Shalom and Welcome to this week’s In Israel Blog
In the last In Israel blog we reported on the Great Israeli Cheese Revolt of 2011 – in short a consumer protest against the high prices of cottage cheese. It seems that the protest has been at least partially successful – with the three main dairies lowering their recommended prices by around 25% in the last few days. Apparently, this is just the beginning as it is claimed that the prices are still relatively high and that other products may come in for similar treatment.
Akko is one of the more fascinating places in the north of Israel. Akko is located just north of Haifa on the coast it has a very rich history. Akko has been in existence for thousands of years and was in its prime during the Crusader Period when it was an important port. Acco was also important during Napoleon’s time and during the British Mandate there was a famous jail break by the underground. Today Acco is a quiet picturesque town on the sea full of mosques, the crusader fortress and some fine humous establishments. It has been recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site (one of Israel’s first.)
The current Old City of Akko is mainly from the Ottoman period covers an extremely well preserved Crusader City. Following on from some other spectacular finds around Israel recently (such as at Hirbat Madras) the Israel Antiquities Authority is now preparing to open some new sections of subterranean Akko.
The discovery of a 1500 year old (Byzantine period) public building in Acre has also just been announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority; the initial discovery was made by accident when working on a new shopping mall. This often happens, as there are strict laws in Israel requiring cooperation between developers and archaeologists.
Rounding off the archeological finds in this edition; the identification of an important ossuary belonging to Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests [of] Ma’aziah from Beth ’Imri’ has just been announced. Apparently the ossuary was originally apprehended when stopping antiquity thefts some three years ago.
Overall it has been a few excellent months for archaeological discoveries in Israel – each one adding to our knowledge and appreciation of the ancient past hiding virtually everywhere in Israel (at least so it seems.)
So summer is now officially here, at least judging by the schools – 7th grade and up finished about 2 weeks ago and the lower grades finished at the very end of June. The new school year will start on September 1st – there was an attempt to cut a week off the break, but in the end this isn’t planned for this year as people had already paid for holidays and camps during the last week. Many younger children will spend at least the first half of the summer in day camps and the older ones will be volunteering, working and generally hanging out. The beaches and other popular sites will now be fuller and much livelier.
We have occasionally mentioned Gilad Shalit in this blog. Whilst we don’t normally comment on political news in this blog it is important to keep Gilad in focus. The fight to release Gilad shows many of the good things about Israel – that we are really just one big happy family. Unfortunately Gilad has now been a captive for 5 years. We look forward to Gilad’s release and hope and pray that it will happen in the very near future.
A couple of other news items caught our eye over the last couple of weeks – it turns out that (according to a survey by Comscore) Israelis spend the most time on Facebook at around 11 hours a month. This is perhaps not a surprise to anybody who has watched Israeli society embrace all means of communication. President Peres hosted the President’s Conference and amongst his guests was the UN Goodwill Ambassador singer Shakira. She spoke of the need to educate, perhaps education and communication will go hand in hand leading to better understanding and progress.
Now for this week’s recommendation – in honor of the recent finds in Akko we suggest a visit the crusader town and fortress. When you have enjoyed the sights, sounds and tastes of this ancient port town then head north up the coast until you reach Rosh Hanikra on the border. These sea grottoes are amongst the most beautiful natural phenomena in Israel – take the cable car down the cliff and explore. There are also some pleasant walks and lots of history – it is the scene of one of the operations in the famous Night of the Bridges.
Le’Hitraot from Jerusalem