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Into 2005

I have decided to welcome in the new year by adding a blog to this site. The advantage, from my point of view is that it will be possible to jot down thoughts more spontaneously, in journal fashion. Also, I have discovered a way to post material via email. This is very practical for me as my constant companion for the last several years has been my Psion 5MX handheld. Theoretically it can access the web, though I have never found it practical. Email, on the other hand, is easy, using the infrared connection to my mobile phone. So being able to post material
from wherever I am is very convenient. I can leave the rest of the website for more polished entries. This will be a journal.

So, this being a journal, it is necessary to reflect on the last traumatic week that linked the old year with the new. The tabulation of time may be illusory, but since the millenium it has seemed to me that the world is a changed place - one where there is more of a global sense, dissolving borders. This latest event, the tsunami, seems to emphasize this. In the spirit of the twentieth century, a mega-disaster, affecting not only the poor nations ringing the Indian Ocean but thousands of tourists who flood into them; tourists who a few years ago would not have travelled further than the Spanish riviera. In a world where news of the disaster reached the advanced countries quicker than it reached poor African fishermen, whose lives could have been saved had they known of the wave hurtling towards them, the presence of Europeans among the victims perhaps helped raise the consciousness (and the conscience) of the world to the extent of the tragedy.

As a result, this being also the Christmas season, denizens of the first world have opened their pocketbooks in an unprecedented way. Here in Israel, which also counts a few victims, there hasn’t been the same public response. There have been few messages in the media with requests for assistance or phone numbers to call. I thought of this when I visited through Google News the website of the Times of Malta, which prominently highlighted a Red Cross number to call. If a small island like Malta can involve itself in a humanitarian crisis half way around the world, why shouldn’t Israelis? Perhaps because this country does not quite belong to the world community in the same way. Many of the countries involved would not welcome help from here, even if the channels existed to enable it, So an ‘us and them’ mentality prevails. In addition, this country knows better to be on the receiving end of charity than on the side of the giving.