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.http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/08/opinion/gingrich-isis-boko-haram-hamas/index.html?sr=sharebar_facebook
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 http://www.takeapen.org/Takeapen/Templates/showpage.asp?DBID=1&TMID=84&LNGID=1&FID=583&PID=877 ) 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 liveshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkeACz5Mwlo
Ani Maamin – I Believe – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fvNknbF2GY
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
Sheila’s blog http://shabbatshalom-theviewfrommyveranda.blogspot.com/
Facebook Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement http://www.impact-se.org/ http://www.yurishtern.org.il/eng/content.php?id=17