Deal of the Century
The Palestinians officially refusing to attend the Bahrain conference. Ridiculous. As has been said for umpteen years, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
The Israelis also not officially attending. They say that this is as a result of the Palestinians’ non-attendance, claiming that the conference would then appear to favour the Israelis. Some logic, and basically the same excuse as given by the Palestinians.
So it’s ‘a wedding without the bride and groom’. However, a reminder that, independently, there are quite a few Israelis and Palestinians attending, mostly businessmen – and women, I presume. Banks are there, industrialists, some Arab political leaders etc. When a potential $50 billion is on the table, they come.
I, the defiant optimist, supports this attempt to solve the problem. No matter what the leaders may say to the contrary, putting the economy and ‘daily existence’ of the Palestinian people on the table first is not a bad idea.
I can imagine that the money given to the Palestinians over the last 70 years is similar in size to what is being offered now, but it has come haphazardly, from Europe, UN, America, the Arab League and from individual players, such as Qatar, Iran and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Putting everything under one umbrella and having transparency will reduce the potential of corruption and downright robbery of funds by the Palestinian leaders, whether for their own pockets, or for arms, tunnels and rockets.
Note that the other 3 countries mentioned as potential recipients of aid for their Palestinian refugees’ are Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The non-mention of the over 2 million Palestinians in Israel says out loud: Israel’s Palestinian population are OK.
So what else is in the news here?
The September elections may yet be cancelled.
Bibi’s head-to-head battle with Avigdor Lieberman was the camel that broke the government’s shaky back. Lieberman wants the religious to be more involved in national service, and to reduce the state support they have been receiving.
Netanyahu fears he may lose the next election, especially with several potential indictments hanging over him. His only means of survival lies in forming a government of national unity, and he’s now talking to the main opposition, the Blue and White party.
Praying at the Wall.
Ben Gurion’s big mistake was not separating religion from politics. I like reminding people that constantly referring to ‘the religious bloc’ is a mistake, as there are many divisions within that bloc; tradition, politics, customs, backgrounds etc. However, there is a chasm developing between religious and secular and it’s becoming dangerous.
Among American Jews, the split between orthodox, reform and conservative is not a major political issue, as they are a tiny majority in the country.
But when laws are passed that no one but orthodox are allowed to pray at certain parts of the Kottel (Wailing Wall), this is bad.
The important American Jewish community feels left out and let down by ’their Israel’. And that includes the women, who are also ‘left out in the cold’. So Israel may claim to be a liberal country, but the fact is that it treats Muslims and Christians etc. far more fairly than Jews.
We have by far the largest concentration of vehicles in the OECD, and we can’t catch up. Yes, we’re building more and better roads, improving the railway systems, flooding the streets with electric bikes and scooters, but it’s too late. (They’re about to close the main road entrance to Jerusalem for rail construction and major roadworks – for 3 years!!).
Shared use of vehicles (and therefore, less ownership) will eventually reduce the non-use of parked vehicles. But I’m not sure I’ll live to see the benefits.
The current international expo here reminds many of Israel’s leading position in this field. Not only drip-irrigation but major developments in hi-tech farming, water desalination etc.
A recent conference intends boosting the city’s status. Until now, for tourists, it’s a place to pass through (yes, have some fun, but) on the way to Jerusalem, Dead Sea, Jordan Valley, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Negev Desert etc.
But the recent major success of the hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest reminded many what this place has to offer: fun on the many local beaches and along its boulevards (not Champs Elysées, but), culture, cuisine and Bauhaus architecture. They plan to double to hotel rooms in next 10 years.
My friend, Allan Dubow, who wished to remain anonymous, will become known as ‘he who introduced Pickleball to Israel’. Look it up. I do believe it will be a success. Currently being played weekly at the gorgeous new YMCA sports centre in Jerusalem.