Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Alternate National Service

Not everyone is army material in general wherever one lives. Israel is no exception. For different reasons, perhaps of politics or health, some young Israelis cannot, or do not wish, to serve in the military. Through Sherut Leumi (National Service), these people can still contribute. Today, more than 200 such volunteers perform important duties at the Rambam hospital in Haifa– 30 of them are Muslim & Christian Arabs

Visitors to
Rambam are politely assisted by a soft-spoken young man with an easy smile. They have no idea of the long path that led Nizar Elkoury, 18, to volunteer at this hospital information desk, giving directions in perfect Hebrew.

Nizar was born in Lebanon. His father was a member of the South Lebanon Army (SLA), a Christian, Israeli-backed militia that fought the Hezbollah. When Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, it granted asylum to the militiamen and their families. Given full citizenship and financial help, close to 1,000 of these families settled in Israel.

The Elkoury family has lived in Haifa since Nazir was eight. He has gone to Israeli schools, and says he has always been accepted and had friends. Hebrew posed no problem for Nazir, who mastered the language in three months. For his adopted country, Nazir expresses only gratitude, “I felt I had to do something for Israel,” he says. “I wanted to give back for the great favor we received.”

Nazir is one of 30 Sherut Leumi (National Service) minority volunteers at Rambam. Sherut Leumi offers 18-21 year olds who cannot or do not wish to serve in the army, an alternative to military service. Volunteers engage in dozens of “helping” projects. Although largely young Jewish women from religious backgrounds, Sherut Leumi volunteers also include men, and minority members. According to Rambam’s Director of Sherut Leumi, Shlomit Katzir, all qualified and motivated volunteers are welcome.

Lubna Kadry, 18, from the Arab Galilean village Nahaf also volunteers at Rambam through Sherut Leumi. Working for the children’s safety organization B’Terem, Lubna teaches children hospitalized at Rambam and their parents about safety in the home. “We work to turn homes into safe havens,” says Lubna.

According to Lubna, a disproportionate number of children from the Arab sector are injured in local and household accidents. “Homes and villages are often not safe, and parents are frequently not aware enough about these matters,” says Lubna, who says she is pleased to be helping her people in this way.

As with most volunteers, Lubna and Nazir feel they receive more than they give. “This position gives me skills for real life,” comments Lubna, who plans to be a doctor. Likewise, Nazir, who wants to be a nurse, appreciates the opportunity to view the world of medicine up close. At any rate, adds Nazir, “I believe that all of us should be connected not only to ourselves, but to our community at large.”

Sunday, December 26, 2010

No Room for Israelis in a Palestinian State

So finally Abu Mazen has come out clearly and said it "No room for Israelis in Palestinian state ", see He is giving his message loud and clear but do the world leaders even listen to what he says? Absolutely NOT!! And Abu Mazen is "supposed" to be our "peace" partner. Is anybody of any authority out there in the wide world really taking in what
a) the Palestinian leaders are saying in English and in Arabic
b) the Imams are preaching in their mosques week in, week out
c) is appearing on the Palestinian TV for children
d) is being taught in the schools, kindergartens and universities

A Christian supporter of Israel writes the following:-

How in the world can you be so foolish and self defeating, dear Mr. Abbas (Mr. Abu Mazen), to go on record stating that, once you succeed - as you are ceaselessly striving to do - to have the land you are after turned into a Muslim dominated Palestinian state, you will not permit one Israeli man, woman or child to remain living in what once was the very biblical heartland of the Jewish people?

Don't you realize that, by making such a stupid remark, you have let all Israelis know - if they didn't already -that you are not really interested in living in true peace with them; that you are only using the so-called peace process to arrive at your "Judenrein" State of Palestine - a state which, by its very anti-Zionist nature, will become a well-placed stepping stone for the entire fanaticized Muslim World from Iran to the Sudan to use to achieve the ultimate goal of most Muslims and Palestinians: the final eradication of the sovereign Jewish democratic state from your midst?

What if Israel's prime minister were to announce to the world that the price for a two state solution is that all Arabs now living under the sovereignty of the State of Israel need to leave and be made citizens of your to-be-formed Palestinian state? How would you react, and how would the world react to such an announcement, which would mirror completely the one you just dared make concerning the Jews who now live in their own historic land?

With your reprehensible declaration you have foolishly (for you) proclaimed the end of all peace negotiations, even with many among the Israelis who were duped into believing your intentions! Now we know. All you want to use the Europeans (and I am a European) and Americans for is to pressure little Israel into undoing what your Arab friends themselves brought about by their announced wish, as voiced by Abdul Nasser, to drive the Jewish people into the sea. Remember, it was in this war of Israeli self-defense that Jordan lost the so-called 'West Bank'.

For many Israelis this land - illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967 - was part of their ancestral land. By joining Egypt at the outbreak of the Six Day War (against the appeal of the Israeli government, "please do not do so") Jordan lost the territory to the people who, by divine decree, once owned it.

And now you, Mr. Abu Mazan, dare to say that, while the Arabs can live in Jaffa, in Haifa and all over Israel, Israelis who live in their Hebron, in their Shiloh, in their Beth El, in their Samaria cannot live among you - not even one - when it becomes a Palestinian state?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

No Needle Injection Innovation

From the web site of Israel 21C comes the news of a painless method of injecting medication into the body. If you, dear reader, are anythying like my wife, the sight of a needle creates fear and trepidation.

Many of us dread shots, or injections of medication directly into the bloodstream. Those who aren't blessed with "easy-to-access" veins may be subjected to several attempts by medical personnel, some of whom are less skilled - and empathetic - than others. Diabetes sufferers and others who require daily injections may find them difficult to handle, and some people have to administer them themselves.

All the above have prompted Israel's TransPharma Medical to spend close to a decade perfecting its unique ViaDerm Drug Delivery System. With a no-fail, painless applicator that never misses its mark, and its pre-measured patches, the ViaDerm system "is ideal for a wide range of medications and treatments," says Dr. Daphna Heffetz, TransPharma's CEO.

The genius of the ViaDerm system is in its use of basic principles of diffusion to push medication into the bloodstream. Most injected medications are pushed directly into the bloodstream or under the skin (subcutaneous) via a needle - but it turns out that there is another way to move medication into the bloodstream.

Below the outer layers of skin (the epidermis) lies the dermis, which contains elaborate networks of blood capillaries, and comes into direct contact with the epidermis. The ViaDerm system creates micro-channels through the outer layer of skin, allowing the medication to diffuse through them into the dermis and from there to seep into the blood system via the capillaries.

The full story can be read at

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Borders? What Borders?

So the South American countries want to recognise "Palestine within the 1967 borders" - right. totally wrong. There have NEVER been defined borders separating Judea and Samaria from the State of Israel - no NEVER

The Palestinian leadership is fixated on attempting to press foreign governments and the UN to recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state within the "1967 borders."

Such borders do not exist and have no basis in history, law, or fact. The only line that ever existed was the 1949 armistice demarcation line, based on the ceasefire lines of the Israeli and Arab armies pending agreement on permanent peace. The 1949 armistice agreements specifically stated that such lines have no political or legal significance and do not prejudice future negotiations on boundaries.

For a fully researched document with all the sources, see

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hello and Goodbye Europe

From the Israeli website YNET one writer is expressing the views and frustrations with a Europe that seems determined to raise the white flag and surrender its independance, its culture and its social norms.

Good morning Europe!

Hello dear continent, for a long time I wanted to write you a few words, as a close neighbor, from here, the Middle East, as one who loves to travel your beautiful landscape, and as one whose parents and roots are planted somewhere across the continent.

You were our home for thousands of years, especially the last thousand years. We knew beautiful days of good neighborly relations, cultural and spiritual prosperity, and partnership in out lives on the continent, just as we knew, and how we knew, hard times of hatred, expulsion, degradation, and liable.

Somehow we survived. Us, and you. To our sorrow, and to your shame, Our affair with you, dear continent, ended by your choice not ours. We could have lived in good neighborly relations and cooperation for many years, but for reasons you chose to keep for yourself you chose to to end and eliminate this partnership-literally. On your land the plan was hatched, on your land the camps were built, on your land the trains moved, on your land the graves were dug, the blood was flowing into your rivers, and in a short time you cut off a significant Jewish presence of a thousand years. Millions of loyal Jewish citizens were eliminated and expelled from your midst. You eliminated not only their lives, but all their contributions to culture, economics, art, spiritualism, academia, literature, medicine, education, commerce, banking, and life in general.

For a long time I wanted to write you, but the opportunity did not come. But this week, after I saw two things-I decided I really must write to you a few words.

First, I have seen reports by all kind of experts in the field of demography, sociology, etc., who claim that within a few years, you, Europe, will become a Muslim continent. In some European countries already 50% of births are by Muslims. If we add to this the low rate of birth by non-Muslims Europeans and the immigration data, in not so a distant future-some say in 10-20 years-you, white, and Christian Europe, will become a Muslim continent.

It is true that you are trying to somehow fight against this phenomenon-against mosques in Switzerland, against women's veils in France, against immigration, and other minute things, but you also know that this train cannot be stopped. There is a plan to build the world largest Mosque in the center of London, and no one will be able to ban Muslim women from wearing the veil. Liberal enlightened European women, who are permissive, know very well that the day may arrive that radical Islam will gain power and the party will end.

Secondly, I also saw the travel warning of many countries warning their inhabitants not to travel to Europe from fear of terrorism. Someone said that it is true that not all terrorists are Muslims, but somehow all terrorists are Muslims.

Slowly and gradually, dear continent, you are beginning to understand whom you are dealing with, what kind of religion and culture radical Islam brings. Suddenly you discover what hatred is, the culture of the Shahids of intolerance, lack of openness, what is rejection and alienation of true democracy, human rights, and women's rights.

Suddenly, radical Islam is stuck in Europe's throat. Not able to spit it out or swallow. Impossible to spit out because of the political correctness of racism and human rights with all its usual Blah, but it is also impossible for you to swallow, because European culture and Christian liberal democratic white cannot contain such extreme elements of culture and religion. It will end in an explosion. Literally.

Dear continent, there is no vacuum in the world. You expelled and killed us, and received instead the Muslim world. In the beginning it was nice and cute, little Mediterranean atmosphere, little oriental sea wind, But with it arrived the storm of radical Islam which threatens to sweep you, our dear neighbor.

Now you are beginning to eat what you have cooked. Suddenly, you find women in veils, fanaticism in the eyes and mosques under every tree. Suddenly you find yourself having to contend with birth rate, culture that has extreme features, terrorism and violence which you have nurtured and ignored. You cannot deny these facts much longer. The conflict is here. we, unfortunately, are experts at this, although, we have our own naive and self righteous people.

The first time, when the Creator decided to destroy His world because the behavior of His creatures, He agreed to give humanity another chance. He asked Noach to enter the ark to try and establish a new core, and foundation to the world. A core that maybe could produce a more deserving humanity. The ark was the chance of the new world, a shelter for a moment.

Will you, dear Europe, be able to prepare for you in advance, a physical, and cultural ark so you can guard yourself and survive? Or aggression, arrogance and hypocrisy will not allow you to admit disaster which you brought on yourself with your own hands, and became a continent who lives on borrowed time?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting Back to Normal

So the fire is finally out and life has to return to normal for those that were affected. The kibbutz of Bet Oren seemed to have an air of normality when we visited it this week, albeit we were there in the early evening and it seemed to be be just as it was before the fire. Of course there were homes that were damaged and those residents are now housed in the Kibbutz Guest House for the time being. However, the wedding hall was functioning as normal and the evening we attended was a great success.

On the other hand, not too far away is the artists village of Ein Hod, where damage was much more severe. The village suffered the largest amount of tourism damage of anyone in the vicinity of the fire. They are now using the oportunity to upgrade the tourist facilities in the village and hopefully to attract even more visitors than they have had in the past.

On a positive side the Guest House of Nir Etzion was untouched and once the fire was out, guests returned to this very popular location. The ever in demand Carmel Spa Hotel has had partial damage to its dining room but that is being dealt with and the reports now state that the hotel will be open for business as usual in early January.

The children's village of Yemin Orde is facing major rebuilding and I want to use this blog to thank everyone who responded to the cry for help in such a timely way.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Haifa's Festival of Festivals

The annual Holiday of Holidays Festival takes place in Haifa toward through December until Christmas. Whilst the rain disrupted last weekend, hopefully the rain will stay away and winter weather be pleasant enough for this unique outdoor event not to be interrupted for the rest of the month.

A month of festivities, cultural activities, performances and events marks the celebration of the three major religious groups that live in mutual harmony, cooperation, tolerance and respect in Haifa. While the Jewish population celebrates Channukah, the Christians are celebrating Christmas and the Moslems are celebrating Eid-al-Adha.

The first Mayor of Haifa - Hassan Shukri - initiated the festival in 1914, and since then it has grown in size and popularity. This festival hi-lights the uniqueness of Haifa and its residents. The current Mayor of Haifa - Yona Yahav - describes the event as one "without boundaries of culture and religion". Yahav said in his 2009 official welcome "We residents of Haifa and its many guests have nothing left but to show up and rejoice".

The Festival of Festival is held in the Wadi NisNas neighborhood of Haifa, between the Hadar neighborhood and the downtown area.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Aftermath of the BIG Fire

I have been told by a number of people that I have contact with around the world, that they are being bombarded with requests for donations following the fire in the Carmel Forest last week. They have then gone on to ask for my opinion on what I see as the immediate needs. Thus I sorry if I offend anyone if they see this as another way of fund raising, it is not the intention.

I have tried to be as objective as possible. Yes, the fire brigades need reforming and equipping for the 21st century, trees will need to be replanted but in our opinion, one of the most pressing needs is that of the Yemin Orde Youth Village which was founded in 1953 to accommodate Holocaust orphans and immigrant children during the great immigration waves of the fifties. Until last week, the village was home to 480 immigrant orphans ages 6 – 19 from around the world. The majority of the children are from Ethiopia, countries of the Former Soviet Union, and Brazil. For many of these children, Yemin Orde is their only home in Israel.

The village was severely damaged by a fire that raged in the Carmel Forest. The children and staff were safely evacuated to a sister village, accompanied by psychologists and social workers to help them work through their trauma. As the smoke cleared it became clear that village suffered widespread damage. Three children’s homes were burned to the ground as were 10 staff homes, offices and the library. Other buildings were damaged and the beautiful grounds were reduced to ashes. It is difficult to publish the tragic personal stories of the children and staff, many of whom are graduates of Yemin Orde and whose entire lives were destroyed when their homes burnt down in the Village.

Whilst the fire destroyed so much, the spirit of Yemin Orde is alive and the Village will return to be a safe home and warm environment for the children and graduates as soon as possible.

Our immediate friends in the area have already donated clothes in great quantities, however, if you are thinking of how to help, then details about the fire, an update of the recovery, and information about donating can be found on the website


Bank: Mizrahi Tefahot
Address: HaNeviim St. 26, Haifa, Israel
Branch #: 441
Account #: 120825
Name: Yemin Orde Children Village
Swift code: MIZBILITA


Youth Aliyah Child Rescue,
Money needs to be earmarked for Yemin Orde

Address: 25 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling
Kent ME19 4JQ
Account: 00007864
Name: Youth Aliyah Child Rescue
Sort Code: 40-52-40
Charity No: 1077913


CitiBank Wiring Instructions
Name: Friends of Yemin Orde, Inc.
Address: 4501 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 813
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone of Account Holder: 202-237-0286
Bank: Citibank Federal Savings Bank
Account Number: 66730181
ABA or Routing Number: 254070116
Swift Code: CITIUS33 (or CITI US 33)


Donations can be sent toUnited Jewish Welfare Fund
Address: 4600 Bathurst St. Toronto, ON M2R 3V2
(add a note that the funds are for Yemin Orde. )
They will process the funds and transfer all the gifts together through UIA in Israel.


Mr. Meir Buber
Executive Director
United Israel Appeal
PO Box 337
Australia 3162
(Indicate that the funds are for Yemin Orde

Monday, December 6, 2010

Not Bad for State That is Supposed to have so Many Enemies

For a country that is supposed to be "ostracised" according to the minimal efforts of the Boycott, Dvestment and Sanctions movement and the "antics" of the UN, the following summary of assistance sent to Israel to date to deal with the fire seems to paint a different picture.

Azerbaijan – 2 helicopters
Bulgaria – 1 plane and 92 firefighters
Croatia – 1 plane
Cyprus – 1 plane and 1 helicopter
Egypt – fire repression materials
France – 5 planes and fire repression materials
Germany – 1 plane, 7 experts in firefighting and fire repression materials
Greece – 7 planes, 34 firefighters and fire repression materials
Holland – 5 experts in firefighting
Italy – 1 plane and fire repression materials
Jordan – 3 truckloads of firefighting equipment and materials
Palestinian Authority – 21 firefighters and 3 fire engines
Russia – 3 planes and 22 experts in firefighting
Spain – 5 planes
Switzerland – 1 plane, 3 helicopters and a team of 14
Turkey – 2 planes
UK – 2 helicopters
US – 5 planes, 11 experts in firefighting and fire repression materials

Saturday, December 4, 2010

THE Fire - Personal Reflections

Whilst sitting in a restaurant on Thursday afternoon, we were totally unaware of the drama unfolding in our adjacent national park, The Carmel Forest. Only when we returned home and switched on the TV did we realize the extent of the fire and the tragic loss of life.

The bus carrying the young prison officers to the local jail to assist in moving the prisoners to safety got caught up on the narrow road leading up to the jail by the fire that covered 1.1/2 km in 3 minutes.

Within a short time, our phone was ringing and ringing and ringing. Friends from the rest of the country and from overseas all wanted to be sure we were alright.

One phone call came from a member of the local community hospitality committee who told us that the overseas students at the University were being moved off campus and the city was looking for temporary accommodation for the students. We offered 4 beds but as it happened, we were not needed. As we heard later “the city authorities were overwhelmed and overjoyed by the many offers they have had for housing the evacuees from Haifa University. There were over 60 overseas students who needed places and they had more than enough offers within a half hour of the call. Our group came up with 31 places in 15 minutes! We really are a great people in times of emergency!”

Amongst the many phone calls was an ironic one from a good friend in the UK who phoned from his mobile while stuck in snow to see if we were OK.

Naturally, our children were concerned and pleaded with us to leave Haifa. However, with an up to minute assessment from the TV, we went to bed and slept well. Our neighborhood is approx 5 km from the action and my wife and I did have a conversation what we should pack into the car if it did become necessary to leave. That is quite a frightening thought, what to take and what to leave. Many around the world face this dilemma where there are hurricanes and tornados but for us this was new and our thoughts were somewhat confused.

The following morning, we woke and immediately switched on the TV for the latest news. Not good,the fire was still burning out of control and within a short time the phone was ringing again and this time the grandchildren were pleading with us to leave Haifa. They were concerned that even if the fire was not going to reach us, the smoke and the chemicals in the smoke would be dangerous to our health. After withstanding the torrent of calls, we made the decision to spend the weekend with our daughter in Tel Aviv. We then rushed around packing, cancelled the Saturday night bus we were due to take to Eilat and the Friday night invitation for supper. Did we pack anything special – no. Were we being na├»ve? I don’t think so.

Anyway having loaded up the car we set off south with news that the parallel coast road south was closed as the fire had reached that road. Thus we were left with the main coast road and as we travelled along it we could see part of the extent of the fire. The planes that had arrived overnight were visible, flying out to the Mediterranean to pick up the water and then inland to drop the water on fire. Unmanned drones were directing operations from the air as the ground crew were unable to see the full extent of the blaze and the path it was taking..

So now it is Saturday night, the fire is still raging and the fire crews still have not got the fire under control. We had planned the next few days in Eilat with the whole family and we have decided to go. What will be in the North who knows but life goes on and we can’t drive ourselves crazy.

The assistance coming from around the world, particularly the number of firefighters coming from countries like Bulgaria, Greece, Russia, Azerbijan, Rumania, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey is appreciated. This international help is particularly welcome since it is usually Israel responding to other countries disasters around the world and it is good to see that even countries who don’t enjoy the best of relationships with Israel coming to our assistance.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

180,000 Palestinians Treated in Israeli Hospitals This Year

Thanks to efficient cooperation between the Israeli and the Palestinian sides, tens of thousands of Palestinians patients benefit from treatments in Israeli hospitals each year Humanitarian dilemmas are a recurring issue in the Judea and Samaria region. A terrorist fires at IDF soldiers, is shot and gets wounded. Is an IDF medic to be called to treat him? A building is about to collapse in the heart of Ramallah. Does the IDF enter? Does it jeopardize its soldiers’ lives, or does it call the International Red Cross and risk losing precious time?

To Israel, the answer to these questions is clear. According to its Division Medical Officer “The treatment of the Palestinian population is first and foremost a moral and professional obligation for every one of us. Do we treat them? There is no question about it. But what happens in the long run and how? Where do international organizations fit in? How will an independent Palestinian medical body be established and how does coordination between bodies happen in life? These are the real questions.”

“Up until September 2000, a Ramallah resident could have taken his car and driven to a hospital in Israel, but from September 2000 there has been a state of terror. Hundreds were killed, Jews and Palestinians alike. The battles took place in the heart of the cities, in places where enemies stood side by side with civilians, with difficult conditions and limited ability to evacuate. It was not possible to practice medicine beyond the minimum. In those days, the situation was on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.”

But today, he says, the situation is different. Thanks to many efforts on both sides, stability has been restored. “The political leadership is able to make decisions not in the context of buses exploding. And now, along with direct military activity – patrolling, arrests, crossings – a new kind of routine has started. Medicine is an integral part of it. In today’s reality, it is an obligation to do a lot more than the minimum. The addressing of the situation should be as wide ranging as possible,”

“The Palestinian security system is composed of two centers: that of the Palestinian government and that of international organizations. It is unclear whether it could function if it was based on just one. In the sector, 25 hospitals from the Health Ministry and 30 hospitals from various organizations are operated. Along with patients treated in these hospitals, there are many people who can only be treated in hospitals outside the sector, starting with those located in East Jerusalem.”

The major challenge for medical service is accessibility.. As the Division Commander said, the days when one could drive freely to an Israeli hospital are over. “We face difficulties in transferring patients, personnel and medical equipment. In too many cases moving freely is not possible. But despite these difficulties, there are also many successes.” He cites as an example of patients coming from Gaza, treated in Jerusalem sometimes over a period of three to four months. They receive a special permit from the director allowing them to stay in Israel so they won’t have to go back and forth and are housed in a special hotel in the Mount of Olives. “All these things are ultimately coordinated by the Israeli Civil Administration.”

The medical coordinator of the Civil Adminstration. is the link to everyone who deals with medicine in the territories. In today’s lectures, her name has been mentioned repeatedly, always with respect. In an interview she says pleasantly, “A bond of mutual trust has been created between us. I always tell them the truth. When the Palestinians don’t do what they’re required, I don’t ignore their behavior; but with that, I will always listen. I hear them. I understand their problems.”

The work is twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There will always be medical incidents. Health is not something one can impose a curfew on or demand to freeze. “I am available around the clock. Even on Shabbat, even at 3 a.m. if needed. There is a constant contact between me and the doctors on both sides, the ambulance drivers and the patients themselves.”

And, unbelievable though it may sound, because of desire and will, it is working. Last year, 180,000 Palestinian citizens entered Israel to receive treatment. 3,000 emergency patients were transferred from Israeli to Palestinian ambulances using the “back to back” method, without warning. “Ultimately,” said the coordinator, “this is a rewarding experience. There is frustration, of course there is. But on the other hand, there are people who see me on the street or in hospitals, hear my name and say ‘You saved my son’s life’. When you get home in the end of the day and examine your life, you know that you saved lives. You know you did a lot of good.”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Finally, a Christian Reaction

Anglicans, Methodists and numerous other Christian organisation are jumping on the band wagon to bash Israel. The comments made in their articles are so far removed from truth that one wonders just what does the Christian religion stand for.

One of the latest diatribes comes from the Rev Edwin Arrison, an Anglican priest and Board member of the Centre for Christian Spirituality in Cape Town, South Africa. Such were the irrational claims staed by Rev Arrison, that Malcom Hedding, the Director of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem ( )was motivated to write a considered reply.

His letter below puts the record staright from a Christian perspective about life for the Christian community here in Israel. This is a community that is growing consistently year on year, with full freedom to practice their religion unlike any other country in our region.

Dear Rev. Edwin Arrison

I recently read your article in the Mail and Guardian. Living in Israel and deeply engaged in these matters I was consequently amazed that you could so easily blur the line between fact and fantasy. We all believe in a free press, but this also means that we should protect this freedom by also believing in and ensuring a factual press!

Many, if not all of your assertions were untrue and at best sweeping generalizations. For instance Jesus was not born in Palestine, according to the biblical record, but in Bethlehem of Judea. He was consequently never a Palestinian with an identity other than Jewish. To suggest otherwise is to contradict the clear biblical record. Actually, the Bible nowhere refers to the region of Jesus' birth and ministry as Palestine. You should know this. Jesus was born to a Jewish family, is of the line of David, was circumcised on the eighth day, had a Bar Mitzvah, lived under the law and was acknowledged as a Rabbi. You can't be more Jewish than this and consequently Paul asserts that our faith has Jewish roots. Palestinian? I think not!

Your furthermore assert that Christian tourism to Israel is Israel centric to the detriment of Palestinians. Where is your burden of proof? Some of the biggest tour companies in Israel are Arab Christian owned. They have Arab/Palestinian guides and specialize in Holyland Pilgrimage. If you know anything about the tourist industry here this is a term for tours that do not emphasize Israel, but specialize in Christian sites and the relevant Christian communities in the land. This is a huge sector within the travel industry of which, apparently, you know nothing!

I am responsible for organizing Israel's biggest annual tourism event. This involves an eight day event that brings thousands of evangelical Christians from over a hundred nations to Jerusalem. There is nothing bigger in Israel. We also bring Christians to Israel throughout the year, so we know something about this market. At the annual event in the Jerusalem Convention Center we have plenary sessions that introduce our participants to Arab and Palestinian Christians. We also arrange bus tours to their respective communities so that our participants can meet them personally and learn to know their struggles and hopes. Therefore your assertions are not based on fact but sadly propaganda!

Essentially your difficulty is that you don't live in Israel and therefore you have no understanding of the facts on the ground. You therefore express real concern for the Palestinian Christians but totally ignore the fact that they have been and are brutally persecuted by their Arab/Palestinian Muslim neighbours. In Gaza the Muslim/ Palestinians lynched them on the streets and beheaded the Director if the Bible Society there. The remaining Christian leaders fled to Bethlehem where they are now in hiding. Bethlehem itself, once a Christian village, is entirely Muslim. The very small Christian community is treated with disdain and disrespect and some of their courageous leaders have been shot. Of course you write nothing of this and will not because it does not suit your narrative. We know all of this because we are engaged with them and have poured millions of Shekels into their communities to help them. I wonder how much money you have invested in their well being?

You further write that Jesus is on the side of the weak. You also imply by this that Israel is their oppressor. On what factual grounds do you make such a sweeping statement? I travel all through Israel and the Palestinian Authority and I have yet to see the poverty levels one witnesses in South Africa. Millions of people live in shanty towns, 40% are unemployed, crime is out of control and the country is the rape capital of the world. It appears that you have a bigger problem on your doorstep. Didn't Jesus say something about taking the plank out of your own eye? For sure IsraelIsrael? has made mistakes and there are serious issues to be addressed, but to highlight the plight of the Palestinians without reference to Muslim persecution against them is dishonest. Why would one do this? Because it is both politically correct and popular to bash
Actually, when I last read the Bible, I discovered that Jesus is no respecter of persons and He loves us all the same. Indeed, if anything, He calls on all men, rich and poor, regardless of race, creed or national affiliation to repent and warns that failure to do so will lead to destruction. (John 3:16) I suppose this annoying part of the Bible is reserved for evangelical Christians like me who still believe in the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church!

Then there is your smear against the American Church. You unashamedly imply that they serve mammon and thirst for Armageddon. You further assert that this group is in the millions. I actually have a home in the USA and have preached in all Christian traditions throughout that country. I have rarely found this theological position. I do not deny that this theology exists, but only a tiny minority hold it. You demean the Body of Christ in that great country by suggesting that they live for mammon and long for conflict. Shame on you! Indeed no other nation has invested in world missions to the extent that American Christians have. The official statistics prove that they have been and are the most generous people on earth!

And then concerning the weak: Over the last ten tears the Muslims of North Sudan murdered two million Christians in the South. These dear Christians, many of them Anglican, endured a genocide that is unspeakable. Many of them were actually crucified! They produced a DVD called, "we thought God forgot us." The question is why? The answer is simple, because the wider Church left them to die and to die alone! Most Christians are not bothered and know nothing of it. These are the weak and we have all neglected them and have not stood up or done anything to defend them. What have you done? The problems of the Palestinian Christians pale into insignificance compared to this and this, friend, is where you need to find your prophetic voice, or is it more comfortable to bash Israel?

Actually, we are deeply involved in South Sudan. We have poured millions of Dollars into their well being and, as of writing, my daughter, who lives in Israel, is in Juba the capital of South Sudan. She tells me that there are only four other agencies there; three evangelical aid groups from America and a Jewish relief organization. Isn't that interesting?

I would very much like to know the relief programs that you have put in place to help these weak Christians. After all you are deeply concerned for Christian spirituality, you live in Africa and you are looking at the wholesale murder of the Church. Today, the Christians of Egypt have been plundered and murdered. It's all over the media. I sincerely trust that you equally stand up for them. After all these Christians are the ancient Coptic Church that goes back to the early Church. Who will be their voice?

Best regards,

Malcolm Hedding

South African born Minister of the Assemblies of God of Southern African and outspoken critic of the Apartheid regime and presently serving as the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Maximising the Use of Waste Water

We are now in the middle of November and are still waiting for the first serious rains of the winter. The Sea of Galillee is fast approaching its black line, the line at which serious damage to the eco system will occur.

Desalination plants are coming on stream one by one, but the need to recycle waste water is paramount.

Out of a total of 500 million cubic meters (MCM) of sewage produced in Israel in 2008, about 70% of the effluents were reclaimed, a figure not many countries can claim to reach.

Local authorities are responsible for the treatment of municipal sewage. In recent years new or upgraded intensive treatment plants were set up in municipalities throughout the country. The ultimate objective is to treat 100% of Israel's wastewater to a level enabling unrestricted irrigation in accordance with soil sensitivity and without risk to soil and water sources.

Some Facts and Figures

500 MCM of wastewater were produced in Israel in 2008

31% MCM of the effluents underwent tertiary treatment (155 MCM)

55% of the wastewater underwent secondary treatment (275 MCM)

92% of the wastewater was adequately treated (460 MCM)

8% of the wastewater remained untreated.

We still need to pray for rain and after the current hot spell with temperatures in the 90's is due to end tomorrow, we have been told by the forecasters to expect rain. Let's hope they are right.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Would We Go To Israel?"

From the Jerusalem Post this week is an interesting observation by an Arab journalist, urging his colleagues to visit Israel. I have not been able to find the article on the internet version of the newspaper and have therefore reprinted it here.

The journalist claims that it is hard for an Arab to find a safe place to visit in the Middle East... except for the State defined as "the alleged entity".

He writes:-

I have been haunted since early boyhood by an infat­uation with Bilad al-Sham, or Greater Syria — the territories of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. For me, this fascination started with recognizing the voices of singers like Syrian Sabah Fakhry (born 1933) belonging to the al-Sham region.

I conjured up these images and feelings as I was boarding a plane heading for the "land of beauty," dreaming of soirees in Aleppo, touring Damascus's old marketplaces and hanging around its cafes. Such daydreams were flashing through my imagi­nation until the "blessed" plane landed in Syria, when all dreams faded away within half an hour at Damascus Airport.

I was quickly singled out by a security officer, who checked my passport. He reviewed a list, and asked me to stand aside until he had dealt with a "routine problem" that would not take time. Ten minutes later, a grim-faced officer in plainclothes came and told me to follow him. When I asked if I should bring my luggage, he pointed to an office and said it was already there. It was a government office affili­ated with a security department whose name was not disclosed to me.

Two or more hours now passed, with me sitting on a very bad seat inside a vault not much bigger than a jail cell. A third officer then presented himself. He hammered me with questions, starting with my "dubious" profession (journalism) and including my favorite brand of cigarettes, Marlboro Red. I answered with composure and calmness, trying in vain to alleviate the sharp tone he was using. "Your case is under examination," the officer said disgustedly, adding that he would let me know the result "shortly."

An hour later, a fourth officer arrived, no less grim-faced than his predecessors. Addressing the would-be "ambassador of the devil," he told me I was not wel­come in Syria. It was "a sovereign decision," accord­ing to him, and he said he was not obliged to give any explanation. So I had to carry my luggage (which had clearly been subject to a stormy search) back through the airport.

Now, on board a plane heading to Cairo, I recalled all the opinion pieces and TV interviews in which I had been critical of the policies and remarks of some senior Syrian officials. That was the reason for what had happened! My expulsion from Syria took place almost 18 months ago. I preferred at the time to turn a blind eye, as I believed it wasn't worth making an issue out of it, particularly with a regime ruled by a man who had inherited his power.

Yet I cannot help smiling in bitterness whenever I listen to Syrian officials par­roting the Ba'ath Party's famous slogan: "One Arab nation with a timeless message." I have now become totally aware of what that one nation and timeless message stand for!

I thought about visiting Beirut and attending a concert by Lebanon's iconic diva Fayrouz that was scheduled at the Al-Bayal hotel, and actually began to prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime event. I phoned a Lebanese friend and fellow journalist. He was terrified by my daring thought, and taken by surprise by my naivete-merely thinking about visiting Lebanon with my record of dire assaults on Hizbullah (I had once dubbed the powerful Shiite group a "war contractor" and a proxy for Iran's regional aspirations).

I was even oblivious to the fact that Hizbullah men are in de facto control of Beirut Airport – another source of amazement for my colleague, who feared for my safety.

Although it was once a part of Egypt, I don't even feel safe visiting Sudan, due to my verbal attacks on the regime of Omar Bashir, who insists on presiding over a collapsing state.

I am sure that Muammar Gaddafi's Revolutionary Command Council will not deny me access to Libya. Yet I am almost as certain I would never come out again, just like many others. RCC "knights" would not be any more merciful to me than they were to my late Libyan colleague, Lon­don-based journalist Daif al-Ghazal, whose body was found off the coast of Benghazi on June 2, 2005, more than two weeks after his disappearance. He had been tortured almost beyond recognition, according to Reporters without Borders.

No one assumes to know what kind of suffering the 32-year was subject to when he was taking his last breaths, the words he uttered when the electric saw was cutting through his fingers or his screams upon being burnt with mineral acids. Nobody knows. Rather, nobody cared to know about his suffering, and Arab newspapers didn't highlight Ghazal's case; the story was covered only by Western papers, rights groups and some websites.

I remember that I published many reports and opinion pieces on the incident, recalling notorious precedents by the Libyan regime. This is not all; I also commented more than once on Gaddafi's weird, comic remarks, particularly during Arab summit conferences. That's why I couldn't risk going even to Salloum, the Egyptian city bordering Libya.

Being one of those in the Middle East who refuses my assigned role as a regime loyalist, I sometimes face charges of seeking normalization with Israel, apostasy from Islam or designation as an American agent.

Failing to find a glimpse of hope across the greater Arab world, we must concede that Israel has become the only "safe haven" where one can be sure of his life and dignity. Yes, Israel, the state our demagogues continue to call “the alleged entity”.

Just like the Palestinian Helles family who fled Hamas “Jihadist” in Gaza to Israel, I foresee a time when millions of Arabs might stand humbly in front of IDF soldiers, begging for protection.

So I urge you, dear fellow Arab, to visit Israel.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Zichron's Internationally Acknowledged Wines

Zichron Yaacov, situated just 30 mins south of where we live is a great place to visit. There is so much history, great waqlking trails and now the prestigious Carmel Winery, Israel's first and largest winery founded in 1882, in September which has now been awarded the prestigious 2010 Decanter World Wine Award trophy

"It was a big, big honor for us and we're still somewhere up in the clouds," says Valerie Hecht of the Carmel Center for Wine Culture. She's referring to the recent decision by the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards to grant a Carmel specialty Shiraz the Decanter International Trophy in September, describing it as "the sensation of this year's competition."

The town of Zichron Ya'acov sits on the sunny slopes of Mount Carmel, overlooking the Mediterranean. It is the undisputed home of Israeli wine, dotted with a number of boutique wineries, but most importantly, the site of Israel's largest winery, Carmel Mizrahi, producing more than 15 million bottles a year.
Founded in 1882 by 200 Jewish families from Romania, it was French Jewish philanthropist Baron Edmond de Rothschild who discovered that the area around the town was perfect for growing grapevines.

He put the town on the map by agreeing to send over grapevines from France and lay the groundwork for the country's first winemaking operation since biblical times. It was also the first industry in Israel to have telephone and electricity.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

And the Terror Attacks Continue

Although the month of October showed a significant decline in the number of attacks: 44 attacks as opposed to 88 attacks in September, that is still more than 1 per day. Following are some of the statistics but let's realise that there is a steady consistancy of attacks. One can never know when or where attacks are likely to occur and thus it is amazing that trauma and stress levels do not seem to be increasing. Can you, dear reader, imagine living in this type of environment? It certainly does not seem to bother the international human rights network.

The decrease in the number of attacks is prominent in the area of Jerusalem (6 attacks as opposed to 31 in September) and the Gaza Strip (18 as opposed to 38 in September). The Judea and Samaria area maintains a similar number of attacks (20 compared to 19 in September).

With regard to casualties in terror attacks, there were no fatalities in October, much like in September, except for one Israeli (a security officer) who was injured (October 14) as a result of a firebomb in Jerusalem, contrary to September which resulted in 6 Israeli casualties.

The Judea and Samaria area and Jerusalem where most of the attacks (25 out of 26) were in the form of Molotov cocktail throwing (43 out of 50 in September).

Following is a profile distribution of attacks in October according to regions:

The Gaza Strip – 18 attacks (38 in September): 3 rocket launchings, 10 mortar shell launchings, 4 small arms shootings, and 1 AT launching.

Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem – 26 attacks (50 in September): 1 small arms shooting, 25 Molotov cocktail throwing (6 in Jerusalem).

High-trajectory launchings from the Gaza Strip
Throughout October 2010, 3 rockets and 20 mortar shells were launched towards Israel (in 13 attacks) - 1 every 2/3 days - compared to 16 rockets and 23 mortar shells in September (in 30 attacks).

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Theraputic Music Garden

Following on from an earlier blog "Drumming on Heart Strings" telling a story about Aleh Hanegev, a village caring for the disabled , now comes a lovely story of the installation of a therapeutic Music Garden. a gift to Aleh Negev from Colin and Pamela Wagman and Allan and Carole Wagman, in memory of their parents.

The garden features instruments that are easily accessible to mobile and wheelchair bound residents from a variety of positions. A mix of sounds, colours, shapes and textures encourage sensory interaction, and the instruments can be played by a simple banging of the fist or sweep of the hands – perfect for people who have limited mobility but who nonetheless enjoy creating music just like the rest of us.

In the year since its dedication, the Musical Garden has proven to be a smashing success from a therapeutic perspective, and has earned ringing endorsements from the diverse population who make use of it every day. The sounds of music emanating from the garden have provided hours of enjoyment and benefit for the cognitively and physically disabled residents of the village, offering a relaxing environment that encourages contact with nature and the outdoor world, while also stimulating the senses of sight, hearing and touch.

Much more can be read at

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Charity Begins at Home

With the on going need to find philanthropists willing to help our Haifa Center for Children with Learning Disabilities, we are often asked, "What are you doing yourselves?" Well, this is what motivates my wife and I to organise a sponsored walk each year.

This year, we chose a route which took us from the Nature Park at Ramat Hanadiv where we wandered through the incredible trails arriving at Horvat 'Aqav a Second Temple period Jewish manor house which was abandoned at the time of the Jewish Revolt against Rome (66 - 70 CE) and rebuilt as a Byzantine villa in the fifth century.

From there we continued the trail to the Shuni park where everyone was presented with a certificate to acknowledge their participation and a light lunch to complete the proceedings.

The Haifa Center for Children with Learning Disabilities (Chi.L.D.) is a dynamic therapeutic center with a vision to provide the child and the family with vital educational, social and therapeutic services previously lacking in the local Haifa community.

With approximately one third of the children living below the poverty level, it is often the special needs youngsters who suffer the most. The Founding Director, dedicates his time on a voluntary basis, to answer the all encompassing needs of children and their families. By treating children with learning disabilities and a myriad of other problems the children have the opportunities for a successful future.

Taking a holistic approach, it is believed that treating children is not enough. The Center has extended its reach to provide family counseling, seminars and outreach programs, treat war trauma and to provide for new immigrants. The aim is to answer the growing needs of the local community as they change and develop, to empower parents to help their children and to increase awareness amongst parents and teachers.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Seven thousand cubic meters of concrete were poured this week to form the base of the world’s largest underground hospital. For 36 hours running, shifts of 70 workers and 80 cement mixers worked to lay the foundation of the emergency facility, which is designed to withstand conventional, chemical, and biological attacks

The night of Saturday October 9, 2010 marked the start of a crucial phase of construction at the
Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, Israel. More than 70 workers at the site began to pour roughly 7,000 cubic meters of concrete, which will form the concrete base of Rambam’s protected emergency underground hospital – the largest facility of its type in the world – and underground parking lot. The pouring, which continued for more than 36 hours straight, involved 80 cement mixers that completed 1,000 rounds of mixing. To meet the deadline, four Haifa area concrete plants supplied materials around the clock.

According to Rambam Department of Engineering Director Aryeh Berkovitz, for two days following this effort, no concrete was poured in central to northern Israel. This is due to the fact that all related facilities, tools and personnel in the region were involved in the huge Rambam project.

RHCC Director Prof. Rafi Beyar commented, “This is a historic moment, not only for Rambam, but for the entire State of Israel. For a period of two years, we have coped with unexpected, difficult and weighty logistic problems regarding this construction. We overcame the obstacles, and with the help of our friends – donors and Ministry of Health officials – we are on the right path.”
This project is slated for completion by May 2012, at which time the three-floor parking lot will provide much-needed parking space for some 1,500 Rambam workers and visitors. In times of emergency, the lot can be transformed at short notice into a 2,000-bed hospital that is secure from conventional, chemical and biological weapons.
Not only underground, the emergency hospital will also sit eight meters below sea level. Designed to be self-sufficient, the hospital will be able to generate its own power and can store enough oxygen, drinking water and medical supplies for up to three days. Due to its special location, the facility’s construction has demanded unusual measures. Pumps have operated throughout construction – and will continue to the project’s end – 24 hours a day, moving millions of cubic meters of brackish groundwater to the sea, enabling the workers to carry out their mission.

The next major step in the Rambam complex construction – the concrete pouring for the foundation of the Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital – will begin on October 30, 2010. After that, work will begin on the new oncology and cardiology hospitals.

“Work is proceeding in a very ordered and professional manner,” says Aryeh Berkovitz, who reports that all construction is proceeding according to plan. Due to the project’s enormous scope and special nature, it has been making headlines. The recent cement pouring has received coverage on all major radio stations, TV channels and in the printed and online media throughout Israel.

Watch the foundation laying for the World’s Largest Underground Hospital on You Tube:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Jerusalem Car Accident Video

Following the Mohammad Al Dura case which was eventually found to be a staged "film" after going trough the courts for 7 years, one would have thought the media wold have learnt, - some hope!!

Lenny Ben-David (BlogCentral, ) comments on the latest Pallywood production "Palestinian Boy Hit By Israeli in Car in East Jerusalem", see View the Video (YouTube)

The film clip showing an Israeli car hitting two Arab children in Silwan on Friday was horrifying. No one can sit quietly and indifferently while children - any children - are hurt before your eyes. Thank God the children survived and were not seriously injured.

Then came the subtext: The children were part of a gang attacking the driver with rocks, and rocks can most definitely kill. (NOTE - the rear windows of the car had been smashed) The boys, emboldened by some militant organizer, covered their faces to avoid identification and arrest. There's no doubt of their intention and premeditation.

The driver was David Be'eri, a leader of the Jewish residents in Silwan. Be'eri's son was in the car.The story and YouTube clip spread around the world in nanoseconds. Arab witnesses charged that the "settler" deliberately ran down the children.But, I've now watched the clip scene-by-scene and in some parts frame-by-frame, and there's a deeper, even sinister, subtext. Most viewers focus on the victims. It's natural. They don't notice at least eight still photographers in addition to the video cameraman.

With the exception of one photographer standing across the street, all the others filmed the scene from the same vantage point at the bottom of the hill. There could have been more. The photographers cold be identified as:
1. Black baseball hat/gray hoodie with strap over shoulder.
2. White tee shirt and jeans across the street
3. Black shirt with gray stripes
4. Blonde woman
5. Green tee shirt
6. Striped polo shirt shows up once the boy's on the ground
7. Later a photographer with a long-sleeve gray shirt shows up riefly.

Many questions need to be asked.

Who invited them and coordinated the time and place?
Who recruited the boys? Did they plan to ambush dafka David Be'eri's car?
Was it an attempt to reenact the iconic death of Mohammed Dura, the boy allegedly killed by Israeli soldiers in 2000 in what we now know was a fake propaganda stage show?

Watch the clip and see how the photographers buzzed around the boy taking pictures while he was on the ground. Only one photographer went through the motion of extending a hand.

Was their sense of humanity suppressed by their hopes of a Pulitzer prize?Also watch as the wounded boy is manhandled and forcibly stuffed into a car against his will.

As a former medic, I was shocked and amazed that the boy survived the mistreatment he received after he was hit by the car. After such an initial trauma, first responders know that there is a likelihood of neck, head and spine injuries.

That was no way to evacuate a casualty, and if - or more likely when - the boy is presented before the press, the cause of his injuries should be judged accordingly.

Every photographer at the Silwan site bears responsibility for the children's injuries. They were tools in the hands of a dangerous propagandist, and they answered the summons to capture the "action" on film. Their presence incited the kids. Then the cameramen stood by as a child laid injured. Until the photographers fess up as to who dispatched them, they should be treated as accomplices to the crime of endangering the children.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Refurbishing Tourist Site

When we receive visitors to Haifa, there is always plenty to show them. The city and its immediate environs are grossly undersold, the potential for increased tourism is enormous.

In addition, the City is figuring more importantly in the minds of new immigrants planning their relocation to Israel. We have recently received a number of new families our immediate neighborhood and the Anglo network has gone into action to assist in the inevitable problems that arise.

Now comes the news that one tourist location is undergoing extensive renovation, the Ein Hod artists village is undergo a major upgrade improving accessibility and car parking facilities.

Ein Hod is one of the few villages in the world inhabited only by artists wholive and work in all facets of art and numerous events are held there every year.

Artwork, sculpture, music, theater and the plastic arts are all featured in this village.

A great place to visit

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Wounded Soldiers Holiday

From one of Israel's wounded soldiers comes an interesting letter enjoying himself on his annual government sponsored holiday.

I believe this is worth publishing

Hi guys.

As a wounded ex paratrooper the government gives me a week every year in a 5 star spa hotel.

This year we are in one of the weirdest places a extremely small settlement [Ein Bokek, ] in the middle of nowhere on the shores of the Dead Sea. Maybe 2500 inhabitants and 10, 5 star spa hotels.

Half the visitors here are veterans all with bits and pieces missing. But who are these veterans? Well most people who haven't been to Israel will presume that they are all Jews. Wrong!! There are Jews, Arab Christian and Moslems who volunteer to serve, Druze who all serve, Bedouin {many Bedouin volunteer and reach high ranking officer status] and a people called Cherkaizim who are Moslems and came from the Caucasian mountains brought by the Turks as mercenaries a few hundred years ago and now live in 2 villages in the Galilee and all serve in the army.

So that’s the veterans, the other half are Christian Russians who come here for the Dead Sea treatments and the endless amounts of free food and alcohol included in the price.

There are icons of various Saints and symbols of Christianity in all the shops and we are told by the shopkeepers that without the Russians they would close down. All very weird.

The staff at the hotels is also a very strange combination. Half are local Israelis,
types that love living in the desert in small towns and villages, local Bedouin and strangest of all tall jet black Moslem Sudanese political refugees.

These poor souls brave travelling through Egypt [where they risk being shot on sight] and stealthily cross the border into Israel where they receive asylum as political refugees. So this is what’s going on in the lowest spot on he planet. I thought this might interest the uninformed.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Can Co-existence Work?

With thanks to an associate who publishes "Good News" weekly (GN), one item caught my attention. Peace talks are going to go through a stop-go phase until the trees that have been climbed are cut down to size. Meanwhile all sorts of projects in co-existence are proceeding

As it has been said before, says GN, and it bears repeating without so much as blushing, in the rough and tumble of relationships in our neck of the woods we sometimes get the impression that our nearest neighbors spend their entire day plotting our demise without so much as a half hour break for lunch.

Nothing could be further from the truth. A few examples: Collaboration on nature conservation; patronizing and working in, our up market shopping malls; a wide range of sports including the newly established Kraft American football league boasting Israeli and Palestinian players.

Of course, in the medical field and business and trade a lot is quietly going on .

And last but by no means least and this is not a joke, the belly dancer of the moment at up scale affairs in Bethlehem is a Jewish lady from Ashdod who charges and gets NIS1600 ($440) for a fifteen minute dance routine. So there you have it folks, it’s just that we do things a little differently here

Friday, October 1, 2010

Grasping the real challenges of the global village

With all the focus o bad news, it is refreshing to be able to report on successes in Israel which positively affect the impoverished and hungry around the world.

With thanks to Israel 21c, it a good to report that MASHAV, the branch of overseas development of the Israeli government, was founded in Israel 1958 as a vehicle for sharing Israel's creative solutions with the rest of the developing world.It is located not more than 10 mins from where I live on the Carmel ridge in Haifa.

MASHAV has long focused on the same objectives that the United Nations recently formalized as its priority development goals: Poverty alleviation; food security; sustainable development; empowerment of women; child and maternal health; social equity; environmental sustainability; and upgraded public health and education systems.

MASHAV professionals have trained some 200,000 people from approximately 140 countries, including Israel. In countries across the world, they have developed dozens of demonstration projects in fields of Israeli expertise.

Divon, the current head, came to MASHAV in 1995, after serving in diplomatic postings in Bombay, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka. "It was more than eye-opening to see what was happening out there," he says. "What hits you is the real meaning of poverty and human suffering. In the western hemisphere we live in a bubble and we don't grasp the real challenges of this global village of ours, which is getting smaller."Concentrating on key 'agents of change'

Mashav holds courses on nursing care at the Dina School of Nursing in Petah Tikva.

Among MASHAV's current projects are helping the mayor of Kisumu, Kenya's third largest city, to establish a strategic planning unit to empower periphery cities and training Ethiopia's head agronomist in biotech and irrigation methods, to enhance yields at a mango and avocado nursery that it established in that African nation. "They must boost their quality and diversity for local consumption, and exports must meet certain standards. We can show them how," Divon declares.

MASHAV has a long history of dispatching medical aid around the world. A recent example was a delegation of six doctors from Sheba Medical Center that was sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo following a
July 2 fuel tanker explosion that injured some 200 people. Also this year, MASHAV facilitated the creation of neonatal and intensive care units at hospitals in Ghana and Kenya and a new ICU for the hospital in Port Au Prince, Haiti is underway.

However, whenever possible the preferable approach is to bring key "change agents" from beneficiary countries to Israel to see programs in action and hear from experts on the ground. This summer, for instance, MASHAV hosted a contingent of educators from Moscow for pedagogic training.

Focus on contributions, not conflict.

Beyond practical solutions, MASHAV also strives to pass along the can-do spirit that visitors invariably marvel at. This spirit is personified in the multilingual Divon himself, his New York-born wife, Linda, and their three grown children. In their frequent and extensive travels, members of the Divon family have initiated and participated in projects such as a Canadian 'peace camp' for Israeli and Palestinian children.

Demands for Israeli know-how continue to grow, especially now that Israel is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. There is the hope that one day the high level of appreciation for Israeli aid that emanates from developing countries will be matched in the rest of the world. That can only happen, he believes, when the media pays as much attention to Israel's contributions as to its conflicts.

"Imagine how people would look up to Israel if every activity in every country we are involved in would get front-page headlines," he concludes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Muslim Golani fighter in Israel Army

The traditional Israel Defense Forces ceremonial chief of staff sukkah (temporary dwelling for the festival of tabernacles) erected at the head quarters in Tel Aviv will host a special guest next week. One of the soldiers who will be greeted by army head Ashkenazi and will host is Zaid Horani, 21, who graduated his company commanders' course with honors just last week.

The fact that he is Muslim and that his family questioned his decision did not prevent him from enlisting into a combat unit in the army.

"I am very excited," the young Golani soldier told the press. "I still haven't thought about what to say to the chief of staff, but for me the meeting will be very special."

Horani grew up in Akbara, next to Safed, a village made up of refugees who claimed their place following the 1948
War of Independence and for years were not recognized by the authorities. Two years ago Horani notified his family of his intentions to enlist in the Israeli army. Their reactions, which were not all positive, did not discourage him from following his dream.

"Some friends were shocked and others asked me why I would waste three years of my life, but I explained to them that I live in a country where if you want to receive you also have to give," he said. Horani did not settle for "regular" service in one of the units staffed by minority groups, but rather from the start he went for one of the units that most strongly represents the IDF's character: Golani's 51st Battalion.

"At first it was weird. I was asked over and over about my decision, but at no point did I feel any racism," Horani explained. "I am enjoying every minute with the gang. I completed basic training and the company commander's course with honors, and even during my toughest moments, after my mom passed away, I chose to shorten my time at home and go back to being with my friends in the unit."

Horani's unique story and his impressive achievements in such a short period of time led Chief of Staff – the most senior soldier to have graduated from that division – to select him as the representative of his unit in the chief of staff's annual sukkah.

"I am proud to be in the army," the young, gung-ho soldier said. "Even when I come home and talk to friends and explain to them how important it is to serve, I don't succeed at convincing anyone."

Monday, September 20, 2010

First the Russian tourists, Now the Chinese - Wow

The Israeli Tourism Ministry Director General has now signed a tourism cooperation agreement with the Director General of the Shanghai Tourism Ministry. In the agreement, the two sides declared the importance of tourism as a means of promoting ties between the two countries and agreed to work together to advance tourism between Israel and Shanghai, in addition to the exchange of information, advertising and the encouragement and advancement of investments and joint initiatives.

As with the Russians, visa restrictions were lifted and now for the Chinese there has been a promise to raise the visa issue with the Interior and Foreign Ministries in order to remove the obstacles and find solutions that will encourage the Chinese tourist to visit Israel.

“The Chinese tourism market holds enormous potential for Israel and, despite annual growth, we have not yet begun to realize this potential. The tourism industry in China in general and in Shanghai and Beijing in particular displays great interest in and is happy to cooperate with Israel. Simplifying the bureaucratic procedures and increasing airline traffic will facilitate a significant increase in incoming tourism from China.” said the Director General

Outgoing tourism from China over the last decade has recorded impressive and fast growth with great potential for future growth. In 2009, more than 40 million tourists traveled from China, about 15% traveling to Europe and the States. This represents a potential target audience for incoming tourism to Israel.

In 2009, 10,000 tourists visited Israel from China and about 7,000 have visited from January-August 2010 (an increase of over 100% on the same period last year and 26% more than 2008).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The illusion of the Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians

Our fast on the most religious day of the year is at an end. Switching on my computer I received the following heartfelt letter from a friend living on the border with Gaza.

I think his thoughts, though not his actions, are common to those of a large majority of Israelis who feel we are living in an unfair world, a world of double standards, of anti Semitism, a lack of willingness to see the other side of the story and of shutting ones eyes to the realities of life.

From the times of the mandated borders, the area for Israel has been reduced and reduced to almost indefensible borders by a world either ridden with guilt over its colonial past or by countries openly stating the need to eliminate the State completely.

"37 years ago, on Yom Kippur, I was praying in a synagogue, when Israel was attacked by Syria, Egypt and Jordan and my world crashed on me very hard. Since that Yom Kippur day in 1973, I began my little rebellion, since that date, I have never been back in a Synagogue or fasted on Yom Kippur.

In 1977, Sadat of Egypt broke the ice and came to Israel to make a peace deal. My thoughts were, at last there will be peace and my rebellion will stop. Jordan also made peace with Israel. Today we still have peace, (a very cold one) with them but today, Israelis’ are not very welcome in both places, hate still comes out through the media, still bloodletting etc.

After Sadat and Begin sat together, Rabin and Arafat talked about peace and all Israel got back were many terrorist attacks. After Rabin, who was assassinated by an extremist Jew, Barack, Bibi, the first time he was PM and the new Kadima party and all we got was, the same as before.

So now through Obama and Clinton, we are again at the peace talks. The problem is Fatah is not in power in Gaza, Hammas is, so for a start, that dooms the talks. Hammas is in power in Gaza and they will not make peace with Israel, they want to destroy us. They threatened Fatah if they make peace with Israel and they are much stronger than Fatah.

Now since the talks began, the rocket attacks have been fired into Israel, way more than before the talks and more are sure to come.

One Kassam landed in the hydro where a gym room is for handicapped children, luck was with us because it happened at night and no one was there,,7340,L-3951525,00.html

Wednesday morning at 7 on the day before Rosh Hashana a rocket fell on my Kibbutz, between two children’s home, a ½ hour before the children were to go there, and the day after one fell near our front gate, we were very lucky, but one day, well I don’t want to go into that.

I lost count of how many rockets have hit Israel, since the talks began, but all I hear from Obama and Clinton is to freeze settlements. No matter what I think about the settlements, why is the world silent, when the Palestinians say no Jews allowed in our state, many Muslim countries do not allow Jews or for that matter many only allow Muslims to live in their state?

I hope that peace will come one day; I hope that day will come at least for the Grandchildren of my grandchildren.

Today, Hammas teaches their 5 year olds and up, on how to kill Jews and fee Palestine, how the Jews are pigs, on TV there, they showed on a children’s show, that a Jew has killed their Arab Mickey mouse, so please tell, how do you make peace, when their children hate you for kill their hero?

In Israel now the fast day has ended, and I hope you are all be subscribed in G-ds book with nothing but health and happiness"

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Year 5770 is at an End

So we completed the year 5770 in the Hebrew calender and enter a period of reflection. Where are we at the end of the year? Well, for sure the effect of Israel's enemies barrage of incitement and deligitimisation is being felt but how effective it is remains in doubt.

The boycott campaigns in many areas of the world have been countered by Israel's supporters in their "buycott" efforts and this has paid off with many reporting that as soon nas there is notification of a boycott of a store, our supporters go into the store and buy up the stock, thus preventing any fall off in sales. Well done to those supporters.

Even at a national level, for example in Norway, where the Palestinian supporters are so active in so many spheres, the overall trade figures show an increase of 15%.

But there is also a lot more good news - we have weathered the global economic storm well and unemployment is already down to levels prior to the financial crisis. and what is more tourism is set to break the all time record. With the cancellation of visa requirements for Russia and Ukraine, the tourists are streaming in and with any luck we will beat the previous record year for tourism of 2.8 million and reach 3.2 million this year. Forecasts for the next 2-3 years suggest we can reach 5 million and that is going to have positive effect on unemployment levels.

And finally there is more to look forward to in the future with amazing finds of gas which is going to allow radical positive changes in society. Yes we have a lot to look forward to.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Infamous AP photo that distorted the truth

You may remember the infamous AP photo that appeared in the New York Times in September 2000 of Tuvia Grossman, the Jewish student from Chicago. Tuvia was beaten within inches of his life before being rescued by an Israeli border policeman yet was portrayed in the media as a Palestinian victim of Israeli brutality.

The subsequent outrage at the media "launched" the organisation Honest Reporting. Now, ten years on, they have managed to exclusively reunite Tuvia with his rescuer, a Border Police commander from a northern Druze village and captured the event on video.

This is a compelling story and hope that it may even generate some interest from the mainstream media. But first we have to reach a critical mass of online interest on blogs, social media and other places.

This is pretty much HR's commemoration of our ten year anniversary fighting against anti-Israel media bias. We would be really grateful if you could promote this video and the accompanying interview with Tuvia Grossman

Sunday, September 5, 2010

And now a success from Sheba Medical Center

Following up from my last blog concerning the success at Haifa's Rambam hospital, Tel Aviv's Sheba hospital does not want to be outdone.

A three-week-old Beduin baby who would likely have been aborted if his mother had undergone an ultrasound scan during pregnancy has been saved from a congenital defect with sophisticated treatment, that included days of being connected to a $200,000 device at Sheba Medical Center’s Edward and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital.

The first son of Rahat residents Rasha and Shadi Elkranawi, themselves barely out of their teens, was born at 2.6 kilos in Rasha’s ninth month at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.His condition immediately turned critical, as doctors diagnosed a diaphramatic hernia, in which the intestines move up into the chest cavity and put pressure on the lungs.

Soroka lacked the special equipment needed to keep him breathing and his heart beating after an operation.Although doctors didn’t know if the baby would survive the transfer to Sheba at Tel Hashomer, they nonetheless sent him there and hasty arrangements were made for him with the head of the medical center’s pediatric intensive care department. Four expert staffers – some of them on vacation in other parts of the country – were urgently called to the department to perform surgery to push the intestines back into the baby’s abdomen and repair the hernia.

The full story can be read at

The operation was a battle against time. Due to the pressure, some damage had already been done to the lungs. However the doctors performed miracles and now the baby is home and will not need any special treatment or equipment as he recovers.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yet another Rambam hospital success

In the western world, cataract operations are considered routine procedures. In Israel alone, some 40,000 such operations are performed yearly. Just a few hours’ flight from here, however, thousands of people suffer from cataracts and blindness. Two Rambam ophthalmologists, returned from a mission to Yaounde, capital of the Republic of Cameroon in Africa, where they restored vision to tens of patients, and instructed local medical teams performing the same procedures.

The mission was sponsored by MASHAV, the Center for International Cooperation of Israel’s foreign ministry. For two weeks, the doctors diagnosed and operated on patients with different eye ailments in the city’s main medical center, Centre H'ospitalier D'Essos. Some of the operations were performed using a phacoemulsifiaction machine, a device for cataract procedures that was brought specially from Israel for the mission. The Israeli doctors also supervised local teams in treating glaucoma patients by laser.

News of the Israeli doctors’ arrival drew patients seeking treatment and advice. Hospitals in Cameroon attend only to insured or paying patients and those without adequate means remain untreated. During their short stay, Drs. Berger and Socea conducted 55 cataract and glaucoma operations primarily for patients in need , ranging in age from five to over 80. Putting this in perspective, the local department carries out only 100 operations yearly.

The procedures were performed with help of the hospital’s staff, along with teams from other cities who arrived to take part in the operation and to learn from the Israeli doctors.

“One of the most moving cases involved a 15-year old boy,” recalls Dr. Berger. “At a young age, this boy had received treatment that left him with cataracts in both eyes and with reversible blindness. We operated on his eyes and he recovered his sight.” Another case involved an elderly man who had been blinded in both eyes as the result of traditional methods of cataract surgery . The RHCC doctors also succeeded in restoring his vision. “This is an ailment that can be treated effectively, ” says Dr. Berger. “Only the absence of proper diagnosis and treatment allows so many people to remain blind.”

The farewell ceremony for the Rambam doctors took place in the presence of Israel’s ambassador to Cameroon, the director and deputy-director of Cameroon’s social security program (CNPS) ,representatives of the Israel foreign ministry, hospital staff and treated patients.

The Department of Ophthalmology, under the direction of Prof. Benjamin Miller, has a tradition of assistance in Africa. “In Israel, medical care is taken for granted, but in Africa you feel you are helping people who live with great difficulties. The results are quick and exciting,” says Dr. Berger. “The operations and guidance we provided are a contribution of Israel to Cameroon. This is part of a long-term, successful Israeli initiative in developing countries, especially Africa.”

For a video presentation see

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Making Peace with the Pacemakers

From the Rambam hospital in my home town of Haifa comes another innovation to help those who have had pacemakers fitted as a consequence of their heart problems

New cutting-edge technology allows patients with pacemakers to safely undergo full MRI scans. In addition, this innovative device offers more functions than previous pacemakers. Lately, Rambam doctors implanted the device in the first Israeli patient

Rambam Health Care Campus (RHCC) doctors have implanted – in the first Israeli patient – a new improved pacemaker. This novel device, an updated version of the EnRythm MRI, is the first pacemaker developed that can be use safely during full body scans in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines. The device also offers more functions, particularly in the detection and treatment of arrythmias.

As part of a multi-national trial, the pacemaker was implanted in an Israeli patient by Dr Mahmud Suleiman, Dr Monder Boulos and Dr Yuval Goldschmidt of Rambam’s Cardiology Department.

While the first generation of the pacemaker, EnRythm MRI, implanted in a patient at Rambam last year, allowed for partial MRI scanning, the new device enables imaging of the entire body. EnRythm was developed by the company Medtronic, an international leader in medical technologies for chronic diseases that received the European CE Mark approval.

MRI has many advantages, including its unparalleled ability to discriminate between different soft tissues and the fact that it does not involve radiation. A sophisticated medical imaging device, MRI uses a powerful magnetic field to visualize the internal structure and function of the body for diagnostic purposes. To this point, patients with pacemakers could not undergo MRI testing since the device is sensitive to the MRI stimulus, which may cause life-threatening malfunctions.

It is estimated that some 50-75% of patients with heart implants worldwide will require MRI imaging tests during their lifetimes. In Europe alone, there are roughly two million patients with pacemakers who cannot undergo MRI imaging due to the high health risks involved.

"While the use of MRI testing has grown tremendously over the years and has become routine, it has also become a serious obstacle for heart implant patients due to incompatibility of the pacemaker with the powerful magnetic field of the imaging technology,” says Dr. Boulos. “The innovative pacemaker by Medtronic, allows heart implant patients to safely undergo MRI testing without risks to the functioning of the device"

“MRI is the best imaging modality available for neurology, rheumatology and orthopedics patients, since it has the best soft tissue characteristics,” says Dr. Ariel Roguin, head of Rambam’s Interventional Cardiology Laboratory, who wrote the European guidelines for this trial. “In the past, many patients who have pacemakers and neurology-related problems were denied this examination, which is crucial for accurate diagnosis. Now, with this new device, they can undergo the MRI procedure safely.”