Archive for January, 2013

Most of the news in Israel these days concerns the results of the elections last week, the surprising rise of two completely new parties (one led by Yair Lapid which took second place, and one led by Naphtaly Bennet taking 5th place) and the difficulty Prime Minister Natanyahu will have in forming a new government.

Yesterday, January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This was the day near the end of World War I when the infamous Auschwitz concentration (death) camp was liberated by the Russian Red Army. It is sad that many countries in the world deny that the holocaust ever happened, and Iranian president Achminijad even said so at a United Nations Assembly in New York, and delegates of different countries listened to this, instead of leaving the hall. Sadly anti-Semitism is increasing in the world, not only in the Arab ones, in which Jews are openly described as being descended from “monkeys and pigs”. As usual, so many democracies of the world close their eyes and ears to this.

There is much unrest in Egypt these days with many casualties and deaths, violent demonstrations going on against President Morsi with his new rules and laws, and the Muslim Brotherhood which has taken over since Mubarak was taken down. A curfew has been announced in the towns of Suez, Port Said and Ismaelia because of the violent protests. It may seem strange that we have just heard that the U.S.A. is supplying Egypt with more tanks and will also send about 20 F-16 planes to Egypt. Why is this?

Enough for today. Shalom from Irene


Parliamentary elections are taking place in Israel today, tomorrow we will know most of the results, but it is almost certain that our present Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu will retain his post. It won’t be easy for him to form a new coalition government – we have too many political parties, but hopefully it will bring security and well-being for the coutry.

Security is one of Israel’s main desires and needs. We are such a small coutry surrounded by many enemies. Only a few days ago, one of the leaders fighting against Assad and his regime in Syria  said,”Damascus now, after that it will be Tel Aviv.”

After the heavy rains of over a week ago, a large hole leading into a tunnel was discovered coming from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. We don’t yet know if it was meant for smuggling weapons, materials or people in or out of Gaza. maybe it was meant for more kidnapping of soldiers? Who knows? Anyway it was destroyed, and hopefully there are (and will be) no other tunnels.

At the end of this week, we will celebrate the “Tu’Be’Shvat” festival (this is actually a date in the Jewish calendar) and we call it the festival of the trees. Much tree planting takes place, and traditional food is dried fruits (prunes, apricots and such) and nuts.                                                      That’s all  for today. Shalom from Irene.

Nothing much new to write about. Elections are one week off, and the media is full of the propaganda from the different parties. I doubt if much will change, and Benjamin Natanyahu’s party will get the majority vote and form the new government, maybe with a few changes in the coelition. One thing seems certain : the budget for 2013 has to be passed, and because of the monetary deficit, more taxes will go up
The weather is still cold (comparatively for Israel) but the rain has stopped, the floods gone down, and it is no longer snowing in Jerusalem and the north, although there is still much snow on Mount Hermon, and during the weekend many drove up north for skiing and sledging, causing traffic jams of a number of kilometers, there were so many of them.
Last week, among five films nominated for possible “Oscar” prizes for the 85th Academy Awards’ Best Documentary Feature Category ‘ were two Israeli films – “The Gatekeepers” and “5 Broken Cameras”. There is of course the possibility that neither of them will be chosen, and I don’t know if I will be sorry about that. Although I haven’t seen these films, I have read about them, and they were evidently produced by very radical directors who showed Israel, to say it mildly, not in the best light (that may be one of the reason these films were chosen). One is a co-production with Palestinians, and one “tries” to show both sides of the Israel-Arab situation with pictures taken on the spot. (but maybe it was actually meant for provocation?)
We have also seen pictures taken on the spot on our TV, one shows a little 9 year old girl shouting at, insulting and hitting three Israeli soldiers , who did their best to completely ignore her. There were of course foreign cameramen nearby, waiting to take a picture of “brutal” Israeli’s behaviour to an Arab child. They  must have been disappointed, and probably regreted that this didn’t happen.
That’s all for today. Shalom from Irene
The new year 2013 has begun, and with it more taxes and money for us to pay. Property and municipal taxes will rise by 2%, income tax for those earning more than average also 2%. The price of water will go up 3.5 % and electricity will evidently rise too, we don’t yet know how much. Different food products have also  already gone up. Knesset (Parliament) elections take place on the 22nd this month and who knows what will be after them? Oh, and I almost forgot to mention it, I read that the Knesset  members’ wages are going up  automatically this month (approximately 300 Dollars a month, maybe not much for them, but this sum would surely help many people)
One of Israel’s problems are illegal asylum seekers from poor African countries, many of whom live under poor conditions in south Tel Aviv. Last week an elderly woman was raped and beaten by one of these from Eritrea, she was hospitalized for over a week, and the people living in that area demonstrated, saying their lives were in danger and for a long time they have been afraid to go out in the dark, or even alone in the daytime, because there have been so many robberies too. Hopefully the fence being built on the Egyptian Sinai border will stop more illegals from entering the country. But something must be done to stop the crime – more work given might stop that?
Israel’s National Library has bought 29 pages of 1,000-year old Jewish documents from Afganistan. Evidently these documents were discovered in a cave in eastern Afganistan, near the Uzbeki and Iranian border. The collection includes unknown writings by Saadia Gaon, also legal and family correspondence and prove that at this period there was a Jewish population in that area. This cache has “rocked” the world of scholars who study ancient manuscripts.
I’ll end today’s blog by mentioning the unusual weather we’ve been having lately in Israel. Storms – strong winds and rain in great quantities, snow in the north which we’re promised will also fall in Jerusalem. Floods in low places, some roads closed, train service was stopped for a number of hours a day ago, electricity intervals, traffic lights out of order and such. And of course fallen trees and even an electricity pole, damage to property, and more traffic accidents than usual. And the weatherman says it will continue.
That’s enough for today. Shalom from Irene