Sunday, 5 July 2009

Shevua Tov and Happy Birthday America


Happy Birthday America!!!!!

Gosh 233 years old – just imagine - if you had enjoyed a good cuppa tea while paying your excessive taxes you would still be part of Britain!!!! George III is undoubtedly spinning in his grave at your phenomenal success! You stand as a fine example to the world; you stand head and shoulders above most countries, not by size but by achievement. Your heroes are as multi-faceted as your history, and their battles as diverse. You have extremes, extremes which can only blossom in democracy since they range from right to left across the full spectrum of thought. I fear that your openness, your strength, is also your Achilles' heel. Remember that your greatness does not protect you from attack; your power does not make you immune; your vast intelligence does not make you the wiliest and it is wile and guile which win the current war. In the war of words and lies which purport to be about the Middle East, The United States is the target, together with her allies Canada, the UK and of curse Israel…. no that was not a typo, for "them" Israel is the curse.

Yoram Ettinger, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States reminds us that thanks to the United States Congress our distress and concern for US/Israel relations may well be exaggerated.,2506,L-3741070,00.html

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey amazed me with his eloquence and fervour, subsequent to President Obama's Cairo speech. In this oration his grasp of history is apparent, his understanding of Israel and her enemies exceptional.

One American stands above all others as the champion of equality and freedom in the US, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr King was also a great proponent of the Jewish State, recognizing the similarities in our battles and aims.

". . . You declare, my friend, that you do not hate the Jews, you are merely 'anti-Zionist.' And I say, let the truth ring forth from the high mountain tops, let it echo through the valleys of God's green earth: When people criticize Zionism, they mean Jews--this is God's own truth." "Antisemitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, has been and remains a blot on the soul of mankind. In this we are in full agreement. So know also this: anti-Zionist is inherently antisemitic, and ever will be so. " "Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend," Saturday Review_XLVII

So it is with settlements, when it concerns Israel. Settlers of the United States, of Canada, of Australia, of South America are all lauded as heroes; the US even has a day devoted to a turkey for them! The word "settlers" has been misappropriated and misused and has absolutely no bearing on peace, indeed it negates the truth. "Settlers" conjures up a picture of violent reactionaries on a hilltop brandishing cudgels at innocent Palestinians which is far, in the case of legal settlements, far from the truth. Last Thursday I was driving along road 443 from Modi'in to Jerusalem and wondered at the barren beauty which surrounded me. Nothingness. I was travelling through the "shtachim" the disputed territories, on a highway which ends up very close to our home. Shortly after driving past the thriving new city of Modi'in, one crosses a checkpoint (un-manned) into the disputed area; one feels no danger, indeed the road is the same but the landscape is utterly different. The barren, stoney, uncared for hills with occasional houses, are strikingly different to the beautiful flower laden streets of the few Jewish settlements along the way. The Jewish towns are not built by destroying existing homes they do not disturb or harm anyone; they bring trees and trade, schools and scholars to the area. The area is disputed not occupied and those Palestinians who choose to build not fight are doing really well as the new luxury shopping malls in Ramallah and Jenin shows,7340,L-3322614,00.html

Some people come into ones life and enrich and strengthen your soul. Shalom Dror was such a man. Hero, gentleman, mentor, friend, proud Jew, and Israeli to his very core, Shalom passed away yesterday, still a hero but he lost the battle. Shalom was so much more than a hero of the book "O Jerusalem"; tall, handsome, charming, clever and loving, he was husband to Nehama and adoring father to their four children. Tragedy brought them even closer with the devastating news of their eldest son Danny's death in the Six Day War battle for Jerusalem and that of their grand-daughter who died at the hands of a crazed robber in San Francisco. Despite their tragedies the Dror's never complained, always supported; Shalom was a child of the Holocaust yet responded to the Nazi call for death with the Zionist call for life. Shalom and Nehama fought in the Hagana and then in the fledgling Israeli Defence Force in the War of Independence. The story of his part in the battle for the Katamon area of Jerusalem, is told in the book "O Jerusalem" . Shalom realised how exhausted the Jordanian troops were and with 2 fellow soldiers beside him he captured the area and secured it for Israel. In the view from my veranda I see Katamon and know that Shalom Dror displayed the determination and hope which re-built this country, the country of his ancestors. Farewell dear hero, dear friend - may your soul rest in peace.

On Tuesday July 7th at 7 in the morning Israel time, 232 North American new Olim to Israel arrive on one of 15 Nefesh benefesh flights to Ben Gurion Airport. If you want to watch their emotional arrival live go to This particular Aliyah has special meaning for Zvi and I since Zvi's cousins Jacobo and Rachel Hans and their three children are among those arriving on the 21st of July. Behatzlaha and Bruchim ha Ba'im habayita (Welcome home) to all the Olim.

Today it will rain in Israel!!! We all treat it as a freak meteorological phenomenon but equally know that it occurs every two years!!!! Just a few years ago a full 20 cms (7.9 inches) fell in one day in Acre!!! The rain is deeply welcome as long as it doesn't come along with half the Sahara desert! I am certain that the plants on my veranda will welcome the unexpected miracle – should it materialise. Actually Stanley, my pomegranate tree has recovered from its neglect during our visit to the States and has decided to flower again! Who knows maybe we will have pomegranates for Rosh Hashana (New Year) after all!

Instead of me trying to convince you of the incomparable beauty of Jerusalem, watch these videos- they cannot bring you here but they can assuage your longing for a short while. and finally

I love this city, I love its familiarity and its diversity; its exquisite beauty and its deep meaning. Even though I am one of the lucky ones who live in Jerusalem I still say the ancient prayer of yearning "Next Year in Jerusalem" because if we don't protect her we are lost. "If I forget thee Oh Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue stick to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my greatest joy" (Psalm 137). Written by King David as he walked the streets of this city 3,000 years ago.

With love


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