A lovely short movie in 3 D of Jerusalem. Add to it some good Israeli or Jewish music from your computer CD player.
Please open full screen (on bottom right) and let it go on to different scenes.
A number of friends asked me why I have not written for awhile. Certainly the Israeli situation has been as complex and uncertain as before and there is a lot to comment about. However, for the last five years I have devoted more and more of my time to an issue that as environmental scientist I could not ignore – Global Warming. That takes now first priority for me.
It is not a new subject for me. Many years ago I talked about GW as I gave lectures across California on alternative energies development under my direction. I was the Manager of the pioneering Wind Energy program of the California Energy Commission and Manager of the Solar Energy Office for the State of California. At that time, like most environmental scientists, I viewed GW as a futuristic event that we would not have to face for a century or longer. I was wrong as most scientists were at the time. It was so much easier to reject the potential severity of GW than face the reality that humanity is on a collision course with nature. I sent my first email on GW to my friends on 7/8/2001. Early public warnings were made then, but our tragic 9/11 captured our full attention from that time on and sadly we forgot for several years the time-criticality of GW.
I could not forget GW as I was immersed in the Israeli struggle. However, for the last five years scientific evidence of the immediacy and increasing severity of GW has accumulated at such an increasing rate that scientists, including myself, can not ignore it. Much of the public is now aware of GW and some are taking a few steps to reduce their own negative footprint on our world. Too many still try to close their eyes. But the impacts of GW are progressing.
The scientific evidence from detailed studies across the globe is now clear that our burning of vast amount of fossil fuels (that started over two hundred years ago) is increasing global temperatures at an accelerated rate. This temperature increase has already caused serious damage across the globe. And that damage will be more severe if we continue to burn coal, oil and natural gas at the rates we have been doing for the last few decades. We must reduce our use of these fuels across the globe as rapidly as humanity is able.
Some wonder how is it possible that people can impact our vast world so significantly. However, the reality is that six and a half billion people spew some thirty billions tons of warming gases into our sky every year. An astronomical amount most of us can’t fathom.
The issue of GW is one of the most critical one facing humanity. The US and Israel are not immune to its pending devastating impacts. Israel supply’s of fresh water, as an example, is at dangerously low levels due to GW. In the US our water sources are diminishing and more erratic, and forest fires more intense.
May I suggest that you start studying GW so you can learn what you can do to minimize its impact. Just read your newspapers, magazines and search the web.
We can individually do our part to reduce GW. And I am not talking about the obvious things we can do such as driving less or turning lights off, all which are desirable actions, but insufficient to make a dent. As a minimum, I suggest that you write MONTHLY brief notes of your concerns to your three Congresspersons. They are the ones who will determine US actions to curtail our overdependence on fossil fuels, the main cause of GW. In order to move Congresspersons they need to sense that people do care deeply about GW. Our Congresspersons are not leaders, they are follower. BE A LEADER!
I will be putting some of my GW material on my blog below, especially if it is a long analysis: I hope you will look into it: (If you forget just Google my full name.)
This article represents well the situation in Israel just now that I could not have said it better, so read these facts. As sad as it is, and I wish there were not any civilians casualties on both sides, we must realize that some people are unable and unwilling to live in peace. It is against their very core of beliefs. Hamas would not stop its attacks on Israel as long as it retains even minimal power.
Moral Clarity in Gaza
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, January 2, 2009; A15
Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons.
-- Associated Press, Dec. 27
Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating.
Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis -- 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years -- deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.
This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage -- or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb -- will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.
For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous. And deeply perverse, such as the Hamas TV children's program in which an adorable live-action Palestinian Mickey Mouse is beaten to death by an Israeli (then replaced by his more militant cousin, Nahoul the Bee, who vows to continue on Mickey's path to martyrdom).
At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible -- also on both sides. It's a recurring theme. Israel gave similar warnings to Southern Lebanese villagers before attacking Hezbollah in the Lebanon war of 2006. The Israelis did this knowing it would lose for them the element of surprise and cost the lives of their own soldiers.
That is the asymmetry of means between Hamas and Israel. But there is equal clarity regarding the asymmetry of ends. Israel has but a single objective in Gaza -- peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. Doing something never done by the Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers of Palestine, the Israelis gave the Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza.
What ensued? This is not ancient history. Did the Palestinians begin building the state that is supposedly their great national aim? No. No roads, no industry, no courts, no civil society at all. The flourishing greenhouses that Israel left behind for the Palestinians were destroyed and abandoned. Instead, Gaza's Iranian-sponsored rulers have devoted all their resources to turning it into a terror base -- importing weapons, training terrorists, building tunnels with which to kidnap Israelis on the other side. And of course firing rockets unceasingly.
The grievance? It cannot be occupation, military control or settlers. They were all removed in September 2005. There's only one grievance and Hamas is open about it. Israel's very existence.
Nor does Hamas conceal its strategy. Provoke conflict. Wait for the inevitable civilian casualties. Bring down the world's opprobrium on Israel. Force it into an untenable cease-fire -- exactly as happened in Lebanon. Then, as in Lebanon, rearm, rebuild and mobilize for the next round. Perpetual war. Since its raison d'etre is the eradication of Israel, there are only two possible outcomes: the defeat of Hamas or the extinction of Israel.
Israel's only response is to try to do what it failed to do after the Gaza withdrawal. The unpardonable strategic error of its architect, Ariel Sharon, was not the withdrawal itself but the failure to immediately establish a deterrence regime under which no violence would be tolerated after the removal of any and all Israeli presence -- the ostensible justification for previous Palestinian attacks. Instead, Israel allowed unceasing rocket fire, implicitly acquiescing to a state of active war and indiscriminate terror.
Hamas's rejection of an extension of its often-violated six-month cease-fire (during which the rockets never stopped, just were less frequent) gave Israel a rare opportunity to establish the norm it should have insisted upon three years ago: no rockets, no mortar fire, no kidnapping, no acts of war. As the U.S. government has officially stated: a sustainable and enduring cease-fire. If this fighting ends with anything less than that, Israel will have lost yet another war. The question is whether Israel still retains the nerve -- and the moral self-assurance -- to win.
While Israel is facing many serious challenges and unjust criticism, it is nice to read something good about our lovely country from the PM of England. That is not his first praise. When P.M. Gordon Brown appeared in front of the Knesset during Israel 60's anniversary he gave also a marvelous speech celebrating Israel’s many powerful accomplishments.
UK Prime Minister Lauds Israel as "Symbol of Hope" - Jonny Paul
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown paid tribute to the tenacity and achievements of the Jewish people on Monday and said that Israel is "a symbol of hope from which all the world can learn." Brown told the United Jewish Israel Appeal, "For 2,000 years, until 1948, the persistent call of the Jewish people was 'next year in Jerusalem.' For 2,000 years there was not one piece of land anywhere in the whole world that you could call your own."
"For 2,000 years you had history but not a home. For 2,000 years you lived in the artistic and cultural and intellectual and scientific and political realm of every continent but you had no home. For 2,000 years you endured pogroms in so many countries, then the horror of the Holocaust - which is the shame of mankind - because you had no home yet for 2,000 years, yet nothing - no prison cell, no forced migration, no violence, not even the Holocaust itself - could ever break the spirit of a people yearning to be free."
"What remarkable achievements Israel has achieved," he said. "A history of ingenuity that is a lesson to the boundless capacity of mind and spirit. Eight citizens have already been awarded Nobel prizes. In Israel today, there are more hi-tech industries, more symphony orchestras, more universities and research institutions than countries that are 100 times the size of Israel. The language of the Bible made the living tongue again, so your story, the story of Israel, is the symbol I identify with as a symbol of hope from which all the world can learn." (Jerusalem Post)
In November 2005 I wrote a review of the Iranian nuclear danger, recommended powerful global pressure on Iran and said this is not likely, and ended with the following:
“My conclusions are: Iran is determined to possess nuclear weapons and no one can stop them.”
The following two summaries by people of substantial background in this area are important to understand.
Everyone Needs to Worry About Iran - Richard Holbrooke, R. James Woolsey, Dennis B. Ross, and Mark D. Wallace (Wall Street Journal)
• Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the United Nations in New York this week. Don't expect an honest update from him on his country's nuclear program. Iran is now edging closer to being armed with nuclear weapons, and it continues to develop a ballistic-missile capability.
• The challenge Iran poses is very real and not a partisan matter. We share a common concern - Iran's drive to be a nuclear state. We believe that Iran's desire for nuclear weapons is one of the most urgent issues facing America today, because even the most conservative estimates tell us that they could have nuclear weapons soon.
• A nuclear-armed Iran would pose a direct threat to America's national security. For this reason, Iran's nuclear ambitions demand a response that will compel Iran's leaders to change their behavior and come to understand that they have more to lose than to gain by going nuclear.
• Iran is a deadly and irresponsible world actor, employing terrorist organizations including Hizbullah and Hamas to undermine existing regimes and to foment conflict. Emboldened by the bomb, Iran will become more inclined to sponsor terror, threaten our allies, and support the most deadly elements of the Iraqi insurgency.
• At the same time, Iranian leaders declare that Israel is illegitimate and should not exist. President Ahmadinejad specifically calls for Israel to be "wiped off from the map," while seeking the weapons to do so. Such behavior casts Iran as an international outlier. No one can reasonably suggest that a nuclear-armed Iran will suddenly honor international treaty obligations, acknowledge Israel's right to exist, or cease efforts to undermine the Arab-Israeli peace process.
• Facing such a threat, Americans must put aside their political differences and send a clear and united message that a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable.
Mr. Holbrooke is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Mr. Woolsey is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Ross was a special Middle East coordinator for President Clinton. Mr. Wallace was a representative of the U.S. to the UN for management and reform.
A Wakeup Call on Iran's Nukes - John Bolton (New York Daily News)
• Britain, France and Germany ("the EU-3") have been negotiating with Iran for over five years, and yet Iran has shown no inclination to terminate its nuclear program. The net effect of five years of EU-3 negotiation is that Iran is five years closer to achieving a deliverable nuclear weapon.
• Europe still does not fully appreciate the risks of a nuclear-armed Iran, nor is it willing to take the steps necessary to prevent it. Europe's lack of real concern stems in part from the mindset that it has passed beyond history, and entered a zone of security that will persist as long as outsiders are not "provoked."
• The Security Council will not solve the Iran problem. Russia, and to a lesser extent China, have made it clear that they will block meaningful sanctions in the Council. Russia has an enormous interest in protecting Iran from meaningful Security Council sanctions. Moscow hopes to sell nuclear fuel, and construct many nuclear power plants in addition to the one nearly complete at Bushehr, and sees Iran as a substantial market for high-end conventional weapons sales. Similarly, China's large and growing demands for energy make Iran an attractive partner for assured supplies of oil and natural gas, as well as a potential market.
• On Jan. 20, the new U.S. president will face very unattractive choices if he is serious about disarming this outlaw regime. One is regime change in Tehran, through support of the widespread discontent across Iran with the mullahs. The other is the targeted use of force against Iran's nuclear program. Unfortunately, the only other alternative - Iran with nuclear weapons - is far worse.
The writer, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.