Friday, 18 May 2018

180518 Gaza, Embassy, Shevuot

18th of May 2018

Shabbat Shalom! There is so much to write about and so little that you think you already know about our current situation that I am going to precis the entire political and diplomatic scene into one paragraph.
1.     Yes, Israelis are thrilled about the American Embassy moving to Israel even though it should have happened in 1995
2.     No, the Gaza riots have nothing to do with the return of the Embassy to Jerusalem
3.     The Guatemalan Embassy is here too – I can see the big banner on their offices from our veranda! The strange thing is that they are in the same building as the journalist who basically ignored them!!!
4.      Yes at least 50 of the 62 who were killed in the Gaza border riots were members of Hamas.
5.     Yes Hamas successfully blew up the lifeline for food, and fuel at Kerem Shalom
6.     Yes Hamas refused Israeli medical aid
7.     Yes rockets and live ammunition hit Sderot and firebombs hit Kibbutz Nahal Oz
8.     No, Israeli soldiers do not want to kill and are not trained to kill without very good cause
9.      Yes the Gazans are downtrodden and oppressed, without food or services but not because of Israel. Hamas is a cruel regime that kills its own people without a second thought; stones gays; performs honour killings on a daily basis and does not allow any freedom.

My answer is to do as the Egyptians did and cut a swathe between the current unsubstantial fence and a wall to separate the two entities completely. A wall that goes deep enough to prevent tunnels.

If you think about it , we have peace with Jordan because they wanted peace with us; we have peace with Egypt because they wanted peace with us – they accepted our hand of friendship. We do not have peace with the Palestinians because they do not want it – they spurn all attempts.

I am past being angry at the media – their ignorance of the true situation is astonishing but even more I am furious, but furious at the mental incapacity of Jews who believe themselves liberal and sophisticated actually saying Kaddish (prayer for the dead) over those killed in the Gaza demonstrations with big black signs with their names.

It actually thrills me to say that both the NYT and the Guardian wrote with great intelligence about the rioters aims.

My niece Ruth sent me this excellent and concise article in the Toronto Sun which sums up the situation

CNN asked David Keyes, the PMO spokesperson "Doesn't the fact that all the deaths are on one side mean the response is disproportionate?" David Keyes – "How many Jews need to die to make it even?"  Keyes is brilliant, just brilliant. I hope you have Facebook because I cannot find it on the Prime Minsters spokesperson site.

What can one say about the Turkish President? He actually accused us of genocide of Palestinians – Yeah sure the Armenians just dropped dead alongside the greeks and Kurds? If we really committed genocide than why is the number of Palestinians increasing ever year? Well one could say he is an insane meglalomaniac!!

Sunday and I met my lovely friend Ruth Dodzuik-Justitz for lunch at the Botanical Gardens. It was wonderful eating our favourite Sweet Potato Oreganatto salad facing the lake where all the water lilies were putting on a fabulous show, earning their real name Lotus.

Monday was especially exciting for Rachel and I as we set off to brave the ghastly traffic jams of Tel Aviv – actually WAZE took us a roundabout route which helped us avoid the worst of the traffic. Our purpose was intense, we were about to meet up with my son Gideon (the QC) who had business here for 2 days. It was every bit as exciting as we thought and while he had meetings we decided that we should go for a walk to Shouk HaCarmel. It's OK but has nothing in comparison to Mahane Yehuda. It hasn't got the spirit, the joy, the fun of Mahane Yehuda. The people pushed and shoved instead of chatting to everyone. Just not the same!!!

We went back to collect Gideon and head off to Jerusalem. Even WAZE couldn't save us from the traffic!!! My voice on WAZE is Simon and Simon was terribly apologetic, changing his mind every so often to try to extricate us from the standstills! Finally we began to move and found ourselves on the main highway Route Number One, still pretty busy and then turned off to the 443 and headed home, but not without a visit to Rachel's where Igal, Yosef, Talia and Ayala pounced on "Dod Gidi"

That evening I intended going with Zvi to the presentation of the "Yakir Yerushalyim" awards to see our dear friend Prof Gabby Barkay receive his well deserved award for his undaunting work on the Sifting Project and many other archaeological projects. However……… I have no intention of going anywhere that wasn't next to Gideon so we just "hung out" which was my greatest joy. I didn't feel bad since the driver came to pick him up for the airport at 06:30 next morning!

On Wednesday I was to meet Canon Andrew White, Hanna and Esther for Gefilte Fish at the King David. Easier said than done when the entire street was a security area….. Both the Prime Minister and the President were at the Hotel for a reception for the Guatemalan President and Ambassador!!! It was wonderful for people watching but not for parking!! As always our supper was a joy, not just the food but we are never lost for things to tell each other! Andrew and I have had many an adventure together. Sadly he can no long get up our stairs to hear Zvi's wonderful rendition of Kiddush, but we always get together. We sat outside on the veranda of the historic hotel as the sun came down. The impeccable veranda overlooking the walls of the Old City is also for people watching and greeting friends. Alan and Bonnie Cohen came to say hello and I introduced Member of Knesset Tsachi Hanegbi to Andrew – an important connection for both.

Yesterday Talia and Ron Carner and Barry and Monica Gurland came for lunch. Barry and Monica brought their adorable grand-daughter Karen with them – she is an absolute delight and exceptionally adult for 11. Today they went first to Yad Vashem and then to the Herzl Museum – always a good mix – from desperation to hope.

Tonight is Shabbat and tomorrow Shevuot – we will be 20 for supper. I have already made most of the salads (remember Israeli salads don't have lettuce!!!) Aubergine and Labaneh; Courgette and egg; stuffed mushrooms; Moroccan mushrooms; Rachel's cucumber salad; mushrooms in balsamic vinegar; gosh a load more – I had to stop cooking because the fridge is full. Yes Arlene – my fridge is full!! I'll bake salmon, lasagna and pasta for the children and all will be well.

Of course Shevuot is much more than cheesecake and blintzes. It is the celebration of receiving the Torah – the 2 tablets of stone – that have guided our lives for thousands of years.

My favourite part of Shevuot is the reciting of the Story of Ruth – Megillat Ruth. If you read the story carefully it teaches us tolerance, acceptance, the wisdom of Naomi in recognizing her daughters in law and of course the beauty of her relationships with those daughters in law. When the three women, Naomi, Ruth and Orpah, lost their husbands Naomi decided to go to a new land, the land of Moab and Ruth chose to go with her (the famous saying "Whither thou goest". At that time Naomi didn't need her daughters in law to take courses and exams to prove they were good Jews – it was obvious and clear. The reward for Ruth's loyalty and love, caring for Naomi through thick and thin, was that she met a new love, a good man called Boaz. I have the honour of having two incredible friends and one family member who chose to be Jewish and they are the most incredible Jewesses I know – real Yiddische Mommas. We have a lot to learn from Naomi who for me is the real heroine of the story.

I know I keep mentioning the Yuri Shtern Holistic Center for Cancer Patients and their Families but I love this organisation! Now a big big Mazal tov to the Yuri Shtern Center we just received an award from the Minister of Health! Kol hakavod to Lena, Varda, Sivan and Orit and all the volunteers and administrators!

Shevuot! 10 Commandments – This song – it is actually for children but hey! It's great!

I love our President! Reuven Ruvi Rivling is so amazing at bringing the people together. The beginning and the result  and

Mazal Tov to the Windors, the Royal Family who have a simcha this weekend!

So – Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach and remember that we must be proud of who and what we are.

With much love from our veranda – with its view over Jerusalem. Jerusalem Capital of the State of Israel.


Friday, 11 May 2018

180511 Iran, Trump, Bibi and life in general

11th May 2018

Shabbat Shalom! Hope you are well and happy.

The flags are up all over Jerusalem, the Stars and Stripes shine on us and in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona, on the border of Talpiot Mizrach, the road signs are alreay in place pointing their way to the American Embassy! It is very exciting and Israelis love nothing better than a reason to celebrate, and we are already in celebratory mood! It is finally going to happen, starting with the American Embassy, then Guatamala, then………… who knows. I will always remember the words of former British Ambassador Sherrard Cowper-Coles "Every time I come to Jerusalem I go to the site of our Embassy, it's still just a piece of land, and stand and pray for the United States to move its Embassy to Jerusalem so we can follow suit" OK So now you can!!!!

I can hear you saying "Why is she so happy? Israel is at war with Iran!" Well I have news for you, no we aren't. We are not happy that they sent missiles and rockets (16 didn't even reach Israeli land, they flopped, and the others were shot down before reaching Israel) but then we responded and wiped out some 50 Iranian bases and arsenals in Syria! The "peaceful" demonstration in the South, on the Gaza border, isn't peaceful and it isn't a free expression of the downtrodden Gazans for the "siege". Israel is the only country of the area that isn't denying Gazans their basic needs, in fact providing them, but they are scared to demonstrate on the Egyptian border and anyway they can't get near the Egyptian border because the Egyptian troops came in, cleared a swathe of land next to the border and put up a wall! This "peaceful demonstration is sending kites, ordinary paper kites, with inflammable material to add to the effect, and they are burning down whole fields of carefully tended crops before the Kibbutz farmers have time to harvest. Quite apart from the evil ingenuity of their actions, the fear is that a farmer on his tractor could be trapped in a burning field, but then that is the aim!

In the meantime, Israelis are carrying on with life, obviously preparing for the worst but we don't scare that easily. We are never complacent and the IDF is on alert, in this neighborhood one cannot be sure of anything. This isn't a new situation, but the paradigm has changed. We managed very well on our own against all enemies, but now we know that the USA is behind us with all its weight with a leader that doesn't fear rejection.

Let me explain. Iran has proxies who do not have to heed consequences for their violent actions against Israel (or Saudi, Kuwait etc), like Hamas, Hezb-Allah, even Al Qaeeda and ISIS, however, Iran is a country, a state, and if they wreak havoc they will pay with embargos from the world community, even if their aggression is against Israel!!! For most countries it was a convenient excuse to come out against their actions this week, countries that is, not of course the NYT. Nobody will take action, yet, and the United Nations will find a way to blame Israel but the Iranians know they walk a fine line.

David Horovitz, Editor of the Times of Israel, gives a concise and clear explanation of the Iran deal's history

Now, love him or loathe him, President Trump is fulfilling his promises. He has gone quiet on the immigrant situation, but since most of the wall with Mexico was already built by President Obama he didn't need to continue – now I admit that was rhetoric. However, he is standing fast on the Iran deal, which is dangerous in its inadequacies. The Iran deal was based on the Clinton North Korean deal and we know where that led!!! His public shaming of President Kim of North Korea horrified those who do not understand the region, but look where it led - a meeting between the two Koreas and with the American President. Finally, he decided to honour the vote in Congress to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel. Newt Gingrich and Daniel Moynihan went against President Clintons warnings of conflagration in the area if they went ahead with the statement "We have diplomatic relations with 184 countries and Israel is the only one where the Embassy is not in the functioning capital". The vote was in 1995, the intended move in 1999 and all it took from any sitting President was to say nothing, simply not to defer the move. This fascinating reading

Perhaps the strangest outcome of recent events is that Prime Minister Netanyahu is the go-between for any negotiations or talks between Putin and Trump. Both talk to him but not to each other. It is surely a machisto situation between the eagle and the bear but incredibly Israel is acceptable to both. I said that whether one loves or loathes Trump one must accept his successes and so it is with Mr Netanyahu. I didn't vote for him or his party but he has done everything right over the last two weeks.

Perhaps now is the time for us to hear the song We Are a Miracle by Yaakov Shwekey – more from him later

The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem was established in 1980 by three dear friends, Tim King, Jay Rawlings and Malcolm Hedding, among others, when most countries chose to have their Embassies to Tel Aviv. The Embassy was founded in recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital city of the Jewish people. Quite apart from their incredible work in support of Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular, they throw a wonderful party twice a year, Chanuka/Christmas and Jerusalem Day. Last Monday was the Jerusalem Day party, on a day which produced rain, high winds and almost every conceivable weather threat! As Beverly Dwyer said "We prayed and prayed that the rain would hold off" and it did!! The exquisite building once housed the Czechoslovakian and Ivory Coast Embassies and the incredible work of the ICEJ in ensuring the return of the Embassies to Jerusalem may just backfire since the building belongs to the Ivory Coast!! Zvi and I went with "my friend Sheila" the wonderful broadcaster Sheila Zucker and we were again in awe of the beauty of the building, the grounds and the support of people like Juergen Buhler. The Embassy does not proselytise as has been suggested, they give enormous political support worldwide.

Israel is through to the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest with Netta Barzilai singing I'm not your doll. Of course the BBC complained that she uses swear words in the song…….. quite incredible when one considers the fact that the first time **** was heard on the air was Kenneth Tynan on the David Frost Show oh and all the British late night show presenters in the USA use the word non-stop to say nothing of rappers!! We are vaunted to be the winners but only if politics stays out of the competition.

Last night we went to Tel Aviv for two reasons, one was to meet Perla and Carlos Jinich two lovely Mexican friends of Zvi's from his high school days in Mexico City. My complaint? I only just met them when they have been coming to Israel for many years!! What a delight! Perla mad coffee and I brought an Orange Cake (Rachel's famous recipe) and suddenly we realised that time has flown and we needed to leave for our next appointment!!

One day, Zvi was at a Maccabi World Union event and met a new friend called Ron Carner of the USA. Ron introduced his wife, Talia, and to his amazement she and Zvi hugged each other as old friends……….. because they were and are! Talia and Zvi went to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem together when Zvi was a student leader! Of course once I came on the scene we because friends too. In the meantime Talia has become a famous author of 4 books and last night Talia and Ron threw a big birthday bash for Talia's 70th and we had fun! I had the huge fortune of sitting next to Ilan Horowitz (he told me to say that) and Zvi sat with Cilla Horowitz, and the men regaled stories of their past and sang together in Russian. To our amazement, a crowd gathered around us and sang the Russian songs with them!! It has never happened before! I knew that Ilan is a great storyteller of the stand-up mode, but for anyone to have the courage to sing with Zvi's booming bass-baritone is rare. The only one in our life who willingly does so is Martin Lindenfeld but he a too far away in Florida!!!

We have some wonderful occasions coming up, tomorrow Yonatan ha Katan will be 4, a beautiful boy and Zvi's only grandson – not that we are complaining about the grand-daughters!!! Rachel has made him a fabulous piñata, a yellow duckling with big blue eyes and  I will take the far less interesting "memula'im" stuffed vegetables and my new favourite salad – roasted aubergine and labaneh whizzed with a stick blender. Try it! It is easy and delicious!!!

Rachel is already creating incredible things for her Talia's Batmitzva in a few weeks. Fabulous flowers atop pens and pencils for the girls, unbelievably beautiful invitation reminders – cards and invites printed on clear plastic with flowers attached and with magnets for the fridge…. And little favours that she makes from scratch. I love it!!

On Monday we have the honour of watching Zvi's close friend, Professor Gabby Barkay, receive the Yakir Yerushalayim Award for his amazing work on sifting the earth removed from underneath the Temple Mount by Sheikh Raeed Salah.

For me, of equal if not even greater importance (sorry Gabby) is the fact that my middle son, Gideon, is in Israel for a flying visit from London and I will get to hug him and he will get to hug Rachel and family. I am madly thinking of what food to make for him that he loves, he has gone healthy on me so not sure!

And so to music. Perhaps something about the Golan Heights? About Jerusalem, although the choice is daunting; no, I think I have the perfect song for this week – Ani Ma'amin

We are so grateful to our incredible IDF for protecting us and for all they do to help our supposed enemies. Yaakov Shwekey sings the blessing for the soldiers of Israel. 

The blessing
He Who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, may He bless the fighters of the Israel Defense Forces, who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God, from the border of the Lebanon to the desert of Egypt, and from the Great Sea unto the approach of the Aravah, on the land, in the air, and on the sea.
May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.
May He lead our enemies under our soldiers’ sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is the Lord your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you.
Now let us respond: Amen.

With love from Jerusalem, our veranda and the view all the way to the newly established American Embassy in Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom


Friday, 4 May 2018

180504 Rhetoric, Abbas, FDR

4th May 2018

Shabbat Shalom my friends. I hope you are well.

Rhetoric. When does rhetoric become disinformation and disinformation propaganda and propaganda incitement to hatred?

Rhetoric is defined as "Language designed to have persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content" Today's rhetoric is far more sinister and has become propaganda - and, as Goebbels proved, is an alternative truth that is more acceptable than reality.

Mahmoud Abbas stated clearly that the Jews deserved their fate in the Shoah since they were usurers etc – although carefully avoided mention of the homosexuals, Catholics and communists. Even the New York Times condemned his words calling for his resignation, admittedly while condemning Israel and settlements but nonetheless

A Rabbi spoke at a ceremony to commemorate those who died in an Italian transit and extermination Camp – Risiera di San Sabba – and was booed and faced with Palestinian flags. Of this instance Didier Lestienne wrote

“It should not be said that those who booed the rabbi are ‘young people without culture and without historical memory’. Maybe orchestrated, but not innocent.” Sadly, regardless of whether they were put up to it or not, so many young Europeans have been brainwashed into believing a very different narrative that it has now entered the European and Muslim mindset. If you doubt me, just look at Britain, where the Labour Party, the main opposition and soon possibly the government, has to all intents and purposes adopted a narrative that discriminates against any Jew seeking to assert his or her right to a homeland. Across Europe Jews are now told to hide their identity.
Thanks to Jeremy Rosen for the quote

We should not be complacent, it is all too easy to say "Europe is lost", it can happen anywhere in the world. The rhetoric became lies and is now indoctrination verging on brainwashing. Jews are not acceptable, we are told to hide our identity and disappear. Don't buy your children Magen Davids, don't wear a kippa – as if we are the ones guilty of inciting violence upon ourselves.

It is not new. On this newsletter I have oft referred to the fact that FDR refused to enter WW2 until his own country was attacked in Pearl Harbour – not by the Third Reich but by Japan, a totally different enemy. It was against American moral codes. Now we know why. FDR was not just an anti-Semite, he believed in eugenics. He didn't accept Jewish refugees because he wanted them spread thinly all over the world. I got my answer as to why he refused to take the USA into a just war and refused Churchill's pleas to bomb the railway lines of death

Reactions to PM Netanyahu's Iran Nuclear danger speech were mixed. Some said it was too theatrical, some suggested it wasn't news but rather old information but nobody doubted the genius of the Israeli Secret Service in removing the files and discs to give actual proof. Here is the speech, it starts in Hebrew but is predominantly in English.  

Laugh at the theatrical approach of the PM but an Israeli satellite company reports and displays unusual activity at the Iranian Nuclear facility in Qoms
President Trump has put forward a proposal that Israel transfer 4 Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority – Jabl Mukaber, Shoefat, Issawiya and Abu Dis. The strange thing is that this was exactly the proposal of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a proposal that Mahmoud Abbas walked away from. It is a good proposal, it is a logical proposal since all four neighborhoods consider themselves Palestinians anyway, even though they receive all the municipal, health and social services of Israel. I think it is an excellent idea to give them a jolt of reality to live in an utterly corrupt society, without any social benefits, that they have been supporting for years.

Incidentally Israel has just signed a $775 million deal with the Palestinian Authority for an independent electricity supply for the West Bank – excluding Gaza where the people suffer long electricity cuts. Why not Gaza? Partly because the PA is sick of paying and never getting money back from Hamas but mostly to squeeze Hamas until they leave.

Enough sadness – enough news – let's go into our wonderful social life this week!

The week started last weekend with our grand-daughter Gili's 9th birthday and Irit Lev's Mum  Dita's 90th!  Both were real celebrations.

On Monday Jill and I went down to Shouk Ramle to search out bargains and absorb the atmosphere – the very noisy, bustling atmosphere. A market in every sense of the word the site is empty during the week, a huge covered space which holds no secret of what happens from 07:00 on a Monday morning. Market traders arrive from all corners of Israel, in time to spread out their wares in semi-permanent sites next to the Malha Train Station. From baby clothes for 5 shekels to beautiful kitchen ware; from disposable cookware to designer soft furnishings; from rows upon rows of brightly coloured sweets and dried fruits to stickers…… yes stickers, my grandchildrens favourite. In fact last time Daniel and Karen brought Joshua and Callie all the way from New York we went to visit the site of Safta's gift purchases and took photos with the delighted owners. Jill found some delightful bargains to take back to the UK and a particularly gorgeous pseudo Sportsac!!

While Jill and I were browsing bargains Zvi took Irit Lev's family from Seattle on a tour of the Old City. They learned so many new things, different things, special things that anyone who has not been to Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular cannot understand. They were amazed at the number of Arabs who live and work and have normal lives in Jerusalem. They firmly believed that Israel was the apartheid state the left claim and Arabs weren't allowed here!! Gosh it makes me furious – Israel is a wonderful free society for all her citizens.

We enjoyed a total Goldstein week – lunch in Mahane Yehuda with Michael and Dorothy which was absolutely wonderful and then we had an extra special surprise when they came for breakfast with a lovely fruit salad, of course I made Shakshuka and we sat around the kitchen table………. after a tour of the verandah then later today I will be with Gloria in Tel Aviv for a chat and a coffee. Not that I will be satisfied with a short visit – hopefully we can meet again next week! What!!!! I can hear your cries of dismay from here, but don't worry a description of our Mahane Yehuda visit follows!

Mahane Yehuda, that most Jerusalem of Jerusalem sites. It began as a place for farmers to sell their produce and today is a phenomenal bustling social experience. The costermongers still shout their wares, from incredible, "straight off the tree and field" fruits and vegetables, heaped in a glorious multicoloured display, to the designer jewellery store, unbelievable variety of halva, tisanes and spices whose scent fills the entire shouk. Dodging trolleys is the name of the game and of course meeting friends. Yaron Tzidkiyahu is a friend and an important political figure in Jerusalem and of course in the shouk where his father was one of the senior figures. Tzidkiyahus not only has the best pickles and ready food but also the best of Israeli cheeses, all kosher, all absolutely delicious. At night it changes face completely as the shutters of the stalls come down the chairs and tables come out and Mahane Yehuda becomes one big night club/bar/coffee shop and the average age goes down to 21!

On Wednesday Dr Motti Friedman, aka Mottle, came for a cuppa. I love to make a tisane from mint, lemon grass, ginger and cinnamon stick – I am happy to say that Mottle agreed. He and Zvi chatted and decided – they really enjoy each other. Mottle is the founder and emeritus expert on Theodore Herzl and any conversation with him on history is special. That's why he and Zvi get on so well!!

And so to Lag b'Omer, the day of celebration and joy during the more sombre days of the counting of the Omer.  Lag b'Omer, what is the meaning of Lag b'Omer? Well yes it is the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer and represents the determined bringing of light to Judaism by Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai and visiting his grave in Meron. For me it is about Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva was Bar Yochais teacher and during the Omer a plague raged amongst his students. Rabbi Akiva told them it was because they did not show respect one to another, they lacked love but on Lag b'Omer the plague ended and they learned respect. Hence the lighting of bonfires as beacons to respect. If only the lighting of beacons also indicated respect and love of each other today.

Today and tomorrow the Giro bicycle race is in Israel, the first time that it has been held outside Italy. It is so exciting! Today it begins in Jerusalem with 10k time trials around the Walls of the Old City and nearby neighborhoods 

Finally a truly magnificent woman received the honour of the Israel Prize her name is Miram Peretz. She came from a family of emigres from Morocco who did not speak or read Hebrew. Today speaks of her heart in perfect, high Hebrew. Israel Prizewinner Miriam Peretz is a powerful woman, an inspiration to one and all. She lost two sons to Arab terror while serving as IDF soldiers. She also lost her husband to a broken heart after the loss of their first son. Overcoming the tremendous natural sadness from her huge loss, she now spreads love, joy and appreciation to all who hear her. With English subtitles, the most incredible speech.

So, what else? Music of course!!!

Netta Barzilai is the antithesis of a skinny pop star and certainly of the various country representatives in the Eurovision Song Contest. She is happily overweight, sings the funkiest song ever heard in the contest and present a totally different face of Israel. It is the front runner!! I love the song, Zvi hates it!

I just found this song and I love it! Women sing - 70 years old

So that's it!
Shabbat Shalom to you all, wherever you may be, whatever you do, whoever you are. May your Sabbath be one of thoughtful kindness and love

With love from Jerusalem and our View from the Veranda

Friday, 27 April 2018

180427 Arava Tragedy, this week in view


27th April 2018

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

This week promised to be one of good news and joyous events, or that is how it started.

Two days ago a group of wonderful young Israelis, boys and girls from a pre-military academy, set out on a trek in the Arava – to prepare them for their military service. They were thrilled and excited, recorded in their group WhatsApp prior to leaving. The first night they slept under canvas and then set off along the trail of a dried up river bed, a wadi, for the days trek. Very heavy rain fell in Jerusalem, exceptional rain, and when it rains in Jerusalem the waters rush down to the Negev and the Arava. There was a flash flood in the wadi, the waters simply rushed along the river bed in a torrent and 9 young people, 8 girls and a boy, were killed, 13 were rescued without harm and 2 were injured. One boy was still missing last night. The search and rescue emergency units of IDF units, MDA and all emergency units were involved in the event. While it is easy to condemn after the fact, the warnings were clear, two young people lost their lives in similar situations the day before, the decision to go on the trek was made without the permission of the Ministry of Education. Spring in the Dead Sea area is unpredictable, rains frequent, flooding too, not like this but nonetheless. May their sweet young souls rest in peace and their families not be consumed in blame but rather in healing.

The rains in Jerusalem were phenomenal – torrential rain, hail and constant lightening like a strobe. I have never seen anything like it.

On Sunday Jill and I went to the Israel Museum on the recommendation of my friends Dana and Betty who volunteer in the Museum. The exhibit, both disturbing and brilliant, is the work of Zoya Cherkassky, "Pravda" which means truth in Russian, describing, with scary clarity, her experiences as a new immigrant in Israel. Emigration is never easy leaving behind the familiar and learning to be accepted in a new society, and this exhibit - no you should see it for yourselves but be prepared.

The Simons Family from Sydney, Australia is a wonderful, active, Israel loving family and I love them. It came as no surprise that Robert's son Derek and his wife Toni chose to hold their son Guy's barmitzva in Jerusalem. It was a truly joyous affair beginning at the Davidson Archaeological Park, on to the Western Wall ending in a party to beat all parties on the roof of the Mamilla Hotel. Many family members came all the way from Australia for the event and we were thrilled to meet them one and all. Robert walked around with a big smile on his face; Guy gave a wonderful speech; Guy's buddies told us about him in a funny roasting; Anita danced the night away with Robert as did most of the guests and the food was delicious. A truly warm, friendly and sophisticated celebration.  Robert will receive an Honorary Doctorate from the Hebrew University for his years of loyal and hard work.

Jill and I met with my lovely Cardiff friend Susan Gaba Yakir in Aroma Coffee Shop, a wonderful friend and the best coffee in the world. Café Hafuch means upside down coffee, a work of art! Always in a glass mug so that one can see the design – dark dark coffee at the bottom, milky coffee above and white froth on top always with a design of a heart, a leaf or whatever the creation of the day may be.

On Tuesday we drove to Tel Aviv for a special celebration. Albert Avraham Marciano loves music and his birthday celebration at Zappa nightclub was just that, music. Avraham sang with many other artistes, including the phenomenal opera singer Yotam Cohen, and we sat enthralled. Rina and Yechiel Heller joined our table and we all had a special surprise when Avraham and Rina's daughter Shlomit got on stage. A painfully shy woman she opened her mouth and sang Changes – it was incredible, really goose bump time. Of course, being in Tel Aviv we went to see Zvi's son Amiad and Noga's beautiful children Ella and Yonatan, to take them out of kindergarten and play with them before heading off to Zappa.

Wednesday just happened!! Since the weather was already unpredictable I decided to invite the wonderful Joy Wolfe home for lunch rather than risk the rain and then it happened - I thought that Ruth Dudziuk-Justitz would enjoy the company and then Zvi called to say that he and Michael Meir were joining us…….. of course I had enough food because Jill and I made quick salads and my fish balls came out of the freezer, although the absolute hit was the fresh salmon in creamed horseradish!!!

A horrific car ramming in North Toronto left 10 dead and 15 injured. The motive is unknown and mental illness is suspected but the case is clearly still open. Whatever the motive the dead will never come back and those involved will never be the same. Could it be terrorism? Who knows.  

Two Presidents met in Washington and their relationship blossomed. President Macron of France and President Trump of the USA met to discuss Iran and the nuclear deal among many other subjects. It was clear that they and their spouses were on good terms. I love the "kissy kissy" aspect – men hugging and kissing is normal here in Israel and I totally approve. Perhaps more kissing and less shouting could improve our world. I never understood why men can't kiss – why on earth would a father and son shake hands? Hopefully something positive will come out of it.

Germany showed solidarity with its Jewish citizens when over 2,000 Germans demonstrated with kippas It was a positive start but little was mentioned about the cancelling of a prestigious music award which went to a rapper spouting hatred for Jews. Perhaps the demonstrations would be more effective if they took place each week, on Friday, increasing in size.

And so it is Shabbat again. The country is in mourning for the beautiful lives lost through negligence, not intentional but negligence nonetheless. 9 families will light a memorial candle beside their Shabbat candles and ask why.

I realise that I wrote the week's events in reverse this week – our social calendar before news and so on but as I told Michael Meir, I don't write a newsletter to you I chat with you about Israel, our social life and things that affect our lives. I find it a conversation and I love it when you respond – it is really hard having a conversation on your own!

Tonight we will have a quiet Shabbat Dinner, just Zvi, Jill and I – or so the day starts. I never know how many we will be but I love entertaining and it is never a problem to find food! The secret is to love people – life would be so much better if we learned to love instead of hate. I am involved in three organisations which bring love to our world – two through education and one through pure love to bring calm to the troubled world of cancer patients and their families.

The basis is what you learn at home but education, what thoughts are filtered into ones head as a child, is the most important aspect of the future of our world. Not many people get to change the world through changes in education but Impact-se does it every day.  Then there is David Geffen and his organisation and of course the Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre in Shaare Zedek Hospital and in our small clinic. These three organisations are not famous, nor are they huge, they employ very few people yet they each change our world for the better. Selfishly I receive huge satisfaction from my involvement in all three because they are all about giving of oneself to help others.
Rabbi Hillel said "Love your fellow as you love yourself" which is said to be the entire Torah in a nutshell. This weeks Torah reading deals with all the rules for building a fair and loving society – as we leave the Torah behind we lose the love too.  Democracy has stringent rules in order to protect the rights of everyone – free speech is conceivably the most abused of all rules and has become an excuse for spouting hatred without paying the price.

So it is high time we spoke of music!!

Shlomo Artzi deservedly lit one of the beacons at the Independence Day ceremony on Mount Herzl, his songs are an integral part of Israel society. This song, sung with his son, tells it all with the words what is the cost?

Finally a prayer, a plea a blessing all together VeHi Sheamda with Shwekey and Shloi Shabbat with translation into Spanish for all my friends who speak that beautiful language.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, from our verandah overlooking the most beautiful city in the world

With much love


Wednesday, 18 April 2018

180418 Israel 70

18th April 2018

Yom Ha Zikaron
Remembrance Day for the fallen in battle and terrorism.

Today politics are irrelevant. Today we mourn those who died defending us.
From nightfall yesterday until nightfall tonight the names of those killed through hatred will be shown upon our television screens, one at a time, their names and their photographs. Families will tell their stories because they mustn't be forgotten.

Israel's war is different on so many levels. Our enemy is not thousands of miles away, he is on our doorstep and he is within. Of course Tolerance – sovlanut can win through, but it is a long and difficult process.

I cannot but mention that there are two sectors of Israeli society which do not honour this day; who do not stand to attention during the wail of the siren – but even that is beginning to change.

Last night Zvi, Jill and I went to an extraordinarily Israeli event. The plant nursery in the Botanical Gardens clears space for some 300 people who sing songs written about our loss, beautiful songs, sad songs, special songs – some of which came with a personal story, all of which have a story.

In Israel we sing sad songs, we release our anger and grief through poetry and song, we tell our stories.

It all begins with a ceremony at the Western Wall, to which the families of those who died are invited – from the War of Independence, through the War of Attrition, 6 Day War, Yom Kippur, Lebanon 1 and 2 and the many battles in between. It is truly incredible that there are not more.

The day of mourning ends at nightfall when the entire atmosphere changes on a pin. As the last soldiers march out of the amphitheatre of Mount Herzl, the flag bearing soldiers march in and the celebrations begin. Dancing, singing, marching, music fireworks and sheer joy……….. we paid the price, we paid dearly, but here we are not just standing but thriving and giving to the world. We have a truly magnificent society, we tend to moan a lot but that's a privilege that only democracy can achieve.

Tonight will be extra special for me because I am going to the ceremony with my incredible grand-daughter Talia. I am so proud of her. She is a feisty strong young woman, at 11 she is thoughtful beyond her years and very proud to be an Israeli. She has also been driving Saba Zvi crazy for a whole year to get her into the celebratory ceremony!!! After all this year Israel is 70!

The torchlights at the ceremony are from many walks of life, each has given much to Israeli society in his or her own way.

 The unexpected miracle of modern day Israel

What is it that drives us? Why are we so determined to survive and enjoy every second of life? What makes us the people who love to go out to cinemas, theatres, each others homes, parks and have a deep curiosity for other cultures and our own diverse land? I don't know but the joie de vivre, the love of fun……………..
Tell em another country where the President has an idea, a city invites 12,000 strangers to an auditorium to sing and they all not only turn up but sing in glorious harmony the most important song in the country!!!

Shiri Maimon sings the famous song, the last song of Yitzchak Rabin before he was cruelly assassinated – the name is Song to Peace. The exceptional aspect of this song is that thousands of soldiers are singing to peace.

We all know Oseh Shalom but I came across this wonderful rendition of our prayer for peace from all over the world, choirs in One Voice

I must get ready because Talia will be here soon. My eldest grand-daughter almost 12 and I am so proud to be going with her.

Tomorrow is a day of fun, barbeques……so many barbeques! The whole country celebrates.

Then we come to Shabbat and the Hariton Family who are coming for Shabbat Dinner. I am so excited!! Flory and Paul are old friends of Zvi's, from the days of Venezuela Keren Hayesod through to Florida, and I am proud to have been taken into the family!! They are here with their children and spouses which is double exciting! The lovely Michael Meir is coming too and of course Jill, who is one of the family – and Amiad and Noga and the children………. That's it for now!! We will be just 16 for dinner which as you know is a mere drop in the ocean for me……….. or drop in the chicken soup!!

Mazal Tov to our incredible country. Thank you for giving me a home that fulfills and challenges me, doesn't allow me to become complacent, insists I care for my fellow man and allows me to sing her praises because she is worthy.

Thank you especially for the two, no three, most exceptional new soldiers I know. Yahya Mahamid left his family in Umm El Fahem, was threatened with death but chose to love his country, serve Standwithus and then enlist in the IDF, his photographs show an entirely happy young man. The same with Mohammed Soabi (yes the cousin of MK Haneen) who together with his Mother and of course Standwithus, also enlisted recently – and of course our special and wonderful young man Tomer Silver, who although not connected by blood is our family and we love him. May they come home safely after serving their country with honour.

Tell me – Isn't she the most beautiful 70 year old you ever saw?

Finally, what else, HATIKVA

Chag Atzmaut Sameach – Shabbat Shalom