Sunday, January 15, 2006

# Posted 10:35 PM by Patrick Belton  

THE MIDDLE EAST SEEMS INTERESTING AT THE MOMENT. I THINK I WILL AWAY THERE, AND TALK TO PEOPLE. Those wondering where in the world is OxBlog, or at least this moiety of it, will find their answer in Israel and the Palestinian territories in the leadup to the Palestinians' elections. More precisely at this minute, having tea and listening to BritPop from my new journalist friend's flat overlooking Haifa's bay, at a window from which you can pick out the lights of the Beqaa. Today being a work day in the Middle East, I've been quite happily banging out interview requests for Gaza, Ramallah and Jenin, and in the afternoon shown comprehensively round the mixed city of Haifa, with its street foods, mountain views of the former Crusader kingdom of Acre and Armageddon across the Galilee, its royal blue harbour through which the submarines arc on their course to the Lebanon, and its Russians wearing their overly generous makeup passing on the sidewalk women in hijab. I'm overblown by Israeli gregariousness; these two days I am staying with a journalist I did not know four hours earlier, the daughter of an Auschwitz surivor who as a child spoke Yiddish in San Francisco. From here one can walk to Beirut or to Damascus. I wonder if I could start afresh and write a new dissertation, on here? Next update when more to report. i rather suspect I could like this place.
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Glad that you are in Haifa, but I have a small quibble. How is it that you can pick out the lights of the Biqa'a from the window of a flat in Haifa? I had always thought that the rise of the lower Galilee would obscure such lights - not to mention the fact that the convergence of the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges near the turn of the Litani should block the line of sight of most of the valley. Is your friend's flat up in the hills?

Additionally, I would not advise trying to walk to Beirut. While I have no doubt that you have the fitness for it, I suspect you will encounter a rather nasty surprise when you reach the border.

Best of luck with your interviews.
It may not be on your schedule but a trip to East Jerusalem would be a really interesting move here. How do the local residents feel about being very belatedly granted the right to vote, on the proviso that it not be for Hamas? Are they more or less sympathetic to militants than others in the Occupied territories? What is the specific impact of the wall (sorry, fence) on elections and campaigning there? And so forth.

Good luck!
Please do be careful!
Gee whiz, won't it be great
when the Israelis leave Judea
and Samaria?

I'm sure the Palestinians
will immediately convert it
to the same sort of pleasure palace that have made in the
Gaza District.

Or perhaps the wonderfully
hospitable areas of the Sinai
that Egypt controls. Free
Speech and even Freer booze

And, least we forget, the
amazing job the Lebanese
have done with their lands
recently evacuated by Isreal.

Yes, indeed once Israel
leaves a place, the Arabs quickly make it a wonderland
for tourists.

Now, just imagine the delights
that await westerners in
Saudi Arabia! That land
has never been despoiled
by the loathsome Israelis
and is, truly, a vacationeers
Mecca. < VBG >
glad youre enjoying Haifa. Its been years, and i only spent a few days there, but i loved the city, "the Paris of Israel".
Right pragmatist, because life in the occupied West Bank really is so much better than having your own state, isn't it....?
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