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Ancient History, modern impact

My Israeli adventure continues….

One of the amazing things here is that there is a lot of really old stuff. Really old. As in centuries. Yesterday I visited Caesaria, and ancient port city. Also the place where the Ben-Hur chariot race was supposed to have taken place.

The excavations there have exposed three separate sea walls, harbors, a city, and a whole slew of other interesting bits. Wandering through the portion of the ruins that are open shows a lot of cultural history. One of the more ornate tile floors was in a public latrine. Goes to show what was important I guess.

Anyway, one of the more amazing bits was that there is an old roman amphitheater there. You know the one – the half circle of stone seats for the peasants to sit on while the local circus performs. Of course, being a perfectly functional theatre, it is also the place where they hold rock concerts and other such events. It was pretty amazing to see the ancient theater with a row of plastic modern theater seats added at ground (stage) level to provide some additional seating. This reflects the ‘use what you have’ attitude that I’ve found here as well.

Of course, the port city also went through at least 4 iterations of invade/conquer/destroy/rebuild, but with something that old, I suppose it should be expected.

The modern reflection of the rise and fall of the different political groups in caesaria was reflected by the frequent passing of Apache attack helicopters. Turns out that their base is in the North, and of course Gaza is in the south. That means that they have to fly along the coast (where the port city is/was) for their missions. During the course of the day, there was a lot of activity – more than usual. At one point, a group of 4 choppers went out – something that I haven’t seen before.

When we got home, I got on-line and read the news, and discovered that there was yet another problem at the Gaza border -another round of smuggling tunnels getting bombed, mortar attacks from the terrorists, an attempted kidnapping of Israeli soldiers,  etc… I guess with almost 8,000 years of constant fighting, it’s a bit unreasonable to expect things to finally calm down, but I’m hopelessly optimistic about this.

I also understand why Israelis are major news junkies. With the situation being what it is, and the speed at which things can change, you almost HAVE to be tuned in. By the time I get home to check the news (I only do it once a day) so much has happened that its almost impossible to catch back up. Of course, a lot of the news is much more personal – what might be given passing mention back home would get headlines here – for at least a couple of hours. We might hear about a major offensive in Afghanistan that resulted in 20 or 30 deaths as a passing filler article. Here, news about an attack that resulted in no injuries (just property damage) is worth a headline for a few hours – enough for people to be kept aware of the level of activity.

There is a saying that those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. Here, it seems like those that know about history are determined to repeat it.

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2 Responses

  1. I often wonder about news outlets in other countries – what other cultures deem important enough to devote headlines to – and I often find myself checking in with the BBC to get news. Of course, every news outlet is ethnocentric, but it’s still fun to see what other people are saying about what happens in the world.

    • I’ve found that reading the news from non-US sources provides a lot of insight. Not just other views, but also a lot of US news that somehow never makes it into the mainstream US news media…

      I;m finding here that (like many small countries) the newspapers are even more “small-town” than the web sites. There is a lot more news about individual people, and how major events have effected them (both good and bad), and a lot more room for political discussion (most of which seems to be well-informed and rational, as opposed to the rabid stuff I see in US op/ed columns).

      Maybe folks here (and in Nicaragua, Cape Town, the Comoro Islands, and Madagascar) are just a lot more informed, educated, and open minded. Then again, maybe the folks that rant in the US op/ed pages are only the nuts….

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