Monday, 18 March 2019

Response to Anti-Israel bias

Response to a friend on how to respond to Anti-Israel bias

By sheila | March 17, 2019
A friend asked me how to respond to anti-Israel bias in her community and university in the USA – this was my response
Did you know that every other country in the world has held on to land won in war and nobody screams foul play? Israel is the only country that was actually recreated by a vote in the United Nations. India was also declared a country just a few months prior to Israel and nobody ever doubts India’s existence. Since Israel was declared many have chosen to denigrate her existence and her democracy yet there are 56 Moslem countries and no one ever doubts their right to exist. Indeed many of those Moslem countries do not allow prayer of any other religion and Jews are not allowed there at all!!!!!
There is no comparison between the USA’s Native Americans and the Palestinians. Native Americans were indigenous to the “New World” and in the large part dispossessed, as were the Canadian Inuits, the Australian Aborigines and the New Zealand Maoris. Although there were some Arab (Moslem families) in Palestine the vast majority came after the first Aliya (turn of the 18th – 19th century) to work. You will find many names such as El Massri (Egyptian) El Suri (Syrian) El Baghdadi (Iraqi) etc etc throughout the Palestinian Authority. In an 1838 census there was a majority of Jews in Jerusalem. In this part of the world, we are sadly aware of the Sunni-Shia divide and killings, the Hamas slaughter of anyone who disagrees, the oppression of Christians in the PA (Bethlehem is now 90% Moslem and who remembers that Ramallah was a Christian City?)
Israel is a Jewish Democratic Nation, although the national religion is Judaism, all other religions live in total freedom of prayer and worship. For instance, Jerusalem has no less than 52 Christian denominations (who knew there were so many) and 8 Moslem denominations. Throughout Israel, there are Circassians, Druze, Bedouin,(most of who serve loyally in the IDF) Shia and Sunni and all have the same political and civic rights as Jews. In fact, we have had several Deputy Speakers of the Knesset who were Israeli Arab and highly vociferous Arab political parties who are more than able to express their democratic rights!
Just incidentally, did you know that Israel sends over 130 truck-loads of aid to Gaza every day? Did you know that all Israeli citizens left Gaza (Gush Katif farms) years ago including every Israeli soldier and no Israeli soldiers have set foot in Gaza unless attacked by rockets and missiles? (Including the rockets shot at Irit in Tel Aviv last night) Did you know that many Palestinians and Gazans come to Israel for medical treatment? Did you know that within Israeli Hospitals at least one-third of the patients and the Medical staff (my Professor in Shaare Zedek Hospital) are Arab – both Moslem and Christian? Did you know that the biggest house in our neighbourhood belongs to an Israeli Arab? So many reasons that Israel should be loved for providing incredible innovation (cell-phones, messaging, medical advances such as stents and new procedures – the list is too long to put here) yet Israel is criticised for existing. I can promise you that as a totally democratic country we are more than capable of criticising our own leaders and do so daily.
Ergo – anti-Israel is anti-Semitic.
I hope that gives you what you wanted to respond
Yours SheilaAnti-Isrqel

190315 Adar2, Hamas, Freedom of speech, Purim

15th March 2019

Good morning, Good month of Adar 2, Happy Purim and of course Shabbat Shalom

Apropos nothing and everything, as the world is reverting to type I found this quote from Chaim Weizmann, December 1936; “There are now two sorts of countries in the world, those that want to expel the Jews and those that don’t want to admit them”, ( Testimony given at the Peel Commission, Jerusalem, 1936).

Why Adar2? Well, since the Jewish calendar is a Lunar Calendar, every 4 years we are a month behind everyone else, so we add a month to catch up! Hence we have the month of Adar and Adar Shani. In the Gregorian Calendar you just add a day at the end of February every four years, making those born on February 29 very unhappy! The Gregorian Calendar was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII and is now used by most of the world. Ask a religious child in Israel when his/her birthday is and they will inevitably give you the Hebrew date. Mine is the 12th of Shevat, in the year 5706 and this year is 5779, today being the 8th of Adar2. In other words we've been around for a long time!!!

I don't know if you read about it but last night Hamas shot two long range missiles (rockets) at Tel Aviv. The IDF has responded. The residents of the South also suffered missiles this morning as children were on their way to school, dressed up for Purim. Of course they know what to do, running for shelter since they have suffered such attacks for years without a big fuss. The moment Tel Aviv hears the Red Alert and booms the world wakes up. The IDF response was immediate. The level of unrest in Gaza is extreme and the suffering of ordinary people is unbearable. No, it isn't our fault – remember we left Gaza long ago. The so called Freedom demonstrations on the Southern Border of Israel, are not only more violent but more vile. The demonstrators launch party balloons with explosive devices attached over the border fence so that Israeli children will be enticed to touch them and die. Hamas is refusing aid from Israel, not the so called building materials but medical aid etc, on a regular basis, they are also killing any dissent, irrespective of whether the dissident is 5 years old or 95 years old. Shmuel Rosner explains the situation beautifully

Next a world-wide issue which began in the USA – Freedom of Speech. In principle, Freedom of Speech sounds like an inalienable right to all free peoples – but it has been used and abused and must be rethought.

On Wednesday we met up with old friends Sanford and Rosie Hollander for a delicious supper in The First Station restaurant Eat and Meat. Sandy has been to Israel no less than 120 times since his first visit in 1967. He has been a lifetime active Civil Rights proponent in the United States since he was a student many years before it became fashionable and he explained to me the misinterpretation of the free speech issue and told me about the Skokie March – I then came home and looked it up. This is what I found.

"Freedom of speech" We hear it every day and those who spout hatred believe they are protected by that "right" one of the primary clauses in the First Amendment well apparently they are not. 100 years ago, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote what is perhaps the most well-known -- yet misquoted and misused -- phrase in Supreme Court history: "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic." The crowded theater remark that everyone remembers was an analogy Holmes made before issuing the court's holding. He was explaining that the First Amendment is not absolute. It is what lawyers call dictum, a justice's ancillary opinion that doesn't directly involve the facts of the case and has no binding authority. 

However, a tragic precedent was established in a Supreme Court decision of 1977 to allow the Skokie March by the National Socialist Party of America - Nazis with Swastikas - to go ahead, falsely based on the First Amendment.

Something has to change. Someone has to recognise the danger of unbridled hatred which has become the perversion of what was intended to create equality. Too many are shouting FIRE in a crowded theatre. Now all we need is one brave judge who is prepared to review an old misunderstanding of the First Amendment, reset the precedent and rule against hate speech to change the paradigm completely. 

One thing has changed – a recent US report no longer describes the Golan Heights as occupied. As one who remembers life before 1967 it is right and fair.

This was a very busy week, especially for Zvi.
On Tuesday night the Yuri Shtern Holistic Care Centre held a Gala Performance in the Jerusalem Theatre. It began with a delightful reception, attended by volunteers, patients, Shaare Zedek doctors and of course our founder Lena Shtern and Director Varda Hershkovitz and all the amazing team. The performances of Israeli stars Karin Elal, Micha Shitrit and Arkady Duchin were given with open hearts for free, indeed Karin opened her heart during her performance and told the packed audience that 11 years ago she had cancer and there was nothing like the Yuri Shtern Centre for her. She talked openly of the incredible loneliness of going through cancer with no-one to understand, no-one to talk to and how different her life would have been had the Yuri Shtern volunteers been available to her. Even so many years later the tears ran down her cheeks and every single person in the audience understood her pain. The magic of release and relief that the volunteer therapist (all specially trained in a course at the Centre) can bring is unique. The new Director of Shaare Zedek Hospital Prof. Ofer Merin, spoke of his pride at having the Yuri Shtern Centre based at Shaare Zedek and his amazement at the positive effect the therapies have on patients in all four Oncology Units and Paediatric Palliative Care. We all left the Theatre feeling enriched and enlivened. I am so proud to be a part, albeit a small part, of this incredible organisation.

On Wednesday I went to the home of Erna Bindelglass, a Survivor of the Holocaust from Holland. Although many members of Erna's family were in the Camps,  Erna and her little brother were not. Erna told us of her years being sent from hiding place to hiding place in the farms of Holland, ever terrified of being discovered, her hair dyed to disguise her Jewish appearance. Although treated with love by the few who were prepared to risk their lives to save Jewish children, Erna believes that the vast majority of Dutch were knowing collaborators with the Nazi Regime.

Yesterday it poured, nay teemed with rain, but undaunted, Zvi and his choir Hakol Yachassi, fulfilled a dream of Zvi's and met together with another 970 singers at the Tower of David Museum next to the Jaffa Gate to the Old City, to sing for an international video session. Most wearing white plastic rain capes they looked like angels or white doves, laughing and enjoying the moment, singing their hearts out standing on the ramparts of the Old City of Jerusalem. They say a picture speaks a thousand words – well their choice of song did too. Imagine by John Lennon.

Today the weather is perfect for sport which is just as well since some 5,000 contenders from 80 countries are running in the Jerusalem Marathon. The Jerusalem Marathon has become on of the major Marathon events in the world, a great achievement.  The route will go through many parts of the City, mostly along roads but also along the running path from the First Station Boardwalk to the Zoo. Our friends Itzik Mussachi and Zvika Ledder are running, last year Tzivka won the award for the slowest runner, a prize of which he is very proud since he achieved what none of us even attempted, he finished!!  It is looking good for the race, part of which will run under our home. I just hope I can get out of the road to go to pick my grand-daughters up from school! Of course I will leave it to WAZE to get me there.  

Purim. Purim is a complex and tangled web of lies, malevolence, women's rights and a determination to save the Jewish people from death. Over the years the story has been oversimplified and the heroes and anti-heroes made clear, but it wasn't so. Vashti wasn't a bad lady, she just didn't want to be shown off and worse to all of her husband, King Achasuerus's buddies at a feast; Mordechai understood that his niece was beautiful and brilliant and that the King was weak and lustful and he suggested that Esther enter a beauty contest to find a replacement wife; Mordechai overheard Achasuerus's Vizier Haman plot the death of the Jews, especially Mordechai; Esther became Queen, Haman got his own back, literally and the Jews were saved. As always we celebrate, special food, 3 cornered sweet pastries which mimic Haman's Hat and parties galore in fancy dress!! As Zvi always says, most Jewish festivals are based on "They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat" some things never change. Instead of Haman we have Homeini.  I was surprised and pleased to read of the increasing number of Christians who celebrate Purim. It is logical, of course, since we share the same enemies even today. The more the merrier.

Incidentally there is a new, famous and proud Jew on the block! Amar'e Stoudemire, basketball player supreme is becoming a Jew and has been given Israeli citizenship. Welcome friend, welcome to the tribe!

This Wednesday we are off to London for the Bat Mitzva of my beautiful grand-daughter Olivia. Olivia will read from the Torah, her choice, and will make us proud. I have the honour of being given the "Aliya" of Cohen and Zvi will read the Prayer for the State of Israel. Olivia is such an amazing young woman, clever, kind and strong…………she's also a fantastic sportswoman! Zvi and I are taking his grand-daughter Amit with us, since Amit also celebrated her Bat Mitzva a short while ago. Obviously Amit can't wait to see London and on Friday she and Zvi are meeting my wonderful friend Lord Stone for private tour of the House of Lords. It will be a whole new world for Amit and she will get to see my whole family!

That's it! I'm off to collect Talia and Ayala from school and take them home. There my welcome will be clear even before I walk up the steps to their apartment, the incredible aroma of freshly baked Challah!

Anyone who sees my Facebook page knows that the view from our veranda is stunning. We overlook the whole of Southern Jerusalem and are privileged to awaken to phenomenal sunrises painting the city pink and gold. Well as wonderful as that view is when I come home from Givat Zeev, over the highest point in Jerusalem next to the Prophet Samuel's Tomb I get to see the whole of Jerusalem set before me like a huge multifaceted map, glistening clean and white after the rains. Gosh I am so lucky.

Today's music is obvious – Arkady Duchin, the star whose heart is as big as his body, singing "Mi Ohev Otach Yoter Mimeni" which means Who Loves you More than I – a song he wrote about Israel, the land he came to aged 16 from the FSU. There are no subtitles but his feeling are clear

The Prayer for the State of Israel sung by Shai Abrahamson. No matter how many times I hear this it makes me cry.

Finally, on Facebook, Hakol Yachassi and 970 others singing Imagine.

I wish you a wonderful Shabbat, a time of contemplation, family and peace. Forget politics and concentrate on strengthening your soul.

Shabbat Shalom and love from Jerusalem, the heart of our faith, the most beautiful city in the world, no arguments!!!

Friday, 25 January 2019

Elections, Iran, Yom haShoah, Spring is coming

25th January 2019
Shabbat Shalom! How are you? I know that in Melbourne it is 40 degrees celcius and in Toronto it is almost at the other end of the scale so I won’t complain about the rain that was and will be or the glorious sunshine that is today!
I was thinking, something that happens on occasion, that I am deeply grateful to my parents who taught us that no matter what Jewish house you enter, you are at home. They taught me that it is irrelevant if the home is Reform, Reconstructionist (not that there was Reconstructionist in their day), Traditional, Religious or Haredi, know who you are and respect their beliefs. They taught me about our traditions and prayers so that I would never feel ill at ease in any of the above.
I put an article on Facebook, it was called Yidiots. I didn’t agree with much that is written, I don’t believe it is a situation exclusive to the United States. The article referred to those Jews who find their Judaism irrelevant, they care not a jot about their Jewish identity and even less about Israel – actually they are intensely embarrassed about both. I know a few and I am sure you do too but I cannot fight their determined blind ignorance. The title could just as easily be Chridiots for Christians, Lidiots for LDS, Mosdiots for Moslems – people who have no sense of history and deride anything connected to their ancestry. I pity Jews who stand with BDS, hate Israel and laugh at Jewish tradition, they are missing so much!
Sorry I had no intention of going there! I actually wanted to relate my opening paragraph to the Shoah. International Holocaust Remembrance Day is on Sunday and our world is full of people who have no sense of history and wish to rewrite it. How does this relate to my first paragraph? Because all of us, every Jew, whether whole, half or quarter, connected or disconnected, observant or unaware, was taken to the ovens of the Third Reich. On the way to the ovens nobody checked the size or colour of their Kippa (skull cap) as they were stripped bare, degraded and slaughtered.  Our infighting as to who is right, who is holiest, who is a true child of Israel is irresponsible and sad and both ends of the scale have to be more accepting instead of “right fighting”. Only as one strong entity can we stand up to the terrifying onslaught that we see today, the rhetoric reminiscent of 1936. We have to open our eyes and understand that there are those who want us gone and they are in positions of power, be it Congress or Parliament. Complacency doesn’t work.
Hamas decided that the deep and all-encompassing poverty of the people of Gaza is less important than beating their breasts! The Security Cabinet of Israel decided that this months $150,000 which came from Qatar to alleviate the poverty of the people in Gaza should be remitted despite the continued violent riots on the Southern Border. Hamas said they don’t want the money because it serves the electioneering platform of the Israelis!!! Of course it doesn’t bother the leaders; they live in luxury, have fine clubs and supermarkets filled with food while their people starve. Why does the world condemn Venezuelan President Maduro (rightly) but lauds Hamas’ Haniya and his cronies?
Talking of money, the Palestinian Authority pays out at least 502,000,000 shekels to prisoners in Israeli jails. 230,000,000 to current prisoners and 176,000,000 to ex-cons. Remember all of them are in prison for terrorist activities. I suppose it is a matter of priorities.
If you think Israel is in confrontation with Syria, think again. Israel confronted Iran, Iranian arsenals and Iranian troops in Syria. We cannot and will not stand by as Iran takes over the entire area and her leaders claim to have moved in to “wipe out the Jewish State”. We have moved our defensive weapons throughout Israel because we believe in preemptive precautionary methods. The IDF is called the Defence Force for a very good reason. The pincers of North and South are closing in and both are run by Iran. Like Trump or hate him he recognises the danger of a nuclear armed Iran because we are the hors d’oeuvres and the USA is the main course.
Aya Massawya, a 21 year old Israeli exchange student was brutally murdered in Melbourne Australia while talking to her best friend on Facetime. Israel mourned, Israelis attended her funeral and consoled her parents but what did the Guardian choose to write? The Guardian was angry that Aya was described as Israeli but not Palestinian! Her family is furious, Ayas family is Israeli, Israeli Arab, not Palestinian.
Yesterday Zvi and I went to the gorgeous Jerusalem neighbourhood of Yemin Moshe, passing the synagogue that belonged to a friend of ours, Yitzchak Mussachi and his family, until Teddy Kollek chose to move the simple people out and move the artists in. Glorious winter sunshine bounced off the Jerusalem stone of the buildings as we walked down the steps that lead to the Jerusalem Press Club right behind Mishkenot haShaananim. We were to hear a lecture on the Israeli election by famed political broadcaster Yaron Dekel and Professor Gidon Rahat. It was fascinating and we learned much of the internal machinations of the political parties but it didn’t help us choose!! The system here allows anyone to form a political party, it isn’t a choice between two or three. Britain has the Monster Raving Loony Party of Screaming Lord Such, but there it is a protest vote for the young – here we are beginning to feel that everyone is a Monster Loony Party! Over the last few weeks we have seen about six new political parties formed, three of them by former Chiefs of Staff! Although Israel has a large percentage of floating voters it is from party to party not right to left or vice versa. The choice should be on security and international relations but sadly the entire Likud Campaign has become not only about Bibi, demeaning the legal system and the police. Incredibly corruption doesn’t affect the voters!! There are two deciding factors in Israel – pocket and security.
The Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, is 70 years old. The celebrations are limited because of the impending elections but I thought you would like to see a potted history of that noble (sometimes) institution. The building stands upon a hilltop and was donated by Lady Dorothy Rothschild. In her will she left the funds to build the Supreme Court with one stipulation, that it be built slightly higher than its neighbour, the Knesset to express the importance of the judiciary.
Enough of politics and diplomacy, it depresses me!
Shalva is a truly magnificent organisation. Their home is right next to Shaare Zedek hospital on a Jerusalem hillside. Colourful expressions of love stand greet us as we walk to  the entrance, an apt expression of the attitude of Shalva. Children and young adults with special needs come to Shalva after school to ease the load for working parents and parents learn coping skills. They have classes and therapies, playgrounds and services and the coffee shop is amazing! Shalva, through their music therapy programme has discovered incredible talent and now their band is in the running to represent Israel in the Eurovision which will be held in Tel Aviv in March. Watch this incredible video all the way through, it is worth every second.
Even though it is relatively chilly for Israel, we actually got down to 4 degrees Celsius, spring is beckoning and that very Israeli harbinger of spring, of the Aviv, is the almond blossom. It is beginning! Soft pink clouds of blossom cover the Jerusalem Hills dotted with the crimson rununculus (calaniot), pink wild cyclamen (rakafot) and equally red poppies (pereg). The cyclamen amazes me as the lush flowers grow out of seemingly hard rocks, finding the only vestige of earth in the stone and using it to create a cushion of green leaves with glorious pink flowers. The wonderful rains mean that the desert will also bloom, as the water flows from Jerusalem, tumbling down the hillsides to emerge near the Dead Sea. Mount Hermon will not see flowers for a few months as the snows provide wonderful skiing to excited Israelis. For Tel Avivim it is worth sitting in hours of traffic jams just to feel the cold snow! Every white crystal of snow is precious because as it thaws it will flow into the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret).
Up North the migrating birds are still enjoying the relative warmth of the Hula Valley, hundreds and thousands of herons, storks, cranes and white pelicans pass through whether it be for a few hours, weeks or months. Tiny Israel sports more species of wild birds than does the whole of North America! The Hula Valley was drained for agriculture during the founding of the State and only many years later did scientists realise that it should be returned to its natural marshy state to provide respite for the birds on their thousands of miles migration. We feed them so that they will not destroy the crops of local framers and life is good.
Our veranda has gone into hibernation, gathering strength to burst into bloom in the imminent spring. I’m not sad though because I still wake up every morning to the phenomenal view and bright red sunrise of the season. The odd hibiscus dares to show its face but the others are looking forlorn!
I’m not going to Rachel today and the girls will go home on the bus, so we will have to make do with my own Challot! They will not be as good as hers, but I don’t want to give her or the children my streaming cold!
To honour those who perished in the Shoah I give you the former Chief Cantor of the IDF Shai Abrahamson with El Malei Rahamim, at the Birkenau Camp
Adon Olam, Lord or the Universe, is a traditional song, repeated in most synagogue services, sung in a most untraditional manner by Yossi Azulay!
Finally one of my favourite songs by a singer whose lyrics taught me Hebrew. Shlomo Artzi and his son Ben, then a small child, singing a song that I call “kama zeh oleh lanu” how much does it cost us although its real name is Under the Middle Eastern Sun.
So that’s it! Shabbat is nearing and I must plait my Challot. It’s just Zvi and I tonight but we will see Zvi’s children tomorrow.
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Be strong, be wise, be proud of who you are and remember, each and every one of us can make a difference in our world.
With love from Jerusalem

Friday, 11 January 2019

netanyahu, moshe arens, turkey

Here's my website! Thank you for your warm comments last week. Would love you to click on the link and leave a comment on the website 

11th January, 2019

Good morning, Gut Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom and have a good day.

This has been a very strange week in the even stranger world of Israeli politics. An announcement by the Prime Minister that he had "an important announcement" which would be made on that evening's 8 o'clock main news had an entire country on tenterhooks. Would he announce that he would step down until his name was cleared from all the accusations and possible indictments? Would he announce that the Attorney General had come to a decision on his case? Had Israel reached a peace agreement with her enemies thus making all of the above irrelevant? Well, Netanyahu has a favourite and much repeated expression for the legal battles "The will be nothing because there is nothing" All I can say is that his "important announcement" was to repeat that mantra, and the problem is that he held an entire country hostage on all the news channels and for what? Other than a public demand to confront the State Witnesses in his case he said absolutely nothing!!!

He was at the forefront of the determined group of politicians who insisted that Ehud Olmert resign the minute there were accusations, as did Yitzchak Rabin, yet with at least 4 major criminal files open he refuses to step down. Israel and the Western world, are fighting multiple enemies, politically, militarily and socially, and nobody can possibly concentrate on those issues under these circumstances.

Worst of all is his implication that the Attorney General Mandelblitt is not doing his job by choosing to announce the results of the extensive investigations and inquiries before the elections. Sir, Mr. Prime Minister, the electorate deserves to know for whom it is voting.

I believe that honest politicians are few and far between, and humble politicians are a rarity indeed. This week Israel lost a man who was brilliant, honest and humble. Moshe (Mischa) Arens aeronautical engineer, Professor, who came to Israel from the USA to help build Israel's aeronautical industry, stayed and served as Israel's Ambassador to the US and Defence Minister of distinction. In his eulogy President Rivlin described his friend as a rare man of principle who believed Israel is a Jewish State with responsibility to ALL her citizens equally.  President Rivlin - “’Whether slave or tramp, you were created the son of kings, crowned with the diadem of David, whether in light or in darkness, always remember the crown, the crown of pride and of Tagar.’ Thus wrote Ze’ev Jabotinsky, whose immortal words became the anthem of the Beitar youth movement. Dear, Misha, our older brother. Teacher and guide to so many in the national-liberal camp, myself included. A Beitari, one of the giants of the founding generation, a scientist and a statesman, amongst the finest of our leaders, and amongst the most important leaders of the national-liberal camp. A brave and humane man. An unbending ideologue who never submitted to popularity or to ease. A true Zionist, with every bone in his body, a servant of the people, and never the opposite. When I was asked how to define Hadar – the nobility, glory, splendor and majesty of a Beitari - I would look to you, Misha. You walked amongst us like a king.  May his soul rest in peace.

Five young Jewish extremists were arrested last week and 4 are now on house arrest and one remains in custody. Their crimes? Throwing stones at Palestinian cars, killing Aysha Ravi, an innocent woman who, with her husband was killed by a stone thrown by one of these terrorists. In addition they were found to have written anti-Israel graffiti and generally incited hatred against Arabs – a clear crime in Israel. Many leapt to their defence because the Israeli Secret Services (Shabak) didn't afford them due process during the investigation. Although I am a law abiding citizen it did not worry me, a terrorist is a terrorist and it bothers me not if he is Jewish or Christian or Moslem – they do not deserve the rights afforded to others.

This week the United Nations proved itself to be utterly and totally morally corrupt. Yemen, number 149 out of 149 on the world scale for gender equality, has been appointed Deputy Director of the UN Women's Committee – UN watchdog of gender equality.  As Hillel Neuer of UN Watch said "Electing Yemen to protect women's rights is like electing a pyromaniac to be Fire Chief" Time for a true leader in this world to dissolve the current United nations and rebuild with totally new rules and voting rights. It was done with the League of Nations which failed to prevent WW2 – the time is now.

Turkey and her megalomaniac leader Recep Tayyib Erdogan, is doing everything to recreate the Ottoman Empire. Since his attempts to take over Syria have not been successful; his determination to retain and increase his hold on Armenia go ahead; his eyes are set on The Sudan (among others) and his hatred of both Israel and the USA have reached new heights – he is not taken seriously by most countries which is a terrifying mistake.

Tunisia, under Bourghiba, was the first Arab country to show signs of democracy and Western values, until the Moslem Brotherhood won the elections in the so-called Arab spring. Tunisia was to host the World Chess championships but chose to ban Israeli competitors and the World Chess Association may well remove the Championship from Tunisia. As many countries whose rebellion was hailed as the "Arab Spring – Tunisia is on the verge of anarchy.

As I have often said, I am very choosey about which organisations I am willing to support and sit on their Boards. I am so proud of IMPACT-SE ( ) the founder Yohanan Manor and the Director Marcus Sheff for the astonishing work done to introduce tolerance in education throughout the world but particularly here in our intolerant neighbourhood. Marcus and his team have reached out to Leaders around the world with great success and the UNESCO criteria of Tolerance in Education is based on Impact's recommendations. This week Dame Louise Ellman, an important member of the British Labour Party, introduced legislation to halt British funding of the PA over hate education, information she received from Impact, which passed the first reading with ease. Dame Louise is not alone in the Labour Party, both the Commons and the Lords, in her unwavering support for Israel there are many all of whom are trying to silence the obnoxious and dangerous Jeremy Corbyn.

Talking of racist politicians – Professor Alan Dershowitz asks the question "Is Rashida Tlaib Guilty of Bigotry" surely a question that should have been asked before the elections?

Let's remove the bad taste of politics from our minds and talk about the glorious rain here in Israel! It really has been amazing, non-stop (except for the occasional sunshine) and very cold, well Israel cold not NYC cold and certainly not Newfoundland cold! It never stops Israelis from going out and having fun even though in Tel Aviv one needs high boots to cross many roads awash from the unexpected downpour. Actually Tel Aviv is always surprised by downpours!!! I love the rain. I love the fact that the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) is filling up and will fill further when the heavy snow on Mount Hermon melts sending its precious water tumbling down the waterfalls to the Kinneret. Each morning, irrespective of the rain and cold, I stepped onto the veranda and took photos of the phenomenal sunrise, red, pink, orange and yellow, clouds scudding and glistening their reflection and thanked heaven for putting me in this incredible place.

This week I went to Mahane Yehuda again. The winter vegetables are incredible, leeks almost a metre long, white and sweet; herbs still wet with the rainwater of the fields; ginger, parsnip, celeriac and even potatoes with the mud still on them!! The stall next to David Dagim is the best for all of the above. Even through the mist of hot breath meeting cold air the costermongers succeeded in calling their wares with gusto, in Arabic, Hebrew and badly accented English! I cannot go to Mahane Yehuda without visiting Yaron Tsidkiyahu, the King of the Shouk. Yaron's family have been important characters in the shouk for generations and their pickles are world renowned. Olives shine invitingly, of every shape and colour; sweet roasted garlic, sharp gherkins and delicious ready cooked foodstuffs from schnitzel to incredible meat patties filled with tehina. Absolutely delicious. Mahane Yehuda epitomises Jerusalem in its rainbow of customers and stallholders and I love walking through just looking and absorbing the atmosphere.

Tonight we are spending Shabbat dinner with Zvi's son Leor, wife Shiri and their four girls, Amit, Gili, Ori and little Yuval. Shiri's parents and sister will join us and we all contribute food, since most Israeli women work outside the home, everybody joins in! Tonight my contribution is oven baked Teriyaki salmon, pea soup for the children and roasted veggies. I know already that the table will groan with delicious food from everyone! Leor always gives his Dad the honour of chanting the Kiddush (blessing over wine) and the children join Zvi in the blessing over the bread. I love it. Shabbat is about children learning the traditions and continuing them because it was fun with Saba Zvi.

So to songs. I promise I am not going to put you through the horror of Pink Floyds "The Wall" although both our countries have our controversies thereof right now. I wouldn't give the repulsive Roger Waters the pleasure or the royalties!!

Here's one to get you dancing! Mi Shmaamanim – He who believes.

The people of the towns villages and kibbutzim along the border with Gaza have been incredibly brave and stalwart in the face of terror in the form of rockets, riots, kites and balloons with children's toys packed with explosives. Koolulam brought them together to sing "Stillness above me" let's sing the song of love.

Finally I have an admission – I am really jealous of all of you who went to Camp Ramah. I am amazed at the lasting friendships formed, the atmosphere and the lessons learned. So finally, a wonderful video of Camp Ramah. In all probability you won't understand a word  but oh the joy!!!

Tomorrow night I will light a candle for my Father's Yahzeit, memorial. He taught me so much in life. He taught me that a parent's face can light up just because you walked into the room; he taught me to laugh even when you are sad; he taught me that life is joyous, he taught me loyalty; he taught me that even if someone is unkind or let you down they sometimes need a leg up; most of all he taught me that family is everything. Almost 30 years and I still learn from his wisdom – and all four of his children remember his cheeky laughter and incredible curiosity. He passed away at the age of 102, missing my Mummy for 25 years, and unquestionably, if he were alive today, he would have the latest iphone and computers and be busy on the net. So now you know where it all came from! Jack Silver, I am proud you were my Daddy.

Now I'm off to collect Talia and Ayala from school and get my hugs from Yosef, Rachel and Igal. On the way home I promise to take a mental picture of the panorama from Nebe Samuel, Samuel's Tomb.

Shabbat shalom to all, may you have a Shabbat filled with joy and loved ones. Always remember that someone may be alone, a neighbour, a friend, a family member, so invite them………. After all a Jewish home always has enough for another mouth and it will bring joy into a lonely life. My Mummy had a tradition, she always put an extra place setting ready for unexpected guests, so that they wouldn't feel that it was an imposition.

With all our love
Sheila and her Zvi

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

Friday, 28 December 2018

181228 Syria, Shemot, Elections Hopes and Dreams

Take a look at my beautiful website - this newsletter is right there! 

28th December 2018

Shabbat Shemot Shalom,

Christmas is past and we reached 3 French hens, 2 Turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree and of course Happy 2019 (yes this time I got the date right!)

Why Shabbat Shemot?  Why did I choose to begin with this particular Torah Portion? Because that is our Torah Portion this week and as always it is relevant to today.  Despite Pharoah's order to kill all Jewish first-born in Egypt, Yocheved and Amram have a son and for fear of him being killed they put him in a basket, under the watchful eye of his sister Miriam. Pharoahs daughter Bithya found him, raised him, called him Moses and the story of the Children of Israel was born alongside him in a little basket in the Nile. The moral? That when the world is against us create new life and bring hope to the world, I don't mean start having babies, simply don't raise your hands in despair, find new answers and keep hope high.

In truth 2018 was a pretty ghastly year.
Anti-Semitic Congresswomen voted in; London Mayor Sadiq Khan showed his true face in Pakistan and Jeremy Corbyn is a rising concern; Terrorism continues around the world; Sweden chose to put an embargo on any news concerning the huge problem of immigrant rape; France has returned to 1968 with the yellow jackets rioting for a fair economy – which turned into an anti-Semitic rant; Universities, particularly in the USA and Canada, conduct anti-Semitic conferences and demonstrations; Christians in most Islamic countries are oppressed and killed; the Kurdish people are again and again denied their right to exist despite their support for the Allies; Yemen is a killing field as is Syria and so on and so forth.

If I may address the Kurdish situation. In November 1916 Mr Sykes and Monsieur Pico drew up an agreement known as the Asia Minor Agreement, validated by Russia, basically apportioning the Middle and Near East into trading areas, creating new countries according to their economic interests rather than national and ethnic history creating many of today's problems. Kurdistan was divided among Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey which got the largest portion. Since that time the Kurdish people have been ruled with a harsh hand by all 4 countries. This week they were dealt yet another blow when the decision was made for the American troops to leave northern Syria. Leaving Afghanistan was a wise decision, it is an old and unwinnable war, but in Syria it was the Kurdish area that is deserted. The Kurds have fought against the regimes of Iraq and Syria alongside the Allies, yet they are against left out of the equation and without their homeland. It's a tough one.

Israel, on the other hand, used the opportunity of the US retreat by "removing" Iranian arsenals from a large area, taking out Hezb-Allah leaders simultaneously.

Turkey was, until a short time ago racing into the 21st century, but was refused entry to the EEC because of their unstable leader Recep Tayipp Erdogan and economy. Angry at this rejection Erdogan then tried out a series of unwise alliances, brought in Sharia law, entered the cruel Syrian war, argued with all his allies, attacked Greece calling for the return of the Greek Islands describing them as "occupied"; closed churches and made life for Christians difficult; deriding the United States in foul language and calling for Israel's destruction, and now has been given the reward of control of Syria……… I have no words

The fact that the UN declared Jerusalem as a Palestinian City is insane at the very least.

On many levels this was a wonderful year for Israel.
We won the Eurovision Song Contest
The US Embassy came to Jerusalem and others are following
Incredible initiatives on medical, technological and social levels abound
More and more Moslem and Haredi men and women are joining the IDF
Nikky Haley proved that one can be a fine diplomat and still be fair and firm in one's convictions. We continue to innovate and initiate as shown in this review of the 35 ways Israel inspired the world in 2018

My quote of the year, just yesterday, has to be when Emily Thornberry address a Jewish audience and said the immortal words "Jeremy Corbyn didn't address the Labour Antisemitism crisis because he was too upset" Aaahhhh diddums!!!
Israel's year ended with a bang when the PM announced elections on the April the 9th 2019. Netanyahu is confident that he will be reelected, but this is a fickle electorate with many floating voters who are desperate for change. Former Chiefs of Staff, are weighing into the fray, the highly charismatic Benny Gatz just announced his new political party (like we don't have enough) as did the less charismatic Boogie Yaalon. This isn't a country of two or three parties, this is Israel where everyone wants to be a leader!
The Arab parties are considering joining forces which may give them 15 seats but at least the odious Haneen Zoabi made the decision not to The Labour Party has too many fighting factions and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid has good policies but unfortunately Lapid has been spending too much time out of Israel. Shas, the Mizrachi religious party with so much power (including a puppet Mayor of Jerusalem) is going down in the polls as are the other religious parties and Meretz is almost disappearing. It will be a very interesting Campaign. As our wonderful President Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin demanded from the various parties – "make it a clean campaign about your plans and intentions, your manifesto, not a dirty campaign of character assassination.
Our social and volunteer life is slowly filling up again! After Shabbat we had a special visit from the Silver family! Ira, Valeri, Tomer and Shelley. I loved hearing Tomer's tales of his life and decisions in the IDF - a special family indeed. On Monday we had an impromptu supper with Danby and Marvin Ring Meital and Gabby Barkay who needs no introduction. It was a "thank you for being well enough to do this" supper, especially for Dynamo Danby!! We had "Orange Soup", that's not a soup made from oranges but rather from predominantly orange root veggies and red lentils and leeks, add a touch of ginger and it is delicious! I made fresh salmon and Danby made a wonderful mushroom couscous. With compote for dessert it was fun!
On Sunday Zvi had a Board Meeting here for his choir, Hakol Yachassi. I love their initiative, plans and harmony…… if you want a great choir that can sing at any function, they sing anything you choose (Ladino, Yiddish, Russian, Hebrew old and new).  I had a wonderful uplifting Board meeting with the Yuri Shtern Holistic Center.  On Wednesday Zvi met with his Mexican relation Alan Podolsky in the First Station, Alan is here for a year of volunteering and learning, and yesterday, ah yesterday we met with Ruth and Jozec, our lovely friends who are leaving New York City to come on Aliya to Jerusalem. It was such a joy to see them and hear their tales of choosing which books to bring, which collections to sort out, how to sell their NYC apartment and oversee the renovations in their new Jerusalem apartment. It is such an exciting time and I am thrilled that they will be so close!
Yesterday was a very special day, not just because of Ruth and Jozec, but because I saw the therapists of the Yuri Shtern Foundation in action. In a revolutionary course for medical staff at Shaare Zedek Paediatric Unit we heard from Orit, who miraculously oversees all 150 volunteers then heard from volunteers Dani, Yehudit and Judith and how they approach both patients and parents in order to give them the most appropriate therapies. Dani told of a youngster who needed a double lung transplant and was very angry with himself, his situation, his parents and his school, hindering his chances of survival. Dani described how, using Cranio-Sacral balancing, he literally enveloped the parents and the boy creating a calm they had never known. After a few sessions the boy began to make friends in school and to recognise that his wheelchair and oxygen were a blessing until he could receive his transplant.  Lena Shtern, who created a miraculous organisation, Yuri z"l would have been very proud of you. I must mention Varda Hershkovitz our brilliant Director, a dynamo full of compassion.
Gosh I haven't even reached the bit where I tell you what my dreams are for 2019!!! I suppose all my dreams and prayers can be summed up in three words – Compassion – Chemla, Tolerance- Sovlanut  and Patience – Savlanut. Perhaps I should add bravery – the willingness to stand up and be counted among those who fight for justice. Never forget my mantra – The Power of One – we can all change this world for the better, bit by iota.
I wish you a kinder world, a world where parents listen to children rather than video clips on their cellphones and friends talk to one another of their joys and ills and we listen. I wish us more people like a special Kiwi by the name of Alfred Ngaro. Listen to him, hear what he says and be proud of him

Sing, sing a song and make the world a happier place, after all it's hard to sing with a frown

Adam Lambert and Shir Le Shalom

Biglal ha Ruach – Because of the Spirit – the spirit that drives us ever onward. A beautiful rendition by the IDF choir.

The people of Otef Aza – the Gaza Envelope – those who took the brunt of Hamas rockets and tunnels, still have a song in their heart "Let me play the tune of love"

Since we know not what tomorrow will bring let alone next year I wish you Shabbat Shalom dear friends, love each other, don't judge, just love.

With all our love from our incredible veranda and that spectacular view

If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv