a different side of Israel

Tag: New York (page 2 of 5)

Iranian Jews Arrive in Israel

A group of 40 Iranian Jews have just arrived in Israel as part of an ongoing program to bring the remainder of a once large Jewish population dating back top the time of King Xerxes the Great (known as Achashverosh by Jews). The group, one of the largest in recent immigration efforts, came via an unnamed country due to the sensitivity involved and potential danger to the remaining Iranian Jewish community.

Approximately 25,000 – 30,000 Jews remain in Iran, most of them in the larger cities of Teheran, Shiraz, and Eshfahan. While Jews had a good life there during the reign of the Shah, their lives have become increasingly difficult since the Islamic Revolution of 1978/79; and a few years back a group of 13 Jewish men were arrested and convicted of being spies for Israel, a popular trumped up charge in Arab and Muslim countries. Fortunately, the group was later released, but only after they had been subjected to torture and imprisonment. The election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran has further complicated the delicate game of brinksmanship that Iranian Jews are now forced to play.

The new immigrants are receiving a special grant of $10,000 by some Jewish and Christian Zionist organizations each as well as a government package of Olim or immigration benefits. Jews wishing to leave Iran for life elsewhere are usually free to do so, but must leave virtually all financial resources behind. What they leave is then confiscated by government authorities.

One of the new immigrants, Avraham Dayan, said that he had had seen his son, now living in Israel, for 11 years. “I feel like I’m in heaven” Dayan said has he entered the arrivals terminal at Ben Gurion Airport.

So far this year, around 200 Jews have arrived in Israel from Iran. This group is believed to be the largest group to come together since the deposing of the Shah in 1979. In a recent documentary involving the life of Jews still remaining in what was formerly Persia, it was shown that Jews are allowed to practice their religion under the Shiite Muslim dominated regime, but cannot learn Hebrew or belong to organizations dealing with Israel. Ironically, Israel and Iran once enjoyed cordial relations under Shah Reza Pahlavi, and many large buildings in central Teheran, including many housing government offices, were built by Israeli construction companies such as Solel Boneh. Everything changed when the Ayatollah Khomeini deposed the Shah and declared Iran to be an Islamic republic.

While Iranian Jews are still living more or less normally under the ultra Islamic regime of the Mullahs and Mr. Ahmadinejad, the Jewish State of Israel has been singled out as one that the Iranian president would like to see “wiped off the face of the map. Whether this national feeling will cause additional problems for Iranian Jews is something that could become evident with Iran’s increasing belligerency and its desire to continue with its nuclear fuel enrichment program.

There are at least 50,000 former Iranian Jews presently living in Israel. Other Iranian Jewish communities are found in the USA, mainly in New York Los Angeles, as well as in the U.K.

Medical Clowns

Being sick in hospital can definitely be a drag, especially if you’re a kid. An American organization called Compassionate Clown Alley is training youngsters, as well as the not-so-young in the art of clowning for places such as hospitals, orphanages, and even old age homes. The clowns, all volunteers, range in age from mere teenagers to young adults in their 20’s. They are also assisted by physicians who dress up themselves as clowns to bring a bit of cheer to kids with cancer and other serious diseases, as well as those who are places like orphanages and who won’t be with their own families during the upcoming Hanukah festival.

The American organization was originally established in New York in 2002 by Dr. Neal Goldberg. In addition to spreading cheer in both private and public hospitals in America, the organization sends a group to Israel every Hanukah to put on shows and pass out donated gifts.

The program has a dual purpose in that it not only helps bring some cheer to help people get well, but it serves as a great character builder for the ones who train to be performing clowns. The group who performs in Israel call themselves Lev HaLeytzan (heart of a clown) and will perform in such locations as the Sheba Children’s Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, and the Hadassah Medical Center. They also will make appearances at other facilities including three orphanages.

Children are especially in need of this kind of service, as those in chronic medical facilities are often frightened and lonely. A local group of medical clowns, known as “Dream Doctors”, was started at the theatrical department of the University of Haifa. Headed by Dr. Adi Citron, the program’s aims are to help ease the trauma of sick patients by creating distractions to get their minds off their pain and suffering. Laughing has been found to be one of the best “medicines” and helps people either recover quicker or adjust better to their situation.

The American Lev Haleytzan group will be distributing more than $60,000 worth of toys and other gifts, all donated by a fund called the Ossie Memorial Toy Fund. As being a medical clown requires some training in respects to dealing with sick people, Dr. Goldberg, himself a clinical psychologist, orients the volunteers as to what to expect when performing at hospitals and other facilities.

Medical clowning is even becoming accepted as a profession in its own, and more interest is being given by medical and other students who donate their time to help put smiles on the faces of sick patients. Psychologists have found that children laugh much more often then adults, which makes their work easier with kids.

The Big Apple Invasion

Israel is a little country of seven million inhabitants, and with a land area the size of the American state of New Jersey. Yet, despite its diminutive size, it has some of the richest people in the world as its citizens. And now, these super rich billionaires are trying to purchase many of the most well known landmarks in New York City.

Formerly the private turf of such well-known people as the Rockefeller family, banker J.P. Morgan, and Real Estate mogul Donald Trump, the 22.7 sq. mile Manhattan Island, on which all of New York City’s well known skyscrapers stand, is now being sought after by such Israeli families as the Ofers, the Levievs, and the Tshuvas. Yitzhak Tshuva, an Israeli businessman who came from very humble origins to now being the head of a billion dollar energy and importing concern that not only controls much of the new car and gasoline sales in Israel, but in America as well (his company owns literally hundreds of gas stations and convenience stores scattered all over the continental U.S.A.). Tshuva, recently purchased the historic and well known Plaza Hotel, once the most luxurious hotel in The City. The price of this purchase of in excess of $ 600 million, and Mr. Tshuva must have admired the building and what it represents long ago when he walked the streets of Manhattan as a young man following his army service. Now, he not only owns the building of his dreams but plans to purchase others on the island as well.

Another Israeli tycoon, Eyal Ofer, of the Zim Shipping Company empire, took possession of the Philip Morris Building for a price of $525 million. The Ofer family controls one of the largest merchant marine fleets in the world, and has also amassed a respectable real estate portfolio of which the building which housed one of the largest tobacco companies in the world is only a part of. Ofer’s possessions. It occupies one of the most coveted property locations, i.e. right across from Central Park. Eyal also purchased the prestigious Mayflower Plaza Hotel for $400 million, and has turned this former luxury hotel into super luxury apartments. Ofer, together with a group of investors also purchased the Central Tower building for a ‘paltry’ $300 million.

Not to be outdone, another super wealthy Israeli, Lev Leviev, purchased two well known New York City landmarks: the New York Times Building, for $ 525 million, and the Clock Building, for $211 million. Leviev, who is Chairman of the African Israel Real Estate Company, is also head of LLD Diamonds Ltd, now considered as the largest private company in the world dealing in rough and polished diamonds. Leviev is said to have spent another $100 million to purchase the Wall Street building once belonging to J.P. Morgan, and is turning it into luxury apartments as Ofer has done with the Mayflower Plaza.

What prestigious landmark is next in line for these guys and other Israeli billionaires is anybody’s guess; but one thing is for certain, and that is the sky’s the limit for their desire to control what is going on in America’s largest city. Who knows, maybe the Chrysler Building, Radio City Music Hall, or even the Empire State Building itself may fall under their ownership. The moral of all of this: you don’t have to come from a big country to be big.

One Less Plastic Bag

A new environmental program is being inaugurated in Israel to persuade people to use less polymer plastic material. The program, mentioned briefly on T.V. Channel 10, is asking consumers to “use one less plastic bag” when sacking up their groceries during their weekly supermarket shopping forays. Most shoppers use an average of 20-25 polymer plastic shopping bags each week; and though lighter in weight than paper bags, as well as slightly less polluting, these bags are not wholly biodegradable and wind up being buried by the millions in sanitary landfills and garbage dumps.

Made from petroleum derivatives, these bags take up to 100 years to completely disintegrate, and on their own contribute immensely to Israel’s already critical pollution problem. The government’s Ministry for Environmental Affairs began a plastic bottle recycling program more than 7 years ago in which plastic beverage bottles, usually made from an even less biofriendly polyimide plastic material, have been recycled by placing large wire mesh “cages” in residential neighborhoods for people to put empty beverage bottles in; usually in the 1.5 to 2 liter size. While this collection method has been partially effective, countless more empty bottles, particularly those which contained bottled mineral water, wind up either in the garbage dumpsters or littering roadsides, beaches, and other public places. These bottles take even longer than plastic bags to disintegrate, with environmental scientists saying that a bottle of this type will take hundreds of years to be biologically “broken down”.

While recycled bottles are melted down and made into other plastic products, including garden hoses and lawn furniture, the bags often are not. Some large supermarket chains in America, for example, have launched programs in which no bags, either paper or plastic, are furnished at the store check-out counters. Customers are expected to either carry their food purchases home in empty boxes (if available) or bring bags or boxes with them to carry their purchases home in.

To give you an idea of what can be achieved by using less plastic grocery bags, it is estimated that if citizens in a city the size of New York City use one less plastic grocery bag per year, the savings will be 109 less tons of disposable garbage and $11,000 less in disposal costs. Now multiply that by one less bag on each weekly shopping trip!

While this idea may not catch on in Israel, at least in the foreseeable future, by using less bags at the check-out counter, each customer will not only help reduce the overall expenditure on petroleum products from which the bags are made; they will also help reduce the amount of these pollutants which wind up being buried in our country’s very soil! Many people even take extra bags home with them for use around the house, especially to put garbage in. Obviously these bags are going right into the ground, and may even delay the natural bio-degrading process of the garbage itself, due to it being “trapped” inside the bags!

Some food chains, including the Super Sal Chain, are selling large green environmentally friendly bags for shoppers to carry their grocery purchases in without the need for polymer bags. These bags cost around 3 NIS each and can be used repeatedly on other shopping trips, as well as for going on picnics or to the beach. The bag’s green color is derived from the “green” environmental conscious movement which is finally beginning to receive due notice in Israel.

Using a few less polymer bags won’t hurt anyone; and the end result will be a cleaner environment, as well as money saved. If people can accept the idea of using less shopping bags, even one or two, we’ll all benefit in the end.

Evil Weasel In New York Video

This is a nice video starring “The Evil Weasel” in New York (Hat Tip: James)

Euro to Replace the U.S. Dollar?

A recent comment by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Allan Greenspan that the Euro may one day replace the U.S. Dollar as the “reserve currency of choice” makes people wonder where the ‘greenback’ is heading. At present, the dollar is falling sharply against the European currency with the Euro reaching an all time high recently of $1.3925.

Israelis have always had a love affair with the Dollar; and for years virtually all real estate transactions were pegged to this currency, including rentals. Even many insurance policies were ‘linked’ to the Dollar; as well as salaries, savings schemes, and other important financial transactions.

This may all be changing, however, as the greenback continues to travel “south” against the ever strengthening Euro. It must be remembered that the EU represents a number of European economies, including ‘softer’ ones like Greece, Portugal, and recent new EU members from the former Eastern European “Commicon” countries such as Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria.

With all this in mind, including America’s massive national debt and balance of payments deficit, it’s no wonder that the ‘pristine Europeans’ who spend virtually little on national defense, are able to bask in the glory of their “wonderful economies”.

Everything seems wonderful, until you consider some very important reasons for this discrepancy between the two currencies. For one thing, except from some token forces, the Europeans seem content to sit back and let America be the “policeman of the world”. EU member economies often do not indicate the true situation in these countries; as many of them have high rates of unemployment and many people virtually living on the dole. By importing “guest workers” from Turkey, the Balkans, North Africa and southern Asia, European industries and service businesses are propped up by lower paid foreign workers; and what is not taken care of in this manner is done by ‘outsourcing’ to India and China. While countries like Germany still have a problem selling their higher priced cars to Americans, they have offset this by opening assembly plants in the U.S. New markets for high-line German autos like Audis, BMW’s and Mercedes Benz have been found in China and other Asian countries, where assembly plants have been opened as well.

And from a financial aspect, the Europeans do not seem to have a problem with criminal and terrorist organizations like the Russian Mafia and Al Qaeda “laundering” their illicit incomes, including “blood diamonds” in European financial institutions. The downside of this influx of illicit capital comes in the form of increased control by criminal and terrorist elements, as well as the encroaching “Islamization” of Western Europe; especially in France, Germany and the Netherlands, and even in the U.K.

Gt. Britain still uses the Pound Sterling as its official currency, even though it is a full EU member; and the “Quid” is now hovering at the $2 level. For this reason, Israeli currency dealers are continually favoring the Pound and the Euro over the greenback in regards to people wanting to buy foreign currency when traveling to EU countries.

Despite everything, however, people shouldn’t write off the Dollar as the US economy is still on the most admired, and America is still the destination of choice of many people who want to share in the American Dream. So in this respect, Mr. Greenspan’s comments may be a bit pre-mature; and it can be for certain that it will be a while before the “Great Mosque of New York City” will be built anytime soon.

Can the same be said for London, Paris, Amsterdam or Berlin?

Back to Normal

No sooner had Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad split New York for a bit of “Latino Cucaracha” with his new friend, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez; then it was “back to normal” in our part of the Middle East. Hamas is now threatening to “send 200 suicide bombers” (women) against IDF Merkava tanks. Hooray for ‘normalcy’! I was almost beginning to think that those good folks had forgotten us with all that attention on that diminutive guy with the week’s growth of beard and the same drab tie-less suits that resemble something that Borat would wear when promoting his beloved Kazakhstan.

After being on the constant receiving end of Palestinian Qassam rockets, including more than 12 sent in a period of one day, it appears that the new Defense Minister Ehud Barak is finally keeping his promise concerning dealing with the people who shoot those home made ‘bottle rockets’ over into Sderot and other places within Israel. Israeli reprisal operations, mostly from the air, have killed at least 12 Gazans, including some suspected terrorists in both Hamas and Islamic Jihad. 4 Civilians were also killed, however, due their just being in the vicinity where IAF rockets hit their targets. After all, Gaza is so oversaturated with people that it’s very difficult to pick out targets without having innocent bystanders nearby. And the terrorists know this fact very well, and use it as propaganda weapons for more negative world opinion against the Jewish State. In fact, this time, PA President Mahmoud Abbas also jumped on the bandwagon and lambasted Israel for the “massacre” of innocent Palestinians.

Poor guy. I guess that was the best he could do from his relative comfortable headquarters in the Muqata compound in Ramallah. Mr. Abbas, who has been recently receiving a lot of support, both morally and financially, from Israeli P.M. Olmert, must have been feeling the heat from his former Prime Minister, Ismail Hananyah, who just happens to be in charge of Hamas’ Islamic fiefdom in Gaza.

Anyway, getting back to ‘basics’, Dr. Nizar Rian, a senior Hamas official, declared that his approximate 50,000 Hamas fighters “sleep with explosives, ready to prevent Israeli tanks from intruding into holy Palestinian territory”. He also said that many more Palestinian women have now joined their ranks and are prepared to become martyrs as well. He reminded Israel that women have been used very effectively in past terror operations, and though it is frowned upon by the Quran for women to assume militaristic roles, “the duty to guard to Motherland is more important than any other consideration”.

Guard the “motherland”? It’s more like blowing up their enemy, especially Israeli innocents. The horrible terror attack at the restaurant in Haifa a few years back, as well as an aborted attack from a Palestinian woman on her way to explode herself in the emergency entrance of Beer Sheba’s Soroka Hospital, are two examples of “guarding the Motherland”.

We will all surely hear again soon from Mr. Ahmadinejad, as soon as he returns from having cappuccino coffees with Mr. Chavez. But until then, we can go back to ‘normality’ which includes dealing with Hamas’s new threat of 200 female suicide bombers. I wonder what they are expecting to receive in paradise, as their male suicide counterparts await the embrace of 72 gorgeous virgins? Modern versions of Omar Sharif perhaps?

We Would Invite Hitler Also

John Coatsworth, Dean of the School of International Relations at Columbia, said over the weekend that “if Adolf Hitler himself had arrived in the U.S. and wanted to speak at our university, we would certainly let him. If he were willing to engage in moral debate in our university student forum, he would be welcomed as everyone has a right to express their views”. This statement by a prominent member of the Columbia U. faculty was backed up by Mr. Lee Bollinger, the university president, who has the ‘distinction’ of introducing their special guest, Iranian President Mahmoud Achmadinejad, who is scheduled to speak Monday at 1:30 P.M. EST.

No doubt Mr. Ahmadinejad’s speech, followed by a question and answer forum, will be “interesting”, to say the least. Trying to compare the Iranian leader with perhaps the most notorious man in history, might be another matter, however, as Mr. Ahmadinejad appears to be a bit more clever than The Fuehrer was, and this will most likely be brought out in his speech; assisted by a contingent of interpreters to convert Ahmadinejad’s native Farsei tongue into American English. Hitler never had the opportunity to set foot in America, probably due to “logistical factors” as well as his being a bit ‘pre-occupied’ with events going on Europe prior to the outbreak of World War II.

Had the Nazi dictator been able to make it over to New York, the most likely visitation venue at the time, and had the defunct League of Nations been situated there, instead in Geneva Switzerland, it would have been interesting as to what kind of reception he would have received. Hitler and his entourage, undoubtedly including his propaganda genius Joseph Goebbels, would surely have flown over in the dirigible Hindenburg, in order to show their pride in German manufacturing ingenuity ( he would have needed an arrival like this to make up for his athletes’ poor showing against a superior American team in the 1936 Olympiad, held in the German capital, Berlin).

Upon arriving in New York, The Fuehrer would undoubtedly have gone into a tirade on the League on Nations podium, with his usual lambasting of Jews and Communists; and with probably large numbers of protestors outside as now will be the case with Mr. Ahmadinejad. Hitler would also say that he was not pursuing the possession of weapons of mass destruction, including a new type of super bomb, later to be known as a nuclear bomb. When later asked why his country was zealously persecuting minorities, especially Jews, Hitler would most likely have laughed and said: “you see, we are merely trying to ‘purify’ the German people and rid it of vermin and other forms of pests. This is the only way we can be strong!”

Are these words, actually spoken by this mentally disturbed individual, really much different than the words spoken by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said that he wants the Zionist State of Israel “wiped off the face of the map” and that his words “are the Iranian People’s words”?

Judging from the state of world affairs during the mid to late 1930’s, had Hitler actually arrived to the U.S. would U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt have invited The Fuehrer to dinner at the While House? After all, American relations with Nazi Germany were actually fairly cordial prior to Germany’s invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939; much more so than the present state of no relations between America and the Islamic Republic. Roosevelt might even have wanted to make amends for “embarrassing” The Fuehrer by sending 18 black athletes, including the immortal Jesse Owens; who won 4 gold medals. The Afro-American part of the American delegation wound up with 14 gold medals, 25% of all such medals won in the entire games.

There are no such problems facing U.S. President George Bush; and he will certainly not extend any kind of invitation to the Iranian president to visit Washington. Even at the General Assembly, as occurred last year, the two men’s paths will not likely cross; even though Bush will also speak before the General Assembly. 70 years have passed since the time when Adolf Hitler might have shown up in News York; had it been “logistically feasible”. And yet, not much has really changed in so far as tyrants being tyrants.

Watch Out New York

No boys and girls; this isn’t a jingle like the one heard every year at Christmas time. And Iran’s “beloved” president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is definitely not Santa Claus. But he is definitely coming to town – New York City that is – on Monday, September 24, to address the annual opening session of the U.N. General Assembly. This isn’t Mahmoud’s first visit, as he also came last year to address the U.N., not long after he had made his famous comments concerning Israel’s “irreverence” and that it should be “wiped off the face of the map”.

Scheduled to address not only the UN world body; he is also slated to address a large gathering of students and faculty members at Columbia University, located on the other end of that same island that was attached by Muslim extremists in September, 2001.

This year, the Iranian President’s visit to that international “free talk zone”, otherwise known as the United Nations, comes with the Islamic Republic being even closer to becoming a declared nuclear power. It also comes just days after a series of new weapons, including new fighter bombers and long range missiles were unveiled at Iran’s annual National Day parade officiated over by “you know who”. During this parade, the Iranian leader made further unfriendly comments, including one which stated that nothing, even the U.S., was going to stop Iran from achieving its military development goals; including its nuclear ambitions.

Despite all of this, not only is this guy and his entourage going to show up on American soil; he is also scheduled to make a speech at such a prestigious academic institution as New York’s Columbia U. His declared purpose for this address: “Americans do not know the truth”.

While it’s understandable that Mr. Ahmadinjad will again be allowed into the U.N.’s famous landmark, which due to the clauses written in the organization’s founding charter makes this patch of territory “off limits” for the U.S. or any other country’s jurisdiction; it doesn’t explain why Ahmadinjad should be allowed to address the student body of Columbia – albeit with the assistance of an interpreter. Mr. A. may be surprised to discover that though he doesn’t know English, at least well enough to make a credible address in this language; there may be a number of Farsei speaking people in the university audience – including some representing the Islamic Republic’s opposition; who are very interested in hearing what he has to say, before his words are ‘diluted’ a bit by his faithful interpreters. His interpreters, no doubt hand picked from among his political followers – some of them highly educated, will do their best to convey their mentor’s words of enlightenment. This ‘enlightenment’ includes why he believes that the genocidal event known as The Holocaust is a fabrication; and why (in his opinion) that upstart group of people, known as Zionists, should be banished from lands they have “occupied” over the past 60 years. This territory includes cities like Haifa and Tel Aviv, of course; not to mention “Holy al Quds”, otherwise known as Jerusalem.

Other un-welcomed tyrants have made addresses before the U.N. in the past, including Russia’s Nikita Khrushchev, who banged a shoe on the podium and said to the Free World: “We will bury you!”; and also Cuba’s cigar smoking and gun-toting Fidel Castro. And, of course, that gun-toting Palestinian bad guy, Yassir Arafat; who even managed to win the Nobel Prize in the end for his “contributions towards world peace”.

It’s very doubtful that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will win any peace awards – not this year anyway. And it’s surprising that Columbia U. would let such a man stand behind its forum’s podium, even though the university’s faculty has become more and more anti-Israel in its orientation over the past several years. There still is that hallowed right, however, in the American Constitution regarding freedom of speech and opinion. But that “right” is supposed to be reserved for Americans and not for persons with ultimate goals of mass destruction; which includes destroying sovereign nations such as Israel.

One thing for sure is that Mr. Ahmadinejad won’t be seen strolling by the Duck Pond in New York City’s Central Park. Or will he? He may even have the outright audacity to visit Ground Zero: site of the former World Trade Center. After all, he appears to have his own ideas as to why this event happened- and who the perpetrators really were.

With these realities in mind, and in light of what might be coming down in the next few months, this person should simply not be welcome on America’s, or any other free nation’s shores.

A “Bridge Too Far”?

Wednesday’s collapse of a section of the I-35W bridge over the ‘beginnings’ of the Mississippi River in the American City of Minneapolis has already started ringing the warning bells concerning scores of other bridges in the USA, as well as in other parts of the world. The fact that this bridge had been rated as possibly unsafe as early as 1990 raises doubts about even larger bridges, carrying even more heaver amounts of traffic on a daily basis.

Consider the following as per the possibility of an even more disastrous calamity than on a bridge spanning a much narrower version of what is often referred to affectionately as “The Big Muddy” including bridges which span this majestic river at the cities of St. Louis, Mo., Memphis Tenn., Vicksberg Miss., and finally, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La. All of these cities have bridges which are more than 50 years old, and most of them carry a significantly greater amount of daily traffic on them than the one at Minneapolis. Notwithstanding, the bridges in New Orleans may have suffered a considerable amount of structural damage in the category 5 Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

These are only a handful of literally hundreds – possibly thousands of bridges in America alone that may actually be on the verge of collapse, due to recently world climate changes and an increase daily traffic, including thousands of filled to capacity semi-trailer trucks who ply these bridges daily, many of them carrying 40 ft “Hi-Cube” marine storage containers filled with more than 58,000 pounds of cargo. Can you imagine what would happen if bridges like the Brooklyn or George Washington Bridge in New York, or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco were to collapse in a similar manner? This also holds true for the long network of bridges which link the Florida Keys, all the way to the furthest island of Key West?

I’m not going to even go into bridges in other countries, some of which are more than 200 years old. Many span not only wide rivers such as the Rhine, Danube, Nile, Thames, Volga, and other rivers, but also deep and perilous gorges. Israel, though having less of a river network than other aforementioned countries, does have a number of bridges spanning both highways and smaller rivers. These bridges include ones in metro Tel Aviv, some of which carry a considerable amount of traffic daily, including heavy vehicles which may be in excess of legal weight limits. While some bridges are fairly new, such as the ones built for the Ayalon freeway, others like the Namir Road, Ibn Gavirol, and Rokach bridges spanning the Yarkon River carry literally hundreds of thousands of vehicles daily.

Following the disaster in Minneapolis, Ministry of Transport engineers were interviewed on Israeli TV channels, and they admitted that many bridges in Israel, including newer ones, could possibly collapse “under the right circumstances”. One old bridge, the historic steel girder one still in use over the Yarkon River in North Tel Aviv, did collapse partially a number of years back. This bridge, built by the British during Mandatory Palestine days, should have been closed to all but pedestrian and bicycle traffic long ago. Yet, cars still ply its single lane over the heavily polluted Yarkon.

We all still remember the disaster which occurred during the opening ceremony to the Maccabee Games about 6 years ago. Four Australian athletes were killed and many others injured as a result of an improperly constructed bridge which hand been hurriedly built across the Yarkon in order for participating athletes to be able to march into the Ramat Gan Stadium where the opening ceremonies were being held. Could an even more disastrous occurrence happen on a large bridge – this time with scores of vehicles, including large passenger busses?

Indeed it could, and according to the experts, it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when!

About Film Department, Silver Haze, Saudis, Terrorism, Money Laundering and other yummy stuff

This is a little gossip (maybe soon to be news) item by Cindy Adams that’s been floating around in the New York Post (Hat Tip: Ashley R).

Apparently this fledgling movie company called Film Department, backed among others by GE no less, includes board members Sheik Waleed Al Ibrahim and Zeid Masri. It seems that recently when a decision had to be made in the company about a new film this happened:

This all came to light when a development deal with Mark Gill was suddenly axed. “Dove Hunting,” an action film/love story about two agents trying to stop a terrorist attack, had a go in December 2006. In March 2007, it was full speed ahead pending financing of this new studio. Came financing of this new studio and, with it, six weeks ago, an e-mail trail that canceled the project. Seems some of the fledgling studio’s backers were not pleased with the subject.

Zeid Masri runs the McLean, Va., operation SilverHaze, which has in the past secretly invested Palestine Liberation Organization money through front companies. His SilverHaze caused the Bowlmor scandal in 2004…Bowlmor, a Greenwich Village bowling hall that does big business in bar mitzvahs, took in an infusion of fresh capital years ago. When Bloomberg’s Markets Magazine hit a strike and came up with information that the cash was, in fact, Yasser Arafat’s own dirty millions, the deal fell down faster than a tenpin.

Live Earth – The Aftermath

The concerts attracted audiences from all over the globe, with live music in major world cities ranging from Sydney Australia to New York. Some of planet’s most well known entertainers took part, including Black Eyed Pea, Madonna, Phil Collins, Police, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snoop Dog, and more. Even Israel had its own version in central Tel Aviv, playing ironically only meters from the spot where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in November, 1995. The message was clear enough, as expressed in a taped message by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore: the world is getting hotter due to Mankind’s abuse of the environment; and as a result, severe and even drastic changes are already occurring to the earth’s climate – changes that could prove fatal to many of our planet’s inhabitants in the coming years.

And in addition to the live concerts, the events were watched on T.V. the world over by at least 2 billion souls.

Little Israel, with a population of over seven million, is getting its share of the effects of global warming, the consequences of which were being shown to both the concert attendees at Rabin Square as well as to people sitting at home. Some of what is bringing on these changes in Israel, and the end result, including rising temperatures and coastal sea levels were also talked about by Channel 10 media personalities, including the fact that most of the country’s fresh water supplies, including the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee are heavily polluted; and that high air pollution levels in major cites result in the death of at least 600 people annually. With more than 1,000,000 cars on the country’s roads, at least 60% of them are leased vehicles given to employees of high tech and other companies. This fact alone, auto exhaust fumes, is responsible for 92% of the country’s air pollution problems.

Israel’s mounting problem with solid waste disposal, including hazardous industrial chemicals and other compounds was also mentioned, though not covered enough, considering the country’s problem with both ground and air pollution.

So now, just a few days later, have any changes occurred since Live Earth that can be spoken of in real terms, since the music ended? After the concerts, most people rode home in either their own cars or in public transport conveyances, some of which are also major contributors to air pollution. Ramat Hovav, Israel’s frequently talked about industrial waste disposal site, is likely to remain polluting the country’s entire southern regions for years – if not generations – to come. And the country’s ground water aquifer is becoming harder and harder to purify as more and more surface pollutants continue to contaminate it.

Madonna, one of the London concert’s guest performers and a champion of world social and environmental issues, made a very important comment by hoping that people attending the concerts will not only listen to the music but get the message of what needs to be done to prevent the end results of global warming. Many people say that the consequences of environmental pollution will eventually be far more serious to Israelis that any security problem short of outright nuclear war.

And so, people still clog the highways with their “lease-mobiles”, still throw their rubbish on the country’s beaches and in the national parks, and literally thousands of plastic bottles and other similar non-biodegradable items are seen lying forlornly everywhere. For those who aren’t aware, those plastic water and soft drink bottles are estimated to take at least 800 years to disintegrate; and the polymer composition of the plastic is very carcinogenic.

Three days later and nothing seems to have changed. – so far anyway. The future of global warming to inhabitants of this region is one in which rising sea levels may inundate parts of Tel Aviv and other coastal cities, and surface summertime temperatures may be similar to those presently in places like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. One can only wonder what the climate in those places will be like a mere 50 years from now.

Live Earth; save the planet. We all have a lot to do in order to make this dream become reality. We all live on an island we cannot leave. And unless we make a greater effort to reverse the environmental problems we all face, the future may not be very pleasant for any of us. So, make the effort and dedicate one day a week as a car-less day; and try to conserve both energy and water supplies, as well as pick up and dispose of trash more properly. Wash dishes by hand and hang out clothing to dry in our abundant sunshine. And take just one less shower per week.

It’s our world, so let’s improve it!

San Antonio Class USS New York – 911 Steel Recycled

USS New YorkI got this from one of our readers and thought it was worth sharing. This is about the USS New York, this is the official Navy document, and this is the story (Hat Tip: Virginia)

It was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center.
It is the fifth in a new class of warship – designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft.
Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, LA to cast the ship’s bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept 9, 2003, “those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence,” recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. “It was a spiritual moment for everybody there.”
The Ship’s Motto? “Never Forget”

New Heat In The Middle East – The Good Kind

Gawker - Piece In The MideastThere is a whole bunch of fallout from the Maxim party in New York and the ad sponsored by the Israeli Consulate in New York. This is in general the story:

Andy Soltis of the New York Post broke the news on this unusual war. The bikini photo of 2004 Miss Israel winner Gal Gadot appears on formal invitations to an event hosted in New York tonight by the Israeli Consulate in conjunction with Maxim magazine.

The event is the “Women of the Israeli Defense Forces” article in the July issue of Maxim. The former Consul Colette Avital (Knesset Member), turned this into a shit storm and demanded a meeting with the Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik to discuss the cheap and “pornographic campaign,” she also said that “It’s unfortunate that the Israeli consulate chose to emphasize Israel’s relevance with a portrait of a half-naked woman, instead of with one of women of substance and accomplishments”.

Gawker is having a ball with this in a great post called Hatikva Hotties he’s suggesting some alternative titles to the one the New York Post used (“Piece In The Mideast”) with suggestions like:

  • Jew See The Cans On That Chick?
  • She Can Occupy My Territories Any Time!
  • Hear, O Israel, This Chick Has a Bod
  • Di-Ass-Pora
  • Maxim InviteThe official invitation that included the sprawled Gadot on the background on NYC would have probably been better off without the Official Seal of Israel and the New York Consulate hanging right there next to Maxim Magazine. Interesting choice guys 🙂

    I guess I rather have this kind of heat then the ususal kind we get. It’s a nice change being in the headlines because of this sort of thing. Thank god for women. Aside from that I have always had the most profound respect for Israeli women. I am sure you agree 😉
    Hat Tip:

    Heat Packing Woman in Israeli Military

    The Fine Line Between Criticizing Israel and Being Called an Anti-Semite

    President Carter has been called a bigot and anti-Semite for writing the book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” Former General Wesley Clark has also been accused for anti-Semitism for saying that the U.S. is being pushed to war by “New York Money People.” The show host wonders if anyone can criticize Israel without the backlash.

    Liberal Rabbi Michael Lerner debates Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz about the issue. Dershowitz said “I criticize Israel all the time” and said criticism of Israel is “good.”

    Does speaking out against Israel really make you anti-semitic? Where is the fine line?

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