Friday, 11 August 2017

170811 North Korea, Bibi rally, Danny Liwerant and Alex barmitzva


11th August 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

As I looked at the date I suddenly remembered that a saga began on this day – a romantic saga. On August the 11th 1935 two incredible people held their wedding in Walm Lane Synagogue in London and a young fashion designer chose to leave the hip centre of design in the West End of London for the simpler beauty of Wales to start a family and raise four children in a fairy tale environment. Yes, Betty (Regina) Glicker became Betty Silver as she stood under the chuppah and married her Jack, the were to become my parents. They set the standard on many levels, of how to express love. I always remember how our family room had a traditional 3 piece suite, two armchairs and a sofa, and we children used to sit on the sofa and my parents in the armchairs to watch the television on our 12" screened Baird, black and white television. Before long, Mummy would remove the seat cushion from the armchair and lay it on the floor next to Daddy and sit with her head on his knee as he stroked her hair. Simultaneously he would hook his leg over the arm of his chair and with his slipper he would tap tap tap on the carved dark oak fire surround next to him which drove her crazy! Such is marriage, the amazing with the annoying – it all depends on the ratio!

Talking of ratio – a very strange event took place this week. Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Likud party held a huge rally in support of the PM, basically against the judicial system and the police, because of the projected charges of corruption and misuse of power against Mr, Mrs, and young Yair Netanyahu. I can't remember such an event although many people in power faced investigations and worse – but to be the main speaker at an event which suggests that the judicial system and police are colluding to bring your government down is more than a little surreal. That famous line from Hamlet "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Comes to mind. Equally from Hamlet is the famous quote "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

Denmark to North Korea is quite a leap and hardly a leap of faith. Both Democrats (Clinton) and Republicans (Bush) signed nuclear proliferation treaties with North Korea  which should have been a bitter example to President Obama in the case of the treaty with Iran. Broken promises and dire threats began with attacks on South Korea and now their ballistic missiles are capable of reaching your land and certainly mine. Kim Jong-Un is not what one would call the most stable personality on the world stage. He is a demagogue, with aspirations to world domination. His outbursts are made all the more frightening by the strange staccato language of his lackeys in the media who make announcements to strike fear in the hearts of his people and all of us. We are not used to straight talking, if somewhat ineloquent, statements from the White House. We are used to elegant, wordy, diplomatic statements which have sadly been ineffective; perhaps a bit of straight talking is what is needed. I am reminded of the elegantly eloquent but equally spontaneous President Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis. The standoff was no less dangerous and the threat on the USA's doorstep. By not backing down and clever use of the power of rhetoric, the missiles removed by Russia without consulting Castro and the threat slowly disappeared. Castro would never be Americas friend but that is better than a state of war.

Sunday night the Feinsod family returned to stay with us. Silvia, Avraham, David and Alex carefully prepared for Alex's bar mitzvah beside the Kotel the next morning. His actual bar mitzvah took place in Mexico but his dream was to say his brachot (blessings) beside the Kotel – and his parents obviously wanted to make his dream come true. Zvi organised a Rabbi and Silvia did what she does best – raced around finding everything she wanted to make his special occasion perfect, right down to a kippa (skullcap) with his name embroidered on it!!! They set off early with Zvi and after a few hiccups managed to meet up as Zvi determinedly grabbed a table for the Sefer Torah and family only to find that Avraham had beaten him to it! The ceremony took place to great joy with members of the Mexican and Israeli family. I met them later in Mamilla for breakfast and everyone seemed very satisfied. I was extra thrilled to see Rosie, Jaime and family there – Rosie promised me some of her phenomenal Mexican catering any time I want! In addition some frozen avocado and tortillas so I can make guacamole any time I want!!!

We seem to be continuing themes today so I will continue with the Mexican theme and take you to a very special ceremony and award to one of the most amazing men in the Jewish world. Daniel – Danny- Liwerant is a good man. He is a leader, an example, a man who has given his life to the Jewish world in general and to Latin America in particular. Yesterday the Latin American Olim Society chose to give Danny a special Yakir award for his unending support. The title Yakir means dear or special – and Danny is just that.  The ceremony and those who came to honour Danny show love for the man. Danny is a mensch, as Zvi's school friend they have remained tight friends and Zvi loves and admires Danny enormously. A man of his word who understands that our Jewish world needs strong leaders who are willing to stand up and be counted.

Mario Lev is the motor and the heart behind the OLA (Olim Latin America) Society. An incredibly kind and humble man he made it his project to help those who came on Aliya to become acclimatized and absorbed into Israeli society. Natan Scharansky and Greg Masel (Chairman of KH) spoke and both remembered being new Olim. Greg made me laugh when he realised that Natan, Greg and I were the only people in the room who couldn't speak Spanish!!! His memory of Aliya, like mine, was of the British Olim Society Offices in Jerusalem. After a full week of standing dutifully in the queue for the bus Greg noticed the same sign I found in the office "10 ways to become an Israeli" Number 10 stated clearly that you become an Israeli when you are the last in line for the bus but the first on board!!!!!

I cannot speak about Danny without mentioning his wife Judit. Judit is wonderwoman in real life.  Professor Judit Bokser Liwerant is Professor of Political Science at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM); Distinguished Visiting Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Member of the Mexican Academy of Science and a Member of the National Research System; Principal Editor of the Mexican Journal of Political and Social Science and Co-editor of the Brill Book Series on Jewish Identities in a Changing World, Despite all this Judit is an incredibly supportive wife, mother and grandmother… and friend.

Just as I whispered to Judit that I was surprised Zvi had resisted getting up to sing in Spanish with the young vocalist – he did!! To the surprise of the delighted audience he sang in his incredible bass baritone – thrilled as the response!!!!

One hears about incidents all over the world where women in hijabs are harassed in the street (to say nothing of Jews with kippas) I thought this video of women in hijabs in Israel was pertinent  In Israel no hijab is derided or removed from fear. Pertinent? Well Rabbi Jeremy Rosen discussed the question of hiding ones Jewish or Israeli identity for fear of being harassed or attacked. Have we returned to pre-1939 fears? Are we trying to be inconspicuous? Would I still walk around London with my Ani Zioni badge? Have we become the archetypal Uriah Heep character, submissive and compliant rather than daring to stand up? Perhaps one should take our bravery from Shylocks speech in the Merchant of Venice

Another option is to take on the might of Twitter like this amazing young man

This weeks parasha – Torah reading is Eikev and it describes how Moses upbrades his people, he was so disappointed that they displayed ingratitude and disobeyed the word of G-d after He had sustained them with manna and guided their path, yet they still built the Golden Calf. Gosh is it ever appropriate today?

So we are off to Tuscany with Zvi's boys and their families. We will rest and play, swim and walk, enjoy the beauty of Tuscany and search out history. I may not write next week so please excuse me. I pray that there will be nothing important to break into our rest time.

Sometimes understanding the words of a song is irrelevant. So it is with Yiddish, the language of my forefathers which is so expressive it needs no more. Dudu Fisher and Sassy Keshet

Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu ve al coolam - means Peace will come to us and to everyone. It is a prayer, a yearning, a plea – Shalom Salaam

The smells and sounds of Shabbat have begun in our neighbourhood; the air redolent with the aromas wafting through the air, evocative of the provenance of each family. Morocco and Kurdistan each have their own Kubeh soup – essential pre-Shabbat lunch even on steaming hot days of summer. One is sour with celery and lemon, the meaty dumplings satisfying hunger and the other is sweeter, rich red with beetroot. Tunisian hamin with brown eggs and lots of beans and fiery fish chreimeh; Yemenite Kubana and Jachnun (if you never tasted jachnun with grated tomatoes you haven't lived); Ashkenaz chicken soup, gefilte fish, cholent and roast chicken; and probably that singularly Jerusalem delicacy that I am learning to like Jerusalem kugel. It is a weird combination of sweet and peppery, made with noodles and oil, and eggs it is conceivably the least healthy dish yet is also incredibly popular!!!

So that's it!  Are your tummies rumbling with the thought of all that epicurean travel in one country? No burgers, fish and chips or pasta for us………… although we love them all – it's not Shabbat and it's not tradition!!!!

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. With all our love from our beloved Jerusalem

A special Mazal Tov to my niece Sophie and her new husband Rhys and to Ronnie, Sandie, Adam and Deborah. So sorry I couldn't be with you but my heart was right there.

Friday, 4 August 2017

170804 Azaria, Netanyahu, Hatzadhasheni

4th August 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. How are you? How is life treating you? How many moral conundrums have you faced this week?

Israel, each and every one of us, has been faced with a moral conundrum that has the entire country both fascinated and confused. Our soldiers are meant to protect us from harm. Every single day of their service they have to make enormous decisions whether to shoot or withdraw, whether to help of they see danger – however well trained one is the ability to make the right decision is difficult enough but here in Israel in tandem with the military issue we insist upon weighing the moral decision too.

Elor Azaria was 19 years old. He was on patrol when he heard shots fired and shouting from his post. Running back he saw a man lying on the ground and learned from his mates that it was a terrorist who had stabbed his friend. He claimed that the man moved toward what he believed to be an explosive device and he shot and killed a man who had already been neutralized. His reasoning – this man had stabbed his friend with the intention of killing a soldier. Both of his officers involved, who were present at the incident, claimed that he had lied and expressed a desire to kill the terrorist whatever the rules.

What in many countries may seem a logical explanation is not acceptable in Israel (nor in the UK incidentally). The Elor family chose to take the issue well beyond the original military tribunal, rejecting the IDF lawyers presented to them, and took a private lawyer – a shark. The agony for the family, for the IDF and primarily for the country has presented the deep moral conundrum I spoke of at the beginning.

Should we support the actions of our soldiers when they are faced with a terror attack? Yes of course but not if they flout clear IDF directives as Azaria did in this case. Never to shoot a neutralized prisoner.
Should it have become a public issue when it could have been dealt with by the original military tribunal? No of course not.
Should Azaria have expressed regret for his actions before the military court? Yes, absolutely yes and he didn't.
The outcome currently depends upon the decision of the Chief of Staff who may decide that Azaria has served enough of his sentence – or that Azaria should serve out his sentence in a military "service" position. We will see.

The country is once again in turmoil concerning corruption charges against a Prime Minister  - this time Benjamin Netanyahu. The charges are not about a few thousand dollars campaign contributions, it is apparently far more serious than that. The PM's lawyer, campaign manager and his right hand man have both turned States witness. They say what goes around comes around.

Jared Kushner, President Trumps advisor on Middle Eastern Affairs has actually admitted what we have known for a very long time. There is no solution to the Palestinian/Israel "problem". He doesn't place the blame on either side but I do. All the American, British, European leaders, but predominantly American, have given in to the demands of the PA because they know that Israel is on their side whatever. Israelis don't want to prevent anyone from visiting their religious sites, indeed we protect that right, but equally we want the same rights accorded to us.
Actually there is a solution but I am not sure anyone is willing to chance it. Just stop the money!! Since the PA leaders have either taken the aid to line their own pockets or given it to the families of those brave and valiant men and women who gave up their lives for Allah on condition they took some Jews with them. Hence nothing in the kitty!! If the money stops coming in then they are finished, the trouble is that here to is a conundrum – the fat cats at the top will still have food and the people will starve. Alternatively, stop the money to UNWRA. UNWRA is the biggest employer in the PA and Gaza and they are also responsible for most of the terror!!

I would start with education.

This week I found that I was curious as to how many terror attacks are avoided throughout the world through the diligence of our police, secret service and military. Curious – how many terror attacks have been avoided through thorough police work around the globe? Britain is the most open about her statistics. 23,000 avoided and counting written by the excellent Denis MacEoin  260 killed and 368 wounded in the USA from terror attacks; just this week another attacks was foiled in Australia – can you imagine the number in Europe, India, Pakistan, Russia…… and none of the perpetrators are Israeli – we keep that for ourselves!!!!

Did you know that 11 Arab States and another 6 Moslem States ban Israeli passports? I didn't although suspected it. Then Tom Carew put it on Facebook. You know me, I have to check and recheck and I found this list. Tom was wrong (a rare occurrence) it is far more!!!

I told you last week that we were having at least three little girls to stay for a few days – Zvi's (our) granddaughters. I can only tell you that I realised yet again that there is a very good reason why we don't have children at age 70! They were good girls but I was exhausted! It's the cleaning, cooking and so on but much more it is keeping them amused. Since Ori, aged 5, had an accident the day before we had to keep her out of the sun so that meant entertaining everyone at home. Rachels two girls joined us in the afternoon but my long forgotten expertise in craft came to the front. I already bought a ton of equipment and things that shine in the night and we set to it. I have to admit I loved it!! The next day we set off for the Chocolate Factory in Kibbutz Tzuba where they built houses and a car out of chocolate and I got to make a chocololly as their helper!!!

On Monday we had a fascinating meeting. It had to be at home since one cannot leave 3 girls alone at home. Robert Croiterescu and Anabella and Oscar Jaroslavsky of HaTzad Hasheni came to discuss further how to go forward in their outreach and education of the truth about Israel in the Spanish speaking world. The only way to fight BDS and other liars is to be aware of what really happens here – and ensure that our young people are informed so they know how to respond. The meeting went very well and I hope Zvi and I were able to contribute to their further success.

Monday night was Tisha b'Av – the day of mourning for many Jewish disasters that occurred on that date. I spoke about it last week so will not go further but the most important aspect is that the next day we are asked to start over – to turn the negative into the positive. We are told not to dwell on our misfortunes, after all if we did, as a people, we would not have survived. Jews move forward. Out of each horror that befell us we turned it around and created greatness. That is the big difference between us and the Palestinians. We do not continually beat our breasts to the world about being refugees – we wash off the sackcloth and ashes and build something new and better. For example, although Israel was on the cards and was planned it was the Holocaust that made us sit up and create a phenomenal national home.

I have often spoken about Zvi's deep sense of history and its Jewish relationship which is why he chose the day after Tisha b'Av to honour his parents by building a "pinat limmud" a study corner in the Gilo synagogue where we used to take his father to pray. Kalman and Ala Raviv – both orphaned by the Holocaust – lived the ultimate Jewish life. They educated an entire generation of Israelis and young Mexicans; not only teaching but educating them to be better people. Fine gentle folk who gave their all for this country. Zvi gave a speech about learning, tolerance and real Judaism which is a generous and open religion, in a synagogue which should welcome all comers.

Zvi was especially pleased that in addition to Leor, Shiri, Amit, Gili and Ori, Silvia, Alex and Avraham Feinsod, Zvi's cousins from Mexico, were able to come to the synagogue, to be with Zvi at this emotional time.

Alex will celebrate his barmitzva at the Kotel next week and I promise you I will be there too! I am so proud of him, he has overcome many obstacles to become an amazing young man.

Yesterday I met with 5 girlfriends from my childhood in Wales. We try to meet frequently but all lead busy lives. We speak of our past and our present; we all live in Israel now and love every moment. There is something so special about meeting old friends, they know who you are, from whence you came and the life you live and lived. I love every one of them.

So this morning we went to the Opera, thanks to Elihu Ben On. I admit that I am not especially fond of modern opera, I find the music is not to my taste, but the performance was excellent, in the school of excellence in science and the arts down the road and it was a very pleasant way to spend a Friday morning!!!

I am not going to put you through opera – although, on second thoughts yes I will!!!! Nabucco, that most Jewish of operas, Daniel Oren, the Israeli Opera Company and the chorus of the Hebrew slaves sung by the thousands of people in the audience. A true song of longing for our land

In 2014 the world made Havdallah in the Shabbes Project. Havdallah means separation or difference. After Shabbat ends we return to our normal lives, reawaken our 5 senses and thank G-d for bringing us to this day.

Many years ago Mark Knopfler wrote a song, Brothers in Arms, which was a massive hit. What most didn't know or understand is that he wrote the song for the IDF. This clip still makes me cry, but in pride.

So dear friends, another week has gone by, full and fascinating. Shabbat is almost here and we can put all distress and concern aside and contemplate a better, sweeter kinder world.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends from that city in the hills that is so incredible that everybody wants her.

With love

Oh and Stanley, the kumquats, pomegranates and lemons await you!!

Friday, 28 July 2017

170728 Temple Mount, Hatzad Hasheni, Standwithus

28TH OF July 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I know you were expecting a mid-week update but I decided to wait until I was able to understand the insanity of what has happened over the last two weeks.

Perhaps it is easier to gain perspective if we look at the time frame of this particular set of incidents
1.     3 young Israeli Moslems from Umm el Fahem took knives into the Old City on their way to the Temple Mount, shooting three Israelis, two of whom were policemen. The policemen, may their brave souls rest in peace, were both Druze.
2.     The three terrorists were neutralized – that means dead.
3.     Northern Moslems attacked the Druze village of one of the dead policemen
4.     Israeli police and secret service searched the Temple Mount, having closed it to all comers, and found an arms cache. It must be noted that although the Temple Mount is officially under the control of Jordan it is actually the Moslem Brotherhood.
5.     In a decision taken with caution it was decided to place metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount, to protect all comers.
6.     The Mufti of Jerusalem aided and abetted by Sheikh Ra'eed Salah of Umm el Fahem, Mahmoud Abbas, Erdogan of Turkey, successfully convinced willing Moslems that Israel was defiling the Temple Mount and they refused to enter, praying beside the Lions Gate among others.
7.     A young Arab, Omar el-Abed went looking for Jews on Friday night, convinced that Jews were endangering Al Aqsa. He found a break in the security fence of the village of Halamish where the Saloman family was celebrating not only Shabbat but the birth of a new grandchild. He knocked at the door and when he went in he began a rampage of butchery that does not bear imagining. He killed the grandfather Yosef, and Yosef's children Chaya and Elad and almost succeeded in killing Tova the grandmother. With great courage Elads wife grabbed the children and rushed them upstairs. The unimaginable horror continued until a neighbour's son home from the IDF for Shabbat, shot and injured the perpetrator who is being treated for his injuries in an Israeli hospital. El-Abeds family will receive over $3,000 a month from the PA.
8.     The incitement continues, the celebrations at the killing of the family, and the demand to "return to the Status quo" on the Temple Mount joins the screams to kill all the Jews.
9.     The outside world intervenes – the United States President and the Saudi Arabian King bring in the services of Trump advisor Jason Greenblatt who consulted with King Abdullah of Jordan who although demanding that the metal detectors be removed, the security cameras too, the incitement must stop and the conditions accepted. It may appear that Israel capitulated but the undercurrents show a different picture. The Moslem Brotherhood excluded and Erdogan is piqued because he was not given any part of the decision making because yet again he chose the wrong side – Qatar and the Moslem Brotherhood. In the past the British Foreign Office called the Ottoman (Turkish) Sultan "The sick man of the Bosphorus". History does repeat itself. Although it appears the Israel lost this battle in fact we retained the right to security on the Temple Mount – hardly capitulation.
10.  Moslems within Israel and in the PA dance with joy at their victory and the 3 terrorists bodies are returned to their families for burial (thanks to the Israeli Supreme court) and Umm el Fahem erupts into one joyous celebration of sheer joy declaring themselves the victors.
11.  Al Jazeera, since the Qatar fiasco, continued their incitement with added gusto and risk being thrown out of Jerusalem. Hope so – their staff will have to go to Arab countries now – no more freedom!!!
12.  The incitement in the Arab street was well honed. The full might of their lying manipulation by their leaders, religious and governmental, invoked and now they smell blood, Jewish blood and the riots will continue. Yesterday their elation at "winning" against the Jews spilled over into violence on and around the Temple Mount. Today all women and men over 50 went through the Lions Gate onto the Temple Mount and all others are praying at the Damascus Gate. I simply pray for the safety of our amazing police and border guards who have shown incredible restraint in controlling the "celebrations".
13.  Hanin Zoabi, Member of Knesset with full freedom of speech was screaming that the Temple Mount should be Jew-free (Judenrein, heard that before!) and was banned entry to Al Aqsa. She who has full human rights in Israel bites the very democratic hand which feeds her.

Perhaps this video of Prof. Alan Dershowitz responding to a young "Palestinian" questioner best explains it all. I call it "Get over it"

So you thought it all started with the State of Israel, settlers and occupation did you? Well apart from the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks etc, and of course our own "Sinat Hinam" which brought about many disasters the Babylonians (Iraq) had their day too. Days before the Tisha B'Av fast, excavations unearth artifacts from First Temple period, Which include evidence of city's destruction at the hands of the Babylonians.

Tisha b'Av is a fast of enormous importance, misunderstood by the secular and adhered to but equally misunderstood by the religious. It is the date of many Jewish disasters, the destruction of both Temples, plague and political downfall. As to whether contemplation or action is the response – prayer alone and inactivity no longer works. Read Rabbi Jeremy Rosen on the subject

This has been a relatively quiet week, yes we do have them on occasion! Poor Zvi damaged his knee and we have been trying to find a solution. So far healing (thank you to Igor and Lila), concoctions, rest and positive thinking haven't worked so we went to a specialist who impressed me with his manner and knowledge. MRI and then we decide what to do. One thing for sure, he is not entering for the Jerusalem Marathon!!!!

On Monday we met with Robert Croiterescu and his excellent team, Anabella and Oscar Jaroslawsky in Kfar Maccabiah. Born in a Concentration Camp, Robi Croiterescu learned from birth that you don't give in without one helluva fight. Robi had a brilliant idea to form an organisation which fights back by ensuring everyone who loves Israel has the tools to fight back. Dissemination of essential information is the key. Ha Tsad ha Sheni  (the Other Side) reaches out to all Spanish speaking countries, Jew and non-Jew, so that they have the authentic information at their fingertips when challenged.

I work on instinct and my instinct told me to get these amazing people together with Michael Dickson, the Israeli Director of Standwithus . After convincing both sides that this was a good thing, that they should meet, that their aims ran parallel and could benefit both, we met in the Standwithus offices on King David Street. As we walked in I was very excited to meet Yahya Mahamed, a marvellous young Israeli Arab from Umm el Fahem. Yahya is an absolute star!!! He travels the English speaking world for Standwithus and for Israel. Michael was, as always a gracious host, hiding the fact that I had nagged him relentlessly to meet them – then it happened – the magic between Robi and Michael created a magical discourse and total agreement to work together. That's what it is all about. We can fight each other for who is top dog – or consolidate our resources and fight anti-Semitism by its new name, anti-Israel. BDS is the new Kristallnacht, the smashing of Jewish businesses, the tip of the evil iceberg of anti-Semitism. I love it when two good men of positive action get together!!!

This will be a quiet Shabbat and in a short while Zvi and I are going to a special preview tour of the new Aquarium at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. I just hope that Zvi will be able to walk around. It is really strange that I need to worry about him walking when it has been the other way around for 25 years!!!!!

I am very happy that we have a couple of quiet days because after Shabbat Leor is bringing his 3 little girls to stay and then hopefully on Sunday Rachel's 2 girls will join them and stay over too. I went out and bought a large amount of handicraft components so that they can make something beautiful to take home. The vast majority of Israeli women work in addition to keeping a family together – which is why most Israeli men are adept at taking their part in the cleaning, cooking, child care and general running of the homes. This generation of Israelis is very lucky, unlike our generation, they have parents and grandparents who play an enormous part in the children's lives.

The weather has been a strange cross between muggy, hot, steaming and ………… no relief in the evenings!!! It feels as if we haven't had a break from this soupy humidity for weeks, even in Jerusalem. I suddenly became a fan of air conditioning!!!

Music! Music! Music!

In honour of the 9 days and Tisha B'Av the music will be appropriate…………………
The prayer for the State of Israel sung by IDF Cantor Shai Abrahamson May we find our strengths and stop the internecine fighting that brought us down on Tisha b'Av

Vehi She'amda – a song that plays in my mind at all times – the song and the words, Yaacov Shwekey, Shlomi Shabbat to honour our soldiers

He who stood for our patriarchs​ *
He who stood for our patriarchs​ and for us
Not just one person stood against us to kill us.
They want to be rid of us.
And G-D saves us from their hands. G-D saves us from their hands.

Aesop, the famous philosopher and author of fables is oft cited "United we stand divided we fall". We must remember to keep our fights as family fights and present a united front against our ever increasing enemies. Remember – do you want to be right or do you want to stay alive?

Shabbat Shalom from beautiful Jerusalem, so exquisite, so spiritual that all faiths have fought over her, Empires have risen and fallen around her but above all, she represents the very best in us, in the Jewish people; this city, this symbol. We prayed to return to her walls and mountains for 2,000 years of dispersion. Let's make sure we don't screw it up.

I want to leave you with a request. Please sing along with this the song that represents Israel, Jerusalem, more than every other song. Al Kol Eleh – above all this; of the honey and the sting -  Sing loud and strong and absorb the words. Yihyeh beseder – it will be OK – it has to be.

With love


Friday, 21 July 2017

170721 Temple Mount, Incitement

21st July, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love from our veranda to yours.

Friday, 14 July 2017

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

14th July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love from Jerusalem