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British Expat Newsletter: October 2012

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In this issue

This month

eBooks have again been taking up a lot of our time, with a fourth published and a fifth on the way soon. But our focus has been not so much on the world, as on the World Wide Web! Theodore Koukouvitis’s Opposing Forces: How online reputation management can work for fame or shame shows just how easy it can be for an unscrupulous rival to drag the name of a business or an individual through the dirt. You can find out more about it and our other eBooks on our imprint’s site,

More on Greece, but not by our pal Theo this time! Olympia Zographos visited the Athens district of Ghazi to find out what effect the recession and the political fallout are having on arts in the Greek capital – and discovers that even without funding, the creative impulse isn’t dead by any means.

Our latest Pic of the Week is of a familiar London landmark – the Great Clock in what’s been renamed the Elizabeth Tower, otherwise known as Big Ben. But the bleak, atmospheric look of this photo really stood out for us, and made us glad we don’t have to spend dark November evenings there. (It’s also a handy reminder that the clocks went back on the 28th.)

And for our latest Quick Quiz, we head to Egypt. How much do you know about sphinxes and ful medames? Take the quiz and find out!

Editorial: Heavenly hotel?

Would it surprise you to know that the Church of Scotland owned a luxury hotel?

It certainly surprised us. Even though it’s not unheard of for religious bodies to provide accommodation for travellers, the most usual scenario for that is the monasteries that give shelter to pilgrims. And while some of their facilities are said to be quite comfortable, the popular image of the Kirk is one of a dour body given more to severity and self-denial than to earthly pleasures.

But, sure enough, if you visit Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, you’ll find the Scots Hotel. It actually started out as a hospital in the 1890s, built by a missionary doctor called David Torrance, and flourished until the Israeli authorities built a state hospital in 1959, after which it became first a hospice for Scottish pilgrims, then a guest house.

The decision to renovate the hospital building (and the school/church next door) came in 1999, after the guest house had become rather dilapidated. Not surprisingly, it was a fiercely contested decision. Many in the General Assembly thought the Kirk had no business going into the luxury hotel business and should sell the land to concentrate on its core activities. Others argued that the revenue from the hotel could be turned to good use to support those activities.

A large part of the reason for making the investment, it seems, was that the Palestinian Christians of the area pleaded for it – the idea being that it would help raise their profile. (Not that the missionary efforts of Torrance had been terribly successful; few of those Christians are “Reformed Church” Christians.) The Palestinian/Israeli conflict isn’t a straightforward Muslim/Jewish clash by any means.

Unfortunately for the Kirk’s advocacy of Palestinian rights, it may be that their decision to maintain their presence in Tiberias has hampered their ability to speak out. A motion calling for a UK ban on goods from illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories was withdrawn after the Israeli government revealed plans to legislate to make such calls illegal and to make those responsible financially liable for the economic impact of the calls, as assessed by the Israeli government.

On the other hand, if the Kirk sells the property (to which they recently added a £1½m spa, to bring the hotel up to par with others in the area), it can only sell to Israelis, not to the already beleaguered Palestinians. And to do so would seriously weaken one of the few advocates on the ground that the Palestinians have, as well as possibly remove a place where members of all three of the Abrahamic religions are encouraged to meet on equal terms and with mutual respect.

All the same, it does seem odd for a church to be running a hotel. Even one in the Holy Land.

What do you think about the Church of Scotland’s dilemma? Should they cut their losses, get out, and concentrate on more urgent issues? Or would that be to do what’s easy instead of what’s right? Why not let us know what you think on our discussion forum?

Do you miss the news from “back home”? Or does it warm the cockles of your heart to read about the old place and realise you’ve escaped from it? Either way, British Newspapers Online is the site for you – it’s the most comprehensive directory of the British press, with links to all the UK national newspapers and over 1,400 local and regional papers’ websites, so why not pop over and find your old local rag?
British Newspapers Online

Write for British Expat

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British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping – from a micro SD card to a garden shed! A great way to do your shopping online, especially if the shops aren’t up to much in your part of the world.
BE Amazon Shop: UK & EU | BE Amazon Shop: non-EU

And now for something completely different…

Psst! Wanna know how you can live to be 100? Here’s an interesting and fun look at some of the stats, science and pseudoscience surrounding the eternal quest for longevity.
Natural IQ: How to live to 100

So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
Visit the BE website and join in with our lively community!

Till next time…

Happy surfing!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat – the definitive home for British expats

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