The view from my veranda

150101 New Year, Palestinian statehood proposal to UN, David Greenberg talk, Gilo

The first of January 2015!
Happy 2015!
The world went crazy with firework displays – each city trying to beat the others. Sydney tends to win but then when you have a firework stand like the Harbour Bridge it must be difficult to lose!!!!
Actually it isn’t such a celebratory day for traditional Jews because it is also a fast day – the Fast of Tevet! On the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tevet, in the year 3336 (425 BCE), the armies of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. The 10th of Tevet is observed as a day of fasting, mourning and repentance.
I decided that I don’t particularly want to look back on the year that was so difficult from so many aspects but rather to tell you of my dreams and determinations for the year ahead. Nonetheless I couldn’t resist this video from the Telegraph of firework displays around the world
The Likud primaries took place yesterday, in advance of the March elections. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the leadership by an overwhelming margin, garnering 75 percent of the vote.  Danny Danon, captured 19 percent of the vote, with Gilad Erdan leading in the race for the No. 2 slot,  followed by Yuli Edelstein, Yisrael Katz, Ze’ev Elkin, Yariv Levin, and Silvan Shalom.
The Palestinian Statehood proposition to the UN Security Council was thwarted. The United States and Australia voted against, Britain abstained. The proposition was extreme, the demands untenable, the purpose to prepare the ground for future propositions setting the bar very high, so that all changes will make them appear flexible.
Having failed they are now set upon joining the International War Crimes Court. Why? Because Abbas plans to lodge war crimes complaints against Israel; Netanyahu rebutted with the comment that the Palestinians will be in the dock because of Hamas crimes against their own people and ours. 
The huge publishing company of Harper Collins left Israel off their maps for Middle East schools, admittedly by request. Their real map remains the same.  Bishop Declan Lang, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales Department of International Affairs, stated that the maps will harm peace efforts and reduce chances of peace.
I am so proud!! Canon Andrew White was voted No 1 on the Archbishop Cranmer’s top 100 UK Christians for 2014 chosen by “overwhelming affirmation and democratic consensus”. It was stated, “This award is bestowed in appreciation of Canon Andrew White’s ministry of peace and reconciliation, and admiration for his faithful dedication to the cause of compassion amidst the deserts of unimaginable suffering and persecution.”
Professor Irwin Cotler Cotler is the only true Mensch in international politics today. A fine mind, a fine man. Here is his resignation interview
Aliyah (immigration to Israel) hit a ten-year high in 2014, with the arrival of some 26,500 new immigrants including a massive 7,000 from France. This marks a 32% increase over last year’s number according to end-of-year figures by The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.
Zvi and I met Rabbi David Greenbergs Family bar Mitzva group from Shaarey Tefila Temple, Bedford, NY, for breakfast at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel in central Jerusalem. It was a very special experience. The group was eclectic and delightfully welcoming, ages ranging from about 11 to………… well, let’s say over 11! They  were warm, friendly and attentive as I introduced the issues, explained how I met Rabbi Greenberg, through Sari Singer and our mutual love of Kinneret Chaya and told them of Rabbi David’s generosity during the last Gaza campaign when he donated money to buy Leatherman kits for the Tank soldiers. Then my Zvi gave an outstanding explanation of the complexities of Israeli politics and some background on the Palestinian proposition for statehood presented to the UN Security Council. Rabbi Greenberg led the group with Israeli guide Nir Nitzan, clearly pleased with the enthusiasm of his congregants.
By the way, talking of Kinneret Chaya, what an incredible woman, she went to Tel Hashomer burns unit this week to give courage to the little girl who was badly burned when a Molotov cocktail was thrown at her family car.
This week Zvi and I went to Gilo. It is very close to our home and a large Jerusalem neighbourhood of about 40,000 residents. Usually I take tourists to the other side and show them Bethlehem just a tiny distance from Gilo but this time we were on the Jerusalem side. I knew of the beautiful views from the top of Gilo but nothing prepared me for the breathtaking panorama that lay before me atop the grassy park. I couldn’t control my breathing, my camera or my feet that jumped and sprang like a gazelle (maybe a gnu?) over the grass and brush, gasps of wonder emerging from my throat. Magnificent is not sufficient. I wish I knew how to send you the video! On a gloriously crisp and sunny day I saw the tower of Augusta Victoria Hospital, next to St Johns Church and the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus; the walls of the old city; I saw the modern towers of the centre of the city and the King David Hotel beside the YMCA; the entrance to Jerusalem and the Calatrava Bridge; the sports arena and the football stadium; then I realised I could see all the way to the Tomb of Samuel the Prophet – Oh my! I thought our view from the veranda was the finest but I must admit, this beat it into a cocked hat!
Tomorrow will bring Shabbat. The children are coming for supper, I love to see the way, between playing with their toys, they peek out at the view. They always comment on the quiet, the Shabbat feeling that everyone is sitting as a family. Religious or secular, Shabbat evening is family time in Israel, so when our children are here, Shoshanas children and grandchildren are at her apartment beneath ours and the sounds of children laughing reaches our table; Michal and Kobi’s family are also with them, their daughter just got engaged so the numbers increased! So it goes down the apartments, Chaim and Daisy; Kobi and Irit; Meira and her family; Alice with her new grandchild; indeed sounds and aromas rise to our apartment in the most pleasant fashion. Sometimes, in summer we even hear the sounds of the ethnic Kiddush – each home with different tunes. This is close to ours but Zvi sings in his rich bass-baritone and the little ones all join in We encourage them to take part otherwise how can the teach their children?
So what do I pray for, in 2015?
I want the world to understand who the aggressors are in the Middle East.
I want reality to set in as to which country gives and gives and gives to this world despite lack of recognition.
I want the powers that be to spend as much on finding an answer to the Ebola outbreak as they do in aid to the Palestinians (x 4).
I pray that we spend more effort on building this world than destroying it.
I pray with all my heart that there will be a breakthrough in Cancer Research.
I pray that there will be a way to control the food waste in the West and provide succour to the third world.
Above all I pray for tolerance. Without tolerance intrareligious and extrareligious, we will simply continue destroying any chance of peace.
I pray that people will not be judged by the colour of their skin nor feel that they have inherent rights to hate those of different colour.
Finally, I pray that this map of conflicts during 2014, will change dramatically for the better in 2015.
Yaacov Shwekey has a glorious voice- hear he sings Im Eshkachech Yerushalyim- If I forget thee oh Jerusalem. Shwekey
Finally as a special treat – a good start to 2015, my favourite song of all time. When I worked in Hillel House in London the entire building would reverberate with Al Kol Eleh, Above All This. The Honey and the Sting are part of our lives, but above all this, the honey always follows the sting
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I apologise for not writing last week and thanks to all of you who wrote to enquire after my wellbeing. I am now back on form!!!
With love from Jerusalem, the most beautiful city in the world – with or without fireworks!!!


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

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