Friday, 15 August 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Rivka, Zoabi, Galloway, Shimon Peres on BBC

15th August 2014
Shabbat Shalom dear friends

I had so many ideas for this weeks Shabbat Shalom. So many items of news, serious,frightening and even amusing, but it all became irrelevant when we received tragic news yesterday. A true light, a flame, the life of a beautiful woman was snuffed out in a moment yesterday as Dr. Rivka Bertisch Meir crossed the road to meet the love of her life, her husband Dr Michael, and an errant driver mowed her down. 

Probably the most vibrant, intelligent, warm, loving and generous person I had ever met, a true friend in every way, Rivkas tiny frame filled the room with her personality. I am beyond sad, I am devastated. I know that Rivka earned her place in heaven a thousand times with her innate Jewishness, her ability to turn every situation into a positive one. May her sweet soul rest in peace and may G-d console our dear Michael, Rivka's Michael, among the mourners of Zion.
My heart breaks but I must continue to inform and bring you the news so I will try.

In response to reactions, both gleeful and concerned, that the relationship between the White House and Prime Minister Netanyahu have soured, the White House spokesperson said that rumour that the warm relationship between Israel and the USA are false and the arms that the media claims were stopped have already been sent. I don't know this lady is not C J Clegg. She is emotionless, cold and her manner hardly friendly, but her message was clear. The bad press against the PM will continue but....................

Former President Shimon Peres still seems to be the go-to person for the media interviewers. He is more than able to counter their insane accusations as he proves in this interview for the BBC He states without any question that he was for leaving Gaza, believing that it would bring peace but now, his greatest fear is that if we leave the West Bank then the same extremist will take over thus threatening Israel again.

Tomorrow night I will be glued to Channel 10, Israel, as the family of Haneen Zoabi express their anger, distress and shame toward the Member of Knesset who abuses every one of the rights given to her to deride, lambast and endanger the very country that gave her those rights. Zoabi would not have survived in the countries she so admires. A proud Israeli family with Officers in the IDF and Israeli Police. Young Mohammed Zoabi, nephew of the MK, has already endangered his own life by his pro-Israel activities on Facebook

As the evil George Galloway declares Bradford, Yorkshire "an Israel free zone" most of us yelled expletives but a group of Jews in Bradford knew better. The Bamba invasion of Bradford!!!!

Sorry guys - my mind is not on what I am doing - I can only think of Rivka and her darling Michael. I know she wants me to keep going with my writing but, hey I need to take a break. So I am going to give you some videos so that others can tell you what I believe.

Walid Shoebat who discovered the truth the hard way.
Newt Gingrich, who studied the Middle East and is one of the few who truly understands.
Douglas Murray, one of our best spokespersons.
Brigitte Gabriel who learned from personal experience that those who taught her that Israelis are bad were lying.

Finally, a very important article, written by Dr Boaz Ganor, sent to me by my wonderful friend Andrew.

OK Whenever I find life just too hard I need to touch the earth. To plant, change, prettify, move and work with my hands on my veranda, all the while calming myself with the view of Jerusalem readying herself for Shabbat. I moved some plants, changed pots, got y hands wonderfully dirty, stopping to see the view, the buildings glistening in the searing heat,  the preparations for our guests of this weekend and next week. I want Arlene to see everything at its best. Now I can tell you the good things of this and of next week

Rabbi David Greenberg, Rabbi of the Bedford, New York community, not only gave Leor funds to buy Leatherman toolkits, he came to Israel, travelled to the South, spent time with the people and Mayors of the affected towns and sought out where his community's help was most needed.In his letter to the community for Shabbat David told them of everything he saw, of  his love of Israel and of how important it is to come to Israel- now.  Kol ha Kavod David.

Arlene and Milty Wittels have never turned away from Israel, never refused to come here because of strife, always stand beside Israel and her people. I am thrilled to say that Arlene and Milty will be occupying their regular room at the King David at the end of this week. I am so thrilled, so happy that they are coming and we will spend our Shabbat lunch on the veranda, and every second they can spare us!!!

Another  person who doesn't listen to rumours of danger is Victor Brazil's daughter Elaine, here with her family to tour, go to Ulpan and hopefully meet up with the Raviv family. Elaine told me that she is having a ball, enjoying every moment and feels so secure here, because this government cares about its citizens and visitors and protects them.

Soon Zvi will return from his Parliament and we will go to Abu Ghosh where there is a solidarity meeting between Moslems and Jews. I did not say Arabs because the Moslems of Abu Ghosh are not Arabs they are descendants of the Circassian Abu Ghosh family, most coming from Chechnya and have always had an excellent relationship with Israel. We want to go to stand firm with our friends in Abu Ghosh to tell them that we still stand together. From there I will drop Zvi home to sleep and I will go to see Rachel and the children, to give them a kiss before their trip to see their British family. Rachel of course is longing for some rain and cool weather. She dreams of doing one thing we did when she was a child............. to climb up Ilkley Moor and yell!!!!

Tonight we have Shabbat Dinner with friends and tomorrow Amiad and his beautiful family and our friend John Vause are coming to lunch.

Nothing is working I am sad, I already miss Rivka, miss knowing her incredible smile has faded and her beloved Michael is alone. I can't bear it.

The songs this week are special, ones that I believe represent our feelings. David D'Or  sings Shmor al ha Olam Yeled - Guard the world child for we did not do a good job
The second is not new to you - I have presented it before but Rivka loved it so -

With all our love for a beautiful Shabbat
Sheila and Zvi

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

Monday, 11 August 2014

140811 Shevua Tov from Jerusalem. Canon Andrew and the Yzidis, Prof Newt Gingrich, Arlene, Sheila,

11th August, 2014

Shevua Tov dear friends. Wishing you all a good week.

Today's letter is different

Let me explain. Last week my beautiful friend Arlene asked me for something about myself to put into her speech for Israel Bonds. About me and my connection to Israel. Of course I jumped at the chance for two reasons - I adore Arlene and try not to get too personal in my letters, about my past that is, and maybe you deserve to hear.

Before I start I need to tell you some truly diabolical news. Diabolical. Canon Andrew White is back in Iraq. The plight of the Yazidis hit the headlines - as they should - and he does what he can to help, but there is so much more. A few months ago Andrew baptised a baby boy, who the parents named Andrew, after Canon Andrew. A few days ago Little Andrew, Christian, was found cut in half by the foul and evil ISIS. Canon Andrew discovered that young girls, Christian of course, were kidnapped and sold, by ISIS, and so much more that only a man with his faith can still continue.

In case you think that Hamas is any better than ISIS, Islamic Jihad, Hezb-Allah or any other name, please listen to Prof. Newt Gingrich. Democrats, don't dismiss him. Ignore press reports, we spent a week with him and he is an erudite, quiet and thoughtful man.

Now to lift your spirits with the promised Arlene part of the story.

My name is Sheila, Sheila Raviv, married to Zvi, mother of Daniel, Gideon and Rachel, step-Mother to Amiad and Leor; mother in law to Karen, Stephanie, Igal, Shiri and of course Noga thus grandmother to 13 glorious children 8 of whom are Israeli, sister to Eddie, Doreen and Ronnie and most importantly  - daughter of Betty and Jack Silver who gave me life and taught me a deep moral responsibility which I absorbed through osmosis and love. Both parents were immigrants from Poland, both proud to be British and while intensely Jewish determined to be good Brits. 

After 24 years in Israel I am still considered a "new immigrant"! My husbands family, the beautiful Kalman and Alla were the sole survivors of the Holocaust, both living in the nascent state of Israel, while their families stayed in Poland and went to the ovens of the Holocaust. Both Kalman and Alla went back to Poland to tell their families to come quickly, the writing was on the wall, the hatred tangible, but both families said "Don't worry, it is all noise, we will be OK" Their stories, when I interviewed them, made me intensely aware of what is happening in the outside world today and determined to do my darndest to change  reality, one word at a time.

My husband also learned his lesson from his parents, he and his friend Yona Yahav (now Mayor of Haifa) held a stand up argument with Golda Meir, when she was Prime Minister in October 1969, which culminated in the Israeli Prime Minister bringing about the acceptance of the Israeli Governments responsibility and two cheeky students starting the "Let My People Go "Campaign to free Soviet Jewry.

What does this have to do with today, why should the past have bearing on our current situation? Well, in my opinion the determined dehumanisation of Jews has already taken place and we are in 1936 if not later. If you think it is a dehumanisation of Israel you are wrong, it is all Jews, you too, and it has been gradual, incidious and very very cleverly executed.

I see the boys and girls of the IDF, I meet the Generals and political leaders, I hear their words and I know their orders that we must be the most humane, defensive army in the world. We are. We send out fliers, we send text messages, we call homes and we ensure that families leave the areas where we know that Hamas (or Hezb-Allah) are hiding. We do everything possible, we even send medical supplies and staple foodstuffs daily - during wartime as the rockets fly above our homes. We call off airstrikes because we see human movement below.

So what is our reward for this care? The UN, the Red Cross, Oxfam, Amnesty, indeed almost every international organisation claims we are the aggressors, those who kept silent when the children of Sderot were traumatised, had nightmares about sirens and wet their beds, for years on end - those who could not care about Jewish lives then called Israel aggressor. Those who were silent when hundreds of thousands of Moslems were slaughtered in Syria and Iraq and Christians, Yazidis and so many others are tortured and oppressed unless they convert to Islam.  The only evaluation of the situation is that it is racism, anti-Semitism, no more no less. As to those Jews who criticise Israel automatically without knowing the true situation - they are no better than Kapos playing into the hands of the very greedy media.

I see my friends putting on a brave face, many of them busy on the social media trying to get the word out there, but to little avail since we are preaching to the choir. One possible route is the one I took, in addition to writing a newsletter, I adopt journalists. Yup, I take them home, give them a Shabbat meal, show them the incredible view from our veranda and together with my husband give them a history lesson - including the Bible. It is time one understood who the indigenous peoples are and who was taken into slavery and oppressed, time and time again.

The hardest part of this situation is to see our children, the little ones who are scared to go to sleep at night and the bigger ones who go to the army. For example, Leor, Zvi's son, left his job as a Vice President of a huge Insurance company with 1,500 workers, simply dropped everything when he got the reservist call-up "Tsav shmoneh" drove down to the border with Gaza, gathered his unit, cleaned off the tanks and got to work guarding the border for those who live nearby, making it home once a week for a few hours to see his wife and three little girls.  Another friend, a Haredi husband went off to war, leaving the wife with her four children and sick mother for a month. Everyone has a story, we just pray it ends with "and they all lived happily ever after" but that is just in fairy tales.

I look out on my view, a glorious view of Jerusalem from my veranda, laying before me, so peaceful, the white buildings glistening in the sun and I don't understand. Here I am in Royal David's City, the one everyone sings about at Christmas, clearly and obviously the Jewish City, yet suddenly it has become Al Quds, the Temple Mount is now Haram el Sharif, and the world tells me I shouldn't be here. Incredible! First they told us to go back to the Holy Land and when we did they tell us to go back to the ovens of Europe.  Israel welcomes all, the full rainbow of humanity yet we are fast becoming lepers, the Moslem countries deny entry, citizenship to almost all comers yet are considered acceptable............... where is the moral compass?
My friend Arlene did not hesitate for a second. When others cancelled their holidays in Israel Arlene did not. Why? Why is Arlene different to others? Connection. the secret is connection........ an umbilical cord which runs from Jerusalem to Manahasset, interdependent, because without our Arlenes in this world Israel is lost. 

Of course she is not alone Rabbi David Greeberg from Bedford is here now- Michael and Roselyne came from Miami to see their son Benjamin after his amazing summer camp and to stand firm with Israel. I hear only glowing reports from all the parents of children on summer camps here including my own family, my lovely niece-in-law Marilyn, married to my nephew Paul, sent her daughter as planned to have the time of her life here over the last month. I am not surprised to tell you that Marlee was overjoyed and had a ball!

This letter began as a few ideas for a speech Arlene was making at her synagogues Israel Bonds function. Arlene is a phenomenal speaker, often breaking into tears at the mere thought of her beautiful Israel. Her truth, her brilliance and her sheer beauty break through every word she utters. A true leader  and a fine woman. I meant what I said, her umbilical will never be cut - Arlene is an Israeli, the stork simply didn't have a GPS.

To end some wonderful videos to lift your battered spirits.
Andrew Bolt is an Australian journalist - see what he has to say.
The inimitable, wonderfully irreverent Pat Condell
The beautiful music of Matisyahu

and of course two more songs as we remember that Glasgow is flying the Palestinian flag, Bradford will be Israel free but Galloway laden
(wish they would do it properly ) and Jews are attacked in France, Belgium, Australia, Canada, UK, Germany, Austria, USA, etc ad nauseum

Sing along with me - 
 Am Yisrael Chai - The Jewish People lives
Finally, Lt. Col.  Shai Abrahamson, the Chazan/Cantor of the IDF sings a prayer for the Peace of the State of Israel. Proud to represent his country and comrades, proud to sing this entreaty for peace, finally peace in Israel and joy in the world. Incredibly moving.

Shevua tov, I promise to keep you in touch with what really happens but wanted to share some thoughts today.
With love from Jerusalem

PS The number for Elihu Ben Onn - for Hebrew speakers who want to talk on radio was incorrect it is  +972 2 6312296 . I think our friends in Turkey - Sadi and Adil - should call.


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

Friday, 8 August 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. More missiles, Jews in danger, Christians killed

8th August 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear friends,

I hope you are all well and not too exhausted from sleepless nights shouting at your TV screens at the biased reporting on the Gaza Operation.  The cease-fire held precisely as long as demanded. The morning started early for the Eshkol region in the South as Hamas took full advantage of the end of the official ceasefire and woke all those children again with rockets launched over their heads at 01:39 this morning. Children who were woken from their sleep to be rushed down to the shelter - knowing they had to reach safety within 15 seconds. So who is the aggressor now? Ban Ki Moon, why are you not speaking out for the children of Israel? 

The timing proves that Hamas can control its mavericks.  They held the cease-fire exactly as demanded in the negotiations in Cairo. Egypts leaders not only understand Israel but are not afraid of Hamas. Egypt will provide the rules and hopefully will oversee Abu Mazen who will control the rebuilding of Gaza - through compensation from Israel. It is very expensive to win a war especially when, as our friend Rod said, we are losing the peace.

We live in a world of double standards but every so often something still makes one smile. I love The West Wing, still think it was conceivably the cleverest series with brilliant writers and acting. This clip caught my eyes and ears, to say nothing of my heart. Proportional Response - where is President Bartlett when we need him?

Colonel Richard Kemp is an exceptional man. A hero of the war in Afghanistan this British soldier is not frightened to speak the truth about the incredible humanity of the IDF. What a "gever" (hebrew for man).

The Indian Television reporter stood at his window and carefully hiding behind the shutters managed to capture a truly incredible sight. Hamas operatives (ie terrorists) blatantly set up a blue United Nations tent between residential and hotel buildings and begin to build a rocket launcher. He carefully records the building of the launcher and the ultimate launching right between the buildings. Not only does it show the launching technique, the use of United nations materials but also the very beautiful, modern, expensive buildings that are normally never shown yet are most of Gaza!

Did anyone else notice two essential facts about this war? One is that the press were threatened, not raped etc like in Egypt but threatened if they criticised Hamas, and they complied. Two, while the world was busy with the condemnation of Israels response to Hamas attacks everyone forgot what horrors were taking place through the ISIS take-over of the Middle East and the ethnic cleansing of Iraq. This article from the every even handed Daily Mail in the UK sums up a world that concentrated on Gaza and ignored the Apocalypse

Demonstrations and anti-Semitism became dangerously violent all over the world. From Australia to Alaska, throughout Europe, the ultimate in Hungary where the PM held a public hanging of dummies of the Israeli leaders. However, of all responses to hatred this pro-Israel reaction in the Diamond District of New York shows that if we will just be strong and brave the bullies show their yellow, cowardly streaks and run.

Who are we fighting? Is it anti-Semitism? Are we singled out? The answer is Islamic Fundamentalism, No, not anti-Semitism, no we are far from being singled out, we are part of a major plan that makes Hitler appear unambitious and tame. Understand the plight of Christians in Iraq. I am not an extremist, I hate no-one but when I hear from our dear friend Canon Andrew White of the horrors he sees in Iraq, in so many war zones of this world I realise that it is true. The Yazidi faith is an ancient one from Kurdistan. They have been decimated.

Our soldiers are beginning to pack up the camps and clean the battle dust off their tanks and their souls. Young men who saw things that will stay with them forever. The Givati Regiment, those strong young soldiers with red berets, took the toughest role but without the tanks, intelligence, Navy, Air Force, nothing could have been achieved. Each and every sector of the IDF played its part in securing some form of quiet for the people of Israel. We didn't want this war, it was forced upon us, but once in, we had to ensure the destruction of tunnels and launchers. We did, as far as one can possibly know. Israel is a secure country, we know who our enemy is and we do everything possible to ensure the safety of every single person irrespective of creed or colour. The very last rocket fired before the cease-fire talks landed just outside Jerusalem - on Beit Sachur, one of the last remaining Christian villages. 

Perhaps the most emotive story to come out of this period is that of Lt Hadar Goldin.  Lt Goldin discovered a terror tunnel and after a huge explosion in which two other soldiers died, his body was kidnapped into the tunnel. A young officer, Lt. Eitan, saw what happened, saw the explosion of the tunnel and crawled deep into the tunnel to retrieve what he could of his friend Hadar Goldins body. He found Hadars personal effects and brought what he could back so that Hadars family could hold a funeral without the months of forensic examinations before he could be declared officially dead. Yesterday, immediately after his release from service in Gaza, even before going home, Eitan went to the Goldin home, to give and receive hugs and to return Hadars personal effects to his family, most importantly his little book of Tehillim (psalms).

As the ceasefire held the emotions did not and the situation in the neighborhoods and villages around Jerusalem seemed to calm down, individuals did not. 3 Arabs attacked Jews in Jerusalem but attacks are not only in Israel - even the least likely places have seen attacks on their Jewish communities. Canada, UK, USA, Europe and that least likely of places Bondi Beach Australia. Jewish schools on alert after eight males threaten to cut schoolchildren’s throats, five teenagers arrested

To understand please I urge you to read Rabbi Jeremy Rosens blog this week. Who is right to hate us?

Life is returning to normal, we have a tendency to take pause and carry on as we were. For those on the border with Gaza it is less so, they are concerned that returning to those Kibbutzim, towns and villages to the uncertainty as to whether a tunnel may end near your house, family, children is clearly traumatic and one cannot blame anyone for their fears. Help the shopkeepers of Sderot
A short time ago Israeli journalist and specialist on Arab Affairs for Israel Channel 10 Zvi Yechezkeli, who speaks perfect Arabic, dressed and acted as a Moslem in Europe to infiltrate groups and mosques. The  series which resulted from his in depth investigations is terrifying, real, revealing as no other. I know it is a lot to ask but I feel it is essential. The videos have English subtitles  

Now for something entirely different.
If you cancelled your holidays to Israel you are going to regret it because hotels will return to 100% full very soon. Prices will fly back up to their original levels and you are missing out on the beauty of this country and Hamas won the economic war.

This week I managed to go to two shouks.... markets........! On Monday I went on my regular visit to Shouk Ramle, down the road at the train station complex. The same shmattes, the same fun finds, the same crazy low prices although my favourite stall was not there, they went on vacation!  Thankfully under cover to protect the curious from the searing sun, bargains are everywhere "Esser shekel kol prat"(10 shekels every piece) for the childrens T-shirts, cute shoes, copied music discs, great cookies, stickers for children and toys galore as parents prepare for the long summer holidays from school. I go early because I am not a great lover of crowds and love to hear the shouts of the vendors as they set up their stalls, many happily "lein tefillin" putting on their phylacteries and praying their morning prayers before continuing with their calls to customers.

Yes, you are right,  I went to Shouk Mahane Yehuda. Gosh I love that place. I love the fact that it is everyone, the full rainbow of Jerusalem. I love to people-watch as I walk around absorbing the aromas and hubub of that magical place. I didn't have time to go to Mizrahis for a deliciously tempting Cafe Hafuch, but managed to see my favourite costermongers - Boaz and Yaron Tzidkiyahu for olives and salads and best of all for the meatballs filled with tehina, mmmm delicious. Across the lane to visit Shmulik Tzidkiyahu who has delicious cheeses so I bought Rachels favourite Buffalo Mozarella - everything in this shop is Mahedrin Kosher; then on to Itzik for my fruit, fabulous firm scented peaches, juicy lychees, amazing vegetables and a big grin. David Dagim, as always customers crowded around the glass cabinets filled with fresh shiny fish and next to him Mohamad who has the freshest, most delicious organic herbs and greens. Gosh I missed this place, its aromas, plethora of freshly picked fruit and vegetables all piled high, inviting and  ready for the discriminating hands of  Israeli cooks. After so many visits to Europe I forgot how amazing our home grown produce is!!!! 

Our friend Elihu Ben Onn - a member of Zvi's Friday Parliament - is a broadcaster of note. Elihu presents a radio programme which airs at night in Israel, for Hebrew speakers around the world who want to speak with him, ask him questions. If you wish to speak to Elihu and have something important to say +972 2 631229 

I can't believe it is almost Shabbat Again! The morning started early for the Eshkol region in the South as Hamas took full advantage of the end of the official ceasefire and woke the children again with rockets launched over their heads at 01:39 this morning. Children, traumatised, woken from their sleep to rush down to the shelter - knowing they have just 15 seconds to reach safety. So who is the aggressor now? Ban Ki Moon, why are you not speaking out for the children of Israel?

I will go to Rachel to see the children, to breathe in the aroma of freshly baked challot from my daughters kitchen, taking two home so that tonight Leor can enjoy them, finally back from the front. It will be fun to watch his infinite patience with his little girls, his determination to simply get on with life and get back to washing the dishes for his Mother, clearing the table and helping her cook for the family, while his Daddy and I sit and watch him with pride. It is who he is, an Israeli, a good man, industrious, clever, ambitious, kind, and ready to serve his country at a moments notice. 

Sarit Hadad is a wonderful Israeli singer, here she sings a truly joyous song, with a little minor key "We will win, just let us stay here, we are all alone but in the storm we cope, just let us be here, together,  in this little country"

With love from Jerusalem, Shabbat Shalom

PS This is the most supportive, beautiful letter I ever received, from our wonderful friend Dr Kimball Taylor
"Thought you might be interested in this:  
So if Canadians are the most supportive of Israel of any country in the world, and Mormons are the most supportive religion, I guess that makes me the Number 1 supporter of Israel in the entire world!
 Love, Kim "

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

Monday, 4 August 2014

140804 Gaza Up-date.


4th August 2014

Dear Friends

Almost Tisha b'Av - the 9th of Av which begins tonight. Tisha b'Av which commemorates the fall of both first and second Temples and the day in 132 CE when the Romans slaughtered 100,000 Jews in Betar, near Jerusalem. It is a fast day of great importance and a day of destiny. It demands of us to pray, to fast and to remember the decimation of Jewish communities during the Crusades and of course the Holocaust. Tisha b'Av - tonight as yet again we fight for our survival

"UN Blasts Israel for Not Sharing Iron Dome with Hamas. UN's human rights official condemns Israel for "war crimes", cites its failure to share Iron Dome with the "governing authority" of Gaza.
"In what may be one of the most ridiculous accusations yet against Israel, the UN's top human rights official condemned Israel on Thursday for failing to share the Iron Dome anti-missile system with Hamas..."

Last night I interviewed a local Jerusalem Arab, Hamdi is a good guy who lives on the Mount of Olives. He told us that Jerusalem is aflame - including all the surrounding towns and villages. We were amazed when he said that if he goes to visit family in Ramallah he is yelled at and worse because he is Israeli. It is a no win situation for him. Because of the riots near his home the police sprayed the rioters with "skunk water", self-explanatory, and the stench stays on the streets not just the rioters  making it impossible to open a window. He also told us that Ramallah is a thoroughly modern with huge villas and fine houses. He says that 80% of the money intended for Palestinians and Gazans winds up in the pockets of Ramallah.

This morning I spoke to another young Arab who hails from Shoefat and asked him about last nights interview. He said it is all true but that today things have quietened and he was able to get to work without harassment.

The IDF ground troops are gradually leaving Gaza, their target of destroying the terror tunnels completed as best they can. They will stay on the border, in small camps, because one never quite knows when a gang on Harley Davidsons will emerge from a tunnel with the sole purpose of kidnapping soldiers or innocent Israeli citizens.

I know you want the truth of what happened to Hadar Goldin and how the family was able to bury his remains yesterday in a full religious ceremony. When the Hamas gang emerged from the tunnel and the leader blew himself sky high, despite horrific injuries Hadar tried to chase the remainder of the gang but died in the effort. His remains were identified by his personal effects and dog tags. May his soul and those of all our lost soldiers rest in peace.

Our friend Doron Maresky wrote - "Iron Dome is good but the SAATI system could be even more effective in Gaza.  SAATI system is almost guaranteed a 100% success rate in not only intercepting all Israeli bombs, shells, mortars and missiles but even in preventing them from being launched... SAATI = Stop Attacking And Terrorizing Israel."

Life goes on pretty normally in Israel - if you do not live on the border with Gaza, or in Ashdod, Ashkelon or the areas that do not enjoy the "cease fire". All main roads in Jerusalem are flying flags, alternately the emblem of Israel, of Jerusalem and of Zahal, the IDF. It is a small way to say thank you.

The cease-fire talks began. We chose not to be involved in the talks in Cairo because our eventual aim is that Egypt will broker a cease fire and Abu Mazen will be responsible for Gaza. We want all funds, much of which will come from Israel, for the rebuilding of Gaza, will go through Abu Mazen and the PA. The Egyptians have supported Israels stance and our efforts to wipe out Hamas more than any other country including the West.

Bravo New York City. Thanks to Barry Shaw for sending this to me.
This is the most inspirational video ever to motivate those too afraid to take to the streets in support of Israel. Watch it and, next time the "Hate Israel" mob take to the streets and the campus confront them. Take an example from our brave Israeli boys, and from the people of the Diamond District. Stand tall for Israel.

As Zvi and I were driving north to visit family, obviously listening non-stop to the news and discussing what had been said I suddenly thought

I know it isn't Shabbat yet but thought you would love this exquisite music. Shalom Aleichem played by Cpl.  Gabriel Chouraki - Musician of Excellence in the IDF Band. 

With love from Jerusalem, ever beautiful Jerusalem.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Shabbat up-date - soldier kidnapped. A fine ceasefire

1st August 2014

Shabbat Shalom - Shabbat Shalom, a prayer more than a greeting.

At 09:00 this morning Hadar Goldin, an Officer in the Givati Brigade, stood with his soldiers in Rafiah, Gaza, conducting a search, just minutes into the cease-fire, when a Hamas gang, headed by a  Homicide Bomber came out of a tunnel and exploded his lethal package, right next to Hadar and two other soldiers. It is known that the two soldiers died instantly from the explosion and sadly the belief is that Hadar died also. He was very close to the bomber. 
The horrific implication is that Hamas simply took a dead soldier to gloat over their success. Body snatchers in the worst meaning of that foul expression.
I pray that I, along with the military experts, am wrong. Whatever the situation we will not leave without him and his captors will pay a heavy price.

It is small consolation that we kidnapped a leader of Hamas' rocket battalion.

There is a fierce battle taking place right now in Rafiah. Many many Hamas fighters are gathered in one place and soldiers are in a shooting battle with them. I do not know what the outcome will be but please, befriend me on Facebook (Sheila Silver Raviv) for updates. I try to keep you in the picture.

Mr Kerry said today "The Palestinians will be able to receive medicines, food and be able to bury their dead" during the 72 hour cease fire. He refrained from saying that even as the rockets were flying Israel was passing hundreds of truckloads of medical and staple foods to Gaza.  

Sadly we too must bury our dead. A cease fire for humanitarian reasons suggests guilt on Israels part. We had no choice. Never forget that simple but essential fact when your anti-Israel or ignorant friends attack you with lies. We didn't start this and don't want it. We hate no-one.

I look out of the big picture window, over the flowers and fruit trees of the veranda to the view of Jerusalem. Everything looks so normal. How many homes are in mourning as I look at the white buildings, what sorrow is hidden behind their wall? Why is the world blaming us when we truthfully did not start this war?

Shabbat Shalom. Here is your song. "Hope is strong in your heart, don't lose it. If peace doesn't come now then in one year"

Sad - so sad. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem - Gaza conflict, what it is like in Israel

30th July 2014

Shalom dear Friends.

I am sorry that you didn't get an update last Friday, that I didn't wish you Shabbat Shalom, but know you were on our minds. Zvi and I took the difficult decision to go with the choir to Romania. It was both wonderful and terrifying to be away from home when our loved ones and country were under such extreme threat, but I think, no I know, Hakol Yechassi represented Israel with pride.

Each "peepee stop" that had wifi was filled with the beeps and rings of incoming messages from family and media so that we could all stay in touch with the situation. We were surprised and pleased to find Israeli flags all over and in the centre of Brasov was a big park in the name of Yitzchak Rabin. A beautiful country, blessed with mountains, forests, lots of rain and sunshine, they welcomed us and encouraged us but it just wasn't home. 

Meanwhile back home - soldiers in Gaza responded to the cries of an eight year old child who begged for their assistance. The soldiers went to help him and as they entered his home a bomb exploded - it was a booby trap......... using an eight year old as a booby trap is beyond our thinking. We do not yet know the toll to Israel but I am sure that child was not spared in the name of Allah.

A few facts and information for you. 
When the media claims we are starving the Gazans just see what we give them during wartime let alone peacetime . COGATs daily report

Foreign journalist received death threats for any anti-Hamas tweets which accuse Hamas of using human shields. Do they report on it? No, they remove the tweets!!!

Two articles sum up the fact that Israel is the free worlds front line, we take the flak, the hatred and the racism so that you can live in freedom.

Richard Littlejohn, fearless British journalist, asks the question, What if Hamas rocket hit a BA plane? 

Wolf Blitzer goes into a Hamas Tunnel, amazed and fearful when he sees the size, expertise and Israeli cement used

Melkamo is an Israeli Officer and a student in the Herzlia Interdisciplinary Centre (University). Melkalmo is an outstanding Ambassador for Israel through Standwithus. Thank you Melkamo you make me proud.  Friends - this needs to go viral. Send it to your media and politicians

Perhaps the most important difference between this and previous "operations" is our Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz. He has given his soldiers, his officers, a clear and simple target, not destroying Hamas unlike Lebanon, the target is clear. We go in, we destroy all the tunnels and we come out with the least possible human injury, both to civilians in Gaza and to our soldiers. The rockets are not necessarily aimed at people - they are part of the war of attrition but the tunnels are specifically built to come out inside Israel to enable the mass slaughter - the ethnic cleansing - of Jews. Lt-General Benjamin Gantz, Israeli Chief of Staff, a fine soldier and a wonderful man.

I am sure that most of you want to know the mood of our little country. We are all horrified by the tunnels system and its deadly purpose. Digging under Israel in order to kill and maim as many Jews as possible in one organised raid on Rosh hashana? Anyone who thinks this isn't horrifically reminiscent of the Nazis is in dreamland.

Sadly, the two countries that Secretary Kerry wants to bring in as arbitrators in this terrible situation, Turkey and Qatar, are both funding Hamas and have suspended diplomatic relations with Israel! Aw c'mon, it is as if Roosevelt wanted Austria and Egypt to broker peace between the UK, Allies and Nazi Germany!!!!!

 The announcement of each soldiers death brings us to a standstill - Is it someone we know? This is a tiny country and everyone knows someone who knows someone. Indeed a young lone soldier was injured and when the news got out that he was in Shaare Zedek hospital the hospital was inundated with thousands of people wanting to bring him food and flowers - and love. 

Until today 56 beautiful boys gave their lives so that we can be free, a small number in terms of war, a huge number for Israel. Here are just some of their wonderful faces  יהי זכרם ברוך

Religious Jews, yes I know, it drives me nuts that they don't serve in the IDF but they have organised food gathering for the troops; in Jerusalem many religious neighborhoods are preparing for "hafrashat challah" ( by huge groups of religious women who will then make little individual challot to be sent down to the troops. I hear you asking why they don't serve but today we have to unite against a common enemy who does not care if you wear a bikini or  humble dresses, we will worry tomorrow about who is in uniform and who believes that by praying for every soldier one can win a war. Indeed today there is a gathering of challot at the Shtibelech ( a 24 hour a day minyan) in Katamon, Jerusalem so that they can be sent down to the soldiers for Shabbat.

Many, many tourists have cancelled their visit to Israel. I understand. If all you hear is the news media, especially if you read the NY Times, Guardian or LA Times, then your choice is obvious. However, if you consider the truth here on the ground, you are still safer on the streets of Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem than you are in your city!!! In Israel we spent a great deal of money on defending our citizens, and life goes on. Beaches are open, markets are busy, shops are selling, clubs are making just as much noisy music, people are out and enjoying themselves until the early hours, maybe more and more in each others homes but we are relatively safe her. The difference is - we know our enemy. Our enemies are not drug crazed attackers on city streets nor are there violent felons looking for the weak to mug. If you cancel you are giving in to terror, if you cancel you tell Hamas that they are succeeding. Every empty hotel room is a victory for Hamas.
 By the way, Joan Rivers is way too coarse for my liking but when the woman is right she is right. She gave this interviewer a run for her money!!!

And so to Shabbat. Shabbat is Shabbat for the soldiers who are in Gaza and those waiting for their orders. Another Shabbat without their families but Israelis do their best to ensure that the Hamin or Cholent arrives anyway. From huge chain stores and supermarkets to individuals who have enough difficulty putting food on the family table, everyone does their bit for our boys and girls. One friend is in touch with the farmers of Zikin on the Gaza border and right now our order for 100 shekels worth of mixed vegetables is on its way to us. Meirav Malha - 052 8797508 and she will make the contact. Brava Meirav all the towns and villages on the border need our help.
Sorry I once again diverged from the path of this Shabbat Shalom. I wanted to leave you with something sweet, difficult when the world is doing its three wise monkey act. 

Something beautiful happened this week. I can't give you full details but Zvi's son Leor found that his soldiers were struggling with cumbersome old tools to care for their tanks. He jsut mentioned the name Leatherman Tools and the need for them to me and I knew exactly who to turn to - Martin and Helene and David Greenberg, Rabbi of Shaarey Tefillah Temple in Bedford NY. Hardly had my fingers stopped typing when their  positive response came in return. Thanks to their wonderful generosity a very happy group of tank officers sent a thank-you photo, bearing their new tools and grinning from ear to ear with big thank you signs hurriedly written in English. Beautiful boys, beautiful hearts - thank you so much to those of you who know who you are. You are true friends of Israel.

I wasn't sure whether to put the latest LATMA song on todays letter - there are aspects I disagree with. I do not for one second believe that those who signed the Oslo agreements on behalf of Israel thought for one second of anything but Israel and peace - so here it is

Smadar Hot Elishai is a good woman among many. She lives in Kibbutz Be'eri on the border with Gaza and opened her home to soldiers as they leave Gaza. She makes them coffee, washes their dirty clothes and very important they all phone home and then shower. One young soldier, a reservist, showered and as he came out Smadar smelled the scent of Johnsons baby shampoo. When she asked him why he chose that of all the shampoos she left for the soldiers he broke down and said he missed his baby so much and at least he needed the scent of baby shampoo.

And so to Shabbat again. This Shabbat we have guests, honoured guests - Roselyne and Michael Freedman from Miami. Since you already know that I will be cooking my heart out today with all the special Israeli salads and  - well, I cannot divulge the full menu or they won't be surprised!  I can tell you that the Aubergine salad, Roasted aubergine with tehina, Moroccan mushroom salad, green tehina, houmous and courgette salads are ready, the  fried fish balls in the mixing bowl, "orange" soup ready and the main course................. that will be a surprise to me too!!!!!!

Singing is so important for Jews, We sing our pain, our joy and our confusion. Fiddler on the Roof showed it perfectly. Right now our singing is closer to prayer - prayer for peace, prayer for rahmanut - rachmunes - sympathy/empathy from a cruel and unsympathetic world. In truth I don't care what they think but it hurts anyway. So.......... first is my favourite, you already know it but I never tire of it. Shalom Aleichem - Shalom to you

The 23rd psalm, so familiar to all of us in any language, was written right here in Jerusalem. The words, whatever the language, are a prayer for peace to a loving G-d.
The Lord is my shepherd;​ I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures:​  He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: He leads me in the paths of righteous​ness for his name's sake. 
Thoug​h I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me. 

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Never forget that Egypt, Greece, Rome, Turkey all tried (among others) to kill us off and we are still here. This too will pass. May our prayers be answered Lu Yehi - Let it be

With love from Jerusalem.


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

Monday, 21 July 2014

140721 Gaza Up-date

21st July 2014

Dear Friends

13, 13 should be a beautiful number in Judaism but yesterday it became unlucky 13 as 13 beautiful young lives were snuffed out in Gaza. The IDF went in to prevent further and further attacks - this is war - and thirteen soldiers died. In Israel everyone knows everyone and it hurts, it is not a matter of names it is people, fathers, sons, brothers, grandchildren - we mourn together and sadly this is not the end. They all died defending our freedom.  The names of the dead are never released until all family members have been notified so we have the names of only 5.  and now

Can you imagine an army that provides medical attention, staple foods and  medical supplies to its sworn enemies? Can you imagine an army that drops flyers and sends sms (text) messages to the telephones of civilians in an enemy country begging them to leave an area that will be bombed because it houses terrorist bases? That is the much maligned IDF. 

There are civilian tragedies in Gaza, horrific civilian tragedies but they are caused by Hamas preventing civilians from leaving the buildings under which they hide their arsenals; Hamas ensures that arsenals are hidden beneath hospitals, schools and UNWRA sites and ensures that the foreign press, after a tough day in the field, is taken to one of the fine hotels or restaurants in Gaza City.  This article by Tom Gross sums up the media situation perfectly, although primarily about the BBC

The prime target of the IDF is the tunnels. Not the arms tunnels from Egypt, the Egyptians took care of those, but the tunnels through which they plan to bring terrorists to kill Israelis. Please understand that these  are highly sophisticated tunnels and the people of towns and villages on the border could hear the rumbling of what they thought were earthquakes, but it was much more sinister than an earthquake, it was the heavy equipment digging tunnels underneath them to bring terrorists into Israel to kill them, the residents of agricultural Kibbutzim. This morning it happened, Hamas terrorists came through an, as yet undiscovered, tunnel and broke into two villages and began shooting, soldiers acted immediately and all the terrorists were killed.

Coming back to aid, the aid Israel passes through to the people of Gaza. Do you remember how the UN, UK, USA, EU all forced Israel to resume the  provision of building materials to Gaza? "For humanitarian reasons"? Well yesterday we discovered many sacks of Nesher concrete in the tunnels - they didn't build homes, they concentrated on destruction - again - using the concrete/cement we gave them to reinforce the enormous tunnels. I guess this is the Middle East but why oh why do those who don't begin to understand tell us what to do. 
Israelis, whether in the north, south, east or west in this tiny country, recognise that our government protects us. All governments, this one and previous ones. 

Charles Krauthammer said it better than anyone in his article Moral Clarity in Gaza. “Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

These videos help you to understand the difficulty of ensuring the least civilian casualties - we do not accept the American use of Collateral Damage - we call them human lives.
Will Grandma make it to the safe room

The television just went blank - there is a technical problem in our area - and I feel as if someone cut my arms and legs off after anaesthetising my brain. We are hooked day and night to the news - wondering what surprises Hamas still has up their sleeves. I spoke to dear friends in Perth, Australia, and they feel the same, equally tied to the television. They tune in to i24 or in addition to those links I gave you last week there is Josh Hastens

So Israel is fighting her War of Independence - in fact a 67 year old War of Independence. It has either been overt or tacit for all that time. Our PR failed because of our very success. We would never be considered weak again, never be led as sheep to the slaughter and so we lost our underdog advantage with the left and the media.
Jon Snow is a clever and thorough interviewer, whose sharp tongue is his trademark, and with whom I have had more than one "discussion" on Israel. Jon believes it acceptable to demean the Israeli Prime Ministers spokesperson Mark Regev in this interview   It is truly a case of double standards - one for Israel and one for all others. My only complaint of Marks restraint at the barrage is that he did not ask Jon Snow about the British and American killing of children and old people when the troops fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. Again - 
those troops call it "collateral damage" we call it a tragedy. Perhaps Jon Snow should watch Egyptian television to understand what questions he should be asking. Even better - he should listen to his own Prime Minister who spoke in the House today saying that  Hamas is responsible for this war - no country would hold back after the barrage of rockets on it citizens.

If you want to do something, give something there are several ways to do so. One is through the Friends of the IDF where Haim Saban is matching your donation  - sorry about the long link - the other, much smaller but equally important is Josh Hastens link

Tomorrow Zvi and I leave for Romania for a week. We leave with a heavy heart but many others depend upon our travelling - we are representing Israel with Zvi's choir. I hope I will be able to let you know what the Romanians think of us but....... I am afraid I already know.

Please understand, this is going to sound very strange but Israelis are still safer than people living in almost any other country in the world. Tourists don't cancel trips to Turkey, Venezuela, Colombia .... the USA or Europe because of troubles - so don't cancel your trip - we need to know you still love us.

Yesterday the Bloomfield Science Museum with Rachel and her children. It was full of children having a wonderful time - life goes on, with caution but life goes on. Children of all ages were blissfully unaware of the situation in Israel and that is excellent. Adults checked out where the safe room was and just got on with it. 

In a different world and different mood Vera Lynn sang to the troops of World War 2 at a time when the citizens understood that when bombs fall on Britain we fight back

I wish you could understand the words of the incredible songs that these children of Israels "Music School" sing - each is a prayer, each sings of love, all dream of peace

With love from Jerusalem, still so beautiful, so normal, so quiet, as we begin a new week of sad news. Do I want to be anywhere else? No way - this is my home and I am not going anywhere.


By the way - the ambulances and police have changed their sirens to one that sounds much less like an air-raid siren and more like the Paris Gendarmerie so that it won't scare us!!!

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