Friday, 13 January 2017

170113 Terror by truck, Mahane Yehuda, Gideon Saul

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens

13th January 2017
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. This has been a very sad week, not the best of times, yet babies are born, young couples marry and great celebrations take place. It is indeed both the best of times and the very worst.
On Sunday, a group of Officer Cadets of the IDF and their trainers, came to Jerusalem on an educational seminar. They, like most of us, went to see the incomparable vista point of the Haas Promenade in Talpiot/Armon haNatziv – perhaps to understand what they are fighting for. As one group alighted from the bus an Israeli Arab (not a Palestinian although the media insists upon it) took his flatbed truck and simply drove into and through the soldiers. He then reversed in order to kill and maim more of them but several soldiers took out their weapons and shot him. He had mown down the lives of 4 beautiful young people, 20-year-old Lt. Yael Yekutiel z"l, 22-year-old Lt. Shir Hajaj z"l, 20-year-old Sec.-Lt. Shira Tzur z"l, 20-yearold Sec.-Lt. Erez Orbach z"l who volunteered to go into the IDF despite the fact he had special needs. 17 others were injured – all of the young people will never be the same again. May their sweet souls rest in peace and their families be consoled with the mourners of Zion.

The terrorist comes from the neighbourhood of Jabel Mukaber, right next to Armon ha Natziv. Zvi's children grew up there and in those days Jabel Mukaber was a tiny village of a few dozen families who shared the playgrounds and facilities of the Jewish neighbourhood. During the second Intifada, when the Israeli police and IDF were busy trying to prevent terrorist attacks, thousands of family members of the original village poured into Jabel Mukaber from Hebron and there are now nearly 10,000 inhabitants. Those people receive all the social services of Jerusalem, medical, social security, jobs, everything. Now do you understand?  Nothing to lose because when they build homes without planning permission CNN etc are right there ensuring Israel looks bad for pulling down unsafe buildings.

In the meantime terror attacks took place in Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and some 17 JCC's in the USA were threatened. Yes it is the worst of times.

Ironically, just minutes after the diabolical attack I was walking down the steps of the glorious neighbourhood of Yemin Moshe to the Jerusalem Press Club to hear none other than Yossi Beilin speak. I hoped he may say something different, a new perspective but sadly he didn't. Such a brilliant man who is unable to think out of his box. He still lauded Oslo and Sharm, talked about a Federation between Israel and the PA. I felt like mis-quoting Einstein at him "Failure is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results"

We are so dumb. When we can't accept a democratically elected leader we determinedly put him down and make his tenure illegitimate. This is negative on every level, especially negative to our standing in the world. It is irrelevant whether it is your leader or mine. The sex stories of Donald Trump suggest that no President in the past ever had a questionable sex life; then we come to the investigation of the Netanyahus. Since as long as I can remember, and certainly Zvi can remember, politicians have been hedonists, egotists, and a nice cigar or a bottle of Champers could gain entry to their cahal. Get over it everyone – try to build a future and stop trying to change the present!

On Monday I went to Shouk Mahane Yehuda with two friends from my childhood, Adele Landau Roffman and Angela Hexner ben Gal who have taken so much of the work of arranging the imminent delight of the Welsh/Israelis St David's Day party that I feel free to enjoy our Florida sojourn. The party will be held on March 1st, obviously, in the Botanical Gardens in Jerusalem.

I love the Mahane Yehuda in case you hadn't guessed yet!!  You really should take the tours I bought some delicious fruit tea to take to my daughter-in-law Karen and some special warm hat things that can either be neck warmers or hats for Daniel, Joshua and Callie!!! The aromas emanating from the huge variety of tisane mixes was quite heady – not only potable flower and fruit mixtures - they even have edible hibiscus flowers, unsweetened dried pineapple, mango, guava and Zvi's favourite, papaya – and you should really try the herb and spice mixes for rice dishes!!!!. We walked up and down the main alley then out into the daylight of the outside shouk, stopping to say hello and taste the fresh delights along the way. We sat in Café Aroma, drinking the best coffee in the world, watching the world go by. Love it!!!

I want to jump and shout the next piece of news which is so fabulous I woke up at 04:00 smiling and crying simultaneously. I received permission to tell you about it but was told not to include too much slush!!! Actually the easiest thing to do is to copy you the note from my son Gideon Saul Cammerman QC!!!!
Of course I am happy for you to schlep some nachas. But, please just write that on recommendation on the Lord Chancellor, the Queen has appointed me one of Her Majesty's Counsel or as is more commonly known, Queens Counsel.
Now tell me, could you hold back? I am so proud I could fly, but Gideon, I promised to hold back and not be slushy. I wouldn't dream of saying you are brilliant and wonderful, but I can wax lyrical about your wonderful wife Stephanie whose part in your success is immeasurable. I am flying to London to attend the ceremony in the House of Lords on the 13th of February and I promise you I will not hold back then. Gosh, my baby is taking Silk!!!'s_Counsel

We leave for Florida very soon and lots of you asked for our schedule. On the 25th of January we are speaking at our dear friend Michael Meir's synagogue, Skylake Synagogue in North Miami Beach, actually Zvi will be speaking because it is in Spanish and I can only listen. On the 27th, by special invitation of Bob and Faith Krasnow we will be at Temple Beit El - 2815 North Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach which is the prime reason we are travelling to Florida. Zvi will speak and I will occasionally interrupt when asked! On the 4th of February we will be speaking in Boca Raton at our friend David Steinhardts Temple Bnei Torah. Those of you who have our Israeli cell numbers – we can be reached on WhatsApp. I am flying up to NYC to see my beautiful family there and Zvi is going down to Mexico to see his cousins. Family is everything for us.

Last night we met with some of my very favourite people. Canon Andrew White, Hanna Ishaq, Lola and Norman Cohen. in what Canon Andrew calls "Daves Caff" aka the historic King David Hotel for supper. I am so excited that Andrew is back in his special city, his special part of the world. I wish him better health and a great deal of strength as he embarks on a whole new project to help the same people he loves so much. Andrew has created a new organisation called  the Canon Andrew White Reconciliation Ministry

Brenda Katten is an exceptional lady. I first met her in the UK and since then have been enthralled by her writings as well as her person. This week she writes about the dichotomy nay the chasm between the media and the truth. Here she talks about Syrian, Palestinian and Gazan children treated with love in Israeli hospitals.

Shabbat comes in early in the winter as dusk begins to turn the white stones of Jerusalem a deep pinkish gold. The colour change lasts but a moment or two but it excites me each day. I stand before the big windows overlooking our veranda to see the flash of gold, as the sun goes down behind us.  I never weary of our view, of Jerusalem spread before me, she, the city which so suits the Dickens quotation, here we know the best of times and the worst of times. Of late we feel abandoned but then I receive incredible letters of support from ordinary folk of every religion, letters from so many different countries telling me their politicians do not represent the people, Israel is in their hearts. If you really mean it – come to visit; come to see for yourselves what an exciting, innovative, modern country this is. You will see all religions and all sectors of all religions represented in the stores, streets, shopping malls, and hospitals, indeed everywhere – you will wonder at the history and be amazed by the modernity. Most of all you will love the food. Ah the food, the amalgam of thousands of years of dispersion coming together in a magnificent epicurean experience.

OK as my Gideon said I am prone to waxing lyrical!!!!

My first song has nothing to do with Shabbat, less to do with Israel and everything to do with my son Gideon.  Gids, More Than Words. You gave me the best birthday gift any Mother could ask for.

The next song gives me hope and makes me cry. We Are a Miracle by Yaacov Shwekey is our story and miracle is the perfect definition.

Meir Bana'i passed away last night. The Bana'i family, true Jerusalemites every one, is a theatre family, the very basis of the Israeli Show business world. His song is of the Mercy Gate through which the Messiah will descend from the Mount of Olives. Shaar ha Rachamim  May his soul rest in peace.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. May your dreams be sweet, your Shabbat truly restful and your family safe.
With love


If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center

Friday, 6 January 2017

170106 Confusion, Azaria, US Embassy and Alan Dershowitz

6th January 2017

Shabbat Shalom on the very first newsletter of 2017!!! Shabbat Shalom and Happy Orthodox Christmas.

What a confusing week! Congress voted to overturn the UNSC vote on Jerusalem; President Elect Trump's office says he won't make Mexico pay for the "Wall", of course the wall is very clearly built in many parts of the border; Turkey, a Moslem country despite the efforts of Attaturk, yet again suffered a terror attack, this time in Izmir outside the courthouse, because they arrested the perpetrators of the horrific nightclub attack on New Year's Eve; Hanan Ashrawi, spokesperson for the PA, a Christian, has declared that Jerusalem is not Jewish thus denying her own religion; Egypt's A-Sisi has made the decision to give Saudi Arabia two disputed islands in the Red Sea after years of angry dialogue, yet A-Sisi who is giving his people what they need is denounced as a tyrant; the diabolical war in Syria continues, Assad the murderous tyrant is supported; and …..Israel will play in the World Baseball Classics in Korea in March……….. now that is really confusing!!!

Probably the most confusing, saddest, most divisive yet legally correct occurrence in Israel was the case of Elor Azaria, sadly nicknamed "The shooting soldier". Under normal circumstances I would be on his side, fearful of the repercussions of charging a soldier on duty with manslaughter for killing a terrorist. Under normal circumstances I would worry that others will not act quickly enough in similar situations for fear of prosecution. It sounds so cut and dried, but there are many aspects that are not. The terrorist was already lying on the ground, unable to move, after stabbing a soldier, but alive. Azaria shot him while he was already disabled. Azarias Mother was known to inculcate her children with hatred for Arabs – which almost certainly created the mind-set for what he did. The huge publicity surrounding the case, the media hype, was not conducive to logical public opinion, as I said it was divisive but nothing, no matter how one feels, excuses the threats on the life of the judge by the extreme right. The final question is "Should he receive amnesty?" No. The Knesset is not above the law and the law has spoken.

Further confusion? Our dear friend Professor Gabby Barkay, he of the Temple Mount Sifting Project, occasionally takes special groups and guides them on Jerusalem Archaeology. A few days ago, Prof Barkay was speaking to a group of visitors to the Temple Mount, as always speaking respectfully. He was approached rather forcefully by the WAQF who admonished him for using the term Temple Mount rather than Harm al-Sharif! As if that is not bad enough, the Israeli police, who were present, told him not to use the term Temple Mount again!!!!! Has the world gone mad?

So you thought I was going to begin on the straightforward and obvious….. well, I have one more and it is a really incredible one. The United States Senate has put forward a proposition to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem. Wait a minute! Zvi and I sat with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the floor of that austere institution when they voted unanimously to move the Embassy to Jerusalem in 1995!! The unanimous vote of the democratically elected representatives of the American people was vetoed by a supposedly democratic process over the last 20+ years! A similar Senate bill was presented in 2011 to obligate the President to recognize the former vote and equally ignored. Sorry but I thought that the Senate represented the people who made a decision – it is anti-democratic to overthrow the will of the people, isn't it?

Professor Alan Dershowitz decided that he would help to reduce confusion concerning the legality and legitimacy of the State of Israel. How can the current vociferous denigration of Israel be explained? Anti-Semitism

We had a quiet Friday night and then on Shabbat Lunch visiting family came from Detroit. It was wonderful. Francie and Julian Greenebaum, their daughter Jennifer and her 3 amazing children, Sarah, Rachael, Damiano and Charlotte arrived uncertain what to expect. We turned it into a Q&A for the children trying to keep our responses lighthearted but factual. It was a blast!!! They have so enjoyed their trip to Israel, seeing the real Israel not the CNN version. They love Jerusalem, thoroughly enjoyed their Israeli food and the sheer quantity and variety!

This week had a very strong Welsh flavour. Lunch with 5 amazing Welsh, Cardiff girlfriends; coffee with a Welsh Lord who was my madrich in Habonim; meetings with Angela and Adele about the upcoming St David's Day celebrations on March 1st for all the Welsh Jews who came here on Aliya, and there are many. The Welsh community was a strongly Zionist, in fact in my childhood Wales was very pro-Israel which came with their firm Christian beliefs but sadly, since that time both religious and social reasons for supporting Israel have disappeared. The Welsh party will be held in Jerusalem, at the Botanical Gardens, and we hope to have an amazing programme. In the past it was organised by the wonderful Gerald and Mimi Rapport and Les and Viv Greenbaum, but they handed it over to us this year after many years of successful effort. Here's a little about the Jews of Wales  but you really need to read the books of Bernice Rubens and the poetry of Dannie Abse to understand.

I also had a meeting with a wonderful lady called Virginia Myers who I met at the Jerusalem Press Club. We met in the German Colony and it was a wonderful start to a good friendship. The German Colony, next to the Italian and Greek Colonies denoted the areas where pilgrims of various countries would settle in Jerusalem. When the British Mandate came in to Jerusalem on the heels of the First World War, the first thing they did was to change the Teutonic names of the streets to William Deedes, David Lloyd George, Josiah Wedgewood etc. A truly magnificent area with many Bauhaus buildings and a restaurant culture that is truly exceptional.

Anyone who thinks Jerusalem is just antiquities and Bible should check out this site. Just click on each "old" photo and you will get the "now", the wonderful modern Jerusalem

The weather has been crisp and wintery in Jerusalem with major rainfall along the coast. Yesterday Zvi was in Nes Ziona and as he drove along he suddenly saw a magnificent total double rainbow, the colours clear and bright, the arc defined – since it was a complete arc one could not know which end held the pot of gold!!

Tonight we will be with Zvi's children for Shabbat. I love the way they begin with singing Shabbat Shalom to welcome the lighting of the candles and the bringing in of the Sabbath before Zvi sings the Kiddush, the blessing over the wine, his strong bass-baritone succeeding over the noise of 8 children!

In just 12 days we leave for Florida. We have many friends there, both residents and snowbirds, who we hope to see and will be speaking at several Temples and Shules. If you want us to talk to your group we may be able to fit in one more. Many of those friends are from Latin America an excuse to give you my favourite video of the week with the paintings of my favourite artist – Botero -

Rabbi Israel Meir HaCohen was a great Rabbi known as Chafetz Chaim – the one who desires life. His words resound throughout our faith "Mi ha Ish – who is the man"  
Wow! As Mi ha Ish finished this music came on! I don't know which market they sang in but it is so Israeli and so much fun – who needs the sophistication of Tel Aviv when you can have the warmth of this place!

Zvi has gone to his course on autobiographical writing and then will race off to his parliament  and I can tell you without any doubt that the subject for discussion will be Elor Azaria. It will be the subject this evening with the children too……….

So, are you a little less confused or did I complicate your thoughts even more? So many of the questions don't have an answer but there is one thing you can be sure of, Israel is here, Jerusalem is ours and you will be welcomed with open arms whenever you come to this little miracle of democracy in the middle of a sea of war, tyranny, corruption and confusion.

With much love from our home to yours, from the land of small, round, hardy lemons (Stanley) and more flavours and concoctions of a hundred traditions cooking away on a million stoves to bring in the Shabbat. Traditions.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

Friday, 30 December 2016

161230 UN, Kerry, Mahane Yehuda and Chanuka

30th of December in the year 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. It is now the 7th light of Chanuka and the 7th night of Christmas – a rare coincidence.

I admit I have been putting off writing to you. I am still in shock from the UN vote but even more so by Mr Kerry's speech. Israel is the main, seemingly only obstacle to peace in the Middle East? You have to be kidding! Since I have spent my entire journalistic life determinedly fighting against harsh condemnation of any government, be it mine or someone else's, I had to spend time calming myself before writing, then I came across this rather exceptional speech in the United Nations by  Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Rabbi Jeremy Rosen yet again wrote my thoughts in his weekly musings. He writes about Resolution 2334, America, Kerry and Chanuka. Please read his words, it is really worthwhile 

No logic explains this Administrations obsession with condemning Israel while giving in to all the demands of the Palestinians irrespective of Israel's Biblical, historical, legal or factual claims or making demands or conditions that they cease and desist their aggression. . Sadly, my hero and one of the most erudite of American leaders, Dr Malcolm Hoenlein, believes there may be an even bigger parting shot from President Obama.

Israelis, left, right and centre, feel utterly betrayed. As if the vote was not enough, Kerry's speech left us reeling. The subliminal messaging has been working its cruel magic through the media and the politicians and we are perceived as evil.

As Syria burns, most Moslem countries are in total meltdown with cruel despots at their helm and thousands of innocents are killed every week, the world believes that Israel is the problem instead of understanding that we are the answer.

How was Kerry's speech accepted in the PA? PLO Executive Committee member Mustafa Barghouti issued a rejection of the peace plan outlined in Secretary of State John Kerry's speech on Wednesday, indicating how far from compromise the Palestinian leadership remains on the core issues. Barghouti said, "First, you cannot make the issue of Palestinian refugees only an issue of compensation," claiming a "right of return." "Second, recognition of Israel as a Jewish totally unacceptable." "Third, his formula about Jerusalem is absolutely something that the Palestinians cannot accept....East Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine. How can it be a capital of two states?" Ronald Brandt

On Sunday Zvi came with me to the beautiful Jerusalem Press Club in Yemin Moshe, overlooking the walls of the Old City, indeed overlooking Mount Zion. The talk was intended to be on Mr Trump and Israel but with the UN vote – we went in a totally different direction. Prof Eytan Gilboa gave a riveting speech about the entire highly personal decisions and the UN fiasco. Please take the time to listen

I then went on to see old friend Rabbi David Greenberg from Temple Shaarei Tefila in Bedford, NY and a very few but highly educated people from his bat mitzvah group. It pleases me no end when those who ask questions have really done their homework! Relevant and piercing I just hope my responses were up to the standard of the questions.

Monday morning and I went to a meeting at the "Jerusalem Baby Home", the incredible WIZO centre in the leafy neighbourhood of Bet Hakerem, Jerusalem. The Director, Kobi, is an amazing person, his clear love for his work is apparent in everything he does. The building houses a day centre for small children with working Mums, a haven for battered women, vocational school for young people who would otherwise drop out of society, special classrooms for autistic chilren and so much more. The building is in community use every day of the week except Shabbat. For me it is a very special place. I walk in through the front doors and I sense my beautiful late Mother. My mother, Betty Silver, was deeply involved in the "Baby Home" so named because originally it housed orphans from WW2. I look out of the windows and see the grassy lawn where she danced with the children, the hallways and classrooms where she too walked. It makes me very proud. The Baby Home, indeed WIZO, is generational, and my sister Doreen and Cardiff WIZO are holding an event for the Home.

A meeting with Varda of the Yuri Shtern Foundation, another with my Cardiff friend Angela to organise a St David's Day  Welsh celebration on March 1st, then a trip up North for a meeting and another meeting with Angela at the Caffit restaurant in the Botanical Gardens where we have decided to hold the Welsh event. Then, ah then, Zvi and I went off to Mahane Yehuda market! Actually we had to go to the city for a meeting but used the opportunity to go to our favourite place!!! We park up on Mount Herzl, in the car park underneath the Alexander Calder Stabile, and catch the light rail into the city. I love the light rail for so many reasons. 10 minutes into town, no parking tickets after a long and tiring search for a rare parking spot and most of all the unbelievable rainbow of Jerusalemites in each carriage. It amazes me that everyone is happy, smiles and chatting all around with complete strangers!

After our meeting we began to walk up the pedestrian road (except for the light rail) of Jaffa Street toward the Shouk. First we discovered an open market  and then at the bottom of Ben Yehuda we giggled to see a very jolly Haredi man, dressed in full regalia with Shtreimel and robes, guitar in hand, singing and playing – or as I called him "The Bearded Busker of Ben Yehuda"!!! the walk up Jaffa Street is fascinating – a myriad of small shops and filled with coffee shops on both sides of the road, it has really come into its own.

Then the prize – Mahane Yehuda of course! First Zvi popped into Marzipan, the bakery that emits unbelievable aromas of freshly baked cookies, cakes and rogelech…. always teeming with buyers. Then to the confectionary shop separated into Mars Bars, local produce and lots of Mahedrin sweets and chocolates in a pick and bag form. Already somewhat laden we headed off for our favourite stop – Tzidkiyahus! The phenomenal array of olives – at least 20 varieties including the bright green Italian olives – and salads and freshly prepared kubeh, knishes, latkes and …….. wow mouthwatering!! Best of all we both love Yaron Tzidkiahu, who has more stories of Mahane Yehuda than you can imagine!!!

And so to Chanuka. It started with all the Israeli children coming to us after Shabbat to light the first candle. I was so excited!!! Zvi's two boys, Leor and Amiad with their amazing families and my daughter Rachel with hers. It is so rare to get everyone together and we decided to turn it into Yosef's birthday party too, even though it was a week early. He was so excited! 12 years old! We ate our meal of soup, salmon, salads and latkes (including carbohysrate free ones for the dieters) and then I came out with my proudest moment…….. homemade sufganiyot (traditional doughnuts) which looked amazing with chocolate and sprinkles  or lovely Demerara Sugar– and as we bit into them we realised they were somewhat reminiscent of eating very tasty shoeleather!!! I will give in and buy next year!! After all if you have a sophisticated choice like Roladin……..  Just flip through the flavours!!!!

Watching all 8 of the Israeli grandchildren lighting their own Chanukiah (Chanuka menorah) the glow of the candles reflected in their cheeks, was a very special experience. It was quite hard to get good photos because I was too busy crying with joy!!!

Don't forget the story of Chanuka. Don't forget that it is the story of triumph over insurmountable odds, triumph over those who wanted us to give up our rights to what is the essence of Judaism. All those who put us down, killed us, fought us, oppressed us, all are gone……….. every last kingdom and empire that tried to kill us off has disappeared!!  
Music. As I listened to the Kerry speech, just one song kept running through my mind. It comes from Joseph and the Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat. Close Every Door. I first heard it sung by Paul Jones on the dummy tape made by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber  as my children sang along, but please, listen to the words

Kan Noladeti means Here I was born -

Finally the true song of Israel, the song of the Jewish people, of the honey and the sting -

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Chanuka Sameach, the continuing days of Christmas and of course a good 2017. My prayer, invocation, imprecation, plea is that 2017 will bring the world to it's senses, that friends will not stab us in the back and that finally and for all we will be recognized as the positive, giving, generous and innovative country we really are.

With much love from Jerusalem, a truly beautiful city the Capital City of Israel for all her citizens.

Friday, 23 December 2016

161223 Berlin, UN, Christmas and Chanuka


23rd December 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.
This missive was meant to be one of Chanuka and Christmas joy – just a happy letter talking about the meaning of those festivals and our wish to honour each other's celebrations and religious connotations. I wanted to but too much has happened this week so I will try to keep the sadness and anger short and move on to the happy and blessed.

Perhaps the sadness of the first subject explains our anger at the second.
Berlins Christmas Markets are a festive and a joyous tradition.  There are several - at the Alexanderplatz, Charlottenburg Palace and the largest at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The atmosphere was shattered when a Tunisian citizen, who the German police had been "watching", stole a truck and ploughed into the happy crowds changing joy into tragedy. At least 12 people died and umpteen were injured. I am angry. Angry because 24-year-old Tunisian Anis Amri had expressed his desire for Jihad and the German police put him under surveillance without arresting him. I understand the German fear of xenophobia but it should not paralyse the law to the extent that a potential killer could wreak havoc with the lives of ordinary folk just because they were celebrating Christmas. He backed out of actually committing suicide but met his death in Italy, having used Europes open borders to escape.

Two Israelis were in the square, a couple who loved Berlin and went back at every opportunity. Rami Elyakim is in a coma in a Berlin hospital unaware that his beloved Dalia's funeral is taking place today in Jerusalem.

In Turkey the Russian Ambassador to was shot to death on camera. Yes, again the cry was Allahu Akbar – G-d is great. "This is for Aleppo" was the killers cry. As I said at the beginning the link is clear and the incitement to kill by extreme leaders, predominantly Iranian. Aleppo, Khaleb, is a tragedy beyond all imagination but not a reason for further killing. The greatest tragedy is that our Western leaders have done nothing, but NOTHING to prevent the killing. They went marching into Iraq and Afghanistan but Syria, where the situation could have been contained………. Nothing.

My last piece of sad news cuts me to the very quick. Israel feels abandoned by her "closest Ally" – the United States of America. In a United Nations whose President admits extreme anti-Israel bias it was not the USA that tried to prevent a vote that Jerusalem's Holy sites are not Jewish, it was our real ally – Egypt that asked to defer the vote. The United States was going to abstain rather than veto the proposition. Do you understand the implication of a vote stating that Jerusalem is not Jewish? It means that now, just before Christmas, the Temple Mount has no relationship to Christianity! Bethlehem is almost lost and the Christians there are suffering, the only Christian sites that are honoured are here in Israel or under Israeli care. Think about it – America, conceivably the most Christian country in the West – allowing the most holy Christian sites to be overtaken? There is no dichotomy here – if it is not Jewish it isn't Christian and that worries me intensely. We can live without fancy, new-fangled aeroplanes but not without Jerusalem.

The United Nations has run its useful course. During the past session there were 223 resolutions against Israel and only 8 against the Syrian regime. Ban Ki Moon, at the end of his term of office, said “Decades of political maneuverings have created a disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports and conferences criticizing Israel. In many cases, rather than helping the Palestinian cause, this reality has hampered the ability of the UN to fulfill its role effectively.”  We know Sir, we know.

Incidentally, Yossi Cohen, head of the Mossad, together with a delegation of security experts, met with President Elect Donald Trump in Trump Tower this week, to apprise him of the situation in the Middle East in general and Israel in particular.

I really need to cheer up. I have no intention of entering this unusual celebratory season with a "downturned mouth" If we learn anything about the Maccabees – it is that we have to keep our faith in ourselves and fight against those who would take us down.

Dumisani Washington is an American Pastor. His aim in life is to inform fellow black Americans of the truth of Israel. I particularly loved his words this week.
The human tragedies within Syria, Iraq, Libya (ISIS), Nigeria (Boko Haram), Kenya (Al Shabaab), Yemen (Iran/Hezbollah), Egypt (Christians being slaughtered), Gaza (Hamas)...are all horrific examples of the price the world pays while the United Nations spends its time demonizing, delegitimizing, and attempting to destroy the one and only Jewish State on the planet.
And what does Israel do while much of the world burns in Islamist terrorism and violence? Produce life-changing technology that literally makes the world a better place.
On behalf of the Israelis, you're welcome.🇮🇱

How about this article about the 15 ways that Israel improved our lives in 2016

Going back to the insane idea the Jerusalem isn't Jewish an archaeologist found a coin from the time of Antiochus, the time of the Greek determination to prevent Jews from honouring their laws, the time of the Maccabees. Right next to the Tower at the entrance to David's City, beside the Jaffa Gate digs revealed a coin dating from the Chanuka period with Hebrew writing!! Go take that to the UN and chew on it!

Chanuka in Jerusalem is a very special event. This video shows the joy of this special festival . Chanuka is not about sufganiyot (doughnuts) any more than Christmas is about trees – or either of them about gifts and chimneys! Christmas celebrations have a clear foundation but Chanuka? What is Chanuka in modern terms? Yes I know we all talk about the miracle of one jar of oil lasting for eight days but in truth – that isn't the real miracle. The real miracle is that we are here, as a people. I looked up references on Dr Google but decided to do my own, much shorter, explanation.

Imagine, the Greeks were different to most of our former enemies, they didn't want to kill us they just wanted us to be………. Greeks! When we decided we prefer being Jews they introduced all sorts of new laws – no kosher slaughter, no circumcision, no Shabbat – in fact a bit like Sweden today! Many of the Jews decided to abide by the lack of restrictions, it was much more fun that way anyway. However a few, a very few, decided to rebel; they were proud of being Jews, loved the fact that those restrictions enriched their lives by providing an enriching way of life. One family decided to form a peoples army and fight the Greeks to preserve their heritage. The Greeks ultimately gave up because this troublesome Jewish people was not worth their effort and so we celebrate our heritage when we celebrate Chanuka. It was the first time the Jews fought back. I think that's quite a miracle!

I was thrilled to meet Sari Singer and her daughter Sam, in Mahane Yehuda Market. "Where should we meet" asked Sari, since I was coming from home and they were in the Old City. "Tsidkiyahus right next to Agrippas Street" was my answer! Everybody knows Tsidkiyahus! We had fun showing Sam the vast array of foodstuffs and fruit and veg. I sometimes worry at the gentrification of the market but luckily it is still a crowded, fun place with lots of action and costermongers shouting their wares. Strawberries are just coming into season and they are the size of apples and red and juicy and really taste of strawberry!!! We then went up to Gilo to see over to Bethlehem and then back down to the Central Bus Station – I hope they come back to Jerusalem before returning home. I love Sari!

Very quickly I want to tell you where Zvi and I were last night. We were invited to a little chanuka party by the Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre  to celebrate a year in which the organisation has made great strides. It was held in Piccolino Restaurant on Yoel Solomon Street. As we went in the front door I was thrilled by the authentic Jerusalem house, conceivably belonging to Yoel Solomon, the man who built Nahalat Shiva – the first family compound built outside the walls of the Old City. Since we arrived early we walked through the building to find ourselves in a wonderland of beautifully set tables under a huge awning taking up an entire plaza between the buildings of Nahalat Shiva. On one side the Music Museum and on another a stage with young musicians playing. The food is incredible and the atmosphere wonderful – and we didn't know it exists!!!

Coming back to the Yuri Shtern Foundation, I just want to tell both Varda and the indomitable Lena, that it has been an honour to provide any help I could to a singular organisation that is manned by volunteers. As one of those present said "Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre is a place where ordinary folk become angels" So often all cancer patients, or family members, need is the touch of a human hand, the "ozen kashevet" the ear of one who has the rare ability to listen, as well as therapies to complement the medical staff.

My musical choices this week were obvious. Chanuka. Festival of lights. One song is of the miracles the other the prayer/poem we sing over lighting the candles each night for 8 days. The children will all be here tomorrow night and we will also celebrate Yosefs birthday. Lots of homemade food including sufganiyot in an attempt to limit the sugar intake!!! They will get gifts but just token ones…………………………I don't believe in going broke- I prefer to give them love.

Growing up my favourite Christmas song was All Through the Night – usually sung in Welsh but I will spare you that

With much love to all of you, whatever your festival may it be blessed and pure – and traditional.