Theme Week Tel Aviv – Maccabiah Games

23 January 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Sport, Union for the Mediterranean

Baloons representing the participant countries at the 2013 Maccabiah Games © Maor X/cc-by-sa-3.0

Baloons representing the participant countries at the 2013 Maccabiah Games © Maor X/cc-by-sa-3.0

The Maccabiah Games first held in 1932, are an international Jewish multi-sport event now held quadrennially in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Maccabiah, which is organized by the Maccabi World Union, was declared a “Regional Sport Event” by, and under the auspices of and supervision of, the International Olympic Committee and international sports federations in 1960. The Maccabiah is often referred to as the “Jewish Olympics”. Originally, the Maccabiah was held every three years; since the 4th Maccabiah, the event is held the year following the Olympic Games. In contrast with other large multi-sport events such as the Olympics, competitions at the Maccabiah are organized into four distinct divisions – Juniors, Open, Masters, and Disabled.   read more…

Madaba in Jordan

16 November 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Downtown Madaba © Jean Housen/cc-by-sa-3.0

Downtown Madaba © Jean Housen/cc-by-sa-3.0

Madaba is the capital city of Madaba Governorate in central Jordan, with a population of about 60,000. It is best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, especially a large Byzantine-era mosaic map of Palestine. Madaba is located 30 kilometres (19 miles) south-west of the capital Amman. The town of Madaba was once a Moabite border city, mentioned in the Bible. During its rule by the Roman and Byzantine empires from the 2nd to the 7th centuries, the city formed part of the Provincia Arabia set up by the Roman Emperor Trajan to replace the Nabataean kingdom of Petra. The first evidence for a Christian community in the city, with its own bishop, is found in the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon in 451, where Constantine, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bostra (the provincial capital) signed on behalf of Gaiano, “Bishop of the Medabeni.” During the rule of the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate, it was part of the southern district of Jund Filastin within the Bilad al-Sham province.   read more…

Beersheba, capital of the Negev

27 July 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

© Moshe David/cc-by-2.5

© Moshe David/cc-by-2.5

Beersheba is the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel. Often referred to as the “Capital of the Negev”, it is the center of the fourth most populous metropolitan area in Israel, the eighth most populous city in Israel with a population of 201,086, and the second largest city with a total of 117,500 dunams (after Jerusalem). Beersheba has grown considerably since then. A large portion of the population is made up of the descendants of Sephardi Jews and Mizrahi Jews who immigrated from Arab countries after 1948, as well as smaller communities of Bene Israel and Cochin Jews from India. Second and third waves of immigration have taken place since 1990, bringing Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, as well as Beta Israel immigrants from Ethiopia. The Soviet immigrants have made the game of chess a major sport in Beersheba. The city is now Israel’s national chess center, with more chess grandmasters per capita than any other city in the world.   read more…

Theme Week Beirut – The Central District

5 February 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Rue Maarad © flickr.com - Ismail Küpeli/cc-by-2.0

Rue Maarad © flickr.com – Ismail Küpeli/cc-by-2.0

The Beirut Central District (BCD) or Centre Ville is the name given to Beirut’s historical and geographical core, the “vibrant financial, commercial, and administrative hub of the country.” At the heart of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut Central District (BCD) is an area thousands of years old, traditionally a focus of business, finance, culture and leisure. Its reconstruction constitutes one of the most ambitious contemporary urban developments. It is situated on the city’s northern coast and is easily accessible from all parts of the city. This includes the adjacent Beirut Seaport and Rafik Hariri International Airport. Major roads converge on it or from boundaries to the east, south and west, or line its 1.5 km (1 mi) long seafront to the north.   read more…

Israeli settlements

3 February 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Jerusalem barrier 2007 © The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Jerusalem barrier 2007 © The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Israeli settlements are Jewish Israeli civilian communities built on lands occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and in the Golan Heights. Settlements previously existed in the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip until Israel evacuated the Sinai settlements following the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace agreement and from the Gaza Strip in 2005 under Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan. Israel dismantled 18 settlements in the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, and all 21 in the Gaza Strip and 4 in the West Bank in 2005, but continues to both expand its settlements and settle new areas in the West Bank, despite pressure to desist from the international community (the Gulf States do not speak of “Israeli settlements” but of “Israeli colonies“. On closer inspection, the designation fits far better).   read more…

Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish in Tabgha

25 January 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Mosaic in the church © Berthold Werner

Mosaic in the church © Berthold Werner

The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish, shortened to The Church of the Multiplication, is a Roman Catholic church located at Tabgha, on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. The modern church rests on the site of two earlier churches. The church is maintained and overseen by the Benedictine Order. Nearby are other Christian sites, especially the Mount of Beatitudes north, Capernaum and Bethsaida east and Magdala to the south of Tabgha.   read more…

Theme Week Tel Aviv – The Rothschild Boulevard

18 January 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

© Degser/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Degser/cc-by-sa-3.0

Rothschild Boulevard is one of the principal streets in the center of Tel Aviv, beginning in Neve Tzedek at its southwestern edge and running north to Habima Theatre. It is one of the most expensive streets in the city, being one of the city’s main tourist attractions. It features a wide, tree-lined central strip with pedestrian and bike lanes. Rothschild Boulevard was the epicenter of the 2011 Israeli social justice protests.   read more…

Theme Week Tel Aviv – The Rabin Square

11 January 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Rabin Memorial © Dr. Avishai Teicher/cc-by-2.5

Yitzhak Rabin Memorial: “Here at this place Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister & Minister of Defence was murdered in the struggle for peace 4.11.95” © Dr. Avishai Teicher/cc-by-2.5

The Rabin Square, formerly Kings of Israel Square, is a large public city square in the center of Tel Aviv. Over the years it has been the site of numerous political rallies, parades, and other public events. In 1995 the square was renamed “Rabin Square” following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by an right-wing extremist and Likud supporter, which occurred there on November 4th of that year, right after a peace rally to celebrate the Oslo I Accord (Arab–Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflict). A memorial stands on the spot where Rabin was assassinated (at the northeast corner of the square, below City Hall). Part of the memorial is a small, open legacy wall for Rabin.   read more…

Rafah in the Gaza Strip

8 January 2016 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Gaza Strip map © Gringer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Gaza Strip map © Gringer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Rafah is a Palestinian city and refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. It is the district capital of the Rafah Governorate, located 30 kilometers (19 mi) south of Gaza City. Rafah’s population of 153,000 (2014) is overwhelmingly made up of Palestinian refugees. Rafah camp and Tall as-Sultan camp form separate localities. When Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1982, Rafah was split into a Gazan part and an Egyptian part, dividing families, separated by barbed-wire barriers. The core of the city was destroyed by Israel and Egypt to create a large buffer zone.   read more…

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