Friday, 26 February 2016

160226 David Cameron, Jewish Agency Meetings, Norman and Lola


26th February, 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this missive finds you well and happy.

Politics are strange, indeed on occasion unfathomable. British Prime Minister David Cameron, a proclaimed and proven friend of Israel, suddenly came out with a distressing statement in Parliament, a double whammy yesterday when he said that after touring his beloved Jerusalem, he was horrified to find that East Jerusalem was surrounded - then added OCCUPIED East Jerusalem.

Et tu David?
Surrounded? By whom? 
The Old City is surrounded by a wall that the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt. Inside live Jews, Christians and Moslems. 
Jerusalem has expanded into the new city - just expanded not surrounded.
Next the use of the word occupied. Again WRONG! The land around Jerusalem is not occupied, it is disputed, legally disputed, it was Jordan and is now disputed.
Now for SURROUNDED. What exactly is he trying to say - that the Arabs are surrounded by Jews? Is he serious? Israel, the very tiny land of Israel, is utterly surrounded by countries that want her gone!!!! 
Get your facts right Mr Cameron. With all due respect what you are suggesting is as ridiculous as a Canute statement that Britain is surrounded by the sea!!!!!

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded thus
“My friend David Cameron, who is undoubtedly a friend of Israel, seems to have forgotten some basic facts about Jerusalem. Only Israeli sovereignty prevents the Islamic State and Hamas from igniting the holy sites, as they do throughout the Middle East. Only Israeli sovereignty over the city’s Arab residents promises roads, clinics, places of employment and all other means they would not benefit from their brethren throughout the Middle East. Only Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem preserves the rule of law for everyone, something that did not exist in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and large parts of the Arab world, including the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip. Only Israeli sovereignty ensures all this and it is important for friends in Europe to remember this simple fact.”

It is worth remembering that Jerusalem was divided for only 19 of her 3,000+ years existence and it was Jordan, not a Palestinian State that held East Jerusalem – indeed Jordan occupied East Jerusalem. During that time Christian and Jewish sites were destroyed and Jews could not reach their Holy sites. That should also be remembered. Perspective.

To show the inverse morality of our world leaders, Venezuela and Syria have been elected to a United Nations Committee on the "Subjugation of Peoples"!!!! Israel, free, open, democratic and caring, is reviled and admonished every day of the week yet these oppressive societies are invited in. Ludicrous.

If you wondered what any 13, 14 or 25 year old, with all their future in front of them, could possibly gain from stabbing a few Jews, you don't know about the Iranians! No, not only encouraging the violent rhetoric of the Imams, they pay up to $7,000 a month to the families of those who kill Jews! A new home will replace the one that we pull down as a punishment –so it goes. Until the PA develops a viable economy instead of hugely fat bank accounts for its leaders we have no hope. The inverse truth is that if only Western countries would stop giving the PA aid, their people could benefit and if they stepped out of the arena entirely – we could achieve peace. I find it hard to understand why educated Israeli Arabs go off to fight for ISIS but I guess that is another story.

The Canadian Parliament is the latest to vote on outlawing BDS.  Sadly it has taken too long for them and for other governments to wake up because the vile and fictitious message has taken hold, but better late than never. I love it when our politicians do a good job though. Overnight a series of posters condemning Israel appeared all over the London tube stations. MK Yair Lapid was in contact almost before the MP's woke up and by the end of the day all were taken down, much less time than it took in Chicago!

This week I went along to some of the meetings of the Jewish Agency Congress in Tel Aviv. I love to see the people who are there to be seen and those who go to change the status quo which isn't really working. Of course my Zvi always tries to rock the boat, to innovate and rejuvenate a tired organization. I see the enthusiasm in WIZO's women, especially Helena Glazer, I saw it in the Hadassah leaders like Marlene Post, but the feeling of stagnation worries me. The Jewish Agency needs strong leadership to take her into the century that is already 16 years old. I was deeply impressed by our new Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblitt. A surprisingly humble man, he spoke of togetherness and one of his first acts was to demonstrate that by approving the law to allow mixed prayer at the Western Wall. We sat at the table with one of his former soldiers in the IDF who said he was the best officer he ever met. After he spoke, strident feminist Anat Hoffman of Women of the Wall, not one to give compliments, let alone to an Orthodox male Jew, spoke of his openness and generosity of spirit. Augers well for his term of office. The very next day he approved a law whereby publicly funded cultural events and theatres that deride or endanger the State of Israel or refuse to perform for political reasons, would lose their public funding. As long as that law is enforced carefully I approve too. Nobody is saying they cannot perform whatever they choose, just that the State will not pay for it.

If you had a wish, any wish, what would it be? If you lived in Jerusalem, would your wish be different? 

We are only 0.3% of the world's population – let's love each other, accept and celebrate our differences.

As you know, I am crazy about Shouk Mahane Yehuda. I love the sounds and smells, the noisy yelling of the costermongers, the incredible mountains of spices, red paprika, yellow turmeric, rice with every conceivable seed and nut to make delicious dishes, tiny roses for tisanes, long long sticks of cinnamon, and I haven't even begun on the freshly picked vegetables and fruit! At this time of year there are huge mounds of fresh strawberries, sold loose by the kilo! Anyway, I digress! This amazing project by Israeli graffiti artists, "When the Shouk Closes" describes how they paint the metal shutters after the stallholders go home. Take a look for yourselves!

Last Shabbat Lola and Norman Cohen invited us for tea. Canon Andrew White who loves Norman and Lola as much as I do, was most thrilled about  the delicious shortbread. The biggest bag of Yorkshire Tea I have ever seen in my life ensured a good cuppa, scones, shortbreads and delightful tea-time delicacies, to which I added Welshcakes – of course! The conversation was excellent and I am inclined to think that Lola doesn't tell the truth of her age – she looks wonderful!

Incredibly, two nights ago we celebrated the 18th birthday of Tomer Silver. Tomers parents, Ira and Valeri, became our family when they made Aliya from Moscow just one year after me. We have watched Tomer from his brit, through his first confident Ma Nishtana and are so proud of him. A fine addition to the Israeli family. Tomtom – we love you.

We are about to receive guests. Zvi ran off at 07:00 to the gym to ensure a good appetite for breakfast. Our guests are American, military and I can't tell you more but they are really lovely people I intend introducing them to Shakshuka for breakfast, a wonderful tomato-y, spicey sauce with eggs broken into it and gently cooked so the albumen is firm and the yolk runny and scrummy!!!

I can't wait to show them the view from our veranda, it always surprises first timers, and this time I want to emphasise that here in Jewish Jerusalem, Arabs, be they Christian or Moslem, live side by side with Jews, without any animosity. The residents of the neighborhood of Beit Tsafafa, right in front of us, has exactly the same rights and services as Pat, right next door, and Gilo above. Indeed Gilo has many Arab residents too. Remember that when the CNN reporter says he is in the settlement of Gilo!!!

Music. Music music . Aaah if only we could all sing together wouldn't the world be a better place? The Peace Choir with David D'Or and Dudu Fisher sing for the Pope and Shimon Peres in the gardens of the Presidents House, in Hebrew, English and Arabic, expressing  our hopes and dreams for peace.

Breakfast is over, the Shakshuka eaten and Zvi has taken our American guests to visit the Holy places in Jerusalem. They so enjoyed the view from our veranda – amazed to see the vitality and vivacity of this city form our vantage point.  They were even more excited by our "Rogues Gallery" of photos in our office and the stories we tell. After touring and taking their lives into their hands by going to Zvi's Parliament, we will take them, both devout Christians, to Shabbat Dinner with Zvi's boys – their first time!

Shabbat Shalom dear friends
May God Bless you and keep you safe from harm.

For your perusal if you wish

Mark Twain wrote ”...If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.
The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” 
- Mark Twain (“Concerning The Jews,” Harper’s Magazine, 1899)

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

Friday, 19 February 2016

160219 Ehud Olmert, Conf of Pres,

18th February 2016

Shabbat shalom dear Friends. I hope this missive finds you well.

Have you ever felt that you fitted a month into 7 days? Well this week I was convinced that time had run away with me. No sooner did I wake up than the whirlwind of life passed through and it was night-time again!!!

Three meetings of the Press Club, a kind invitation from Malcolm Hoenlein to join the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organisations and hoping to see friends too. My husband has been infinitely patient as food is hurriedly thrown in his direction on my way out the door! I haven't seen my grandchildren this week and………… it has been absolutely fascinating!!!

The plight of our friend, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has knocked the wind out of our sails. The vultures in the media and the government have swooped ominously, their determined attack on the flesh of their prey sickening; their short term memory claiming he was not a good Mayor/Minister/Prime Minister. As we look north to the chaos in Syria, just imagine the threat had Ehud Olmert not blown up the Syria reactors, despite strong opposition from the USA; as we look to the South, imagine had he (together with Ariel Sharon) not taken the Jews out of Gaza as Hamas rose to bloody power? Does anyone really think Hamas would have been defeated had we not left? Look to Turkey, USA, Europe, UK whose leaders he wooed and won. One writer even suggested that Ehud Olmert wrested power from a comatose Ariel Sharon when those of us near him know that Ariel Sharon had taken him from his Mayoral position and groomed him to take over the leadership in the middle of Sharon's term. Finally, perhaps he came close to the line into a grey area, but compared to others who got away with mild sentences he did nothing to harm Israel's public image. Please don't write back with cruel claims – I cannot cry any more. If you check out Facebook you will see that those of us who worked close to him have only kind, nay loving, words for the man who led us.

The UK has outlawed "town hall boycotting" of Israel. In a statement, UK Minister Hancock added that such boycotts “undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate.” Hancock addressed the new guidelines while updating Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday in Jerusalem, commenting “We believe that discrimination is unacceptable and has to be opposed.”

Conceivably the worst instance of boycott and tragedy took place in South Africa, which is suffering one of the worst droughts in history. Vast areas are laid fallow and arid and a Conference on Water was to take place to prevent further tragedy. When they found that an Israeli expert was taking part, with the technology that has been adopted in California, BDS demanded the Conference cancelled.  Bravo BDS, the dead and starving will be on your heads in the ensuing famine.

Yesterday there was another stabbing attack. It was in Shaar Binyamin, outside the green line, which may seem irrelevant but apparently important to the news media. Sky News actually said an Israeli, Tuvia Yanai Weissman z"l, was killed in a stabbing frenzy by two Palestinian youths. I want you to understand something. "Settlements", so demonised in the press, are in fact a fine example of living together in every way. Jews and Arabs live side by side, work side by side and in the case of Rami Levy Supermarkets, shop side by side -  and hold more interaction than people who live in the big towns and are able to spend a life without any contact with "the other" – other than in the news.,7340,L-4768062,00.html

I am a very lucky person. I am invited by Dr Malcolm Hoenlein to join many of the events for the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations of America. Even that incredibly long title doesn't do justice to the work Malcolm does on every level.
The range of speakers and activities is incredible. From Yossi Vardi who wowed us with a genius 15 year old who is in his 3rd year of University while in 10th grade; a young Haredi man who became fascinated by creation and is now saving to go to University; Dr Shiri Tenenboim, an oncologist, who is caring for the refugees and work seekers who have no medical coverage in Israel; Yigal Barket, VP of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange who survived a gangster, wife-beating father to become an innovator, entrepreneur who still teaches children in schools that the do not have to become what the world tells them they are.
Of course there were many learned speakers on the expected subjects of BDS, Security, Iran, Syria etc, all fascinating, but I was thrilled to hear Yair Lapid speak. It is so refreshing to listen to a politician who admits his mistakes and learns from his experience. Luke Baker is not an easy interviewer, asking the tough questions but Lapid certainly impressed me anew.

Another highlight was a visit to the Friends of Zion Museum.
I have to admit that our friend Pastor Mike Evans, creator of the museum, has been asking me on a regular basis if I have visited the Museum and I just didn't have time. Thanks to Malcolm Hoenlein I can now say yes. We were greeted by Mikes charming son Michael who then led us into a wonderland of Biblical and Modern History telling the story of those Christians who stood up to be counted among those who did not forsake their Jewish heritage and responsibility, especially honouring the Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust. An exceptional experience. Kol ha Kavod to the two Michaels.

Inna Rogatchi is a film-maker. We met in Rome where under the auspices of their Foreign Ministry and Vittorio Pavoncello her film based on an interview with Simon Wiesenthal was presented to the community. It is an important teaching tool for us all

I think it is time to turn to lighter subjects and I chose a truly Israeli pan on life. Kippot; Hats; Shoes; Skirts; Coats and of course hairstyles, without even going into trousers!!!

Kippot or yarmulkes or skullcaps or – as my son Gideon says Yid-Lids.
White silk is clearly secular for bar mitzvas and weddings, small knitted kippot are traditional unless worn over the left ear in which case the wearer is proclaiming he is Bnei Akiva! Black knitted suggests a bit more religious and large black knitted is even more so unless you wear a large white knitted, bobbled kippa with Na Na Nachman on it,  then you are Breslauer! Black velvet is already going up to a much higher level especially if it peeps out the back of a large black hat!

Womens head wear is also dependent upon religiosity.  Shmattes, tichels, cloches or headscarves; tied, placed or wound into incredibly intricate mounds; alternatively a cloth shower cap does the job if you are very religious; Wigs – todays wigs are so different from the old simple knot at the back of ones head. Today they are perfectly coiffed and indistinguishable from natural hair; finally the cute hat perty perched on the back of ones head.
Even ladies shoes show your religious standing. If you see a long skirt with white socks and running shoes – you know that is a religious lady, unless she wears thick lisle stockings and black shoes then she is seriously religious!
I haven't even gone into the pony-tailed priests, their tall, short or wide black hats, nuns wimples and the long black robes……… the leggings and silk coats of the various Haredi Sects and………… of course the rest of us who love looking at the incredible theological fashion show passing by. If you check out the garments worn by the priests and the Kohen ha Gadol in Temple times you will see that they had even more elaborate attire!

I am about to go to visit the grandchildren in Givat Zeev. After being hugged within an inch of my life we will talk about the weeks studies and who is friends and who is not. They will show me their latest artistic efforts and then I come back home, passing the panorama of Jerusalem, to sit on our veranda, take in the vista and dream dreams of tolerance and true peace. Oh how I love the view from our veranda. This time of year is spectacular, the almond blossom (shkediot) like puff balls on the hills opposite. The train will give its las ttoot before Shabbat in the sidings, the buses will go into their Shabbat car park and everyone will go home for a precious day of rest.

I want to check if you read what I say! Take this quiz on Israel and let me know your result!

So now is the time for music, time to reflect, time to prepare. We live in confusing times so maybe I should give you a song that although not Israeli, takes its inspiration from the Bible, from Ecclesiastes Turn Turn Turn

I just found this song, never heard before and although in English it captures the essence of Shabbat, Shabbes.

With love to you and yours. Wishing you a truly beautiful Shabbat, with time to reflect on the joys that are all around us, if we only take time to count them.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, the most beautiful city in the world

Friday, 12 February 2016

160212 Odeh, Herzog, Shkediot and Calaniot

12th February 2016

Shabbat Shalom Everyone! I hope this missive finds you well.

Another insane week, whether one refers to the primaries, the world reaction (or lack of it) to what is happening in our midst, the continued demonization of Israel, the final admission of the head of the CIA that, yes, ISIS has chemical weapons in its hands and they are in Syria. Please remember if you check back in my archives, I told you about the weapons that were secretly sent overland to Syria from Iraq, just before the Allied attack on that country, and many of you doubted me.

Another insane week in which John Kerry announced that a ceasefire will take place in Syria by the end of the month; after 300,000 dead he has suddenly found a solution? Is there no end to the lies we are told?

Democracy achieved insanity here in Israel when three Arab Members of Knesset, from the Joint List, representing Balad, paid a condolence visit to the families of terrorists killed in action. The MK's claimed that the families asked them to come to discuss the return of their sons bodies, but surely the responsibility of these MK's is to care of the interests of the Israeli Arab community and isn't visiting the families of terrorists and saying a prayer for their souls an act of treason? Can you imagine even James Earl Carter visiting the family of Osama Bin Laden? I am certain that they never said a word to Hamas, who were unquestionably there, about the return of the bodies of our brave soldiers.

I went to hear Ayman Odeh, the highly charismatic Leader of the Joint List Party at the Jerusalem Press Club in Yemin Moshe. He did not go on the aforementioned visit and did not defend it, however while using fine words he did not condemn it either. Ayman Odeh is much loved by the Jewish Left and is normally careful in his actions and speeches not to appear biased, yet refused to speak before the Conference of Presidents in New York when he discovered that the Jewish Agency was also in the building. At the end of a fascinating talk I was none the wiser as to his loyalties. As he spoke I took note that behind him, through the window, was Mount Zion. After his speech I approached him and he was very friendly. I asked his reaction to the fact that my husband, my Zvi, is a Palestinian. It says so on his birth certificate. Zvi was born during the Mandate right here in Jerusalem, on Mount Scopus, in 1945 and his birth certificate says that his parents were Palestinians and Zvi was born a Palestinian. I asked Mr Odeh if he would defend Zvi's rights too. He was flustered for the first time and could not give me a satisfactory answer. Perhaps Khaled Abu Toameh explains it best, as always.

However, and this is important, his point that while many new Jewish towns have been built no new Arab towns have been created is something we must think about. Indeed I think it is time to rethink our attitude to Israeli Arabs. Odeh felt no venom toward Israelis but he feels that Mr Netanyahu has incited and acted badly against Israel's Arab population.

The next day I was back in Yemin Moshe at the Press Club to hear Isaac Herzog, Leader of the Opposition. He comes over much clearer in person than on television, his voice much stronger than I expected. Zvi said he was an excellent speaker and he should know, he gave him his first ever speaking engagement!! Mr Herzog (Buzhy) Made several sapient points.
Peace talks aren't working so change tack
1.       Abu Mazen warned him, and Mr Netanyahu that the current 3rd Intifada was imminent
2.       We must simply separate from the Palestinians. Build fences around the settlement blocks and separate from the non-Israeli villages around Jerusalem.
3.       Strengthen confidence with the Palestinian Authority concerning security
4.       Ease sanctions on Gaza and demand a demilitarization in exchange
5.       Hold a conference with moderate Arab countries, not just Egypt and Jordan
6.       Final Status on the Clinton Agreement
7.       Separation, separation, separation
Finally and most importantly he said that we must not give up on Jerusalem. There must be a change in paradigm but whatever happens peace is not around the corner

I was thrilled to take our friend Dr Cyril Sherer to the Herzog meeting. At 95 he is writing a new book about his 71 years as a physician; he is alert, fascinating and wise and I thank Harry and Nancy for introducing us to this fine man.

Barry Shaw wrote the wonderful essay If You Want to Boycott Israel Do it Properly. Barry has now written an instruction book – BDS For Idiots. Strongly recommended!!!!

I left you for a while to collect the children from school, which is why I am writing rather late this week. It was so wonderful. I love the look of delight on their faces when they see it is me! The usual drive back to their home over Har Shmuel, Samuels Mount and Tomb, was especially glorious, the winter sun gleaming on the panorama of white Jerusalem stone – shining back at me. While waiting for Talia I took a photograph of Ramallah; Ramallah is growing at such a phenomenal rate of knots that it is basically touching on the outskirts of Jerusalem. I took a photo if you want to see it on my Facebook page.

Enough! It is a glorious day, I have a challah made by the delicate hands of my amazing daughter; the aromas of the Jewish Diaspora are rising up through the staircase and Shabbat will soon be with us. It always reminds me of the irony that for so many years they told us to go back to our homeland and now they the self-same people tell us it isn't even ours!!! We know better though. By the way, I must compliment Debby Bettsak here. I always talk about the power of one and Debby has it and used it. Ahinoam Nini was due to appear at a Jewish function in Atlanta. Debby knows full well that Ahinoam Nin (Noa) is not just critical of the government – hey we all are – she identifies with the Palestinian cause which makes her a very bad choice for a fundraiser. Debby wrote a letter pointing this out and managed to get it published! Brava Debby!

Another publishing miracle - IsraAid is complimented in the Guardian!!! IsraAid (IsraAID)  has extended its activities in South Sudan. "Policing the beaten: training South Sudan's cops to help survivors of gender violence

Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes from where we take many of our moral quotes. As usual, my old friend Rabbi Jeremy Rosen does the work for me, explaining and teaching as only he can

The almond trees are in bloom – their blossom like clouds of pink on every hillside. The shkediot are our herald of spring. This cute little video gives you a glimpse but until you drive in the Jerusalem Hills and see the puffballs of pink over the entire hillside -

The arid South is Red!!! The Desert is blooming with poppies, indeed everywhere there are red poppies, pink wild cyclamen or as we call them Calaniot, Pragim and Rakafot! Calaniot, hmm  Isn't there a song about Calaniot which has come to be about Israel in the spring, about Tu b'Shvat – the new year for trees

Shabbat is almost here. The car park in the shopping mall is emptying, the trains gave their last toot, the cars all seem to be heading in one direction and the world is quieter as we move toward that wonderful day called Shabbat. Whether you are shomer Shabbat, keeping all the important rules and traditions or simply love the family aspect, it is a special day. Shabbat gives on time to reflect, to rest, to spend special time with ones children and grandchildren; Shabbat is just that Shabbat, a day of rest. Life slows down just enough for us to remember that it is good!

So now to put the chicken patties into the rich red tomato sauce made from wonderful Israeli tomatoes….. all funny shapes and sizes because nobody expects nature to give even, boring shapes and fabulous rich taste at the same time!!!

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, centre of our dreams for 2,000 years – and I get to live here!!!!

To end, two songs I heard today and LOVED. Shabbat Shalom to everyone  from the Maccabeats - and Lecha Dodi

With love

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

Friday, 5 February 2016

160205 Kotel mixed, Gaza tunnels, Tibi, Hadar Cohen

5th February, 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends,
Yes I know I am writing a bit late today but we had a surprise birthday party for Danby Meital this morning and I have 15 people for dinner tonight so please excuse me!!!

This has been a week that rocked the religious establishment and the earth for the people on the edge of Gaza and for me – week that lifted my heart from the doldrums of tragedies at home and anger at the international media.
I guess I should begin at the beginning because I confused myself and I know what I am trying to say.

The religious earthquake is that the government decided to set aside an area of the Western Wall for Reform, Conservative and mixed prayer. It is both logical and less revolutionary than it appears. The Western Wall is about three times longer than the current Western Wall Plaza. It continues past the Mugrabi and Robinsons Arch (which is in fact a staircase not an arch) into the Davidson Archaeological Park. The area beyond the current Western Wall Plaza will be cleared and prepared (without damaging antiquities) in order to give an area for mixed prayer. It was approved of and recommended by the Prime Minister. It will not in any way interfere or inhibit the prayer of those who choose to have separation, a mechista, whose needs will be firmly upheld. Just by the by – I was at the Kotel in 1967, Rosh Hashana Eve actually, and took a photograph. It was before they dug down, before the synagogue or tunnels, it was rubble all around and in the picture you see a very religious man standing talking to his wife right at the Kotel – so some minhagim, traditions, are self imposed and quite recent.

The physical earth moving has caused turmoil within and without the IDF. Residents of kibbutzim and moshavim along the border with Gaza have long complained of the sound of power tools, to no apparent avail. The sounds clearly indicate that Hamas is digging terror tunnels under their homes. This week the army began to check but for the families it is too slow and too late. God forbid those tunnels are completed and entire villages wiped out.

MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi, who grew up in Jerusalem and went to the Hebrew University to study medicine, became a Member of Knesset, was Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, went to the White House to discuss inequality of Israels Arab population! Somewhat ironic isn't it?

Three Members of Knesset of the Joint List decided to go and pay a compassionate visit to Arab families whose children died at the hands of the IDF this week. Sounds logical? The trouble is those families, those children were Shahidim – terrorists who died for the cause of Allah!!! Their actions have been brought before the Knesset Legal Committee by the Prime Minister, and if their actions are found to be treasonable, they will be removed from their position.

In 2014 three Israelis tortured and killed a young Arab boy. The entire country was in uproar and many many Israelis went to visit the distraught parents of the boy, Muhammad Abu Khdeir. This week one murderer got life plus 3 years and another got 21 year sentence. The third has an insanity plea under consideration. Of course Muhammads mother is not satisfied but – in Israel we punish those who kill, we do not reward them. A life is a life is a life.

In Nigeria the diabolical Boko Haram burned children to death, whole schools, churches without a word from the leaders of the West who apparently care not a jot for the lives of the poor and the Christians.   Ban Ki Moon chooses to remain silent on the horrors of Boko Haram yet decides to chastise Israel for incurring the wrath of the Palestinians!!!

Hadar Cohen always wanted to join the Border Police. She achieved that honour just a few weeks ago. This week she became a heroine, saving the lives of many but losing her own in an act of supreme bravery. We salute you Hadar, as your Father did at your funeral. Hadar Cohen z'l.

Yesterday I had quite a discussion with our friend Michael Gallop, the culmination of which was that basically we disagree on politics but totally agree in principle!! A quote that Michael used summed up my feelings, that the West is left in a leadership vacuum, and clearly his but from very different viewpoints. 
The Italian philosopher, Gramsci defined the concept well: ”The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum many morbid symptoms arise.”

I am so proud of our friend Debby Bettsak who has written a firm letter outlining the reasons that  Israeli singer Achinoam Nini (Noa) should not perform at a JNF event in Atlanta. Noa has constantly denigrated Israel and the Government and should not represent either.

OK So I promised you the good things! At the weekend we saw out lovely friend David Efron, the Honorary Consul of Israel to Puerto Rico, and his daughter Libi and son in law Eitan, who then came to Jerusalem to a show of the Hora Dance Troupe at the First Station. We met for lunch and a promenade in Mamilla which was packed after David and Zvi went to the Kotel. The Hora show followed by dinner in the absolutely packed entertainment area of the First Station.  

Then came Wednesday – wow was it really only one day?

The day began wonderfully with a lecture at the Jerusalem Press Club in the beautiful Yemin Moshe neighbourhood, a lecture given by the exceptional Professor Shlomo Avineri. Such words of wisdom fall from his lips every time he opens speaks. He took us from the 30's and 40's when Israel's political camps were formed, through partition, Peel and the UN Resolution of 29th November. We chose partition because we knew we could never get support for Eretz Yisrael, and they chose war. Had they chosen partition today we would all live in peace. He took us through the changes of 1967 and the return to the call of Eretz Yisrael and the blame game with the Arabs. You know what – you don't need me to explain when the Professor can do it so much better himself

Then, oh then it happened. With grateful thanks to my dear friend Andrew Stone (Lord Stone of Blackheath) I met with a truly fascinating man, originally British, like me, who chose the road less travelled – like me, and he has changed the lives of children, thus adults. His name is David Geffen, Rabbi David Geffen. David created a new concept in teaching, one that exudes love, not in an airy fairy way, but in a positive and concrete method of reaching children, especially those who fall between the cracks. As he says Build on the positive and the negative will disappear. David created Loving Classroom
Even before meeting my instincts told me there were two meetings I had to arrange for him. One was with IMPACT-SE where he found a fascinated audience whose research complemented his method and hopefully, judging from the hugging that was prevalent at the meeting, great works will be carried out together. The second meeting was with Canon Andrew White. This was a case of like-minded, warm, open, giving people who will work together to help the refugee children at FRRME school in Jordan. Only love can rebuild their shattered lives. As we left Andrews and I dropped David back to his car I felt an elation that I cannot remember……….. I was walking on clouds and haven't come down yet. My next shidduch for David is with the wonderful Shachar Zahavi of IsraAid. Life is so good when you meet the right people. I know we are all nuts but hey – if you cannot think outside the box you cannot perform Tikkun Olam.

Finally but most certainly not last – Zvi and I met with Michael and Dorothy Goldstein and their daughter Ilana and son in law at, yes you guessed it, Caffit in the Botanical Gardens! I love meeting them, such warm and positive people I always leave with a smile on my face.

Today is a truly magnificent day. The sun is shining, the air is crisp and when you stand in the sunshine you feel your winter bones warm through. As we stood on Danby and Marvin veranda for her surprise birthday party, the cries of the Muezzin drowned out all conversation and the broadcast words of the Imam sent chills up my spine, despite the sun. Who knew what he was saying?

Anyway – I have to finish the cooking, although everything is ready to go…… Oh now I am crying!!! My daughter Rachel just called me before Shabbat and she and the children sang me a song they made up "Safta Safta (grandma), Safta Safta, We love you – Safta Safta, Safta Safta you are the best Safta in the world"!!! So tell me – wouldn't you cry?

So back to the cooking! Tonight we are eight adults and seven children, and I am doing a milky meal. Vegatable soup, Pea Soup (Gilis request) Fresh Salmon Teriyaki, Moussaka with Tivol mince, Fishballs in Chraimeh Moroccan Sauce, Gratined Potatoes, Tivol Sausage Rolls for the children, various salads and no doubt a few other treats.

You want a song or two? It really has become important to me so I hope it is for you.

Perhaps the most appropriate song this week is Halleva'i – If Only- sung by Boaz Sharabi. If Only indeed

Another song that expresses Israel is Al Kol Eleh  I know I have played it for you before but as those students in Hillel House London learned the truth of convincing a deaf world of the wonders of Israel I would play this song so loud in my office that they wound up singing along with it and it gave them heart.

Shmor na li Eli Ha Tov – and never ever forget the Tikvah - the Hope. As David Geffen would say, Humanity. Head. Heart. Hand. If you think with Humanity, use your Head, give your Heart and helping Hand the world will be a better place.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, the city of light and hope. Worry not, we will be just fine.

With love

If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
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