May 29, 2007
31 41 N, 34 33E
Ashkelon Marina, Israel
Sights and Sounds of Ashkelon.
by Lois Joy
The dull thud of an explosion over in Gaza. The low rat-tat-ta of machine guns, also dull and far away. The roar of a helicopter flying south along the Mediterranean coast. At night, it has no lights. And here in the Marina, the shouts and squeals of boys and girls as they learn to sail and to paddle a kayak. The cries of a little baby in his mother’s arms. Her shush..shush—discernable in any language—as she walks briskly toward the canopied fish restaurant on the pier to join her family.
Life goes on here in Ashkelon Marina, despite the rockets being lobbed over the border by the insurgents, despite yet another escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, less than 10 mile to the south. “A good place to raise kids,” said Dubi, our guide, as we returned from our tour of Israel on Sunday night. “Many of the residents are immigrants from Russia; some are even blacks from Ethiopia. Life is better here than where they came from, they say. Must be true, the population has tripled over the past five years.”
“Any one who is a Jew, from any country, can still emigrate to Israel, even if they are old or poor or sick. And many of them are. Our system takes care of them all. Sometimes, though, a Russian or Ethiopian immigrant claims to be a Jew when they are not.” Over one million Russians have immigrated to Israel. That’s a lot of assimilation in a population of only 7 million.
This is an amazing country. The longer I am here, the more I learn, the more I respect this country and its people. I may not agree 100% with everything they do, but I respect them. I am currently reading A Case for Israel, by Alan Dershowitz, a New York Times best seller and now available in paperback. It presents the standard complaints we all hear about Israel through the media, and answers them in easy-to-read debate format. I recommend it highly as a MUST for your reading list this summer.
It appears that Pacific Bliss may be here longer than planned. A storm is passing through Cyprus and we need to wait today and tomorrow for the wind and seas to calm down. The “hurry-up-and-wait” syndrome again. We are all provisioned and ready to do three overnights directly to our destination, Marmaris Yacht Marina in Turkey. There, we will put Pacific Bliss up “on the hard” to await our return in April of 2007.