Ngorongoro Highland Pics

Back in Africa, we hiked for 2 days with a Massai guide (Nati) though Massai villages and grazing planes of their cattle , sheep, goats. We also visited a school in the village.

Zanzibar Pics

Elvis Has Left the Building

Obama’s Holy Land tour ended yesterday, but not before Netanyahu made a phone call to Turkey’s Erdogan to apologize for the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla deaths. A special phone booth (a trailer) was conveniently placed next to Air Force One where Bibi could make the call before Obama boarded the plane.

Ironically, in spite of White House efforts to shield Obama from obvious, unspeakable warts, weather assured he’d see one – the separation wall. A local khamsin, a desert sand storm, blew in at just the moment Obama was to take his helicopter to the West Bank. Poor visibility meant he now had to drive through Jerusalem to reach Bethlehem, which meant passing through and along one of the most sobering symbols of the conflict. Some might call that divine intervention.

Still, Obama’s speech and visit to the Israeli people have registered as a roaring success in spite of their lack of meaningful substance on critical peace issues. And the apology to Turkey certainly gives Obama a feather for his hat.

Click below to watch the speech everyone (in Israel) is talking about. Israeli papers reported, “He had us at shalom.”

“Welcome to Israel, Mr. President.”

The White House may be downplaying Obama’s visit to Israel, but his 3-day tour through the holy land has presented Israel’s peace activists the opportunity to underscore their role in highlighting sentiment against the occupation. They bought large ads in today’s Ha Aretz and Jerusalem Post print versions.

Israel’s peace activists, you say?

Though you’d never know it from the paltry to non-existent coverage they receive in the American (and mainstream Western) press, Israel’s voice of opposition to conflict in the territories is impressive, well organized and replete with some heavy hitters (the best example being former IDF soldiers who make up Breaking the Silence).

In our newspapers, criticism about regional geopolitics abounds, but readers too often finish with the impression that Jewish Israelis themselves have little to say or do except complain about international scrutiny and fret about security. We might expect that newspapers claiming to give voice to the voiceless would make the effort to credit those who risk ostracisation and the wrath of their own brand of religous fanatics. The Israeli peace movement is good people doing something. It’s good material. It should be big news, but the biggest names in journalism rarely make mention of the country’s active protest. Not the New York Times, not The Guardian, not Le Monde. As if attempts to silence them on their home turf weren’t bad enough, some of the largest newspapers with the loudest horns essentially ignore the existence of Israel’s peace camp. How can that be an accident?

Well, The Guardian did offer a little chirp of attention several days ago. On the 17th they ran a link to the following film short, My Neighborhood, produced by the group Just Vision. Watch the film to get an idea of Israel’s activists in action and be sure to check out Just Vision’s website for news you’re unlikely to find in the New York Times.

Back in Paris

We’ve been in back in Paris for 4 days. Leaving for Israel tomorrow for a month. We’ve been spending our time doing laundry, collecting the luggage we left in Paris  – repacking for Israel and leaving a different set of stuff in Paris.

Our last two weeks in Africa were spent in Zanzibar – I’ll post some pictures once we are in Israel and work my way back to post a variety of pictures and video from our Africa trip.