As you may have heard, Israel’s Mediterranean beaches have been devastated by a crude oil spill. The environmental damage is severe, the beaches closed, and there’s a ban imposed on seafood from the Med. In short, it’s a disaster.

Who is responsible? Well, as I type this there are several tankers under suspicion and presumably at some point we’ll be told the culprit who leaked the oil. But it turns out there is another culprit closer to home.

The Times of Israel reports (here):

“Way back in 2008, the government decided to formulate a National Plan for Preparedness and Response to Marine Oil Pollution Incidents. A cabinet decision, made in June 2008 when Ehud Olmert was prime minister, ordered that within three to five years from January 1, 2009, the ministry would fill staff positions and acquire all the equipment and sailing vessels it needed to prevent oil contaminations at sea.”

You can guess what’s coming, can’t you?

“The ministry was instructed to discuss with the Treasury any funding needs it could not meet on its own, in the run-up to the 2009 budget. And the environmental protection minister at the time (Gideon Ezra of the now-defunct Kadima party) was ordered to ensure that the plan was enshrined in law, along with the requirements of the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation, to which Israel is a signatory.

That sounded positive, didn’t it?


But the plan never made it into the law books. And the Finance Ministry effectively blocked the transfer of additional funds.

So, there was a plan, but it was never put into action. I’m sure we’ll get some waffle, but the simple truth is that our government failed us. Whether they were lazy, incompetent, or didn’t care about the issue is unknown. But the result is. A quick trip down to the beach – but be careful you don’t breathe in too many of the fumes – is all that’s needed.

According to Wikipedia, these are the responsible ministers:

I anticipate each will have a reason for public consumption as to why the plan couldn’t be executed. Perhaps the reason will include (other than for Gila Gamliel) the excuse that they were just about to take action when their term in power ended. Right…

But in the time we’ve had six or seven Ministers of Environmental Protection, we’ve had one Prime Minister.

One man, in power all this time, who surely could have enacted the plan, who could have put it into force. But Bibi didn’t. It’s almost as if the most important thing on Bibi’s mind was staying in power rather than doing the best for the country and its people.

If Bibi were a responsible adult, he would resign. This incident alone should shame him into falling on his sword. It won’t. He has to go.

Once upon a time, twice upon a time…

This is the large poster outside a new building development in Ra’anana.

The Hebrew text on the right side translates to:

“Launch of the second boutique building in the heart of Raanana”

My inquisitive nature wants to know where the first is. I guess it’s already built and fully sold.

Meantime, did you notice the glorious strapline (or motto) in (sort of) English:

I suppose I should wonder what happened to “Time one live.” Is it a band? Is it a motto? No, it’s some silly bugger who thinks he knows English.

Really? In a city overflowing with native English speakers, a commercial undertaking doesn’t have the ability to get a simple three word motto right? It’s awful. But it’s far from unusual. By way of protesting, I’m refusing to even look at the show flat. (Ha!)


Rejoice, for the broken state of Palestinian politics is about to be fixed.

The Guardian reports (as told by Reuters) today:

Rejoice, we are told, for Hamas and Fatah have resolved their differences.

Strangely, there’s no mention of the previous announcements about such agreements. The previous twelve instances (at least) when Hamas and Fatah had sorted everything out. See here. The previous instances that came to nothing. Why will this one be any different? In short, it probably won’t. Instead it’s more likely the Palestinian leadership will continue its kleptocratic rule. But at last they won’t have to worry about the Guardian criticizing them.

Cowardice and the Final Lockdown

Times of Israel reports:

Government ministers voted Tuesday night in favor of tightening the current nationwide lockdown by shuttering schools and nonessential businesses for two full weeks, with the aim of cutting rising daily infections that have passed 8,000 a day.

The increased measures will come into force at midnight between Thursday and Friday and last for at least 14 days, according to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Health Ministry.

This lockdown underlines the government’s failure to deal with disease and, in particular, their cowardice. Their appointment as coronavirus czar, Ronnie Gamzu, put forward a traffic light scheme that was to be backed up with closure of the red areas – those with high levels of infection and positive checks. Then it became clear that most – not all – of the red areas were Haredi or Arab. Both communities pushed back against these closures. The Haredi threatened Bibi’s rule. That was it. The government caved.

In the weeks leading up to the supposed final lockdown just announced, there were reports that 25% of the positive tests were in the Haredi community. Arab communities were also not doing so well. And what measures were implemented there? None. It’s widely known that in the Haredi communities, observance of the social distancing, mask wearing, and hygiene regulations was not universal. Far from it. Schools operated when they should have been closed. Members of the community were even told, allegedly, not to report as being ill to keep the numbers lower. Not all Haredim were so stupid and selfish, but too many were. In the Arab communities, some continued to have large gatherings for weddings which might as well have been called ‘Get your coronavirus here’ parties! Not all Arab communities were so stupid and selfish. But too many were. Now, the whole country is paying the price. To be clear, plenty outside these communities were equally stupid and selfish, but at least with proper track and trace and enforcement and closure, these would have been identified and dealt with too.

We cannot be certain, but if the focus of the government had ben about fighting the coronavirus and not fighting to keep Bibi in power, Gamzu’s scheme would have been fully implemented and there probably wouldn’t have been any need for the current or the final lockdown. Personally, I’ll get through it. But I wonder how many will suffer unnecessarily? How many more workers will lose their jobs? How many businesses will never recover? How many people’s mental health will be damaged, perhaps irreparably?

Bibi, this is on your head. I hope the voters remember your cowardice when it comes round to election time. As for your fellow Likudniks, they are no less guilty.

Vaccination? You bet!

Susan and I tried to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as soon as Maccabi – our Health Fund – told us we were eligible. After a false start when only Tel Aviv was on offer as a place to be inoculated, we secured a slot in Petach Tikva. (Much more convnient.)

How was it? Great. We turned up and in the time it took the front office guy to print us out a ticket for the (non-existent) queue, slots opened up for us and were duly inoculated. In and out in ten minutes or so. Quite an impressive performance by Maccabi.

One witticism doing the rounds gives you a bit of a peek into current Israeli life: can we please get whoever is organizing the vaccinations to be put in charge of the post office?

So that was Chanukah that was

For me, Chanukah was over almost before it started. Definitely a sign of getting old.

With large gatherings off the agenda due to the coronavirus, we had a somewhat smaller first night lighting the menorah event, though do not worry as there were more than enough latkes and donuts to go around!

There were 1,001 online Chanukah events, but given that I spend most of the working day in front of a computer, I generally stay away from such offerings. Susan participated in an online quiz event for the shul. And there was one exception that we both took part in as Susan and I were the featured guests in a sort of foreside chat with Rabbi Moshe Rubin, our former leader in Glasgow. It was great to catch up, even fleetingly, with old familiar faces. Apparently we ruled ourselves out of jobs in the Jewish Agency Aliyah Department with our full and frank answers! However, those who were listening carefully will recall that we both stressed living in Israel was worth the effort. We are grateful we have a very good life here. (Even in these challenging times.)

More Maskless Masses

This is a follow up to Thursday’s post.

On Friday, I went in to Tel Aviv. While a lot of people were wearing masks, in some areas many were not. For example, Kikar Dizengoff and HaBimah were crowded with many groups of people most of whom were maskless. It’s almost as if they weren’t taking the situation seriously. I hope there isn’t a surge in infections in Tel Aviv.


The Man (Not) In the Mask

Ra’anana, 3 December 2020

On the walk back from the office today, I saw this individual coming towards me, pushing an empty stroller. He wasn’t walking quickly. He wasn’t exercising. He wasn’t wearing a mask. There was no mask dangling from either ear, either hand or cuff, nor tied in a knot on the stroller. He was maskless. (My spellchecker rejects ‘maskless’ but I’ve left it in as being the best description.)

As he was just about to pass me, I asked him – politely – where was his mask. His reaction was to ignore me. When I repeated the question, while still walking straight ahead, he turned his head away from me. No explanation. No answer (And no mask.) I made one last attempt to communicate with him, but his walls of ignorance were up and fully engaged.

So, I turned towards him as he passed by and took his picture.

It’s not a great picture; I think he speeded up to get away from me and I had no intention of running after him. However, the side view and the distinctive coloring/logo at the back of the hoodie and the stroller should be enough.

If you know him, the next time you see him, gently remind him we are all in this together. If you prefer me to give him the message, send me his contact details.