Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Aftermath of Fire in Haifa

The disaster around us in Haifa with the multitude of fires that swept through the city resulted in a very heavy price being paid. Over 1800 homes were damaged by the fire and of those 527 are uninhabitable.

Travelling around the city at the beginning of the week we were able to see the severity of the fire in a number of neighborhoods. Thankfully personal injuries were minimal, the majority of people requiring treatment, suffered from smoke inhalation.

At the end of our street, the fire swept up a wadi exiting on to the street between a Golden Age Home and a private home. The first was saved with no damage whilst the private home was devastated.

The building next to this private home was also affected but with minimal damage. Here lives friends of ours, a 93 year old Professor of the Technion with his wife. He told me the story how he was having a massage when he was concerned about what was going on. As he completed getting dressed there was a knock on the door and was told to evacuate immediately. He didn’t even have time to get his wheel chair (he has great difficulty walking) before he was helped out of his home and dumped on a bench on the other side of the road.

With the kindness of motorists they were able to get to a point where they could contact their daughter to come and pick them up. Thankfully they have returned home already and all their prized family possession were intact.

This cannot be said for other friends who lost all their possessions. They are now looking around to rent accommodation in order to bring a bit of stability to their lives. Our community is looking to help in whatever way they can. In this case treasured possession have been lost. Can they ever be recreated – unlikely.

So were we being responsible in staying in our home when we were advised to leave? Certainly those families with children took a wise decision and left. We eventually did have cases packed in the event we had to leave. We did not realise just how close the fire was burning to our home.

      The fire in the Haifa area has been designated aa a terrorist act. What started           in one area quickly spread to other areas as the wind carried the sparks from           one area to another.
     Other fires around the country have also been designated as terror acts and so        far 13 suspects have been arrested, some from Palestinian territory and a                number of Israeli Arabs. Two of the arrested were caught by being seen with an      infra-red camera trying to light a fire near the city of Ariel.
     If some are found guilty, with a somewhat sick thought I suggested that Israel        should negotiate with the USA for rental of places in Alcatraz to get the                    perpetrators as far away as possible. Or is that an abuse of “human rights?” 



Saturday, November 26, 2016

Israeli Firefighter Recounts Battling Fierce Flames in Haifa

by Barney Breen-Portnoy  Algemeiner November 26th
  “It was like a movie,” an Israeli firefighter who battled the blazes that swept through the northern cityof Haifa on Thursday told The Algemeiner as he recounted his experiences a day later during a rare moment of rest.

“Every moment we were called to help in another place,” Yair Cohen — of the Carmiel fire station in the Galilee region — said. “There were so many apartments on fire and crazy traffic as people were escaping with their kids and whatever else they could take.”
Cohen is one of the hundreds of firefighters who have worked day and night over the past week in an effort to contain the dozens of wildfires that havepopped up across northern and central Israel.

“We’re doing our best to save forests, homes, property and pets,” he said. “It’s really sad to think about all the people who’ve lost all their possessions. Yesterday, we saw one woman who was too scared to go see what had happened to her house. It’s heart-wrenching.”
On Thursday, Cohen was dispatched to Haifa’s Romema neighborhood, the scene of some of the worst fires that broke out in Israel’s third-largest city.
“We were at one home where the roof began to collapse and we were trying to put the fire out from both the outside and the inside,” he said. “It’s been a tough and tiring week. It’s nuts, I can’t comprehend it.”
An estimated 700 homes in Haifa suffered damage in Thursday’s fires.
“During my almost 4 years as a firefighter, I hadn’t seen something like this,” Cohen said. “And I heard from more veteran firefighters that there hasn’t been anything like this, in terms of the amount of homes that were burned.”
While the fires in Haifa have been extinguished, blazes in other locations in Israel continue to burn.
“I think this will only end once the rain finally comes, or the eastern winds stop and instead come from the west and bring moisture,” Cohen said. “The situation is problematic right now, because everything is very dry. It’s the end of November and there has been almost no rain.”
As reported by The Algemeiner, the Israeli cabinet will hold its weekly meeting in Haifa on Sunday. On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the moshav of Beit Meir in central Israel, where ten homes were burned down by a fire on Thursday night.
“The most important thing is to evacuate people, and also yourselves,” Netanyahu told firefighters there. “Nobody needs to die here, nobody. This is before anything else.”
As of Friday, no deaths or serious injuries have occurred as a result of the fires.
Speaking with reporters in Haifa on Thursday, Netanyahu referred to suspicions that some of the fires were sparked by deliberate acts of arson, saying, “Every fire that was caused by arson, or incitement to arson, is terrorism by all accounts. And we will treat it as such. Whoever tries to burn parts of Israel will be punished for it severely.”


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thousands Flee as Massive Fires Rage in Haifa

What a day!! Driving downtown for the weekly shopping, we noticed one road sealed by the police and indications of a fire. Little did we know that this was to be the start of a day of fires in so many neighbourhoods.

Homes and other buildings were damaged by blazes as 11 neighborhoods were told to evacuate; 36 were treated for injuries as other fires pop up across country and West Bank for 3rd day.

The University of Haifa was also evacuated on as a precautionary move as fires raged in the northern city.

In addition, trains between the northern towns of Binyamina and Hadera were halted at the request of fire and rescue services as fires neared the railway tracks in the Caesarea region. 

On Thursday morning, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio that 50% of these fires were caused by repeated arson, 

“The fire is not under control; residents should quickly evacuate,” the Haifa fire chief said, according to Walla News, as eyewitnesses described firefighters having little success in checking the onslaught of the flames.

Firefighting planes from Cyrus, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Croatia were being brought in and the army’s Home Front Command called in soldiers and rescuers to aid with the effort. Four planes — two Bombadiers and a Hercules from Greece and an air tractor from Cyprus — and 49 crew members arrived Thursday morning. The planes are able to carry larger amounts of fire retardant than local aircraft.
In the city’s Romema neighborhood, a large apartment tower was seen going up in flames.
Israeli TV broadcast pictures of paramedics frantically moving elderly people out of a nursing home in the Romema neighborhood of Haifa as black smoke billowed overhead.
Firefighters also worked to try and keep flames from nearing a gas station close to the city’s Paz bridge, next to the main fire station and a main artery going north was closed.
“We’re in a state of war,” Haifa fire service spokesman Uri Chibutro told Channel 2 news.
Major traffic jams were reported as residents in affected neighborhoods attempted to move to safer ground.
An Israel fire service spokesman told The Times of Israel arson was suspected in Haifa based on circumstantial evidence, but nothing had been confirmed.
A fire was also reported close to the Israel Electric Corporation’s huge coal-fired power station in coastal Hadera. Firefighters said the outbreak was under control.
Along with the international aid, the IDF Home Front Command’s Kedem Battalion was been called in to help with the evacuations in the Mount Carmel area, an IDF spokesperson said.
In addition, firefighter reservists in the Home Front Command have also been called up to assist in battling the blazes around the country.
Are we leaving our home? Probably yes as a precaution, So let's start packing!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dear Anti-Israel Activist

As more and more people seem to realise that anti Israel activism is nothing more that anti Social behaviour, there seems to be a trend to challenge their outrageous bullying. Lies and deceptions are no match for the truth. Even Arab countries are losing patience with the Palestinians as they begin to see what Israel can offer them in so many ways - water, health, food security, military security, to name just a few.

====================

By Nevet Basker  September  2016,

Dear Anti-Israel Activist,

I don’t know you personally, but I know what you do. You demonstrate on college campuses, in front of stores that sell Israeli products, at co-op grocery outlets, and in the town squares of liberal places like my community of Seattle. You wear a keffiyeh and carry signs that say “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Shall Be Free” and other slogans that deny Israel’s right to exist. I see your swastikas and other classic antisemitic images.

I see your placards with names of villages lost when Israel’s neighbors invaded in 1948. I see your props: child-size coffins, for a dramatic effect. Mock “eviction notices” and “apartheid walls.” Posters commemorating the “Nakba”—catastrophe—your term for the Arab failure to destroy Israel.

I hear your chants of “Intifada, Intifada” and “We are Hamas”—glorifying violence against Jews and celebrating their murder. I see you disrupt talks by Israeli scholars and experts—and even by Palestinians who support peace. I hear you call for boycotting hummus (made in Virginia!), and petition artists not to perform in Israel, and demand that pension funds divest from one of the world’s most vibrant economies. I hear you misappropriate terms like “justice” and “apartheid” and “genocide,” divorcing words so far from their true meaning that the language is no longer recognizable.

And I can’t help but wonder: How is all this vitriol, this hateful rhetoric, remotely helpful to the cause of the Palestinian people you claim to support?

If you truly cared about Palestinians, you would fight the rampant corruption of the Palestinian Authority. You would challenge Palestinian leaders who rob their people to line their own pockets, who pay bounties to terrorists and their families. You would oppose Hamas in Gaza for stealing humanitarian aid, international donations, and construction materials to build rocket launchers and assault tunnels.

If you cared about the Palestinian people, you would protest the thousands killed and imprisoned, the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians gassed, bombed, and displaced in Syria. But you don’t, because you haven’t (yet?) figure out how to blame Israel and the Jews for this wholesale death and destruction.

If you really cared about the Palestinians, you would fight to improve their education, public health, and economic opportunities. You would advocate for dismantling the UN agency that prevents resettlement of descendants of Palestinian refugees, instead nurturing statelessness and victimhood for generations. You would object to the brainwashing of children in schools and summer camps, of youth on social media and adults in mosques and the media, indoctrination to hate and incitement to violence.
If you were a true progressive, you would fight for the rights of women, of LGBTQ, and of religious minorities, all of whom suffer enormously in Arab (including Palestinian) societies. If you cared about freedom of expression and a free press, you would oppose the arrest and abuse of journalists by both Palestinian governments.

And if you really cared about Palestinian statehood, you would invest in building institutions and infrastructure, and in fostering a social climate conducive to eventual Palestinian self-rule and self-sufficiency. You would educate for peace and coexistence, not violence and war.

The reason you don’t do any of these things is because, in fact, you don’t care at all about the Palestinians. You represent a campaign of hate and bigotry, disguised as a national-liberation movement. You then add to it a phony veneer of social-justice and—the irony!—a sprinkle of political correctness, in order to attract well-intentioned progressives to support your cause. In reality, you don’t even want a Palestinian state, only to eradicate the Jewish one. (That’s what “From the River to the Sea” actually means, of course.) You don’t support dialog, or peace, or coexistence. You reject overtures at “normalization,” as though being “normal” is somehow objectionable rather than a laudable goal.


You are a fraud. You are, of course, proudly anti-Israel and profoundly anti-Jewish. But you are also, in fact, anti-Palestinian and anti-peace. Thoughtful progressives are waking up to your true nature and looking for ways to truly support the causes of justice, of coexistence, of peace, and ultimately of the Palestinian people themselves.

Responses to Allegations re Balfour Declaration


1. The essence of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from 1917 until today has been the systematic and total rejection by the Palestinian leadership of the Jewish people's legitimate national rights in the Land of Israel.

2. The Balfour Declaration, issued almost 100 years ago on 2 November 1917 by the then-Foreign Secretary of Britain Lord Arthur James Balfour, marked one of the first times in the modern era that a significant world power officially recognized the Jewish people’s right to their ancient homeland. This document was then incorporated into the 1922 decision by the League of Nations [the precursor of the United Nations] to create a mandate aimed at establishing a national home for the Jewish people in the land of Israel. The League of Nations decision of 1922 transformed the Balfour Declaration and its call for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people from a policy position into an international legal obligation accepted by the international community as a whole.

3. Current Palestinian attempts to undermine the Balfour Declaration are part and parcel of their campaign to undermine the basic rights of Jewish peoplehood and the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Rejecting the Balfour Declaration is tantamount to rejecting the internationally-recognized natural rights of the Jewish people to a national home in the Land of Israel.

4. While Israel has repeatedly stressed its adherence to the principle of two states for two people, these Palestinian attempts prove yet again that their leaders are less interested in establishing their own state alongside Israel than they are in forging it instead of Israel.

5. The Palestinian Authority’s incongruous threat, first announced this past July, to sue the British government over the Balfour Declaration demonstrates that Palestinian leaders remain fixated on unfounded allegations from the past instead of moving forward to a better future for both peoples.

6. This historical denial of internationally-recognized Jewish rights by the Palestinian leadership is also reflected in the recent attempts in UNESCO to erase the Jewish and Christian heritage of Jerusalem.

7. Both the Balfour Declaration and the League of Nations decision included specific provisions to ensure respect for the civil and religious rights of all inhabitants in the land of Israel, irrespective of their ethnic orientation or religion.

Israel itself has always fervently strived to protect the rights of all its citizens – Jews and Arabs alike. Even before Israel became a state in 1948, the Jewish national movement deemed respect for the basic rights of all the inhabitants of the land as one of its most important values. Indeed, Israel enshrined these rights in its Declaration of Independence:

“THE STATE OF ISRAEL […] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

8. In the hope of fulfilling its dream of peaceful coexistence, Israel – and the Jewish national movement that preceded it - continually demonstrated their readiness to make painful compromises with their Arab neighbors.

In contrast, the rejectionist policies of the Palestinian leaders have not changed.

9. Tragically, these Palestinian policies have not been limited to the political sphere. In 1947, the UN Partition Plan - which was accepted by the Jews - was rejected by the Arabs, who chose to wage a war of annihilation instead of accepting the compromise that would have averted all the wars that followed.

10. Current activities by the Palestinian Authority, including its campaign against the Balfour Declaration, indicate that the Palestinian leadership continues to claim exclusive rights to the entire land, refusing to recognize the legitimate historical right of the Jews to their national homeland. These actions cast serious doubts about Palestinian intentions.


11. These actions, together with the systematic distortion of Jewish history, are morally unacceptable and factually unfounded. They are inimical to the international community’s – and Israel’s – desire for peace. It is long past time for the international community to step up and demand that the Palestinians stop perpetuating the conflict against Israel and finally answer Israel’s repeated calls to return to direct negotiations for a genuine peace.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Director of Pakistan Israel Alliance (PIA) Speaks


Noor Dahri (http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/noor-dahri/) of the Pakistan Israel Alliance (PIA) is an independent researcher based in London. He spoke recently in Scotland .

Good to know that even Pakistanis are coming to the truth about Israel


As a former anti-Semite and anti-Zionist campaigner, I am very worried about the recent wave of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents happening across the UK. I know anti-Semitism, I practised it and I can smell the threat which is on its way to the Jewish community of the UK.

In recent weeks, we have seen the UNESCO resolution on the Temple Mount and Jewish connection, the report of UNHRW, and worrying statements from British politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah, Jenny Tonge and many more. We saw Jewish students attacked at UCL (University College London) and there are many more anti-Jewish events in the pipeline.

After creating a home (Israel), the Israeli community across the world, thought that they were safe, yet 69 years after the creation of the State of Israel, the Jewish community still faces the same hatreds, persecution, blame and political attacks which they faced at the time of the Nazis.
Jews are being blamed for the Holocaust, Israel compared to Islamic State and Zionists said to have power over the UK Parliament. The Palestinian Return Centre has launched a campaign to press Britain to apologise for the Balfour Declaration, while in the House of Lords, Baroness Jenny Tonge, not only criticised Israel but urged the UK government to boycott the Jewish state of Israel.

I feel great pain at the attacks being launched against the Jewish people, their identity and their country, attacks which previously I would have joined. Now as a Muslim willing to stand up against such attacks I urge my Jewish friends to do the same. Sadly, you still face many dangers, but I want to remind you, that you are not alone.

When I look at the flag of Israel, I realise the true meaning of this flag is as the symbol of those six million Jewish martyrs who sacrificed their most valuable lives for the future of their race and religion, for the future of their children and for the future of the only Jewish nation in the world.
There will be many challenges to face, we have seen some recently, in UK politics, in the Labour party, in the Lib Dam party, in the Tory party, in the House of Lords, in educational institutions and in other governmental and private organisations. As a minority community, you may wonder how to counter such hateful behaviour from the majority community? –

Let me offer a question. I am a Muslim Zionist, I am a religious Muslim, ex-fanatic, ex-extremist, ex-anti-Semite, and ex-Anti-Zionist. If I fight your war and raise a war against my own, against my community, against those who share my faith — why can’t you?

I have paid a price for this willingness, can you imagine what kind of life I am spending with my family? I live in exile, no one knows my whereabouts. I cannot go back to my country. I cannot go back to mosques where I used to pray all of my life. But, this is the sign that you are on the right direction, when your enemies become your friends you are doing something right. If I can be changed, then those who are your enemies can be changed anytime.

You cannot win this game of hatred by yourself, you need to help those supporters who are from other communities and faiths. There are people around you who belong to different religions, different ethnics and different backgrounds and still support Israel and Zionism without any worldly benefits. They expended their time and efforts through organising events and writing to promote your campaign.  They are the real potential who stands firm with you in this mission. Please do not lose them because they are the real assets of Israel and Zionism and they sacrificed everything for you and your bright peaceful future.

You need to stand firm together, there should not be rightist, leftist or centralist among you because out there your opponents are uniting against you, they are not divided amongst each other, you know why? Because their goal unites them, to single out Israel and demonise Israelis.

You have to fight for your right but your fight must be a civilised and legal fight. They appear to have the majority of people and powerful political and media backup. But you are the most intelligent, creative, learned and peaceful nation of the world. Your tool of defence should be your pen, your brain and above all, your unity. Please organise yourselves, whatever creative skill you have, use it to defend your nation and the country of Israel.

Please do not forget, that if you are happy with your families and friends, you are working hard and doing your business, you are busy in your entertainment and in enjoying your lives around the world, you still owe a debt to the state of Israel. The smile on your children faces is because of Israel. The state of Israel is at the heart of your identity, your pride and your survival. The state of Israel has provided you the right to live and the right to exist.

Please keep in touch with your real supportive organisations which are working day and night to defend you morally and socially on social, electronic and print media. They organise events and gatherings to remind you your duty which is to defend your identity and your country. These organisations are fighting for your right to live with peace and without any fear.

We must support one another in promoting the cause, of Israel in the UK and across borders. I have a hope and a belief that one day our children will live with peace and love free from hate and without fear of persecution.


Palestinian farmers and Israeli administration discuss strawberry production in Gaza


It was reported by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that a meeting was held with Palestinian strawberry farmers from the Gaza Strip and officials from the Israeli Civil Administration (COGAT) to discuss plans for planting strawberries in the Bisan valley of Gaza.

In a statement released by COGAT, an Israeli official said that the administration had initiated a project to facilitate the planting of strawberries by Palestinian famers in collaboration with Agriculture Affairs Coordinator Samir Madi, Head of the Liaisons and Coordination Department Raim Falah, and USAID.

The project started on an area of 12 dunums of land (about 4 acres), which has generated a profit of some 33,000 shekels ($8,599).

The statement added that after the proven success of the project, additional Palestinian farmers took part in it and extended the planted area to 61 dunums (15 acres).

The project has so far produced some 425 tons of strawberries, and has generated an income of some 5 million shekels ($1,302,999) for Palestinian farmers participating in the project.

The statement also added that there would be further discussions on the project, with the expected participation of 30 Palestinian farmers, in cooperation with the Israeli-based company Bio Bee.

Strawberry production, and much of agricultural production, has been on the decline in the Gaza Strip and many strawberry farmers abandoned the practice due to the high cost of production.

Strawberry farmers had been dependent on smuggling planting materials through tunnels between the besieged territory and Egypt. However, following the destruction of smuggling tunnels, famers were forced to purchase Israeli-imported seedlings, insecticides, and fertilizers, which dramatically raised the price of production.

In 2014 Israeli authorities began easing export restrictions from Gaza which created a five-fold increase in exports in 2015 from the previous year, according to the UN.