Tuesday, October 9

Jerusalem, Israel & Pals: splitsville?

Looking north towards central Jerusalem, from the capital's southernmost neighborhood, Gilo. I shot this photograph with a cellphone camera, and then tweaked it in Photoshop to get this somewhat dreamlike image. (Dave Bender)

Writer, columnist and blogger Judy Lash Balint weighs in with a well-crafted, detailed, and personal POV on the significance of reports about dividing Jerusalem:
When most tourists think of Jerusalem, they generally have in mind the Western Wall, the Israel Museum, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Ben Yehuda Mall and Yad Vashem. Sadly, tourists, like most Israeli Jews, don't spend much time in eastern Jerusalem--despite the fact that this part of the Holy City holds the most historical, spiritual and strategic significance for Jews and Christians.

But in the run-up to the Annapolis summit, as the Olmert and Bush administrations intone the old "two states for two peoples" mantra, and renewed declarations that a Palestinian state will have east Jerusalem as its capital go on, perhaps it's time to understand the dynamics of the eastern part of the city.

Until very recently, Israeli politicians both left and right cited "Jerusalem, the undivided capital of Israel" as the consensus mantra. Now, Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon, (the same Ramon who was convicted just six months ago on sexual harassment charges) is advancing the same unrealistic Camp David thinking on Jerusalem as that first raised by Ehud Barak in 2000. Let the Arabs have the Arab neighborhoods and the Jews will keep the Jewish areas, and the "Holy Basin" of Judaism and Christianity's holiest sites will be administered by joint international supervision, declares Ramon.

But, as anyone who has spent any time at all in Jerusalem's neighborhoods can attest, things on the ground are far more complex than that.
Read the rest and learn. Previous post featuring Balint.

(Full disclosure: Judy and I have worked together in the past on news coverage about Israel and PA areas)

Google Earth: Israel's striptease and refugees

From Jewish World Review:
When Google Earth first came along, the company went to some lengths to address the security concerns and restrictions in various countries, including Israel, where images of this nation were often blurry and you couldn't zoom in to find your house in Jerusalem.

Well, good-bye to all that.

"Sensitive installations, Air Force bases with their planes and helicopters, missile bases and even the nuclear reactor in Dimona have never been photographed better," writes Yuval Dror in Friday's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. "A recent Google Earth update shows satellite pictures that make it possible to see clear, sharp pictures of military and civilian targets all across Israel."

"Up until recently, the satellite pictures of Israel on Google Earth had a particularly low resolution: every pixel was equal to 10-20 meters. Now, the satellite maps of Israel show great parts of the country with a resolution close to two meters per pixel.

Here's a recent thread on an aviation enthusiast site with the details.

's an item in Ynet News about Palestinians using the service to commemorate villages throughout Israel. From the story, an intriguing suggestion:
"The Palestinian surfer, seems to be quite a moderate person. In the Google Earth forum, one of the surfers asked him: "There were hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who were forced to escape their homes in Arab states at the same time… maybe their property should also be documented, in order to maintain balance?"

And Darby replied: "I agree with you 100 percent. I wish I had time to document the Jewish residence in the Arab world, but I don't. I would be happy to see someone taking this project upon himself."
Nu? Anyone ready, able and willing to take up the challenge?

Here's a previous post on Google Earth, and here's one on amateur/semi-pro photo sites featuring Israeli and Palestinian areas.


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