Monday, 26 October 2009

Mid-week update - Bombing of St Georges


26th October 2009.

Yesterday a huge bomb exploded outside Canon Andrew White's Church in Baghdad. Andrew reports that at least 132 people died and 600 were injured in this horrific blast. The damage to the church would have been far greater had a storm not blown down a huge tree at the entrance to the day before protecting the interior.

Thank G-d Andrew is safe and as far as he is able to ascertain, his staff is too.

We have become too inured to death in other parts of the world. We have become too inured to the fact that most of these horrific events are religion based. The world cannot continue as we know it if any religion, or sector of it, believes it must kill to prove it has the answer.

Life for the citizens of Baghdad became just a little bit more peaceful for a short period but now the terrorists believe they are about to win and their confidence has given them the freedom to kill.

We wish Andrew a peaceful day in which to bury those who lost their lives in this sectarian insanity and the strength to carry on.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila


23rd October 2009.

Shabbat Shalom!

There are a few events in ones life which stand out above all others in their excellence and quality – the 2009 Presidents Conference on Tomorrow is one.

President Shimon Peres spoke from his heart as he gathered an array of brilliant minds to find solutions to today's problems for a better tomorrow. They came because President Peres is a most singular man, an exceptional diplomat, a great statesman and an impressive mind – some of you may disagree with his politics - but his magnetic ability to initiate and accept new opinions and thoughts into his wide comprehension makes him a unique being in a sphere which does not pay compliments with ease. Above all, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said, he is a determined and proud Zionist.

Prime Minister Netanyahu made two very important statements hidden in his welcoming speech. One that within 10 years solar energy will be a feasible energy resource which will replace our dependency upon fossil fuels and that he is immediately forming a think tank committee to ensure his prediction come to fruition. The second was a call to Abu Mazen to take up the challenge of telling his people the truth – everything on the table – and bring them to peace.

Tony Blair brought rare humour to a serious Conference (click on is picture under the main screen).

Professor Irwin Cotler, Efraim Halevy, Mort Zuckerman sat on a panel chaired by Dr. John Ruskay, to help us understand everything from why there is an international law against genocide of which the caring agencies of the world barely avail themselves, to the threat from Iran; The inimitable Dov Maimon, a deeply religious Jew encourages and embraces diversity of thought and belief; Zhang Qianhong a Chinese Jewish Studies professor who wrote the book "History of Israel"; Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the United Nations gave a long but impressive speech, until she used the "O" word (occupation) and was surprised when her words thereafter were less acceptable! Young men who have already changed our future by creating Slide, Paypal, Wikipedia, Skype sat on a panel with moguls of advertising and media explaining how to utilize the web to reach our goals.

The educated opinion is that Iran is more scared of Israel than Israel of Iran (to say nothing of the USA) and the Tarzan-like chest beating of Ahmedinejad is to garner popularity inside Iran. Every time Iran hears from outside sources that Israel considers bombing their nuclear facilities it increases his sense of self-importance.

One of the most impressive panels was that of moderate Moslems who see the future so differently to their radical counterparts.

The world economy; the cyber-world; the increased importance of China and India in the world scene; security and the threat of international terror; Israel's place in this world and this world's place in Israel; a greener and kinder future and how to achieve all of the above. Great minds appeared on the platforms of Binyanei Ha Uma in Jerusalem and did so much more than discuss, they used their infinite abilities to find answers. Ambassadors and Ministers from many, many countries came to hear wisdom in the hope of taking thoughts back to their countries.

You may laugh, but my greatest moment came as I was walking upstairs to the Ladies!!!! Walking downstairs was Professor Ada Yonath! I almost fell as I leaned forward to shake her hand on her incredible achievement of winning a Nobel Prize for her undaunting work. She of course was more concerned that I remain upright than any compliment given. What a woman!!! I have other quieter heroes who do not go in for public speaking but support others in their determination to better the world. The marvelous Dan David without whom so many projects could not get off the ground and my old friend Lord Stone who quietly searched out others who want to find peaceful and green solutions. I cannot even begin to talk of the marvelous people I met in the corridors and halls, but it must be said that President Peres created a truly amazing Conference – as only he could.

My brain was hurting as the Conference drew to an end last night. I must step back to understand how the multitude of views expressed augur our future.

Leaving the Conference for a short while, Zvi spoke before and I met with wonderful people of the New York Federation who are working to find a new paradigm for the relationship between the Diaspora and Israel to entice the next generation of Jewish leadership on both sides of the Atlantic to present a strong future. Dr. John Ruskay spoke at both occasions and we were deeply impressed by his depth of knowledge and insight and ability to present his thoughts.

As you can imagine I did not have time to look at my beautiful Jerusalem outside although the Jerusalem in the Conference was no less impressive. The attendees spoke of our city with such love, Jews, Christians and Moslems alike. This isn't "just another city" this is Jerusalem, Yerushalyim, Ir Shalem, Shiloh, Ariel a city so important, beautiful, spiritual and meaningful that it has another 65 names in the Tenach.

Today is already Friday and we have guests for Friday night supper and the traditional – or less than traditional – meal must be prepared! I have not even opened the blinds to look at the veranda – thank heaven for yet another Israeli invention – drip irrigation- so my plants and flowers have survived!

Next week is the Jewish Agency Board of Governors Assembly and Zvi and I will miss the lovely Lester Rosenberg of Chicago and wish him a speedy and ongoing recovery – we need you Lester!

With much love from Jerusalem as she slows down and enters into the wondrous peace of Shabbat


Friday, 16 October 2009

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila


15th October 2009

Shabbat Shalom to friends all over the world – Jew, Christian and Moslem. Peace, Paz, Shalom, Salaam.

Last week I alluded to meetings held between PM Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas during which Abbas encouraged Israel to go into Gaza and wipe out Hamas – at whatever human cost. I was unable to find proof, other than my husbands own eyes. Finally I found an English translation of the Ma'ariv article. Something has caused Abbas to do an about-turn on the Goldstone report, but here is the article.

President Obama is upset that Fox News is unkind to him and stated in an interview that it is hard to hear bad reports all day long. George W. Bush withstood unprecedented criticism and ridicule for eight years. In 1949 President Harry S. Truman warned his staff not to concern themselves over criticism about their appointments: "I'll stand by you but if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen."

Some of you were surprised that I did not write to bemoan the decision to bestow the Nobel Peace Prize on President Obama. The prize is bestowed upon long-serving public figures who have given their lives to diplomacy and toiled endlessly to bring about peace, for “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people and pursuit of peace”, it is not a reward for being President of the United States! Ambassador Yoram Ettinger explained that unlike the other Prizes this is at the behest of politicians not the Nobel committee! Thorbjorn Jagland, former Prime Minister of Norway and Ex-President James Carter pushed their last minute candidate upon a surprised committee and surprised recipient. Jimmy Carter wins again.

The United Kingdom became the first Western country with voting rights on the UN Human Rights Council to clearly state that it would not endorse the Goldstone Report or the draft resolution based on that report, which had been placed before the council's two-day special session that opened Thursday in Geneva.

Yet again Israel was the first country to send aid to disaster areas. The Philippines suffered another disaster from huge tidal waves which wiped out entire areas ncludng the capital Manila. Israel, under permanent threat from her neighbours and from the UN and Western "do-gooders" is always the first on the scene whatever the natural disaster. We are not insular; we are by nature an ebullient, generous country with experts trained by necessity who now reach out to help others.

Im Tirtzu is a student organization which describes itself as moderate neo-Zionist and is doing excellent work on Campus to confound Israel's detractors. They also have a wonderful line in T-shirts!!!!

Some people talk about their dreams while others fulfill them. Andrew Rogers, of Melbourne Australia, fulfills his dreams in a spectacular manner. He travels the world building enormous creations, some 2 kilometres across. Andrew's works can be seen in Turkey and he expressed concern over the strained relations between Turkey and Israel. Diplomatically Turkey is moving closer to the rogue Moslem states and turning away from the West and the principles of Attaturk. Prime Minister Erdogan's attempts to demonise Israel were not filtering through to the Turkish people so he used the media to reach out. He commissioned a television series to appeal to the ordinary people, a series which has shocked Israel to the very core portraying the IDF in horrific scenes of carnage and oppression. The only thing missing from the video is a hook-nosed, bearded Jew drooling over the blood of children. This report includes two videos from the series.

Israelis are shocked because those self-same IDF soldiers who are depicted as cold-blooded killers are those IDF whose rescue teams rushed to the aid of Turkish civilians following the devastating earthquake of 1999.

Tel Aviv comes to London! Leicester (pronounced Lester) Square and was transformed into Bohemian Tel Aviv Spitalfields Market became Mahane Yehuda as easyjet, a bargain airline company, announced their new route from London to Tel Aviv. Israeli Ambassador to the Court of St. James Ron Prosor was happy to join the events, probably in search of falafel and a good coffee!!!

I went to Mahane Yehuda yesterday! When my friend Judith called me up and suggested going to the shouk I moved so quickly I didn't even hang up the phone!!! Gosh I love that place and now is the season that I love it most of all. The fruit and vegetables are at their prime- fresh, seasonal and local every bite fulfilling the promise of the flavour that nature intended. Judith and I have specific vendors for specific items, the courgettes from one, the fresh green herbs from another and the firm peppers, red, yellow, purple, orange and two shades of green, from the third. Fish can only come from "David Dagim" who has fresh fish from Europe as well as from the Red Sea. David knows how to mince exactly the right combinations for the various cultures – on condition you bring him one to taste after cooking!! I admit avoiding those fishmongers where the still live carp are liable to jump out of their boxes onto your feet! Most amazing are the fruits, piled high teasing ones senses with unbeatable sun ripened succulence as if freshly plucked from the tree or vine. A profusion of dried fruits beckon – their sticky sweet/sour smell heralding their appearance long before they appear. My favourite is the sun-dried pineapple, nothing added the flavour explodes in your mouth. Cheeses galore, spices in abundance, olives in wine, oil, spicy and plain, Judaica, a cornucopia of Jewish life each costermonger bellowing out his wares as the finest! We rested in the very fashionable coffee shop and I had the best sandwich I can ever remember!!! Freshly baked croissant filled with finely sliced Brie and pear……delicious – of course washed down with an incomparable CafĂ© Hafuch!

So dear friends, Zvi has just taken his little grand-daughter to explore and enjoy the Bloomfield Science Museum and I am finishing off the Shabbat preparations. Most of the treasures bought in the shouk are now transformed into our Shabbes meals. The white tablecloth is on the table and I am getting ready to sit out on our veranda with a good cup of coffee and watch Jerusalem slow down, grow more peaceful as the beautiful bride of the Sabbath brings a quiet serenity to the Golden City.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.

With love


Thursday, 8 October 2009

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach


8th October 2009.

Shabbat Shalom, Moadin le Simcha, Chag Sameach, Happy Tabernacles!

WE DUNNIT! Professor Ada Yonat of the Weizman Institute won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2009 for her undaunting research into ribosome culture and structure toward the creation of antibiotics effective against diseases unresponsive to current medication. To congratulate the Professor, the first Israeli woman to win a Nobel Prize, who accepted the Prize with humility, grace and humour, write to,7340,L-3786746,00.html

Zvi and I went to Eilat last weekend. The city was buzzing with children and the hotels were jam-packed for Succot. The weather was perfect, and the evenings balmy as the sun set over the Red Sea. It was a glorious break together with two of our grandchildren (and their parents!). After the 4 hour drive through the Negev desert with its exceptional acacia trees ; the Ramon crater and the miraculous Dead Sea , we went straight to the hotel, switched on the television in fear, pain, anticipation and no small amount of relief, to see the video broadcast of Gilad Schalit.

The video clearly shows his fear, his frail body, his constant concerned glances toward his captors, but it shows he is alive, relatively healthy and coherent. As he uttered the names of his parents, Noam and Aviva, his face changed, a yearning fleetingly apparent, and fear that his weakness may show. Unlike political and terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails who get frequent visits from Red Cross representatives to ensure their human rights, Gilad, son of Aviva and Noam, whose crime was that he was an Israeli soldier on undisputed Israeli land at Kerem Shalom, does not know that fellow soldiers in his platoon died when he was captured. Gilad has no Red Cross visits, no rights. The women for whom the video was exchanged, were near the end of their sentences, are all well fed, well tended and clearly had conjugal visits since one went home with a small child, and they had the opportunity to study – something they could not do in their own anti-feminist society.

Was it worth the release of twenty women to get the video? Absolutely.

Young Moslems have been throwing stones on the Temple Mount, and in Arab neighborhoods around Jerusalem after the Northern Islamic Movement of Israeli Arabs led by Sheikh Raeed Salah (yes he of the excavations and destruction beneath the Temple Mount), and Ismail Haniya of Hamas, stated that not only is Israel not Jewish, that the Temple Mount predated by Harm el Sharif, but that Jerusalem never has been and never will be the city of the Jews. It is irrelevant that Judaism celebrates 5770 years, King David's Jerusalem over 3,000 years and Mohammed's Islam began in 622 CE!

Their promulgation of Holocaust revisionism assumes that Israel was created as a result of the Holocaust and as a consequence Israel has no right to exist. As thousands of Jews flocked to Jerusalem to hear the ancient priestly blessing at the Kotel, Raeed Salah claimed that the Jews were coming to "take over" Al Aqsa Mosque. He has been arrested for incitement. The Arab desire to exterminate Jews is not new witnessed by this video of the relationship between the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Adolf Hitler.

Avdat is a World heritage site- a Nabataean Village which includes a Byzantine Church lovingly excavated by Israeli archaeologists. Avdat was on the Incense Route. This weekend Bedouin men – one a guard at the site, vandalized, threw paint, broke pillars and destroyed many years of work on the relics. Destruction of proof of our pre-existence is paramount.

The Jerusalem Parade takes place every year at Sukkot/Tabernacles with the participation of over 70,000 Jews and Christians, veteran soldiers, scouts, B'nei Akiva and all who celebrate the city, the festival and our shared values. The participation of so many thousands of Christians is ensured by the hard work of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.

By contrast Gan Sacher held the Red Bull Soap Box Festival – flying go-carts!!!

Bravo to Israel 21C ( for spreading this story of an Israeli cure for the virus which is devastating the bee population of the world on to most of the major news networks. Bravo to Israel for originating the cure. If the bee population dies, no plants are fertilized and our world ecology changes drastically in a manner which puts Al Gores fears into a cocked hat.

Rahm Emmanuel provides great material for stand-up comics. I beg your pardon on the expletives not deleted at the end but it is a marvelously funny skit.

Fellow South Africans, former members of that wonderfully active Jewish community, have responded brilliantly to Judge Richard Goldstone after his report on Operation Cast Lead for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Barbara Fix wrote a personal letter to her old mentor and Maurice Ostroff an analysis of the report I urge you to read both.

So many issues are hidden from us in our democracies! The decision taken by the Palestinian Authority not to support the Goldstone Report has been hushed up, and the reason they took that decision has been totally removed from the media. A t story appeared in the Israeli newspaper Maariv a few days ago then disappeared. The story claimed that before Operation Cast Lead Abu Mazen and several members of his cabinet had numerous meetings with PM Olmert, Defence Minister Barak and Israeli Ministerial counterparts asking them to go into Gaza and decimate the Hamas operation. The meeting was recorded and when the Goldstone Report loomed PM Netanyahu threatened to release the tape if Abu Mazen supported it – hence the reversal by the PA. The story disappeared completely and if Zvi had not read it with his own eyes I would not have known of its existence. Now we know why there has been a virulent anti-Abbas campaign in the PA since Operation Cast Lead.

This morning Zvi and I met our old friends Earl and Kathleen Cox of Front Page Jerusalem News. Kathleen and Earl have proven their friendship to us, to Israel and to Jerusalem over and over again as, showing deep respect for Judaism, they not only talk the talk but walk the walk.

Sukkot has special aromas. Childhood memories of the intense fragrance of over-ripe fruit hanging from the Succah roof enhanced by the citrus and myrtle of the Lulav and Etrog mixed with the sweet Kiddush wine and cakes which awaited us after the service at the Cardiff Synagogue, for me embody sukkot,. Those aromas re-awaken memories of the Rabbis, the congregation, the friends, holding tight on to my parent's hands not to be lost in the crush and the warmth of belonging found in a small community. True that today my friends from Wales are spread over the globe, but a surprising number from that tiny Welsh community made Aliyah (500 out of 3,000 Jews) and this Sukkot five of us and our husbands (one Welsh too) will sit in our succah, share memories and create new ones. I love my new and very special friends, but admit that I am more and more aware of the comfort that binds those of us with shared memories.

With much love from Jerusalem, centre of our world, heart of our hearts