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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Haifa’

Thank You Notes

Friday, October 5th, 2012

I knew I wasn’t supposed to do it. They specifically warned us not to, and you don’t mess with the army. But how could I not? I peeked over my shoulder and saw the olive drab back of the supervisor. Good. I dropped the paper into the box along with the chocolate spread and watched it continue down the conveyer belt. A minute later the box was sealed. No sirens went off, no soldiers rappelled down the walls of the warehouse, fixing their guns on me. I exhaled. And then laughed. My note was just one of several that had snuck their way into the food packages that day. And the IDF had no clue…

Later that day as I sat outside with the other Sar-El volunteers, TV dinner-esque lunches in our laps, I thought about how fortunate we were to be eating reheated schnitzel and rice. The combat soldiers receiving the boxes we were packing would have died for a bite of that. Instead, four soldiers were handed a box that wouldn’t have fit a pair of shoes. When they opened it they would find a handful of protein-packed necessities like tuna, sardines, halva, and of course, the indispensable chocolate spread. Oh yeah, and this was supposed to last the four of them twenty-four hours.

But a select number of soldiers would find something extra in their boxes during the weeks of January 2009: A small note, handwritten by a girl from America, thanking him/her for protecting the Jewish homeland. My roommates and I had spent a good part of the previous evening writing those notes, asking our madricha for help with some of the trickier Hebrew grammar. And that morning our notes were deposited into the food packages on the sly. I didn’t think anyone would respond to the notes I had written. This wasn’t the first time I had sent a thank you note to a soldier, American or Israeli, and none had ever seen fit to reply.

Once again I was doing something I probably shouldn’t have. I was at work, pretending to be fully immersed in the writing of some report, but in fact I was checking my e-mail. There was more spam than usual clogging up my inbox. Delete. Delete. Dele- What was that? The subject line of one of the e-mails was in Hebrew and simply said “Todah!!” I’m not one to object to being thanked, but a) I didn’t recognize the e-mail address, and b) no one I know writes to me in Hebrew. Did this mean I was getting Hebrew spam now? And yet something held me back from clicking on the tiny garbage can.

I considered the situation. I had never gotten Hebrew junk mail before. And it’s not like they were offering to lower my interest rate if I simply typed in my social security number and mother’s maiden name. I slid the cursor over the subject line.

“Shalom Cheryl,” the e-mail began, my English name spelled out phonetically. So this Hebrew stranger knew my name. Or at least the name I give Israelis when I don’t want to overwhelm them with my Hebrew name. (You try saying Naftalit Eti Chana three times fast). I continued reading. The mystery man told me that he had received a food package that I had prepared for Israeli soldiers. Food package? That must mean… After all my attempts someone was actually responding to one of my notes! But it had been a year and eight months since I had volunteered with Sar-El. What was this e-mail doing arriving now?

The soldier, whose name was Moshe, thanked me for volunteering with the IDF and wrote how excited he had been to find a note hidden in his food box. And then the explanation came. He had gotten my letter over a year earlier, fully intended to write to me at the time, but had misplaced it until now, when he found it while cleaning his room. He ended his e-mail with a quick P.S., asking me to write back so he’d know I got his e-mail.

That report I was supposed to be working on got pushed even farther onto the backburner as I excitedly showed the e-mail to my coworker and reminisced about packing those boxes and writing those letters, marveling at the fact that someone had finally decided to respond. Then I set about forwarding Moshe’s e-mail to my family and friends. This was the most exciting thing that had happened to me in a long time, and of course I was going to write back to him- after all, he had written back to me – but that would have to wait till after work.

Palestinian Suffering from Parkinson’s Disease Receives Israeli Treatment

Monday, September 24th, 2012

A 51-year-old Palestinian man suffering from Parkinson’s disease received successful therapy treatment in Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center this past summer.

Tarik Sadek Abu Baker, an accountant who lives in Judea and Samaria, was treated for debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease through a special treatment known as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), used to treat a variety of neurological disorders.

While medication is normally used to treat the disabling symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, which include tremors, rigidity, slowed movement, and walking problems, within 12 years, Abu Baker had stopped responding to Parkinson medication.

Consequently, the Palestinian Authority directed Abu Baker to the Movement Disorders Center at Haifa’s Rambam hospital, lead by Senior Neurologist Dr. Ilana Schlesinger.

The French neurosurgeon Professor Alim-Louis Benabid developed DBS therapy in 1987. The treatment became available in Israel in 2003. Since 2008, the Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center has treated 25 patients with DBS therapy.

According to the Rambam Medical Center website, the hospital Movement Disorders Center has been building a quiet reputation for its medical advancements in the Middle East. Inquiries into treatment programs come as far as Iran.

The medical staff at Rambam described Abu Baker’s situation as especially difficult. “He could barely move or talk because of severe rigidity and tremors,” said nurse, Ilana Erikh, after Abu Baker’s hospitalization. “It hurt me to see so young a person entirely disabled and trembling, who couldn’t do anything without assistance. He obviously needed extraordinary measures.”

Deep brain stimulation is used for people whose symptoms cannot be adequately controlled with medications for Parkinson’s disease. The treatment delivers electrical stimulation to block abnormal nerve signals in targeted areas of the brain. Many people who undergo the therapy, experience significant improvement in their symptoms and can also reduce the amount of Parkinson medication.

While DBS therapy and medication cannot cure Parkinson’s disease, these treatments can ease the symptoms that impede quality of life and allow patients increased mobility.

At Rambam, Professor Menashe Zaaroor, Director of the Department of Neurosurgery, implanted leads and neurostimulators into Abu Baker. After three weeks, Abu Baker returned so that neurologist Dr. Maria Nassar and nurse Ilana Erikh could switch on the neurostimulators’ batteries and adjust the voltage.

Following the visit, within an hour, Abu Baker could walk and move freely and showed no visible signs of the disease.

Ginan Salim, Abu Baker’s wife, described the warm treatment at Ramban. “We were made very happy last week because my husband, who has needed me to help him with personal hygiene, eating and preparing for sleep, has improved and doesn’t need my assistance anymore. We didn’t expect such quick results,” she said on the medical center’s website.

This is not the first time that the Rambam Medical Center has been engaged with Israel’s Arab and Muslim sector. During Ramadan last year, the medical center engaged in research to help fasting Muslims suffering from diabetes to better deal with the monthly holiday fast. Rambam’s Professor Naim Shehadeh discovered that particular types of insulin help patients avoid suffering from side effects and health complications that develop during the fast.

Professor Shehadeh conducted research among 300 diabetic patients treated at clinics in northern and central Israel in 2011. “We proved that this special protocol significantly reduced patients’ chances of developing adverse events during the Ramadan fast,” said Professor Shehadeh.

Professor Shehadeh further added that these particular types of insulin have been made available by the Israel Ministry of Health and are included in the ministry’s list of subsidized medications which can be acquired in pharmacies across Israel.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Rock Tel Aviv

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The “Red Hot Chili Peppers” performed in Tel Aviv on Monday night, a decade after they canceled their show due to security issues. It was the group’s first visit to Israel, and to make the most of it, the members went to the Western Wall in Jerusalem straight from the airport. The band talked about Hillel Slovak, one of their founding members, who died from a drug overdose in the early 1990s.

“Hillel Slovak forever!” band leader Anthony Kiedis shouted on stage, adding, “I must say, Hillel had his own brand of Israeli funk, pretty sure he invented it. That Israeli funkinstein.” Guitarist Flea added, “He went out to a trip in Israel, and he came back and he was so lit up and so excited and so full of love, and to come here today and think of him it’s truly a dream.” The band dedicated the song “Other Side” to the city of Haifa, where Slovak was born.

Slovak is not the only Jewish connection of the Peppers. Current guitarist Josh Klinghoffer is Jewish, and is related to Leon Klinghoffer, the elderly man in a wheelchair who was murdered by terrorists aboard the Achille Lauro in 1985.

Pro-Palestinian groups in Lebanon, where the band performed just a few nights before, were outraged about the Peppers’ decision to perform in Israel, and even threatened the opening acts in Beirut to not perform, causing one of the bands to cancel. Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith tweeted earlier this week: “In any city of any country we play … Our sole purpose is to uplift people thru our music. Nothing more. Nothing less … that’s it.”

Israel Liberated From Assault Of The Corries

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

It is now official. Rachel Corrie, patron saint of the pro-terror radical left and its Islamofascist allies, essentially committed suicide in order to assist Palestinian terrorists. She was not killed in cavalier fashion by Israel. Israel had no particular reason to want her dead (as opposed to deported).

The Haifa district court last week tossed out a petition by Corrie’s clueless parents. They had sought damages and a court proclamation that Israel was at fault in their daughter’s death. Instead, Judge Oded Gershon made it very clear that Rachel Corrie was responsible for her own death.

She intentionally placed herself in harm’s way interfering with Israeli anti-terror operations in Gaza. She did so in a place where Palestinian terrorists had fired at Israeli soldiers just hours earlier. The troops were there to destroy smuggling tunnels beneath residential buildings, tunnels used to smuggle in explosives, missiles, and other weapons – you know, the things used by terrorists to murder Jewish children and other living things.

Corrie had been sent to Gaza as part of a Solidarity-with-Genocidal-Hamas-Murderers delegation organized by the pro-jihad International Solidarity Movement, which notoriously hosted two terrorists the day before they murdered several Israelis at the Mike’s Place tavern in Tel Aviv in 2003.

Corrie entered Gaza to serve as a human shield for Hamas mass murderers. On March 16, 2003 she decided to play chicken with a large Israeli earthmover. The irony is that the driver would have stopped and capitulated to Corrie’s shenanigans if he had seen her. But he did not and struck her. She later died in a Palestinian medical facility.

Since then both the totalitarian left and the goose-stepping ultra-right have beatified Corrie. She is the darling of the Iranian Holocaust deniers. A ridiculous theater play has been making the circuits proclaiming Corrie a victim rather than an accomplice of terror. The most lasting image of Corrie was that of her face contorted with rage and as she burned an American flag.

When Reuters reported that Palestinians “honored” her after her death in a “symbolic funeral” by flying U.S. flags, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal remarked that if Corrie were still alive, no doubt she’d have burned those flags.

Since her death, Corrie’s parents have been serving as an Israel-bashing SWAT team. They frequently come to Gaza to show their support for the same Hamas terrorists their daughter served. Ironically, on one occasion the terrorists kidnapped the Corrie parents but then quickly released them when it became clear they were far more valuable assets for terrorism while they run about free. The Corries also have been leading the jihad against the Caterpillar company because it sells equipment to Israel.

When the Corrie parents began their legal assault against Israel here in Haifa, where I live, I wrote an open letter to them, an excerpt of which is still relevant:

The city of Haifa is still recovering from the trauma of the summer of 2006, when it, along with the rest of northern Israel, was targeted by thousands of Katyusha rockets, fired from southern Lebanon by Hizbullah terrorists. Haifa has also been targeted by suicide bombers who carried out mass murders against civilians in buses and restaurants. Now Haifa is about to become the victim of yet another indignity. It is to be the scene for a legal assault by the parents of Rachel Corrie….

You have stated, “She [Rachel] had been working in Rafah with a nonviolent resistance organization, the International Solidarity Movement, trying to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes and wells.”

Well, she was not. Rachel was trying to prevent the demolition of tunnels used to smuggle weapons for Palestinian terrorists seeking to murder Jewish civilians. Your daughter was in a war zone as a belligerent, on behalf of a movement of Arab fascists seeking to destroy Israel and murder as many Jews as possible.

You demand that we feel your pain at the loss of your daughter, yet your daughter conscripted herself as an accomplice for those seeking to murder my children. You feel no pain for the scores of martyrs in my own city of Haifa murdered by those same terrorists.

You write, “Clearly, our daughter has become a positive symbol for people.”

Yael Nitzan: The Museum Of Israeli Women

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

TV producer and author Yael Nitzan’s decades’ old dream is becoming a reality. Through the generosity of the Haifa municipality, an empty 200-year-old palace, once owned by an Arab sheikh, will be turned into “The Museum of Israeli Women.” Although in other countries there are museums documenting the accomplishments of women, Israel, with the world’s highest ratio of museums per person, has none dedicated to the women who contributed to the founding of the State of Israel and to its development.

The best known of the women on Yael Nitzan’s original list of candidates for commemoration in the museum is Golda Meir, Israel’s first and only female prime minister. Then there are some four thousand women who served in the Jewish Brigade of the British army, the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Among these was Sonia Peres, the late wife of Israeli President Shimon Peres. Five women from this corps became founders of the women’s division of the Israeli army.

In the 1930s, more than 20 percent of the physicians in Eretz Yisrael were women, and female dentists outnumbered male dentists. Israel’s First Lady, Dr. Vera Weizmann was a physician who helped in the rehabilitation of those injured in the War of Independence, raised funds to establish the Tel Hashomer Hospital and worked on behalf of Youth Aliyah.  Rachel Yanait Ben-Zvi, the wife of Yitzhak ben Zvi, Israel’s second president, taught women in Jerusalem how to milk cows, grow vegetables and make cheese. Because of her, the women were able to make their own food so their husbands could go out and build the state.

Hannah Maisel (1183-1972), one of the eight personalities included in the online Jewish Women’s Encyclopedia, had a doctorate in agriculture and came to Palestine to establish farms and agricultural schools for women between 1911 and 1926. She got donations from women in Switzerland and Germany. Maisel helped found the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) with Rivka Ziv (Rebecca Sieff), who also founded the Weizmann Institute of Science. Dorothy Bar-Adon, was a New Jersey journalist who joined the staff of the Palestine (now Jerusalem) Post in 1933. The country’s first female kindergarten teacher was Esther Shapira. She was among the women who, at the Ayalon Institute near Rehovot, helped make bullets in a secret underground factory for the War of Independence.

Then there was Shulamit Goldstein, the first female pilot in the Air Force. This 1914 Ukrainian immigrant learned to fly in Egypt. Later on she joined a work brigade at Rosh Pinah, taught nursery school (future Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was among her pupils), ran a poultry farm and manufactured fiberglass.

Yael Nitzan envisions a memorial at the Museum of Israeli Women to the hundreds of female soldiers who fell during their military service, and has plans to arrange courses for female offices.

Multi-talented and creative Ms Nitzan , who curated a Haifa exhibition of fifty female artists to mark International Women’s Day last March 8, hopes to complete the museum in two years and then serve as the museum’s director. One cannot help but admire this initiative and hope for its success on all fronts.

Mt. Carmel Tunnels to Be Used as Bomb Shelters Should Iran Attack

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

The idea of using the Mt. Carmel tunnels as public shelters already came up 2 years ago when they were initially opened for traffic, but now the idea is being considered as a practical solution should a war break out.

Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav has already approached Home Front Command and National Emergency Council officials asking to coordinate the use of the tunnels as public shelters. This is accompanied by a request from officials involved to organize adequate parking space for the thousands of cars belonging to the people who will arrive at the tunnels seeking protection.

Yahav also asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Transportation to declare the tunnels an essential emergency workplace, in order to prevent worker now-shows which could cause the closure of the tunnels.

The Carmel Tunnels (Minharot HaCarmel) are a set of road tunnels in and around Haifa, Israel. The tunnels’ purpose is to reduce road congestion in the Haifa area and to provide an alternative route of reaching the eastern and central parts of the city, Haifa Bay and the Krayot area to and from Israel’s central coastal plain without having to travel through traffic-congested downtown Haifa, having to drive up and across the Carmel Mountain or bypassing Haifa from the east, along the edge of the Jezreel Valley.

The tunnels cut the travel time from the Haifa South interchange in the west to the Checkpost interchange in the east from 30–50 minutes down to 6 minutes.

The tunnels were opened to traffic on December 1, 2010.

As part of the preparations for the worst case scenario, a map of the businesses in the city was recently completed by the Haifa Municipality, with the intention of ordering businesses to remain open in an emergency situation. Should the owner refuse, options are being examined for opening the businesses against their will and thereby forcing them to sell essential items. Cellular communication providers and gas stations are being targeted specifically by the municipality, to prevent their closure during an emergency situation.

Mayor Yahav told IDF Radio that since the day those tunnels have opened he had been contemplating using them as mass bomb shelters.

“I’ve been investigating for a long time the possibility of sheltering tens of thousands underground. But no one so far has been able to tell me how much oxygen would be required for, say, 30 or 40 thousand people.”

During World War 2, the bombing of London and especially the Blitz led to the use of many tube (underground train) stations as air-raid shelters. Closed stations and unfinished sections of new lines were also used. The shelters were well suited to their purpose, but some stations could still be breached by a direct hit, and, indeed, a few German attacks did result in serious loss of life, most notably at Balham and Bounds Green in October 1940 and Bank in January 1941. A still worse disaster was a crowd crush accident at the unfinished Bethnal Green in March 1943.

On Academia, Politics and Survival in the Middle East

Friday, July 20th, 2012

I will begin with a disclosure: I am the head of The Israeli Academic Monitor, an organization whose goal is to expose publicly the political activities of those Israeli academics who engage in activities against the state of Israel and against its ability to stand up to the political and security pressures that it faces. These academicians call on institutions and individuals to boycott Israel, to impose sanctions upon it and to withdraw investments from it, while camouflaging and disguising these activities as if they are done in “the academic spirit.” It must be noted that there are, among Israeli academicians, some “righteous” people who call on states and academic institutions of the world to boycott Israeli academic institutions and to impose punishments on those same institutions in which they themselves are employed, and from where they receive their salaries, the source of which is the government of Israel. We, members of The Israeli Academic Monitor, out of concern for Israeli academia in particular and for the state of Israel in general, act within the boundaries of freedom of speech and expression, and publish widely the despicable deeds of these Israeli academicians.

Today I dedicate my article to a matter that has been with us for years, which is the status of the academic institution that was established 30 years ago in the city of Ariel, in Samaria; whether to have it remain as a college or “University Center” (a concept which is not clear to me), or perhaps to raise it to the level of a university. Those who are faithful to the land of Israel support promoting it to become a university, while those who object to Israeli rule in Judea and Samaria – they call it “occupation” – oppose it. Each side of the argument brings economic, budgetary and academic justifications to support its view, but it is clear that the basis for one’s position is primarily political, and that this position dictates which of the justifications are emphasized.

The fact that there is a political argument engenders the perception among the Israeli public that all of the other seven universities are “not political,” and only the institution in Ariel is “political” because it is “in the territories” and therefore its establishment in Ariel has a “political” meaning. My claim is that all of the universities in Israel are political, and moreover, all of the colleges, schools, yeshivas, hospitals, prisons, factories, places of residence, roads, trees – everything that we have established, built, and planted in Israel – everything, but everything, is political. The whole Zionist enterprise is a political project because it is the political and nationalistic manifestation of the desire of the Jewish people to return to its land and to renew within it its national life, its independence and its sovereignty. Everything that we have done here since the students of the Gaon of Vilna arrived in Israel two hundred years ago until today, everything is aimed at renewing our political life as of old, indeed, the whole Zionist enterprise – including universities – has a political, as well as national connotation, and there are also those who see a religious component in this matter, connected in some way to the final redemption.

Jews the world over have joined this great political enterprise of the Jewish people, whether with their bodies or with their wealth. Those who joined bodily came, fought, built, paved, planted, seeded, reaped, learned, taught and did research, all in order to establish the political enterprise of the Jewish people – the State of Israel. Those who joined with their wealth remained in the Diaspora and donated their money to the establishment of schools, hospitals, yeshivas for men, yeshivas for women, colleges and universities, all in order to take part in the political, national and collective endeavor of the people of Israel.

The cornerstone of the first academic institution in Israel was laid exactly 100 years ago. This was the Technion in Haifa. Dr. Paul Natan, was behind the idea to establish “the Technikum” (the original name), enlisted the aid of David Wissotzky (the Tea producer) to donate the required funds, and they established the institution specifically in Israel, and not in the Diaspora, for the same nationalistic and political reason that influenced others to establish other institutions in Israel. Their motivation was to promote the “return to Zion” and the fact that the government of the land was then in the hands of the Muslim Ottoman Empire didn’t bother them. When they founded the first academic institution, their connection was to the Land, not the state, and to establish the life of the people in its land was their top priority.

The Train

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

He was having trouble getting up from the platform and into the cattle car. After all, he was only twelve years old and there was no ramp leading inside. An SS thug saw him “dawdling” in front of the car and aimed a boot at the boy’s posterior. The boy jumped out of the way just in time and the SS man fell to his face from the violence of his own kick.

Fearing the German would take his fury out on him, the boy scampered into the train. He hid himself from the Nazi inside a crowded, filthy car until the train pulled out of Budapest’s Nyugati station.

And thus began David Kohn’s participation in what many regard as the most dramatic and controversial train journey in history. For this was the train organized by Dr. Rudolf Kastner, head of the Hungarian Judenrat, on which 1,685 Jews rode to safety.

Kohn, today a well-known medical doctor and expert on geriatric health problems in Haifa, Israel, is one of the diminishing number of survivors from the Kastner train. And he may be the only one who kept and preserved a journal of that journey to freedom.

He was born in a small town in Czechoslovakia, in a region where many of the residents and most of the local Jews spoke Hungarian. After the destruction and division of Czechoslovakia in the wake of the Munich accord, the area passed to Hungarian rule.

The problem was that David’s father had been a patriot and had taken Czechoslovak citizenship, which was frowned upon by Hungarian authorities. The boy was quickly expelled from school there, supposedly because of the father’s citizenship but more likely because they were Jews.

The family moved into Hungary proper, looking for work and a place to live. Then Slovakia was detached from the Czech state by Germany, so for a while they moved back there. The father worked as a forestry manager, a public service job that kept the family safe as deportations of Slovakian Jews commenced.

In 1942 rumors reached them that they were on a list of Jews to be deported. The family stole across the border into Hungary. There they were hosted by relatives who managed to obtain forged residency papers for them.

By 1943 Hungarian Jews were being moved into “concentration” areas – not yet internment camps but rather buildings in which the Jews of a town would be segregated. David was staying with his uncle, a prominent Neolog rabbi, in Czegled, a town outside Budapest near what is today the city’s international airport. They were locked up in a single building, and later moved into the town’s synagogue. Then twenty-three of those in the building were selected to be sent to Budapest for internment. The rest were deported.

David and his uncle were among the twenty-three.

In Budapest they were marched down Andrassy Boulevard, the city’s equivalent of Fifth Avenue with its luxury stores, many owned by Jews at the time. They were taunted by Hungarian anti-Semitic youths along the way and eventually were held inside the Rumbach Street synagogue in the Jewish Quarter.

* * * * *

Rudolf Kastner was a pompous, arrogant and irritating person. He was born and raised in the largest city in Transylvania, the Hungarian-speaking territory now in Romania that has passed back and forth between Hungary and Romania due to the frivolities of war and politics. He rose to importance in the Hungarian Jewish community and had the reputation of being an aristocratic “fixer” with ties to the regime.

When war broke out, Hungary allied itself with Hitler’s Germany. Kastner served as a journalist and community leader, moving from Transylvania to Budapest. Later, as a head of the Hungarian Judenrat, he was able to move about freely throughout the war. His residence and offices stood on Vaci Avenue, three blocks from my office today at Central European University in Budapest, where I teach when I am not in Israel.

Kastner was renowned for hatching assorted schemes, some rather hair-brained, during the war years. He tried to recruit support from Jewish Agency leaders in Tel Aviv for negotiating different rescue schemes with the Nazis, including the notorious “Trucks for Jews” deal, which never came to fruition. In 1944 he met several times with Adolf Eichmann to negotiate the escape of Jews in exchange for bribes or ransom payments.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-train/2012/07/18/

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