Friday, 27 August 2010

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

27th August 2010.

Shabbat Shalom to you all. I hope this letter finds you well. Our New Year is almost upon and the holiest period of the Jewish year. It is a time we contemplate our actions and try to change our mindset to a far less selfish one. One subject is always on the line and tat is "What can I do to change the world's undeserved opinion of Israel" – but Former Prime Minister of Britain and current representative of the Quartet to the Middle East put my concerns into perspective.

"The best answer to the de-legitimisation of Israel lies in the character of Israel itself and in the openness, fair-mindedness and creativity of ordinary Israelis. That character and those people built the State of Israel. They remain it’s guardians. They are why to de-legitimise Israel is not only an affront to Israelis but to all who share the values of a free human spirit."
Talking of deligitimisation Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief expressed concern over a Palestinian man's conviction yet didn't utter a sound when the Lockerbie bomber was released early and sent home to a hero's welcome. Where is her sense of balance, morality and justice I ask?
A new Commander in Chief of the IDF has been chosen, amidst a furore of giant proportions but then this is Israel!! Gabi Ashkenazi will complete his term having reinstated pride within the ranks and efficiency within the organization. The new Commander in Chief is Yoav Galant,7340,L-3943296,00.html
The news item said that "The last US troops leave Iraq" then as if in small print added "although 50,000 troops are still stationed in and around Baghdad" As soon as the announcement was made the bombings and riots and killings began. One cannot impose democracy on a country that is torn apart by religious strife. One cannot impose democracy – period. Democracy is earned and democracy is gained over many years of education and limited privilege. Imposed democracy is inevitable anarchy.

I now write in praise of the BBC! Occasionally the formerly salient and even handed approach for which they were once famous raises its head. Panorama, a highly regarded BBC news magazine, produced an investigative programme into the Gaza Flotilla and came up with some very interesting conclusions. They found Israel correct in her handling of the incident. The two part programme which drew strong fire from the left and the Moslems is well worth watching.
You Tube - Part 1
You Tube - Part 2

Israel won medals in the Youth Olympics in Singapore including that of Gil Haimovitch who received is medal after the Iranian athlete withdrew rather than listen to the infidel anthem "Hatikva" Their loss our pride!!

Finally, at last and incredibly the Jerusalem Light Railway made its first journey. Don't get too excited – you won't be riding it for a while yet but it is a tiny beam of light at the end of a very long tunnel of traffic chaos, shops without entrances due to road works and the messiest town centre in the Middle East – however it is on its way!!! When it begins a regular service it will hopefully change the centre of town and return it to its former vivacity and hustle and bustle. The mushrooming shopping malls and the terrorist bombs of the Intifada caused the main streets – other than the ever bustling Ben Yehuda, to fall into disrepair but the light railway should change all that.

The last two weeks have been fun – apart from the fact that my lovely husband as been travelling, wowing audiences in Argentina and Uruguay! Friends Yaffa and Martin Glass were here and before Zvi left we "did" Mahane Yehuda Market Festival of music and dance…music of every conceivable genre! Dear childhood friend Jenny and Brian Bell came to Jerusalem to celebrate Brian's birthday and were thrilled with the Israel Museum and the David Citadels sound and light show and the hustle and bustle of the Mamilla mall. I was trilled ot see my Mum's friend Tema Gaba (her daughter Sue is my friend too) who talked of my late mother and told me stories about their friendship when they were both young marrieds.

The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat has an amazing mother who decided to initiate a "Third Age" (retirees) music class at the Jerusalem Music Centre. The Centre is becoming a real meeting place thanks also to the Hariton Recording Studios (thanks to Paul and Flory). The end of term concert was outstanding with glorious flourishes of music with wonderful explanations by the teacher. As a finale Mrs Barkat then showed us all what can be done, irrespective of age by playing Debussy's Claire de Lune after just four years of study. The Music Centre is in the Gehenom Valley, under Mount Zion and opposite the Cinematheque and Mishkenot Sha'ananim'ananim .

Last night I had the ultimate honour of entertaining my grand-daughter Talia. I picked her up and we came home to rest a little, bathe and prepare ourselves for a night on the town. We chose to eat out at a lovely restaurant in the every bustling German Colony. I loved the way the waiters treated her with great respect, advising her on the tastiest and most appropriate menu for a 4 year old. Yes in Israel a 4 year old comes out with her family – the restaurant was filled with happy children and no-one gave a stern look; "Children should be seen and not heard" is anathema in Israel! We had so much fun and as I took her back home this morning she reminded me how lucky we are to live in "Yerushalyim" and how privileged I am that my grandchildren call me Safta.

Have a beautiful Shabbat and remember that Tikkun Olam is our reason for being here. To create a better world for our children and to pray that our children will take better care of the world than we did. Written, sung and arranged by David d'Or the song "Tshmor al ha olam yeled" Guard our world child" says it all And the lyrics translated
Last but far from least – my wonderful friend Arlene has undergone surgery and I want you all to pray for her speedy recovery because I want her back here in Jerusalem with me for a great big hug and natter!!!
With all my love from a glorious pre-Shabbat Jerusalem


Friday, 13 August 2010

Shabbat Shalom letter


Friday 13th of August 2010.

Shabbat Shalom to you all and an extra happy Friday 13th to our smashing friend John Gandel who is celebrating his 75th birthday. John is ever young thanks his wife Pauline….. who fills his life with love and humour.

Did you know that in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, indeed almost all the Arab States, Palestinians are not recognized as citizens and cannot obtain citizenship? In this article Zeina Karam tells us of a highly qualified young man from a "Refugee Camp" in Lebanon; 63 years after they arrived the Palestinians still do not have any rights. It is worth remembering that Israel absorbed 900,000 refugees from Arab countries without any outside help yet the Arab countries chose to keep their refugees without rights or hope.

The British National Union of Journalists decided to petition the Israeli Government to release Vaanunu, the Israeli spy who gave the world Israeli nuclear defence secrets, from his incarceration. There are a number of inanities revealed in their petition.

1. He is not incarcerated!

2. He was released from prison on the sole condition that he doesn't talk to the press – and he did.

3. The slimeball insists he is not Israeli, no longer a Jew, speaks only awful broken English and has been "adopted" by the journalist who initially pled his case.

4. Several of tose whose names appear as signatories of the petition are dead!!!

5. Why in heavens name would the NUJ petition for his release when he is not in prison yet do not see fit to petition for Gilad Schalit's release?

Turkey used chemical weapons on the Kurds. Erdogan, that great supporter of Palestinian human rights, is slaughtering Kurds in one of the worst cases of genocide seen of late, according to press reports, 20,000 Kurds were killed over the last five years by gassing. Erdogan is slowly taking Turkey back to the pre-Attaturk days when Turks slaughtered one and half million Armenians. EAT YOUR WORDS DAVID CAMERON

Rockets fall on Southern Israel most days and the NUJ, and most media and governments remain silent. The truth is that they rarely fall on their desired targets but they fall anyway. Last week they succeeded in destroying a paediatric rehabilitation centre….. such heroes our Hamas neighbours; they not only launch rockets without care as to the target they cover their faces like the craven cowards they are.

Yaron London is a veteran journalist, left wing but very pro-Israel. Two nights ago he told us of his visit to the Schalit tent near the Prime Ministers home. He took his grandchildren so that they would understand the importance of supporting the Schalit family. As he returned home and watched the news on TV he saw Arab MK Hanin Zoabi who lied about her recorded involvement in the premeditated violence aboard the Mavi Marmara , laughing happily at a social function after seeing the vacant expression of Aviva Schalit, a broken woman whose son is still in captivity, without the most basic of human rights. "I understood that something is terribly wrong with our world if such inconsistencies can occur".

Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has served with honour. When PM Netanyahu was asked about his part in the Flotilla decisions he said "I wasn't in the country" When Ehud Barak was asked he said "I relied on the Army" When Gabi Ashkenazi was asked he said "Obviously we made some mistakes". Only by recognizing mistakes can you prevent them recurring. Gabi Ashkenazi will leave his position in 6 months, after serving his full 4 year term and the plots are already afoot to choose his successor. General Yoav Galant is Baraks favourite and a letter outlining a full smear campaign on the other candidates has been revealed by Channel 2 television and the heads are flying! My personal favourite is Benny Gantz – who is not involved in the mud slinging except as an intended target!

Jerusalem is one great big party!!!! From the huge international art and craft fair in the Sultans Pool with nightly performances by great Israeli artistes like Shlomi Shabbat and Achinoam Nini (Noa), to the puppet theatre in the park and every afternoon there is a children's story telling corner in another park. Thursday nights see the Mamilla Mall filled to capacity with street artists and "Shira b'Tsibur" Folk singing. The circus came to town (human artistes only) and street parties abound – each telling the history of the neigbourhood. The Citadel (David's Tower) has a fantastic "Son et Lumiere" (sound and light) show each night and every street is popping! On Monday we went with Rosa and Bernardo to the Shouk, not to buy but to have fun! Each alleyway and square had music of a different ethnicities and the crowd danced everything from line dancing to debka, from hora to hip-hop! On Tuesday we met Sam and Debby Bettsak who are here for a family bar-mitzva. Sam wanted to go to the craft fair but this presented problems on several fronts. The police had cordoned off the entire area so I couldn't get near their hotel and then when I did we found that most of Israel had reached the ticket office before us!!! The Bettsaks family from London were with them and we all convinced him to cross the road to the Mamilla Mall instead where we found all the restaurants filled to capacity until we reached to top floor and sat down to a delightful meal with Jerusalem panorama before us. A gentle breeze broke through the heat as we watched the masses still arriving at the Sultans Pool at 10:30 at night. Since it was Tuesday the Mamilla Mall was only packed instead of heaving and as we wearily wended our way home at about midnight the place was still alive as entire families enjoyed the evenings balmy air. We don't leave the children at home in Israel – we enjoy them!!!

Zvi is at his Parliament – I think I can hear the political arguments from here – 5 kilometres away!! There are Motti, Itzik and Gad on the far left, Ilan on the right and Zvi who is always willing to play Devil's Advocate just for amusement! The ever patient (and beautiful) Shira serves them their salads and breakfasts, their "Café Hafuch" and their pastries with such good humour, she is my heroine because I would have lost my temper with their raucous arguments years ago!!! When he gets home we will sit out on the veranda for a few minutes, shoot the breeze and watch Jerusalem close down. Each week I thank G-d anew for giving the world a day of rest, we need it so much. As I light the Shabbat candles tonight I will look out of my window upon the pinky gold of Jerusalem before sunset and recognize that I am the luckiest lady in the world!

I wish you Shabbat Shalom and hope you will remember that texting and emails are just useful tools which can never replace communication.

With much love


Friday, 6 August 2010

Shabbat Shalom letter


8th August 2010.

Shabbat Shalom

Am I the only person who thinks the world has gone crazy? It strikes me that lemmings are sane in comparison to the political and diplomatic cliff jumping which has been going on lately! Here are some examples…..

1. Israel asks UNIFIL for permission to repair border fence since UNIFIL cannot do so because they have no mandate to enter Israel or no-man's-land. The Lebanese Army picks upon the moment that Israel repairs the fence, from inside Israeli territory, to bring in its snipers to shoot two officers overseeing the workers killing one while seriously injuring the other. It was not a chance incident since the Lebanese army had brought along its media cameramen to film the scene! The foreign media blamed Israel for daring to shoot back and the UNIFIL people begged "both sides" to calm down. Lt Col Dov Harari was a real leader who at 45 could have asked for easier reserve duty but was deeply attached to his unit. Dov Harari is survived by his wife and four children. May his soul rest in peace as we all give thanks to him and his ilk for protecting us from the evil to our north. PM Netanyahu clearly asked the world to condemn Lebanese action. The most probable motive behind the incident was to detract media attention from the Hariri investigation. In the meantime Grad rockets fell on Ashkelon without a word of dismay or censure from tat same media. If you are an advertiser demand change or withdraw your advertising; if you own shares in a company which advertises do the same!

2. The first stage of approval for the Islamic Centre at the site of Ground Zero has been passed by the commission. If Americans - Jew and Christian, white, black and brown, do not get on their soap boxes and scream out of the insanity of their representatives - particularly New York Mayor Bloomberg - then you deserve all you get. Ground Zero is a blessed place where the ashes of those who died are interred and to allow the building of a Mosque is not only diabolical bad taste, it allows spiritual control to escape your hands.

3. President Peres is out of favour with the British leadership for calling them innately anti-Israel! Thank you Mr President – thank you for telling the Foreign Office and the BBC, both institutional, both Arabist, exactly what we all think! To prove his point look who has just been appointed to high position in the Foreign Office….. Simon Fraser who was sacked from his former position because of is pro-Palestinian stance.

4. British PM David Cameron stood up in Turkey denouncing Israel and demanded that the EEC accept Turkey into their club.

Shout and yell - these are YOUR representatives not someone on high who is allowed to do his own thing! Write letters – DO NOT TELL ME YOU WROTE ONCE AND DIDN'T GET A REPLY….WRITE A HUNDRED LETTERS IF YOU MUST! Make them polite or they will go in the bin but make them proud and determined and express your demands to bring forth a result.

5. Medicins sans Frontieres the French based organisation of doctors who go to war zones and famine to save lives, decided to shun the Israeli doctors who came all the way to Congo to save the lives of burn victims...... humanitarian to all but Jews? MSF has an apparent problem with one democratic Jewish State but is quite at ease with the existence and actions of 56 dysfunctional & corrupt Islamic states. As one critic has put it well, "These are Doctors With Borders - but without scruples."

6. An attempt on the life of Ahmedinejad? Highly unlikely much more likely an attempt to save himself from his disfavour among his people.

7. Israeli Arabs, Members of Knesset travelled to the UK and reiterated their claim, very loudly, that Israel an Apartheid State. Are they insensitive or ignorant as to what really happened during South Africa's cruel Apartheid era? If Israel were really racist would they be Members of Knesset? Paradox, oxymoron or darned chutzpah?

8. Next time anyone talks to you about the Palestinian refugees show them this and remember the nearly 900,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands who are not recognized by any international organisations.

Brenda Kattan is one of my very favourite people. An exceptional spokesperson for Israel, her nobility of person and speech have survived Durban and many difficult forums. Brenda is an advocate of building ourselves an Israeli or better still, a Jewish Al Jazeera to put forward our point of view and reach a huge audience. Brenda – love the idea but whither the money if people are apathetic about saving themselves? Maybe we should call it El haEmet?

Nick Cohen (non-Jewish, British, Left, Writer) in a brilliant article called Homage to Pilar Rahola trying to understand the idiocy and banality of leftist rationale on Israel and the Jews.

Standwithus, gosh I can't praise them enough. Did you read about the amazing Humanitarian Medical Conference they held in July? It was organized by a group of Standwithus Fellows studying at Tel Aviv University. See the video and be very proud of our young people.

This week has been so hot that we only go to places that have AC!! The Israel Museum has reopened its doors after 4 years of total remodelling. It is now entirely indoors precluding that tiresome if beautiful walk out in the searing heat. The halls are enormous and the exhibits astonishing – from the Roman headstone for a 14 year old spinster (!) to the painted wooden Sukkah; from Herod's central heating pipes to the all of the 3 monotheistic religions; from the ancient synagogue of Soussia (called an illegal Jewish settlement by the UN and USA) to my favourite exhibit inside the Judaica halls – the Synagogues brought to the museum piece by piece and rebuilt lovingly. From Suriname, where Jews who fled Holland settled; Germany, Italy where Jews taken as slaves by Rome settled, Cochin where Jews who fled Russia settled – so much history. My favourite was from near Bamburg in Germany. Made of untreated simple planks of wood, each plank was lovingly painted in a very naïve pattern of flowers sowing the love put into this house of prayer. I strongly advise a visit to this museum – not just its Judaica but its outstanding modern and traditional art too.

Nattie and Merav are about to come to see us so Zvi is rushing from his Parliament at Angel's Bakery in the Petrol Station and I must bid you farewell to greet our lovely friends.

Dear Friends, Shabbat Shalom and please remember

ZIONISM IS NOT A DIRTY WORD; ZIONISM IS JEWISH PRIDE. We are one tiny weeny stretch of land in a huge mass of 56 Moslem States. A tiny country of enormous achievements.

With much love from Jerusalem