Israellycool » Brian of London Down Under Punditry in the Middle East Tue, 19 May 2015 21:06:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Eurovision Is Back And Israellycool Is On The Case! Tue, 19 May 2015 08:19:05 +0000 As long time readers of Israellycool will know there is a bit of a tradition on the blog to cover the Eurovision Song Contest. This baffling throwback to a by-gone era (it started in 1956) is really the prototype show for a televised music competition. It may be the spiritual godfather of all the Pop Idol, Voice and other singing talent shows that fill our TVs today.

If you’re not interested in the songs, however, I can assure you that the entire presentation of the event will probably be amongst the most amazing you’ll ever see. The camera movements, lighting and production are nearly always top notch. This year it’s in Austria (after the bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst won last year).

So this year Israel’s entry is Nadav Guedj singing Golden Boy. Here’s the produced video for his song:

He will perform this in the second semi-final on Thursday night.

Quoting from a tremendous blog by Benny Royston on the UK’s Metro Newspaper:

So can Israel qualify?

Despite regular top five finishes and three wins culminating in Dana International’s victory in Birminham back in 1998, Israel has struggled to perform at the Eurovision Song Contest in recent years.

They scored 4th place in 2005 with the incredible Shiri Maimon but that was the last time they exceeded expectations.

Last year Israel were talked about as a potential dark horse to win. But they’ve finished 14th, 13th and 15th in the last three years of semi finals.

This year, they have a combination of middle eastern music with contemporary pop and it does work. They’ve turned away from songs about peace and have stripped their entry back to a show for a music competition. This might bring them back to the final.

They’ve got the vocals and the song to achieve Israel’s best result in a decade. The song is different enough from the others to give it a good shot.

If Israel fail to qualify for the Eurovision final for a fourth year in a row, we may see one of the most influential countries in the competition’s history bow out.

You can see a glimpse of his rehearsal here:

For years people have asked what is Israel doing in a competition for Europe. Hopefully that will now stop. Because as debatable as it seems to put Israel in Europe, it’s pretty clear that this year’s hardest to explain “European” nation is now Australia. Yes, that’s right, Australia has a shot at the crown.

What’s going to be so interesting this year is watching which European nations give Australia a large score (12 points is the maximum). Will this map out the presence of Australian backpackers across the continent of Europe? We Shall see!

Once again from Benny Royston:

The United Kingdom has a good record of awarding it’s 12 points to the eventual winner, so it will be interesting to see if Guy picks up our top mark on Saturday night.

There’s also a chance the United Kingdom will get to host Eurovision if Australia win as they’re not allowed to host the Contest in Australia – it will go to a venue and broadcaster in Europe.

Whether Australia can overcome the challenges of Sweden, Italy or Russia as one of the four favourites is hard to call until we know the running order of the final.

The voting public of Europe and Australia might still have a surprise in store.

Czech Republic, Latvia, Norway and maybe Iceland, France and Spain are in with a shout.

The 2015 Eurovision Song Contest is just a week away and the excitement is starting to build.

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The Pope, A Journalist And A Terrorist Walk Into A Bar With An Interpreter (Updated) Mon, 18 May 2015 16:19:32 +0000 Updated 19 May 09:30: The damn has burst, scroll to the end of the post for the various clarifications and spin the main stream sources are putting out (jump).

Updated 12:30: some commentary from Eliyahu m’Tsiyon (Ziontruth blog) who is actually responsible for first catching this whole mistranslation/reporting story. (jump)

Slowly but surely the news that the Pope did not call Abbas an “angel of peace” is seeping out.

Today I appeared on Voice of Israel’s Mottle Wolf show discussing the story, that’s below.

The Times of Israel, working directly from my tip off, came up with a slightly hesitant piece but they did actually call up and get a direct quote from the Vatican:

Did the pope call Abbas an ‘angel of peace’? Depends who you ask

The Vatican’s chief spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi, who was present when the pope hosted Abbas in the Apostolic Palace’s papal apartment, told The Times of Israel that he “did not hear the exact words spoken.” This, Lombardi elaborated, was “because they were said in a very colloquial manner between the pope and the Palestinian president, who were in close proximity to one another.”

Still, Lombardi’s description of papal intent seemed to point away from the “Abbas is an angel,” and more toward the “hopefully Abbas will be an angel” explanation.

Lombardi said that Francis often presents visiting leaders with the large round bronze medallion representing an angel of peace in order to encourage a commitment to peace. “When the pope presents the medal to the president or head of state, he offers a few words of explanation of the gift as well as an invitation to a commitment to peace on the part of the recipient,” Lombardi said. “Each one of us must be for others and for the world an ‘angel of peace.’” The word angel in this context, said Lombardi, means messenger.

angel of peace Times of Israel screen shot

If the words “were said in a very colloquial manner between the pope and the Palestinian president, who were in close proximity to one another”, perhaps the interpreter who translated from Italian to Arabic would like to confirm the exact quote.

To the best of my knowledge, the current Pope is not fluent in Arabic and Abu Mazen, unless he learned it while organising the attack on the Italian ship Achille Lauro, doesn’t speak Italian.

As far as I’m concerned the news wires were all lock step in agreement: as you can see in the screen shot from the original Times of Israel story (which is no different from any others based on the wire reports) the phrase was called out with quotation marks. That means it was a direct quote.

Either he said it or he didn’t: if the spokesman won’t confirm that he said it, or is unsure, it’s pretty clear he never said it and Lombardi is trying to save face for the news agencies.

The Jerusalem Post took a different approach: they’ve gone back and silently edited their story from the 16th May. I’m not a fan of this approach. I think it’s sneaky and I’m not sure why the Jerusalem Post feels the need to cover up for errors made by the AFP.

Here’s their piece as it looks tonight (despite it’s date of 16th May) with the changed headline “Pope calls on Abbas to be an ‘angel of peace’ during Vatican meeting:

JPost changed headlineI don’t have a screen shot of the previous version but the URL makes it clear how the story looked up until tonight:

JPost changed headline just the URL

And then there’s twitter:

So far the wires are silent. There have been a number of notable pieces published about this story, mostly in conservative blogs and publications. Presspectiva have published it in Hebrew. Ziontruth goes after the New York Times particularly and so on.

But we’re still waiting for someone big to publicly confess and own up to this. I think we may be waiting some time.

Updated 19 May 09:30: The big guns have arrived. (Top of the page)

Exhibit A: The BBC.

The Vatican has clarified comments made by Pope Francis to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday.

Journalists from leading news agencies reported that the Pope called Mr Abbas “an angel of peace” when giving him a bronze medallion representing one.

But an Italian newspaper says he merely expressed hope that the president might one day become an angel of peace.

The Vatican’s spokesman said he did not hear the exact words, but that they had been meant as an “encouragement”.

Reports of the Pope’s remarks caused a storm on social media, with some Twitter users accusing the media of deliberately misquoting him.

Exhibit B: The New York Times. This one is interesting because, to the best of my knowledge, the New York Times’s own piece on this came from Reuters who they don’t mention.

JERUSALEM — Every word counts in the delicate diplomacy of the Middle East, where negotiators have often resorted to creative ambiguity.

So Pope Francis’ sotto voce greeting to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority during a meeting at the Vatican on Saturday, in which he referred to Mr. Abbas as an “angel of peace,” but with an uncertain verb, has caused a linguistic and political furor that is still resonating days later.

Did the pope tell Mr. Abbas “You are an angel of peace,” as many news outlets, including the main Italian news agency ANSA, The Associated Press and The New York Times, reported? That phrasing pleased Palestinians but infuriated some Israelis and Jewish leaders around the world.

Or was the pope encouraging Mr. Abbas with the words, “May you be an angel of peace,” as other major Italian news media, like La Repubblica and La Stampa, reported, a formulation that suggested more exhortation than commendation, and sounded better to pro-Israeli ears.

Exhibit C: The Associated Press (AP). This is, to my mind, the big one. What they’ve managed to do here, however, is come up with a way that retains the original headline all the while admitting that the direct quote was probably wrong. I’m not even clear that “you are a bit an angel of peace” is elegant English, I’d have phrased it “you are partly an angel of peace” but I’m no Italian scholar.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — VATICAN CITY (AP) — In a story May 16 about Pope Francis meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, The Associated Press erroneously omitted two words when quoting the pope. Francis told Abbas “you are a bit an angel of peace,” not “you are an angel of peace.” The original Italian quote was, “Lei e un po un angelo della pace.”

A corrected version of the story is below:

Pope calls Palestinian leader “angel of peace” during visit

Pope France calls Palestinian leader Abbas an “angel of peace” during Vatican audience


Associated Press

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as an “angel of peace” during a meeting Saturday at the Vatican that underscored the Holy See’s warm relations with the Palestinians as it prepares to canonize two 19th century nuns from the region.

Francis made the compliment during the traditional exchange of gifts at the end of an official audience in the Apostolic Palace. He presented Abbas with a medallion and explained that it represented the “angel of peace destroying the bad spirit of war.”

Francis said he thought the gift was appropriate since “you are a bit an angel of peace.” During his 2014 visit to Israel and the West Bank, Francis called both Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres men of peace.

Exhibit D: this is the unaltered complete text of the clarification the Vatican Embassy in Israel sent out to any journalist who asked for it (thanks to Presspectiva for passing this on to me).

In response to your query of yesterday, please find here below the statement from the Vatican  Press Office in relation to the meeting of the Holy Father with President Mahmoud Abbas:

One of the gifts that the Pope often presents to visiting Presidents is a large, round, bronze medal by a contemporary artist that represents an “angel of peace.”  When the Pope presents the medal to the President or Head of State, he offers a few words of explanation of the gift as well as an invitation to a commitment to peace on the part of the recipient. Each one of us must be for others and for the world an “angel of peace.”  The word “angel”  means messenger. 

The sense of encouraging a commitment to peace was very clear; the very gift of the symbol of an angel of peace was made by the Pope with this intention this time  as well as for previous presentations of the same gift to Presidents, not only to President Abbas. 

Kindest regards.

Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto

Apostolic Nuncio

Updated 12:30: Important commentary from Eliyahu m’Tsiyon (Ziontruth blog) who is actually responsible for first catching this whole mistranslation/reporting story. (Top of the page)

From the direct statement from the Vatican Embassy:

When the Pope presents the medal to the President or Head of State, he offers a few words of explanation of the gift as well as an invitation to a commitment to peace on the part of the recipient

The new AP version: Lei e` un po’ un angelo della pace [you are a little bit of an angel of peace] — is just too cute. And nobody else heard it. But the AP is very definite about it: “The original Italian quote was, ‘Lei e un po un angelo della pace.'” –we just left out two wittle words — and then they ran almost the same story, as Brian says. So much for the reliability and credibility of the AP.

The NYT does its best to keep on obfuscating the issue and supplying partial and misleading information.

“It all seemed to boil down to the difference between the verb “sei,” Italian for “you are,” and “sia,” which means “may you be.” ”

The NYT leaves out a lot here. La Stampa put “sia” in the headline but in the body of the article, it has “lei possa essere un angelo della pace.” The NYT overlooks that line, further confusing the issue for those who have not read the original Italian articles. And one author of this NYT “correction” was Ms Povoledo who wrote the original offensive “report”.

The NYT does contrast the indicative form “sei” with the subjunctive “sia”. However, the NYT glides over the additional problem of the informal, less respectful form, sei [tu sei], and the formal, respectful form, sia [lei sia]. If you know the difference between tu and vous in French or tu’ and Usted in Spanish, then Italian has the same thing, lei used as vous and Usted.

Now the question is: would the pope have used the informal, less respectful tu sei or sei form with Abbas? Or would he have used the formal, more respectful Lei form, that is, Lei sia or simply sia?

So the NYT is obfuscating this other linguistic/social issue.

If you find any more significant corrections let me know in the comments and I’ll add them.

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Pope: “I Am Converting To Islam” – Associated Press Sun, 17 May 2015 07:27:10 +0000 What if the major newswires ran a headline that attributed, as a direct quote from the Pope, clear evidence he was converting  to Islam?

Would you still believe the Pope was Catholic or would you believe what the Associated Press or Agence France-Presse were telling you?

If you were the editor of a major world news outlet, would you think of having to fact check the news wire and ring the Vatican for confirmation?

As was first brought to my attention late on Saturday night (16th May) there is a huge problem with the breathless headlines all around the English speaking world that Pope Francis had called Mahmoud Abbas an “angel of peace”.

This is what was reported after the Pope met Abbas. Did the Pope really call Abu Mazen, the “democratically elected”, unrepentant terrorist now firmly within the 11th year of his 4 year term of office running the Palestinian Authority an “angel of peace”?

You have to wonder why people didn’t at least see a problem with this. Deebo produced a great series of posters outlining his major terrorist triumphs. All the English headlines and all the stories drew on three wire service reports:

AFP: They exchanged gifts with the pope giving Abbas a medal with a figure of the angel of peace “which destroys the evil spirit of war”. “I thought of you because you are an angel of peace,” he told Abbas.

AP: Pope Francis praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as an “angel of peace” during a meeting Saturday at the Vatican that underscored the Holy See’s warm relations with the Palestinians. Francis made the compliment during the traditional exchange of gifts at the end of an official audience in the Apostolic Palace. He presented Abbas with a medallion and explained that it represented the “angel of peace destroying the bad spirit of war.” Francis said he thought the gift was appropriate since “you are an angel of peace.” During his 2014 visit to Israel and the West Bank, Francis called both Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres men of peace.

Reuters: In a statement, the Vatican said Pope Francis and Abbas had spoken about the peace process with Israel and had expressed the hope that direct contacts between Israel and the Palestinians could resume soon.
Pope Francis gave Abbas a medallion representing an angel of peace, telling the Palestinian leader he thought of him “as an angel of peace.”

The Italian sources, including those closest to the Vatican have a completely different reading:

He did utter the words “angel of peace,” and he suggested that Abbas could or might be one.  In the context of the pope’s complete statement about the meeting, the implication was that Abbas could be an angel of peace if he resumed direct negotiations with Israel.

Why did Francis say the words “angel of peace” at all?  Because he was making a gift to Abbas of a medallion engraved with an image of the Angel of Peace.  The Vatican Insider feature of Italy’s La Stampa has this summary in its English version:

“As is tradition with heads of State or of government, Francis presented presented a gift to the Palestinian leader, commenting: “May the angel of peace destroy the evil spirit of war. I thought of you: may you be an angel of peace.” Pope Francis had called Abu Mazen a “man of peace” when he visited Bethlehem in May 2014, just as he called the then Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, a “man of peace” during his subsequent visit to Jerusalem.”

So what we have from the AP and AFP is not just a mis-translation, it’s the complete failure to accurately communicate the Pope’s words and the context of them. They have ascribed a completely different meaning to this encounter than that which Italian (and at least one Spanish) sources report.

It’s even worse: by saying to Abbas he could one day be an Angel of Peace, The Pope is implying Abbas is not presently bringing peace to anywhere.

Of course the Pope believes Abbas could one day be an Angel of Peace! It’s basic Catholic doctrine that everyone can be redeemed through their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Saying that Abu Mazen ONE DAY may be an angel or man of peace is like the Catholic Pope saying that one day Abbas could convert to Christianity. It is possible. But it doesn’t mean he’s an Angel of Peace today.

Ask yourself, which is more likely: the Pope makes a statement firmly in line with a millennium of Catholic doctrine, or he makes a statement making himself look totally ignorant of the background of the man opposite him?

The whole point of a news wire is to do basic reporting of facts and events. To report quotes and their context accurately and without distortion, even if made in a different language.

To any editor in the whole world: how can you trust the AP or AFP to report any story with an Israel connection when they are not even capable of accurately quoting the Pope? You should not run any story by these agencies until you have had your own fact checker ring up the Vatican and confirm the facts.

Which leads me to wonder why any reputable news publisher pays for AP or AFP reports on Israel.

Updated 17 May 15:07: Included a quote from the Reuters version of the story as used by the New York Times.

Here are some earlier failures to cast your mind back to:

AP’s Slanted Reporting Is Not Unintentional

The Bullsh*t Dam Has Burst

Guest Post (Richard Behar): Israel-Hostile Associated Press Attacks Again

AP: Making Israeli Editors Look Like Fools Again

Google News Pope Abbas screenshot 17 May 2015

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When Immigrants Are Welcomed Fri, 15 May 2015 11:45:59 +0000 Mezuzah at Ben Gurion airportAll over Europe the debate about immigration rages and the prevailing mood is that the indigenous people in the countries of Europe want less of it. All over we see a rise of political parties, such as UKIP in the UK or Front National in France that stress a firmer line on allowing more immigrants into their countries.

Israel isn’t without interracial and sectarian divides between immigrants from different origins but there is one thing that is just not on the horizon. Nobody within any kind of sane mainstream political platform would do anything to prevent Jews from returning to their indigenous lands here in Israel.

And on a day to day level this is what new immigrants, such as my own mother, encounter:

Went to take the clothes that I wore day in and day out in London before we left. Big queue in the cleaners, when I got to the front the man asked if I was in the computer or was I a new customer.

I said I was new and had just made Aliyah. The response Mazel Tov erupted from all the people in the shop. I thought they were all going to kiss me.

Amazing feeling, wherever we go and say we have just made Aliyah, without fail there is always a warm welcome and Mazel Tov.

Immigration is great when the new immigrants aren’t really new: they’ve just been away from home for a very long time.

Shabbat Shalom to all, here and abroad, and if you’re a Jew, thinking of returning home, keep this story in your mind. If you want it, you can have it.

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Podcast Feels Like A Duck Or A Llama Fri, 15 May 2015 07:20:05 +0000 Shire Network News iTunes LogoFor a couple of weeks now Israel has been assaulted with a propaganda attack. It was started by the anti-Israel NGO Breaking the Silence and distributed world wide by their willing accomplices in crime at the media.

There have been a number of good rebuttals, which of course receive nothing like the prominence of the original false and tendentious claims of the malicious Breaking the Silence report. Matti Friedman’s piece in Mosaic is worth a mention, and NGO Monitor’s very quick demolition of the aims and organisation of BtS is also excellent.

Many of the claims in their report reminded me strongly of a very difficult interview I conducted with my own brother in law back in 2006. This went out on 21st August, 2006 two weeks after the end of the Lebanon war and he was going, straight after the interview, to the shiva (mourning period) of his friend who had been killed next to him.

Some of the points covered in this interview:

  • The troops were living in vacated homes: they wouldn’t dream of looting them or using the food in them;
  • They carried 40kg into Lebanon with them on their backs (or on recalcitrant llamas in some cases);
  • Fighting face to face with Hezbollah the IDF were better but Hezbollah had much better distance weapons this time from Iran;
  • Despite being in an area of Souther Lebanon which had been cleared of civilians for more than a week, after seeing a man dressed as a civilian (and knowing he had seen them) they were not permitted to shoot him. Minutes later they came under deadly fire;
  • The ensuing fire fight, including a call for tank support, resulted in deaths of IDF soldiers from both Hezbollah missiles and Israeli tank fire;

I reported all this in 2006. Since making aliyah, on a number of Memorial Days I’ve accompanied my brother to the cemetery where his friend was buried. Each year we meet the tank commander who fired the shells that fell on his unit. Some time after this, he was awarded a significant decoration for administering first aid to wounded comrades while wounded himself.

Here’s the entire episode. The interview starts at 3:40.

Our original Shire Network News website has long ago disappeared, but Way Back Machine has a link to the show notes and I have an archive of all the audio.

The Yom Ha’zikaron memorial day services at the cemetery where my brother in law’s friend is buried. Photo: Brian of London, April 2013

The Yom Ha’zikaron memorial day service at the cemetery where my brother in law’s friend is buried. Photo: Brian of London, April 2013

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The Hate Israel BDS Crowd Still Can’t Find An Alternative To Israeli Wix Thu, 07 May 2015 09:43:07 +0000 The following “phishing” spam was sent to a system administrator at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It’s an attempt to get the person to send his log in password details to malicious Israel haters.

email to hebrew universtity spam phishing including arabic

I’ll save you from clicking on the link; something you should never do in such suspicious emails unless you are a trained professional and taking suitable precautions. Here’s the site that comes up:

fishing email site on wix

What you see here is a fairly rudimentary attempt to collect a username, email and password: what’s known as “phishing”.

What’s funny is the fact that this is built within the Israeli website building platform called “Wix”. That’s the one that floated on the US stock market with huge valuation and it’s also the one that veteran Jew hater and extreme BDS proponent, Max Blumenthal, was caught using a few weeks ago. Oh dear.

h/t to an anonymous source (but I know who, so I’m streets ahead of the mainstream media who republish Breaking the Silence reports without verifying their claims).

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Danger! Danger! Don’t Go There! Sun, 03 May 2015 18:26:25 +0000 Today the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. issued the following warning:

The Maryland State Police advised the Israeli Embassy that a demonstration planned by members of the African American community is scheduled for today, Sunday, May 3, at 15:00 in the vicinity of downtown Baltimore in Maryland, near district government offices and the Baltimore Police.

This demonstration has the potential of drawing large crowds. A similar protest held in Baltimore on preceding days lasted several hours and turned violent, resulting in injuries, arrests, and property damage. We advise Israeli citizens to avoid the area and to monitor local media for updates.

Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. Review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security and follow instructions of local authorities.

No, of course they didn’t. Actually it was the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem that wrote (in an email):

The Israel National Police advised the U.S. Embassy that a demonstration planned by members of the Ethiopian Israeli community is scheduled for today, Sunday, May 3, at 15:00 in the vicinity of haKirya, Kaplan Street, and Azrieli Towers in central Tel Aviv, near district government offices and the Israeli Defense Forces headquarters.

This demonstration has the potential of drawing large crowds. A similar protest held in Jerusalem on Thursday lasted several hours and turned violent, resulting in injuries, arrests, and property damage. We advise U.S. citizens to avoid the area and to monitor local media for updates.

[Third paragraph above is unaltered.]

Picture Credit: Activestills on Facebook.

Picture Credit: Activestills on Facebook.

There is a demonstration in Tel Aviv. It’s still ongoing (I can see it on the TV as I type). It is tense and five police have been injured but it’s not resulting in widespread damage. It certainly doesn’t look like something you could wander into unawares. Though it did completely gridlock traffic in Tel Aviv as the protesters blocked the most important road in the city. More background here at JPost.

]]> 2 Palestinian West Bank: Occupation Growing Thu, 30 Apr 2015 08:02:53 +0000 Jacir Palace hotel in Bethlehem West Bank IsraelDon’t worry, I haven’t lost my marbles, I know it’s Judea and Samaria but I can’t pass up using the other side’s malicious terms purely as title click bait sometimes.

From the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) comes this press release about hotels in the PA administered parts of Judea Samaria in 2014. And business is up!

  • More than 0.6 million guests spent more than 1.5 million nights;
  • During 2014, 610,347 guests stayed in hotels in the West Bank;
  • 32% were from  European Union countries and 9% were Palestinian, 10% were from the United States and Canada.
  • The number of hotel guests was 2% higher than in the previous year.

Wow! I wonder how that compares to Syria, or Libya or even Egypt. You can see the full press release here. Unfortunately we have no confirmation of figures from Gaza as yet though of course we have plenty of pictures of the many hotels in concentration camp Gaza which the foreign press like to stay in.

Despite the fact that the room occupation rates did grow a little in 2014, they’re pretty bad at only 25%. For comparison Israeli hotels run at around 60% which is more normal for the rest of the world too. But let’s face it, unless you’ve got a thing for attending weekly stone throwing exhibitions or their tremendous theatre shows, or a desperate desire to attend the grave of Arafat, arch terrorist of the Palestinian cause, they haven’t spent a lot of time building a great deal of tourist attractions over there. Most visitors to Bethlehem or Jericho are day trippers staying (happily) in Israeli hotels.

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Walking And Talking With Murray Greenfield Tue, 28 Apr 2015 09:31:58 +0000 It’s not an exaggeration to say that Murray Greenfield played a significant role in the creation of modern Israel. From the moment he signed up to sail across the Atlantic in an unseaworthy rust-bucket to pick up the nearly dead survivors of the Holocaust in Europe, until the present day, he’s worked tirelessly to create a Jewish state.

Just last weekend the Jerusalem Post ran a large feature interview with him full of his amazing stories. But I know he has many, many more because he’s a good friend of a relative of mine. I count myself incredibly lucky to have shared quite a few shabbat meals and other occasions with him and so, last night, I joined him for a stroll . He was describing a talk about the foundation of Israel he gave the night before and I thought this would be good to film. I used Periscope and streamed it live and this is the saved version.

If there is interest here on the blog, I want to schedule a time to sit down with Murray and let anyone in the audience of Israellycool or live, as you watch, ask him questions. Leave a comment below or on Facebook if you’re keen on this and I’ll be in touch to set a time.

Here’s an extract from the full piece at the Jerusalem Post:

Greenfield was born and grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in New York City, speaking English and Yiddish. During World War II, he served in the Merchant Marines, and by late 1946, someone told him about “Aliyah Bet” – or “illegal immigration,” as the British termed the Jews who trying to enter Israel after surviving the Holocaust.

Greenfield became one of 250 American volunteers who sailed on so-called “rust buckets” – vessels that were not made for long journeys – between 1946 and 1948, rescuing more than a third of Holocaust survivors from ports in Europe to Cyprus, Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Greenfield recounted his role, together with Joseph M. Hochstein, in his 1987 book, The Jews’ Secret Fleet, the untold story of North American participation in smashing the British blockade which led to the founding of the Jewish state. It later inspired a 2008 documentary film titled Waves of Freedom.

Greenfield says he was motivated by Ben-Gurion to write the book. The prime minister confessed to him that he knew nothing about the Jewish Americans who had rescued European Jews on ships after the Holocaust, and it should be documented for posterity.

“We created the Jewish state, with the help of these ships,” Greenfield says. “Of the 70,000-odd Jews who were brought to Palestine after World War II and before the state, over 50 percent came on American ships sailed by some 250 young men who were volunteers like myself.”

Greenfield believes that without the  United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (which became UN General Assembly Resolution 181), the operation could never have been completed.


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The Good Stuff From Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut Sun, 26 Apr 2015 12:00:09 +0000 Every year on Yom Hazikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) when we remember all those who’ve fallen in wars and acts of terror, we stand, silent and still twice. Once at 8pm and again at 11am the next day. In Israel we have a siren (the same one that warns us of incoming rockets) that sounds for the whole time. Everyone freezes. Well even if you can’t hear the siren, people freeze.

This picture was taken on a flight from Ben Gurion to Madrid. Quite a few of the passengers noted the hour and stood up for a minute at the appropriate time.

Israelis standing on a flight from Tel Aviv to Madrid for Yom HaZikaron

The next is a typical picture of a street scene in an Israeli city on the night of Yom Ha’atzmaut. It is accepted that kids run around with spray cans of foam. This is one of the more extreme cases of it’s use I’ve seen. And on a police car.

Police car covered in shaving foam Yom Haatzmaut 2015

And this last picture is somewhat unusual as it shows the snow on Mount Hermon in the north of Israel that actually fell on Yom Ha’atzmaut. That’s pretty late for snow to be falling.

Snow on Mount Hermon on Yom Haatzamut 2015

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