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June 15, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JUNE 15, 2012 By Arieh O'Sullivan The Media Line While Israel may possess one of the world's largest air forces, itwill also soon become home to a massive aircraft salvage yards in its southern desert. Despite vehement ob- jections by environmental groups, the Interior Ministry's National Planning and Build- ing Council recently approved a plan to set up a 650 acre aircraft-recycling facility on the outskirts of the Ovda air- base. The location is expected to store some 500 air~raft from around the worhi and dismantle dozens every year. Local Officials have been pushing for the endeavor, which they say will create nearly 1,000 jobs, particu- larly for engineers and other professionals and provide an economic stimulus for the sparsely populated southern region. "Just like other places in the world which have aircraft parking lots, like in Arizona and Nevada, we estimate that for every jet that parks there brings one job," Udi Gat, the head of the Eilot Regional Council where the air base is located, told TheMedia Line. He added that the project has been eight years in plan- ning and hoped that now that final approval has been given it would start work and aircraft wQuld start flying in by the end of the year. "This project is con~ing here because we have high quality technicians and engineers, many who came out of mili- Sudoku solution from page 7 684795 t 23 325816947 719243856 156438792 29357 168 4 478629531 -937152468 561384279 84.2967315 tary service, the dryair which preserves the aircraft and the inexpensive land," Gat said. The Ovda airbase is in a wide desert valley in southern Israel, about 36 miles north - of the resort city of Eilat. The area is peppered with ancient sites, including a 9,000-year- old temple, and the valley itself is surrounded by high, rugged mountains. In the early 1980s the United States built the Ovda airbase as a substitute for the air bases Israel had .to relin- quish in the Sinai Peninsula as part of the U.S.-brokered peace agreement with Egypt. The airbase also functions as a supplement to the Eilat airport, which cannot accom- modate large-bodied aircraft. Eilat is about a 40-minute drive from the Ovda airbase. An Israeli company, Air- park Ltd, decided that the location would be excellent for an aircraft-storage and dis- mantling facility. The desert is sparsely populated, space is not a problem and the existing airbase would allow aircraft to easily be delivered. As soon as plans for the facility became public, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) objected. Using data from AFRA, the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association, SPNI claimed that an average of 300 aircraft are dismantled f6r scrap and parts every year and that the projected 25 planes to be scrapped at Ovda represented nearly 10 percent of the annual total in the world. Aircraft recycling is expected to pick through ng mmun Call on Central Florida's Exclusively Jewish Funeral Home for Details Regarding: Traditional Jewish Funerals Non-Traditional Services Interstate Shipping Pre-Arranged Funerals (Shalom Assurance Plan) Headstone, Grave Markers (Cardinal Memorials) 640 Lee Rd. Orlando, Florida W.E. "Manny" Adams, LFD James R. Cardinal, Executive Director Samuel R (Sammy) Goldstein, Assoc. Exec. Director www.bethshalommemorialchapel.com major the old aircraft, dismantling them, salvaging avionics, engine parts,aluminum and other metals, and even seat- belts and leather. "This plan isn't compatible with Israel's policy to reduce emissions and is a polluting industry," Noa Y~on, an at- torney for the SPNI, wrote in the objection. She added that the increased number of flights, importing of waste necessity of creating ad- ditional garbage facilities in an undeveloped and pristine ecological area were to the area and the project should be blocked. "In addition to this, the OvdaValley is a rich biosphere which is likely to be damaged by this plan by the loss of open land as well as the potential ecological blow caused by pav- ing tarmacs and scrapping the aircraft and the use of fuels and oils, etc" she wrote. The government planning committee rejected the oppo- sition from the environmen- talists; saying the scrapping operations would only be a minor activity and would be restricted to a designated area to reduce environmental damage. Furthermore, the Interior lV~inistry issued a statement saying that it would set up a team to survey, inspect By Arieh O'Sullivan The Media Line The vast majority of Is- raeli Arabs are reconciled with the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and even exhibit a degree of patriotism, ac- cording to a recent poll. The survey by Haifa Uni- versity found that nearly one in seven (68.3 percent) preferred to Hve in Israel than anywhere else, even a future Palestinian state. It found that 57.7 percent are reconciled with Israel as a Jewish democratic state whose day of rest is the Sabbath on Saturday and Hebrew is the main language. "I wouldn't say that the Arabs are Israeli patriots. What we found was that they said that Israel was a good place to live in. They have benefits in Israel. They have the rule of law. They have democracy. They have a modernway of life. And all this they appreciate and this is their pragmatism," Sammy Smooha, the Uni- versity of Haifa professor who conducted the survey, told The Media Line. "When they say they reconcile themselves with the Jewish state this doesn't mean that they prefer a Jewish state. They prefer to have a bi-national state. This also doesn't mean they justify a Jewish state," Smooha added. The poll of 715 Israeli Arabs released Thursday found that 80 percent blame the Jews for the Nakba, or "catastrophe," of the expul- sion of most (over 700,000) of the Palestinians from Israel during the 1948 war. It also found that 38 percent and monitor the scrapping programs. But scrapping is not the main reason groups like the SNPI object to the project. They petitioned against the plan since it would damage the ecological uniqueness of the area. "Unfortunately, instead of preserving natural treasures and the special landscape of the Arava and supporting the local population itwas decided bring hundreds of tons of trash every year to Israel and to turn the south of Israel into the garbage can of the world," SPNI spokesman Dov Greenb- tat told The Media Line. But Gat countered that the area set aside for the tarmacs were already "violated" from previous work on the base. "The Ovda valley is a beauti- ful pearl, but the corner of it has long been taken over by the air force and the area we are talking about is notvirgin. It's inside the perimeter fence and is not harming nature. Besides it worth it," said Gat. Developers believe that the Ovda project will draw European and Asian airlines to park their aging aircraft there since it was closer and tess expensive than boneyards in the United States. The facility will be con- structed by Airpark Ltd., a participate in events mark- ing the Nakba. ' Smooha, who has been monitoring attitudes among Israeli Arabs for more than 30 years, told The Media line that there has been a steady erosion of faith in Israel's democracy over the years. Still, it found that the Israeli Arab public-at-large was less extremist than its leadership, he said. "Their leaders reject Is- rael as a Jewish democratic state, whereas our Studies over the years have found that the Arab public say that while they prefer a bi-national state/they are reconciled with reality and say they have to deal with it," Smooha explained. Extremism was not ab- sent from the survey. Nine- teen percent of Israeli Arabs denied Israel's right to exist, as opposed to 11 percent who expressed a similar view in 2003. Fifty- seven percent of Israeli Arabs said that they would support a referendum that defined Israel as a "Jew- ish, democratic state that promised full civil rights to Arabs," compared to the 70.9 percent who said they would support such a referendum in 2006. "This poll confirms the continued trend of the hardening of Arab attitudes and the worsening of Arab Jewish relations, but also shows that there is a lot of pragmatism among the Arabs and the "framework for Arab-Jewish relations is still in existence and still solid," Smooha said. He defined the frame- work as the acceptance of the state of Israel and the Palestinian state alongside. subsidiary of.IES Holdings that is run by CEO Doron Segev. Segev declined to com- ment directly, but issued the following statement. Airpark is slated to be lo- cated on parts of the military base that will be vacated and is adjacent to the base in accordance with the guid- ing development principles and would provide hundreds of jobs and encourage im- migration to the southern region. The location of the project has the"utmost compatibility with the environment," Se- gev's statement said, adding that there had been a compre- hensiveenvironmental survey addressing all potential issues. Regarding aircraft disas- sembly, Segev said there was an unequivocal com- mitment to recycling and reuse and at least 90 percent of the parts dismantled. It said that it would produce approximately 15 trucks of waste a year, whichdoes not exceed the amount of waste that the city of Eilat produces in one day. In April, an airport in the United Arab Emirates an- nounced it would be setting up an international center to recycle old aircraft, making the Ovda center a second site in the Middle East. Ali Haider, co-director of Sikkuy, an organization pushing for civic equality in Israel. was more skeptical. He said it was important to have surveys to examine trends, but he disliked terms like "co-existence," "prag- matism" and "alienation." "We talk about 'equality and shared public space and respect of identities," Haider told The Media Line. "The Palestinian minority in Israel from 2000 until now feels some kind of frustra- tion from the government and Jewish society; espe- cially after the last election," which highlighted a right- wing agenda. "Israeli Arabs feel that the government in Israel is working against them. Current trends reflect to the Arabs that they are not welcomed and their citizenship is threatened," Haider said. He was referring to the so-called "Nakba Law" which imposes financial damages on any state- funded institution spon- soring a N'akba-related event; imposed civil service; incitement against Arab. leadership; and increasing racism by right-wing Israeli leaders. "I don't know to which national group we are pa- triotic, but we want to be citizens of Israel; buton the other hand, wewant to keep our Palestinian identity and feel part of the Palestinian people and also citizens of Israel," Haider said." "This combination is very complicated. I think that identity is not something static. This is dynamic and people can have at the same time more than one identity and this is the issue."