These guys are too much

Journalists from the Jerusalem Post actually expected Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain to know exactly where and in what areas East Jerusalem and the West Bank overlap (in the Palestinian view, which is shared by many UN member states).

At least McCain was honest enough to admit he did not know: “On some matters of detail – such as whether he distinguished between Israeli building in east Jerusalem and in the settlements – McCain paused, cast a ‘help me out here’ glance in (Senator Joe) Lieberman’s direction, and then – very straightforwardly – said he ‘really didn’t have a good response to that question’.”

israeli journalists also expected U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to be able to pronounce on the exact status of Gilo, or Har Homa.

She just got irritated and huffy, and impatiently brushed off the question.

They can’t believe that important figures, who are taking positions that would affect their destiny, would not know exactly everything about every single area in and around “Greater Jerusalem”.

Around the time of the Annapolis Conference, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and some of his senior colleagues explained that — for them — anything that is part of the “Greater Jerusalem” that they unilaterally declared after their victory in the June 1967 war is not covered by the Roadmap obligations against settlement expansion.

BTW, McCain also said: “I also understand that there are some isolated settlements that will also be closed down. That’s a tough decision for the [Israeli] government. I’ve seen the film when they go in and remove people from settlements, and it is a democracy. My job is not to make a decision as to whether the settlements should be expanded or not, but rather my job, I think, is to try to create conditions that would lead to negotiations and a settlement grounded on the belief that it is not just [about] my commitment to the state of Israel. If Hamas/Hizbullah succeeds here, they are going to succeed everywhere, not only in the Middle East, but everywhere, and Israel is not the only enemy. They are dedicated to the extinction of everything that the US, Israel and the West believes and stands for. So America does have an interest in what happens here, far above and beyond our alliance with the state of Israel”…

Here is a fuller excerpt from the JPOST interview:

“Question: Do you see a distinction between Israel building in new neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, and building in the settlements?

McCain [Long pause]: I really don’t have a good response to that question. I really think that we should understand that the US and Israel are partners. Israel is not a client of the United States of America, they don’t do our bidding, they have a freely elected government, and that government functions sometimes haltingly; so does ours, by the way. In case you haven’t noticed, we haven’t passed a budget yet, and the Iraqis have! Some people say, too often, ‘We should tell the Israelis what to do’. But we are partners. And if you are true partners, then you don’t dictate what you think the terms of the survival of a nation should be. Doesn’t saying something like that, which is very forthright and will be very welcome in Israel, complicate your potential of being accepted as an honest partner for the Palestinians? I hope not, because I would be more than happy to treat Fatah as a partner as well, if they were committed to a process that resulted in peace. We all agree there [needs to be] a two-state solution. If there were a two-state solution and peace – which has far-reaching effects not only in the Middle East, but in the entire world – then I would be eager to have the United States and a Palestinian state as partners. But a little straight talk: we do have a unique relationship [with Israel]. We have a unique relationship with the British; that doesn’t mean we can’t be partners with the French or anybody else. We have a unique relationship between the United States and Israel, but that doesn’t mean we would discriminate against a Palestinian state if it were created, and Israel and the US are committed long-term to a two-state solution”.

The full McCain interview in the JPost can be seen here .

Too cold to think

Normally, I wouldn’t have to think of these things. But here, in the far northern wilds of Jerusalem, central heating is a luxury that few are willing to pay for. It is, apparently, nearly unaffordable.

For those privileged few who have “central” heating, the standard rule of thumb is to turn on the heat for 1-2 hours a day. Those families with one or more bread-winners might go up to 4-5 hours a day of heat. The cold is painful. The remedy is to llive in a small room, with portable electric or gas heaters.

The building where I live is not yet completed — and I am the only one who asked for heat. No, please don’t give me individual gas cannisters, I said, both out of fear of gas explosions, and out of some stupid idea of communal solidarity. No, please put the gas in the underground storage container (I thought my neighbors might join in after I made the initial contribution — but I was wrong.)

So, this is the gas meter for the whole building, but I am the only one using it — and so it is my gas meter.

image-of-meter-taken-around-9-pm-on-night-of-4-feb-08-green-thing-is-relief-valve-in-case-too-much-pressure.JPG

Before I moved in, I said I must have heat. I cannot live through a cold Jerusalem winter without heat.

Gas is cheaper than diesel, cheaper than electricity, I was told. This is the best system available, the top of the top.

But, nobody really knew.

I was the first one to use this system — and it has to be said that it has not really worked very well.

From the 1st of November, what would be start of the traditional heating season here (if people heated their homes), until the present — a period of about 93 days — I have been 22 days without heat (1 to 10 November; 22 to 30 December; 30 January to the present). In December and in January, that also meant having NO HOT WATER, as it was normally supplied though the gas heating system (and nobody understood very well how to make the optional boiler heater work).

And what did it cost? To date, some 8,500 N.I.S. (new Israeli shekels) I am told (about $2420.00 at the present rate of exchange), for 72 days of heat…image-of-meter-taken-around-9-pm-on-night-of-4-feb-06-the-yumkers-machine-on-my-balcony-is-not-working.JPG

To be perfectly honest, the gas delivery man failed to vaccum out the air from the tank before he made the first delivery into the outdoor underground tank. So, the system did not work (1-10 November). Then, when the landlord and his deputy, my neighbor, opened the tank to take out the air, a lot of gas escaped. So, the first delivery of 1.2 tons of gas was pretty much a loss.

After the second delivery (on 30 December, after 8 days without heat), I put the heat on so low that the windows in my bedroom were dripping with condensed moisture, and mold grew all along the outer walls.

When that gas ran out*, during a snowstorm on 30 January, during the coldest spell here in 100 years, it took seven days to get the landlord to get a truck to deliver a little more gas. [*It apparently didn’t run out. One amateur theory was that the gas froze, but experts say that gas does not freeze…It seems that there was indeed a quarter of a tank of gas left, but that did not provide enough pressure to make the system work…]

“She uses the heat from morning to night”, the neighbors and the landloard say disapprovingly…even if that is not exactly true… The disapproval is so thick it could be cut with a knife.

East Jerusalem celebrations as Ramadan ends

Palestinian boy scouts march with flags in East Jerusalem

Here are photos from Ghaleb Mashni, our “reporter on the spot”, of celebrations in East Jerusalem after the new moon is sighted, somewhere, marking the end of the sacred month of Ramadan — and the Eid (the Feast, or Holiday) begins.  The Palestinian boy scouts, with drums and bagpipes, are marching in the main commercial area of East Jerusalem (Az-Zahra and Salah Eddin Streets).  It was only in the evening — after the sighting, somewhere, of the new moon — that it was known that Ramadan would end on Friday night, and not on Saturday.

Palestinian boy scouts march in East Jerusalem

The boys in the Boy Scout band are drinking water to quench their thirst after the last day of Ramadan fasting.Ma