UNESCO designates Tel Aviv as World Heritage Site, and other stories

July 08, 2003

CONTENTS

1. Kenyan Street children to train in Israel
2. UNESCO designates Tel Aviv as World Heritage Site
3. Jerusalem mayor's prize fight with Arthur Miller
4. The Dead Sea could disappear in 50 years
5. First Israeli to make it to a Wimbledon final


“TO RECOGNIZE THE SPECIALNESS OF TEL AVIV, IS PARTICULARLY SWEET”

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach 6 "human interest" articles concerning Israel, largely unrelated to the Palestinian conflict. There are summaries first.

1. "Street children to train in Israel" (East African Standard, Nairobi, Kenya, July 4, 2003). The Kenyan Government will soon send a number of Kenyan "street children" to Israel for vocational training. "Local Government Minister Karisa Maitha said he expected the chosen individuals to learn how Israelis have been able to transform barren desert land into lucrative orchards. He said the street children would specifically visit Israel's Kibbutz or community land schemes where arid land has been transformed into arable land."

2. "UNESCO designates Tel Aviv as World Heritage Site" (July 6, 2003). Called "Unprecedented U.N. recognition for city's 'White City' architecture". UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has designated the "White City architecture" of Tel Aviv as one of 24 new World Heritage Sites. Tel Aviv is one of the few UNESCO recognitions of a 20th century phenomenon as a world heritage site. During the 1920's and 1930's, as German-Jewish architects at the heart of the Bauhaus movement left Germany for what was then Palestine, Tel Aviv adopted their style as a route to defining the character of the new "Jewish" city burgeoning on the Mediterranean. By the mid-1930's it was the only city in the world being built entirely in the International Style its simple concrete curves, boxy shapes, small windows set in large walls, glass-brick towers and sweeping terraces all washed with white. "For UNESCO a body affiliated with the organization that once passed an odious resolution equating Zionism with racism (the resolution was subsequently overturned) to recognize the specialness of Tel Aviv, is particularly sweet," said the Israeli tourism minister. There are now four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Israel: the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem; Masada; the Old City of Akko, and Tel Aviv.

3. Jerusalem Post editorial on the UNESCO decision.

4. "Jerusalem mayor's prize fight with Miller Ultra-Orthodox leader insults Crucible dramatist at literary award ceremony" (The Observer, U.K the Sunday edition of The Guardian, July 6, 2003). "It was supposed to be a fitting tribute to one of the world's greatest living dramatists by Israel's literary elite, but the award ceremony last week for the Jerusalem Literary Prize descended into an unseemly row between Arthur Miller and Jerusalem's newly elected ultra-Orthodox Jewish mayor. Miller, himself Jewish, is perhaps best know for the play The Crucible, which pits a humane and liberal hero against religious fundamentalists in seventeenth-century New England."

“EXPERTS WARN THAT TIME IS RUNNING OUT”

5. "$2.6b proposal to divert water into disappearing Dead Sea" (Jordan Times/AFP, Jordan, June 23, 2003). " The Dead Sea could disappear in 50 years. Over the past three years, it has decreased by 3m. Now, it is one-third less than what it used to be in the 1960s due to the diversion of the Jordan River water for irrigation, experts said. Jordanian Water Minister Hazem Nasser cautioned: 'The Dead Sea basin is facing an environmental decline and if it continues like this, it will hit a catastrophe... Experts warn that time is running out."

6. "Ram becomes first Israeli to make it to a Wimbledon final" (Ha'aretz, July 6, 2003). (This is an update to my previous story on Wimbledon.) Israeli tennis player Andy Ram and his Russian partner Anastassia Rodionova lost in the Wimbledon mixed doubles final on Sunday to Martina Navratilova (United States) and Leander Paes (India). Two Israelis also got through to the semi-finals of the men's doubles. No Israeli tennis player has ever reached the semi-finals or finals at Wimbledon before.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

STREET CHILDREN TO TRAIN IN ISRAEL

Street children to train in Israel
By Amos Kareithi
The East African Standard
July 4 2003

The Government will soon send a number of street children to Israel for vocational training.

Local Government Minister Karisa Maitha said plans are underway to identify a number of street children to pioneer the project.

The minister said that he expected the chosen individuals to learn how Israelites have been able to transform barren desert land into lucrative orchards.

He said the street children would specifically visit Israel's Kibbutz or community land schemes where arid land has been transformed into arable land.

Maitha said that this was one of the many programmes his ministry had in store for the street children under rehabilitation.

He at the same time disclosed that an additional 1,600 street children would be sent to the National Youth Service training college at Gilgil in August this year.

Maitha said that well wishers had donated Sh10 million towards the rehabilitation of street families.

He further added that the Local Government Ministry had been able to source an additional Sh40 million from the Government.

He, however, complained that there was a clamour by street children and other jobless people to flock to Nairobi in the hope of being recruited into the NYS.

"You do not have to come to Nairobi. Soon all the councils in the country will have similar rehabilitation programmes which will give vocational training to reformed street people" he said.

He said that Government was willing to fund well formulated rehabilitating projects by councils.

Maitha was responding to pleas by Central Provincial Commissioner, Peter Raburu, who decried the presence of increased numbers of street children in all major urban centres in the region.

Raburu asked the minister whether it was possible to replicate the rehabilitation programme in Nairobi to other parts of the country to end the menace.

 

UNESCO DESIGNATES TEL AVIV AS WORLD HERITAGE SITE

UNESCO Designates Tel Aviv as World Heritage Site
Information department, Israel Foreign Ministry Jerusalem
Jerusalem, July 6, 2003

Unprecedented U.N. recognition for city's "White City" architecture
(Communicated by the Ministry of Tourism Spokesman)

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has designated the "White City architecture" of Tel Aviv as one of 24 new World Heritage Sites. UNESCO now recognizes 754 world sites it describes as being of "outstanding universal value."

Tel Aviv is one of the few UNESCO recognitions of a 20th century phenomenon as a world heritage site. "What makes the designation of Tel Aviv so unprecedented," says Minster of Tourism, Benny Elon, is that almost every other UNESCO World Heritage Site is either a natural wonder, or hundreds or thousands of years old. Designating Tel Aviv is one of the few UNESCO recognitions of a twentieth century phenomenon and it makes us very proud."

Tel Aviv, founded as a garden suburb of the ancient Mediterranean port of Jaffa in 1909, quickly bloomed into the commercial, entertainment and cultural capital of the Land of Israel. Today, while Jerusalem is Israel's capital and has the largest population of any single municipality in Israel, Tel Aviv remains Israel's "New York," heart of Israel's largest urban conglomeration that is home to almost 3 million Israelis.

And it is Tel Aviv's uniqueness as home to more Bauhaus or International Style architecture than any city in the world, that has earned it UNESCO's seal of approval. During the 1920's and 1930's, as German-Jewish architects at the heart of the Bauhaus movement left Germany for what was then Palestine, Tel Aviv literally overnight adopted their style as a route to defining the character of the new "Jewish" city burgeoning on the Mediterranean. By the mid-1930's it was the only city on earth being built entirely in the International Style its simple concrete curves, boxy shapes, small windows set in large walls, glass-brick towers and sweeping terraces all washed with white. Viewed from the air, Tel Aviv appeared as a vision of startling white, hence the appellation, "White City."

"The creation of the city of Tel Aviv is one of the greatest symbols and successes of the Zionist Movement," Elon observed, "so for UNESCO a body affiliated with the organization that once passed an odious resolution equating Zionism with racisim (the resolution was subsequently overturned) to recognize the specialness of Tel Aviv, is particularly sweet."

THE “WHITE CITY” TODAY

Almost every Bauhaus or International Style building in Tel Aviv is an architectural landmark a delight for visitors, if sometimes a nightmare for owners. Sixty, 70 and 80 years after they were built, many are in disrepair, but the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality gives generous subsidies to owners performing restorations. Hundreds of "White City" buildings have been restored in recent years, and many are apartment buildings, offices, private houses, restaurants and hotels. One of the loveliest "White City" restorations is that of the former Esther movie-theater in Dizengoff Circle, reborn as the "boutique" Cinema Hotel, that retains the sweeping staircases, tall windows and curving balconies of its former identity, plus dozens of architectural and design details that recall its heritage.

There are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Israel: the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem; Masada; the Old City of Akko and Tel Aviv's "White City."

***

For additional information see
www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0njq0

 

The Jerusalem Post writes: "Last week UNESCO declared Tel Aviv an international heritage city an honor by an organization, which has, like other UN bodies, been an often unfriendly place for Israel. UNESCO didn't honor Tel Aviv as the first Zionist urban creation, but as an unparalleled outdoor Bauhaus museum an influential school of design founded by Walter Gropius in Germany, after World War I. After the Nazis shut down the school in 1933, many Jewish Bauhaus adherents, especially architects, found safe haven from persecution in Tel Aviv. They turned their creative energies to developing and building it to their Bauhaus specifications, fashioning what became, for a while, the fabled spanking white city on the Mediterranean. Much of old Tel Aviv was conceived in the Bauhaus image, making it a treasure trove to connoisseurs of that style of modern architecture. We can only hope that this recognition will give impetus to efforts to lovingly preserve a heritage which, alas, is in sad disrepair. Tel Aviv's new status can mean income and jobs. The potential for cultural tourism is great. A well-restored and maintained old Tel Aviv could attract visitors from abroad and contribute to the overall economy."

 

JERUSALEM MAYOR’S PRIZE FIGHT WITH MILLER

Jerusalem mayor's prize fight with Miller
Ultra-Orthodox leader insults Crucible dramatist at literary award ceremony
By Conal Urquhart
The Observer (U.K.)
July 6, 2003

It was supposed to be a fitting tribute to one of the world's greatest living dramatists by Israel's literary elite, but the award ceremony last week for the Jerusalem Literary Prize descended into an unseemly row between Arthur Miller and Jerusalem's newly elected ultra-Orthodox Jewish mayor.

Miller, himself Jewish, is perhaps best know for the play The Crucible, which pits a humane and liberal hero against religious fundamentalists in seventeenth-century New England.

The chairman of the prize committee, Avishay Braverman, said Miller, 86, was selected for 'his efforts on behalf of the common good, for standing alongside the small, grey individual and placing him in the centre of society'.

Miller, however, did not embrace the prize with open arms. Initially he had considered declining it but decided instead to accept and give a speech criticising the policies of the Israeli government. To make matters worse, Miller did not make a personal appearance at the ceremony, telling the organisers that he had previous commitments, and sent a video-recorded acceptance speech instead.

Previous winners of the prize, awarded to Jewish and non-Jewish writers for the past 21 years, include Don DeLillo and Susan Sontag, who was also very critical of Israeli policies when she accepted the prize. A larger-than-life Miller, magnified on a video screen in a dark suit and red tie, thanked the audience for the award before launching into a critique of current Israeli policies. He concluded that Israel needed to rediscover its Jewish principles if it were 'to restore its immortal light to the world'.

Uri Lopolianksi, the mayor of Jerusalem, apparently looked angry as he took out his prepared reply, although some guests said it was clear that the mayor's staff had seen the video earlier in order to write a response to it which one guest described as 'nationalistic garbage'.

Lopolianksi said Miller was a 'universal dramatist' who had reached his peak more than 50 years ago. He condemned the tendency of intellectuals to 'always criticise the actions of the state of Israel and sometimes even impose colonial criteria on the issues'. He further attacked Miller for sitting on a 'literary Olympus tens of thousands of kilometres from here to voice criticism'.

He went on: 'It is hard to deal with the pure truth. And the simple truth is the people of Israel have not yet completed the war for its existence. Our enemies continue their war and we have to defend ourselves.'

Miller had invited the mayor's wrath by describing the policy of settling the West Bank and Gaza as self-defeating and suggested that Israel wanted to turn the clock back to when it was acceptable for nations 'to expand beyond their natural borders'.

He said that he and others hoped Israel would become 'a peaceful, progressive society like any other', but it had become the very opposite: 'An armed and rather desperate society at odds with its neighbours but also the world.'

Guests said that, while Miller's comments were no surprise to anyone who knew anything about the playwright whose other work includes A View From the Bridge and Death of a Salesman, the mayor's attack was inappropriate.

Michael Handelzalts, the literary editor of the Israeli daily Haaretz, said: 'Lopolianksi was pretty emotional. He reacted like a typical angry Israeli would under the circumstances. He went on at great length, not understanding the situation and that most of the audience, who were from abroad, did not understand him speaking Hebrew.'

Lopolianski is Jerusalem's first ultra-Orthodox Jewish mayor. His most important contribution to Israeli life was the foundation of the Yad Sarah charity, which supports the disabled. One guest told The Observer: 'He may be very efficient as a mayor, but he is very provincial and narrow-minded because of his upbringing. For an ultra-Orthodox Jew he is very liberal, but it is still a very limited liberalism. I suspect he had not heard of Miller until he had to read his name as the winner of the prize. He may have heard of Marilyn Monroe [Miller's second wife], but I suspect that he has not seen or read any of his work.'

Aaron Applefeld, an Israeli writer on the prize jury: 'It was the jury that awarded the prize and not the mayor, who I don't suspect is a very literary man. It was a pity the event was so political, it would have been better to speak about the plays.'

 

$2.6B PROPOSAL TO DIVERT WATER INTO DISAPPEARING DEAD SEA

$2.6b proposal to divert water into disappearing Dead Sea
Jordan Times/AFP
June 23, 2003

The Dead Sea could disappear in 50 years. Over the past three years, it has decreased by 3m. Now, it is one-third less than what it used to be in the 1960s due to the diversion of the Jordan River water for irrigation, experts said.

Jordanian Water Minister Hazem Nasser cautioned: 'The Dead Sea basin is facing an environmental decline and if it continues like this, it will hit a catastrophe.'

Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians are hoping that world leaders now gathered on the shores of the Dead Sea for the World Economic Forum will back efforts to help save the lowest body of water on Earth.

At the meeting, their officials will submit a proposal for a project to channel water through a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.

Mr Nasser warned that saving the mineral-rich Dead Sea, a gold mine for potash extractors and a magnet for tourists who go to bathe in its salty waters, was a large-scale project that would not happen overnight.

'It needs a lot of studies and preparation and huge financial resources,' he said.

The project, which Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians hope to fund through the World Bank and the private sector, is estimated to cost US$1.5 billion (S$2.6 billion).

Meanwhile, experts warn that time is running out.

Jordanian geology professor Elias Salameh said: 'The Dead Sea is now 415m below sea level.

'It is still decreasing because the riparian countries are using more of the fresh water and the water resources which usually feed it,' he said.

He added that the Dead Sea would dry out and shrink to a very small pool consisting of 'very, very salty brine' unless water was brought into it from the Red Sea or the Mediterranean.

He also noted that the Dead Sea was hostage to the industrial and tourism sectors that had mushroomed along its shores, both in Jordan and Israel.

Potash factories and other industries have contributed to the drop in the body of water and are 'causing too much damage to the coastal areas in the form of sink holes', he said.

Water which is feeding the Dead Sea is also diverted for agriculture by Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians.

Prof Salameh warned that if the world waited much longer, it would be too late.

'Building a canal will take seven to 10 years, and by that time, the level of the Dead Sea will have dropped by an additional 8m, which is catastrophic,' he said.

 

RAM BECOMES FIRST ISRAELI TO MAKE IT TO A WIMBLEDON FINAL

Ram becomes first Israeli to make it to a Wimbledon final
Ha'aretz
July 6, 2003

Andy Ram became the first Israeli to make it to a Wimbledon final, in mixed doubles, after a weekend that saw him first suffer the disappointment of losing his men's doubles semifinals.

On Friday, immediately after his men's doubles semifinals loss with partner Yoni Erlich, Ram was back on court, this time with Anastassia Rodionova of Russia, to defeat Scott Humphries of the United States and Elena Bovina of Russia 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 in the quarter finals.

Yesterday, the pair waltzed past Jordan Kerr of Australia and Milagros Sequera of Venezuela 6-3, 6-2 to secure their historic Wimbledon finals berth.

Ram and Rodionova broke serve twice in the first set for an easy win, and in the second set they responded immediately to a break of serve by their opponents in the third game with two breaks in a row.

They don't yet know who they will face in the finals, but could find themselves up against Ram's men's doubles semifinal nemesis Todd Woodbridge of Australia, together with Svetlena Kuznetsova of Russia. Woodbridge and Kuznetsova, however, will face a grueling task, as they have to beat Leos Friedl of the Czech Republic and Liezel Huber of South Africa in the quarterfinals before a semifinal standoff against Leander Paes of India and the veteran Martina Navratilova.

Either way, Ram and his Russian partner will have the advantage, as all games from the quarter finals through to the finals are scheduled to take place today, unless there are last-minute changes.

Woodbridge retains doubles crown

After storming through the qualifying rounds to the men's doubles semifinal, Ram and Erlich went down in four sets on Friday to last year's champions Woodbridge and Jonas Bjorkman.

Ram and Erlich were outclassed by the more experienced pair, losing 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. Woodbridge and Bjorkman went on to retain their crown yesterday with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 win over the top-seeded Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi. The win made it a record-equaling eighth men's doubles title for Woodbridge.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.