‚Shiluvim Koliym‘ in South Korea



Text: Dovev Rochine, Matnas Neve Yosef, Haifa

‚Shiluvim Koliym‘, the Neve Yosef community center’s youth choir, participated in the Gangneun International Junior Art Festival in South Korea from July 25th to August 1st 2017

The youth choir was chosen to represent Haifa and Israel and made us proud. The festival took place on Gangneun city located on the country’s north-east shore. This tourist haven of 250.000 people is located 160 km east of Seoul, and hosts the festival since 16 years with great success and care for the participant’s experience.

The youth had the chance to meet their peers at the age from 14 to 18 from eight other countries from around the world. Together they performed in daily shows on three different stages. Additionally they paraded, participated in traditional ceremonies, for example in a traditional tea ceremony and visited art exhibitions. Further on they had guided tours around the city and its surroundings, and got the „taste“ of the local culture.

In the bus for a City Tour

During the four day festival they met and sung with the delegations from Russia, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Japan, The Czech Republic, China, Thailand, and of course South Korea. They marched proudly with the Israeli flag during a spectacular opening ceremony and parade that was enlaced with songs, dances and great joy.

The main stage was located on the central beach and hosted very unique and multi-cultural shows every evening. Shiluvim had a central role at the opening evening with a variety of songs from their repertoire, singing in Hebrew, Amharic, Swahili and English. They moved the audience and finally made everybody stand up and dance, sweeping them away with love and genuine joy. The first show was so good, that the word came out for the first time within the 16 years for a “da capo” and all following shows were packed with new friends and admirers from all delegations and from tourists that came to the festival.

tea ceremony 1 july 29
Together with new friends at a Tea Ceremony

After its big impact, in the following days our choir was asked to perform as the final act that closes the festival in the presence of the city mayor, the city’s leading staff and other VIPs.

During their stay the girls met and learned about other cultures from their new friends, from different countries, and for one week there was no national and political boundaries and walls, only genuine care and friendship that we hope will last for a long time.

Dana Harit, the group manager said: „The youth had a unique experience that opened their mind and soul during four days of peace and pure human brotherhood (or sisterhoodJ). They had the chance to feel how mankind can live together as one and understand how their future can look like if they will take what they gain during these ten days for their future and understand the responsibility they have to make it meaningful and stronger. We represented Israel and the city of Haifa proudly and with great dignity, that will change the perception about Israel to all those who met us, and we got invited already to next year’s festival.“

Shimon Ifrach, the CEO of the Neve Yosef community center said: „It is a great honor and pride for us as the sponsors and educators of this group, and we thank our board of directors, and all our partners and friends who helped us fund this project and delegation. I followed the group from Israel, and we all saw the main shows live on YouTube with great excitement, they moved me as they moved the audience with their powerful performances. I had no doubt the group will make us proud and that they’ll have a big success there that will influence their future success.“

The Shiluvim Koliym project is in its 15th year at Neve Yosef community center.

Musical management : Mr. Hillel Shitrit

Choreography: Mr. Doron Guetta


In Basel, I founded the Jewish state


In 1886 Herzl published his, from today’s perspective, almost prophetic work „The Jewish State. An attempt to find a modern solution to the Jewish question.“

Following the First Zionist Congress, he wrote in his diary on September 3, 1897: If I had to sum up the Basel Congress in one word – which I shall not do openly – it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish state. If I were to say it today, I would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years, perhaps, and certainly in 50, everyone will see it.” Herzl’s vision actually became a reality. 51 years later, in 1948, the State of Israel was established. A dream had come true.

Who was this Theodor Herzl and what drove him to advocate Zionism so fervently?

Entrance to the city of Herzlyia, Israel

He was born on May 2, 1860 in Pest as the son of a partially assimilated family. While his father regularly took him to the prayer services in the Great Synagogue, his mother mainly taught him the history and culture of Austria, and taught him in German. His great uncle maintained close contacts with the „Chibat Zion“ (Love for Zion) organization. Founded in 1881, this organization pursued the goal of motivating and supporting Jews in the pogrom-plagued states of Europe to immigrate to Palestine. One of the first places in Israel to be populated by these immigrants is Zichron Ya’acov.

In 1878 the family moved to Vienna, where he went to law school and finished his studies in 1885. As of 1881 he became a member of the fraternity Albia, but resigned already in 1883, when he found himself increasingly confronted with anti-Semitic currents. Albia still belongs to the fraternities where humiliation of students is mandatory, and from 1882 onwards no more Jewish members were accepted.

Julie Naschauer

In June 1889 he married Julie Naschauer. The couple had three children. The marriage of Theodor and Julie must be described as tragic. The eldest daughter died of her addiction to morphine, the only son committed suicide. The younger daughter died in Theresienstadt. Julie died in 1907 in the psychiatric clinic of Vienna.

Herzl very soon left his law career and turned to journalism. From 1891 to 1895 he worked as a journalist for the Viennese newspaper „Neue Presse“ in Paris. Due to the increasing anti-Semitism, Herzl believed that the problem of discrimination against the Jews could be removed by a mass conversion to Catholicism. He wrote that he had: … no inhibitions to convert pro forma to Christianity for pushing forward his career and to save his children from discrimination.” In 1893, he even presented plans that had already been worked out. However, he relinquished those plans and believed that his play „The New Ghetto“ (1884) would contribute to mutual tolerance between Christians and Jews. The Dreyfus affair (1884), which ended ignominiously with the public degradation of Captain Dreyfus in January 1885, had a strong impact on his further activities.

From then on he regarded his time in Paris and his experiences there as a turning point in his life. As a journalist, he had followed the Dreyfus trial, which was influenced by anti-Semitism and based on false evidence, and came to the realization that a new task was imposed on him: the salvation of European Jews and their coming home to their own state.

He wrote his book „The Jewish State“ in the last two months of his stay in Paris. In writing this book he relied on himself and – that is how it surely can be formulated – his exaggerated self-esteem. Had he not been so convinced that everything he started would lead to a positive ending, he would never have dared to engage in this project. However, he wrote full of zest, without first reading the writings of the great Jewish enlightener Moses Hess, those of Nathan Birnbaum, who introduced the concept of „political Zionism“, or of Leon Pinsker, who rejected the idea of assimilation and instead promoted Jewish emancipation and the „creation of a Jewish nationality“. It was only much later that he admitted that he would never have begun the project of the „Jewish State“ if he had been familiar with these writings.


However, he created a kind of guide with very practical instructions for the organization and structure of the state that was to be created. As an Austro-Hungarian good food was probably one of his passions.

In order to prevent the immigrants from giving up any popular food, and referring to the fact that food had been a disaster for the Israelites during their wanderings in the desert and should not be repeated, he wrote: „During the immigration, one has to respect local customs. We don’t dislike salty sticks, beer, coffee, meat as we know it, etc.. Moses forgot to take with him the meat-pots of Egypt. We will not.”

Herzl tried to present and commend his idea of the Jewish national state in Palestine to a large audience at the First Zionist World Congress. It was to be held in Munich. But the Bavarian metropolis refused. The German Rabbinical Conference was afraid that a commitment of the Jews to a Jewish state would weaken the loyalty of the Jews to Germany. It was not until 1861 that the Jews Edict (Judenedikt) of 1813 was abolished, which restricted freedom of establishing a business and the right to exercise a profession. This was perhaps not a completely absurd thought.

And so Basel came to be the host of the 1st Zionist World Congress from 29 to 31 August 1897. The gentlemen appeared, as instructed, in tailcoats and white shirts, the ladies in an elegant dress, without being entitled to vote.

Shortly before his death, Theodor Herzl visited Pope Pius X. He wanted to inspire him with the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine and ask for his support in this project. Pius X rejected this request. He could not prevent the Jews from moving to Palestine, but could never sanction it. Jerusalem was sanctified by Jesus Christ. And since the Jews had not acknowledged the Christian God and Jesus Christ, he, as head of the church, could not recognize the Jews.

Herzl died on 3rd July 1904 in Erdlach on the Rax. He was first buried in the Döblingen cemetery. On August 14, 1949, the coffins of Theodor Herzl and those of his parents were transferred to Jerusalem and were interred on Mount Herzl, named after him. In 2006 the coffins of his eldest daughter and his son, and in 2007 the coffin of his only grandchild, were also buried there.

On May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister, read the Declaration of Independence. It contained the following words: „In 1897, at the summons of the spiritual father of the Jewish State, Theodore Herzl, the First Zionist Congress convened and proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country. This right was recognized in the Balfour Declaration of 2nd November, 1917, and was re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations which, in particular, gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and Eretz-Israel and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home.

(…) The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights for all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the holy places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”


Theodor Herzl was not able to see the fulfillment of his prophetic dream. He was a man of great vision. Just like David Ben Gurion. And just like Donna Gracia Nasi, even if her plans failed to come to fruition in the end.

©esther scheiner, israel

©Translations international, Herzliya

Corporal Gaya, Commander of a Campaign


Gaya Bertele is the name of a famous pastry shop in Petach Tikva, near Tel Aviv. Many of the cakes produced and offered here have a touch of „homemade cake from Germany“ combined with a touch of Israeli color. Cross-over pastry. The owner of this pastry paradise is Hans Bertele. The name sounds German. And indeed, he is.

photo credit: http://www.rol.co.il/sites/gaia/

The very fact that Hans has been living as a Jew in Israel for many years was not something the fairy, who stood at his cradle, could have prophesied. Had he gone in the footsteps of his father, he would now be a staunch German, who would possibly take part in all anti-Israel demos in Germany. And who would vote next month for the AfD party [a rightist nationalist party].

Hans was born towards the end of the Second World War to a Christian family. Hans had six siblings. When one of his brothers was almost 16 years old, he was drafted as an assistant anti-aircraft gunner and after a month found himself in British captivity. He was part of Hitler’s last attempt to win the war, which had already been lost, at all costs. A second brother was a pilot who was shot down. Another brother still lives in Germany. The brothers are in touch, but the one in Germany is very anti-Israeli. He has never visited Israel and refuses to do so. He phones and talks to the family regularly and although he should know better, he believes in the one-sided distorted image of Israel, as presented by the media.

His father, Johann Bertele, was a diehard National Socialist. He lived and worked for his conviction to strengthen the cruel ideology of the Nazis. He was rewarded with the post of mayor in a small town in southern Germany. And he proved himself loyal by keeping the place „judenrein“ [free of Jews] and delivering to the Nazi minions any non-loyal persons. In his opinion, his son Hans recalls, „all Jews are pigs, deceptive and greedy.“ Even after the war he did not change his attitude. On the contrary, he longed for the National Socialist period, and until his death he continued to support the theory of races.

Hans Bertele felt uneasy. With his family, with Germany and as a German. He suffered from the cool behavior of so many people, a cold he also felt from his family. The fussiness, the pernickety sticking to the rules. He wanted to get out. Leave this environment and go away as far as possible to decide about his life by himself.

Hans decided to become a confectioner and signed an employment contract with Hilton International, which had two hotels in Israel at that time, one in Tel Aviv and the other, which no longer exists, in Jerusalem. The 1960s, with the exception of the Kibbutz programs, were still problematic for German-Israeli relations. Officially, diplomatic relations were established in 1965, but before that there had already been several unofficial political contacts. Hans went to Israel and experienced that people treated him with a certain degree of reserve. Furthermore, the correct statement that he was Swiss did not help to overcome the gap. The missing Swiss-German accent betrayed him. At the time, Israel was not as open to Germans as it is today. The wounds of the Holocaust had not yet begun to heal. Most families had been victims of the persecution and had relatives who had been murdered. People who had died only because they were Jews.

But Hans did not give up. Israel became more and more the country in which he found his true self. The typical Israeli, called Sabra, is said to be as prickly as the Sabra cactus, but also as sweet on the inside. The prickly character of the people born in Israel appealed to him. The mixture of seriousness and ease, the love of their country, Israel – a country defended by every member of the Jewish population. That was what he wanted. He wanted to become an Israeli and a Jew.

The way he began then was hard and long. His goal was to be admitted to Judaism. At the age of 26, he completed the process before the Rabbinical Court. A few days later he began his service in the IDF and took part in the Yom Kippur War from 6 to 26 October 1973, which claimed 2656 deaths and 7250 wounded on the Israeli side.

Here in Israel, Hans met his wife Galit. Her grandmother is a Holocaust survivor whose entire family was murdered in Auschwitz. This warm-hearted woman succeeded in doing what many living Holocaust survivors cannot do to this day. She received Hans with open arms. She has never blamed him for what his father had done. Rather, she greatly appreciated the fact that he has chosen the path of straightforwardness, and, above all, she appreciated how strongly he had integrated into Judaism.

Hans, Gaya and Galit, photo credit. Israel breaking News


Gaya Bertele is the name of a young woman. She served with the „Bardelas“ (Cheetah) battalion at the Egyptian border in the desert, the Arava. Bardelas is one of four mixed battalions of the combat corps. As a result of an accident she could no longer work as a group commander and was transferred to the organization center of the battalion.

Gaya is the daughter of Galit and Hans. At school, she heard about the Holocaust, also how the Nazis even attacked Jewish schoolchildren. „But because my grandfather was a Nazi, I have, of course, gained quite different insights. I have heard from my father about the anti-Semitic Nazi ideology. This is what he learned from his father from childhood. Part of my grandfather’s mission was to keep his place “judenrein”. No one who was not 100% Aryan was allowed to live there. That was what my grandfather fought for with all his might. For keeping the race pure and spreading and strengthening the Third Reich.

For Gaya, the fight against racism has top priority. This and the knowledge of the horrors of the Holocaust prompted Gaya to enlist in the combat corps. She wants to contribute actively in protecting her people.

“For me, these are two circles that have united around me. On the one hand, the family of my mother, who belongs to the victim’s side, and on the other hand the family of my father, who belongs to the perpetrator’s side. I have parts of both circles in me. So I protect those people who could not be protected by their families from the Nazis, and at the same time I serve in the army of the people my grandfather hated and wanted to destroy. However, coupled with that, I can continue on my father’s path by following his deep spirituality. That was, after all, the trigger for his joining a foreign people and renouncing the culture in which he grew up.”

photo credit: IDF spokesperson

„My grandfather,“ concluded Gaya, „would turn in his grave if he knew that his son had converted to Judaism and that I am making a career in the IDF. He would totally sever any contact with us. “
© estherscheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya


Jürgen Todenhöfer’s (JT) Mendacious Pacifism



The following text was published by Jürgen Hodentöter (*) on his Facebook page on Sunday, July 23, 2017 at about 8 pm. The same text appeared at about the same time on his homepage as well.

(*)(Todenhöfer – Hodentöter is a play on words, just by twisting and changing some letters of the name Todenhöfer. The medical translation is testicle killer, his aka in German language countries)

Dear friends, no government in the whole world has the right to take away the Muslim Palestinians‘ free access to the Al Aqsa Mosque and to the Dome of the Rock – to „Haram ash-Sharif“, their „Noble Sanctuary“. The symbol of their national and religious dignity. Everything was taken from the Palestinians: their homeland, their freedom, their human rights. Will it soon also include their historical meeting place with God?

I wrote large parts of my book „You Shall Not Kill“ near the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is an appeal to all sides. Beyond the shade of the age-old olive trees, I looked up to the blue sky over the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque – the symbols of Islam, which can be compared only to Mecca and Medina. In the direction of that holy hill which the West and Israel call „The Temple Mount“. Dark clouds are now gathering, because Israel has been incessantly, increasingly, systematically and provocatively grasping at the Muslims‘ holy sites. Can Netanyahu not see the thunderstorm coming? Does he not understand that he has just kicked a humiliated people even deeper into the dust of hopelessness? That the escalating violence is a consequence of the Palestinians‘ complete loss of rights and humiliation? There will be peace in Israel and the occupied territories only if Netanyahu puts an end to Israel’s occupation policy which is in violation of international law. If he respects the Palestinians‘ right to their own State, and their right to free access to „Haram Ash-Sharif“.

Nations of the world, look at that city! Help me defend the rights of the Palestinians. Yours, JT

 It is followed by a picture entitled „To our politicians. Do not leave the Palestinians alone once again“, that shows photos of thousands of Muslims praying outside the Temple Mount. They refused to pass through control through the security gates. At the airport, in train stations, in big malls, as well as in Mecca and Medina, they accept it without any discussion. But not in Israel.


The second photo shows the empty Temple Mount. After the short lock-out of only two days, nobody was refused access, but the Grand Mufti, the Waqf bailiffs and other agitators have called for a boycott, which the Muslims of course followed without any criticism. The third photo shows demonstrators being dispersed by the police. When looking at the picture one immediately notices that Photoshop was used to make it look more dramatic, which is somehow legitimate, isn’t it?

The controls had been put in place after three Muslim terrorists had insidiously attacked and murdered two Druze border policemen. Their weapons had been left beforehand in the Al-Aksa Mosque by an accomplice, as proven by a police surveillance video. They came to kill, to kill Jews.

As did the 20-year old Omar al-Abed, who last Friday, one week after the terror act in Jerusalem, infiltrated a house in Halamish and killed three people. One woman survived and is recovering. Her daughter was able to find shelter with her children. He had also come to kill Jews. Shortly before, he had posted on Facebook:  I have many dreams and aspirations, I hope that with Allah’s help my dreams will come true. I’ve loved life, loved making people smile, but what kind of life is this? They (the Jews) kill our women and young people. They soil Al-Aqsa while we stay asleep.“  (attention, upsetting photos).

Or as happened today, when a 21-year old man living illegally in Israel, stabbed and injured a man. When first questioned by the police he declared: „I did it for Al-Aqsa“. He also came to kill Jews.

How does JT write in his post?: “Because Israel has been incessantly, increasingly, systematically and provocatively grasping at the Muslims‘ holy sites.“ He forgets, as do the Muslims, that in 1967, after reconquering Jerusalem, Israel freely, and as a sign of good will, gave Jordan and the Waqf supreme control of the Temple Mount. Agreements should be respected. Netanyahu knows it, the entire government knows it, and all Israelis know it, though sometimes reluctantly. Consequently, we are certainly trying to avoid a modification of the status quo.

If the numbers are correct, JT’s post received 9,854 likes in the first three hours, it was shared 3,596 times and commented on 514 times. The comments are a mixture of pure antisemitism, strictly right-wing propaganda, left-wing agreement, and – very rarely – defense of Israel.

Screenshot 2017-07-24 10.35.58

JT repeatedly showed himself to be the perfect enemy of Israel. Time and again, he visited Gaza, once with his son, once with his daughter, mostly with his assistant. When allegedly neither Egypt nor Israel allowed him to travel there, he chose a tunnel in Egypt, in order to reach Gaza. Of course, this was filmed and posted in a journalistic manner. One of the best-known pictures from the time after the last Gaza operation shows him amidst the bombed houses. His face is probably creased by sorrow, but we do not see that. He may be smiling, happy to have succeeded his coup. As a perfect director, he shows clean toys that were displayed, as if freshly washed and spotlessly intact.


In the following video, please listen carefully to the text starting at 3:57.

This is the Todenhöfer way, to present his own truth – as the truth.

On March 12, 2016, he wrote in Facebook: „The inhabitants of Gaza live in the biggest concentration camp in the world. Visitors must clench their teeth, so as not to start crying about the level of poverty, suffering and hopelessness. This hypocritical world should be damned! Speaking about human rights but treating people in Gaza like animals; their politicians are too spineless to say that keeping an entire nation in a cage is a crime“.

Originally, his political homeland was the extreme right wing of the CSU party, he was a member of the Bundestag from 1972 to 1990 – a hardliner with ultra-conservative opinions. From 1987 to 2008, he was a member of the board of the conservative right-wing Burda Publishing House. Since the beginning of this year, he is the editor of the left-wing weekly, „Der Freitag“ (whose publisher is Jakob Augstein). This political balancing act is expressed in his being non-committal, in his deep-felt desire to serve all his followers – those to the right as well as those to the left.

In 2014, he traveled to Afghanistan, lived in Mosul for 10 days and came back to Germany unharmed, which is actually impossible. He was promised security by the ISIS leadership, which is unusual with this band of murderers. In Mosul, he interviewed Abu Qatadah, one of the ISIS extremists. He is German and was born in Solingen as Christian Emde. That was where he was living until he encountered the entourage of the extremist preacher of hate, Pierre Vogel, leaving Germany for Syria in 2012. The interview was absurd. JT gladly leaves the stage to the ISIS propagandist. Nothing much new is learned. Still JT describes him in the video as: „a highly intelligent dogmatist, ideologue, well read, absolutely brutal, completely unteachable and 100% convinced that he is doing the right thing.“ How he could observe that in such a short interview is incomprehensible to me. This again is the truth according to JT. „For me, Abu Qatadah’s ideas have nothing to do with the merciful Islam represented by 99.9 percent of our Muslim co-citizens“. As written on his Facebook page.

JT is always rushing between the war zones of the Near and Middle East. Sometimes he spends the income from the sales of one of his books here, sometimes there. Cameras are always present.

His perception of events becomes increasingly more vague. When Hamas continually puts explosives on the back of animals and uses them as armament, JT uses this for the story of Israel’s disproportional battle against poor unarmed people.

He generously grants Israel the right to defend itself „against the senseless shootings of Hamas and other resistance groups“, thereby serving the old stereotype that Hamas‘ weapons are nothing more than fireworks good for New Year’s Eve. Still, those „fireworks” have meanwhile reached a range of over 100 km! And in the meantime, it is well known that Hamas is not a resistance group. Hamas is a terrorist organization whose aim is the destruction of Israel.

How cynical JT’s advice to trust our Iron Dome and leave our shelters that are 15 seconds away. He says no other measures need to be taken.

If you ever wondered what the tunnels in Gaza are used for, here comes the truth according to JT!

„The people of Gaza have started digging tunnels into the neighboring countries like moles, in order to inhale freedom for a few days or a few hours, from time to time,” he writes. „So as not to always live like subhuman beings, they have gone underground.“

JT should not only be banned from traveling to Gaza through Egypt or Israel. He should be issued a life-long ban on entry and residence. We most certainly do not need people like him here.

This is a most interesting article from last week. Muslim self-racism: The ‘low expectations syndrome’


©Esther Scheiner, Israel

©translated by: Translation International, Herzliya

In the country’s south – our desert is alive




The Negev desert covers about 60% of the State’s territory. Nevertheless, only about 10% of the population live in this barren triangle between the Mediterranean in the west, from about Ashkelon in the north, to the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi in the in the east ,to Eilat in the south.

The biggest city is Beer-Sheva, which should be called the capital of the largest region of Israel. With over 200,000 inhabitants it is one of the country’s most important cities. In the course of the last decades, Beer-Sheva has succeeded in developing into a vibrant city. An industrial zone was established in the south. Ben Gurion University of the Negev is one of Israel’s most modern universities. The city’s goal is to attain 500,000 to 600,000 inhabitants. The size increase is no problem since there are practically no inhabited areas in the surrounding region, and only the south is to be reserved for industry.

Parts of the urban area go back to the 4th millennium BCE, as witnessed by excavations. The town was named Beer-Sheva after Abraham and Abimelech, King of Gerar, concluded an agreement:

Genesis 21:27 -31

27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and they two made a covenant. 28 And Abraham set seven ewe-lambs of the flock by themselves. 29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham: ‚What mean these seven ewe-lambs which thou hast set by themselves?‘ 30 And he said: ‚Verily, these seven ewe-lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that it may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.‘ 31 Wherefore that place was called Beer-sheba; because there they swore both of them.

Judges 20.1 mentions Beer-Sheva as the Israelites‘ southern residential border: Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was assembled as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD at Mizpah.


The northern part of the Negev desert can be considered as being quite fertile. A thin layer of loess, makes it possible to maintain permanent agriculture. By means of targeted and gentle drip irrigation, and the use of desalinated water, the dry desert is being pushed back ever further to the south. Beer-Sheva enjoys more than 200 mm annual precipitation.



It is at the edge of the dry desert, which becomes an extreme desert south of Sde Boker, the old age refuge of David Ben Gurion and his wife Paula. Eilat, Israel’s most southerly town, gets only 30 mm rain, if any. Flooding like last winter happens once in a century.


To the south of the city, Bedouin settlements are coming closer to the outskirts. The industrial zone and the desert natives are struggling for room to expand. 34% of the population in the southern district are Bedouins, who have been living here for centuries. The once nomadic people have gradually become only semi-nomads. Traditionally the tribes live from livestock breeding, though their own nutrition is mainly vegetarian. New additional occupations added are weaving and embroidery for women and jobs in tourism for men. In the 1960s, the State of Israel began attempts to have the Bedouins settle in towns that were built especially for them. This planning may have been well meant but did not suit their traditions. In the triangle between Arad, Dimona and Beer-Sheva, there are still 35 unauthorized Bedouin settlements. Regretfully there are often ugly scenes, when bulldozers come to demolish the sheet metal huts. During recent years the Bedouins‘ acceptance of the new towns slowly increased. When driving along the Bedouin triangle one can see how clean the new settlements look and how in the smaller settlements, as well, they make all efforts not to miss the connection to modern life. Solar collectors assure the electricity supply. Solar boilers guarantee warm water around the clock. Only water itself has to be brought by tanker to the unauthorized settlements, since Israel does not connect them to the communal infrastructure.

There are always NGO activists on location to document what is happening. Time and again loud complaints are made against Israel. Photographs posted on the Internet by the NGOs show an ugly picture of Israel. The fact that there is always another, pleasanter but untold, side, is due to the very nature of the anti-Israel NGOs.

But why did the Bedouins – even during the Ottoman rule – refuse to have their land registered? Although they could see what was happening during the Ottoman period and became first semi-nomadic and later sedentary, they never had documents for their claim to the land. Detractors say that they wanted to avoid paying land taxes. If that is indeed so, they were given bad advice.

Bedouins belong to Israel like any other citizens. They are fully integrated in the IDF, but as volunteers, because they are formally exempt from military service. Thanks to their life in the desert and their special semi-nomadic way of life, they usually serve as trackers. They are simply unbeatable in that field.

7897898010014879801077noThe extent of the Bedouin integration into Israeli life is described in a recently published newspaper article. A Bedouin couple and their three children have been accepted as full-fledged members of a traditional Kibbutz in the north of the country. That would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.

But are the Bedouins the only desert inhabitants who may claim that they have been there „forever“?


„Forever“ is what UNESCO has notoriously been trying to use against Israel. No connection to Jerusalem, none to the Temple Mount, and the latest: none to Hebron. Though we read in Genesis, 23:15: 15 ‚My lord, hearken unto me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.‘ 16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the hearing of the children of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. 17 So the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the border thereof round about, were made sure 18 unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. 19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre–the same is Hebron–in the land of Canaan. 20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying-place by the children of Heth.

Whose testimony that Hebron is the Jewish Heritage par excellence can be worth more than that of our patriarch Abraham? The Tora’s stories about Abraham point to its creation around 2000 BCE.

Around 1000 BCE, in King Solomon’s time, Israelite tribes were living in the Negev Desert. This was proven by the excavation of small settlements around Beer-Sheva.

Around the 6th century BCE, the Nabateans originating from Arabia conquered the region and expelled the Israelites. The Nabatean presence is certain from 312 BCE to 328 BCE. Where they came from is only surmised. What is certain is that around 500 BCE they also settled in what is now Petra and in Edom, to the south of the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan.

The Sicilian historian Dioderus has described the two attempts to destroy the Nabateans in a battle near Gaza in 312 BCE or at least to expel them. In both battles the attackers were beaten and destroyed. Dioderus describes them as follows: „The Arabs have no fixed houses and have neither agricultural nor horticultural activity; they let their camels and muttons graze in the desert which also serves as their safe haven when enemy armies approach; as only the Nabateans know the few water sources and are able to survive in the desert; they also know how to build wells and covered cisterns; their income comes mainly from the sale of asphalt and the trade with incense, myrrh and rare spices that originate from „Arabia Eudaemon“; occasionally they undertake raids into neighboring regions“.


Elsewhere, he writes: „They lead a marauding life, robbing the neighboring countries on their raids. […] They plant neither corn nor other fruit bearing trees, nor do they drink wine or build any houses. If anyone breaches those rules, his punishment is death. […] Though there are many other Arab tribes using the desert as grazing fields, they are much richer than the others, despite being not many more than 10,000 people, since many of them are used to carry incense and myrrh as well as selected spices to the sea.“ 

Around 150 BCE the tribes united to become a kingdom with its capital in Petra in present-day Jordan. The reason why they were able to survive for such a long time in the inhospitable desert is due, among others ,to their pioneering invention: flash flood irrigation. In a sophisticated system of supply and draining ducts, walls and trenches, as well as adequate terraces, rain water (when it does rain) is collected in the channels. This system ensures that the water soaks the layer of loess or sand instead of simply flowing away. Once the soil is drenched the remaining water is conducted to the next lower terrace. In good years, this makes rich harvests possible. On flatter terrain, the „Limnic system“ was used. In this system small plots are carefully walled so as to create a kind of basin, which is deeper at the middle, thus collecting the overflow. Drinking water and water for other uses were pumped, sometimes from substantial depths, near the settlements.

In the 1950s, biologist Michael Evenari and his team discovered the remains of this antique irrigation system. At the suggestion of Michael’s wife Lieselotte, the team started the reconstruction of a Nabatean farm in 1959. In 1960 they were able to bring in their first good harvest. Clearly, it is true all over the globe: behind any successful man stands a smart wife.

With this security, the Nabateans were able to increase their wealth. The „incense road“ led from Yemen to Gaza in the west and Damascus in the east. Some of the highly coveted wares that were painstakingly listed by Plinius the elder were cardamom, myrrh, incense.


Over a 2,400 km road, traders wanted to be sure that their caravans would reach their destination safely. This security was assured by the Nabateans: in easy daily marches of 35 km, travelers could find either a camel station or a fortified town. Between the different stops there were observations posts, securing the caravans‘ route. But then as today, security had its price: fodder, water, sleeping places, food supply, custom duties, payments for guards and their assistants, everything influenced the final price at destination.

Nowadays the ruined towns of Avdat, Mamshit, Shivta, Nitzana, Chalutza and Rehovot tell us the story of the flourishing Nabatean period in the Negev desert. As was often the case in this region, earthquakes were what put an end to life in those historic places.


Whoever walks through the ruins on a hot summer day contemplating their history, can perhaps feel how life changed here when the caravans came and the lanes and squares filled with loud and colorful life. Perhaps they can even smell all those exotic foreign delicacies that were stored here securely overnight.

In the meantime Avdat has been wonderfully restored, and one can truly recognize history here. In Shivta, the second town we visited, there is still a lot to be done, but buildings can already be recognized which are worth reconstructing.



© esther scheiner, Israel

© translated by: Translation International, Herzliya




Enough is enough – Dayenu!



I just saw the picture of Staff Sgt. Maj. Ha’il Satawi holding his now two weeks old son in his arms. The picture had been taken at the hospital, a short time after birth. A picture filled with tenderness, love, protection and trust.



I imagine Ha’il checking on his baby son when he comes home from work at night, and dreaming about his future.

The picture made me furious and terribly sad.

Nothing will be as he wished. All plans made by Ha’il and his wife were destroyed the day before yesterday, in a brutal act of terror. His parents, his wife and his three brothers must learn how to live with that fact. Ha’il began his military service with the border police and afterwards, in 2012, he started his regular service with the unit in charge of security on the Temple Mount.

Staff Sgt. Maj. Kamil Snaan and Staff Sgt. Maj. Ha’il Satawi

The second victim, Staff Sgt. Maj. Kamil Snaan, the younger of the two, was not yet married. An engagement party for him and his girlfriend had been planned this week as a surprise. His sudden death is certainly traumatic for the young woman. Nor are his parents, his brother and his three sisters able to grasp the unthinkable. Kamil had been serving with the unit for only seven months.

They were comrades in arms in the service of the State of Israel. Their daily task was to look after visitors to the Old City and in particular visitors to the Temple Mount. They performed their work with prudence and extreme concentration. The service near the Temple Mount is particularly hard. Tensions can erupt at any time and turn into uncontrollable, excessive violence.

IDF soldiers with Israeli and Druze flag

Both murder victims were Druze. The relationship between Druze and Jews is good. The Druze refused to be excluded from the  military service and serve either with the IDF, but also with the Border Police. Until a short time ago the IDF had a Druze Battalion, but following the soldiers‘ request, it was abolished and integrated into another battalion.

Both murdered policemen were interred on Friday afternoon in their home village. Both were living in a mixed Jewish-Arab-Druze village in the Galilee. Colleagues, friends and politicians of all parties participated in the moving ceremonies.

One of the distinguishing features of Israel is that whenever a soldier or policeman is murdered on the job, which regrettably is no seldom occurrence, no friend, colleague or politician will refrain from participating in the funeral, even if Shabbat starts two hours later.

There is a video that shows the attack. Ha’il and his colleague are sitting, relaxed, at their guard post, the obligatory Styrofoam container with cold water nearby. It is Friday morning; it is still early, around seven a.m. And it is hot. A few hard hours stretch out before them, but then they go home. Suddenly there are murderers – terrorists. They come from the direction of the Temple Mount, taking into account that just before they storm the narrow passage a man walks towards them.

They attack the two policemen insidiously, and severely wound them. A third policeman is lightly wounded. The two severely wounded men are given first aid on the spot, but soon after they arrive at the hospital, they die from their wounds.

The attackers flee, seeking out protection on the Temple Mount.  They fall, one of them stands up and tries attacking policemen again, but now he is neutralized – as one can clearly hear – by well-aimed fire. Should additional policemen have died instead of the three terrorists? The video immediately finds its way to the Internet.

The police promptly sealed off the Temple Mount. There would be no prayers there this Friday. It was not harassment of Muslims that made this procedure necessary. It was the concern as to whether additional weapons had been smuggled on to the Temple Mount, as was obviously the case here.

Furious Muslims who still believed they were right, conducted their Friday prayers on the parking lot next to the southern Lions Gate. The Temple Mount will presumably be reopened to the public on Sunday.


Meanwhile, the Supreme Mufti of Jerusalem seems to have been running around the Temple Mount like crazy in the hope of finding some loophole allowing him to enter the plateau. Instead, he was arrested and freed only after several hours with a cautionary fine of NIS 10,000.  All the time he had been asking, snarling, demanding and requiring that the Temple Mount be immediately reopened to all Muslims.

Jordan protested and demanded the immediate re-opening of the Temple Mount, neither was Abbas able to refrain from adding his veto; the Arab League protested vehemently and warned not to change the „status quo“ on the Temple Mount (which had already been promised by PM Netanyahu). But they did not condemn the terrorist act. One can only be curious as to when the UN will say something.

The three terrorists come from the Town of Um-el-Fahm in the center of Israel, which is known as the nucleus of Hamas terror in the country. They were Israeli citizens. The traditional tent which Arabs erect for mourning ceremonies, was destroyed on Saturday morning by policemen. That is as it should be.

Yesterday UN Watch spread this article via Twitter: http://www.timesofisrael.com/the-first-medic-to-respond-to-the-temple-mount-terror-attack-was-muslim-heres-his-story/.  That’s how human beings should be.


© for the pictures: www.ynetnews.com (13–17 July 2017)

© esther scheiner, Israel

© translated by: Translation International, Herzliya

Chosen and excluded, Part III (BDS, Judea and Samaria, Gaza)


1. Part : BDS

BDS has fought for years worldwide for an economic, cultural and academic boycott, the withdrawal of investments and sanctions against Israel. States, businesses, academics, artists, NGOs and many others have joined this campaign.

Screenshot 2017-06-13 21.27.44

BDS is also supported by church representatives from Judea and Samaria and also from Israel. In the Kairos paper, the Ecclesiastic Manifesto, Palestinian terror is declared a resistance. In many forums and commentary columns of well-known newspapers, this absolutely false definition serves as an argument for homicide. In this manifesto all the blame for the conflict is attributed to the Israelis. Christian communities from all over the world have joined the movement without questioning.

In Paris, a group of highly motivated followers of the boycotts gather. As always, most of the activists are female, elderly women or female students, only a few are Muslims. The statement on their shirts is this time „Free Palestine“. „You do not always have to agree with Israel, its politics or PM Benjamin Netanyahu. But if in France pro-Palestinian groups with cameras go into a supermarket and destroy Israeli products before all those present and tell the clientele that they are not to buy Israeli products, what happens? Then an indecisive person, who has something against Jews, no matter what reason, he just does not like them, one evening watches the clip on YouTube. And then he waits before the synagogue for young people and attacks them. Because he saw it on the Internet and thinks „I could also attack a Jew“ That is bad!


2. Part:  Ariel, Samaria

Screenshot 2017-06-13 21.44.33
Here is the plant of Lipski Plastic, a plant where everything is produced that seems useful for the modern, plastic-oriented household. Until the final decision, how Judea and Samaria will one day be „divided“, the Israeli government has given Palestinian workers the same rights and duties as the Israelis. Rashid Mrar, a long-time employee of the plant, stresses that the entrepreneur actually does not care where he produces his goods, whether at the current headquarters of the plant or within the „Green Line“. If he has to move because he can not sell anything from here because of the boycott, he will move. The Palestinian workers will lose. „In thirty years of working with Israelis, I have never experienced anything bad. Every day people come here and ask for work. If I worked with Palestinians, I would not even get 2.000 shekels, I get 9.000 here, that’s a big difference.“ Yehuda Cohen, the owner, adds: „90 people work with me, 50 of them are Palestinians. There are Palestinians and Israelis among the leaders and the workers. It all depends on the person. In 2014 my son was in Gaza and my workers knew that. It was a difficult situation. On the one hand they see how we care for them, see that we get enough orders, and on the other hand I am at war with their brothers. But they also know that in my village many rockets fell, four houses were hit. (…) They all know how complicated the situation is, but here in the company we feel no tensions. (….) We are here an island of normality, that should be clear to us. We should consider how we can transfer this normality to other areas.“

30.000 Palestinians work here in almost 900 Israeli companies. BDS wants it to end. Soda stream gave in, 750 Palestinian workers lost their job.



3. Part: Gaza
There are many distorting and false associations on Gaza: concentration camps, open air jail, child murder, water deficiency.


The entry into Gaza does not pose any problems for journalists. The first part, a building similar to a check-in hall in the airport, where the Israeli controls take place, is skipped. It is also boring. A person whose papers are OK, and anyone else who is inconspicuous, can go through within 10 minutes at the most and can go on the pedestrian path to Gaza. The Fatah control is easy as well. More problematic is the last control, by the Hamas. There one is scrutinized very carefully look and whoever is not welcome, can turn back immediately.
Some facts about Gaza
Life expectancy 74 years, higher than in Egypt, Ukraine and 125 other states.

Child mortality is at the level of Turkey and lower than in 97 other states.

On 360 sq. km live 1.800.000 people, that is 5.000 inhabitants per sq. km, in Paris there are 21,000.

Screenshot 2017-06-13 21.05.08

Hamas does not want peace with Israel, Hamas wants the whole country and, if possible, clean of Jews. Ziad al-Zaza, a high-ranking Hamas member, smiles at the camera: „Jerusalem must become capital of the Palestinian state.“ All of Jerusalem?? „Yes, all of Jerusalem.“ Any questions? How extraordinarily charming they can smile, these well-groomed gentlemen from Hamastan with the finely cut five-day beard. They undoubtedly know what they want!

On the beach of Gaza City, they line up as a pearl chain, the villas of the rich and the beautiful. Where do they get the money to afford this luxury? World Vision is suspected of redirecting € 45,000,000 from the relief funds to Hamas.

Screenshot 2017-06-13 21.06.57

Of the 10.000.000 Palestinians worldwide, about 7.000.000 are considered refugees. Since 1948 the population has increased tenfold! That is unique. More than half the population of Gaza is under 25.


Screenshot 2017-06-13 21.09.02In Gaza, too, are academically educated young people who are willing to talk. There are four universities. One student can hardly help laughing. „Yes, the financial grant arrives. It comes from Europe, sometimes from Qatar, sometimes from the USA. I saw it on TV. But I have never seen anything of it, by Allah. Everyone stuffs their pockets and the people sleep.“ Another looked at the dilemma from another angle. „I know that a lot of Palestinians would contradict me here, but I think two states are appropriate for both sides. Part of the money lands in the pockets of other people. And you do not know where it really is going to. (…) I can only say that there is corruption here.

Screenshot 2017-06-13 21.11.23

Do female students have different opinions? „I think before we look at people abroad, we have to find fault with ourselves. We urgently need a fundamental renewal. (…) It is a big problem to only talk about Hamas, or about Jihad, or all the others here in Gaza.“ „I admit that the government is responsible for what is happening here. When they took the country, everything was blocked. Nothing has opened for us.“

This is obviously what Fatah, Hamas and the international community have wanted. The status of refugees is passed on only to Palestinians. The number of Palestinian refugees has been increasing worldwide for 70 years. They are not integrated because they are the pledge promising Western financial aid and the political claim to additional territories.

It is astonishing that the Gazans are relatively open in the street, or is this allowed as Hamas propaganda? To admit a bit and then immediately slip into the double victim role? „The Western financial aid arrives and is well kept here. But it does not arrive with the needy. It is clear that there are some transgressions. Only about 90% is implemented.“ „The solution is that a state is founded, that the border crossings are opened, that we finally see the world. We live very poorly, we vegetate. How can this happen? The great leaders play with us, they play against each other, that is the situation.“

Without being filmed by the camera, a man said: „The West needs to stop all financial aid to Gaza. Then the Hamas regime will collapse. Even if it would take years.”


© esther scheiner, israel

© translated by: Translation International, Herzlyia