Friday, 16 March 2018

180306 Israeli hospitals, South Africa, Friday night


16th March, 2018

Shabbat Shalom to everyone. I also want to wish my Thai readers a happy Thai New Year!

The old Yiddische saying goes "Man makes plans and G-d laughs" Of course it sounds so much better in that wonderfully expressive language and as usual – is right on the nose!

First of all, everything is fine but I had cause to spend rather a lot of time in both the Ambulatory and the hospital ER, with a friend let's say. Israeli hospitals, possibly more so than any other country, are a people-watchers dream. The full rainbow, the gamut of Israeli society is in the patients and the staff. Parents are interesting, either they are attentive and calm, attentive and hysterical or at the other end of the scale, ensure their children's iPhones are charged so that they can get on with texting their own messages. That isn't the greatest fascination however, nor is it what makes Israeli hospitals different to all other hospitals.

Firstly, the doctors and medical staff, each and every one of them is superb, some chirpier than others but all are kind. So what's different about that? Well the Senior Physician in ER was an Arab, the Junior was an Ashkenazi Jew, the nurse was Druze and the patients were just about every conceivable mix including one prisoner in chains, accompanied by two policemen, who grinned at us all!! Everybody waited the interminable wait for attention in hospital whereas with equal patience we were seen almost immediately in the ambulatory ER. Of course it was a horrendously busy night and there weren't enough beds but I didn't see one member of staff snap at a patient.

The most amazing are the volunteers. "You look tired, here I brought some sandwiches, would you like one?" said one lady who had gone out to the local bakery, bought a load of bread rolls and filled them at home just o give them away to those who needed food in the ER. They hold the hands of those who have no family and go from bed to bed to cheer people up. Then of course there are the Magen David Adom volunteers, the paramedics, the youngsters who give of their time to ride on the ambulances and help – amazing people, amazing country.

I have to tell you about Dr Karame. Dr Karame is soft spoken, an incredible physician, elegant and almost stately in his treatment of patients with unending patience. Dr Karame is Arab and is the senior physician in Terem (Ambulatory ER) in  Talpiot in Jerusalem and I promised him I would write about him!!!!

Perhaps all of the above, the volunteering and the medical care, are part of the reason Israel is still the 11th happiest places on earth. Since the poll was conducted by the UN I think their typing finger slipped and we are really the happiest on earth. The Scandinavians did well, which is weird considering their lack of sunshine, but logical considering their social welfare system. Anyway, here are the statistics.

It seems incongruous that South Africa and particularly black South Africans, believe that Israel is an apartheid state. South Africa where Jews led the campaign against Apartheid, believing the can and rhetoric about Israel? Well, our lovely friend Danny Adeno Abebe is currently in South Africa as an emissary for Habonim Dror and Danny has taken on the cause of teaching South Africans the truth.

In the United States however, support for Israel among Americans has reach an all time high.

In politics, Tillerson is out Pompeo is in; Theresa May throws Russian "diplomats" who were known to be spies, out of the UK after the poisoning of an ex-spy; Netanyahu somehow manages to hold his coalition together preventing June elections; Saudi Arabia says if Iran has nuclear power then they will get it too; Superman came to visit Jerusalem, Dean Cain was seen in photo ops with almost every politician……………………….. and Justin Trudeau is ridiculed in India for his family's "fancy dress"

Some 70+ countries got together to raise money for UNWRA…………. Yes you read that perfectly correctly. UNWRA is the main cause for strife and corruption in Gaza, has squandered all the vast funds give n to them up to now on encouraging terrorism, their schools rife with incitement to hatred which made the USA and UK and some other countries revoke their funding thereof and other stupid countries to perpetuate!!!!

Last Friday night was incredible.. Around our Shabbes table were
3 Swedes (the people not the veg), 2 Argentinians, 1 Suisse
, 1 Belgian, 2 Poles
2 Sabras and 1 Welshwoman
I made very traditional food from all the countries of dispersion - Israeli salads, Stuffed vine leaves,  Hamusta Kubeh soup, Hungarian Chicken paprika, local grilled spring chicken in date honey, red rice, saffron rice, grilled cauliflower and we had very British poached apples and pears and citrus salad for dessert.
The best part was getting to know each other. Each person said where they are from and a synopsis of their history. 
One of our guests, someone Zvi had known for 40 years, suddenly opened up and told us the story of his life. In Belgium of WW2, his Mother was taken by the Nazis to Auschwitz when he was 2 1/2, and gave him to a neighbour to hide him. The naighbour never told a soul he was Jewish. Indeed when the Germans came on suspicion of his ethnicity they asked him to pull down his trousers – he remembered that his parents told him he must never do that for anyone so he refused. He went through many tribulations until he was 7 and his Mother miraculously came looking for him. He was in an "orphanage" where his Jewish identity was hidden. She stood looking at each child, frail and unsure what he looked like after all those years. As he walked down the stairs he suddenly saw his Mother and they were never separated again. He kept his story secret for 50 years until he discovered others who were at the orphanage and they all met - when the emotional flood waters opened.
He went on to be a famous Israeli urologist and we all sat in rapt attention.
That's what I love about welcoming strangers into our home. The three Swedes were talking about it for days.

OK no time whatsoever before Shabbat so I don't have time to tell you of the mimosa tree, the bright pink cherry trees or the plethora of blooms and blossoms on our veranda!!!

Here is music instead!!

Israel's entry into the Eurovision song contest this year is somewhat different, but in a strange way I think I like it although most of you will hate it……….. which means it could be a winner!!!

And now from the ridiculous to the simply sublime. Andre Rieu et all and the wonderful theme song of Exodus, "This Land is Mine" I dare you not to shed a tear

Shabbat Shalom everyone with much love from Jerusalem, the city we longed, nay yearned for 2,000 years of dispersion.


Friday, 9 March 2018

180309 Uri Lubrani, Nikki Haley, Embassies

9th March, 2018

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I have no idea if you are getting this missive or not because Gmail has been playing games with me and many of you are not receiving my news. I have finally found someone really good to build my website, thank you Renee, so hopefully it will all be sorted out soon.

If there is one thing that Israel learned from the Intifada, apart from how to defend ourselves, it is learning how to deal with trauma, for the injured, for the by-standers and for the families. A team of Israeli psychologists went to Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida to hold sessions with the teachers and educators of that school in trauma management for their students.  Such sessions take place wherever and whenever needed. Once someone I know laughed at the idea that Israel could possibly provide aid to Canada – well we offer aid to many countries who are bigger and richer than us as well as to those smaller and poorer. Israel is a tiny country with a big heart and many volunteers who are ready to go anywhere in the world to provide succour, be it practical or emotional.

Guatemala is not the biggest country in Latin America, indeed most Westerners have no idea where it is at all, which is a shame because Guatemala is a brave and principled country that is the second to pass a decision to move its Embassy to Jerusalem – apparently Greece is next.

The United States has chosen a propitious day to move its staff and physical Embassy to Jerusalem, May 14th the date that Israel declared her independence. The Embassy will run on skeleton staff at first, in the current Consulate in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem, while a more logical site will be found. It is said that the former Diplomat Hotel is under consideration.

The first time I went to the Diplomat Hotel was in 1971 when it was still a 5 star hotel, even if they didn't know how to soft boil an egg for baby Daniel! The hotel later became an absorption centre when the former Soviet Union opened its doors and let our people go. The Diplomat was also the site of the emotional ceremony the day after Operation Solomon when we met and welcomed the beautiful, dignified Ethiopian immigrants on the morning after their escape. I can never forget the deep respect and love they showed toward the person behind their Aliyah, Uri Lubrani, who passed away this week. The speed of their flight was so great that they were told to bring only the clothes on their backs and up to one and a half kilos of hand luggage, that's all. They stood in their white Shabbat robes clutching the red roses we were all given as Uri Lubrani walked in each and every one of them, in silent homage, held out their rose toward him. I still choke up when I think of the dignity of their gratitude. Uri Lubrani, you were a hero. May your soul rest in peace.

So Prince William is coming to the Middle East. He will visit Jordan, Israel and the PA, the first official visit of a British Royal. They have come privately, both Prince Charles and Prince Philip but the Foreign Office, about as friendly toward Israel as the US State Department, has always vetoed an official visit because of political alliances both past and present. What fascinates me is not the fact that Prince William is coming but who persuaded the FO to organise it? Have they actually woken up to the reality of who their genuine allies are? This article puts forward a fascinating perspective.  Equally fascinating is the open letter to Prince William written by Michael Dickson, the wonderful Director of Standwithus Israel.

A wise man once said that
Freedom of speech does not absolve a man of responsibility for what he says.
I believe that we, in the free world, took the freedom and forgot the responsibility. As children we were taught that once a word has left your mouth you cannot take it back and it can cut a person into shreds just as efficiently as a scalpel but leave greater scars. So it is with incitement, the ripples of the words thrown so easily onto still waters can kill and maim. Hatred, once thought to be a two way street has become rampant, conceivably the worst pandemic disease of our century.

Among the rhetoric of hate from Palestinians, Farrakhan, Sharpton, Hamas, and many more,  one voice stands out above all others, Ambassador Nikki Haley. If one reads her biography one begins to understand why her loyalties stand so firmly with Israel. Nikki Haley comes from a Sikh family. Her real name is Nimrata Randahawa and her parents were born in the Punjab, India. Called Nikki since childhood she upholds the principles of her parent's faith and is unafraid of those who would deny her a voice. When told to "shut up" by Saeb Erekat Nikki Haley stood tall and said that not he, not anyone, would stop her standing up for what is right.  Here she speaks at AIPAC  or if the full speech is more than you wish to listen to, try this one "I always knew what the capital of Israel was. I tis not created by the position of the Embassy, America did not make Jerusalem the capital city, President Trump simply did what American Presidents had the courage to do what others did not"

For International Women's Day I wrote
I am the daughter of one of the strongest and sweetest woman of all time, my Mother, Betty Glicker Silver who passed away 55 years ago, long before her time, yet managed to teach, by example, how to be a good and loved woman through WIZO, through chesed, through her elegance and humility and through the unconditional love she showed her children. She taught me that each human being is worthy, irrespective of his/her provenance - including me.
I am the daughter in law of Alla (Lia) Raviv Hendler, Mother of Zvi Raviv, who during her 97 years taught an entire generation of children how to be good people and showed me that kindness and love can teach a child to be a mensch whereas force can never do so. She survived great sadness with a smile and a hand held out to all in need.
I am a lucky woman. I hope they made me who I am today. I am no less proud of the next generation and the one after that with great confidence that the chain of strong women will change their world.

History has taught Jews very little. What? How can you say such a thing? Oh easily and the wonderful Brenda Katten says it so much better than I. Jews of Europe and Israelis who choose to live there – you are sitting on a time bomb.

Just in case you think nobody is helping the Syrian civilians………..

Prime Minster Netanyahu had what appears to be excellent meetings in Washington, particularly with President Trump. The accusations and investigations deepen but affairs of State must go on.

To take us away on a flight of fancy, Zvi organised a fantastic two days of choirs from all over Israel and from Sweden. It culminated in a fantastic show last night and a seminar this morning. He did a phenomenal job as always and the theatre was full to capacity. The biggest surprise was when the Swedish choir, almost exclusively non-Jewish, sang in Hebrew!!!!
When is a perfect segway into this weeks music!!!!

If there is one prayer on the lips of everyone in Israel, it is that our children and grandchildren will not need to serve in a Defence Force – that we will not have enemies. A dream, a prayer, a plea

International Women's Day has nothing on Jewish tradition. Every week, on Friday night, the head of a Jewish household is expected to praise his wife for all she does, that her worth is great than pearls or precious gems. Imagine having the entire IDF choir around your table when they sing Eshet Chayil

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wish you a week of joy.
With love from the View from our Verandah

Friday, 2 March 2018

180302 Sochnut BOG, Kim, Purim


2nd March 2018

Shabbat Shalom, Shushan Purim Sameach and happy St David's Day!!!

Yesterday I was a panther and Zvi was a rather sinister looking Moroccan in his Djelaba that he bought in Morocco with Barry Slawsky! It was fun doing the make up and even more fun to see all our friends arrive looking just as crazy as we did……….that's Purim!!! When I was a child everyone dressed as either Queen Esther or Mordechai the Jew – nobody really wanted to be the evil Haman, or even dumb King Ahashueras let alone Queen Vashti but today it's different, virtually anything goes. In fact if it were today most of the characters in the story would be accused of sexual harassment, incitement and corruption but instead as we read the story each year on Adar 13 we remember that not only did a simple Jew and his beautiful niece save the Jews of Persia, Hodu and the Cush from execution, as per the edict of the King's Viceroy Haman, but Haman got just desserts and was executed after being paraded around town on a mule - a fate he intended for Mordechai. The celebration is for the fact that we stood up for ourselves – no Persian dictated our fate then and certainly not now.

Yesterday morning I drove to Givat Ze'ev to hear the Megillat Esther – the scroll of Esther - read in the synagogue as I sat with Rachel, Talia and Ayala. Doesn't get more special than that.

This week Zvi and I concentrated on learning what is happening in the Jewish World rather than the greater world as we attended the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency meetings in Zichron Yaakov. Zvi is a member of the Board, representing that marvellous organisation Maccabi World Union – a job he does with great distinction and I am a fly on the wall.

It is such a shame that most people, especially Israelis, have no concept of the excellent work, amazing projects, executed by the Jewish Agency, if they have heard of the Sochnut at all. It is not just a vehicle to enable Aliya, far from it. The projects in Israel and abroad are many and varied, for Jews, Christians and Moslems alike.  We started in the centre of Zichron Yaakov, one of the first Jewish cities in Israel. Here the Baron Hirsch decided to being the young Baron Rothschild to found the first wineries and ultimately made Israeli viticulture an essential part of the economy.

We talked to young graduate immigrants in a wonderful Ulpan (Etzion) in Haifa, where they learn Hebrew, apply for work in Israel and receive accommodation for their first 6 months. We went to a Druze village where we met children in a mentoring programme in good citizenship and self-confidence – their mentors being those who went through the same courses in the past. The children were so happy and fulfilled, and we all helped them make the Druze flag, each table creating a coloured shape finally putting them all together to form the Druze flag.  As we got off the bus to see the spectacular view from the village over towards Lebanon and Syria our bus driver Nahil told us a little about himself. He is Druze, born in Israel, served as an officer in the IDF then in the Israeli police for nearly 20 years. After his retirement he decided to drive tour buses. As we stood together and he realised I spoke Hebrew he said to me "I don't know why all these people go back to America and Berlin when here in Israel it is Gan Eden – the Garden of Eden. We have everything! If we look over the countries around us for two minutes we can see how amazing Israel is in comparison to anywhere in the world"

Of course the Jewish Agency meetings are an awful lot of gas and gaiters – that is inevitable, and not a small amount of politics among the lay leaders, but the real heroes are the permanent staff who perform miracles, quietly.

Each time I accompany Zvi to these events I am impressed by the strong and clever women who ensure vital discussion on essential issues. Helena Glaser from WIZO, Judit Liwerant, Ellen Hershkin and Marlene Post from Hadassah and so many more, women play a huge role in preparing the ground for future generations. I am even more impressed by the common sense suggestions so eloquently (and vociferously) put forward by my husband and of course by Danny Lamm.

Our wonderful friend Dr Kimball Taylor was staying with us for the Board of Governors meetings. Kim brings a different perspective to all the discussions, while being an integral part of the Board Kim is able to look at what is happening and the effect it has on "the world" through fresh eyes. Kim is a senior member of the LDS and an equal Israphile with Canon Andrew White!!!!

We drove back to Jerusalem filled with thoughts, questions and doubts, made all the more interesting because we dropped Danny Lamm at the airport to wend his way back to Melbourne. As we arrived our lovely family member Shelly Silver was waiting for us. Shelley, a girl scout, came to Jerusalem with a double purpose, to go to a Purim party and to volunteer at our local scout hut.

The next morning Kim and I went to Shaare Zedek hospital to meet up with Varda and Lena of the Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre to see the phenomenal work the organisation does. Since Kim is a doctor his conversations with patients, spouses and therapists held deep meaning. Kim also met with oncologist Ora Rosengarten, a dear friend, who gave him the scientific, medical perspective that not only does it alleviate nausea and trauma, but that after therapies the patients are more receptive to treatment. It never fails to make me cry, not because I don't want to be in the oncology department but because I am so proud to be a minute cog in the incredible wheel that is the Yuri Shtern Centre. We never have enough money, obviously since all the therapists are volunteers and we do not charge anyone, patients or family, for treating them in Shaare Zedek . We desperately need your help to continue with both therapies and courses – please any amount will be happily accepted

While I was preparing for the Choirs Purim party Zvi and Kim went to the Friends of Zion Museum in the centre of Jerusalem. The Museum, the brainchild of Pastor Mike Evans and created under the watchful eye of his son Michael, is a tribute to the relationship between the Jewish State and our Christian friends. Well worth a visit.

From there they went to the Ai Wei Wei exhibit at the Israel Museum – wish I had had time to go again!!!

Kim then left for the interminable journey back to Cardston, Alberta, and I finished the last touches of the Purim party – and our fancy dress!!! The party went wonderfully, loads of food, singing Israeli songs old and new and just being together. We are a very huggy lot, my favourite kinds of people! Merav and Igal stayed to help us put the house back in order and we managed to be in bed for 01:30. Really! Thirty people arrived and 19:30 and didn't want to leave!!!! Incidentally nobody guessed the origin of the Welsh flag hanging on the wall in honour of St David's Day!!!

Today we go to Nes Ziona to see the children, then Rehovot to say goodbye to a dear friend and finally to be home for a quiet Shabbat dinner – ALONE

During our very busy week the world didn't work out its problems. Even more poor souls were killed in Syria and Yemen, the lies and power struggles continue unabated, talk of corruption is government abounds and as individuals we try to do our best to be good people. One exceptional piece of news is that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge are coming on the first ever official visit to Israel and the PA. Prince Philip and Prince Charles have both been on private visits but this will be with full ceremony. Excellent.

Yesterday I was sad to hear that the exceptional Dr Malcolm Hoenlein is retiring from his post as Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Major Jewish Organisations in the USA. Malcolm is an exceptional leader, a great mentor and probably the most effective person I have ever met. His love of Israel is unmatched and he has the ability to present that view to the US Administration. I have a feeling that this is not Malcolm's swan song – he has so much still to give.

Gosh, time to get myself ready for the day! I chose special music today – this one is called One Day and is a song of hope from just about every sector of Israeli society

This song has a special meaning – One call away, the disaster relief and humanitarian work of the IDF

Today in Jerusalem and Tsfat it is still Purim ' Shushan Purim, celebrated in walled cities only, yes another day of happily inebriated men!!!

Shabbat Shalom lovely people. Remember the power of one? Well Mordechai understood and look what one man achieved.

With love from Jerusalem

Friday, 23 February 2018

180223 UN, Alderney, Daniel's visit, Purim

23rd February 2018

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom

I don't know about you but I am sick of corruption, politics, supposed diplomacy and guns – actually guns should have been number one on my list of fears. I know that there are many of you who believe that your freedom depends upon owning at least one weapon. As one person said if all teachers carry weapons and a shooter comes in the classroom it will mean that two shooters are in a classroom full of children.
A fascinating article about why school shootings don't happen in Israel

In another strong speech in the UN by US Ambassador Haley after she was ungraciously told to shut up by Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat, Nikki Haley responded that she will not shut up and although the PA may find the "moving of OUR Embassy to Jerusalem" it is the American Embassy and it will happen. She pointed out that Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner sat behind her ready to negotiate and make a better life for the Palestinian people.  Incidentally that same Saeb Erekat who lambasts and incites against Israel expressed anger that Israeli doctors are not willing to put him at the top of the transplant list here in our hospitals.

UN idiocy of the week? Appointing Syria to the pole position fighting the subjugation of peoples

The IDF revealed that in August they foiled an attempted Islamic State aeroplane bombing of a flight leaving Sydney, Australia.

Canon Andrew White is in the British Channel Island of Alderney. Since he has been just about everywhere it may appear to be unremarkable that he is in Alderney, but it is and his reason for being there is even more remarkable. Alderney was one of 3 British Channel Isles that were occupied by the Third Reich, Guernsey, Jersey, all suffered under Nazi rule but Alderney was different. There were four camps on the island, two work camps and two death camps. 40,000 souls were lost. Canon Andrew is determined that they will not be forgotten

This has been an incredible week! My NYC son Daniel, wife Karen and children Joshua and Callie have been staying with us, which of course means that I have been to many places I normally don't visit! We went to see the Jerusalem Aquarium which, as our guide and educator Shai said, is still in "run in" mode. If this is the run in then the final stage will be amazing because we all adored it! When there was a break in the rain on Monday we took off to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. It is truly wonderful, the animals are in the closest possible copy of their natural habitat and although it isn't huge it allows one to wander through beautiful areas. From there we went to Rachels where the cousins played as if they are together every day – and Auntie Rachel made her famous pizza for all.

Then came the Galita Chocolate Factory on Kibbutz Tzuba, which I wouldn't miss for anything!! A course teaching us to make chocolate houses, lollipops, pralines, with an array of toppings in front of you as you build your chocolate dream under expert instruction………. Eating at least 50% of the incredible rich chocolate made on site. In the evening Sagi and Ditty Daren came over for supper with their 3 children and we had some of the chocolate treats for dessert.

I admit I was too tired to go to the Bloomfield Science Museum, but I know they had a ball, rushing in the door to tell me all about the games they recognised and the new ones too! Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala came for supper afterwards.

Yesterday we went together to the Kotel, the Western Wall. The entire plaza was jam-packed with Israelis and tourists alike. Bar Mitzva boys were led in by musicians and drummers, families dancing and singing, the embarrassed but proud youngsters under chuppas of all natures – from Tallit to Israeli flag, as they went to read from the Torah for the very first time beside the towering wall. The children were amazed. We also went to look over the newly extended egalitarian prayer area of the Western Wall, the Kotel – the one that some tried to claim did not exist.

What most impressed Joshua and Callie? The newly opened Supermarket opposite; the view from the veranda each morning over Jerusalem; our very large electric blinds which Joshua loved raising to see that view; picking lemons and kumquats; the newly emerging orange blossom; the vast array of craft equipment I have stored in the playroom and of course their Daddy laughing at me yelling "Look at the wild cyclamen" every time I saw  beautiful pink delights at every turn in the road.

Unfortunately, timing meant that I missed the Conference of Presidents meetings and seeing Dr Malcolm Hoenlein, but sorry Malcolm, it was worth it!

Yesterday my miracle grandson was 13- Samuel George, Sammy, Samsam. 13 is the age of responsibility for Jewish boys but Sammy has taken responsibility for making our family smile for every day of his 13 years.
Happy birthday to my brother Ronnie today.

Our delightful, special friend Dr Kimball Taylor is making the interminable journey from Cardston, Alberta to Israel because he loves Israel and us!! Kim is coming to be with us on Saturday evening – and then we will all go to Zichron Yaakov for the Jewish Agency Board Meetings. I hope that some decisions will be made, that they will not forget their purpose for existing which is to create a bond between the Diaspora and Israel – an unbreakable bond. Will report.

Purim! Apart from the dreadful habit of Israeli boys to explode caps at each other it is a festival of joy, parties, fancy dress, mishloach manot or gifts of food and fun and general celebration. I think you all know the story of the wicked, Jew hating Haman who convinced King Achasuerus of Shushan, Persia, to kill all the Jews and of Mordechai who took his niece Esther to enter a beauty contest, win, become Queen and convince the King that Jews were OK and Haman a bad man. Well although while we read the "Megillat Esther" – the Story of Esther - in the synagogues and recount Hamans evil motives, we are encouraged to drink alcohol (honestly) until tipsy. A strange tradition? Yes and no. The command is to drink only until one cannot tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman – in other words, vengeance is considered a sin, so one should drink until one does not feel anger over Haman. I have a problem with it, I don't drink a lot and sadly see a direct correlation between ancient Persia and today's Iran. I don't want to wreak vengeance but I wish Esther would appear really quickly!

Rabbi Jeremy Rosen makes a wonderful comparative between all the religions and Purim

And so to music!!
Maccabeats and the story of Purim

From Shushan to Teheran – Jews all over the world have prayed for just one thing, something that runs through every song, poems and prayer – Peace. Former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, initiated this amazing recording. Oseh Shalom – a prayer that there shall be peace.

Shabbat Shalom with much love from both of us, here in Jerusalem.

Friday, 16 February 2018

180216 Parkland, Guns, Iran-Syria, Netanyahu

16th February 2018
I wish you a good Shabbes, a peaceful Shabbat, a weekend without tragedy.

My heart is breaking for the families of those children whose lives were taken by a crazed gunman in Parkland, Florida. I cannot imagine what horrors the other children saw, but they will be haunted by it for the rest of their lives.  I am furious that a crazed criminal, known to the FBI, the police and the local school authorities could walk into a store and buy an assault rifle AND WALK INTO THE SCHOOL UNHINDERED. I am sick and tired of being attacked personally because I find the gun culture abhorrent – and equally tired of being told that crime in Britain is worse than the USA when all the statistics that I carefully researched say that petty crime is possibly higher but gun crime, murders etc is definitely not. It is irrelevant to yesterday's horror but if you wish here it the proof.

20 years ago there was a mass shooting in a school in Dunblane, Scotland after which the British Government introduced strict gun control laws and there have been no further such incidents – 22 years ago, in Port Arthur, Tasmania a gunman opened fire and killed 35 people, within 2 weeks Australia introduced strict gun control, there have been no more mass shootings. If the issue is freedom then give children the freedom to live. The amendment giving people the right to carry arms is hundreds of years old – time to change.

As to violence in schools – my family always called me Pollyanna because I try to find the good in all people and all things, but I am a realistic optimist! As Zvi taught me, there are no problems we just need to find solutions. I believe in Rabbi David Geffen and his incredible programme to bring love to schoolchildren, even in the most "difficult" schools. It works

The Prime Minister of Israel is about to be indicted on corruption charges after an interminable investigation and the country is in turmoil. The satirists are having a field day and I am sick and tired of hearing of the antics of the Prime Ministers household. I don't know if the Prime Minister is guilty of bribery or of extreme hedonism and misuse of friendships to feed his desire for rich friends, fine cigars and champagne, but we are at a terrifying crossroads in a confused world and we need someone whose mind is utterly on the good of the country. It was Benjamin Netanyahu who made a long speech telling Ehud Olmert that he had to resign during that investigation because Prime Minister Olmert could not concentrate on the job of Prime Minister – for charges that dim compared with the current charges against the Netanyahu family.  Netanyahu supporters have verbally attacked the Chief of Police, the Attorney General but when the leader of the Likud Party stood in the Knesset and called Yair Lapid a "nark" or "grass" because  he told the truth when asked by the police to testify before the investigation I understood that the Party had reached an all-time low.

I don't know if you received my midweek update concerning the Syrian/Iranian/Israeli cross border incident, please let me know if not. This is the potted history that brought us to the incident

A potted history since the first time I saw Lebanon
1.     Lebanon 1963 there was no real border between Lebanon and Israel– a Jewish country and a Christian country, not enemies. We stood and chatted with Lebanese soldiers the other side of a car park like barrier and wandered in and out of both countries for a photo-op
2.     1970 – Arafat attempts a failed coup in Jordan, causes deaths of at least 10,000 PLO supporters at the hands of King Hussein and is flees Jordan. Syria refuses to accept him and he and his cohorts are accepted by Lebanon – in a move of Christian sympathy.
3.     Since that date the advance of destructive forces of Hezb-Allah have grown in Lebanon, destroying that once Christian country from the "Pearl of the Middle East" (Beirut) into a war zone.
4.     Hezb-Allah is supported by Iran.
5.     Iran takes advantage of and encourages the dreadful war in Syria with the help of Hezb-Allah which until the insertion of Iran in the equation was a failing organisation.
6.     Iran is delighted to take advantage of the utter chaos and establish bases in Syria which gives them a strong foothold in the region.
7.     Iran brings "volunteers" from Pakistan etc to help them in the training of Syrian troops in advanced warfare and establishes military bases in Syria.
8.     Syria shoots an advanced anti-aircraft missile from an equally advanced drone at an Israeli aeroplane, successfully downing the F16i on Israeli soil, the first time that an Israeli aeroplane has been downed in very many years.
9.     Israel decides to retaliate successfully targetting 12 Syrian and Iranian installations – whose sole aim, apparently, is to destroy Israel – in the words of the Iranian leaders.
10.  There is a media message to the world, cleverly worded, that Israel is the aggressor even if the reaction is justified.
11.  Prime Minister Netanyahu has telephone conference with President Putin who is also trying to prevent the escalation.
12.  A world that stayed silent over the murder of over 500,000 Syrians at the hands of a despot leader is suddenly concerned about Israel responding to an attack on her soil.

Israel does not take the possibility of war with Iran lightly but since they have infiltrated virtually every one of our neighbouring countries (despite the best efforts of Jordan and Egypt), and have a Government Ministry dedicated to the annihilation of Israel I think we had the right to defend ourselves. I am happy to say that both pilots who ejected are now safe. The badly injured pilot is in a room beside a Syrian patient brought to Israel by the IDF for treatment. Just another anomaly in the story of this region.

Incidentally, the issue of Russian interference in the United States elections has risen yet again. Understand two simple facts. Everyone, every country interferes in every country's election!! It is a given!! Fact number two? Every country spies on every other country. What? You seriously thought that all the Embassy staff brought in are actually guards, clerks, attaches and secretaries?

This was a quiet week – yes it happens on occasion! The heavens opened and the rain came down, probably because I bragged about the glorious spring weather last week! When I say a quiet week, it was a special week. Yuval came into the world! Yuval is the newest baby to join the Raviv family, a beautiful little girl, the fourth daughter for Zvi's son Leor and his wife Shiri. Of course the family is very excited, especially Amit, Gili and Ori who chose the name Yuval for their little sister. Mazal Tov to all concerned a fabulous start to the week!!

I am always fascinated by Israeli hospitals. This time it was in the Meir Medical Centre in Kfar Saba. The patients and staff run the full gamut of Israeli society, in fact there were far more Arab patients than Jewish – and that is great! We all wish each other "Refuah Shlemah" a complete recovery with nary a thought of religious leanings.  I just wish all those who claim Israel is an apartheid state would come and really visit Israel, especially the hospitals. Perhaps they should compare it to what happens when Israelis find themselves in a Palestinian town

This is a very special Shabbat for us. As soon as I finish writing I am going to the airport to greet the El Al flight 008 from NYC carrying my eldest son Daniel, his lovely wife Karen and my unbelievably incredible grandchildren Joshua and Callie! On our way home we will stop in Givat Zeev so that Rachel, Igal, Yosef, Talia and Ayala can get their hugs in and I can get my Challot and a load of photos to send to the "Londoners". Tomorrow we will spend with Leor and Amiad and their children, so that they can break the language barrier and play together. I am beyond excited. The Shabbat table has been laid and ready for two days and all their favourite foods cooked! Wow…………. This is exciting!!!

When the world appears too filled with hate and division I listen to music. David Broza "Yihyeh Tov"
Shiri Maimon with Shir le Shalom – a song to peace
Finally the answer to it all, right David Geffen? All You Need is Love
I wish us all a kinder world, one in which Yuval can grow up safely, surrounded by love.

In this weeks Parasha, G-d tells us how to put together a "tent" that He can descend to be amongst us. Perhaps the elements of the tent are symbolic and the true elements are love, compassion, empathy and humility.

With all our love, from the Veranda, from our home and from Jerusalem.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

180211 Midweek Update Syria-Iran

11th February 2018
Mid-week update
After the rather dramatic happenings of last two days I thought you deserve an explanation
A Russian missile
Shot by Syrian soldier
Backed up by Iranian officer
Downed an American plane
Flown by an Israeli pilot
Who was saved by an Israeli Arab Doctor
In an Israeli hospital
With a Syrian patient in the next room
Welcome to the Middle East!

A potted history since the first time I saw Lebanon
1. Lebanon 1963 there was no real border between Lebanon and Israel– a Jewish country and a Christian country, not enemies. We stood and chatted with Lebanese soldiers the other side of a car park-like barrier arm and wandered in and out of both countries for a photo-op
2. 1970 – Arafat attempts a failed coup in Jordan, causes deaths of at least 10,000 PLO supporters at the hands of King Hussein and flees Jordan. Syria refuses to accept him and he and his cohorts are accepted by Lebanon – in a move of Christian sympathy.
3. Since that date the advance of destructive forces of Hezb-Allah have grown in Lebanon, destroying that once Christian country from the "Pearl of the Middle East" (Beirut) into a war zone.
4. Hezb-Allah is supported by Iran.
5. Iran takes advantage of and encourages the dreadful war in Syria with the help of Hezb-Allah which until the insertion of Iran in the equation was a failing organisation.
6. Iran is delighted to take advantage of the utter chaos and establish bases in Syria which gives them a strong foothold in the region.
7. Iran brings "volunteers" from Pakistan etc to join Hezb-Allah in Syria and help in the training of Syrian troops in advanced warfare and establishes military bases in Syria.
8. Syria shoots a Russian made advanced anti-aircraft missile from an equally advanced drone at an Israeli aeroplane, successfully downing the F16i on Israeli soil, the first time that an Israeli aeroplane has been downed in very many years.
9. Israel decides to retaliate successfully targetting 12 Syrian and Iranian installations – whose sole aim, apparently, is to destroy Israel – in the words of the Iranian leaders.
10. There is a media message to the world, cleverly worded, that Israel is the aggressor even if the reaction is justified.
11. Prime Minister Netanyahu has telephone conference with President Putin who is also trying to prevent the escalation.
12. A world that stayed silent over the murder of over 500,000 Syrians at the hands of a despot leader is suddenly concerned about Israel responding to an attack on her soil.
I wish you a good week
With love from Jerusalem