Sunday, June 22, 2008

Israel vs. The Arab World


From John Lewis's excellent article, "Israel and the Front Line of Civilization" (http://theobjectivestandard.com/blog/2008/06/israel-and-front-line-of-civilization.asp):
"I see towns surrounded by trees. The trees were nearly all planted by the Israelis. This is something little known in the U.S.: The Israelis have planted tens of millions of trees in a desert that had never before been planted, and they remain committed to planting in the Negev Desert, especially near Beer Sheva. Trees did not exist here before 1948. The so-called “Green Line” originally dividing Israel from its neighbors is called such because it literally is a line of green."
Last year I was engaged in one of my favorite activities -- exploring the Earth using Google satellite photos (not Google Earth, mind you, just the direct top-down satellite photos). I've seen things this way that no traveler ever would, and stimulated my desire to travel if I ever have the means.

From satellite photos I've seen the North Pole, Antarctica, secret nuclear storage sites in Soviet Russia, devastated landscape and blown up planes in Iraq, U-2s on the ramp in England, fuming volcanoes, the desolate Galapagos, the Grand Canyon, Pacific Atolls devasted by nuclear weapons testing, vast coral reefs in the Pacific, the top of Everest or observatories on Mauna Kea, massive forest fires consuming thousands of acres in Alaska, the pyramids in Egypt (type in "Pyramids, Egypt" into maps.google.com), the Taj Mahal, supertankers coming down the Singapore straights, the jungles of Borneo, the Great Coral Reef, Hong Kong, the Eiffel Tower (type in "Eiffel Tower"), the entire expanse of New Zealand, French Polynesia, Guam, large groups of hippos resting in the shade of water in rivers of deepest, darkest Africa, Angel Falls in South America, Beijing, the bottom of the Marianna Trench (you can see ocean bottom) and --

You get the idea. I go into the detail to stress what you can see -- and the really high resolution photos that show a lot (~6 inch resolution to a couple feet -- people clearly identifiable) often aren't evident till you've zoomed in quite a ways, but I have a good sense of how to find them -- you can guess that many of the photos were commissioned by people interested in the particular areas.

To the point: I've also explored vast swaths of the Middle East (to see what this place I've heard so much about is really like), and what caught my eye last year was the stark line of demarcation between Israel and the Arab world around it -- not much more eloquent demonstration of the difference between the two cultures could be found. I put together a little pdf file just now to bring this out for you -- the satellite photos have changed since then, so the border line isn't quite as vivid as last year, when it was bright green on one side, and dreary gray brown on the other (crops aren't in bloom as much) -- but the contrast is still quite evident. The difference between a rational culture that wants to live, and an irrational one that seems more interested in suicide.

Robb

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