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# 167 – Israel’s Natural Disasters

by Stephen Pohlmann

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December 30, 2010

Well, before you start bombarding us with comments…OK, we did it. Ex-President Moshe Katsav will definitely go to jail for rape and sexual harassment.

It has taken a long time, but today the verdict came in: Guilty!

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It’s terrible that the President should have done such things.

It’s terrible that he, as a person, has constantly tried to avoid the truth – even now his family are saying he’s innocent.

But…this country has the guts to do what it has to do. It proves 1) that in Israel, all are equal in the eyes of the law, and 2) a woman has full control over her body.

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What a day….the media is bursting with the news…

(While we’re on the subject of women…in a country whose ultra-religious population do have special laws for women – although the women themselves openly do not complain – 3 women received their pilot wings today – a jet pilot, a navigator and a helicopter pilot. This is a great country).

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But other things have been happening –

  • The drought in Israel is at critical point. It has often been said that the next Middle East war will be over water. Well, in the meantime, who needs bad neighbours, when Nature is doing the squeezing? The Dead Sea is drying up (the Deadder Sea?) and the Galilee has almost reached the black level, at which the chemical changes will be ‘irreversible’. (A reminder that the Galilee is also below sea level – around 200 meters).

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  • The 9 months of dry weather resulted in the horrible fire in the Carmel hills. In the country which anyway plants at least a million trees each year, the Israeli Geographical Society is pushing the country to do more. The latest are the green ribbons being displayed by those giving extra to re-plant the nature.

  • So then the storms come, the worst seen in the country for generations. So much damage.

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  • All the news recently about Christchurch, New Zealand, being on one of those seismic faults – well, so is Tel Aviv. So I suppose we should be pretty happy no serious earthquake has hit. But it is due….

  • You would think that were enough. Well, yesterday the next disaster – a train decides to catch fire (only 5 km. north of here) and 114 were injured. Thank God, none very seriously. So there’s the positive side to that one.

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But let’s get happier. You know the jokes about Moses taking the wrong turn and ending up here, while the poor Bedouins ended up with all the oil. Well, Israel has finally hit the jackpot. And it’s gas – under the Mediterranean – in Israeli waters. First there was the ‘Tamar’ drill site, which is said to be worth $15 billion.

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Now the Leviathan reserve, perhaps 130 km. NW of Haifa, has an estimated value of $45 billion. For those interested, that’s about 16 trillion cubic feet of gas. Translated into lay language, that’s a lot of canisters..

It is expected that we’ll become a natural gas-exporting nation. Now how about that!!

Everything comes to those that wait.

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Sun? Yes, we’re working on that, too. On Tuesday this week, IC Green Projects inaugurated the country’s largest solar power plant, providing 2-Megawatt of green electricity, whatever that comes to.

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And to end with some visual stuff, Aviva and I visited 2 museums in the last 2 days. The first, where photography was forbidden, was the newly-renovated Israel Museum in Jerusalem. A stunning revelation. Not only beautiful art, but presented in a manner that makes it just that bit better. Terrific.

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And yesterday, it was the ‘Land of Israel’ museum, only a few minutes from us here in Tel Aviv. We only had time for the World Press Photo exhibition. This is the 3rd or 4th year I’ve seen this expo, which I must say was ‘getting to me’. Unfortunately, blood, tragedy, destitution, poverty, devastation…these are some of the words that come to mind when the press gets excited. Great pictures, yes, but there’s a limit….

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But there was a separate section, covering Israeli photographers, and here are some examples:

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Horses in a Snowy Field

 

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Kite-flying at the UN Summer camp in Gaza

 

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After Operation ‘Cast Lead’ in Gaza, the rebuilding starts

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Pigeons impersonating vultures in Gaza devastation

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A moral to the above photos….No. For me it’s so obvious. War never was pretty. And this is a stupid war. You keep hitting your neighbour, the recriminations are predictable. It’s like the discussion I had a few days ago, when I told a young lady walking her baby in a pram across a pedestrian crossing. She walked at the talker’s angle, mobile phone stuck between ear and shoulder. She was not interested in my speed, my direction, my intention.

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We are expecting our first grandchild soon. God forbid my daughter acts this way. When I pointed the danger out to her, she stupidly retorted that she has the right of way. Well that’s not going to help when she knocks on Heaven’s door.

(Actually, this is a stupid metaphor, because we are NOT just a bad driver in this area. But you know what I mean, don’t you?)

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And I end this with 3 ‘just good pics’……

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Tide out on an east coast beach in UK

 

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“And this is my favourite view”…

 

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A diving kingfisher

 

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Shana Tova (that’s Happy New Year in Hebrew – works for any new year..)

Stephen

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