Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our trip to Israel - Part 9

Springtime in Tel Aviv!

Fantastic Weather, Great People, Terrific Food, Living History . .... and the Beach!
Dancing on a Saturday Afternoon on the Beach Promenade, Tel Aviv.  When you get a chance to dance on the Beach, why, you really have no choice . . ... you must!
Renting a bike and riding around Tel Aviv and then to Jaffa Port - piece of cake!  So much art, history and beauty to be seen.  Hard to believe it's our last couple of days!
Looking back on the 'New York City of the Mid-East' - Tel Aviv, Israel.
Shalom, for now.  We'll return.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Our trip to Israel - Independence Day!!

Independence Day means Airshow at the Beach, Dancing, and a Nationwide Party!!  Beautiful day!
Everywhere along the Beach Promonade is a party.
This is a great day to tour Independence Hall. We met a very nice modern Orthodox family.
Is it time to go shopping?  Well, some people can't imagine a time when it's not . ...
Then we run into some Anti-Fur, Anti-Canadian Seal Hunt Protesters . . ... say what? Right in downtown Tel Aviv. Free Speech and all, it makes me want to stop and discuss their views with them. Donna's dragging me away, saying, "Just leave it alone, we're on vacation!" Hilarious, these kids have no idea what it's like to be hungry and cold on 'The Rock' of Nfld.
All in, a fabulous day, and the night!!  Left the camera at home...  Fun, Food and Dancing!

Our trip to Israel - Part 7

Now we're on a roll! Bunked up at the Bell Boutique Hotel just a block from the beach in Tel Aviv, we're where the action is!  Okay, it's a little noisy, but we're here to see it all.  Our first stop today is the Better Place Visitor Centre - this electric car project is Amazing!  We were allowed to test drive one of the new electric Renault sedans, very quiet, luxurious and fast!  Whooo Hoooo!!! 
Then it's off to the Latrun Armored Museum.  Huge display of tanks from every era of Israel's history.  Soldiers only too happy to show off their vehicles and practice their English.  Again, we left our deets when they said they'd like to come to Canada when their military service time is over.
This day was also Memorial Day, and everywhere we went we were able to witness the reverence Israeli's have for their war dead.  Latrun was no different, as these young men stood at attention beside their 'Wall of Remembrance' during our visit.
The Latrun Trappist Monastary is right across the road, and Ayalon (Canada Park) is a beautiful big acreage for picnics and camping just north a couple of miles across the main highway. 
Then it's a short drive to the Ayalon Bullet Factory Museum, where 8 meters underground, just before 1948 war of Independence the kids at the Ayalon kibbutz produced over 2.4 MILLION rounds of 9mm ammunition right under the noses of the British.  Fantastic tour and story, lots of time for questions and to marvel at what these early settlers accomplished.

Our trip to Israel - Part 6

As the rockets rain onto Israel from Gaza again today (more than 75 in the last 3 days) I'd like to share with you my trip to Sderot.  My Missus stayed in Tel Aviv that day, shopping and touring with Toby.  I rented a Nissan Juke (hilarious if you speak Hebrew, Juke means 'cockroach') and drove first to the not yet completed Women of Valor Center in Nitzanim. 10 heroic women, including Mira Ben-Ari stayed behind to fight the Egyptian invaders on Jun3 7, 1948. 
After a chat with the new curator about opening dates, fundraising and the work left to be accomplished, I'm 'riding da Juke' south to Sderot.  Thomas is waiting at the Sderot Media Centre for my noon arrival.  After introductions my journalist's tour begins at the Police Compound, where we're examining casings from rockets which were recently fired into Israel from Gaza.
Sderot is the town with the most bomb shelters per capita . ... in the world.  Every home has one, every bus shelter IS ONE. The children's school has a bomb shelter built over it, every business and public building has one.  Some of the best new music to come out of Israel originates in Sderot, bands use the bigger shelters as practice spaces during the attacks.
We took a trip to 'Journalist's Point', where you can see into Gaza. Imagine, living next to a group of people who fire rockets into your neighborhood from this far away EVERY DAY AND NIGHT.  It's law that you mustn't wear your seatbelt and you have to keep your car window open so you are able to stop your vehicle, get out quickly and lay on the ground when you hear the 'Code Red' siren. 
Stopping into the Sderot Magen David (EMS) stn we took a tour of the first rate ambulance service that cares for Israelis in the area.  What a terrific, friendly & brave bunch these Pararamedics are - this was the first EMS station I'd ever seen that had a bomb shelter in it.
So after a drive to the Gaza Checkpoint (no pictures allowed for good reason) we tripped back to Sderot and had a late meal of pita w/ 3 kinds of hummus - Delicious! This 'working man's cafe' was a perfect place to relax and talk with the locals after this tour. "Why do you stay here if it's so dangerous?", I asked one couple. "Because this is our home, we will never leave.", she said. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Our trip to Israel Part 5

Israel has been at war with their enemies for years, long before 1948.  This rich and tragic history of struggle and triumph has built into the country and her people an indomitable spirit and a passion for living in the moment.  Ammunition Hill was a Jordanian Police training facility before June '67.  More IDF soldiers were lost here than in any other single battle during the six day war.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum.  The Hall of Names.  The Railcar.  The 'Rightous Among The Nations'.  As the last direct victims of the concentration camps pass away, this monument lives and breathes their plight with truly beautiful and horrific displays.  This is one of the top 5 sites to see in Israel. Plan to spend several hours here, and do not miss the Children's Memorial.

Irgun Museum in Tel Aviv. "Every Jew had the right to enter Palestine; only active retaliation would deter the Arabs; only Jewish armed force would ensure the Jewish state."
The Irgun were an offshoot of the Haganah, the precursor to the IDF.  The Irgun were Zionists who felt the Haganah were not adequately defending Jewish interests in the region.  Critics of the Hagana leadership slammed the lack of weapons and the Hagana policy of restraint in not fighting back. In short, these fighters were bad-ass arab killers, they were not interested in negotiating any kind of 'false peace' with Israel's enemies. 

Operation Black Arrow:  1955 - Extensive infiltration of fighters from Gaza murdering Israeli citizens near Rehovot.  IDF soldiers destroyed their camp and wiped out their Egyptian reinforcements. Another historic example of what happens when you push Israeli's too far.

Our trip to Israel Part 4

Is it time to talk about the food yet?  OMG the food in Israel is fantastic.  Breakfasts at every single place we stayed was magic.  Lots of fresh veggies, spicy yogurt and fruit, and 'Shakshuka' - a hot breakfast of salsa-style tomato & peppers with an egg cooked in the center.  The huevos rancheros of the East!  One of our favorite restaraunts in Jerusalem was Pasha's, at 13 Sheikh Jarrah.  We absolutely destroyed and entire table filled with delicious kabob and side dishes.  Smoking is OK, and after dinner relax with some shisha!.
Part of the reason the food is so good has to be because it's so fresh!  Local produce is delicious, and the spice market is the envy of every cook I know!
Be sure to stop at any of the fresh juice street vendors, and the tables filled with nuts and nougat. The perfect pocket snack for an urban day hike.
When you're out and about you're going to run into a lot of soldiers.  These young men and women are from all over Israel, most speak excellent english, are very friendly.  We found they were always terrific ambassadors for Israel, and enjoyed chatting with us.  No soldier will ever accept a ride from other than official gov't vehicles, as the risk of kidnapping is still very, very high.  Cafes, pedestrian malls and public transit were the places we always found a friendly smile and great conversation with these young adults.

Our trip to Israel - Part 3

Okay, is it possible to visit Qumran (where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found), Masada and the Dead Sea all in the same day?  Yes.  Is that the best way to enjoy these historic sites?  No.
Even if you are familiar with the literature, photos and movies, to really experience and enjoy these important places you've got to take your time.  See Masada in the morning (when it's cool) and the Dead Sea Experience in the heat of the afternoon.
Trip into occupied territory, anyone?  We were in a cab back to our hotel one afternoon when Khalil (email: offered to take us to Bethlehem.  $400 NIS includes transportation and tour guide through the Church of the Nativity.  Khalil phoned Khalid enroute and he met us at the Church.  Small groups with an experienced guide often get to go where larger groups cannot .... and the intimate nature of a smaller group befits this sacred place.
After our tour, we of course were escorted to a 'friends place' where the famous Arab hospitality and haggling over souvenirs began.  Some baklava and sweet mint tea, lots of laughter and probing conversation finishing with shopping bags filled with local olive wood handcrafts.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our trip to Israel - Part 2

A delicious breakfast at Prima Royale, and our tour guide was right on time.  We spent three days with this Israeli Expert Tour Guide - we are now huge fans and very can highly recommend him! 
Doron Matiash - - email: - cell: 972-(0)52-2892526

This is the way to tour Israel, a small bit at at time with a small group.  We loved it. 
Our first day we went first to Mount Herzl, and left only a couple of hours before IDF officer Hila Betzaleli, was killed when a lighting rig collapsed on the central Parade Ground. They were preparing for ceremonies the following week. She was only 20 years old.  Several others were also injured.

Unaware of the tragedy, we continued on to the Western Wall. Doron's knowledge of the history, people and archaeological dig actively happening was amazing. 

We were escorted underground along the 360m tunnel, coming up in the Muslim Quarter of the old city of Jerusalem.  Armed guards escorted our tour group back to the start.  Were they necessary?  Of course.  The level of security is something you very quickly get used to, in part because the Security Staff are so very polite and professional. 
Many of the soldiers we saw were in their 20's, laughing and enjoying the beautiful weather, taking pictures in groups and learning 1st hand about the history of their nation.  Just like we were.  Only they're all heavily armed and prepared for war at a moments notice.  Did we feel safe?  Absolutely.

Our trip to Israel - Part 1

"We're going to Israel."
That statement elicits many responses.
If we're talking to our Jewish friends, it's, "Wow, that's Fantastic!'

Our secular/Catholic friends,
"Uh, really? (pause) Why would you want to go to Israel?"
"Are you Jewish?  Aren't you afraid?  Is it safe?"
That's a huge difference in reaction to one simple sentence.

We chose late April for several reasons.
Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day and Israel Independence Day, they all happen within an 18 day period.  It's also Spring!  Israel is green, the weather is perfect, Passover is .... over, so it's not crowded.  Perfect!

We left on a Sunday, flew from YYC to London Heathrow. 10 hour layover. We were excited and had enough electronic entertainment devices to keep us occupied.  And we saw the Queen!  Well, a cardboard cutout of the Queen. We had coffee with her anyway.

Then a 6 hour flight to Ben Gurion, arrived at 0600 on Tuesday. - Whew!  Off to our hotel in Jerusalem, traffic here is very different, our tour bus driver is reckless enough that I actually told him to slow down. 

Prima Royale Hotel in Jerusalem, stayed there 4 nights, highly recommend it.  Fantastic staff, wonderful food, very clean and close to everything.  Do Not Stay at the Prima Kings Hotel 4 blocks north.  Everything we raved about at Prima Royale is just the opposite at Prima Kings.

After a nap, we're up and wandering Jerusalem. Ben Yehuda Street, cafes for delicious coffee and hummus, some light shopping and gawking - our tour starts tomorrow!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Same as 'Military Intelligence'.

Two words I never thought I'd hear in the same sentence:

'Buddist Vigilantes' - If only Sam Peckinpaw were still alive to make the movie.  They're reported to have killed 9 muslims in revenge for them killing a Buddist woman last week.

From the same story, another reference that makes absolutely no sense:  'Muslim Human Rights Activist' - Maybe they mean a 'Caliphate Occupy Protester'.

Where are all the honest reporters?

I'm more and more concerned about the poor quality of main stream media reporting than anything else these days. 

Oh sure, we still have islamic maniacs plotting jihad enroute to the next caliphate, you only have to crack open the morning paper (if you still do that, most of us don't - and heralding the death of print media this month is the demise of the Sunday edition) to see the latest on jihadi terrorists and so-called 'honor killings'.  You have read these pretty quickly though, as they tend to drop below the electronic fold around 10 am, and are not readily visible on the first page anymore after that.

The secrecy around the Eaton's Centre shooting is only the latest example.  Q: Who is the shooter?  He's a gang-banger, right?  Well, probably - as the shootee was an "... up and coming rapper who was just turning his life around."  Really, the only reason to read the news stories in the local paper anymore is so you can understand the context of the comments - they are the real news these days.

If you don't subscribe to at least 4 high quality Blogs for an electronic copy of the TRUTH you're spending every single day laboring under the false illusions that you are paying the MSM to provide for you.  It's like paying your Lawyer to lie to you, or paying your Doctor to tell you everything is OK, when he knows full well that you're going to die unless you have surgery.

Pam Geller's article on the three Jewish kids attacked in France last week exposes another textbook case of the cowards in the MSM obfuscating the truth in order to  . ... what, exactly?  It's obvious to everyone that the attackers were muslim.  MUSLIM.  Not 'asian' or 'of north african descent' or 'immigrant youth'; those are described at the above 'Atlas Shrugs' story as euphemisms every bit as relevant as the color of their underwear.  I want to shout at the enemedia (enemy media) hacks, "It's Islam, stupid!"

Caroline Glick, who writes for the Jerusalem Post, is every bit as blunt.  In her April 19, 2012 article 'The Elephant of Jew Hatred' she candidly states why the current U.S. administration (or any other like-minded group) will never have an effective role in a middle east peace process with this boldly accurate column. "Because the Americans and the Europeans refuse to acknowledge the elephant of Jew-hatred in the middle of the room, they cannot be trusted to make reasoned or rational policy decisions (regarding Israel)." 

It's obvious to anyone who's actually paying attention that it's because the culture of islam has an unreasonable, bottomless hatred for Jews that they're impossible to reason with on any subject at all, whether it be tourism or nuclear weapons.  If only these islamists were victims of one, or even all of the seven deadly sins, we could understand and deal with their insanity.  Their unreasonable, unfounded, outright Jew Hatred is so far beyond our rational comprehension here is the West that it must be exposed repeatedly, confronted by men and women of Moral Courage, then talked and written about until everyone understands that it exists, even though they can never really understand why.

As for the cowards in the MSM, I ask only that go quietly to their deaths on the scrap heap of history.  Eventually the Neville Chamberlain's of the MSM who preached appeasement and continually printed the lie that 'islam is a religion of peace' will have the shame of their own words heaped upon them until they can no longer breathe or write a single word.