Friday, 21 July 2017

170721 Temple Mount, Incitement

21st July, 2017

Shabbat Shalom! I hope this missive finds you well, or at least determined to be well.

Rolf Hochhuth wrote a play called "The Visit" or the "Visit of the Old Lady". The story goes thus. A very wealthy old lady comes to visit the town of her childhood and makes an offer to the poor townsfolk that will make them all wealthy. At first it seemed wonderful, but they balked at the condition of her gift – they had to kill the man, their friend, who had made her pregnant and jilted her many years before. She began a campaign against her former lover and eventually through her encouragement of profligate spending the town falls into debt and the townspeople agree to her terms and kill her former lover, who nobody really hated. The moral of the story is clear and so pertinent to the Middle East (and elsewhere) today that it is painful. Israel is the lover, the people of the Middle East are the townspeople and ISIS/Al Qaeeda/Hamas/MosBros/ are the Old lady forcing their people into poverty so that they kill out of desperation. The ony difference is that we never made anyone pregnant we just made the desert fertile.

The lies told about Israel are worthy of any dramatic presentation that the most imaginative of playwrights could dream up. The most recent is the question of magnometers on the Temple Mount. The first lie is that it is Haram Al Sharif to the exclusion of the Temple Mount rights of all others, but let's leave that aside today. Last week, two beautiful young men were slain, brutally and with calculated accuracy, by three Arabs, on and around the Temple Mount. Arms were found in the Al Aqsa compound and as a result the Chief of Police decided to place magnometers at the entrances to the Mosque compound. This protects all those normal ordinary Moslems who just want to pray in the 3rd most holy place in Islam. In both Mecca and Medina magnometers are used at the Holy sites.

Irresponsible Islamic leaders in Israel and outside decided this was too good an opportunity for death and destruction to miss. The vile Sheikh Ra'eed Salah, released from prison, began a campaign of incitement that young Moslems have to protect Al Aqsa from Israeli occupation and destruction of the Holy site (as he did when he removed 700 truckloads of earth and Temple relics under the nose of Ehud Barak, forming an underground Mosque and almost collapsing the entire Mount). The terrorists of last Friday came from his town of Umm El Fachem in Israel. Ismael Haniya sits in Gaza calling for rioting and killing and in the meantime Israel is co-ordinating everything with the WAQF and ensuring them that the status quo remains intact. Today will be tense around the Old City – I both pray for and thank the wonderful police and IDF who protect and keep order.

The Old Lady came to visit, the promises of wealth through killing is fulfilled and yet again Israel is blamed for something she didn't do. It is a case of the child who commits patricide, matricide and then cries that they are orphaned. Incredibly, the possibility that Mohamed Dahlan, leader of Fatah in Gaza, will take over the running of Gaza from Hamas seems almost hopeful!!!

On rare occasions the film industry produces a movie that is appropriate, timely and honours those who fought that we could be free. "Darkest Hour" is that movie. Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, despite his aristocratic breeding and fine education, was a boor. He always said what he thought and his wit did not add to his popularity among his political rivals. He proved to be the only one with the courage to face a diabolical enemy and take him on, for many years almost singlehandedly, but without fear and with great leadership. Ah that Sir Winston were here now, facing an enemy even more dangerous than Nazism, that he were not buried in St. Martins Churchyard, Bladon, near his ancestral home in Woodstock, Oxfordshire.

I will not countenance those who claim "all Moslems are the same" it is no better than anti-Semitism, worse because we should know better. To prove my point………………

Sara Zoabi is a cousin of the vile Haneen Zoabi, Member of Knesset. Sara Zoabi and her son Mohammed, are true Israelis filled with love and gratitude for Israel. I add two wonderful videos – please watch them and show all your friends. Check out Sara's ear-rings in this first one  and her words addressed to the Arabic audience, filmed before the Knesset
Sara light a beacon at the Independence Day celebrations. Eshet Chayil indeed

Nadel Sader is a paramedic with Hazalah and was the first on the scene of last Fridays murderous attack. Don't label people – it doesn't work like that in Israel.

Mohamed Kabiya, and Israeli Arab, confronts an American/Israeli Jew at Colombia University who is embarrassed by and Israeli show of patriotism

Apparently the Greek Orthodox Church has sold large tracts all over Israel, including the Amphitheatre in Caesaria to a mystery buyer. Israel was aware that the 99 year lease on many pieces of land and buildings was almost up and  I am sure that KKL has the funds to buy them or has the ability to raise the funds to buy them so why not? Mystery indeed.

The world has basically turned its back on the people of Syria. Perhaps because there is no good guy, bad guy situation – it became a bad guy worse guy situation with the people dying and suffering and nobody cares. Well not quite true – Israel cares

The Maccabiah has come to an end. It was phenomenal! They used to say that Jews study and make money but could never be athletes………. They didn't know the Maccabim!! Not only athletes and their families it is one big family gathering with a determination to represent their country with honour and great sportsmanship. The final festivities expressed it all!! 80 countries, 7,000 athletes, every conceivable sport, more than a few romances and great good humour.  I swore to myself that I wouldn't mention names of those I met, because it is the easiest way to offend those who are not mentioned but then……….. how can one refuse Michel Grun? Together with Stuart Lustigman, Michel is an Honorary Life President of Maccabi Europe? There Michel, I mentioned you three times!! Gut Shabbes dear man.
זאל איר שטענדיק שמייכל ווי איר האט דעם וואָך

The 9 days of mourning of the Hebrew month of Av begin next Monday culminating in the 9th of Av - Tisha b'Av, a day of uncountable disasters in Judaism, of deep mourning and fasting, that sadly too few understand - The destruction of the First and Second Temples, the expulsion from both Spain and England, the list goes on –

The roads have been clear all week! Schools are out and parents arrive at work in a more staggered manner so the traffic jams are less apparent! It is a joy! In the searingly hot weather we have been "enjoying", nothing makes drivers more impatient than the extreme heat. As my son Gideon used to say – "Israel is the only country where sound travels faster than light" meaning even before the lights change people sound their horns!!!! Since the compulsory introduction of air conditioning in cars many years ago this isn't quite as apparent but still returns when the weather becomes summer! I tend to take the back roads, through the Jerusalem Forest, whenever possible and this week led Rachel and the children through the winding curves of the original entrance to Jerusalem to visit Kibbutz Tzuba – to Galita and the chocolate Factory where the children made their own wonderful and delicious chocolate creations – eating 50% of the raw ingredients before they ever got to the creative stage! Afterwards they went next door into Kiftzuba, a fabulous play area with all sorts of new rides suitable for all ages. Of course Rachel and I went in search of the nearest air conditioner!!!

As we drove through the forest Yosef remarked on the huge tracts of trees and brush and commented "Safta, why don't they build here? There is lots of space and people could afford to buy their own homes". He is right of course, we need to build more affordable housing but I think we should build on the rocky hills rather than the green lung of Jerusalem.

We barely went out onto the veranda this week, the heat was overwhelming 24/7, but last night the breeze and our Jerusalem balmy evening returned. As Zvi came to bed he walked out onto the small veranda which leads off our room, stood with his arms open wide before the phenomenal view, declaring his domain. The wonderful fresh air of a Jerusalem night kissing his arms – a proud Jerusalemite born and bred, standing above the city that he loves.

So what music do you think is appropriate for this week?
Lu Yehi – Let it be – Naomi Shemer heard the Beatles song and recognised how appropriate it was for her beloved Israel – Chava Alberstein

It will be good and I am still here – the prophetic words of David Broza "Yiyhe Tov"

That's all Folks! Sorry Bugs Bunny never came to Jerusalem but I promise he would have loved the carrots!! My supermarket manager tells me all the veggies come on his shelves within 24 hours of being picked – that's Israel.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I haven't reminded you of the power of one for a long time so please – use your power and tell everyone the truth, the whole truth not the half-truths of the media.

With love from our veranda to yours.

Friday, 14 July 2017

170714 Submarines and telephones, Avi Gabbay, Moshe Yaalon, Amos Yadlin and Maccabiah

14th July 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. A week of incredible jubilation with the Maccabiah and of confusion and accusations over Telephones and Submarines.

Sadly I must start with the tragic news that three Arab terrorists came in through the Lion's Gate searching for policemen to kill. They shot three and succeeded. There are no Friday prayers on the Temple Mount today.

As you know I try hard not to criticise our leaders – there are enough Israel haters to do that – however - Prime Minister Netanyahu is yet again under the microscope and I am not sure that his vast supply of Teflon will save him this time. As I said many times I did not vote for him and wouldn't vote for him, my reasons are many, but predominantly because he is too easily influenced by those in his Cabinet and too fearful of making brave decisions alone. Our Prime Minister has one aim – to remain in office.

I do not fully understand the "telephone" or communications issue but I know that people close to the PM in the communications field are deeply involved and that Mr Netanyahu determinedly kept the Communications Ministership close, refusing to relinquish it.

The second charge is more serious. Channel 10 investigative journalist Raviv Drukker felt something was not right about the submarine deal with Germany and investigated the issue in depth - and many aspects came to light until, finally, Former Defence Minister and Chief of Staff Moshe "Bogey" Ya'alon spoke out. He said that at the time Israel intended to buy 5 submarines from Germany but that the PM insisted upon 9, which Ya'alon felt was a waste of precious funds. It appears that many people close to the PM could benefit from the sale of additional submarines to Egypt which according to Yair Lapid, Leader of the opposition party Yesh Atid and former Minister of Finance, is tantamount to treason ………. I am not on the inside so would prefer to allow Moshe Ya'alon tell you about the Middle East, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the submarine question in an interview with Christiane Annapour

I believe that the Prime Minister has done many good things and am willing to accept that, even though the Secret Service updates him on all issues, he didn't know about the activities of his friends; however over the last period he has allowed his political allies to take his policies to a level that has torn both the Israeli society and our Diaspora relations to shreds. Even if he is innocent of all suspicion, it is time to go.

I am thrilled to say that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is home with his family and feeling infinitely better. The investigation and trial surrounding his alleged corruption was orchestrated by those who feared his ability as a Prime Minister and leader, almost all the charges were dropped, the much vaunted "Holyland Affair" laid clearly at the feet of others yet he served 19 months in prison over a "slightly illegal" $15,000 campaign contribution. Still felt by most Israelis to have been the best Prime Minister for a long time he is now free and I am happy to say he sounds wonderful. Friends from all over the world are sending him love – at least 90% of his friends have stayed close and care deeply about this very special man and his family.

Still with Israeli politics, the Labour Party has chosen a new leader. Avi Gabbay, born in Jerusalem and just 50 years old, beat fellow Moroccan Israeli Amir Peretz in the final round. While little will change in the Knesset – Gabbay is not an MK and has chosen Yitzchak Herzog to remain as Leader of the Opposition – it shows a big change in voter choice. The Likud voter was traditionally of North African origin and the Labour voter of Eastern European origin and the percentages have changed – certainly on the very Ashkenaz Labour leadership. It pleases me and shows a fascinating demographic change. Gabbay is not left wing, like Izchak Herzog, and may well bring the Labour Party back to its natural centrist position.

Yesterday I went to the Jerusalem Press Club to hear a fascinating and erudite lecture by Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF Intelligence. He covered many highly important points in a concise manner. I will try to do the same.
1.The greatest threat to our security, and yours, today is through cyber attacks. Our enemy is not stupid and they have the ability to create total havoc.
2. Amos Yadlin is left wing but he made it very clear that the Obama Administrations decision to disengage from the Middle East, betray Mubarak and leave a vacuum of power which was gladly filled by Russia and Iran. President Trump waded in at the Riyadh Conference and his "no nonsense" policy and acted immediately in the chemical weapons incident in Syria showing that the US is invested in keeping the peace. Through the new policy the Palestinians are no longer the centre of attention – Iran, and as a by-product Qatar, has taken centre stage.
3. An American journalist asked why the PA/Israel situation cannot be resolved quickly like the Americans did with the Marshall Plan. The answer was straightforward. It was not the Americans but rather the Allies together with the Americans and not all wars are fast and then out – Afghanistan is now 15 years; Iraq 8; Vietnam was long. The USA destroyed both Mosul and Aleppo, with vast "collateral damage" without looking back but Israel can't and won't because the world has double standards.
4. With the new Arab alliances Al Sisi of Egypt is pushing for Mohammed Dahlan, Former Gazan security chief, Hebrew speaker, arch enemy of Hamas, to lead Gaza to change.
5. The most important question was "What keeps you awake at night" and the response? "Missed opportunities. Now is the moment to step in and change the paradigm of our region but we have no coherent leadership."

Two leaders, military and secret service, who say it is time for political change.

I want us all to have a good Shabbat so I intend changing the subject completely and move to immense Jubilation and enormous camaraderie as the sportsmen and women of the 20th Maccabiah come together in competition, excellence and romance. Romance? What do you expect when 7,000 young Jews from 80 countries get together for sport ?

Last week I wrote about the opening ceremony, this week I will talk about those honoured by Maccabi World Union for exceptional service. Tal Brody, the sportsman who came to a Maccabiah to compete and discovered his identity and his home and decided to make Aliya. Tal is so much more than a sportsman; he is a Goodwill Ambassador for Israel. All of the recipients are deserving, Tal; Igal Carmi; King of Hasbara in Spanish Roby Croitorescu; Amnon Inbar z"l; Daniel Jonas; Ricky Reff; Beny Speckman; Jordy Weinstein and Ronald Bakalarz. When Ronald Bakalarz gave the address in the name of the awardees he spoke of another recipient, our friend Guiora Esrubilsky z"l. Guiora was Ronnies best friend and a very special person. His wife Marta and sons received the honour for him but neither words nor awards can express our loss, the loss to the family, friends, the Maccabi movement and to the Jewish world.

We went to the Award Ceremony with Michelle Gandel which made an impressive evening into a wonderful one! Michelle is clever, fun and lovely and most of all a Gandel which means she is a great friend and speaks her mind, my two favourite virtues.

On Saturday night, Sunday and Monday we had three wonderful little girls staying over – Amit, Gili and Ori, the daughters of Zvi's son Leor and his wife Shiri. Since their ages are diverse (11,8 and 5) we thought deeply on what to do with them to ensure excitement and fun. Sunday we took them out for lunch and then to see a Smurf movie and then in the evening, while Zvi went to sing with his choir, the girls and I set off for Mamilla and the "Son et Lumiere" on the walls of the Old City. They were entranced! After the show we went down into Mamilla for a big ice-cream, waffle and home!!! The following morning I gathered my strength and a long list of essential school stationery and we went down to Shouk Ramle and Hannah and Yaacov. It was total chaos, teeming with shoppers and very noisy but thanks to the help of Hannah and Yaacov, and the list, we succeeded in finding everything on the list, right down to the last eraser!!!!

On Tuesday I met with my adored friend  Judith Hallside for lunch and farewell. Judith is moving to Oxford after 37 years in Israel. Jerusalem will always be in her heart and soul but her daughter Michal is drawing her to move. Judith, I wish you all the luck in the world – joy and fulfillment but oh boy will I miss you!

Yesterday we went back to Mamilla to meet with Carlos and Evelyn Hausmann. What a delight! We found it hard to go our separate ways because our conversations could have gone on all day even if it was without the delicious iced coffee and cheesecake

OK. I must go soon because I have to do a bit of gardening on our veranda, see the grandchildren in Givat Zeev while collecting my Challot from Rachel and prepare supper for 12 people. Carlos loves hearing about the veranda and the flowers, well Carlos, the kumquat and lemon trees are in blossom, sadly the orange tree is too hot and won't produce fruit this year; the new hibiscus is blooming, the pomegranate has babies; the geraniums are a blaze of bright colour and the aromatic herbs are looking for a dish to use them to their full advantage.

The view is still hiding behind a heat haze – it really is HOT!

Zvi found this wonderful video of Jewish/Russian Jazz – and I loved it!!

Lecha Dodi is the song/prayer we sing to welcome the bride of Shabbat. The tune is irrelevant - the words are special.  

With the divisive events of the last weeks perhaps we should end with this song. " behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" Hinei Ma Tov

We wish you a truly beautiful Shabbat, that you find the answers to your prayers and that those answers fulfill your dreams

With love from Jerusalem

Friday, 7 July 2017

170707 Eddray, Maccabiah, Shalom

7th July, 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends

60 years ago I was a bridesmaid in a wonderfully frilly salmon pink dress. For whom? For my big sister Eddie who was marrying her handsome soulmate Raymond. Eddie and Ray were so lucky because they both had their parents at their wedding and our maternal grandparents. The ceremony was held in the Cathedral Road Synagogue in Cardiff. Today they live in faraway Toronto and I barely get to see them but I just wanted you all to know that I love them and wish them joy and togetherness with their children Paul and Ruth, their son and daughter-in-law and the grandchildren. Happy Anniversary!!!

There is so much news this week that it is hard to choose what is important to you and what is irrelevant. One item is very close to my heart. A Facebook "friend" wrote to me suggesting that the Middle Eastern problems, especially the Israel/Palestinian issue, could all be settled if only we would all stop acting like children and everybody would give a little. Hmmm. I told him we gave a lot but to no avail. I added a somewhat confusing (for him) statement. As an Israeli I would accept a Hutna, dream of Shalom and pray for Sulcha. In Islam a Hutna is a cease-fire, a convenient truce which one can break at will; Shalom is a temporary peace treaty such as we have with Egypt and Jordan; Sulcha means all is forgiven and forgotten and we can all get on with life. Not sure he will understand – what do you think?

I tend to think of Australia as standing for justice – a belief that was somewhat shattered when I saw this clip from the Australian 60 minutes. This guy makes Hardtalks Stephen Sacker look positively tame but Deputy Minister Tsippi Hotoveli holds her dignity beautifully!!!

Carol Gould, friend, journalist, commentator par excellence and member of BAFTA, wrote about a preview of a documentary on the Syrian Civil War for National Geographic. She was deeply into the movie when something disturbed her deeply – the director made a comment about the consequences of war quoting Dresden and Hiroshima, as if Britain and the Allies were guilty of war crimes. Carol tackled him citing Coventry, Hull, London and the Blitz  – see

Since we are on the subject of things that bother me – UNESCO has outdone itself, much to the chagrin of Ambassador Nikky Haley. Did you know that all the formerly known as Jewish sites are actually Palestinian? What a ludicrous institution the UN is. Not only did it give refugee status ad infinitum but it apparently believes one can change both history and the Biblical truth in a breath. 

Yitzchak "Boughi" Herzog has fallen to the whims of the Labour Party which changes its leaders more than most. In the internal Party votes two other candidates have reached the last round. I am sad because Herzog, a quiet voiced, seasoned politician is one of the last genuine Labour Party followers as the new Labour, or Zionist Coalition, takes over.

Indian President Narendra Modi has just completed a disarming and delightful 3 day visit to Israel. He paddled in the Mediterranean with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I am tempted to say they frolicked!, as the two hugged and smiled their way through the visit. Mr Netanyahu learned to say Namaste and Modi learned a bit of Hebrew. It was the least tense diplomatic visit I have ever known. India and Israel have so many logical ties even though India's economic ties with the Arab world are strong – we are working on that too.

So you want to know about determination and pride in being a soldier in the IDF? Meet Ron and you will understand what a humanitarian army we Israelis have and the incredible people who choose to serve.

As a final statement on the idiotic fiasco over conversion I love what Bobby Brown wrote on Facebook – I am in awe of every Jew by choice, each of whose dedication and belief has changed the world for the entire Jewish People. Bobby I second that.

And so to the Maccabiah. Zvi's link to the Maccabiah and of course Maccabi World Union is long and fruitful, culminating in his position today as the MWU representative to the World Zionist Organisation and the Jewish Agency Board of Governors. The various world Presidents of MWU have been close friends and todays President, Leo-Dan Bensky is a fine representative of his country, Finland, and as Ambassador to and of the Jewish World. Proud of you Leo-Dan.

Last night was the official opening ceremony, at the Malha Football Stadium in Jerusalem, of the 20th Maccabiah Games with 7,000 athletes from 80 countries and a simply stupendous show it was too. President Rivlin, PM Netanyahu stood in the Presidential Box and excitedly waved a huge Israeli flag as athletes paraded country by country. It was truly incredible. The parade started with Australia and went through the alphabet, or more exactly through the Aleph Bet, ending with home country Israel. It was magnificent. Thousands of young Jewish athletes, strong, proud and independent was something my generation is still amazed by and my parents' generation never thought possible. I cannot begin to name all the wonderful people involved in the preparations but Eyal Tiberger is where the buck stops and he can take the worried frown off his face and accept that it was a total success. It was Zvi who insisted that the opening ceremony come to Jerusalem during the Intifada 3 Maccabiahs ago and it is a resounding success with a very different style of pyrotechnics in Malha!!!!!

Prior to the ceremony there was a cocktail where I was delighted to re-meet Col Richard Kemp who came with his two daughters for the Maccabiah. We saw so many friends that I kept losing Zvi and discovering him speaking a different language every time I found him!!!!

There were many highlights but perhaps the greatest was as we left the stadium with Niva and Elihu Ben-Onn and Zvi stopped me beside a lovely young woman in a wheelchair and introduced me. Moran Samuel, Israeli Paralympic athlete and World Cup Gold Medallist for Rowing; if you read her Wikipedia site you are instantly aware of the lack of self-pity and of her incredible love of life. Moran was a basketball player who suffered a catastrophic spinal injury and is paralysed from the waist down but refuses to hear the word "can't".

Indeed as we walked to the car we were passed by "disabled" athletes from every country and the description itself seemed ludicrous – they were a determined and highly "able" group of people who made me proud.

Since the Maccabiah is in Jerusalem I thought it appropriate that you understand the history of this city

I have a very slow day today! Rachel is in London with my sons Gideon and Daniel and their wives, Karen and Stephanie and all the children – Yosef, Sammy, Talia, Olivia, Joshua, Ayala, Zachary and little Callie, not forgetting Maple the dog. It is strange not getting in the car and going to Givat Zeev!!! I hope they are having a whale of a time even though two days ago Joshua fell head first and broke his arm in two places. Josh Posh – feel better beautiful boy.

Zvi has gone to his parliament and then we will go to Amiad, Noga, Ella and Yonatan for our Friday night meal. Zvi already bought the Challot in Mea Shearim (well Rachel is in London isn't she) and decided I should have a total week off and bought a chocolate cake for dessert – Amiad is making his wonderful Salmon and a veggie lasagna so we need something light to finish off – perhaps this is the season of fruit salads, the soft fruits are in season now and are really phenomenal. Our fruits and vegetables are seasonal, meaning they are from tree to kitchen within a day or so which vastly improves the flavour! We have a new fruit this year – red apricots – obviously a hybrid but my goodness, are they delicious.

Jerusalem – a wonderful Reggae song by Matisyahu. Bob Marley would have been proud!!!

Adon Olam – Lord of the Universe  - a familiar song with an Eastern Twist. The Revivo Project

As we were leaving last night we bumped into Oudi Recanati who said that after such an amazing celebration the only song that should end my newsletter is Hatikva. Oudi, your wish is my command.

Shabbat Shalom first to my beautiful children and grandchildren – I am thrilled you are together but spend my time trying to imagine where you are and what you are doing. Happy birthday my Gids.

With love from Jerusalem – beautiful city festooned with Maccabiah flags!


Friday, 30 June 2017

170630 Conversion Law, Sochnut, Qatar, Edelstein

30th June 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I really don't know where to start this week, the subjects are diverse and the repercussions enormous, but nothing is without solutions, we just have to find them. The secret with problem solving is not in blaming or finding a culprit but rather in patient debate and scientific research into the cause.

Perhaps we should begin with the lovely and good people I met this week, but by leaving the problems until the end would leave you with a bad taste and too depressed to think of solutions! Let's dive in with the one that is on the tip of everyone's tongue and look at it, dissect and find a solution.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, usually a wily politician, succeeded in angering most of us, distancing young Israelis from their religion and infuriating Diaspora Jews, all of whom were right. As you know I love my religion, find it fascinating and complex and its beauty is in its compassion for all; this week the PM and his cabinet reversed his former decision to widen the egalitarian section of the Kotel (Western Wall) but much, much more serious was the decision to change and harshen the conversion laws, virtually shunning a large section of both Israeli and Diaspora Jewry, and the majority of Orthodox Rabbis - the latter decision after the Prime Minister himself gave the task of researching the conversion question to Natan Scharansky who spent years solving the dichotomy to have it blow up in his face. Dr Danny Lamm explains eloquently

The Jewish Agency Board of Governors was to have a large event at the Knesset to honour outgoing Chair of the Board of Governors, Charles Ratner, in the presence of the PM on Monday, but as a direct result of the cabinet decision the event was cancelled and the food donated to charity. The Jewish Agency stood its ground to defend the people it represents. The next morning, all the delegates of the Jewish Agency went to the Knesset to lobby MK's of all persuasions, from coalition to opposition, religious and secular, to vote against the decision. The general opinion when they came away was that the decision has no chance of passing the Knesset. The PM made a terrible mistake, lost his base supporters and out of fear of losing his coalition, lost his support.

Dear friends, I understand that some of you have withdrawn your support for Israeli charities. Why? Israel agrees with you, the decision will not pass the Knesset and by not donating you harm the very people who are fighting with you against it! Give us a chance to find a solution. Remember – united we stand divided we fall; we have enough enemies without we don't need the enemy within.

The TV news this morning showed Bibi on his way to meetings with his coalition to reverse the reversal – in other words he regrets the action and is trying to find a solution.

Hadassah Hospital hit the headlines. I will not say anything about the situation but please remember – nothing is as it appears in the media. There are those who incite people's fears to their own purpose, deepening the problem. Hadassah is still an excellent hospital with a Medical School par excellence.

The weather has been unbelievably hot. While Zvi was getting things done, as only he knows how, in the Jewish Agency Board meetings – he is the representative of World Maccabi Union to the Board of Governors – I took our friend Kim to a press briefing at the Jerusalem Press Club in Mishkenot Shaananim, the neighbourhood of many steps! Kim was thrilled at the picturesque views of the Old City and the amazing tiny treasure of the garden with its huge eucalyptus trees providing shade. We ventured back onto the steps and to the briefing on Qatar by Yoni ben Menachem.

Qatar is an extraordinary tiny country, run by cousins of the Saudi Royals. They make up for their size by immense wealth and have been slowly buying up football stadia, teams, hotels, airlines, television stations and of course keeping the news in check with Al Jazeera, a Qatari company. Qatar as instigator and financier of terror then steps in as mediator condemning self-same terror! At the Saudi initiated Arab Summit, all the Sunni leaders met in Riyad to hear President Trump to speak. The President set new rules, starting with determination to rein in Iranian control and nuclear power; condemning terror and the funding thereof; alluding clearly to the actions of Qatar which although Sunni has always played a different game- Dohar is the home of the Moslem Brotherhood; condemning the payment of terrorists. Qatar is in siege without any basic needs coming into the country.

President Trump has set new ground rules. He decided to talk to them "doogri" straight. He made the wise decision to go with the relatively Western leaning Sunnis against Shia Iran. Islam is split into 80% Sunni and 15% Shia, President Obamas decision to go with the 15% was considered a huge insult by the Sunni states and President Trump has now set a new paradigm – mentioning Israel three times in those hallowed halls in front of thousands of Sunni leaders was a brave move. Zvi is not surprised that the Saudis are leading the change – he remembers a private conversation when Prime Minister Olmert was asked "With which Arab country do you have most contact"? The immediate response was "Saudi Arabia".

The very next day I was back descending the steps to the Press Club to hear Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez talk about the Russian interference in Israel's wars since and including 1967. Americans are distressed that the Russians interfered in the elections well how would you feel if you discovered that the pilots, tank commanders, gunners that you were fighting in a war with Egypt were in fact Russian and all the arms provided by Russia with the sole purpose of eradicating Israel? Their newest book reveals information from Russian archives buried for 50 years and recently revealed.

Yuli Edelstein, former refusenik now the Speaker of the Knesset, made an official visit to Russia. He returned to the prison where he was incarcerated for teaching Hebrew, from where he was sent to Siberia, and he spoke in Hebrew to the Russian Federation Council. "Even in my best dreams, I didn't believe I'd come to this moment," "In the same language for which I was imprisoned I bless you with the ancient Jewish Blessing Shalom Aleichem"

I am so proud of both Varda Hershkovitz and Lena Shtern for their amazing work for the Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre in Shaare Zedek. The excellence and effectiveness of their work has resulted in the hospital asking them to perform therapies in the ER to relive trauma and pain of those brought to the Emergency Room.

Our beautiful friend Kim Taylor (aka Dr Kimball) came for the Jewish Agency meetings. He is a popular face and a fascinated participant, reporting his experiences back to the LDS Church ensuring that Fake News doesn't colour their love of Israel.

Yesterday at 12:30 we collected our dear friend Dr Cyril Sherer, at 96 he has just completed a book of his fascinating life as physician to the rich and famous visitors to Jerusalem for the last many, many years. Cyril is still involved with medical research! We then went to King David to meet Harry and Nancy Bloomfield for lunch – if Nancy had her way they would spend most of their time in Israel and not bother with anywhere else!!! Two young Polish friends of theirs joined us and they were so delightful I almost released my inherited memories and considered going to Poland to visit my father's home town of Brzezini. Zvi chose that moment to announce that we are going on March of the Living early next year!!!

I'm sorry this is rather a long letter but I felt that the fiasco of the Cabinet decision had to be addressed in full so as to avoid a misunderstanding turning the rift into a chasm between Israel and the Diaspora.  As Zvi says "Anyone crazy enough to want to embrace Judaism is welcome with open arms"

Gosh, what songs to give you.  Blowin in the Wind, seemed too trite, too obvious so I put my thinking cap on and……….decided to be selfish and give you a song that I used to sing to my amazing son Gideon when he was a baby (together with You are my Sunshine) Tumbalalaika

If we are already talking Pete Seeger, as a youngster I was a devotee of Habonim and as we sat around the campfire we used to sing If I had a Hammer – led by the late and much loved Theo Christie. It was his favourite song. Gosh that group sitting in the trees next to Castel Coch has come a long way.

After all that doom and gloom we need to rejoice  - Yismachu hashamyim!

Last Friday's Yiddishche Delicatessen meal went exceedingly well. Our lovely Tel Aviv friends were so excited as they read out the Yiddische Menu. Funnily enough it was the men who were "chalishing" for traditional food. Maybe next time I'll do Mexican for the girls!!!!

Talking of food – we just came back from and event with Chef Shaul Ben Aderet. The Spinach shakshuka was to die for, the roasted eggplant gnocci unreal and ……….. why don't you see for yourselves

With much love from Jerusalem, from our verandah, it's view, it glorious flowers and it's welcome. I promise I will kiss the children for you and wonder at the panorama as  I come back home. Tonight is a quiet Shabbat – Leor, Amit, Gili and Ori are coming but that will be relaxed and without a menu……….. how can you write "augmented leftovers" in Yiddish!!!!!

Remember dear friends, we are family and occasionally a family member makes mistakes and offends everyone else, but after a hasty fit of pique we settle down, apologise, repair and carry on with life. We are Family, we are the Musketeers and d'Artagnan, we are the Knights of the Round Table – all equal but different; let's regroup and ensure nothing and no-one can divide us.


Friday, 23 June 2017

170623 Hadas Malka zl, Sheila and Zvi 21


23rd June 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this missive finds you well and if you do not feel good today then tomorrow will be better.

I decided to stay away from politics wherever possible this week, just to tell you about our week and what we did. I must, however tell you about a very sad incident that happened next to the Damascus Gate last Friday. Young soldiers of the Border Guards stand beside the entrance to the Damascus Gate where most Moslems from outside the Old City walk to go to pray on the Temple Mount. This is the month of Holy Ramadan and worshippers come from all over the country and from Gaza and the PA.

The Damascus Gate is arguably the most beautiful of the gates of the Old City . Once upon a time Jerusalemites used to go opposite the gate for the wonderful pitta, before casually wandering in the Jewish Musrara area just nearby. That was before Yasser Arafat began his incitement of course.

Last Friday as they stood watch to ensure the safety of the worshippers. One of the guards, Staff Sergeant Hadas Malka, aged 23 took a selfie and sent it to her friends before three young men began stabbing her all over her body. Despite the best efforts of the ambulance paramedic- incidentally a Moslem Israeli who fought to save her despite risking his own life - and hospital staff they ultimately succeeding in their desire to kill and be killed in the name of Allah and ISIS.  May her sweet soul rest in peace and her family be consoled among the mourners of Zion.

Sadly the BBC headline did not mention Hadas z"l, it stated that the IDF shot 3 Palestinians. The headline was so outrageous that Jared Kushner joined Mr Netanyahu in ensuring the headline be retracted – but in the meantime millions of adherents to the disinformation of the BBC already thought Israel had cruelly shot innocent Palestinians again.

One more thing – after all the shouting and yelling about the situation of the European citizens who are in the UK for a long period and made their lives there – Corbyn followers convinced that they would all be thrown out, Theresa May said yesterday that it simply isn't true, anyone who has been in the country for over five years will not even have to go through any procedures to stay in the UK.

In the meantime ISIS blew up a famous mosque in Mosul (Nineveh); a 6.8 earthquake hit Guatamala; tens of people died in a bomb attack on a bank in Afghanistan; In Venezuela police shot at close range at protestors in a peaceful rally; Prince Harry says nobody really wants to be the King or Queen of Great Britain and the Commonwealth but they would serve dutifully; Pyongyang announced that President Trump is a bully for complaining about the treatment of an American student who was imprisoned and ill-treated for taking a poster off a wall – and he ultimately died – while simultaneously testing a ballistic missile which they say is aimed at the USA; Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets and billionaire has been chosen as the US Ambassador to the UK – not the first time it has happened, remember Joseph Kennedy? OK so who thinks that a heatwave is of importance? In the general way of the world it is the least of our worries!!!

Uzi Wexler z"l passed away this week. Those who live outside Israel, and many who live in Israel, believe it was Teddy Kollek who made Jerusalem blossom. In fact it was the brilliant foresight of Uzi Wexler who brought the Hi-Tech industry to Jerusalem and so very much more. A man who believed in Tikkun Olam and acted on it. Sadly missed

OK I promised to tell you about our week, so will begin with after Shabbat on Saturday evening when we travelled to Tel Aviv, to the home of Gideon and Dafna Fisher to an event thanking the supporters of Beit Lessin Theatre in Tel Aviv. We aren't among the glitterati who support but we were invited nonetheless. There I was thrilled to meet Sasson Gabay who you have seen in hundreds of movies without knowing who he is. My very favourite movie of his is "Band's Visit" a wonderful story of hope

On Monday I went to a conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called "Echo Chamber – a conference on hate speech on the internet" and if I may use the very British expression, I was gobsmacked! The most effective presentation was by the Simon Wiesenthal Center who, unbeknownst to me have a very strong presence in fighting hate speech on the net and work closely with the authorities, most recently with Scotland Yard. I had no concept of the vast number of websites that young people reach each other or the complexity of finding them and their incitement of young gullible minds. If you see or hear or sense hate speech on the net please report it to because they know how to deal with it through their incredible head of research Rob Eaton.

Incidentally, if someone has ever written something libelous about you on the net, a new law gives you the right to have it removed. The Right to be Forgotten

While I was at the conference Zvi went to see Gilad Levian, the Director of the Italian Synagogue and Museum in the Centre of Jerusalem to see a wonderful new exhibition about the Jews of Venice, When the Jews were finally allowed to live in Venice they were given a specific area to live in and theretofore the term Ghetto was coined for the Jewish areas. Ghetto however was the name of the major foundry in the said area.

Tuesday saw us walking toward the Knesset, across the forecourt, scene of many ceremonies attended in our past, festooned with Israeli flags, to an event hosted by Member of Knesset Yaacov Perry, former Chief of the Israeli Secret Service. MK Perry is head of the Israeli music lobby in the Knesset and chose to honour choirs from all over Israel. Of course the first person to appear before us was Shuli Natan who is known for just one song, but what a song!!!!

The event finished early so we decided that on the way to collecting the car we would go and see…………….. Wonderwoman!!! What can I tell you. It isn't the greatest movie I ever saw, although entertaining, but I am so proud of Gal Gadot that it is irrelevant. She decided, quite rightly, that she had nothing to be ashamed of and proclaims her Jewish, Israeli, IDF personality with pride, answering inane questions like "Did you learn your fighting skills in the IDF"? with amused truth "No, it is a defence force not an attacking force". Thrilled that many Islamic countries chose to ban the movie but it isn't because she is Israeli – it's because she is gorgeous, strong and doesn't need a man to fight her battles!!!!

Despite my telling you not to complain about the weather but, boy oh boy is it hot!!! In fact next week, as a welcome for the Jewish Agency Board meetings, it is going to be 40 degrees in Jerusalem. F-O-R-T-Y degrees that is 104 degrees Fahrenheit!!!

Today is our wedding anniversary! 21 years ago Zvi and I stood together under the chuppah (wedding canopy) beneath the skies of Jerusalem, opposite the Old City walls, after Zvi had signed the Ketuba (marriage contract) in Alan and Bonnie Cohens home. The chuppah poles were decorate by my children and the poles were held by Leor, Amiad, Gideon and Valeri Silver. Rachel and Jill were my maids of honour and my lovely cousins Jean and Stuart were my proxy parents while Zvi's parents Kalman and Alla stood beside him. We held the party in Yismach Melech Street outside Alan and Bonnies home (it helps to know the residents representative) and we had wonderful music and catering. We closed the street off with police barriers (ooooops is there a statute of limitations on "borrowing" them from the road?) Friends from all over the world were here for the Jewish Agency meetings and it was a truly joyous occasion. To stand on a balmy evening, the walls behind us singing "If I forget thee oh Jerusalem" and as Rabbi David Rosen proclaimed us married and Zvi broke the glass, 400 shofars sounded from the rehearsal ceremony for the lighting of the City Walls right next to us!!!!!! Our lives are full, our children have grown and have children of their own, sadly many of those who stood beside us have gone, but our lives are full and our purpose for Tikkun Olam untarnished.

Tonight we will celebrate with friends who were not at the wedding but have come to mean a very great deal in our lives. They each work hard to make change for the good. I won't name them but know that we are having a totally "Yiddische" meal – Borscht, gefilte fisch, veggie cholent, herring, potato kugel, tsimmes, red cabbage, Jerusalem kugel….. most of which I made (without gluten for one guest) but there are some things that are simply best from Mea Shearim!!! Zvi raced from the house first thing this morning and went to collect the gefilte fisch we ordered, and came home with it piping hot!! The menu will be in Yiddisch, Ruti don't tell the others! Zvi and I simply love to celebrate, we love to have people in our home because a house without friends isn't a home, it is a house. I will also have another place setting ready – just in case. That is what my Mummy taught me, always keep one place setting ready so that if an unexpected guest arrives you can fit them in without a fuss.

Tonight our lovely Kim arrives from Cardston, near Calgary, Alberta Canada. Dr Kimball Taylor is purportedly coming for the Jewish Agency meetings – but really it is for a hug and to see his beloved Jerusalem.

That's it! A crazy week again, but a fascinating one. And so to music – the most difficult choice of the week! So much to choose from.

The first song is dedicated to my Zvi – even if he forgot to bring me flowers!!! Erev Shel Shoshanim

Duo Re'im, Yisrael and Benny, were guests at our wedding and gave us a phenomenal performance as our gift!

So to the aroma of all the Heimische delicacies I need to get back to my preparations. I wish you a Shabbat filled with good deeds and kind people, of tolerance and joy

With love from our beautiful Jerusalem. Tonight we will stand on the veranda, looking at the twinkling lights of a vibrant city, a city we dreamed of for 2,000 years and today lays before us as living proof that hope wins.
Hatikva in the Holocaust and sung by the progeny of survivors

Sheila and her Zvi and their veranda