Friday, 29 August 2014

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila, Daniel Tragerman, Chicago, Yair Lapid,

29th August 2014

When we heard of the death of little Daniel Tragerman this week, his photograph everywhere, videos of a happy and funny little boy jumped back from the television screen and I, along with all Israelis, sat and  cried. Such beauty, such potential, wiped out in one moment of hatred his parents and siblings never to be the same. Why? Why did little Daniel not run for cover from the big tent his Daddy made form sheets in their lounge so the children would not need to play outside? Why do people hate with such foul passion that they celebrate the death of a wonderful little boy, changing his family for ever? Why?

Three Israelis died this week. One was 4 year old Daniel in Kibbutz Nahal Oz and two brave men men who went to repair the electricity supply of Kibbutz Nirim which was damaged by rocket fire so that the children would not add fear of the dark to their daily terror.

The missile was launched from beside an UNWRA site. UNWRA the United Nations organisation which keeps the Palestinians in constant refugee status which foments fury, degrades the Palestinians and allows rampant fanaticism to enter the lives of people without hope. Hamas began as a provider of free schooling, medicine and food, filling the void, and thus kidnapped the minds of children into the cycle of hatred.  If you think this war is over you are wrong. Until the UN is disabled wars all over the world will continue unabated because the watchdog has no teeth.

As soon as the ceasefire was brokered through the hard work of Egypt and others, I said that trouble would start on the Northern border of Israel. I barely had time to form the words when the rockets fell on our northern border from Syria. Oh and by the way, Al Qaeeda placed a huge flag on a hill in Quneitra, merely metres from our border, just in case you still  thought it was about occupation! Evil by any other name, be it ISIS, Al Qaeeda (you remember 9/11) Hamas, Hezb-Alla, Daish and so many others each more extreme than the other. They behead their detractors. We saw it last week. After so long in dire captivity they beheaded a journalist, a young handsome American, James Foley. Why? Maybe even more importantly, WHO? The why is easy, because he was an American. The who is so much more complex. A young British guy, wealthy, educated (relatively) with nothing to gain but violence and hatred, went over to ISIS, aloong with many others from Western countries, young men who took the best from freedom and then spit in our faces.  This week in Gaza Hamas decapitated dozens of detractors - supposed spies - who simply disagreed with them.

I couldn't decide whether to show you this video but it explains the extent of the nightmare. It isn't bloody but it is bloodcurdlingly terrifying as a child learns to decapitate using doll

 I received this letter from my niece Ruth in Canada. It is a letter from a young Journalism intern in Israel who saw the truth with her own eyes.

The ultimate idiocy took place in Chicago this week. Two women from Jewish Voice for Peace, Lynn Pollack and K. Émilie, stood up during a fundraiser speech by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel shouting “We are Jews, Shame on You! Stop killing children now!” In case you wondered, they are not on my list!!!!
Not everyone is stupid or uninformed. Even Hollywood has moral upstanding folk who want to show their support for Israel. Good people.

What you don't see on the map of Gaza - excellent presentation

My birth city of Cardiff is hosting a huge NATO conference next week and Cardiff has been forced to build a huge defensive Wall!!! The bustling city centre has been turned into a fortress to protect the participants from.............. well not from Welshmen that's for sure!

Yair Lapid is Israel's Minister of Finance. Although relatively new to Israels political scene he comes from a very politically involved family and understands the media. I did not recognise the power of his ability to deliver a message. Please listen as he speaks from Berlin, standing on the railway tracks that took his grandparents to the camps

I am thrilled to say that not everyone deserted Israel this week!!! Lots of wonderful friends visited and sat on our veranda to soak in the view.
I told you that Arlene and Milty Wittels were here and we had a ball. They decided to stay here in Jerusalem rather than going to Tel Aviv which thrilled me because it gave me more time with them!!!! Despite the language difference they had a great time with our Tel Aviv friends on Shabbat evening. Arlene got to absorb the stories I always tell her and of course she loves the insane amount of food I put on the table!! If I don't tell you that the group of 16 friends included Ilan and Cilla Horowitz Ilan will never talk to me again. He believes he is my greatest fan but didn't dare say it in front of Arlene.  Ilan made me laugh because he inspected both the veranda and the view and came to the conclusion that I do not exaggerate!!! When I made my special herb tea from herbs picked right next to him his smile grew and grew!!! 

Arlene and Milty got to do everything she usually has no time for. We went to Zion ha Gadol where Milty loved seeing the huge number of salads places on the groaning table; they sat on our veranda and had Shabbat Dinner with us;  got to spend time with Orna and Isaac Levy too; we went on a tour of the new Waldorf Astoria and enjoyed the wonderful architecture and the exquisitely appointed rooms; we sat and had the unbelievable breakfast in the King David - no guys, you cannot imagine the sheer variety and plethora of food of every nature. From home smoked salmon and herrings to 15 types of cheese and a huge display of every vegetable and fruit  which can be whizzed  into drinks or eaten whole and pastries....... oh the pastries.
On Tuesday I met the Tarsh family in the Botanical Gardens. I didn't know Elaine but she is the daughter of Victor Brazil, partner of my friend Jill in Leeds. It was love at first sight! We shared a huge sweet potato Oreganatto salad while the children all had fish and chips! Sitting beside the lake of the gardens I was fascinated to hear the stories of Joe, the eldest son who just made Aliya and who already wants to do great things with WUJS (World Union of Jewish Students) I see Joe as a future politician or diplomat - once he finishes his IDF service of course. We came back to the veranda after lunch and Joe continued his conversation this time with Zvi - who was exactly like Joe at his age. Loved it!!!!

Finally for now, last night was very special for me because an old friend came to supper. I collected him from his hotel and we slipped right into conversations as if years had not passed since last time. Our children were at school together in Carmel College and they are still as close as ever. Ivan and Daphne were an integral part of our lives and Justin, ah Justin, still is together with his Daniella. Whether in Dublin, Belfast, Manchester, London or Jerusalem the Seligs will always be part of our lives.
Tomorrow about 20 people come for Shabbat lunch to celebrate Amiads birthday and then on Tuesday about 45 people are coming for a get-together of the group who travelled to Romania with us. You see guys, life goes on with gusto. While you worry about anti-Semitism and anti-Christianism we live a full life where everyone can live in peace - if only we are allowed. I went down to the shopping mall yesterday and was thrilled to see that the normal rainbow of society was shopping together again - black, white, brown, hijabbed, kippot, bewigged - mini-skirts and ear-locks passing each other without comment. This is Israel.

For your musical delectation this week three videos. The first has no purpose but to make you smile! Where the hell is Matt (from the lovely Martin Myers) brought a smile to my face. Martin, Love it love it.

This song is not a Shabbat song but my goodness it is phenomenal. IDF soldiers singing Leonard Cohens "Hallelujah". Breathtaking  ​​

Yehi Shalom - Peace will be. The ethos of Israel.

We wish you a Shabbat Shalom a Shabbat of peace for you and for Israel. All we want is to live and let live.
​ With love from Jerusalem, beautiful Jerusalem.
If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv

Friday, 22 August 2014

140822 Shabbat Shalom from Sheila. Deif, Rockets, Glasgow, James Foley

22nd August 2014

Shabbat Shalom dear friends

The fighting didn't start again, it never stopped. Except for a few rare days the South of Israel, especially Sderot, has suffered rocket and missile attacks for 14 years.

This week brought no surprises. Riots in  an American town after a policeman shot and killed a suspect captured more attention than the utterly horrendous beheading of an American journalist who was forced to demand that his President and country leave them to their heinous ethnic cleansing. I feel the West has lost its moral compass.

The other unsurprising aspects of this week were in the form of over a hundred rockets on Israeli children by Hamas.  The surprise is that the world hasn't twigged that Hamas is ISIS is Islamic  Jihad is gigantic threat to our way of life.

A rocket in Sderot or Tel Aviv is just a prelude to bombs and attacks near you. When a theatre refuses a Jewish Film festival; a city proclaims itself Israel free and Jews are beaten up for being Jewish it is no different to the Yazidis,  Assyrians or Anglicans persecuted raped and murdered,or the foul beheading of a beautiful photo journalist. Wake up time has passed

We cannot sit back and calmly accept, we must react.  G-d forbid,  I do not mean physical action but vocal and legal responses and initiatives. Now.

After Bradford and Edinburgh we now have Glasgow. Glasgow decided to fly the Palestinian flag over the Municipality, claiming that they do not support Hamas jut the Palestinian people. Yeah. Happily an American Conference decided to cancel after the flag incident. Excellent.

Western leaders in general and President Obama in particular keep telling Israel that they must adhere to proportional response is essential. On the "Contentions" website, Evelyn Gordon reminds us about a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009. It found that, of the victims of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq from March 2003 to March 2008 whose age and gender could be determined, 46% were women and 39% were children. By contrast, according to the UN, 12% of all Palestinians killed in Gaza were women and 23% were children, far lower than the percentages killed in U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

Israel may not get world sympathy for its lack of victims and injured in this war of attrition but when you spend all your money on defence it also teached parents to defend their children - any children. A brave father saved the lives of all these children at a birthday party.

My friend Yleem Poblete, former right hand woman of Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen, wrote an outstanding synopsis of what is truly happening in our region in particular and Gaza in particular. Please read. The Gaza conflict has again revealed that Hamas is not alone in its campaign against Israel. It has a vast and diverse terrorist network that supplies it with the resources it needs to carry out its destructive objectives. This web of terror must be targeted. It is the only way to prevent Hamas from rearming and thus ensuring sustained calm 

Our friend, our dear friend, a major correspondent for a large media company, while sitting on our veranda, relaxing after time in Gaza City, painted a picture of what he saw in Gaza

1. When in Gaza in the safe area IDF promised that they would not shoot toward the area but the journalists heard the loud whoosh of early morning missiles launched next to hotel.  
2. Gaza city is intact but the surrounding former camps are virtually destroyed - the main rocket launchings were from there.
3. One cannot identify Hamas soldiers because they take off their balaclava helmets and green bandanas and pretend to be civilians the moment rockets are launched
4. Many journalists were threatened by Hamas and those journalists who spoke out about Shifaa hospital and rockets in schools, mosques and so on got out immediately.
5. Sadly he saw dead children, a fact that distresses us too
6. This is not necessarily related to Gaza but very important - when American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan use drones for targeted killings they declare all the dead in the vicinity of the site as terrorists irrespective of age or sex. That changes the percentages dramatically.

In the Muhammed Deif targeted killing, his house was destroyed yet all adjacent buildings were intact. There has been no official announcement of his demise, maybe he got away in his armoured car and didn't have room for his family!  Another three leaders were killed in targetted killings this week, including the organiser of Gilad Schalits capture.

Not everything is bad news. I always tell you that life in Israels hospitals is a microcosm of what life is really like here. For Dr Ahmed Eid the most annoying question is whether it is difficult for him to heal and save soldiers of the IDF. He sees no difference, he sees a human being not a Jew, Moslem, Christian, Druze or any other "type".

We spent most of this week in Eilat with Zvi's boys and their families. Apparently the rest of Israel decided to spend the last week there too!!! It was fun, it was hot (imagine 42 degrees celcius/108 Farenheit at 10 o'clock at night) it was an interesting anthropological exercise, the full gamut of Israeli society seemed to take advantage of the last weeks of school vacations.

For a reason I have yet to discover, we went down to Eilat on the bus. It was efficient (both the boys had cars there) it was good timing, air conditioned, comfortable and full of 14-16 year old teenagers on their first foray without their parents. Noise - oy gevalt!!!!

On our return journey I had time to think and observe the surroundings. Firstly, Eilat and Aqaba are virtually twin towns. Israelis cross over to shop and to pick up their tours to Petra and Jerash. As we pulled out of Eilat we had a good view of the beginning of the wide plain which typifies the Syrian African Rift Valley. A wide dusty plain between the mountains of Jordan and those of Israel. Not a wall in sight, barely a fence. There is no need. Agricultural experts from Israel shared knowledge with Jordanian farmers and from sandy nothingness suddenly, on both sides of the plain, one sees large expanses of Date Palm plantations, greenhouses growing incredible tomatoes, well shaded from the searing sun. We may not be the best of friends but Jordan and Israel have both chosen to benefit from peace rather than suffer from war.

The Israeli mountains on the left of the road are short - that is the Israeli part is short - just a few short miles to Egypt. although there is a clear border there we enjoy a basically quiet relationship with Egypt, one of common understanding, of recognition of a common enemy. Driving north, it is strange to realise that the Israel/Egypt border ends and the Gaza/Israel border begins. We can't see it, it is much further toward the sea and we are quite inland, but then nothing is far from anything in Israel!!!  

Passing Yotvata and its delicious chocolate milk,  the magnificent Massada, as impressive and its history, Ein Gedi, glorious kibbutz on the Dead Sea and then the climb, the ascent to Jerusalem. All this time following Jordans bank of the Dead Sea.

And so to Shabbat in Jerusalem. This morning Zvi collected my beautiful friend Arlene and her Milty to take them to Mahane Yehuda for a unique experience. The full rainbow of Jerusalem life is there buying fresh produce, meat, delicatessen and fish for Shabbat. Fish, well actually carp, is so fresh that it is still jumping! Really! I don't know if that is why I don't like carp, or is it the very grey fishy smell to it!!!!  

Zvi bought fruit for our guests tomorrow, bright red water melon, crunchy and juicy - without pips of course; bright yellow melons; dragon fruit both magenta and white; passion fruit, big and fragrant; mangoes, it is the season for the yellow and orange ones and their scent fills the house; and finally marvellous green and purple grapes - seedless of course. I will do a huge platter of cut fruit to go with the wonderful smelly cheeses - a perfect marriage!!! He popped into Tsidkiyahus for  olives - the best in town!!!

Arlene and Milty came back with Zvi for a quick lunch, which is why I took a hiatus in my writing and just got back to tell you that they enjoyed my "speciality"- fried fish balls! Arlenes favourite! 

So Jerusalem is yet again preparing for Shabbat. Everything continues as before, we are aware that there are differences but life must go on. I am thrilled that Arlene and Milty came and to be absolutely honest - don't quite understand why so many cancelled. My friend Andrew Stone came, Canon Andrew White came, Elaine Brazil came and we'll see her next week together with her lovely family - indeed I can't help feeling that if people just stopped to consider that if someone is murdered in Miami one does not refuse to visit Aventura!  There are murders almost every day in New Jersey but you never stop going to the Mall!!!! Every person that cancels a trip to Israel is putting a smile on Hamas face.

I wish you a Good Shabbes - Shabbat Shalom - from our home to yours. Sadly for a community in Ashdod it will not be a good Shabbat - a rocket just seriously damaged their synagogue, injuring two people, just before Shabbat.

Now for your reward! The music!
My big sister Eddie sent me this amazing music video - old songs get a new sound!
Steve Linde, the Editor of the Jerusalem Post sent me this video and I am in love with it!!!! Just wonderful - and HAPPY!!! Adon Olam as you have never heard it before

With much love

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

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.