Friday, 26 August 2011

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


Friday, 26th August, 2011

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you had a peaceful week with lots of love and joy. Israel has lots of love and joy but sadly not such a peaceful week. Your media have probably not reported the fact that the rockets have been pouring down on the South of Israel – despite the much vaunted “cease-fire”. Israel has said “If you stop aiming rockets at us we will stop reacting” of course according to the CNN, BBC and all the rest of them – Israel is in the wrong, the rocket attacks are not reported and we are the aggressors!
After last weeks deadly terror attacks the Islamic Jihad (Hamas says it is not them!) and Al Qaeeda (remember them?) killed 8 Israelis and injured many more then attacked us from the air killing and maiming more. Here is a short report of attacks with thanks to Norman and Lola Cohen of BIG.
ISRAEL UNDER FIRE - (What you won’t hear on the news )
AUGUST 19thA synagogue and school in Ashdod were hit by rockets fired from Gaza.  One person was seriously injured and ten wounded. There was extensive damage to the buildings. August20th  Two rockets hits in Beersheba, one Israeli civilian killed, four critically wounded various degrees of injury caused to three others.  One house severely damaged. Four Grad rocket hits in the region of Ashdod, ten civilians wounded, three critically, one sustained minor injuries and one was treated for shock, several structures damaged. Three  rocket hits in Ofakim, several people, including a four-month-old baby were injured.  Severe property damage. August 21stproperty in Beersheva was damaged by a Grad rocket. August 24thSome 20 rockets were fired at Israel’s southern communities on Wednesday night. In Ashkelon a 9-month-old baby was hit by glass splinters when a rocket exploded near a house. A car was destroyed and damage caused to several structures.
The ordinary people of Gaza did not pay as a result of the attacks on Israel by their leaders. Border crossings continue routinely despite the fact that several rockets landed near them, aid and supplies continue to enter Gaza. In addition, more than 100 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip in need of medical treatment entered Israel.
Israelis in southern areas, about 1,000,000 people, have been warned not to venture more than 15 seconds away from a bomb-shelter.
Edward Beaman-Hodgkiss wrote to me of his experiences, living in the southern, port town of Ashdod. The fear of sleeping, the fear of showering, of shopping, of eating - even the fear of going to the toilet – how do you prepare yourself race to the shelter in 15 seconds?
Glenn Beck was in Israel. Glenn Beck, the man the left loves to deride, came with the sole purpose of supporting Israel, reminding us that we are not alone. This trip was at great personal expense and under dire threats, but he came and he brought some people of exceptional character with him. Jon Voigt went to a hospital in Ashkelon to visit the injured from the attacks and was amazed to see the number of Palestinians who are being treated there alongside the Israelis. If Jon Voigt didn't know then how can you? During the rally in Caesarea our friend Pastor Mike Evans spoke out for the first time of his painful childhood and his special connection to Israel. Pastor Mike understands terror attacks and was one of the first to meet Kinneret Chaya – teaching her to turn her scars into stars. He sent me this video, telling me it was too painful for him to watch himself, you should.
Appreciating Glenn Beck has nothing to do with being on the right or the left – please read what Alan Dershowitz says about Mr Beck.
Give Peace a Chance is a fascinating and informative video which gives us so much information to counteract the disinformation all around us. From San Remo to today. Again well worth listening. .

Colonel Khadaffi, former firm favourite of the Western leaders, is still evading capture. He is still defiant and apparently still in Tripoli. He urges his followers to resist “Crusaders and Unbelievers” Hey Guys – that's you and me!!!! In the CNN report of his supposed capture they put a map on the screen clearly marking Tripoli with a great big arrow. The only problem was that it pointed to Tripoli in Lebanon not in Libya!!!!!! It actually looks as if Tripoli is in Jerusalem. I hope you can see the proof - I couldn't have made that one up!!!!  file:///C:/Users/Sheila/Downloads/Tripoli%20in%20Jerusalem.htm
Pastor Adaboye was a university lecturer in his native Nigeria when he chose a different path. The pastor now brings huge groups to Israel to see their Biblical roots and to support Israel. I was thrilled to see the lobby of the Dan Hotel in French Hill filled with wonderful colourful outfits and smiling faces. I spoke to one gentleman in the lift (elevator to you) asking him if Israel was everything he expected “Everything and so much more. Everyone here is so welcoming and kind , the biblical sites are respected and Israel is a miracle” There are those who abandon us and those who support us – and give us a boost of love and confidence that are impossible to quantify! I went to the hotel gym and what I saw did my heart so much good, nothing to do with exercise!
Finally and at last, the light railway carries passengers. Since the journeys are free for this month every carriage is filled to bursting with children on vacation and happy parents who finally found something their children like that doesn't cost money. As you will see at least half of the passengers seem to be journalists!!!! This first line runs between the modern neighbourhood next to Mount Herzl, through the centre of Jerusalem and out the other side to Shoefat, Beit Hanina and Pisgat Ze'ev. Jerusalem's light railway is for ALL of the cities residents, indeed most of the drivers are Israeli Arabs.

I love people. I love my family and my friends. Indeed like most of us I love those who love me just a little more than I love others but I never hate. The reason I don't hate is because my parents taught me tolerance. Tolerance, the most important gift any parent can give to any child. Mummy used to read from “The Water Babies” and stress over and over again MRS DO-AS-YOU-WOULD-BE-DONE-BY. So many children around the world are not give that gift, they are given the curse of hatred instead.

As a child, I had a “madrich” - leader - in my Zionist youth group of Habonim. In many ways our paths have taken us in diverse directions but in even more our paths meet and run together. Andrew, Lord Stone of Blackheath, is going to hate what I write now, because he is an innately modest, nay, humble, man who changes the world he lives in, little by little, practically and honestly. I took Andrew to the Hebrew University to see the work of IMPACT-SE which monitors the education of 6-18 year olds here in Israel (in all sectors) and in our neighbouring countries too, reporting on their findings to ensure that children are taught tolerance and acceptance of the “other” in accordance with the rulings of UNESCO. Tolerance is what Andrew and I come together on more than anything else. We both believe the future of our world is only safe when we all understand those who think differently to us and accept the difference. Different is not wrong! Anyway, the purpose of the preamble is to tell you that Andrew came up with wonderful and innovative ideas to help IMPACT-SE and that I am very, very proud to call him friend. Thank you old friend.

Zvi has taken his little grand-daughters, Amit and Gili, down to the shopping mall where there is a huge shady area with blow-up castles and climbing equipment in order to tire them out so that we can rest too before Shabbat!! Last night they slept at our home and I loved the way the little one kept finding her big sister in her sleep and curling up with her for comfort. That's how we should be – you and Israel, Israel and you. We should cuddle up to one another, support one another and be the best friends to one another. Accept our differences.............. actually no........... celebrate our differences!

Here in Israel we learned to celebrate our differences through culinary delights!!! From the Yemenite fire-eaters delight “schug”, to the Moroccan sweetmeats, the Kurdish spicy fish, the Polish chicken soup, Syrian pitas, Turkish lamb kebabs, goulash, chicken paprika and all of the above aromas are reaching out to me from the veranda! Friday is the day for cooking and for preparing our homes for Shabbat. Tables are laid, white tablecloths spread, on tables which sit on sparkingly clean floors, the traditional terrazzo tiles shining, reflecting the fine tableware. Shabbat is special, Shabbat is family, Shabbat is another time when we pray to Jerusalem.

I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom, a truly peaceful Shabbat. I pray that Israelis in the South will get to light their Shabbat candles and welcome in the bride of Shabbat, to eat their Shabbat meal and sleep peacefully through the night.

With love from the most beautiful city in the world – wish you were here.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Edward Beaman Hodgkiss writes from Ashdod

tonight the people of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba cannot say "Shevua Tov" (have a good week) at the end of Shabbat. They are under a blitz of rockets from Gaza. Hamas has taken responsibility claiming the rockets are because Israel dared to seek the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks in the South whereby 7 Israelis died.
Time to stop funding terrorists America!!!

My Experiences of Living Under Rocket Attack in Israel
by Edward Beaman-Hodgkiss on Saturday, 20 August 2011 at 10:20

It’s amazing how life can change so rapidly in Israel in the space of a few short hours. The deadly gun and grenade attack on vehicles near Eilat a couple of days ago sparked a heated and ever escalating confrontation between the IDF and Islamic terrorists. This has now resulted in multiple rocket attacks on southern Israeli cities including my own, in Ashdod, where I live with my dear girlfriend.

I’ve experienced rocket attacks before, in my half year in Israel, when last April there was a rise in tensions. So these current attacks are not something new but they have taken on a more frightening feel. Last April, we barely heard the explosions when they hit and so the danger seemed far away. However, this time, the explosions hit close by. They made the ground shake and people in the shelters looked at one another in dreadful anticipation that possible deaths would soon be reported.

Running to an outside shelter is no fun, especially at night when you have to pull yourself from bed and find things to wrap yourself in. The sleep is still in your mind and all sounds and feelings become magnified, rather as if you’re in a nightmare. It takes a few seconds to fully realise what’s going on and the loud omnipresent city-wide wailing sirens send a haunting fear throughout your entire body. You know rockets have just been launched and are heading in your direction and after hearing previous explosions and seeing how a single rocket can demolish half a house, all sorts of images race through your mind.

For families with children, this is a dreadful time and from my experiences in the shared rocket shelter, the fear and horror that appear on children’s faces is not something you want to see ever again. It takes quite a long time for the children to relax again and return to normal after a siren has sounded. Mothers and grandmothers hug and console their children but the fear is clear to see, no matter how hard they try to hide it, in the eyes of adult and child alike.

Life under the threat of rocket attacks begins to take a stunted appearance. It’s difficult to do many of the things you take for granted during the long quiet periods. You know there’s going to be another rocket barrage within the next 24 hours but you don’t know when exactly. This means taking a shower, going to the bathroom and having a nap all become actions you need to think twice about before doing and have plans of action in place beforehand.

The same applies with going out into the city or to the beach. You have to be aware of where the nearest buildings are, where there’s a strong shelter and where you can lie on the ground (somewhere clean and preferably not baking hot concrete) in the event of an attack. You also worry about the people you love and how they are coping with it all, plus the family back home who hear about it all on the news.

Before I came to Israel, I had long followed the events taking place in the country, most notably in the brave town of Sderot, bordering the Gaza Strip. I was aware of every rocket attack and also of the deaths, injuries and stress these people suffered from. But you never truly realise just what they actually go through if you’ve never experienced the panic of a rocket alert siren yourself nor heard the ground shaking explosion of a rocket hitting something nearby. Then, suddenly, it all becomes clear in the most direct way. I think now I could look a Sderot resident in the eye and say “I know” and really mean it.

What the next few hours, days and weeks will bring, it’s hard to say. There’s definitely going to be another siren, that’s for sure, what with the increasing rocket barrages and hateful words from those in Gaza. However, I know Israel will remain as strong as ever and that her people will battle through this period, as they have done countless times before. I’m just so proud, grateful and lucky, as an Englishman, to be able to be with the brave people of Israel as we together face what the terrorists throw at us.

It truly amazes me how my girlfriend, her family and all Israelis have coped with these horrors all their lives and live under these threats almost like nothing is happening. It makes me appreciate their bravery, strength and resilience like never before.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Long live Israel!

Edward Beaman-Hodgkiss (Aug 2011)

Friday, 19 August 2011

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


19th August 2011

Shabbat shalom dear friends. Shabbat shalom from Israel, still reeling from the horror of what happened yesterday, last night and this morning. The facts are easy, detailed extremely well in this article from Ynetnews,7340,L-4110938,00.html , but it isn't about facts. There is nothing even remotely logical about our situation, nothing that our Western morals and ethics can absorb or understand.

Imagine the scenario –
An Egged bus filled with young soldiers travelling along the road, everyone chatting, joking, generally messing about as young people on their way back to their base would do. Suddenly terrorists opened fire on the bus. Their officer told them to hit the floor and the incredible Egged drive decided to risk his own life to save the children on the bus and he just kept driving. Thank G-d this hero kept driving because one of the aims of this gang was to kidnap more soldiers
A family – two young couples, were driving south through the desert, excitedly talking about their long weekend in the beautiful resort of Eilat. Those were their last words as the terrorists picked their next targets.
A young soldier, a paramedic, running to help the injured was gunned down in cold blood – he was unarmed.
Finally an officer, a major part of the round up of the terrorists, was caught by the last round from the last terrorist alive before he was stopped.

The IDF and Secret Services believe that the attacks were the work of a large group of between 15-20 terrorists, Hamas claims they are not their people, who gained entry to Israel through our border with Egypt. Indeed when one of them tried to get back into Egypt the Egyptian forces caught him and he blew himself up taking at least six Egyptian soldiers with him.

The port of Ashdod is Israel's largest port – and the port through which much of the aid to the Palestinians of Gaza flows. Edward Beaman-Hodgkiss reported his experiences of last night on Facebook. Sirens in the early hours of the morning, giving 45 seconds warning of incoming Grad rockets. He wrote of frightened children in the shelter and the trauma of waiting for the boom of a rocket which found its target. This morning it found a Talmud Torah, a synagogue and study hall, filled with young Torah students. One student was seriously injured others moderately – but the trauma – the trauma.

Many people have asked me for an explanation of their reasoning – why just before September? Well partly because the last thing in the world that Hamas/Al Qaeeda/Islamic Jihad/Moslem Brotherhood want is an agreement for any State which excludes Israel; they want to torpedo any chance of talks; they feel they are not on the front of peoples minds after UNWRA proved they do not need aid; they want to elicit a strong response from Israel in order to regain their “downtrodden “ status.
Above all – that's how they think! Ways to kill never ways to build.

We fought back – we killed the perpetrators – the masterminds in Gaza. A short while ago, IAF aircraft targeted two weapons manufacturing sites in the central Gaza Strip and a terror activity site in both the northern and southern Gaza Strip.

Last night Jerusalem was incredible. The Arts and Crafts Festival a concert in Sacher Park, shops, restaurants and malls filled to brimming. Zvi and I went to the opening of our friends exhibitions, Eli Matityahu's digital photography and Joyce Matityahu's wonderful ceramics. A friend of Eli's expressed our thoughts beautifully “How can one concentrate on beauty while such horror hits our lives? It is simple, because beauty and enjoyment give us hope” That is how we cope, that is the spirit of Israel which determinedly puts pain to one side which verges on the schizophrenic.This is a war of attrition, a determined attempt to break our spirit but really – if they were not so set on changing history they could learn from history – too many nations tried to enslave us, to capture us, to defeat us and most of them no longer exist whereas we survive and thrive as never before!

In general the foreign press ignored the deaths of Israelis (those pesky Jews messing up our lives again eh?) but were distressed by the fact that we responded. Some of our spokespersons have courage however.....................Tom Gross wrote - I would like to applaud my friend David Horovitz, the recently retired editor of the Jerusalem Post, for hanging up the phone in a discussion on BBC World Service radio after repeated justifications by invited BBC guests of the unprovoked murder, today, of Israeli civilians. BRAVO DAVID.

Andee Goldman sums up how we Israelis feel about Israel in this video. My Israel.
As our enemies take lives without compunction our doctors climb Kilimanjaro to SAVE A CHILD'S HEART If this isn't ♥ LOVE ♥ then I don't know what is!!!!!!

Even Prime Minster's have families. Prime Minister Netanyahu has a new grandson and this morning he put down the heavy mantle of leadership and celebrated the birth of his new grandson in the time honoured ceremony of “Brit Mila” a covenant with the word. Mazal Tov Mr Prime Minister.,7340,L-4110943,00.html

This has been a week of grandchildren. We created, walked, sang, danced, experimented and discovered – but my favourite was the Peter Pan extravaganza at the Botanical Gardens! Tinkerbell gave the children wings and crowns and sprinkled them with fairy dust; Captain Hook tied up Tiger Lily and feared the crocodile – all on the peaceful lake! The little girls were thrilled and so were we!

That's it! My mind is confused at the lack of concern for what we go through and the lack of disgust at those who perpetrate the terror. It is time that YOUR governments stopped giving aid to countries that burn your flags and despise your freedom.

I wish you all a Shabbat shalom without riots, without killing, without jealousy and without bias or racism. It will come. I keep thinking about a wonderful man by the name of Theodore (Zeev) Herzl who said “If you will it it is not a dream” and Martin Luther King who said “I have a dream” and his dream is on its way to being fulfilled. When it comes down to it.............. “Ayn li Eretz Acheret” I have no other country

The shopping mall is closed, the streets emptying, Zvi is home from his Parliament and the aromas rising from our neighbours kitchens making me very grateful that we are out to supper tonight!!!

With love and hope from Jerusalem, the most glorious beautiful city in the world.


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Update - Terror attack near Eilat

Two buses were attacked today on the road near Eilat. The first bus attacked was full of young soldiers on their way back to base. There were also officers on board who got everyone ot lie down and the Egged bus driver saved lives because he simply kept driving despite the shootings. Another bus was attacked, current reports suggest it was hit by a rocket attack; also attacked was a military vehicle which drove over a land mine. Five people are reported dead in the triple attack, apparently among the five are a family of four whose car was hit in cold blood. The police are searching for further terrorists before they escape back to Gaza.

The three terrorists of the first attack engaged the IDF in a gun battle and all three were killed. The Security Services believe that the terrorists came through the border with Egypt. Jordanian security forces are helping Israel in their identification process and search for any further terrorists.

It is my belief that the first incident was a foiled attempt at kidnapping soldiers.

Furthermore it is almost certainly an attempt by Hamas to derail Fatah attempts to declare statehood in September.

Praying for better news
With love

Friday, 12 August 2011

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


12th August 2011

Shabbat shalom dear friends. I hope this letter finds you well and that you had a good week.

Britain is a wonderful country. It is the home of true democracy which then disseminated throughout the Western World. It was in Britain that the anti-slavery campaign began by act of Parliament in 1833 and the demand for social equality has become stronger and louder ever since. People from former British Colonies have poured into Britain and many Jews who had no-where else to go before, during and after WW2 came to Britain, all of which changed the shape of that society, in the most part for the better. My parents fled Poland, my father in 1910 and my Mother in 1920 and they found safe haven and a warm welcome. British socialised medicine ensured that no-one died or suffered unnecessarily. Social Security and Family benefits ensured that no-one starved but all of this together developed a sense of entitlement by which democracy overflows into anarchy. We saw it this week. Almost exclusively young people, most using very expensive means of communication to co-ordinate the riots, went on a purposeless rampage thorough several cities, looting and burning, even killing, bent on destruction. The British police are not armed and were caught unawares. I don't think it will stop in the UK. The reason? Who knows what ignites such insanity? I keep returning to the idea that it is the sense of entitlement without demands and for once and for all the West must learn that rights demand obligations – nothing is for free.

Australia has the right idea! When the usual inanity of Boycott Israel came up in Melbourne, and the BDS demanded a boycott of Max Brenner chocolate shops (are they kidding, maybe they never tasted the sheer heaven of those choccies) an immediate enquiry was initiated by Michael O'Brien, Minister for Consumer Affairs. Secondary Boycotts are illegal in Oz. So here is the Australian site but the “Bald man” has stores in the USA too.

I walked into the former Hyatt, now a Dan Hotel, in Jerusalem with my dear friend Rosa and we were met by an incredible sight. At first I thought it was a set-up for a movie!!! On one of the sofas in the foyer sat a Haredi young man, with flowing side-curls, working on a lap-top computer while obviously having a serious meeting with the older gentleman sitting next to him – an Arab with full robes and a red and white Kaffiya on his head. We both stopped in our tracks at the sight wishing for a camera!!!

The “Peoples Protest” in Israel is incredibly well mannered, unlike the supposed democratic demonstrations in the Arab world (of which only Tunisia created change for the better) and the UK where democratic expression broke into anarchic riots. Indeed 300,000 people marched, many thousands have formed tent cities in most large towns and central Tel Aviv is slowly being covered in tents. The Government recognises most of the demands, cheaper housing is dependent mostly on the unlikely good nature of builders, but student housing and the cost of university is in the governments hands. The demands are very real, housing is unbearably expensive and rentals too, and many people who work in the public sector (and some in the private sector) receive governmental help to raise their salaries to subsistence levels; however, while many are for real there is a definite movement to bring down the government. Latma has the answer of course, with great good humour!

Isi Liebler frequently writes what I think – this week he expressed my own disappointment with Israeli Leader of the Opposition Tsippi Livni who publicly shamed our Prime Minister in an interview for American Television – suggesting he should capitulate to Obamas demands in order to make life easier for American Jews. Sorry but that isn't the Israeli PM's job! Ms Livni has lost my vote.

Last evening Zvi and I were invited to join our first meeting of IMPACT-SE the outstanding and thoroughly academic organisation which researches education in Israel, the Middle East and overseas assuring that education of young people meets the UNESCO standards of tolerance and peace. The standard of our fellow board members is humbling and the work they have done is phenomenal. Just look thorough their website and you will recognise that this is blessed work. As always this type of work needs funding, it doesn't have a name on the building but my goodness it works to provide our children and their children with a better world.

For Zvi and I this has been a week of grandchildren. A wonderful week but a strong reminder as to why one has children when young and agile!!! I took Talia, Yosef and Ayal to the Bloomfield Science Musem, right near the Hebrew University and gosh they had a marvellous time! Without realising it they learned all about density, electricity, hydro-power, velocity and relative weight! It was so much fun and I loved watching my daughter Rachel give a lesson in architecture to all the children trying to build a bridge. She showed them how to place the wooden struts, to build the arched bridge out of huge polystyrene blocks, finally placing the keystone so that all the children who seconds previously watched in rapt attention could then jump and bounce on it in vain attempts to make it collapse!!!! It was the perfect place to take three children on a steaming hot day!!!

Two days ago Zvi took his little grand-daughters, Amit and Gili, to Kiftsuba in the Moshav of Tsuba near Hadassah Hospital where they jumped and leapt and ran and drove bumper cars to their hearts content. That night as we put them to bed Zvi read them Cinderella in Hebrew and I sang them Brahms Lullaby which I sang to my three children so many years ago – it still works!! In the meantime, Yosef, Talia and Ayala went to the huge park in Modi'in with their parents and had a ball. Yosef even did bungie for beginners!!!!

You see – Israelis have fun!!! Indeed my great-niece and nephew, Carly and James, came back from Tel Aviv for Shabbat Dinner with the extended Raviv Family! The raucous chatter, the food (usual eight or nine salads- remembering that Israeli salads are often cooked and never contain lettuce!!!!) the fun and most of all the view.

Our friend Sasha Teslers son Marlon came too, along with Zvi's sons and grandchildren, and was surprised at the way Jerusalem calms for Shabbat. Of course there are more central parts of Jerusalem that are still busy but they love the fact that nothing moved, the streets were silent except for the sounds of families walking in the balmy evening air, family life, families eating together, Shabbat dinner, children bringing pots of food to parents and parents to children. Peace, quiet, Shabbat, yet with the call of the Muezzin to remind us that this is a multi-cultural society. The tiny but prolific orange tree was admired and the pomegranate tree too. We drank home brewed and concocted herb tea at the end of the meal as we sat overlooking Jerusalem, just being, just absorbing, just enjoying the wonderful sight. In the corner of the veranda the Israeli flag flies, high above Jerusalem, exactly at the spot that Arlene stands and tears fall down her cheeks in joy.

Tish b'Av came and went, some people learn the lesson of “sinat chinam” some don't. Life is so much sweeter if we can just learn to love the other, to be tolerant of others ways. Life goes on.

I wish you a Shabbat shalom, a Holy Ramadan, a peaceful and loving life. Go on, smile at the thought!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


4th August 2011

Shabbat shalom dear friends. I hope you are well.

Israel's social demonstrations are taking a very different turn to those of the Arab Spring. Our demonstrations are an expression of our democratic right to complain! Students for whom accommodation is too expensive, young couple who cannot find affordable housing and families who cannot upgrade because the cost of housing in the larger towns and cities is prohibitive. The government often talks about improving job opportunities in the “periphery” which means almost everywhere other than Jerusalem and Tel Aviv but not enough has been done; on the other hand too many people expect to much for too little effort. The junior doctors are also striking – they feel it unfair that they work horrendous hours for ludicrous salaries. Junior hospital doctors have always been poorly paid for courageous work but here one must not forget that all of these junior doctors served in the IDF before beginning their studies (starting aged 21 to 26) and most already have a growing family. They perform a most essential, life or death, job and deserve due recompense

Norway's Ambassador to Israel made a disgraceful statement in response to Israel's condolences on the heartless slaughter of so many young people in Norway last week, was to say the “Israel brings terror upon herself but Norway doesn't deserve it”. Personally I would have discredited him and sent him home with a note to the Norwegian government suggesting we just don't need their support, but we are too polite.

Grad rockets fell on the South this week, one actually reaching Ashkelon. The Code Red sounded over the South – Israelis from Sderot, Nahal Oz, Ashkelon, had 15 seconds to find a safe place without knowing where the rockets may fall. Did anyone hear the cries of dismay and anger and censure on Hamas from....................... anyone?

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appeared in court this week on charges of corruption. It is a disgrace to the “new” Egyptian leaders that they took a man who led their country, stirpped him of any dignity, brought him to court in his hospital bed. Shame on them for showing how dismissive they are of the human rights they claim to embrace.

I was asked to join the board of a truly essential organisation based at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. IMPACT-SE , headed by Shelley Elkayam, performs research to give us insight into the world of education, both in our region and worldwide; testing the temperature of hate and tolerance through education. IMPACT-SE not only examines the educational material of Arab nations but of our own, Israeli, home grown, educational material ensuring they teach tolerance. Situated in tiny premises the library of IMPACT-SE has become a resource for students and professors alike when studying education, tolerance and the Middle East. Only last week Shelley demonstrated their work to a group of British Lords including 2 Lords who are Jewish and from my home town of Cardiff!!! I am very proud to be associated with this august organisation.

The silence of the violin – the victory of music. A story of a violin that survived Auschwitz.

Monday is Tisha b'Av, the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, a fast day to honour the destruction of the Second Temple. We are taught that the cause of the destruction was “needless hatred” - sinat chinam. What can we learn from it? What can we do other than fast? We can start by loving each other; we can start by caring for those who love us; we can start by doing unto others as we would have others do unto us; we can start by not inciting hatred; we can start by being kind and forgiving........ then we can begin to fight our enemies with an overpowering ability to prove that hate achieves nothing but greater hatred.

Jill left on Monday after a month of healing sunshine and her beloved Israel. I am so proud to tell you that my great-niece Carly and her fiance James came to stay with us, their first time in Israel, beating both their parents (and most of my family) to this achievement. It was such a joy to see their amazement as their preconceptions were shattered. “From what I heard I thought that there were only Jews here, not all the Arabs I see walking freely everywhere or the church bells I hear!” said James. “I expected a backward country and I found a modern, vibrant and happy country” After they arrived at the beautiful Terminal 3 of Ben Gurion Airport I drove them back to Jerusalem and gave them a “drive through” tour of Beit Safafa, Gilo, Talpiot and the Sherover Promenade which overlooks the whole city, a glorious panorama set out before us. Driving through Hebron Road and down to the Old City took their breath away, then through to French Hill and around the huge and leafy Campus of Mount Scopus, overlooking the Old City and of course the beautiful Brigham Young University site. Home to supper and preparations for tomorrows plans! Zvi took Carly and James to the Old City wher ethey joined a tour of the Southern Wall Excavations and the Davidson Centre with its virtual reconstruction of the Temple and the Temple Mount. From there they went to the Western Wall and the Western Wall Tunnels walking back up through the Arab shouk to the Jaffa Gate and the Mamilla Mall. In the evening we went for Jill's final and Carly and James first, wonderful hot and delicious FELAFEL which bears no resemblance to anything you tasted anywhere else! James polished off a huge one in an Iraqi Pita!

On Monday I took them to the Herzl Museum, as unlike a traditional Museum as one could imagine as it carries one through from Herzl's childhood, to the Dreyfus trial, Altneuland and the first World Jewish Congresses. From Mount Herzl we took the short journey to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial and Educational Centre . The Holocaust – the ultimate expression of “Sinat Chinam”, the deadly proof that a lie told often enough becomes the perceived truth and that lie/truth can kill millions. To bring their shocked souls back to the reality of beautiful Israel we went out to the German Colony in the evening, to eat a sumptuous hamburger and just walk on a balmy Jerusalem evening among the crowds. On Tuesday they went down to Massada, to bathe in the Dead Sea and to see the phenomenal moonscapes of the panorama. Massada is overwhelming – the story so very familiar – the Romans, again “Sinat Chinam”, again Jewish resistance, and finally death. As Zvi's old professor once said “We were hated by the Holy Roman Empire which is no longer Holy, barely Roman and most certainly not an Empire!” Strange how that seems to happen! Carly and James are now in Tel Aviv, sunning themselves by the hotel pool and walking to Old Jaffa for a delicious “Abulafia”- where they give the word pita a whole new meaning!! I can't wait to hear their new stories as they come to us for Friday night supper on our veranda and hear once more, Zvi's mellifluous voice chant the Shabbat Kiddush over the wine. We will be surrounded by young people as we sit down for the traditional meal.

Yesterday I met with my eldest son Daniel's oldest friend Justin, his wife Daniella and their beautiful children Rafi (Justin's double) Mimi and Orli, at the botanical gardens. Apart from the delicious food the children were thrilled ot be joined by my daughter Rachel and her children Yosef and Talia who happily jumped around the pond and all of them enticed the black swans, fish and turtles with bread, taken from us and cadged from anyone who wasn't eating theirs!!! They had such a ball, admittedly not the usual peaceful haven but we had fun!

The Voices of Peace Choir epitomises beautiful Israel. Here with Dudu Fischer and David d'Or they sing prayers of and for peace before Pope Benedict and President Peres in the Presidents Garden.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom, Shabbat of Peace, and a world that understands that “sinat chinam” brings only sadness and poverty whereas love – ah love.........................