The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

Whatever Happened To Our Israeli Students Of ’68/’69?

From 1964 until 1972 I was a teacher at London’s leading Jewish state school, JFS Comprehensive. It was my first full time teaching post and the eight years I spent there, teaching history, were amongst the happiest of my career.

In July/August 1968 and again in 1969 my wife and I went with a group of colleagues and sixth formers from JFS (then in the London Borough of Camden) to Israel for six weeks to help Israeli students with their English and also to tour around the country….our JFS leader was Manny Klein, a very lively teaching colleague. It was soon after the Six Day War so we also visited the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza & Sinai and the Golan Heights.

Almost everyone in our party was Jewish but not my wife  or myself. Nevertheless we felt a great rapport with our Israeli students and our hosts at the settlement of Merkaz Shapira, about ten miles east of Ashkelon, particularly our guide, Chaim and Eli and Rachel Naaman who travelled with us on our tours

Our students were Ruth, Halea, Hania, Shula, and the two Rachels. There they are in the picture below. They were good company and keen to hone up their English skills. They knew that their generation would be leading Israel into maturity as a nation and had great pride in what had already been achieved. As the decades have passed I often wondered what had become of them through all the ups and downs of the ensuing years. They would, hopefully, be grandparents now – I wonder what tales they could tell….

Ruth. Halea, Hania, Rachel, ShulaBeryl, David, Rachel


R to L Top: Ruth, Halea, Hania, Rachel Bottom: Shula, Beryl, David, Rachel


As to our Israeli hosts -Chaim was a real character, bursting with energy, a brilliant guide who was desperate to show us every nook and cranny of Israel, always clutching his Zev Vilnay. Some of the teachers and students in our JFS group found him a little overwhelming but he burned with an infectious enthusiasm that struck a chord with my own love of history. He also, strangely enough, latched on to my own rather quirky sense of humour

Eli Naaman accompanied us on our week touring Gaza, Sinai, the Negev and the Dead Sea by lorry. He had collected an old Lee Enfield 303 from a police station “just in case” as we entered Gaza. I had fired a 303 at UK military ranges so we got chatting. When we returned to MS it was just before Shabbat and almost everyone in our party had arrangements to visit relatives or friends. Not being Jewish we were prepared for our own company when Eli invited us to spend Shabbat with his family which is how we got to know Rachel and her son. Their offer to share that time with a non Jewish couple was an act of great kindness and it was very moving to experience a Jewish Shabbat in Israel.

Merkaz Shapira - Chaim, our guide & mentor




Merkaz Shapira - Rachel Naaman & son


Rachel Naaman and her son, with Beryl

And Merkaz Shapira?  When I compared my  photos with Google street view it was obvious that things had changed a lot. But then I realised that is what happens after virtually half a century. Where we live  in Sussex was all fields and copses, streams and narrow country roads fifty years ago ….all built up now…..time moves on even as memories seem crystal clear.

Apologies for the quality of the photos – it was fashionable in the sixties to convert negatives into slides. Unfortunately I cannot find the negatives so we converted the slides into jpegs. Colours are a bit washed out (it was only a cheap camera) and there are specks from the slides. However we do hope they convey something of the Israel of nearly half a century ago….


P S……I have been told that Chaim passed away several years ago and that Rachel Naaman is still living but her son Uzi, the boy in the picture was, sadly, killed in the Yom Kippur war……

posted by david in Personal and have Comments Off on Whatever Happened To Our Israeli Students Of ’68/’69?

Why Not “Hamas Talks To Israel” Rather Than “Israel Talks To Hamas”

Prof Jacobson’s blog at Legal Insurrection should be a must read for any English politics junkie interested in American conservatism. With the exceptions of Dan Riehl and Instapundit nobody else mines the seam of small government outside-the-beltway Edward Abbey style mockery of bien pensant radical chic so effectively.

Which of course is why we here in the UK never hear his name mentioned by the High Tory bloggers at Conservative Home and Coffee House who much prefer the bleating of David Frum and the ravings of Andrew Sullivan

So I must recommend a guest post at LI by Joel Berger in which he takes to task, not just the liberal/left US/UK media but also several highly respected Israeli talking heads who are constantly chanting the mantra that, at some stage the Israelis should start a dialogue with the Hamas leadership in Gaza.

Berger turns the question around. Since Hamas is wedded and glued to the total destruction of the Israeli state and also driven by a hatred of Jews as visceral and obsessive as any SS operative there can be very little mileage in attempting to initiate dialogue. That’s why Berger is saying that the onus should be on pushing Hamas to the conference chamber. After all, why should anyone be expected to “negotiate” with a group of people who not only glory in violence but also say they are going to throw you not only out of your house but also over the top of the 500 ft cliff that is behind it?

The Palestinian political elite, be it Arafat or Hamas, see any Israeli concession as a sign of weakness, not of good will. That the UK and US should still be pushing initiatives and plans based on the assumptions of a two way street in the face of a self proclaimed disdain from Hamas is yet another triumph of hope over substance.

posted by david in Middle East and have Comments Off on Why Not “Hamas Talks To Israel” Rather Than “Israel Talks To Hamas”

Things You Won’t Hear Too Much About From The BBC About Those Hamas Rockets…

Douglas Murray spells out some cold, hard facts about Hamas, their rockets and the Israeli response which should always be borne in mind when watching any BBC report from Gaza.

The reason Hamas are firing into the heart of Israel is because they do not believe that Israel should exist anywhere at all. Hamas are not quibbling over the 1967 borders, or the Oslo parameters. They are showing that they do not accept the 1948 borders. Hamas do not accept Israel. They say so and, by actions like these, they demonstrate it.

And one thing you cannot say about the leaders of Hamas is that they are concealing their true motive

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.

Not that you will hear too much about that from the BBC and the rest of the liberal/left media….

posted by david in Middle East and have Comments Off on Things You Won’t Hear Too Much About From The BBC About Those Hamas Rockets…

Every Western Media Report From Gaza Comes Courtesy Of Hamas…

We now know that during Saddam Hussein’s murderous rule in Iraq CNN acted as a mouthpiece of the regime in order to maintain its presence. No doubt the BBC did the same. All foreign reporters had “minders” who directed them to “news stories” that the regime wished to be disseminated. They were thus essentially broadcasting the government’s propaganda. The advantage for the Iraqis, of course, was the BBC/CNN tag which gave these reports an air of respectability.

Why people have not grasped that everything coming out of Gaza today from CNN, BBC, Reuters etc is equally managed and directed by the Hamas regime is something that astonishes me. When the BBC interviews someone in Gaza they have been handpicked by their media minders. Street scenes, hospital footage – it’s all carefully stage managed and filtered in order to buttress the image of Hamas.

Ask yourself this. Has the BBC ever interviewed somebody in Gaza who is critical of Hamas policy? Have they ever filmed an anti Hamas demonstration in Gaza? No, of course not.

Then riddle me this….has the BBC ever interviewed an Israeli who is critical of his/her government’s policy – or filmed a demonstration denouncing Israel’s policy towards Gaza? Yes, many times….

Until we can have confirmation that the Hamas regime will allow the BBC to interview its political opponents and to film some form of public disaffection in Gaza then I will simply refuse to take any report from within Gaza as anything more than a tissue of lies or half truths.

Every western media report coming out of Gaza should be accompanied by a loud and explicit caveat that it was compiled under very strict conditions of censorship and highly resticted access – and needs to be taken with a very large pinch of salt…..

posted by david in BBC,Middle East,War and have Comments Off on Every Western Media Report From Gaza Comes Courtesy Of Hamas…

If Only The Israelis Would Be Reasonable And Die Quietly….

The UK Guardian goes Der Sturmer, faked casualties for BBC/Reuters in Gaza and Hamas organises a fair trial…..all because those Jews are being so unreasonable and refusing yet again to die quietly….

posted by david in Middle East,War and have Comments Off on If Only The Israelis Would Be Reasonable And Die Quietly….

Will Cameron Be Brave Enough To Ignore Michelle O’s Beady Eye And Offer Romney The Churchill Bust When They Meet At The Olympics?

Governor Mitt Romney, who is likely to be the Republican nominee against President Obama in the forthcoming US elections this coming November will spend the last days of July attempting to burnish his foreign policy credentials with visits to Britain, Israel and Poland.

The aim will be to introduce himself onto a world stage where the other players, on the surface at least, appear not to have bought into the disappointment and disillusion felt by large swathes of the US electorate. The myth of the transformational figure peddled by the US media in 2008 which presented a shallow Chicago machine hack as a latter day Moses who would lead his country and the rest of the world into a global era of peace and honey is still the official party line of the chattering classes outside the USA – except in Poland where Obama is seen as Putin’s poodle and Israel whose government is very wary of repeating the role of the Czechs against Obama’s Chamberlain.

So Romney wants to remind these folk that, come January there might very well be a new face in the White House with a very different world view. A lot of his foreign policy advisors could well be George W Bush retreads with a far more cynical view about resetting buttons and the faces in Warsaw and Jerusalem will be far more comfortable with that.

One would like to say that David Cameron and his London colleagues would also be keeping their fingers crossed for a Romney victory since Obama has been rather disdainful America’s closest ally with his pandering to Russia and Argentina – but, unfortunately, Cameron, like the UK media in general, is still infatuated with Obama the myth. Indeed, during his visit to Washington last March the British Prime Minister was so grovellingly obsequious to the president that Romney surrogates let it be known that they felt an election year line had been crossed.

Romney will be in London for the opening of the Olympics, reviving memories of his own connections when he was drafted in to rescue the Utah 2002 winter Olympics from corruption and confusion. However he will also take the opportunity to press some influential flesh
At his first stop, in London, Romney plans meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Foreign Secretary William Hague, and Ed Miliband, who leads the opposition Labour Party. He plans fundraisers, where attendees will likely include bankers and others from London’s financial sector.

For most of this year David Cameron has been particularly gaffe prone. Let’s hope he isn’t stupid enough not to realise that, with the polls still too close to call, he might well be talking to the next US President and a man who almost certainly will have more respect for the special relationship than Obama and his Chicago cronies….

But you never can tell with Cameron. For all his Tory rhetoric you always get the feeling the man is essentially a fully paid up member of the metro elite who still hungers for approval from North London dinner parties and and the UK branch of Obama’s media “palace guard” at the BBC…and, with Michelle Obama heading the US Olympic delegation he might find her beady eye a little discomforting….

posted by david in UK Politics,USA Politics and have Comments Off on Will Cameron Be Brave Enough To Ignore Michelle O’s Beady Eye And Offer Romney The Churchill Bust When They Meet At The Olympics?

BBC Reports From Gaza Always Forget To Mention The Presence Of Hamas “Minders”…I Wonder Why?

Remember reading the 2004 Balen report requested by the BBC itself to investigate accusations of anti Israel bias in its Middle East reporting?

No, neither do I – because the BBC has resisted all attempts to force it into the public domain. Don’t bother to ring Sherlock Holmes either to find out why because the findings must have been an embarrassing indictment of the Beeb’s lack of neutrality.

At The Commentator Simon Plosker has a good analysis of a more recent report on the BBC’s coverage of the Arab Spring. Generally a whitewash but, to be fair, there are some criticisms, particularly of the rather cavalier use of unverified mobile phone footage without an accompanying caveat.

Perhaps the Balen Report also found that the BBC has an unhealthy reliance on Palestinian “eyewitnesses” whose versions of events cannot be guaranteed as reliable.
And what about the lack of caveats? Does the BBC announce the reporting restrictions from Gaza where there is risk of intimidation and threats from Hamas, both towards foreign media and against Palestinians who deviate from the party line?

That is a very pertinent point. The Hamas administration in Gaza is an authoritarian regime with an unpleasant record of human rights abuse. Any Palestinian who publicly criticised it would almost certainly suffer severe consequences. But in any Gaza vox pop presented by the BBC there is never a caveat about this lack of freedom.

But then should we be surprised? After all whenever “ordinary folk” were interviewed in any Catholic enclave in Northern Ireland during the thirty years of the Troubles we were never told by the BBC that their reporters only operated under IRA “protection”.

Similarly we were never informed that government “minders” always accompanied BBC “journalists” around Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, making certain that every citizen toed the party line.

As long as a regime or group is anti British (or anti Israel) you can be certain those caveats are conveniently forgotten.

After all, as the BBC says, “it’s what we do”

cross posted at Biased BBC

posted by david in BBC,Middle East and have Comments Off on BBC Reports From Gaza Always Forget To Mention The Presence Of Hamas “Minders”…I Wonder Why?

Those Oh So Sensitive BBC Editors…..

It’s a tough job, trundling through BBC’s Editors Blog (did Goebbels have something similar at his Propaganda Ministry?) but two items are worthy of note.

Firstly a tear stained piece from Jeremy Hillman, editor of the BBC News business and economics unit. Jeremy was soooooo upset about George Osborne suggesting

the BBC’s approach to reporting the economy was relentlessly to focus on the bad news and the most gloomy statistics.

Hillman went on to produce a fistful of examples in an attempt to derail Osborne’s case, par for the course for any BBC suit when faced with accusations of bias. Then he sits back smugly thinking he has proved his point.

Actually Sarah Montague, despite Hillman’s spin about consciously downplaying Padoan, did indeed home in on the Padoan remarks so obviously she didn’t get the memo.

But we all know what Osborne was really getting at – not that they ignored positive items about the economy from third parties but the whole question of tone and emphasis which is why he used the word “relentlessly”. Ever since the Coalition took office the BBC’s overarching leitmotif has been CUTS rather than savings and one only has to watch any QT audience to see how successful that campaign has been.

However the good news is that Osborne’s comment touched a nerve. I guess that this issue has been raised at several North London dinner parties recently because Hillman and his pals realise that Charter Renewal is beginning to appear on the horizon and they cannot afford to upset a senior cabinet figure. Let’s hope that other government big cheeses start getting under sensitive BBC skins on a regular basis.

Then this abject apology re the Israeli Dog Stoning story from Nathalie Malinarich, world editor of the BBC News website

We failed to make the right checks. We should never have written the article and apologise for any offence caused.

Don’t worry, luv – we know why you failed to make the right checks…..while you were all busy filling in your expenses forms a breathless young graduate trainee rushed in and blurted out “those crazy religious bigoted Jews – as well as murdering helpless innocent Palestinians they are now going after helpless dogs…”

It fitted into the BBC’s anti Israeli narrative so perfectly you just couldn’t resist it…c’mon, Nathalie…is the Pope catholic? Those Jews, aren’t they evil?

cross posted at Biased BBC

posted by david in BBC and have Comments Off on Those Oh So Sensitive BBC Editors…..

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