Tag: Israel

Persimmon (Sharon Fruit)

Persimmon, photo by PH Morton

Persimmon (Sharon Fruit)

Fruit Bowl, photo by PH Morton

Our fruit bowl is getting more adventures.  Early this new year, we have custard apple, passion fruit, mangoes, kiwi, several types of citrus fruits such as lemon, lime orange, grapefruit and nectarine.

We also have persimmon, which is apparently also called Sharon fruit.  Its scientific name is Diospyros Kaki.  This fruit is often seedless and sweet.  It can be eaten as a whole fruit; there is no need to peel it (but you can of course, if you wanted to.)

Sharon fruit can be eaten fresh, or cooked (in a pie) and even preserved.

Its orange colouring shouts richness in beta carotene and it is actually is a good source.

The Land of Canaan

by Fr. Shay Cullen 

The death toll is at least 1,360 Palestinians killed, mostly civilians, women and children, and hundreds more have been injured. 58 Israelis killed, 56 soldiers, 2 of them civilians. 16 Palestinians were killed when an Israeli shell hit a UN school where 3000 refugees were sheltering. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said “all available evidence say that it was an Israeli strike.”

A day of shame for Israel, said a UN spokesperson. Another 100 Palestinians were killed last Wednesday, 30 July, mostly children in a playground, others killed as they slept. The Israeli air strikes continue and 86,000 troops will be deployed against the Hamas militants in the Gaza strip who are firing hundreds of homemade rockets into Israeli territory without causing any significant damage, most are shot down.

Far be it from me to try analyze the complexities of the conflict in Gaza. Excuse an oversimplification and a very brief glimpse of the history. It’s a fight that has its roots in the shiploads of Jewish immigrants and refugees arriving in Palestine fleeing the aftermath of WWII and the Holocaust. They fought the occupying British colonial power in a guerrilla war and they used acts of terror bombing the David hotel. Eventually, the British withdrew and the Israelis took-over Palestine driving out many thousands of the original Palestinians whose land it rightfully was. This is an injustice, say the Palestinians and demand they get back their land. The Israelis founded the State of Israel claiming they had a Biblical right to all of Palestine. 

The original Palestinian inhabitants became refugees in Lebanon and Gaza and were driven onto the West Bank of the Jordan where today, the Palestinian authority rules. A land of exile they say but under the control of Israel. The rest of the people are contained in the Gaza strip and isolated which was occupied by the Israelis until 2005.They still block all borders. Egypt controls the southern border. The Palestinians are demanding an independent state, side by side with Israel, but a peace agreement cannot be reached.

In the Gaza strip, a militant group of Sunni Islamic resistance fighters named Hamas violently opposed Israel and has been in violent conflict with them since the 1990’s. They are marked as a terrorist group and took over the Gaza strip but recently made a political pact with the Palestine West bank government. After the recent abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers this year and the torture and burning alive of a Palestine boy, as apparent revenge by some Israelis, the latest conflict broke out when Hamas began firing rockets into Israel yet again. 

The one thing that Israel has in abundance is fire power, deadly, mostly accurate, powerfully devastating, murderous and most of the 1,360 Palestinians have been killed by bombs, shells and crushed and buried alive under the collapse of homes and public building. The alleged deliberate shelling and bombing of homes and houses, schools, hospitals and shelters in a massive bombardment is a possible war crime according to a UN body. Israel denies targeting civilians.

Can the invasion of Gaza and massive killing of so many Palestinians by Israel be justified? It’s an exercise in self-defense, the Israelis say, and they must eliminate the enemy who is firing rockets into Israel. The Hamas organization says they have a right to self-defense too against the invading force. That’s the weakness of the Israeli position, they are invaders as they were in 2009 when a similar invasion was launched.

Hamas is the sworn enemy of Israel and the most pernicious thorn in its foot. It is out gunned, out shot and out bombed. It does not have a good reputation, it is an organization that denies the right of Israel to exist although it says it is open to long terms peace deal. It has been condemned as a terrorist organization and has delivered murder and mayhem on Israelis over the past years. It too may have committed war crimes by concealing its rockets in civilian areas. 

It’s unguided and wild firing of rockets into Israel has killed very few Israelites and destroyed hardly any buildings. The Iron Dome anti-rocket protection shield over Israel gives it a high degree of protection. The alleged Israeli retaliation by massive force and indiscriminate violence is disproportionate, many say. Hamas fighters have killed 56 Israeli soldiers and 2 civilians as of this writing. 

Hamas fighters and the Palestinians civilians are trapped and blockaded into a narrow strip of land, no way in or out, cornered with their back to the sea from where Israeli war ships are shelling them also. It is far from being a fair fight. They are totally surrounded and being squeezed into a tight circle which now is becoming a killing ground for civilians and all. 

The lifting of this blockade is one of the main demands of Hamas and why it will not easily agree to a cease-fire, nor can it ever appear to surrender. Hamas fighters have concealed its rockets in the civilian areas simply because there is nowhere else to hide them. But that cannot be justified either and may be a war crime if they prevented civilians from fleeing the area. 

War like this is totally devastating and achieves nothing but greater human suffering and terrible destruction. This is a war of hatred and loathing. Both sides have an irreconcilable hatred against the other and Israel, by far the greater overwhelming power, is determined to destroy Hamas and their rocket firing capability and destroy the underground tunnels which Hamas has built to infiltrate Israel. 

Killing thousands of civilians to destroy homemade rockets that have little, effective destructive power is not morally right, the Israelis need a better, intelligent and wiser solution. Violence will not solve this, it only creates more victims and thousands of revenge seeking Palestinians.

The best of all would be to do justice and make a just peace. They must give the Palestinians their historical rights. Just as Israel wants its right to exist and to be recognized, so also the Palestinians want their free state too. It seems an impossible stalemate but we pray and hope that the killing on both sides will stop and a lasting peace will, one day be reached. [shaycullen@preda.org ; www.preda.org ]

Happy Hanukkah from Golders Green


The Hanukkah Menorah at Golders Green – Photo by PH Morton

We live near Golders Green in NW London for many years; there has been a strong Jewish community. We like the Jewish bakeries, delicious chollah bread, bagels and cakes 🙂

In December when we celebrate Christmas, Jews celebrate  Hanukkah ( dedication) also known as Chanukah or Chanukkah; This is the festival of Lights and Feast of Dedication.  Hindus also have a  festival of lights called Diwali in October.    Hanukkah commerates the redication of the Holy(second) Temple in Jerusalem around the second century BC, during the time of the Maccabean Revolt. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev relating to the Hebrew calendar,  which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the western used Gregorian calendar.

The alighting of the nine branch Menorah (candelabrum) one candle, bulb etc is lit each night over the eight day festival. The ninth branch (attendant) of the menorah is either  above or  below the other eight and is the general purpose light.      


Yolanda Disaster Fund (International)

  • AUSTRALIA – US$9.3 million package, including Medical personnel
  • Asian Development Bank: $500m emergency loans and $23m in grants
  • BELGIUM – medical and search and rescue personnel
  • CANADA – C$5 million
  • CHINA – $1.6m + $100K thru Chinese Red Cross
  • DENMARK – KR 10 million
  • GERMANY – 23 tons of relief goods
  • HUNGARY – search and rescue personnel and rapid response team
  • INDONESIA – in-kind donations:Aircraft, personnel, drinking water, food, generators, medicine
  • ISRAEL- team of medical, trauma and relief professionals
  • JAPAN – $10M  including emergency relief of 25 medical team
  • MALAYSIA – medical and search and rescue teams
  • THE NETHERLANDS – undisclosed financial aid
  • NEW ZEALAND – NZ $2.15 million
  • NORWAY – KR 20 million (142,024,080.00 Philippine Peso)
  • RUSSIA – rapid response team
  • SAUDI ARABIA through Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – US$100,000
  • SINGAPORE – $50,000
  • SPAIN – in-kind donations
  • South Korea: $5m plus a 40-strong medical team
  • SWEDEN- emergency communications equipment
  • TAIWAN – $200,000
  • TURKEY – medics, rapid response team, search and rescue personnel
  • UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – $10Million in aid
  • UNITED KINGDOM – £6 million inclusive of emergency support package – Now increased to £10M and also sending HMS Daring, a Type 45 Destroyer at full speed from Singapore as well as RAF C-17 Transporter.  Increase to £15M, again increased to £30M, Again increase to £50,000,000 plus HMS Illustrious is also being sent to the Philippines for extra support.
  • UNITED NATIONS Children’s Fund – $1.3 million worth of supplies
  • UNITED NATIONS World Food Programme – Initial of $2M
  • UNITED NATIONS Humanitarian Wing- released $25,000,000
  • UNITED STATES – $20M; initial $100,000 for water and sanitation; Troops, emergency respondents, transportation and equipment
  • The Vatican – $150,000 (Please Holy Father if you have to give the monies through the Church, please give strict instruction that the monies are meant for the victims of Typhoon YOLANDA!)
  • Vietnam – $100,000

Plus +++++


  • Korean Giant Electronic firm, Samsung – $1M
  • Swedish IKEA – $2.7m
  • Coca Cola – $2.5M
  • Toyota $500,000
  • Eton Corporation – $140,000

Non-government organizations are also helping out:

  • Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said it was sending 200 tons of aid including medicine, tents and hygiene kits to arrive mid-week, with the first cargo plane leaving from Dubai on Monday and another from Belgium on Tuesday.
  • Oxfam, the British-based relief organization, said it has sent an assessment team ahead of aid operations.
  • German nongovernment organizations such as World Vision and the International Search and Rescue Team (ISAR) sent emergency response teams and “23 tons of humanitarian aid” consisting of water, food, hygiene and medical kits. Rescue teams of German relief organizations CARE, Malteser International and HelpAge, which are all part of the umbrella organization for German humanitarian aid (Buendnis Aktion Deutschland Hilfe) “are already working on the ground in Samar and Leyte.” German aid organization ADRA and Johanniter Unfallhilfe“will be deploying more rescue and relief teams” to the Visayas region.ISAR Germany is also sending a medical team composed of 24 doctors and nurses to the hardest-hit regions of the Visayas. The team arrived in the Philippines on Sunday and will bring with them two tons of medical supplies provided by Action Medeor, a German relief organization.They will also be setting up tents, which can accommodate up to 1,000 persons a day.
  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) have joined together to make a $250,000 contribution to World Vision to support relief efforts in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.




The Three Kings(Magi) Epiphany

The Three Kings(Magi) guided by a new star.

The 5th of January is regarded as the eve of the 12th day after Christmas Day, however modern practice regarded the 6th as the 12th day of Christmas.  In Christianity, the 5th is when the three Kings also referred as the Magi (wise men) who were guided by a brilliant new star in the night sky, arrived from the east to visit and hail the new-born King  Jesus at His birthplace, Bethlehem in Judea. The 6th of January is also known as Epiphany (from the Greek word meaning ‘manifestation’) where Jesus is revealed/manifested to the world through the visit of the Magi,  as the Son of God.

The Three Kings(Magi) Epiphany

The Three Kings arriving at Bethlehem




The Three Kings arriving at Bethlehem

Before their arrival, the  wise men came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The three magi are known in the Western Christian church as;

  • Melchior  (also Melichior,Melchor), a Persian (modern-day Iran) scholar.
  • Caspar (also Gaspar, Jaspar, Jaspas, Gathaspa, and other variations), an Indian scholar.
  • Balthazar (also Balthasar, Balthassar, and Bithisarea), an Arabian scholar.


Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,  after their sojourn they left for their own country by another path.

The Three Kings depart for home


A shrine the the three Kings(Magi) is located behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral, Germany.


The relics were the Magi were taken from Milan by Frederick Barbarossa, The Holy Roman Emperor and presented to the Archbishop of Cologne Rainald of Dassel in 1164 and to this day pilgrims travel to the Cathedral to visit the shrine.

The Three Ships

It is thought that the 1833 English Christmas hymn/carol, ‘I Saw Three Ships (come sailing in) on Christmas Day In The Morning‘ was inspired by the delivery of the relics to Cologne.

A superstition is that all Christmas decorations in the home etc., must be taken down by  January 6th,  otherwise bad luck will ensue.




Filipinos In Israel



Filipino Workers Always Welcome in Israel — Ambassador

Manila BulletinManila Bulletin – 21 hours ago

Filipino Caregiver in Israel

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino workers, particularly caregivers, will always be welcome in Israel because of their impressive skills, experience and work etiquette, according to a top Israeli diplomat in the Philippines.

“They are welcome. The way these (Filipino) caregivers work, they really know how to do it,” Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Menashe Bar-on told Manila Bulletin in an interview. “They can speak English–so it’s more easy to communicate between employer and employee.”

Ambassador Bar-on said that ever since their government decided to give working visas for caregivers the number of Filipinos in Israel have increased despite the ongoing conflict with Palestinian militants.

There are about 41,000 Filipinos living and working in Israel, mostly in the caregiving sector.

But, according to Bar-on, the relationship between Israel and the Philippines does not depend merely on manpower.

“The Philippines and Israel also have very good trade relations and knowledge exchange,” he said.

The Israeli envoy noted that more than 200 Filipinos are studying in Israel.

In addition, every year at least 40 Filipinos participate in higher education training, particularly doctors, to gain new skills and to be able to use different equipment in their profession.

Also 300 Filipino students have studied in Israel on how to use greenhouses and other technology related to agriculture.

“It is knowledge, and you cannot measure it in money,” said Ambassador Bar-on.

Trade between the two countries has reached $200 million the previous year with Israel importing semiconductors and agricultural products such as dried mangoes from the Philippines.

Bar-on said Israel also extends assistance to the commercial sector in the Philippines “as we do business with them.”

The Philippines and Israel have enjoyed excellent bilateral relations since the latter was established in 1948, but their relations predate this, he said.

President Manuel L. Quezon espoused a policy of “Open Doors” which facilitated the issuance of visas for Jewish refugees who are escaping the Holocaust during the Second World War.

Bar-on pointed out that the Philippines opened its doors to 10,000 Jews escaping Nazi Europe from 1936 to 1939, but only 1,200 made it.

The Israeli embassy is coming up with a project to show Filipinos “the wonderful part of history related to the Holocaust.”

The project aims to show the generosity of the Filipino people who gave these refugees an opportunity to start a new life in the Philippines.

He said they plan to include it in the curriculum of De La Salle University with the support of the Department of Education.

“Part of wonderful history of the Philippines, we want to raise it to the knowledge of Filipinos today,” Ambassador Bar-on said.

Golda Meir – 4th Israel Prime Minister

Golda Meir

Golda Meir (Hebrew: גּוֹלְדָּה מֵאִיר‎‎ [ɡolˈda] or [ˈɡolda] [meˈʔiʁ];  Arabic: جولدا مائير‎, Julda Ma’air; earlier Golda Meyerson, born Golda Mabovich (Голда Мабович); May 3, 1898 – December 8, 1978) was an Israeli teacher, kibbutznik and politician who became the fourth Prime Minister of Israel.

Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel on March 17, 1969, after serving as Minister of Labour and Foreign Minister. Israel’s first and the world’s third woman to hold such an office, she was described as the “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics years before the epithet became associated with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  Former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion used to call Meir “the best man in the government”; she was often portrayed as the “strong-willed, straight-talking, grey-bunned grandmother of the Jewish people”.

In 1974, after the end of the Yom Kippur War, Meir resigned as prime minister. She died in 1978 of leukemia.

– Wikipedia


 “Moses dragged us through the desert to the one place in the Middle East where there is no oil! “
— Golda Meir 

Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart, don’t know how to laugh either.
– Golda Meir

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