Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rotschild Boulevard

'If I were a Rotschild... if I were a richman', sings Tevye , the poor jewish milkman in the famous musical  "Fiddler on the Roof".
Rotschild is a magic name,  the name of the well-known jewish banking dynasty which has always been associated with wealth and charity.

Rotschild Boulevard, named after the french Baron Edmond de Rotschild, is a lovely and popular boulevard in Tel-Aviv . I happened to be there two weeks ago; enjoyed a stroll and  took some pictures. While there, I thought about the stormy protest demonstrations that started on this very street, in July 2011.

pedestrian zone

A few details about the boulevard. The central, middle part of it, lined by trees , is a pedestrian zone.  It has walking / bike paths, and various recreational facilities : benches, small tables, spots for hiring as well as for parking bikes, kiosks selling sandwiches and beverages. 
The usual daily views include parents and children,  dog walkers, people resting on  benches watching the world go by,  bikers , friends sitting around a kiosk for a bite, drink and chat, etc..,

parenta and children

dog walker

chatting, eating and drinking

The street itself, which displays a blending of old and modern architecture,   houses cultural institutions (the national theater 'Habima' and the concert hall  'Mann' at its north end), culinary establishments (fine restaurants and cafes on both sides of the boulevard), and banking offices (headquarters of israeli and foreign banks :  Bank Hapoalim, HBSC, U Bank).

old (Bauhaus style) building

HSBC  bank offices

Ironical or not, the fact is that it was on this Rotschild boulevard where 'the rich and beautiful'  feel at home, that the Protest Movement for Social Justice broke out in Israel of July 2011. It expanded in August , and then faded away in September. People who saw themselves as middle class were protesting against the high cost of living (high prices of food, fuel, electricity, housing) and calling for social justice- which would mean higher taxes for the rich, reduction of indirect taxes, and the establishment of some sort of new social order.

Now, three years later , all I remember of that event is that two of its three young leaders joined the Labor Party and got themselves seats in Parliament . In other words, the protesters became politicians.

The high prices are still here, social justice is still waiting to be rescued. It seems to me , that even the first mayor of the city sitting on his horse, looks dissappointed.

statue of first mayor of  Tel Aviv overlooking the boulevard

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Don't be right; Be smart !

I must confess I don't feel comfortable with USA's initiative of imposing sanctions on Russia. For one thing, it could escalate to something very bad for the world.

After all, Russia is not just another country; she's a superpower. It's  insulting to act as if Russia's some kind of naughty child who has to be punished.   Moreover, there was no obvious reason for sanctions,  as there was practically no invasion of Crimea, and no bloodshed. 

All the mistakes, all the wrong moves, including human casualties, were done by Ukrainean nationalists.
The latter have almost asked for trouble. They started to talk  about covering Ukraine's territory with Nato bases. Yes, Nato on the russian doorstep!.  And of course, there were  demonstrations  which brought about the overthrow of president Victor Yanukovich.

All this took place, while Russia was subsidising the gas she was selling to Ukraine and transferring a lot of cash to help its failing economy.

The strategic Crimean peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea,  with its historically significant  cities of Sevastopol and Yalta, was not originally part of Ukraine; it was given to her as a symbolic present in 1954. 
Its inhabitants are mostly russians. There was no need for Putin's soldiers to invade the peninsula,  as its residents  widely opened the borders and the doors to them.

Anyway, it's a regional conflict involving Russia and Ukraine over control of the Crimean Peninsula;  that is, it was - regional , until the americans decided they want some kind of "russian spring" after the so-called arab spring.

Maybe the americans and their western  followers thought they were right with imposing  sanctions.  I hardly think they were smart.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Following The Missing Jet

"Let's go back to horse and carriage, and no black boxes, please" suggested a talkbacker who called himself  'clever guy'...
Not a bad idea, I thought, considering  the chain of events surrounding the mysterious disappearance of the Malaysian jet,  flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Bejing on  March 8, 2014.
A lot of speculations since then; it is believed the plane has crashed into the southern part of the Indian Ocean,  but still no wreckage found, fate of passengers and crew not known.

"Look that plane up in Somalia"  came a suggestion in the first week after the disappearance.
Right. Maybe the somalians have switched roles  from ship pirates to plane hijackers.
"You better look it up in Yemen" wrote another.
Right again. Yemen, the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, founder of Al-Quaida fiercest terror net, seems quite a plausible location for a hijacked plane.

"The plane is sure in one of the -an suffix countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, getting ready for some huge terror mission, style 9/11"-  that's the prevailing theory so far.
Very tempting to agree to that, judging by the troubling background  of these countries.

" Bermuda Triangle strikes again" remarked some reader.
Could  be, could be that the notorious Bermuda triangle that had "swallowed up" a lot of ships and planes in the past, has a twin somewhere between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
It would sound like a more reasonable possibility than the one of muslims hijacking a plane from their malaysian muslim brothers,  which happens to have on board a lot of chinese, and... one doesn't do this sort of thing to China.

I approached the world map trying to look up all  the places mentioned in the news,including the american military base Diego Garcia which has become the theme of wildest conspiracy theories.

Sad way to learn geography; too tragic a situation to learn at all, as all thoughts are focused on the tragedy of the passengers and their families. 
There's one thing though I'm sure of - I'll always stick to my prayer to God for a safe journey before, during, and after flight.