Monday, August 31, 2009

This Apartheid Israel!!

This year has seen a great start for the Israeli soccer scene. It has managed to get 2 clubs through into the official first stage of the European club competitions.
In the premier competition, the Champions League, Maccabi Haifa will be playing. However, until the new stadium is built, its matches will have to be played at the Ramat Gan stadium near Tel Aviv.

The Israeli railways will be laying on special trains to take fans from Haifa to Ramat Gan directly (in the normal schedule, one has to change trains during the journey), a journey of approx 40 mins.

One of their main goalscorers in the qualifying stages for Maccabi Haifa was 18 year old, Mohammed Gadhir, who lives in a small Bedouin village in the Western Galilee, Bir Machsur

He has 7 brothers

Before most games, he deliberately seeks out a blessing form the local sheikh

He has come through the team’s youth system, and it would not be surprising if he is snapped up by a European team during the transfer season

Friday, August 28, 2009

Who Cares if Palestinians Kill Palestinians?

Thirty Palestinians killed. Women and children caught in the crossfire. Missiles fired at a Mosque. Muslim prisoners 'executed' in cold blood. A massacre. Media restrictions.

A familiar tale? Indeed. International outrage and demonstrations in the streets of London? Nope.

And why might that be? Why it's simple. The Palestinians were were killed by Palestinians and, it would appear from the lack of reaction that in those circumstances their lives are cheap, but when they are killed by Israelis it is an outrage.

So reports Tim Marshall of Sky News in his blog and concludes that unless the Israelis kill Palestinians, people don't care. Recommended reading

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who Says the Israelis Don't Treat Sick Palestinians?

Foreign media frequently reports that the Israeli government routinely denies Palestinians access to quality healthcare. The facts are that a growing number of Palestinians are being personally chauffeured to life-saving medical appointments in Israel by volunteer Israeli drivers.

It took more than half of her young life for doctors to diagnose two-year-old Aya Aiid Abo-Mois's chronic kidney disease. Today, it's the dialysis she receives four times a week at an Israeli hospital that keeps her alive says a report from Israel 21C

In the Palestinian Authority city of Jenin in the West Bank where she lives there are no adequate facilities to treat her rare condition. Aya has been receiving treatment at an Israeli hospital ever since she was rushed to Jerusalem suffering from kidney failure earlier this year.

Her physician states that "It's never happened that the authorities didn't let her though," and continues that “Aya receives the same medical treatment as any Israeli citizen”.

This is just one story of many about how Israelis and Palestinians are working together to ensure that children in the PA have access to healthcare in Israel when necessary. The Palestinian Authority and private donors foot the bill.

For the full story, read

It takes a network of volunteers from the PA and Israel to make sure that Aya and her mom Sahir have the necessary permits to travel from Jenin. A driver from among the volunteer coordinators at "Way to Recovery" transports them from their home to the hospital.

"Way to Recovery" numbers about 50 volunteers. Founded in 2006 by the Israeli-Palestinian Forum of Bereaved Families, requests for transport from the PA to Israel increase slightly each month.

The Rambam hospital in Haifa takes care of children from all over, "including children from the Gaza Strip, Schem (Nablus) and Hebron and we are asked to do our best. I also know there are many Palestinian children with cancer coming to Israeli hospitals," said Aya’s physician.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"One Small Step in the Process of Peace-Making"

For two weeks in July the village of Rechnitz, the apricot-growing center of Austria, became the center of reconciliation, tolerance and peace as eight Leo Baeck 11th graders from Haifa set up house with their Palestinian and European peers in a "Dialogue 4 the Future" seminar. The Leo Baeck group was accompanied by their High School principal together with representatives of the Bereaved Families Circle, a group of Palestinians and Jews who have lost loved ones in the conflict.

Small steps during those early ice-breaking days - pronouncing each other's names correctly, house and camp rules for all, soccer and table tennis,
learning about siblings, hobbies, meeting the mayor, yodel music, drama workshops… The developing friendship between Sagi from Israel and Allah from
Ramallah; the common bond – mosquito bites!

On the 4th day the students began opening their hearts, expressing their personal and group goals using English as their common language. "Feeling safe together and knowing what the other thinks and feels," was a thread that ran throughout the process culminating in their mission statement, "It is our goal that we will all take part in an honest discussion that will help us to learn more about our different beliefs and change the way we understand each other."

Leo Baeck Principal blogged, "Day 11 was the reason we came here, the day when we went deep into the heart of the conflict… It was moving and painful, quiet and respectful… There are large gaps between us and yet within them there is a willingness to find common issues, and solutions. When the discussion ended everybody hugged, some cried."

The village of Rechnitz will remain as it always was, but for the 27 young people from Haifa, Ramallah, Hungary and Austria, who hugged and wept when they parted at the airport, those two weeks in the summer of 2009, were just the beginning. Follow up activities are already in process to ensure that the dialogue did not end in Rechnitz.

Leo Baeck believes that as the permanent Israeli "Dialogue 4 the Future" partner it can pave the way to a better future.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An Economic Success?

It is a fact that Israel has now taken major steps to spur the Palestinian economy, despite the security risks involved. Two-thirds of the check points have been removed in the last three months and only 14 remain in operation, out of 41 just a few months ago.

All checkpoints around the major West Bank cities have been removed. A Palestinian driving from Jenin to Hebron today will only have to pass through two checkpoints, a considerable change from a few years ago.

In addition Israel has also substantially increased the number of permits issued to Palestinian businessmen and VIPS able to come and go from the West Bank to Israel, and that there were now some 75,000 Palestinians working in Israel, a 25% increase from the previous year.

The consequence of these steps has been an 8 percent growth in the West Bank's economy, according to the World Bank, decreasing unemployment, and a significant increase in tax revenue. Which country in the world can boast these figures in the present state of the world economy?

Tourism to the West Bank tripled last year, reaching some 1.2 million, with the hotels in the West Bank now running at 75 percent capacity, there is now NIS 13 billion in annual trade between Israel and the West Bank, with 80 percent of that being goods imported into Israel from the West Bank.

In addition there are three major projects underway in cooperation with the Regional Development Ministry:

a) The planning and development of a light industrial zone for tourism and services near Bethlehem, with the assistance of the French government.

b) A major industrial zone in Jalameh in the Jenin area, with the assistance of the German government.

c) A zone for the export and processing of agricultural products in Jericho, with the assistance of the Japanese government. Much progress has been made, and years-old obstacles have been removed.

Are we now going to see some minute flexibility on behalf of the Palestinian Authority? Forgive my skepticism but I don’t see it coming.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Palestinian Illusion

If anyone is still under the illusion that the Palestinians are the least bit interested in a peace with Israel then maybe Alice looking through the looking glass represents reality.

The concluding session of the current Fatah Assembly decreed that the return of both east and west Jerusalem to Palestinian control was a "red line" which was non-negotiable, and would need to be fulfilled before any peace talks with Israel could renew, Israel Radio reported.

According to the report, a document adopted by the Fatah delegates declared that Palestinians would "continue to be sacrificed until residents of Jerusalem are free of settlements and settlers." The document went on to state that all of Jerusalem, including the surrounding villages, belonged to the Palestinians, and lands conquered following the Six Day War shared the same status as those located within the Green Line.

In a recent interview on the BBC Persian service, an Iranian writer and commentator observed that in the history of world conflicts no peace treaty has been achieved by victor and vanquished being treated as equals. Israel was victorious in the wars with the Arab States and in this case of the Israel Palestinian conflict, he goes on to say, the UN has always interfered to ensure that Israel has been unable to reach any agreement.

This declaration by Fatah is a clear message to all those who maintain the illusion that the Palestinians were prepared for compromise.

In re-electing Mahmoud Abbas as head of Fatah, it is going to be more of the same. Moderation? Forget it, the emperor has NO clothes!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Best Secret in the Mediterranean

Willy Stern of the Weekly Standard, July 27, 2009 writes:-

"Perhaps nowhere else on the globe does there exist a greater discrepancy between perception and reality than Israel. The press portrays the country as a savage land racked by war and terrorism... The reality, though, is a country of 7.4 million people whose stock market and economy are humming along quite nicely (at least in contrast to the rest of the globe) and whose citizens revel in their chic Mediterranean lifestyle…

"In Israel, life goes on. The Western newspapers just don't notice or don’t want to notice. Israel today has become a vibrant, functioning jewel of a nation tucked into the eastern flank of the Mediterranean. Tel Aviv looks more like San Diego or Barcelona than Baghdad or Kabul. On a recent five-mile run along Tel Aviv's Gordon Beach, I saw Israeli yuppies cycling the boardwalk on $1,500 Italian mountain bikes, teenagers in full-body wetsuits surfing the breakers, a deep-cleavaged Russian model (nobody seemed to know her name) doing a photo shoot in a skimpy bikini whilst middle-aged Israeli men with potbellies and hairy chests shamelessly gawked, rows of high-priced yachts docked at the Tel Aviv marina, an endless stream of private planes on final approach to small Sde Dov Airport, and two Israeli soldiers in drab green uniforms making out in the sand and drinking Heineken. A nation at war? It seemed more like high season at Coney Island…

In the fourth quarter last year, when the global economy went all to hell, Israel's annual, quarter-over-quarter rate of GDP was only off 0.5 percent, the best figure in the industrialized world. (The United States was off 6.3 percent and Japan 12.1 percent.) What's the secret? A very conservative banking system…No mortgage crisis…A current account surplus since 2003…Negligible inflation…Prudent governmental fiscal policy… Healthy integration into the world economy. Last year, 483 Israeli high-tech companies raised a whopping $2.08BN (only US companies raised more). All the major tech players – Google, Microsoft, IBM – have large research centers in Israel. They go where the talent is…'Israel is today the third-hottest spot [after Silicon Valley and Boston] for high-tech venture capital in the world…'

Believe me there is an awful lot more to Israel than the postings in the international media but then they claim that it is not newsworthy!! Such hypocracy.