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Entries in Israel (2)


Israel and Palestine


Welcome to Israel and the occupied Palestinean territories. Military, what military? No, military implies occupation, this just happens to be the military wing of the Israeli police force. Every normal city has police, right?


The old city of Jerusalem, where three religions fight over which set of myths didn't happen at landmarks that have been pretty much chosen at random (but long enough ago they are worth dying for).

Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Built on the site that was randomly selected as the location of the death of Jesus, despite: a) Jesus probably not existing, and b) even if he lived and died, this certainly wouldn't have been the right location. No matter, there are several different "real tomb of Jesus's" that you can visit while in Jerusalem.

Western Wall, the site where Mohammad is said to have left his horse while visiting Jerusalem, despite certainly never visiting Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, the same wall is said to be the wall of the Jewish Second Temple, despite probably not being so. While there was a tentative truce for hundreds of years, the site is now claimed by some Muslim groups as being exclusively Islamic in origin, while some Jewish groups want to see the entire site demolished to rebuild a Jewish temple. Currently the whole complex is controlled by the military arm of the Israeli police, who control the inflow of tourists, Jewish prayer groups and (erratically and intermittently, as we saw) Muslim prayer groups.

View of Jerusalem from the roof of the Austrian Hospice.

View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.

The remains of Lifta, the only Palestinean village abandoned during the Six Days War that has not been completely destroyed. The original owners are still not allowed to return.

Old town of Jaffa

New town of Tel Aviv, built from scratch on the sand dunes outside Jaffa in the 1930s.


Things that made me angry this week

In response to a request from David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, all of the constitutional monarchies in the Commonwealth agreed to change their law on succession. Under the current arrangements, when determining the inheritance of the British Crown, within each degree of relation, men take priority over women, and anyone married to a Catholic cannot accept the Crown. In the words of David Cameron, "The idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he is a man, or that a future monarch can marry someone of any faith except a Catholic - this way of thinking is at odds with the modern countries that we have become." Yes, it is quite archaic indeed. As is the basic idea that someone should be crowned ruler of a country and the head of the State Church simply because of an accident of birth. Good grief, if we are going to rationally discuss who inherits the Crown in three generations time, perhaps we could have a conversation on whether Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, St Christopher and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, St Lucia and the Bahamas should be endorsing the entire concept of royalty. 


Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, the disgraceful weasel, blamed the Unions for shutting down air-traffic in Australia. Joyce has been ripping Qantas apart for years, outsourcing jobs and cutting real wages. The Unions involved have been trying to negotiate some job security and a wage rise, and what does Joyce do? Gave himself a 75% pay rise, to $5 million / year, and then shut down the entire airline rather than negotiate with the Unions. After the government stepped in to force a negotiation, the bastard blamed the Unions for industrial action, when it was not the Unions who went on strike but the management who locked out all the workers.


The United States massively overreacted at Palestine applying for membership at the United Nations. 126 countries, representing 75% of the world's population, have recognised the State of Palestine. Palestine is now pushing for recognition by the United Nations, and is coming under severe criticism from the United States for doing so. The US is criticising Palestine for acting "unilaterally" and encourages it to take a more diplomatic route. Huh? Isn't asking the United Nations for diplomatic recognition the very definition of mulitlateral diplomacy? The UN (rightfully) recognises Israel, it should equally recognise Palestine, and the world should not have to wait until Palestinian recognition suits domestic Israeli politics. The other criticism from the US is that UN recognition would only be symbolic, in effect saying that there is not much gain to be made from it. Perhaps, but then why expend so much effort to destroy the effort? Now Palestine has been accepted as a member state by UNESCO, the agency which looks after World Heritage Sites. And the response from the US? To withdraw all American funding from UNESCO, slashing its budget by 20%. Israel in turn applauded the US and is considering its future within UNESCO. How is that a reasonable response? UNESCO simply allowed Palestine to join its mission "to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information". One would have thought that US and Israel would support such a mission being extended to Palestine, and UNESCO cannot be accused of being anti-semetic - they run holocaust education programs around the world, they protect holocaust memorial sites such as Auschwitz, and they actively support the preservation of sacred Jewish sites within Israel and around the world. How horrible for Palestine to want to be a part of that!