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 http://www.ramat-hanadiv.org.il/lobby.aspx?boneId=334 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 http://www.israelyoudidntknow.com/north/shuni-spring/ 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, http://tinyurl.com/28ghky9 ) 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 http://www.ein-hod.info/ 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,
http://www.einbokek.com/ ] 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)http://www.angloraanana.com/goodnews.html, 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,
http://israel21c.org/201009278343/people/grasping-the-real-challenges-of-the-global-village 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.