Archive for December, 2011

 
Haifa is a mixed city, we have Christians, Muslims and Jews living in harmony, and every year in December each of these  three religions has a religious holiday. For a great number of years now, the Haifa municipality have arranged what is called “the festival of festivals” during this month for all, and as always it is attended by a great number of people, also many tourists, in our town. There are street shows, singing, dancing, museums free for all and many other kinds of entertainment, and the restaurants belonging to all religions are fuller than ever. And whilst talking of Haifa, I must mention a Muslim delegation from India who are visiting Israel, led by Muhamed Asif, one of the leading politicians in India. Haifa’s mayor made a special reception for them too.
 
The Jewish orthodox religious fanatics seem to be getting more active from day to day, and now most of their actions are directed against women and even very young girls. (These are not the same fanatics I mentioned in an earlier blog). They want  women to sit at the back of buses apart from men, in some districts to walk only on one side of the street, not to appear as singers in concerts, and even spit on them if they think they are immodestly dressed. They want street advertisments to show only men.  They want only male workers in supermarkets and much more. True, it is only a small group, and they act mostly in the town Beit-Shemesh and in Meyir Sharim in Jerusalem, but they seem to make the headlines lately. Some have been arrested, but no real serious action seems so far to have been taken, although Prime Minister Natanyahu and other politicians have spoken strongly against this behaviour. Natanyahu said ,”In liberal, western democracies the public space is open and secure for everyone —  men and women alike. There is no place here for any harassment or discrimination. The government will use all the legal tools at its disposal to combat the exclusion of women in the public sphere, but said this was not only a legal issue, rather also a social one.This is an issue of public and social norms, and therefore I call on all public leaders and spiritual leaders to work against this phenomenon.” But this is only “talk”so far. We’ll have to wait and see what will be.
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On Sunday this week, according to the agreement with the Hammas terrorist group for letting Gilad Shalit go free, the second group of 550 Arab prisoners were released. There were some real murderers in this group, although most of them had been arrested for “milder” crimes. But an agreement is an agreement and we kept our part of it however much it hurt. But, believe it or not, Hamas has already said they would kidnap more Israeli soldiers, in order to free the remaining prisoners, and although they are hinting to the Western World that they will stop all violence, to their tens of thousands of supporters they said the opposite, that they are going to form an Arab army and will launch an “Intefada” to liberate all Palestine, (as if Palestine ever belonged to them). Hamas also said how proud they were of so far having killed 1,365 Israelis.

A small group of fanatic Jewish religious youths have been causing much trouble and damage here lately.They have not only been attacking and vandalizing Arab property, including an unused mosque, writing grafiti, but also forcibly entering an Israeli army camp, throwing rocks, causing bodily harm to our soldiers.  and sabotaging military equipment. And what was apparently the reason for this?  Hard to believe, but it seems to be the response to demolitions of illegally built outposts in the West Bank. Prime Minister Natanyahu said,”We won’t let them attack our soldiers, start religious war, attack Jews or non-Jews. The government will act with a strong hand, and make sure they are prosecuted.” Many have already been arrested and will shortly be brought to trial, but only yesterday we heard that others who are still about, set fire to some Arab vehicles. Hope they’ll be apprehended soon, they must be punished. And all the people I talk to, think the same.

A new eco-village has been planned in the Negev desert for the Beduin community, which is to combine Beduin values with modern renewable technology and farming expertise. The site will also include organic farms, modern herding techniques and such, and even an education center and a program for women. The corner stone ceremony will take place today. Work on the site will begin in January and will continue for about three years until completed. There will be a visitors’ center run in cooperation with the Education Ministry.

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Today I’ll begin with something that makes us Israelis proud again, and that is the fact that the Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year (2011) has again been awarded to an Israeli. This year it is Professor Dan Schechtman of the Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology in Haifa who won the prize. He is the tenth Israeli or Israeli-born scientist to win a Nobel Prize, the third to win for chemistry. I won’t go into details about his discovery concerning quasicrystal, because I myself don’t understand it.
 
During the weekend over 20 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, and this is still continuing, although our airforce is retaliating, but trying only to hit known terrorist areas  is not easy, as they usually hide amongst civilian population.

The day before yesterday there was even a rocket fired from Lebanon, which luckily for us fell on their side of the border into a Lebanese village. Of course so far no one there has taken responsibility for that shooting – and hopefully it won’t continue.
 
Maybe because of this, the threats from Iran,and/or because of the election results in Egypt, and the unrest in Syria, the Home-guard held air-raid siren practice in different places over the country. It was publicized, and details of when and where the sirens would be heard for one and a half minute were given on the media. In case of a real attack, another siren would have gone off.

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The election results in Egypt are out, and as expected, the Muslim Brotherhood party has won the most seats – about 45%. And another even more fanatic Muslim group has received about 20% of the votes. So what will happen to Egyptian politics in the future we can only guess at, and here in Israel we really worry. The Islamist rule in Egypt might threaten Cairo’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel. We are building a security wall on our southern border next to the Sinai desert, but it will surely take over a year till it’s finished. In the meantime not only infiltrators from African countries cross our borders, but lately also potential terrorists. I also wish to add, that the gas pipe line from Sinai supplying gas to Israel and Jordan, has been blown up 9 times since President Mubarak was removed from power. We can no longer depend on it.
 
We were informed yesterday that a terrorist group is evidently planning to attack near our southern border or even in Eilat, and our security forces are on alert. Two main roads near the border have been closed to civilian traffic, and all planned school trips in the south have been cancelled.
 
Also yesterday there was an earthquake in northern Israel, apparently 3.8 on the Richter scale. Although it was felt mostly in the Tiberias area, it luckily caused little damage, although residents there said that their furniture and and other belongings were shaking for about thirty seconds, and also some cracks were found on walls of old buildings.
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