aid to the Palestinians2005: $1bn 2006: increases to $1.2bn.

The aid described above mostly went directly to individual Palestinians, or through UN agencies like the World Food Programme, rather than being transferred to the Palestinian Authority. Nevertheless, "these numbers are quite stunning" said Alexander Costy, assistant to Alvaro de Soto, UN Special Middle East Envoy. (Source: New York Times analysis published on 21 March 2007 by their lead Middle East reporter Steven Erlanger).

With all this money going in, just what is it really being used for. There may be shortaqges of food and nothing for building up the Palestinian infrastructure but there seems to be no shortage whatsoever for arms and ammunition

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Qassam rocket lands in western Negev; no injuries reported

This received from a friend of mine today from a report a few hours ago

A Qassam rocket launched from the northern Gaza Strip at Israel landed in an open area near one of the kibbutzim of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Now what is in italics is what is written or said in most of the updates, after a kassam has fallen. There were no injuries this time in blood or pain, that can be seen, and it was in an open area but my wife & I, were driving by when the Kassam fell, and it shook us up.

It is not the first time this has happened to us, but when you hear the "Red Warning"(for those of you who don't know what red warning is, it is a warning of up to 15 seconds, to let you know that a kassam is on it's way) and the daily falling of kassams, does get to you and in some way does mentally injure all of us, not to mention that there are injuries and damages and death from kassams.

Sunday my wife was in Sderot and within 5 mins time there were 5 "Red Alerts" warnings, none fell near her but one did fall at the school near were I was at. To us this has taken its toll and yet, we are not affected as much as the people in Sderot and near by Kibbutz Nir Am, so what feelings we have from this you can multiply that at least 5 times for those unfortunate people. So the next time you read or hear, There were no reports of injuries or damage, remember this letter.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Yes Guys it is Terror in the UK

The new Prime Minister in the UK has finally said "It's terror". Quite right guys, that is exactly what it is. His new adviser said it will take 10-15 years to get to grips with the problem. Sorry to say it guys, you are wrong!!

Welcome to the reality club. Unless the political correctness and liberalism is changed as a feature of UK society, then it is going to take a lot longer. And as usual Jews are at the forefront of the new Battle of Britain

Labour MP John Mann initiated an inquiry and reported: 'It is clear that violence, desecration and intimidation directed towards Jews is on the rise. Jews have become more anxious and more vulnerable to attack than at any time for a generation or longer.'

Following a meeting of the trustees of the BBC, a friend who attended was approached after the
meeting by both the head of the trustees and the deputy-general of the BBC. The former was amazed that this friend had hinted at a connection between anti-Israel bias and growing anti-semitism in Britain, especially when she mentioned that many of her friends were considering leaving Britain as a result of the atmosphere.

Come on Britain "Wake up" - you are in the real world now

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Water, water and not a drop to drink

There have been claims that Israel has "cut off water supplies" to the Dehaishe Palestinian community.

This is yet another attempt to demonise Israel by Palestinians who have been brainwashed and indoctrinated that Israel is responsible for all their ills. The ineffectiveness the Abbas leadership is causing suffering of the man in the street and because of this incessant demonisation of Israel by the Palestinians in its schools, media, mosques etc it would naturally seem to the average Palestinian that only Israel is to blame for everything.

Following the claim that water has been "cut off", a spokesman for the Co-coordinator of Civilian Activities in the Territories had the following to say :

Israel - i.e. the Coordinator in the Territories is not aware and does not know of any suspension in the water supply to Dehaisha.

The claim that water supply has been cut has been checked with both the Palestinian Authority and with UNWRA. Neither are cognisant of any problem.

Dehaisha and the rest of Bethlehem is located in Area "A" in which the Palestinian Authority is totally responsible for all civilian matters.including the regularity of water supply.

Israel's responsibility to supply water stops at the municipal boundary.

Water supply and distribution of water within Bethlehem including Dahaisha [as well as in the other Palestinian towns located in Area A] is not in Israel hands.

Under the Interim Agreement on Self Government, Israel is responsible for supplying a 4% increase in the amount supplied last year. In reality, Israel has supplied 20% in excess of last years supply

There is a very high probability that the infrastructure in Bethlehem and Dehaisha is defective or has been tampered with. Experience in Hebron has shown that water losses amount to 40% of the amount supplied- due to leakage resulting from a lack of infrastructural maintenance and more significantly by water theft. Holes are made in the supply pipes and water is drained off by the inhabitants in order to avoid paying for the water consumed.

Water wells around Bethlehem have been approved and supply pipes have been laid.

There was indeed a cut in the water supply for a couple of days to a small Palestinian settlement near Nablus (Shehem). This was caused by deep -ploughing which punctured the underground supply line and the farmer responsible covered up the damage- leaving the Israel Water Authority to discover where the leak was- which took time.

Israel also supplies water to Gaza well in excess of anything they are entitled. Gaza is served by wells in the Gaza aquifer and this has been over exploited by the Gazans

There has been wildcat drilling of the order of 100's of illegal wells.

In contrast to Israel- the Palestinians DO NOT RECYCLE THEIR WASTE WATER.
The Israel settlements in the Gaza strip which Israel vacated 2 years ago already, each had a water recycling plant which was left in good order. Not a single plant is in operation since Israel's withdrawal

Waste water and sewerage is left untreated within the West Bank and Gaza and is allowed to percolate into the ground causing pollution to the ground water.

This claim made by the Paestinian Solidarity Campaign in Britain, whose aim is the indoctrination of the Britsh public by using the UK media and in particular the BBC by blaming everything on Israel.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Summer holidays are here again

With start of the annual two month school holiday there is a definite change in the air. The beach were we walk, as often as time permits, is now full of parents with and without children, children with and without parents all enjoying the great beach facilites that are available.

While walking along the beach the sound of matkot, a favorite beach sport in Israel reminds you to keep your eyes open for the stray ball (about the same size as that used in squash) that could catch you unawares.

Of course there are the inevitable police and security forces wandering around but then we have come to accept this as normal

It now gets dark around 8:00 in the evening but beach is only then getting into full swing. Yes the summer holidays allow a certain freedom for the children but those parents with younger children have the problem of juggling their responsibilities as parents with the need to carry on working. In the month of July there are many summer camp options available but August is the most difficult time with not too many options available so it is quite common to see people going to work with their children. The lucky ones bring grandparents into the child minder role.

The Haifa council has a full programme of activities outdoors for the young and not so young ranging from folk dancing where anyone joins in if they feel like it, many performances for children, concerts ranging from classical to pop and jazz and again this year the 13th annual cartoon competition plus many other activities.

There is never a shortage of things to do and if the beach is too hot, most of the shopping malls have their own programmes for children during the heat of the day.

We will be having our annual grandchildren's summer camp in a few weeks time but more about that in a future posting

Sunday, July 1, 2007

They say it's good for your health

I have just completed the annual eye tests for glucoma and the like and I suddenly thought to myself how we have come to take these routine tests for granted. If I review the various tests I automatically do each year, even routine blood tests it does seem that there is a great effort in preventative medicine here in Israel.

Life expectancy in Israel at birth is: 79.32 years (2005 est.), males: 77.21 years and female: 81.55 years. the comparable figues for the UK are 78.7 yrs, 76.23 yrs and 81.3 years. by the way the figures for the USA are even lower than the UK. See

With all the controversy of boycotts, the charges of apartheid and racism, the reality is that in the medical field these charges just reflect ignorance.

In a letter to a paper this weekend by the head of a department in the hospital in Safad, he writes: " I invite anyone to visit my hospital to see for themselves the complete equality the Arab citizens enjoy not only as professionals but also as patients".

I must add that I have a number of friends working in the Haifa University and their comments re the academia echo that of the doctor.