Friday, 13 July 2018

180713 Friday the thirteenth?

13th July 2018 – Friday 13th!

Good morning! G'day! Bonjour! Buenos Dias! Guten morgen! Salaam Aleikem! שלום עליכם. Bora da. Shabbat Shalom. I wanted to speak to you in your own language and since, unlike Zvi, I am not a polyglot, that's as far as I go!!!

This has been a fascinating week on the international scene, from Presidential visits to football disappointments to the miracle of rescued boys.

The Presidential visits have been fascinating. In his inimitable, somewhat gauche manner President Trump told the Europeans what every American wanted to hear, even though they almost certainly refuse to admit it. The United States share of NATO payments is simply too large! It is high time that nations which have the money pay a more substantial quota into the defence fund from which they benefit. It may be unpopular but in truth, it is a major part of the reason Britain left Europe – unfair level of payments and insufficient response. How long can successful countries underpin the crumbling structures of unsuccessful economies?

The President arrives in the UK today to a reception at Buckingham Palace and full pageantry. I am deeply ashamed at the childish and disrespectful behaviour of protesters in London. It is irrelevant whether one approves of or dislikes the President of the United States, he is the President of the United States, Britain's greatest ally. The decision taken by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who up until now has proven to be a clever decision maker, to allow a giant balloon deriding and poking unworthy fun at the American President is disgraceful and unbecoming – in fact it simply isn't cricket. Britain is known for the warm welcome extended to her diplomatic visitors and this simply doesn't do anyone justice. While not a fan of Piers Morgan, I believe his article in the Daily Mail sums up my reaction

The Irish Government has given its support to a dangerous and racist legislation in support of BDS, in other words supporting a boycott of Israel.
They have taken ancient battles with England and applied it to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. It would do the Irish people and their government well to remember who provided succour to the Irish –after the USA offered a paltry 50 pounds and Queen Victoria a mere 1,000– it was the Jews. Amnesia seems to be the common thread among those who hate Jews.

For the first time since 1966 I sat through an entire football match! Supporting England doesn't come naturally to this Welshwoman but support them I did, alongside Zvi, Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala and a somewhat bemused Ceci Bayon and her gorgeous grandson Liam. The first half brought out the fruit, crudités and popcorn, amidst excited cheering but the atmosphere became progressively downcast in the second half and then disaster in extra time. Oh well, at least nobody threw the popcorn in the air in celebration! Good luck to Croatia in the final.

The whole world was praying for a different football team and their coach in the beautiful Chang Rai region of Thailand. Rescuers came from all corners of the earth, from Australia and Britain, Israel, USA, Belgium, Russia, (full list below) and incredibly, they succeeded! The boys are now in hospital, checking them out for residual infection and malnutrition, but safe.

"The Wall" can refer to two subjects – the foul and disgraceful anti-Semitism of Roger Waters or Israel's security barrier. The first is easy to explain, he "ain't got no education" and without his racist BDS statements he would have disappeared into oblivion; the second means Israel, which is equally anti-Semitic since 68 countries have defensive walls and only one is described as "apartheid". Yes 68 countries

Continuing in the same line – or as they say on TV the perfect Segway – we went to the offices of Standwithus in Jerusalem last night to watch a fascinating and revealing new documentary movie. The film was made by the Kirk family of the UK and their foundation Generation2generation. They took 11 young people from various backgrounds and countries to the Palestinian Authority and to Israel. They spoke to politicians, military personnel, "settlers" and members of Fatah and Hamas and at the end drew their own conclusions. One section has all the Palestinian politicians talking of apartheid, occupation and oppression until the youngsters spoke to a Christian representative in Bethlehem who said "What Occupation? I have not seen any Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem" The Kirks did their best not to guide or push the youngsters in any direction but to let them come to their own conclusions. The film is just over one and a half hours but is riveting, fascinating and to watch the minds of these young people analyse the information is magic. Both Zvi and I were particularly impressed by the young German woman. The Kirk family lost funding because of the fairness of this project – funding that would not have been lost had they been anti-Israel. The message that comes throughout the filming in Israel is that one must feel compassion for ordinary Palestinians but recognise Israel's need to defend herself and her right to be the thriving multicultural country she is. I highly recommend getting this film to show in your communities or for recalcitrant youngsters who have been brainwashed on campus!

Sunday night, thanks to the delightful Paul Israel, we were invited to an Australian evening at the King David Hotel, the culmination of a three nation conference with politicians from Australia, Britain and the US who met with Israeli counterparts, organised by Albert Dadon. My dearest friend Andrew Stone (aka Lord Stone of Blackheath) had prepared two of the participants to look out for me – Professor David Trimble, Nobel Peace laureate for his part in halting the Ulster "Troubles"; Meta, Baroness Ramsay, who is one of the most delightful people I have met in a very long time, and was thrilled to learn she was MI6 in her past! Among those new to me were the wonderful Joan Ryan, Chairperson of Labour Friends of Israel and fearless fighter for Israel within her own party; Member of Parliament, John Woodcock who asked the most relevant question of the night of the two American politicians "Is the USA leaving NATO?" Chris Pyne and Former PM Tony Abbott of Australia spoke beautifully of their loyalty to Israel and their desire to move the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem and Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert explained the Israeli perspective as only he knows how. My quote of the evening came from the almost taciturn David Trimble. We were chatting before the big dinner and he told me that many Brits and Irishmen ask him why he supports Israel. His response "Because it is the right thing to do"

The following day, in the unbelievable steaming heat of July in Israel, I collected Rachel, Talia and Ayala, together with their friend Avishag, and headed off to Holon and the Yamit 2000 Water Park. It was a ladies day and if you can imagine about 3,000 females of all ages and religious persuasion, from bikinis to entirely covered, noisily enjoying the water slides of terrifying height and angles, the pools the fountains, squealing their delight; you may reach something close to the noise level!! The children thought it was the best thing ever………. I was happy to be heading home after 5 hours!!!

Cecilia Bayon is a dear friend from Mexico City whose husband Jacobo has been Zvi's friend since they were both 13. Ceci took the brave move of bringing her grandsons to Israel on her own, to show them every aspect of this incredible country. They visited virtually every site and sight in Jerusalem – Liam (11) said that he was most pleased with Yad Vashem, although it made him sad but thrilled that they followed that by going to the exceptional Herzl interactive Museum. The older boys loved the nightlife of Jerusalem, the throngs of young people laughing, eating, and sitting in the streetside cafes unfettered by the fear of most big city centres. All the boys aged from 17 down to Liam, are enjoying themselves and today they go up to Kfar Blum for some physical fun on the Jordan!! Ceci and her love for Israel will ensure that the next generation absorbs as she did.
I cannot allow this special time of fasting and thought for Jews to go without mention. It is a difficult time, but proves yet again that we survive and thrive. Rabbi Jeremy Rosen explains it beautifully as always

This weekend we will be in Tel Aviv, to rest and relax and meet friends. While Zvi goes to his Tel Aviv parliament in the morning with Yitzik Lev I will be with my special friend Gloria Goldstein, Gloria and I never run out of conversation! We will stay at Amiad and Noga's home so that after Shabbat we can go to the beach to celebrate a friends 70th birthday.

The weather has been searingly hot but the evenings wonderfully balmy, after all this is Jerusalem!! Sitting on the veranda and overlooking Jerusalem, picking out the new buildings springing up all over the horizon is a new game, showing guests the neighbourhoods that lay before us, from Gilo, through Ramat Rachel, Beit Tsafafa, Baka, Talpiot, Arnona where the American Embassy sits, the German Colony, Katamon, Katamonim, Ramat Denya, Bayit Vegan………….. gosh it takes my breath away. I admit absolute self-satisfaction as I bring my eyes back to the veranda itself and the stunning bright scarlet of the geraniums and the newly planted lobelia and petunias. It almost seems a shame to go inside! I know that the Israeli invented irrigation system will ensure the summer display.

Today I am not going to Givat Ze'ev, Zvi and I are going to Mamilla Mall next to the Old City to meet our Argentinian friends Julio and Monica Jarak and the whole family. Nothing pleases me more than seeing whole families, especially the youngsters,  coming and seeing Israel for themselves. That is the only way to ensure the truth.

I don't often write about Zvi, although he certainly deserves it. I was thinking that 28 years ago I didn't even know he existed! Knowing Zvi has enriched my life beyond belief. He is a man of absolute principles from which he never wavers; he is a man that everyone turns to for advice and help and he doesn't turn anyone away; even when tired and in pain he will never refuse to take friends or friends of friends or friends of friends of friends on a tour of Jerusalem; he is loyal, tireless, noisy, funny and incredibly clever and his motto is "We don't have problems we just have to find the solution"  – here is my song for him, my man of dreams who fights for a better world.

For Shabbat, for this turbulent time in the Jewish year I chose Ana b'Koach, a Kabbalistic prayer which prays for calm and understanding in a world that has lost its way

I can't promise you a welcome like this one when you arrive at Ben Gurion airport but hey, who knows!!!! Hevenu Shalom Aleichem – We bring you peace Amen!!!

With much love from both of us as we sit on our veranda looking out over the view……

Shabbat Shalom to you all!

Friday, 6 July 2018

180706 Good morning, Good Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

6th July 2018

Good morning, Good Shabbes, Good day!!

Whenever a peace plan is put forward to this very small region in the Middle East, you can be sure the Israelis will look into it and usually accept the conditions with a few changes for security and the Palestinians will immediately denounce it. Khaled Abu Toameh tweets "Palestinian Bar Association calls for open-ended campaign to thwart Trump's upcoming peace plan and urges its members to participate in planned protests, which begin Monday in Ramallah." Why? Why don't they want to even consider a plan to give them a country? Very simple – a country has to take responsibility for its actions; a country has to develop an economic plan and finally a country will be held responsible for the incitement and calls to war and the insane corruption within that country whatever its name may be. In other words – refugees will have a home and their status may not be hereditary.

The destructive arson, where seemingly innocent children's toys, kites and balloons, are turned into incendiary devices and launched into Southern Israel, continues apace. On Wednesday 40 such devices destroyed farmland, crops and wildlife. I understand the anger and frustration of Gazans, they live in a sardine can of hatred; their children taught hatred and jihad; they have no food or electricity and their leaders live in luxurious mansions, but why Israel? Why can't they benefit from work in those kibbutzim instead of destroying them and creating an entire generation of children with PTSD from the rockets and missiles? Why? Because it is to the benefit of their cruel regime to continue receiving aid and using it for war.

The entire world has been praying for the wellbeing of a soccer team – not in the World Cup – but in a deep cave in Thailand. Two days after the boys were lost an Israeli team was in Chiang Mai working with the most modern equipment to discover where they were. Two days ago they found them but it may take months to get them out. The sheer depth of the cave, the water that lies between them and freedom, the fact that the boys can't swim all hinder their rescue. Thai experts suggest it may take months to reach them. In the meantime they are receiving some food and their terrified parents are able to see that they are miraculously healthy.

Sometimes the liberality of governments works against their determination to live in an accepting and generous society. This happened in Canada recently. While most of the world is ending funding terrorist groups, a desire to help accept new immigrants has back-fired in that beautiful country. The Canadian government plans to spend $23 million on fighting Islamophobia, a fine cause, but sadly the vessels used to receive that funding support terror and were declared so by the Canadian Government itself! Far be it from me to interfere in another country's politics or policies but this one directly affects me – in fact all of us.

As you know, I am very proud to be involved in Impact-se, the organisation which translates educational curriculae, analyses and recommends changes to governments, changes to encourage tolerance toward the "other". The reports in the above link have led to debates in UK and US parliaments. Member of Parliament Joan Ryan of the Labour Friends of Israel, spoke eloquently of the findings of Impact-se in the Palestinian schoolbooks which encourage hatred and violence in a debate concerning British funding of Palestinian Education. Herewith the reports that stimulated the debate in the UK and elsewhere

Nikky Haley announced that the United States is leaving the UNHRC this week. About time. Here Former Minister Danny Ayalon explains

A law to withhold funding to the Palestinian Authority as long as it uses such funding to pay stipends to terrorists and their families was met with disbelief by the PA leaders. The law was passed in the Knesset to the cheers of the vast majority of MK's and the dismay of the Joint List (an Arab Party). Stuart Force stood in the Knesset tearful but grateful for the decision. His son Taylor was stabbed to death while walking in the street in Jaffa and his killer, Bashar Masshala, a Palestinian, since when Stuart has lobbied Congress and the Senate to stop payments to the PA.
According to Israel’s Defense Ministry, the PA in 2017 paid NIS 687 million ($198 million) to the so-called “martyrs’ families fund” and NIS 550 million ($160 million) to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club — some seven percent of its overall budget. Palestinian prisoners serving 20- to 30-year sentences for carrying out terror attacks are eligible for a lifetime NIS 10,000 ($2,772) monthly stipend, the Defense Ministry said, citing PA figures. Those prisoners who receive a three- to five-year sentence get a monthly wage of NIS 2,000 ($554). Palestinian prisoners who are married, have children, live in Jerusalem, or hold Israeli citizenship receive additional payments. Australia made the same decision this week.

While former government minister Gonen Segev sat in court accused of spying for Iran and other treacheries, the Mossad was performing a mission impossible worthy of Hollywood. They successfully returned the gold watch of legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen who was killed in Syria  50 years ago, after unthinkable suffering.
Our weekend was wonderful! We spent time with our great friends John and Pauline Gandel and of course Michelle and Steven, Ian and Linda. Time spent with the Gandel family is always special, relaxed and ………….. family. On Sunday Ian and Linda came to Jerusalem to go shopping for Judaica and Rachel suggested going to Haddad Silversmiths in Shabbat Square – Mea Shearim. She was utterly right about the store – kind service, beautiful stock and half the price of others. After their purchase we decided to have a wander in Mea Shearim, yes Josephine and Tom, we decided to do it again! I love walking around Mea Shearim and most people are welcoming and the sense of Europe prevails. The language is predominantly Yiddish but we suddenly felt the change in the education of their children (seen in another Impact-se report) and as Linda and I walked by, fully covered but wearing very feminine trousers, we heard the children shout "Shikseh, Shikseh" which followed us up the road. Shikseh means non-Jewish female but in a derogatory manner. So sad. It couldn't spoil our mood however and we giggled and laughed our way back to Tel Aviv where we hugged everyone goodbye………. For now.

On Wednesday I went with the Women's Giving Group to the Israel Museum to a truly magnificent exhibition of Israeli fashion from Fini Leitersdorf until today. The exhibit shows the social importance of fashion and its impact on our thinking.  I strongly recommend a guided tour.

Like those of us who reach a certain age, we make various visits to medical units – hospitals to visit friends, clinics to have blood tests, seeing our GP, and all remind me of the incredible mix of Israeli society in which we, Israelis, could not cope without our Arab citizens. Doctors and nurses, ancillary workers work alongside their Jewish and Christian counterparts in harmony, their only concern is to save lives and help the patients. If only all areas of our life could follow suit.

Why do you call it July 4th? Yes I know that's the date but I want to call it by its proper name "Independence Day". You fought for it – albeit against the Brits; you wasted an awful lot of perfectly good tea and replaced it with Orange Pekoe but you earned your Independence…… celebrate it! It is time to replace dissonance with harmony, argument with debate and bring back the incredible freedom you taught the world to uphold. Anger and insult extended to your elected leader doesn't show democracy it shows a divided nation that our enemies see as breakable. I'm sorry if you feel I have no right to speak out – no actually I am not sorry – just as I would tell a friend that their behavior is unconscionable I tell you dear friends to find the common ground, fight for it and stop using foul language on television shows to bring down an elected leader. I dedicate one of my favourite songs to American Independence, to the USA.

A song for my son Gideon whose birthday is tomorrow. Gideon has fulfilled all my prayers for him when he was born, an honest man, a great husband a fabulous father and a man who seeks justice………. and a brilliant son and brother. Gids, for you, even though you sing it so much better – More Than Words

Shabbes, Sabbat, Shabbat is nearly here. Today we, the Ravivs, will go to the cemetery above Jerusalem, to the special area saved for Yakir Yerushalyim, the honoured of Jerusalem, to say a prayer of remembrance to Zvi's beautiful parents, Kalman and Ala Raviv. After that I will take the girls, Amit, Gili and Ori to visit Talia, Yosef and Ayala in Givat Zeev then back home for Shabbat – hopefully we will still have time to make Challa together. Shabbat tonight will be very special as the girls sing Kiddush with Zvi and then fight over who breaks the challa!! They will sleep at our place tonight and tomorrow, tomorrow there is so much happening in Jerusalem for children that doesn't require payment. I think we will go to the Bible Lands Museum where they have wonderful projects for children that relate to our history.

Let's end with a Shabbes song.Actually this is a Pesach (Passover) song but it speaks to me as no other of our past and future Vehi Sheamda  from Yaakov Shwekey

With all our love from Jerusalem, from the verandah overlooking the city we love. Last night we sat with Flory ben Alal breathing in the fresh breezy, balmy air and spoke of her husband, our dearest friend, Shmuel who was killed in a terror attack in Mali while working to improve the education and lives of children in that country. Zvi and his coir Hakol Yachassi are producing a disc of songs that Shmuel loved. He is sorely missed.
Shabbat Shalom

Friday, 29 June 2018

Shabbat Shalom from Royal Jerusalem

June the 29th 2018

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Where do I begin?

A Prince called Wales came to Israel to see the people while a Princess went to Wales to see her family!!!

I know that a newsletter should start with the news so let's begin with the incredible Royal visit to Israel. Prince William arrived in Israel to great excitement and he most certainly did not disappoint. He visited the Prime Ministers home and the Presidential home where he nodded in agreement when President Rivlin asked him to convey a message of peace to Mahmoud Abbas; he visited Yad Vashem where he laid a wreath at the Eternal Flame in the Hall of Remembrance; the Western Wall, where he prayed and put a note into the cracks of the ancient stones; he paid tribute at the grave of his paternal great-grandmother on the Mount of Olives – Princess Alice of Greece was a Righteous Gentile; he laughed with Netta Barzilai, walked on the beach in Tel Aviv where he learned about beach ball and Matcott; he shook hands and smiled, and smiled and smiled clearly enjoying every moment. Perhaps most importantly he made a beautiful speech at the British Embassy event in Tel Aviv.

The Jewish Agency is an essential part of Israel and Diaspora society working in areas that encourage Jewish communities, teaches about Israel and provides education and emissaries all over the world, ensuring the continuity of threatened communities and bringing communities under threat for being Jewish to Israel. The extent of the work done by the Jewish Agency and its subsidiaries is enormous but too few know about it. A new and excellent leader for the Jewish Agency was chosen this week. Isaac "Bougie" Herzog understands the Diaspora, is not obsessed with self-promotion and truly cares for the future of the Jewish people and Israel. Do not be fooled by his quiet manner, he is a mover and shaker!

Each and every day at least 20 fields are burned, up to a distance of 40 kilometres from the Gaza border. Why? Because destruction has become the way of life for young Gazans who have been taught to hate not to live. This is a war of attrition, a determined attempt to wear down those farmers who live near the Gazan border. The strange part is that the "Salad Belt" a particularly fertile and productive stretch of land along the Gazan border, was offered to Yasser Arafat to provide more land for the Palestinians in Gaza. His "people" went ot investigate and told him the land was unworkable and he became very angry that Israel was cheating him. He clearly refused the offer. Today the best salad vegetables of Israel are grown there. "Tseva Adom", the eerie sirens announcing incoming missiles has broken many and nights sleep on the kibbutzim. Attrition – wearing down, disintegration, erosion, grinding down, a cruel and inhuman determination to break us. What they do not understand is that they caused a broken society with no money to feed their own people or provide a secure future. Hatred has broken them.

Several items of news concerning the IDF!  

The first female tank commanders had their passing out yesterday. Strong and beautiful young women who have taken on the most difficult of tasks to defend our country. Women fighter pilots are not new here and at the passing out in the Hatzorim Air Base three more came through this week. While Saudi women have gained the right to drive – with the written permission of a male relative – Israeli women have always played an essential role.

Former Chief of Staff Benny Gatz, a fine man and future politician, has put forward a proposition to encourage, perhaps to enforce, enlistment of both Haredi and Arab Israelis into the IDF. The par in our society is glaring and must be closed, from both points of view. Polarisation in both societies is negative to both their future prosperity and a society of equal rights and equal contribution. If they don't serve in the IDF they will not be chosen for prime jobs and will be resented by those who served and lost dear ones. We must change the essential parts of David Ben Gurion's declaration that have allowed sectors to avoid responsibility.

Charles Krauthammer passed away this week. A man of integrity and acute intelligence who didn't just fight his physical disabilities he ignored them. Whether he was in a television debate, always polite to his adversaries, or writing deeply thoughtful articles each Friday, he was strong and able, never complaining. His example to a world that gives up at the smallest curveball was immeasurable. His wisdom will be sorely missed.

And so to my incredible visit to the UK. I had two good reasons for going, actually three, or four……. Okay many!!! The original reasons were the wedding of my lovely nephew Adam to the love of his life, Joanne. The wedding took place in the glorious setting of St. Donats Castle and the 80th birthday bash of my sister Doreen held in the equally beautiful Guyers House

I began with my lovely London family, my son Gideon, daughter-in-law Stephanie and of course Sammy, Olivia and Zachary. Shabbat dinner with them is always special and not frequent enough. I am so proud when I hear Gideon sing Kiddush in his strong baritone with everyone joining in. Steph makes me so welcome and I cuddle the children as often as they let me, especially Sammy. I got to see their latest projects and do lots of catch up. Gideon Stephanie and I then drove down to Wales and to the wedding where, quite apart from the celebrations, a rare and wonderful occurrence, all four Silver siblings together. Eddie and Ray from Canada, me from Jerusalem, Doreen, Ronnie and Sandie from Cardiff plus the extra joy of seeing Adam's sisters Sophie and Rhys and Deborah and our cousin Lynne and her husband Mike. Very emotional. The wedding was terrific, the scenery amazing the couple happy and the celebrations exciting - and then I went back to Cardiff, to Claire and Steve's home for a week of sightseeing with all the family – Penarth, St Fagans Castle and Museum, the Cardiff Bay Complex, seeing old friends like Martin Greene and Truda Bell and loads and loads of family time, especially with Alice and Seb, Claire and Steve's grandchildren. I have to mention Claires incredible desserts. She works full time, cares for Seb and Alice most of the time and still managed to produce an amazing Friday night dinner and the dessert was to die for –  a chocolate bombe, meringue filled with vanilla ice cream, strawberry slices all set out beautifully on a slate for the delectation of eye and appetite.

The week flew by until the next big event. I cannot believe that my slim, beautiful and lithe big sister is 80! 4 children, 9 grandchildren and one great-grandson. We all set off for Guyers House where the screams and shouts of delight greeted all of Doreen's children and grandchildren who came for the dinner and overnight. Games on the lawns and photos, exploring the grounds and photos, sitting and enjoying each other and even more photos and meeting the new members of the family was, hmmmmm what was it? Family!!! It was amazing.

Back to London with Gideon and Stephanie for an overnight then off to Luton airport and home!! I managed to arrive before the hullabaloo of Prince Williams arrival and was thrilled to see my beautiful husband waiting to take me home. He didn't even mention that I was away for our 22nd wedding anniversary!!!!

So that was my fortnight and now you know why I didn't want to sit at the computer and break the joyful family time.

Music music music.

Joy Wolfe sent me a wonderful video of Japanese tourists in a Jerusalem opticians shop singing Jerusalem of Gold. Amazing.

If you don't mind I want you to hear a Welsh song. I used to sing this one to my children when they were babies because I loved its melody and meaning. The translation of the Welsh is
I do not ask a life that’s easy,
Gold and pearls so little mean,
Rather seek a heart that’s joyful,
Heart that’s honest, heart that’s clean.
From Britains Got Talent – Boys Aloud

Finally, for Shabbat, The Revivo Project and a Shabbat Medley starting with Adon Olam

In an hour we will travel to Tel Aviv to meet up with another family, a wonderful famioy, the Gandels from Melbourne. We will visit the Tel Aviv Museum together, eat lunch and exchange news and then Zvi and I will climb back to Jerusalem, that emotive Aliyah to the City of Gold, for Shabbat at home.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Winding our way back to Jerusalem gave me the same thrill as it did on my first visit in 1963, Jerusalem closer every metre. As I walked in the door from my UK sojourn, I opened the blinds and saw Jerusalem before me in all her glory. Tears welled in my eyes at her beauty. The View from Our Veranda is and always will be my joy.

With love from us to you


Friday, 8 June 2018

180608 Oh What a Messi

8th June 2018

Shabbat Shalom everyone. I hope you are well.

To most of the world when one says football one refers to the game where one only kicks the ball with one's foot – hence the name! Well this week a friendly football match between Argentina and Israel became a foul and disgusting trick by a bunch of thugs. BDS

We are all very good at playing the blame game. Usually, if not always, the wrong person is blamed. Lionel Messi is not to blame, indeed he has been to Israel on several private visits; Minister of Sport Miri Regev is not to blame either, the fact that she wanted the game to be held in the Malha Stadium is valid, that's her job; the sport is definitely not to blame but there is much more than the BDS movement behind this. In Barcelona, where Messi plays, groups of thugs, very well organised thugs, waved Messi football Tshirts, with red paint spattered on his face, in front of him. These thugs threatened his wife and family and Messi himself. These thugs threatened the lives of the Argentinian players and you may well ask who was behind it all? Jibril Rajoub, the Palestinian Minister for Sport who is a criminal who was sent to prison for attempted murder and a pathological liar. Jibril Rajoub who has a vast fortune, his ill gotten gains from a corrupt society, stashed away in Israel, in an account in Bank Hapoalim under his pseudonym Gil Regev.

If you want to blame anyone, blame the man who organised the demonstrations and threats to Messi in Barcelona. Mario Firmenich was an ultra-left Peronista activist (violent) in Argentina, imprisoned for his crimes. His son, following in his fathers ugly footsteps, is the one who initiated and ran the vile demonstrations in Barcelona

The Independent newspaper wrote that the stadium on the site of a formerly Palestinian village – well it isn't!! The stadium is at least a kilometer from the once Arab village of Malha which was built on the ruins of the Biblical village of Manahat!!! How do I know? I live in Manahat!! I need you to write to the Managing Editor, politely, and point out his diabolical errors.

In the meantime, guess which country was the first to send aid and assistance to Guatemala?, well I can promise you it wasn't the Palestinians!

I am tired. I am so sad that so many countries are fooled by the narrative that Israel is the bête noir! I am sick and tired of Jews who just don't get it or are not willing to stand up and fight back – with words not actions. The more we do, the greater the outreach, the aid to third world countries and yet they still hate us!

Our fields are burned, vast quantities of crops lost and wild animals burned to death in violent arson attacks and somehow, we are blamed!!! Goerring is alive and well and living in Ramallah. I say that, yet, in order for the lies to stick one has to have willing ears. I wouldn't be surprised if none of you have heard that Erdogan, the Turkish megalomaniac, has seized churches and is making life for Turkish Christians unbearable.

Friends – our world is upside down! Good is bad and evil is praised!

Just 51 years ago a wonderful Israeli General, the Chief of Staff, made his way through the Lion's Gate to the Western Wall and we all heard the words "The Temple Mount is in our hands" – well it isn't! The sheer joy of that moment – the knowledge that after 19 years of Jordanian occupation; 25 years of the British Mandate, during which they tried to appease both sides and all the others too; 400 years of Ottoman occupation; we were back in King David's beloved city. We were so full of hope and the world was with us 100% well, the Western World anyway!  Ephraim Kishon presaged our predicament when he wrote the brilliant satirical book "So Sorry we Won"

Despite my depression at the world outside Israel we had a truly magnificent week. It began on Monday when Avi and I took two of my favourite people to meet with our friend Ehud Olmert in Tel Aviv. Kathleen and Earl Cox are true friends of Israel, which comes from the goodness of their hearts. The meeting was arranged by the ever loyal Rachael Risby-Raz who is another exceptionally loyal friend. I was so thrilled to see the former Prime Minister looking trim, happy and well and I finally got my hug. He wrote a beautiful dedication in Zvi's copy of his best-selling book, a dedication which moved me to tears. It is wonderful to know that one's friendship is appreciated. After a short but sweet visit Zvi and I left Earl and Kathleen to interview the former Prime Minister, and to recognise what a gracious man he is. We went off to the Interdisciplinary Center – commonly known as the IDC Campus to meet with Jonathan Davis, Director of the International School. Since it is a private University the IDC is known not only for its academic excellence, gorgeous campus, but for its insistence on Zionist/Jewish principles. Young people from all over the world, and Israel, study the varied and fascinating curriculum, but it is an Israeli school through and through.

The purpose of our meeting was to introduce Jonathan to Robi Croiterescou and to Gabriel ben Tasgal – and "Ha Tsad ha Sheni" the Spanish speaking information tool , in the hope that they can work with the incredible young people of the IDC who reach the young Tweeters and FB'ers at their own level. Truthtellers of Israel.

Tuesday was Goldman Day! We collected our Australian/Maccabi friends Tommy and Di Goldman from their hotel and went off on an adventure! We walked through Mea Shearim, getting very angry at the pro-Palestinian and openly anti-Israel posters on the walls yet sensing the warmth and comfort of old traditions. We really loved being with them although I had to cut my part of the visit short for two good reasons. One reason was that I wanted to be available to help Rachel (why is in the next paragraph) and because we couldn't have fitted the Pozniaks in the car!!! Zvi continued his incomparable tour then came home to change before heading off to Ramat Gan for a concert with his choir.

Now for the best part of all. Talia, Rachel's beautiful daughter, is Bat Mitzva and Rachel made her the most magnificent party in her in-laws garden, when I say magnificent I am not exaggerating. My daughter not only prepared almost all the food, created unbelievable decorations, a fabulous ball gown piñata and an awful lot of little girls danced the night away to a DJ!!!Actually all the Mums had a ball too including me! Mazal Tov Talia Beautiful.

Yesterday I met my Cardiff friends in Modiin, always a very special time. We grew up together and our parents knew each other and most of all we love and protect each other. Special. From Modiin my friend Madeleine took me to her home where I waited for Zvi because we raced to a wedding in the evening!!! Our neighbours stunningly beautiful daughter married the love of her life. Neta was a Scout leader, then after her army service in the border guard she chose to stay and work in that proud branch of the army as an officer in personnel. Wonderful.

Now I am talking to you and telling you about our very normal day, I went to pick Talia up from school and take her home, kissed all the children and my Rachel and came home to prepare Shabbat. Tonight we have guests, surprise surprise, very welcome guests. Faye and Sheldon Pozniak from Australia, Ruth and Josef Dudzuik-Justitz soon to be from Jerusalem and Irit and Itzik Lev who are coming all the way from Tel Aviv with Itziks famous chopped salad!!! We have Orange soup, Fresh salmon, fish balls in spicy chraime sauce, about 7 salads and roast potatoes and for dessert we are having home made cakes and cinnamon spiced poached peaches and apricots. Hopefully we can sit out on the veranda, contemplate the view and drink freshly picked herb teas and talk about anything but politics!  Tomorrow – tomorrow is a day of rest!!!

Today is a very special day. My beautiful, incredible, gentle and clever sister Doreen, aka Dordi, is 80 years old. My sister is a freak of nature in the best possible way. She is slim, despite 4 children, beautiful, agile and kind – and I love her!!!
This is not only the anniversary of our return to the Old City of Jerusalem, this is also the week of the Torah reading Shelach. Shelach speaks of the spies that Moses sent to scout out the land of Canaan. He sent 12 spies and 10 came back saying that although the fruits and crops were abundant the people were giants and we couldn't fight them. Only Caleb and Joshua were brave enough to lead the Children of Israel home as G-d had commanded. The people began to weep that they would prefer to return to Egypt than keep going – and were condemned to 40 years of wandering in the desert for doubting G-d's word. Why? Because the Diaspora mind-set meant they couldn't overcome the challenges set for them so a generation of brave warriors who understood their own strength, could emerge.

So what music should we play?  

This song, by Arik Einstein, which is traditionally sung when our children go off to the IDF, to watch over us, but leave us behind to worry – yet it could be in almost every situation. "Fly freely but remember that there are eagles in the sky"

The next clip isn't a song but it is Arik Einstein and is brilliant! It is called "The Lul" and basically is the story of each Aliya

How could I not give you the ultimate Jerusalem song, the celebration of our return to the Old City. Ofra Haza z"l and Yerushalyim Shel Zahav

We have been through worse, we have always survived, but we must stand up to lies and calumny. If we just allow it to happen around us, if we are not willing to risk opening our minds and hearts and defending our right to exist we are lost.
Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom


Friday, 1 June 2018

180601 Gaza, goldy, Maccabiah and Protea

1st June, 2018

Shabbat Shalom everyone. Hope you are well. Lots of good news this week and a short report on a day that hit the world headlines despite the large number of real wars going on in our region and further.

I woke this morning to a familiar yet rather unique sound. Do you remember the old "Rag and Bone" men who took their horse and cart to collect old clothes and housewares? Well in Israel it is different – firstly they use small trucks, secondly they are mostly Israeli Arabs and thirdly- they call out in Yiddish "Alte Zaken" – which means old things!!! It is so incongruous yet so very Israeli. It is one of my favourite of many incongruities in this fabulous country!

So, you want to know all about what happened in the South of Israel this week, and I will try to explain. First and foremost, understand that there is not a wall on the border with Gaza, it is a fence and not a very strong one at that; Gaza is a stone's throw (literally) from the towns and villages of Southern Israel; Despite the rhetoric of "occupation" – yet the disengagement from Gaza was 13 years ago, leaving them the agricultural infrastructure which they promptly burned, since when they have constantly instigated terrorist activity against us.  That's just a reminder of the historical background. Now for the recent conflagration – Iran understood that its power struggle in Syria was not going well and that the United States was not giving in to their demands thus decided to use their proxies to attack Israel and steal the limelight or take the attention of the world in a different direction. Who is the obvious target? Israel! Who are the proxies? Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Who are the targets? The farmers, villages, towns and kibbutzim in the border. Over 120 rockets and mortars were launched at Israel which involved at least 25 "Red Alerts" sending the civilians racing for cover. One landed in a kindergarten playground just before the children arrived and the calm reaction of a headmistress? "Kindergartens are the safest place for the children because they are all made of bomb-proof material" Of course she is right but it is so sad that little children need a bomb proof building! 24 hours of non-stop attacks and Hamas called a halt, which of course means that they were in control. Why call a halt? Because had it gone on any longer Israel would have garnered sympathy from the media whereas this way Hamas got its publicity without damaging its sympathy base. Now do you understand? No, neither do I!

Roseanne Barr – where do I begin? I find her crass and I always hated her programme and her Tweet was in terrible taste, I have no intention of repeating it now, but the reaction was so over the top that I am suspicious of the motives. Jimmy Kimmel, the Baldwins, Joy Behar, Kathy Griffin, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Maher – all are still working even after Kathy Griffin showed a beheaded American President in a supposed satirical skit!!! Why Roseanne? I leave that to your own judgement. Actually, after the Starbucks scandal in which Howard Shultz, a great philanthropist and supporter of the Democratic Party was vilified in the media Rabbi Jeremy Rosen wrote this wonderful piece on the misinterpretation of racism and its consequences

What do you know about Israel? Well although this was admittedly created for Israel's 68th birthday I love this youtube of Israel's many qualities

Faith Goldy is Canadian. I know very little about her except that my friend Jean Evans sent me a clip of hers and I was both surprised and pleased at the result. This clip is about breaking the myths about Israel.

OK – another question. How much do you know about Maccabi World Union? Everyone knows that they hold the Jewish Olympics every four years but what else do you know? Did you know that Maccabi Youth is conceivably the largest Jewish Youth Movement in the world? Maccabi is inclusive rather than exclusive.  For me, every time we go to Kfar Maccabiah, in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, I get to meet old friends from all over the world, incidentally Eva Bensky you were missed, next time please come with Leo-Dan. For Zvi it is much more serious as he takes part in the policy and planning meetings. Friday night with Rabbi Carlos Tapiero and a wonderful group of young singers got everyone singing along and doing folk dancing after an excellent Shabbat meal and the interactions of people from diverse cultures in this social setting familiar to everyone is very special. At the huge party there on Monday night Einat Saruf was the star performer, she has a special knack of singing all the familiar songs and getting everyone to join in. As usual she recognised Zvi from previous events and got him to take a mike and sing with her! It was extra special because we all knew that within a few days we would all meet up again at the wedding of Maccabi CEO Eyal Tiberger and Ettie's daughter Orit. Until you have been to an Israeli wedding you haven't lived! Not only incredible food before the food (really I am not joking) with time to enjoy meeting old friends, but the sheer joy of the ceremony then the ebullient dancing of first Israeli songs with everyone jumping to "Moshiach" and "Ani Ma'amin" graduating into popular music and time for the youngsters to have fun with all kinds of funny noses, hats and sparkly things. As one would expect the food inside was also amazing! We drove back to Jerusalem happy but tired arriving on the dot of midnight. What never fails to amaze me is that the roads are almost as busy at midnight as they are during the day!!!

Also on Monday I went to my friend Susan's and at the invitation of Joy Goldman I spoke to the most adorable and fascinating group of people I have met in a long time. The talk was in a special community, purported to be for what in Israel is called "ha gil ha shlishi" the third age, in other words for retired people who still have a great deal of life left in them. If you wish there are courses in just about everything all day long!! Anyway I was not nervous, strange for me, and the moment I saw the crowd I understood why. Firstly I saw my lovely friend Sylvia Wallis who moved to Protea Hills recently and then after a short introduction by Joy, with Susan sitting next to me for confidence, I started to explain why the talk was called "The Power of One". Who I was and how I got started on my writing path. As the questions began another co-hasbarist, Stuart Palmer, joined me at the microphone to reinforce what I said. Everything went swimmingly and I was really having fun, then it happened! I had asked everyone how long they were in Israel and why they came here when Sylvia Dombey spoke up. Sylvia is a wonderful lady of 90+, bright as a button, who made Aliya a short few years ago, as she said "My house needed painting and I couldn't be bothered, so I decided to come and live in Israel"! I was so delighted by her story and her sheer joy at being in Israel that it really made my day!!!

We meet many people, every day ordinary folk and those who think themselves at a higher level - I am so impressed by the humility of Kathleen and Earl Cox. Their intentions are pure, on the edge of altruistic, and they have never let us down either as friends or in their love of Israel. They remember who helped them get started and have remained steadfast for the last 15 years or more despite great success. In fact I told Earl the true story of the day I took him to interview Ehud Olmert about the upcoming disengagement from Gaza……… I went in to Ehud first and told him to use the phrase Pikuach nefesh when talking about the disengagement. Pikuach nefesh means to save a soul – in Judaism one is allowed to break any rules, even Shabbat, to save another human being. Ehud did and Earl had a story!! Earl and Kathleen have gone on to great broadcasting success and I am very proud of them.

On Thursday Rachie and I met up with Daniella and Justin Selig and their children for a delightful lunch. That was when we heard about their daughter Mimi's incredible feat of raising 3,000 pounds for Zichron Menachem, a beautiful organisation which makes wigs for children with cancer and takes them on holidays and trips. Not only that but she grew her hair so that she could come to Jerusalem and donate it. Mimi – your grandparents would be so proud of you! What an amazing 10 year old.

I have a feeling that my beautiful grandson Zachary in London, an avid Chelsea supporter, will be coming to Israel more often since the owner of Chelsea, Roman Abramovitz, made Aliya this week. Britain's loss is our gain!!!

Zvi is in the middle of a meeting in the other room and then of course he will go out to Kiriat Anavim for his parliament, (they no longer meet at the petrol station), and I must go and get Talia and Ayala from school so that I can simultaneously take them home and see Rachel, Yosef and Igal too. Everyone is in the final throes of preparations for Talia's Bat Mitzva……… secrets about dresses and surprises abound and Rachel has made the most incredible Piñata I have ever seen. It is a ball gown piñata!!!

I know that you know about the panorama of Jerusalem on the way home but I rarely talk about the view from the girls school. It is a view of the ever growing Ramallah, creeping, or racing, closer and closer to the fence. Beautiful houses, one can see the huge, modern shopping mall and Ramallah is spreading in all directions. If we are supposedly committing genocide, exactly who is living in these newly built houses?

My salads are made, the table set, the candles ready for lighting…………..So let's think about music.
So often we take what we have in this world for granted. We forget from whence we came and how we got here. Yonatan Raza'el is a classical musician who writes beautiful music to Biblical texts. This is definitely one of my favourites. Katonti  - I am humbled

As a child I would say this prayer every morning as Mummy woke me from my sleep. Modeh Ani – I Give Thanks

Finally, also a song of thanks Matanot Ktanot – Small Gifts.

I wish each and every one of you a sweet Shabbat, time to be quiet with oneself, a time of calm and contemplation and of giving thanks for the wonders of every day.

Shabbat Shalom with love from Jerusalem