Saturday, March 29, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
and find a double twist on the classic reading the paper photo.
The road north between Ein Boqeq and Ein Gedi reminded me sometimes of the Sinai coast.
Now that the flow of fresh water from the Jordan River to its north has completely stopped (Sorry folks but the lower Jordan river is now actually a sewage canal), the Dead Sea is now retreating at the rate of a metre per year. A major international effort is need to save it. Friends of the Earth Middle East a regional environmental NGO wants the governments and global bodies concerned to discuss options other than the 'peace conduit' plan proposed by Shimon Peres and adopted by the World Bank.
Meanwhile the damage done by the shrinking of the lake is becoming ever more evident. This 'sink hole' , one of at least another thousand, was created when underground fresh water dissolved dried out salt deposits causing the ground above to cave in. It's only a few yards from the main road.
Moonrise near Ein Gedi and back to the grind.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Spring has definitely sprung and the evidence is everywhere, starting with the rooftop itself which is coming to life after its winter hibernation and is sprouting buds where once there were dead stalks and pushing out flowers through formerly brown wilted leaves.
The swallows are also back and while it's true that one swallow does not mean spring, scores of the nimble daredevils certainly do. Following their aerobatic displays, as they swoop around the rooftop, adds a touch of excitement to your morning fruit salad and yoghurt.
Last weekend we were in the Galil where the almond blossom overpowered the senses and fell to the ground like snow (see pic above).
On the downside, after a week of blessed lull (more or less), there's also a springlike resumption of hostilities in Gaza, following an Israeli assault on an Islamic Jihad cell in Bethlehem, in which senior Jihad military commander Mohammed Shehadeh was killed. As the Israeli pop song goes, "they don't make wars in the winter any more" and so we can expect much more of the same as both Israel and the Hamas engage in grandstanding and brinksmanship. It appears that both sides are going to have to suffer more bloodshed before the conditions are "ripe" for a diplomatic deal that might stabilise Gaza's borders.I'm off to the Dead Sea for a workshop that should also give me enough time to take a few photos of the the great disappearing lake that Pres Shimon Peres wants to refill with water from the Red Sea. The environmentalists are warning that this will could to untold damage but Shimon will not be moved and is mobilizing funds in all his diploamatic meetings. Germany, whose chancellor Angela Merkel will be visiting this week, will also no doubt be asked to cough up some euros.
Meanwhile, in the spirit of resurgent youth accompanying spring, check out the (Israeli) Middle Eastern street art webmagazine in English aziza which has just launched its first issue.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
Wall painting in Yaffo
For the past few days the IDF and Hamas have been battling it out in a round of mutual deterrence at the end of which neither side seems deterred and both sides vow to continue. The result has been about 100 Palestinians, two Israeli soldiers and one Israeli civilian killed. According to the army about 90% of the Palestinians killed were militants; according to the Palestinians the number is 50%. The truth is no doubt somewhere in the middle.
In Israel, Ashkelon was hit several times with longer range katyushas, including a direct hit on a house. This is a strategic achievement for Hamas. In Gaza the destruction was far greater, the Hamas leadership was forced underground and PM Hania's headquarters were reduced to rubble.
Behind the battle scenes, by all accounts, some sort of negotiations are going on with the mediation of the Egyptians, and the involvement of Israel, the US, the PA and others, to reach an overall cease-fire, a prisoner exchange ( i.e. thousands of Palestinians for Gilad Schalit) and the re-opening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. The fighting seems to be at least partly about the terms that will (hopefully) be settled. For example, the extent of Israeli remote control at the Rafah crossing. Meanwhile there could well be much more violence.
Here's an Ha'aretz analysis of what's going on
While Sderot and Ashkelon were "burning" an hours drive to the south, S (on a short family visit) and I enjoyed the pleasant weather and took a few hours to bike around Yaffo and Florentin. Here life continued undisturbed by the war down south (or by the rioting in East Jerusalem I've just seen on TV).
Local house-owners found colourful ways to decorate their entrances.
Clients at Abu Hassan's getting their daily fix of houmous and ful.
And the Yaffo sea scouts taking to the waves in their 'optimist' class sailing boats. You have to be an optimist to survive. Two such optimists are Hope Man (an Israeli from Sderot) and Peace Man (a Palestinian from Gaza) who have been corresponding via a joint blog that you can read at http://gaza-sderot.blogspot.com