December 31, 2006
Happy New Year to you all!
Here it is still NY’e Eve. In Sydney, it is already 2007 – and the fireworks display was a exciting as ever. There it is Summer; here Winter, and many Israelis are smiling at the heavy rain falling on the country, including the farmers and we roof-gardeners.
We are also hoping that the Gazans’ fireworks display is drowned out. They do have such a warped sense of a ceasefire – and as usual, the media has a warped sense of the need to try and stop these attacks. One boy had his Bar Mitzvah yesterday, but no father. He was killed by one of those ‘harmless’ bombs just a month ago. 2 days ago, 2 boys badly injured; one lost a leg. Ceasefire…..?
This time, I attach photos. We spent 2 days in the north, staying at Beit Alpha (Home of A?) kibbutz. Although famous, together with it’s sister kibbutz, Hefziba, for ancient mosaics, there is so much more here. First, the Japanese gardens. How come? For many years now, Japanese students have been coming to Israel to study Biblical and Jewish history (just as Israelis are in Japan doing the converse). Here you see Shira sketching fish next to the Gardens’ pool.
But Beit Alpha has so much more to offer. And it’s all based on ‘primitive’ and natural attractions and pleasures. They have what we’d call a Petting Zoo, and as you can see, Bambi really enjoyed our visit (that’s me, Eliana – and Shira being licked), and there are the usual goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, many types of birds etc.
They have an art gallery and museum, but the museum is more like a flea market: an unbelievable collection of musical instruments, household untensils, old cameras, guns, newspapers, maps (for those of you who do not read Hebrew, this British-printed map shows what they call ‘the Pirate’s Coast’ in the north of Saudi Arabia) and so on.
The views around are special: here’s our daughters’ boyfriends adding to the view. This is close to the Jordanian border. Many beautufl kibbutzim in this area. At one is located one of the largest fish farms in the country. We visit a bridge over our version of the Victoria Falls (well….slight exaggerration) and we are saddened at the smell and contamination of the water from materials used at the fish farms just north of here.
Something should be done, but we are below the area in which the aaters of the various streams and rives, including the Jordan, are used for irrigation or pleasure. We are about 200m below sea level. From here, the water joins the Jordan and runs into the Dead Sea, perhaps 30km further south and 200m lower.
And why is Aviva crying? No, she is meditating; she has just taken up Raiki or however you spell it. And if helps keep away the mental and physical pains, from both herself and the country, then I’m all for it. New campaign: Raiki for Peace.
A special New Year: no Saddam. Even here, among the deafening silence, there was criticism of the death penalty. (Bush and Blair slept and holidayed – no comment from them). 72 Not Guiltys were killed and dozens more injured. Just think of the families and their futures.
Few remember to blame the Saddams of this World. ‘He started it’ doesn’t go down well in today’s discussions. I remember he was the enemy of Iran, he sent 39 Scuds over here, and paid $20,000 to the family of each suicide bomber. So I am not unhappy enough to enter into the argument of the correct punishment for the man.
Yes, we are going out tonight – dinner at a restaurant and popping champers at a friend’s home.
So what do I wish for in 2007? None of the ideallistic stuff, ‘cos there will never be peace here; not during the next few generations at least. How about Al-Jazeera (Jazz era?) opening up an office in Tel Aviv and reporting the news objectively. Now that’s not too unrealistic, is it?