16 October 2010

Tel Shikmona by the Sea

Amazing what you pass on the way to the doctor. There was a villiage here 3500 years ago. That makes the 6th C. Byzantine mosaic floor seem almost too recent to get excited about. Just up the road is the place where the Union Jack came down on British rule. There are Templar graveyards nearby, and a bit further away, some of Napoleon Bonaparte's mighty warriors are buried. Bedouin dominated the area once, an so did the Kurds. And the Catholic Crusaders. Lots of peoples and cultures have come, and they have gone.

Only one has come back.

12 October 2010

Lewy Promenade, Haifa

An artistic rendition of the famous Lewy Promenade (טיילת לואי), next to the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, overlooking the Port of Haifa several hundred meters below.  One of the best high views in an city in Israel.  Surprisingly,  not usually crowded.  The might of the Israel Navy can be seen below, depending which vessels are in port.  Large cruise ships as well.  And the large grain intake and storage facility, Dagon's Silo (ממגורות דגון).  It is in a part of the upper Karmel which abounds in pleasant cafes, sushi bars, a few Chinese restaurants, and lots of general purpose eateries.  A Swiss-French place just opened up.  The area is not at all dominated by fast food, and there is only one low-key McDonalds in these streets, which is not all that crowded compared to the street cafes.  Haifa Cinemateque is here, too, showing art films and foreign films not of the Hollywood persuasion, and Hebrew films.  Very popular.  Boutique hotels are popping up more and more, though the big Dan Panorama twin towers dominate the hotel scene. There is a zoo, which explains the lion-roars on a quiet moment.  The Karmelite subway upper terminus goes down the mountain through shopping and business districts, and ends up at the bottom near the port.  

05 October 2010

Peaceful Train/Peace Train

Israeli train hurtling forward along the Mediterannean coast through the bright autumnal skies from Haifa. Next stops: Akko, Nahariyah, Tyre, Sidon, Beirut. Ah, but the Rosh Ha-Niqra tracks were blown back in '48. No one wants Jews on this kind of train. Happy, prosperous, jabbering Israelis, soldiers dozing with mouths hung open, squawking childred, shoppers clutching their purchases, day-tripper. The real Israel is so incredibly...

02 October 2010

PEACE TALKS: Built on sand, and made of it, too

If the so-called peace talks between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Makhmoud Abbas fail, as they surely must, it will have nothing to do with Israelis building in parts of Israel that the rest of the world does not want Israel to have. We were not born yesterday: Of course we know that the land in question is touted as "occupied Arab" or worse yet "occupied Palestinian" land. We are well aware that several incompatible realities are overlain on these lands.

However, if the talks fail it will not be because of the decisive--and constructive--activities of Jews in Israel. Nu? we like to build where we live--nothing new. The building freeze always had a limited time period, and an explicit expiration date, well known to their excellencies Abbas and Obama. For whom was the resumption of building a surprise?


Abbas didn't have to linger so long over his whine-and-cheese waiting for most of the freeze period to run out before heading for the table. Bibi sat there staring at his watch and smoking cohibas, worried to death over Abbas. Was he hurt? Did he lose his way? Was he short of bus fare?

Now, over the years the Arabs have painted themselves into so many corners on the matter of Israel that we must soon revise the basic paradigms of the geometry of one-dimensional shapes (how many corners can one square contain?). They rioted once because the British Mandatory government said hence forth they would be called Palestinians, G-d Forbid! "We'll have none of that, sir!" they cried out. "We are Syrians!" Even the infamous Azmi Bishara, no friend of the Jewish state, is on record as saying that there is no such thing as a Palestinian. Probably why he went home to Syria. All righty then. Jews in the Palestine Mandate were Palestinians, Arabs were Syrians, except Druse who were (and still are) Druse, and Bedouin who couldn't give a rat's arse.

Something like that.

The UN partition gives these Syrians-not-Palestinians all of Gaza, and a heck of a lot more than just bits of Samaria and Judea. But the independant British-created eastern Palestinian state of Trans-jordanian Palestine marches into Judea and Samaria and unilaterally annexes the land.

Who complained?

Egypt marches into Gaza and takes the strip.

Who complained?

Of course there were terrorist attacks against Israel off and on throughout this period when Israel was shut out of all these parts of the Holy Land. So wanting to destroy Israel had nothing to do with "occupation" so much as it had to do with Israel's very existence.

By the mid-1960s Arafat and friends created the Palestinian People out of thin air. And now for my latest trick... Tiny Israel facing tens of millions of Arabs looked brave, and the Arabs a little bullyish, thus a small, defenseless Arab people called The Palestinians was spoken into existence. All right out of the Protocols of the Elders of Islam. Now Israel, increasingly wealthy, modern, and hi-tech, with an awesome army called the Guardian Host of Israel, looked like the Big Bully.

You get the picture...

Or you don't.

Either way, this show won't go on forever. It does have an ending, folks, and nothing important about this ending will have been decided in Washington or Brussels or Moscow.