Monday, June 30, 2008

Haifa in the Forefront of Regional Cooperation

in Viruses, rabid animals and bacterial infections do not recognize political borders. Now yet again representatives from Israel, Jordan and the the Palestinian Authority will monitor infectious diseases with a system developed at the IBM lab in Haifa in a unique collaboration for "no-boundaries" public health information sharing.

The resulting ability to easily share secure health information will improve the quality of patient care, public health and safety, according to IBM. See full article at

IBM claim that this project has "solidified overall cooperation amongst the participating countries."

Once again Haifa is in the forefront of tomorrow's technologies and sharing everything with its regional partners. However, like most positive news about Israel, editors of the TV and the press never pick up on these stories.

With other joint projects concerned with water at the Haifa Technion regional interests take precedence over the politcal ones.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Haifa Planning for the Future

Returning from a visit to one of the local supermarkets, we drive by the high rise office block of the Electricity company and between two major plots of land to be developed according to the billboards placed on the roadside adjacent to each plot.

On one side there is to be the new location for the soccer stadium for local team Maccabi Haifa. It is moving from a congested area in the middle of town (no doubt to allow for more residential development) and into this new area which will ease access to the stadium and provide modern sports facilities for a soccer team that has traditionally performed well, except for last year!!!

On the other side of the road, the billboard announces the construction of a giant life sciences park with an investment of $150 million. Companies involved in research and development in the health field will all be gathered together on one site.

This park will be the first of its type in Israel and will bring together coompanies involved in bio technlogy, nano technology and medical equipment. There will be a campus of 5 buildings connected by walkways and underground parking for all.

This will create even more work opportunities and should bring an influx of families to the area. In may respects Haifa has been underestimated but this will create an amazing range of opportunities for the city.

House prices which are probably the best value for money in the country are all already starting to go up and investments in work opportunities such as the life sciences park will undoubtedly put pressures on the housing market.

Together this augers well for the future of Haifa

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

This subject seems to me to gaining more and more recognition as the subject is debated openly in many forums including surprise, surprise, the BBC!!

An interesting report on the subject has written by The Hon. Irwin Cotler, David Matas, and
Stanley A. Urman,

In the introduction it is stated that when the issue of refugees is raised within the context of the Middle East, people invariably refer to Palestinian refugees, virtually never to Jews displaced from Arab countries.

In reality, two major population movements occurred as a result of over a half century of turmoil
in the Middle East. Securing rights for these former Jewish refugees has never been adequately
addressed by the international community. For any peace process to be credible and enduring, it
must address the rights of all Middle East refugees, including Jewish and other minority
populations that were displaced from Arab countries.

Historically, Jews and Jewish communities have existed in the Middle East, North Africa and the
Gulf region for more than 2,500 years. Jews in substantial numbers resided in what are to-day
Arab countries over 1,000 years before the advent of Islam. Following the Moslem conquest of
the region, for centuries, while relegated to second-class status, Jews were nonetheless
permitted limited religious, educational, professional, and business opportunities.
It is important to note that the treatment of Jews by Arab leaders and Islamic populations
varied greatly from country to country. By way of example, in some countries, Jews were
forbidden to leave (e.g. Syria); in others, many Jews were expelled (e.g. Egypt) or displaced en
masse (e.g. Iraq); while other Jewish communities lived in relative peace under the protection
of Muslim rulers (e.g. Tunisia, Morocco).

When Arab countries gained independence, followed by the rise in Arab nationalism, state sanctioned measures, coupled often with violence and repression, made remaining in the land
of their birth an untenable option for Jews.

In 1948, the status of Jews in Arab countries worsened dramatically as many Arab countries
declared war, or backed the war against the newly founded State of Israel. Jews were either
uprooted from their countries of longtime residence or became subjugated, political hostages of
the Arab-Israeli conflict. In virtually all cases, as Jews left the country, individual and communal
properties were confiscated without compensation.

Since 1948, over 850,000 Jews have left their birthplaces and their homes in some 10 Arab
countries. To-day, fewer than 7,000 Jews remain in these same countries.The fact that Jews displaced from Arab countries were indeed bone fide refugees, under international law, is beyond question.

• On two separate occasions the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
ruled that Jews fleeing from Arab countries were indeed ‘bona fide’ refugees who “fall
under the mandate of my (UNHCR) office”.High Commissioner for Refugees, Document No. 7/2/3/Libya, July 6, 1967.

• In all relevant international bilateral or multilateral agreements, (i.e., UN Resolution 242,
The Road Map, The Madrid Conference, etc.), the reference to “refugees” is generic,
allowing for the recognition and inclusion of all Middle East refugees - Jews, Christians,
and other minorities.

More information can be obtained from

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gaza and the "Cease Fire"

Will it or won't it? That is the question on most people's mind this morning when the cease fire as Westeners call it or "Period of Calm" as Hamas calls it. goes into effect.

There is no doubt as history has shown that such periods as this have been entered into because Israel has found ways and means of making the Hamas and its henchman suffer. There is no doubt in my mind that just as UN resolution 1701 has been a total failure in Lebanon since Hizbollah has been able to rearm while the UN peace keeping force stood idly by, so Hamas will be using the time for the next round at some time in the future. When will we ever learn?

Meanwhile it seems that both Hamas and Fatah seems pleased by the Israel Airforce killing of members of the Dighmush clan on Tuesday. All the dead belong to the Army of Islam and Islamic Jihad and the Jerusalem Post reports that "sources in the Gaza Strip expressed relief over the killings" as they were considered "one of the biggest thugs" in the Strip.

This group was reported to be responsible for the abduction of Gilad schalit and also BBC's Alan Johnstone. are the BBC pleased at what we did - unlikely. Was it even reported on the BBC - not to my knowledge at this point in time!!

While talking about the BBC, a recent program looks at Gaza, a year after the coup that ousted Fatah.

Muhammed Huasanain, Fatah supporter says "since Hamas took over, has been a very difficult time for me and my family". "Fatah people have got no voice and no power here in Gaza under Hamas control". "On personal issues, if you go to any ministry which is controlled by Hamas, they want to make things difficult for Fatah supporters. " "If Hamas control continues for the next year, there will just be more misery for people here."

Misbah Harbi Shalha, father complains that "in any normal situation, children would have the right to play outside in security. " His daughter was killed when Hamas forces were training, on a hill close to our home. "In the 1990s, things used to be good. We had a proper legal system. At the moment, we have no law and order. I wish I lived in a place where there were courts, and the law, to deal with these crimes. "

Whether today's period of calm will result in anything positive for the long for the Palestinians in the Strip remains to be seen but as long as there is the desire "to eliminate the zionist entity", then the Palestinians will continue to suffer under the control of Hamas that has not got out of the mindset of terrorism and into the mode of State building.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Oh what a Beautiful Morning, Oh, What a Beautiful Day

So go the words of the song from the film "Oklahoma" by Rodgers and Hammerstein. In my case, this week I saw a beautiful day when, together with a group of us from the Hafdasah organisation in Haifa, we took a trip to visit the Israel museum. Of course the museum is well known for its exhibition of the Dead Sea scrolls found at Qumran, see for answers to a lot of questions about this subect.

Of particular interest on this visit was the exhibit of the original scroll of the book of Isaiah which was brought out specially for the 60th year anniversary and the visit of George Bush. this original scroll will be removed from public display in the next couple of weeks as its rate of deterioration accelerates when on public show.

Seeing the scrolls written between 150 BCE and 70 CE and the Aleppo Codex (the first bible in book form, written in Tiberius in 10 CE somehow focuses the mind on the current conflict. At that time Islam was nowhere to be found and Jewish life and culture was so well established. Just who has been in these parts from "Time Immemorial" as claimed by Arafat?

The other point of interest was the exhibition of art and judaica artifacts recovered from the Nazis but to whom they belong is still unknown. Our guide was very knowledgeable on these exhibits and the whole visit was fascinating.

The beautiful morning was the morning after the visit to Jerusalem. At 8:30 in the morning we were on the Dado Beach for a walk along the promenade (boardwalk?) and beach. I find that time at the beach is so restful in spite of the fact that there are many people there also to stroll, walk, jog a or just simply stop off at the cafe for coffee or breakfast. The temperature was already in the upper 20's C (upper 80's F) but a brisk walk to breathe in the sea air gives one a great feeling to start the day off.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Two memorable events

In general with this blog, I try to focus on issues that I feel are not always adequately covered by the international media and therefore I hope to provide an alternative picture of what I see as the true lifestyle here in Israel.

This time I want to focus on a couple of events, that together with my wife, we enjoyed immensely and for several hours took our minds off the problems of Gaza and Hizbollah on our southern and northern borders.

Friends from the UK had decided some time ago to fund the writing of a new torah scroll and donate it to the Western Wall in Jerusalem .

As is customary, the completion of the last few words was done in a ceremony in which friends of the family each wrote one letter. On the conclusion of this writing, the scroll was “danced” from the beautiful hall adjacent to the Wall and on to the plaza in front of the Western Wall to the lively music of a band of musicians.

After almost an hour of dancing, the scroll was placed in its ark (cupboard) to be used for readings during the normal services and also on those special occasions when boys reaching the age of 13 have their barmitzvah celebrations at the Wall.

The guests then proceeded into the Western Wall Tunnel complex and after a fascinating walk down into the depths we reached the Hasmonean hall, see pictures, for a celebratory dinner. What an atmosphere there was, sitting there in a place of history thousands of years old. A night to remember.

The second event was the evening of the festival of Shavuot, (Pentecost). We had decided on this evening we would invite some friends for a meal. What started out as a small group gradually grew until there were 11 of us. The evening was very interesting as the guests were originally from USA, S.Africa, UK, Holland and Switzerland, quite an international gathering. Barely 48 hours earlier I had met a journalist first time visitor to Israel, a Roman Catholic from Ireland, who I felt would be interested in meeting people living here and so it was that he also joined us.

The conversation flowed non stop and it was almost midnight before the guests decided it was time to go home. Again an evening to remember,

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Maybe the "Lies" are finally to be exposed?

As Goebbles said in WW2, "a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth". This has been the role of the Arab world to discredit Israel since its creation.

Not only have the Pallywood productions created icons and images which many accept as the truth but every attempt is made to discredit the history of the Jews and replace it with the myths of the "history of the Palestinian people from Time Immemorial", as Arafat referred to.

Archeological artifacts from under the temple mount have been thrown away in the work carried out by the Wakf in building yet another mosque. A small quantity were recovered and these also confirm the Jewish heritage on the site. Thus it is quite clear why the Wakf discarded these treasured items.

However, now a book has been found which may shed further light on the history of the Jews in Palestine well before the Moslems arrived.

A resident of Caesarea who is a lover of antiquarian books and Judaica found in Budapest an old book, in Latin, which had been written by a Christian named Reland, chronicling his trip in the land of Israel in 1695/6.

The writer, Reland, a man of many talents - a geographer, a cartographer and a philologist – knew Hebrew, Arabic and Ancient Greek, as well as the European languages, perfectly. The book was written in Latin. In the year 1695, Reland was sent on a tour of the land of Israel or, as it was then called, Palestine. During that trip, he visited approximately 2500 places which had been inhabited and mentioned in the Bible or in the Mishnah (a collection of early oral interpretations of the scriptures compiled about A.D. 200.).

The manner in which he studied these places was interesting. First of all, he mapped out the land of Israel. Reland identified each of the places mentioned in the Mishnah or in the Talmud according to the source of its name. If the source of the name was Jewish, he sited the appropriate verse in the Holy Scriptures. If the source of the name was Roman or Greek, he sited the context in Greek or Latin. He even supplemented this and did a survey and a general census for each settlement.

Now the bottom line !!! The outstanding conclusions are:

No settlement in the land of Israel has a name of Arabic extraction. The names of settlements are mostly of Hebrew extraction; some of Greek or Latin-Roman. In fact, no Arab settlement (except for Ramla) has had an original Arabic name to this day. Most names of Arab settlements are of Hebrew or Greek extraction which have been impaired and replaced by meaningless names in Arabic. There is no meaning in Arabic for the names Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Nablus, Gaza or Jenin and the names of cities, such as Ramallah, El-Halil and El-Kuds have no historical or philological roots in Arabic. In the year 1696, the year in which the tour was taken, Ramallah, for example, was called Beit El, Hebron was called Hebron and Mearat HaMachpelah was called El Chalil (a name for Abraham of the Bible).

The land was, on the whole, empty and desolate; the inhabitants were few and concentrated in the cities of Jeusalem, Acre, Safed, Jaffa, Tiberius and Gaza. Most of the inhabitants of the cities were Jews, the others were Christian; there were very few Moslems, mostly nomadic Bedouins. Nablus (Schem) was different, with a population of about 120 people from the Moslem Natsha family and about 70 Shomronites. In Nazareth, the capital of the Galilee, there were approximately 700 people – all Christians.

It is interesting that Reland mentions all the Muslims as nomadic Bedouin tribes who arrived in the area as seasonal workers, in both agriculture and construction. In Gaza, for example, there were approximately 550 people; fifty per-cent of them were Jews, the rest Christians. The Jews engaged in flourishing agriculture, owning vineyards and olive orchards and growing wheat (like in Gush Katif) and the Christians engaged in commerce and the transportation of the produce.

In Tiberius and in Safed there were Jewish settlements, though their occupations, on the whole, were not mentioned. The only exception was fishing in the Kinneret – a traditionally Tiberian activity. A city such as Um el-Phachem, for example, was then a village of 10 families, all Christian, consisting of about 50 people; a small Maronite church was also mentioned. (The Shehadah family)

The book totally contradicts the post-modern theory of "a Palestinian heritage" or a Palestinian people, and strongly supports the fact that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews and not at all to the Arabs, who stole the land, and the name Palestine, as well, stole from the Latin and still claim to possess even that.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Christians Under Attack in Gaza

Attacks on Christian targets and those identified with Western culture have grown more frequent in Gaza in the past two years, and especially since the Hamas takeover in June 2007, experts say. The targets have included churches, Christian and United Nations schools, the American International School, libraries and Internet cafes.

The Hamas leadership is not acting to stop the attacks and no one has been brought to justice. Nor do I see any condemnation by the worldwide heads of the Christian communities

Global jihad involvement
An Israeli intelligence report determined that there has been an increase in the number of attacks on Christian figures and institutions, as well as those associated with Western values. The attacks are being perpetrated by elements identified with the global jihad and radical Islam. In the past two years, groups associated with Al-Qaeda took responsibility for attacks upon Christians and Christian institutions with the expressly-stated goal of driving Christians out of Gaza.

The Christian community in Gaza numbers around 3,000. According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC), the attacks on Christians have included the following:

- May 31, 2008, gunmen attacked the guards at the Al Manara school, stole a vehicle belonging to the Baptist Holy Book Society which operates the school and threatened the society's director.

- May 18, 2008: a large bomb exploded at the entrance to a fast-food restaurant near Al-Quds Open University in the center of Gaza City. The restaurant was completely destroyed. According to the owner, it was the second time his establishment had been attacked.

- May 16, 2008: a bomb exploded in the Rahabat al-Wardia school run by nuns in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City. Hamas condemned the incident and a call was made to the police to bring the criminals to justice. The previous year, when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, the school was subjected to thefts and an arson attack.

- April 3, 2008: a monument in the Gaza Strip's foreign nationals' cemetery was blown up. Hamas promised to investigate.

- February 15, 2008: Three gunmen from the “Army of Islam in the Land of Ribat,” a network headed by Mumtaz Dughmush, broke into the YMCA library in Gaza City and set off a bomb which caused extensive damage.

- January 10, 2008: a group called "Army of the Believers -- the Al-Qaeda Organization in Palestine,” attacked the International School in Beit Lahiya twice, burning vehicles and stealing equipment. According to a statement issued two days later, the school was accused of spreading polytheism and hatred for Islam. The attacks were timed to coincide with U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to Israel.

- December 31, 2007: the “Friends of the Sunnah Bayt al-Maqdis” issued a manifesto on the Pal-Today Website, affiliated with Islamic Jihad, threatening to attack anyone who participated in New Year's Eve celebrations.

- October 6, 2007, elements linked to Hamas abducted Rami Khadr Ayad from his home and shot him to death; he was a Christian who worked for the Holy Bible Society.

- June 19, 2007: during the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip Hamas gunmen attacked and vandalized a monastery and church.

- April 21, 2007: elements linked to the global jihad attacked the American International School in Gaza City.

- April 15 2007 a group calling itself "The Swords of Truth in the Land of Ribat" set off bombs in two Internet cafes and a store selling Christian books, causing damage.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Israeli Democracy - The Arabs View

Whist I consider the corruption case against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is a matter to be dealt with internally through the judicial system and therefore not a subject for debate in international blogs, one aspect of the case is of extreme interest. That is the reactions of the Arab bloggers from the countries around us.

It seems that Israel has earned a tremendous amount of respect throughout the Arab world, and many have called on their leaders to benefit from Israel's democratic system and independent judicial system. Thus reports Khaled Abu Tomeh in the Jerusalem Post

Words of praise for Israel are a rare phenomenon in the Arab media. But judging from the reactions of many Arabs to the corruption case in the past week, the trend appears to have changed. Even some Arabs who describe themselves as "sworn enemies of the Zionist entity" have begun singing praise for Israel.

"Show me one Arab or Islamic country where a prime minister or a senior government official was ever questioned for financial corruption or bribery," said a reader who identified himself only as Majed.

"The Israeli regime with all its defects is better than all the Arab 'democracies' and still changes ministers and governments every few years." said a reader named Sami

"Before we curse Israel, we must learn from the democratic and judicial system in Israel, where no one is above the law," wrote a Saudi national named Abdel Karim urged his Arab brethren to stop criticizing Israel and learn something about its democracy.

Khaled, another Saudi national, chimed in: "Although we are talking about Israel, which I have always hated very much, there is still no one above the law there."

Mahmoud al-Bakili of Yemen posted the following response on one of the Web sites: "We want this kind of accountability and transparency in the Arab and Islamic world."

An Arab who described himself as a Syrian Voice: "Despite my strong hatred for the Zionist regime, I have a lot of admiration and respect for this entity because there is no one above the law. In the Arab world, laws are broken every day and no one seems to care."

"There is corruption in Israel and the Arab world," wrote Abu Hadi from Iraq. "But the difference is that the Israelis hold their leaders accountable, while we the Arabs remain silent about corruption."

Jamal, who described himself as the Madman, wrote that "the reason why Israel has lasted for so long is because of its independent and fair judicial system. I challenge the Arabs to have such an independent judicial system."

Mohammed in Lebanon: "Can you imagine if there was an investigation against an Arab or Muslim leader? Do you know how much money they would discover?"

Abu Yusef in Egypt: "Unfortunately, this is the real democracy. Our enemies are very good in practicing democracy. In the Arab world, our leaders steal everything and no one ever dares to ask a question."

Rashid in Saudi Arabia: "Despite all our problems with the Jews, they are much better than us in fighting corruption and revealing the truth."
Israel Lover in Saudi Arabia: "Israel is a state that deserves to exist. It deserves our profound respect. I wish I were a citizen of this state."

Hani in Ramallah: "This is democracy at its best! Enough of dictatorship in the Arab world! Let's learn from the Israeli example. Let's benefit from Israel's democracy."

Rashid Bohairi in Kuwait: "I swear Israel is a state that will succeed. They are prosecuting their prime minister because of tens of thousands of dollars. What about the millions of dollars that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority stole? How come the Palestinian people are still hungry?"