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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Illusion of Jewish Security

Reports that a popular communal Berlin Jewish newsletter must now be distributed under wraps does not make happy reading.

'Jewish Berlin'

But this is the fate of Jewish Berlin, read by about 10,000 people each month and which until the start of February, was circulated by mail and  placed in recipients’ mail boxes directly, with only an address label. Now it’s being sent in a plain envelope.

The measure, explains community chairman Gideon Joffe, is to help “reduce the likelihood of hostility towards members of the community. For this reason, from now on Jewish Berlin will ship in a neutral envelope”.

So this is it: The seventieth anniversary year of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp and we’re back to square one.

Indeed Henryk M Broder, a German expert on contemporary antisemitism, has criticised tough security measures to protect Jews as an illusion.

He warned in a column for the Die Welt newspaper, headlined ‘More Protection for Jews Means Less Dignity’ that “it will not become better. It will become worse. Toulouse was the prelude to Brussels and Brussels led to Paris. Copenhagen will not be the final station. The list of attacks will become longer”.

‘But don’t worry’, insist communal leaders in the U.K. ‘We’re fine in our liberal  British society. It will never happen to us’.

But while they and other self-appointed grandees continue to play a futile game of hide-and-seek with our perennial enemies, I have an opportunity to look briefly at the nature of all small publications and their production.

I would love to know, for example, how much is spent on producing and distributing Jewish Berlin each month.

If I use the average estimate of four people per household that means 2,500 hard print copies, plain manila envelopes and attendant postage, even if  some  are delivered by hand.

I suggest that’s a helluva lot of publicly owned Euros that may be spent much more usefully on practical security, education and charitable endeavours. We are now well into the age of relatively painless e-publication that costs a micro-mini fraction of traditional print methods in terms of labour and materials.

So here I repeat what I first wrote some days ago specifically about Jewish Berlin as I consider it holds true of all small communal publications:

Such newsletters and magazines do a very important job in keeping people together. So-called ‘parish pump’ outfits exist because those who run them know instinctively that people love to read about themselves. It’s a sort of legitimised gossip!

But I can’t understand why they do not become digitalised. The most secure, cheapest and cost-effective way would be to distribute them in a simple pdf format by email or to send a pdf link over something like  a secret Facebook page so only subscribed members may view them.

There are now so few people without access to the internet that this method makes plain common sense. If something grander were possible, I'd recommend a well respected publishing platform like Issuu.com.

To those religious (Jewish) people who say they cannot use the internet on the Sabbath and festivals I answer first, that there are many  other days on which to read such material. Second, I suggest that the astute technicians who have found so many methods to circumvent Sabbath laws should be set to work to find a way for folk to use e-readers on holy days.

Meanwhile, I insist that the appearance of any small, communal journal must mean much more to those who produce it than anyone who reads it. Of course, the same argument applies to this blog – but it costs me nothing more than the price of my internet connection. Q.E.D.!

© Natalie Wood (25 February 2015)

UK Muslims ‘Sympathise’ with Charlie Hebdo Attack

A small percentage of British Muslims have admitted to sympathising with extremists. 

In a BBC poll conducted among one thousand Muslims living in Bradford, Yorkshire U.K., 20 per cent asserted that western liberal society could never be compatible with Islam while 24 per cent insisted that acts of violence against those who publish images of the Prophet Mohammad may be justified.

About 5-10 per cent harbour the most extreme beliefs.

Below are the remaining results:

  • I have some sympathy for the motives behind the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris - 27%
  • I feel sympathetic towards people who want to fight against western interests - 11%
  • If someone I knew from the Muslim community was planning an act of violence I would report them to the police - disagree: -5%

  • Muslim clerics who preach that violence against the west can be justified are out of touch with mainstream Muslim opinion – disagree - 45%


    (Listen to the full report, first broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today show on 25 February 2015 at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02ks1zl).

© Natalie Wood (25 February 2015)

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Truth, Tourism Among Top Casualties of War

TZFAT.05If truth is the first casualty of war, in Israel, tourism runs a very close second.

During 2014, for example, after a spectacular 18 per cent jump  during the first half of the year, visitor totals later crashed by an overall seven per cent because of Operation Protective Edge – the IDF’s invasion of Gaza.

Indeed, the 182,000 recorded visitors to Israel during August marked the lowest total for the month since 2006 – the year of the Second Lebanon War.

Instead, Israelis fled in their droves and  trips abroad during July and August rose by two per cent compared to the same period in 2013.

In September, soon after the war ended, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau revealed that incoming tourism had plummeted by 20-30% during the hostilities but it was estimated that matters would be back to normal within three-six months.

However, while Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug expressed confidence that the war would have only a ‘moderate effect’ on the economy, she warned soon after it ended that its impact on certain sectors, especially tourism, was likely to continue for some time.

Her words now seem prophetic as recent IDF-Hezbollah clashes in the Golan have had a harsh effect on domestic tourism.

Indeed, I’ve seen the consequences first-hand while dining at two excellent eateries.

The first, in July, was at the Eitz Tut (Mulberry Tree) Restaurant deep in the artists’ quarter of Tzfat, the famous holy hilltop city of mystic piety.

The other, during January, was at Bella Mia, an Italian Grill Bar in Ma'alot-Tarshiha,  a mixed Jewish-Arab town, near to both Karmiel and the coastal resort of Nahariya. 

Eitz Tut Restaurant SignEitz Tut, in Tet Vav Street and adjacent to the Khan of the White Donkey cultural centre, was previously known as Isidora. The new owner has renamed it in honour of the splendid, ancient tree that provides a presiding presence over both the  trellised courtyard and   patrons while they dine. 

As customers were so few the day we visited, the friendly young owner’s wife and infant daughter enjoyed their own meal at a table directly under the tree while he served us.

It was, as my husband observed, war or no war, an idyllic setting on a perfect summer late afternoon. The only thing missing was more company for us all!

Although Eitz Tut is not fully vegetarian, the menu is varied and between us we chose an imaginative  blue cheese salad and a pasta dish accompanied by hearty bread, followed  by suitably indulgent desserts. An English language menu is available on request.

Our only caveat was that when we visited, the restaurant was not open in the evening. This policy may have changed but I can offer no further details as none are apparent on the web. I must presume this is because of the relatively recent change in owners.

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Bella Mia is billed as  ‘romantic’ but also suitable for families with children! Whatever the reason for an outing there, we found it eccentrically fetching with its log cabin facade and European bar interior.

Again, we noted a dearth of fellow diners but were greeted by  extremely friendly and efficient staff who provided a full English language menu.

Portions at Bella Mia are extremely generous and soon we began to wish we had not devoured such large starters of home-made bread and savoury dips!

Dishes each of richly flavoured ravioli and spaghetti followed in speedily served succession,  with a grand finale of a shared giant slab of excellent cheesecake.

As we visited Bella Mia on a dark, cold winter’s evening, we could not take advantage of the attractive outdoor seating that overlooks spectacular countryside. Bella.Mia.Restaurant

But Bella Mia, like  Eitz Tut, is well worth a second visit, so  we’ll be back to both soon.

Bella Mia is open: Sunday – Saturday- 10:00 - 12:00 midnight.

Email: Bella_mia@walla.com

Tel: 04-957-5075

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Mark.UlyseasThis piece first appeared in the March 2015 edition of Live Encounters magazine (http://liveencounters.net/?p=9988) edited by Mark Ulyseas, a faithful supporter of Israel and all matters Jewish.

 

© Natalie Wood (24 February 2015)

Friday, 20 February 2015

PerfectlyWriteFamilyTales: ‘The Hourglass’

PerfectlyWriteFamilyTales: ‘The Hourglass’: ‘A time to mourn” - Ecclesiastes 3:4 Crazier than cracked paving, we’ve punched the unforgiving wall; tried to beat the clock, drilled ...

Monday, 16 February 2015

PerfectlyWriteFamilyTales: ‘Wonderful Copenhagen’

PerfectlyWriteFamilyTales: ‘Wonderful Copenhagen’: “Hi, I’m  Dan Uzan and I’ve been standing guard outside the Great Synagogue, in Copenhagen. It’s  bitrerly cold but I can deal with that. “...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

PerfectlyWritePoetry: For Those Without Poetry ….

PerfectlyWritePoetry: For Those Without Poetry ….: Today I  pay tribute to  Philip Levine , a great modern US poet who was most probably not nearly well enough appreciated on his side of the ...

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Only One Kid

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Only One Kid: The doe kid being cuddled in this picture was barely 24 hours old when members of the Karmiel branch of the English Speakers Residents Assoc...

‘Notes on the Nature of Love’

Cupid ImageWhile the weather’s  cold, wet and nasty, there’s no better way of beating it than by snuggling up with a good book – on a sofa - with your best beloved!

Cue the Karmiel Writers’ Group, whose members’ internationally celebrated wit, imagination and foresight has caused them to create a post-Valentine’s event – Notes on the Nature of Love – with readings from their own work. Other material is welcome if facilitator, Sylvia Walters is given prior notice.

So leave your fireside, wrap yourself up and join the crowds at the Karmiel English Speakers’ Club Moadon on MONDAY 16 FEBURARY at 7.30 p.m.

Refreshments will be served.

© Natalie Wood (11 February 2015)

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Where They’re All Named ‘Mom’

PerfectlyWritePoetry: Where They’re All Named ‘Mom’: Prize-winning Israeli poet, Ada Aharoni has asked that details of the US-based   Syndic Literary Journal be distributed. She appears in th...