Holocaust remembrance day

At work, we were asked to stop for a few minutes when the siren goes off to remember the six million who perished in the holocaust, so me and some colleagues walked about 200 yards into the centre of town.

Just 10 minutes from my office is Zion Square, a junction between Ben Yehuda Street and Jaffa Street, which more recently is now completely car free, just an electric rail system passes through.

People just stop what they are doing, when the siren goes off.

In other parts of the country, people stopped their cars in the middle of the highway and stood on the road with doors open.

The noise is a chilling drone, probably coming from two directions, aimed mainly at alerting the public if a threat of war necessitates people needing to get into a bunker.   Its an awful noise, but serves as a reminder of the worse tragedy in history.




Jaffa/Tel Aviv – 4. Independence day and a concrete stable

Whats this building?

Looks like something dull like a tax office or something, but actually this unassuming building in Tel Aviv is where Israel was declared a nation 64 years ago today!   I was here in February when it was cold and windy though.


Apart from closely looking at these plaques on the walls, you probably wouldn’t know.

The bible gives a prophecy about plans for the founding of the 1948 modern day state of Israel, about ~1,878 years after the Jewish people were spread to all corners of the world.

Isaiah 66: 8 Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this?
Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.
9 Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD.
“Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God.
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her;
rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.

Its odd than this concrete looking place with tiny windows was a meeting place for the government of a fledgling nation, but then again our Lord Jesus was born in stable,  so from utilitarian places, great things can be developed.  I didn’t see what this building’s current purpose is now or if you can visit.

1. Jaffa/Tel Aviv – coastal city of oranges

2. Jaffa/Tel Aviv – Graffiti and wall art

3. Jaffa/Tel Aviv – Whales and hovering trees

4. Jaffa/Tel Aviv – Independence day and a concrete stable

5. Jaffa/Tel Aviv – Yitzhak Rabin


3. Jaffa – Whales and hovering trees

One characteristic of the narrow streets in old Jaffa you don’t have in Jerusalem is these pretty blue plaques on the walls here.

They are quite different from the ceramic tiles often sold by the Armenian Christians who live in Jerusalem Old city quarter.

Is Jaffa mentioned in the bible?  Actually I tried to search and couldn’t find any reference to Jaffa or Yafo at all.

Actually, later I found it is, but it was called Joppa.

This statue of a Whale is a tribute to the biblical story of Jonah who got eaten by a big fish which is thought to be here on the Mediterranean.  It seems the ship was heading to Tarsius, where Paul was from in Asia Minor, what we now call modern day Turkey.

Later after having dinner at an Arab restaurant with my friend, I bid him goodbye and made my way back to my hostel.  I had some troubling things that caught up with me, and the dark and narrow passageways with few people around seemed like a good place to pray – oddly, from a distance I saw this strange looking tree that appeared to be hovering above the ground

Looking closer its a piece of art with the container the tree sits in being held in place by some steel wires adjusted very tightly so it doesn’t move at all.   I saw this strange sight as an answer to prayer that the Lord can make things happen through hard to fathom methods.  I can’t imagine to feel what it would be like to be swallowed by a big fish, heck, I can’t even swim.   I think like Jonah we can be tested especially we go against God’s specific orders.   I have seen how fierce the Mediterranean gets from being at Tel Aviv and Akko before.

In fact, this very week, I have just read more about the Talpiyot tomb near my house, a well decorated grave thought to be from the time of the bible could bear the name of Jonah: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/04/20/ancient-bone-box-called-oldest-christian-artifact/

1. Jaffa – coastal city of oranges

2. Jaffa – Tel Aviv & Jaffa graffiti and wall art

3. Jaffa – Whales and hovering trees

Easter at the Garden Tomb 2012

This is me and my friend Jimmy, hes an older gent in his 70s from Florida who works in the Bridges for Peace food bank.

We got up very early to get to an Easter service at the Garden Tomb, there must be 1,000-1,500 people there, and the worship band was made of people mostly from my church but a few others as well.

Getting their early meant we got a seat close to the front, hence doesn’t look that packed….

Its a real privilege to be spending this special day in a place most likely to be thought where the world’s shortest required grave ever.

Not seen this before, but Jimmy pointed out to me a kiosk with an Arab gent that does very nice Arabic coffee for a bargain price of 5 Shekels (85p – half what you pay in usual places in town)   So this was a nice way to get prepared for the rest of the day as I ride 4 miles back across town to my flat.

The folks coming out of the alley way where the garden is didn’t seem to notice this place, I think he deserves more business.   I think he mostly sells coffee, orange juice and cigarettes to people getting on the Arab buses which are heading to Ramallah, Nabulus or the other Palestinian cities.

I wrote on easter here in Jerusalem when I went last year also.

Using Google Streetmap view in your blog, possible security concerns to be aware of

As Google recently release Streetmap view in Israel and Ukraine recently, I’m betting that lots of bloggers interested in the middle east will want to make use of this in their writings.

I wrote a few days ago, with some screen shots of my browser, I have noticed a few things that you might want to be aware of:

Firstly, if you make screen shots of your computer’s browser, be sure to obliterate any occurrences of your name or email address you see, this is quite important when using Google’s services which are all tied to a Gmail address.

Where I have written an “X” – don’t use this URL as a link to your site at the top of your browser, it won’t work, it will just take a click directly to the regular maps.google.com address.

Instead click on the little chain icon here as shown by arrow, this will give you a usable URL your visitors can click on to get to a certain angle of street you want to look at.

Now this bit is important:

If lets says, you enter your home or workplace address, then jump to a different place, the URL you plan to make public will show the original place I did a search for.   Zoom on this pic and look at the underlined bits I have highlighted in orange.

Hence, be careful!  you might give private details of where you live or work to the whole world!

Instead, clear any search inquiry, and just zoom straight in on the place you want to take a shot off, copy and paste the URL you plan to make public on your blog or social media, and look carefully at the (very long) URL to make sure there is nothing personal that indicate a previous search you did.

Here is an example of this done without care:


This web address actually is close to Embankment in London, but I actually changed the location of the place I was searching from 10 Downing Street to another location, but the search terms are still embedded in the URL.

I tend to paste this into a different web browser, in this case Internet Explorer 9 which I don’t use very often, clearly shows where I searched for.

So there you have it, just be careful if you want to show Streetmap view snapshots of places, and have fun!

Jaffa – 2. Tel Aviv and Jaffa graffiti and wall art

My youth hostel I stayed at has this amazing view from the roof, it has middle east charm in its main lounge, with the added bonus of a kitchen on the roof which you can just wander out onto and see all around both the sea and the odd mix of where Jaffa meets Tel Aviv.

You often tend to see a lot of graffiti in Israel, in English, Hebrew, Arabic and Russian, often meaningless, sometimes about the obvious political challenges, and a few not so well known ones.

Often there is a big sense of irony in some of these, and to be honest the only way to stop it is to make a wall a canvas for a legit idea before someone else does from a criminal point of view.

Some of these street art designs are pretty huge efforts!

Not always limited to public places, this tree outside someone’s house, and a torah scroll held up by some hands coming out of the wall, and a garage door with what’s behind it painted on is a neat touch.

This mural brightens up this Arab district of Jaffa very nicely.

This is the weirdest I think, an outdoor project by someone, this is another mock of the Last Supper next to the sea front, with a pile of broken TVs and a Land Rover.   The Hebrew pink writing I can read as Dod Morr (Uncle Morr)   Im sure some arty person will tell me its not bad taste but meant to be ironic or something… hmmmm

These Japanese style cartoon imagery gives this old factory a bit of an interesting twist.

Next: tributes to Jonah and strange levitating plants…

1. Jaffa – coastal city of oranges

2. Jaffa – Tel Aviv & Jaffa graffiti and wall art

3. Jaffa – Whales and hovering trees


Google Street Map View comes to Israel!

Last year I heard Google wanted to map out by street parts of Israel, this was quite a surprise considering how careful you have to be with security, and I found out that one of my friends he was passed by a Google camera car that drove passed him when they did the pics in November 2011, at last, and now this week the footage goes live!

You can just drive around by finding a street or place to explore by going to maps.google.com and zooming in and dragging the little orange man over the map, after a few seconds it makes a block of the streets blue, let get over your mouse to wander around the streets by clicking on the arrows.

Warning: using Street Map view on Jerusalem if you have physically been here before may make you pine to come back again!

Click any of the screenshots I have done to open a new tab in your browser to enable to take a wander around the streets…

Mount of Olives look east towards the old city

Here is the outside of the Jaffa Gate on Jerusalem’s old city.  Oddly, I don’t see any vendors selling orange juice or cakes outside here.

How about Tel Aviv?

Here’s the beach! this bit has obviously been done on one of those special trikes Google has.   No sign of the Zohan it seems 🙂

Here is the Gilad Shalit protest tent, which has now gone – Gilad was released from a prison in Gaza after 5 years late last year, a different political group have a tent here instead now.

Note the “wall of ‘blur” which obfuscates the gate to government facilities.

Lets go over to Haifa:

ok, here is the Bahai gardens.

Really, only Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa feature on there with a few small extras, a kibbutz in Afula, Ben Gurion University campus in Beer Sheva and the Mini Israel museum near Beit Shemesh.   Im guessing these organisations were asked to be early adopters in being customers of Google’s expansion of services here.

I would like to see how this could affect tourism here and how bloggers interested in Middle East  goings on may use this.

As far as suggestions, maybe the increasingly popular paths used for walks by pilgrims seeing the routes Jesus took between Nazareth and Capernaum would be nice, some of the Kinneret (The Galilee – I am sure the Arab boat owners could do a great deal with Google!) and the Dead Sea and Eilat / Red Sea too.

The user interface on Streetmap is still a little awkward at time with my normal laptop touchpad, I think this would work better on a tablet computer by dragging or tapping on directions to go places.

Jaffa – 1: coastal Arab city of Oranges

Whats the first thing you think of when you think of the word Jaffa?

Oranges of course!   Citrus fruit are often see on trees growing on streets all around Israel and leaning over peoples garden walls.  I found a piece of metal which came off a broken electrical fitting to see I can grab myself one.

Walking up a bit north towards Tel Aviv, there is an interesting petrol station by the sea front:

The loos and a small fast food place is inside some citrus fruit shaped buildings as you can see.

Wonder if you can buy these things as a simple cheap beach hut, where you could furnish the insides with a hammock and camping stove?  could be an interesting idea.

Its funny this city is so famous for the orange variety.  Jaffa or more often known as Yaffo, is an Arab town just south of Tel Aviv, although doesn’t feel that big.

After doing some work projects in Karmiel, I spent a weekend here to see my friend who is a Messianic Jew from south America who has just made aliyah (immigrated)   I am thinking this is quite a good place to base yourself to work in Tel Aviv.

Well I took the two oranges I picked and a lime back to the Youth hostel to see if I could make something out of them, I planned to take the lime back home to put on some fish at some point.   This youth hostel in the older part of the city has some perfect views here.

Actually these didn’t taste that good, when juiced, even heavily mixed with water and shoveling generous amounts of sugar, they were too sharp.   Was a fun experiment though as they didn’t cost anything.  Oddly I can’t find any references to any kinds of citrus fruit in the bible.

1. Jaffa – coastal city of oranges

2. Jaffa – Tel Aviv & Jaffa graffiti and wall art

3. Jaffa – Whales and hovering trees


A cup of reeling

During some bible reading, I was studying this passage:

Zechariah 12:2 – “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.

What do you think about the word “reeling”?   seems an odd word not really used these days.

I think once or twice its used by sports commentators about a team losing at a football match maybe.  Look on Wikipedia and it only refers to fishing or the tape canisters used by the film industry.

When I was doing an IT site visit, this is the doors of the cupboard that hold our network kit in.   The smaller red one I have shown a closer look below as it has a warning about there are poisonous chemicals in here, which is not the case any more as it was left over from the previous business here.

The Hebrew symbols on the right corner is, pronounced Ral or Reel – so the word reeling I think is talking about poison!!

In fact looking at this passage here: http://bible.cc/zechariah/12-2.htm various bible translations uses words like staggering, trembling and surfeiting (another word I never see used)

In the news, I see plans for another march for people from Arab nations, and most probably helped out by misguided Christians in western countries, thinking they are helping out for ‘peace’ and not really understanding the seriousness of what they are getting into.

From the organiser’s web site, there is a statement from Israel that they would be considered trespassing.  http://gm2j.com/main/blog/2012/03/23/israel-warns-of-the-consequences-of-jerusalem-global-march/   Just like any other country, if you force your way through the borders of any other nation without going through the proper protocol of having a passport and required visa etc, they should be treated as a threat and prosecuted.