Ra’anana land in demand

From Globes:

“After many years in which the Israel Land Authority (ILA) issued no tenders for high-density construction in Ra’anana, tenders were closed yesterday for the construction of 188 new housing units on four lots in the Neot Sadeh neighborhood in Ra’anana. Competition for each lot was intense, with an average of nine bids each.

An analysis of the entire tender shows that the average value of the land, including development costs, is NIS 827,000 per land per housing unit. Neot Sadeh is a new neighborhood in northern Ra’anana located near Weizmann St. and the industrial zone. ILA will receive over NIS 150 million from the winning bidders for the four plots just for the land.”

On these figures, and with a back of a fag packet calculation, that’s a base cost before construction of around 138,000 pounds (Sterling) per unit. Or about $213,000 (US). I dread to think what the sale prices are likely to be.

To put matters in perspective, there’s a three block development near to us in Ra’anana that completed about three months ago. By my reckoning, there has been an average of one owner moving in per month… that’s roughly three or four flats occupied out of sixty. The word is that the price rose too far, and people dropped out. However, there’s no sign of any concerted sales effort. For example, the sales office has gone. And yet, other developments continue, on top of which there is this release of new land.

Every so often, there’s talk of a property bubble. So far, each time it has been talked about, that is all that has happened. Just talk. Presumably the buyers (and developers) of the new land are optimistic that if there is a bubble, it will not burst. But that optimism, not to say belief, may be tested if the next set of housing developments to complete in Ra’anana, also lie largely empty for a while. Yes, there are incoming residents – mostly from France, the USA, and the UK – but quite a few of the newcomers are choosing to rent. I am told you cannot get a decent return on rented property at today’s prices, so the buy to rent market isn’t there just now. That would need prices to drop by at least 10-20%. Suffice it to say, we’ll be keeping an eye on things.

Arafat is still locking them up


Click the graphic to get to the complete Times of Israel story.

Note this extract:

“This would not be the first time in recent months that West Bank Palestinians are silenced for crossing the line of political correctness. In February, a cartoon supposedly depicting the Prophet Mohammed was removed from the website of official Palestinian daily al-Hayat al-Jadidah, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas ordering an inquiry into the incident.”

Political correctness? More like dictatorial censorship.

Incidentally, so far it’s gone unreported by the BBC and the Guardian.

The seven wonders of Acquire

For last week’s session, I was joined by Amiram, John, Peleg, and Sheer.

We started with a standard game of 7 Wonders (this being Amiram’s first try at the game). It was cool for me to listen to Sheer (helped by Peleg) doing the rules explanation in Hebrew. Much better than my Hebrew explanation would have been. And much, much, shorter…

7 Wonders is one of those games where the first time player has too many decisions to make that can sink him. However, Amiram paid careful attention to what was going on around him, and with some helpful advice, did commendably well. In fact, Amiram, Sheer, and Peleg all ended up on the same 47 points.  I did better by a solitary point, but John was a couple ahead and so won the first game of the night.


Next up, Acquire. This turned into a real slogging match with the lead looking as if it was changing every couple of turns. First me, then Sheer, then John, with Peleg and Amiram holding off in the background. However, eventually the lie of the tiles sunk us all except John who could claim a clean sweep of the honors on the night. Sheer was in second spot, and the rest of us were lagging well behind.

Two great games that we are sure to play again. Thanks to all who came for making the evening.

Shabbat Gaming

Catch up time.

Two Shabbats ago, Susan and I played Dominion; regular, straight up, common or garden, standard Dominion. What a great game it is. We played using the Size Distortion deck of action cards as listed in the rulebook, and had a close game. Susan has a great record at Dominion, and she kept that record going by edging me out by only a few points.


Fast forward to last Shabbat, when Susan and I were joined by Sarah-Lee as we all played Dominion: Seaside for the first time. The core mechanics are identical, but there are many action cards that have enduring effects. This means you might get a bonus (action or money or whatever) in the turn you play the card, and the next turn. Cute.

We only scratched the surface by trying just one of the recommended sets, but it was another great game. Although Susan won – again! – both Sarah-Lee and I were about one card away from being the winner. Very close, very intense, and a super way to while away a Shabbat afternoon.


Five for Friday

It was a week of lows (Yom HaZikaron) and highs (Yom Haatzmaut).  But now we have reached the weekend, and it is time to draw breath, maybe reflect a little, recharge the batteries and get ready for next week.

In this house, there will also be a wee emphasis on recovery after a  rather punishing ride on the single tracks at Beri. Or rather, after falling off too many times there!

So, time for the usual selection of links, and a bonus (belatedly) that deserves a place in every Zionist’s heart.

Bonus. For this week’s extra, I have no hesitation in pointing you at this wonderful, and inspiring Yom Haatzmaut post by Yair Lapid: I am a Zionist.


Why Amnesty International Shies Away from Fighting Antisemitism

Following on the failure of the UK franchise of Amnesty International rejecting a resolution at their AGM to campaign against antisemitism (see here), the Elder of Ziyon reports on a tweeted response from the organization to a query about their attitide. It said:

“We condemn all forms of hate crime and discrimination. Unfortunately we can’t campaign on everything.”

The Elder, predictably and in his inimitable style, harshly criticizes their stance. I mean, that’s not exactly a persuasive answer, is it?

I have my own theory about what is going on here.

The first mission in war is to dehumanize your enemy. In the Arab Israeli conflict, the most obvious expression of this is by Israel haters’ use of the term Zionist. For them, the marketing is all about making the undecided think in terms of Israel and its supporters, not as human beings, but as these bad, bad, people, Zionists. Of course, there are other terms and techniques used, but this is central. It is a word that in many quarters, wrongly, is connected with Fascism, another ad hominem label used by the liberals and the left to signal there is no need to have an argument on the merits. (This is often because they cannot argue on the merits. It is astonishing how many Israel haters are ignorant about the basics, though well versed in strap lines.)

With that in mind, it is possible that some, if not many of the people opposed to campaigning against antisemitism are fearful that such a campaign would undo the dehumanization. In other words, if people see Jews and not Zionists, the dehumanization falls away. (I know there’s a flaw here. I’ll come back to it.) So the fear is that such a campaign would undermine anti-Zionsim, anti-Israel activity, because it would expose the plain fact that much – not all – such activity is, indeed, antisemitism.

The flaw? There are some out there, no doubt some in Amnesty International, no doubt many throughout the world, who will be unaffected by any change, by any campaign against antisemitism: the antisemites, of course. But these people, will always hate.

Finally, I wonder how representative Amnesty International UK’s membership is of the general population? Of those of a ‘liberal’ political persuasion. Of those of a ‘leftish’ political persuasion? Were I living in the UK, this would be a bad, bad, sign.

Yom Haatzmaut 2015

We were invited out for Yom Haatzmaut evening; a night of Israeli food, chat, and a quiz. It was all terrific, apart from the quiz. Let’s just say I have still got a lot to learn about my homeland!

And, as I posted on Facebook, we had some flag:


Today, Susan and I went biking at Beri. It’s about 24km of rocky singletrack, with half a dozen outrageous climbs, and some tricky buts for the unwary. I was unwary – and badly out of practice – so paid for it with an abandon ship enactment, a face plant, and several close encounters of the knee graze type. In short, I fell a few times. But I did make it to the end with all limbs intact, and only a slight limp. In each foot.  So, not too bad. The falls really sap the energy, though. Susan, Peter, and Anne stayed on the bike much more. I must try to emulate them next time!

Oh, and I came back home and logged on to catch up with coverage of the Yom Haatzmaut celebrations. The funny thing is, I cannot see any mention on the Guardian. Or the BBC. They are not normally so coy about covering Israel. What can the matter be? Did I miss it?


Amnesty International’s New Mission Statement?

It would appear to be this:

Amnesty International in the UK – standing up for human rights across the world, wherever justice, freedom, fairness and truth are denied. But turning a blind eye to antisemitism.”

The last sentence is my addition, based on their AGM rejection of a motion to combat antisemitism. The following press release from NGO Monitor (the original is here) about the dreadful situation, is worthy of your time:


NGO Monitor
April 21, 2015

Jerusalem – Amnesty International-UK’s (AIUK) decision to reject a campaign against antisemitism in the UK highlights the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of what was once a leader in human rights advocacy.

On April 19, AIUK held its 2015 Annual General Meeting, and adopted 16 of 17 motions. The only proposed resolution that was rejected called on AIUK to “Campaign against anti-Semitism in the UK,” as well as “Lobby the UK Government to tackle the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Britain” and “monitor anti-semitism closely.” According to the motion, “neither AIUK nor the [Amnesty] International Secretariat have undertaken research or campaigning work specifically on anti-Semitism in the UK.”

The AIUK vote also took place in the context of repeated antisemitic incidents within the organization itself — in particular the activities of staff member Kristyan Benedict, who currently is listed as “crisis response manager.” Benedict has a history of obsessive anti-Israel attacks and antisemitic outbursts. One example involved a threat of physical violence against a pro-Israel attendee of an event that Benedict chaired. A second example (November 2011), Benedict tweeted an attack on three British MPs whom he characterized as war-mongers, all of whom are Jewish. This prompted an inquiry into Amnesty by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism, seeking clarification on the organizations policies towards preventing antisemitism. He has investigated by AUIK for some of his rhetoric; however, serious steps have not been taken.

Amnesty-UK’s refusal to condemn antisemitism also comes at a time when levels of antisemitism in Europe are at levels unparalleled since the end of World War II. Nevertheless, an Amnesty-UK official offered a misleading technical justification, claiming that “our membership decided not to pass this resolution calling for a campaign with a single focus.” In fact, AIUK has initiated “single focus” campaigns frequently in the past, for instance, approving “overwhelmingly” a 2010 resolution on Sinti and Roma Communities, and stating: “Within the last year widespread discrimination and violence against Sinti and Roma communities has intensified in a number of European countries, which Amnesty International has published within respective country reports.” AUIK’s silence on antisemitism stands in sharp contrast.

In this context, we note that NGO Monitor research has repeatedly shown that Amnesty International and AIUK disproportionately single out Israel for condemnations, and focus attacks on Israel while ignoring severe and systematic human rights violations in the region. Many Amnesty officials and “researchers” have a history of intense anti-Israel activisms, promoting the narrative of Palestinian victimhood and Israeli guilt, to the exclusion of universal human rights. AUIK’s decision to turn its back on antisemitism is consistent with this immoral record.

Amnesty International – the Nelsonian approach to human rights!

Yom Hazikaron 2015

Today’s Yisrael Hayom newspaper marks Yom HaZikaron (the Day of Remembrance Israel dedicates to those who have fallen in wars and terror attacks) with this cover:


The white print subheading reads:

“The State of Israel gathers in memory of the 23,320 fallen.”

Between the candle and the picture of the mourner, the headline is:

“Thanks to them.”

Shortly (8.00 PM, tonight) sirens will sound across the country as the memorial day gets underway.