Vicksburg businessman in Israel says Haifa is calm

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 13, 2000

The Israeli port city Haifa is calm, said John Miles of Vicksburg. That’s quite a contrast to what’s happening in other parts of Israel as Palestinians and Israelis clash once again.

Miles is the plant manager of Vicksburg Chemical Co.

On Thursday, Israeli helicopters fired rockets near the Gaza City villa where Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, lives in what is believed to be retaliation for the killing and mutilation of two Israeli soldiers at the hands of a mob in Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem.

“In Haifa, it’s quiet here,” Miles said in a telephone interview from his hotel room in the northwest Israel city. “Most of the activity has been in the Palestinian area south of here.”

Ramallah, the center of most of the violence Thursday, is about 65 miles from Haifa on the Mediterranean.

Miles has been in Israel since Tuesday afternoon for meetings with colleagues at the Haifa Chemical Co., a sister company to Vicksburg Chemical. Both are owned by Trans Resources. Miles plans to return home Sunday.

He said his Israeli colleagues are upset about the deaths of two Israeli soldiers at the hands of the Palestinian mob.

Miles also said there are not many Muslim Arabs in the area around Haifa.

“Most of them around here are Christian Arabs,” he said.

Miles said he and the people he is meeting with really didn’t know much about what was going on in the West Bank city because they were in meetings all day. Most of what he knew Thursday night came from CNN news broadcasts he watched.

“It seemed that Arafat kind of lost control and there is some controversy about that, whether it’s intentional or not intentional,” Miles said.

“Actually, the atmosphere here was better Wednesday. It seemed like it was calming down,” Miles said, adding it was Thursday when the major outbreak of violence took place in Ramallah.