The view from my veranda

150306 Netanyahu in Congress, Purim

6th March 2015
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom and Shushan Purim Sameach.
Shushan Purim, the day after regular Purim (the 14th not the 13th of Adar) is celebrated in walled cities around Israel. Why? Well the battle against the people of Shushan, who were filled with deep hatred for the Jews, lasted an extra day, so while the Jews of other cities rested and celebrated on the 13th of the month of Adar the brave soldiers of Shushan continued their battle an extra day so their day of celebratory victory came one day later. So here in Jerusalem we read the Megilla ( the story of Esther) on the eve and day of the 14th, today. More of that later!
This week has been very emotional for both Israel and the USA. Should he shouldn’t he? Why is it such a big deal? What is so insulting about a speech? What business is it of Israel to speak out about Americas Iranian policies? Why insult your closest ally? Well, sorry, but I refuse to comment on the rights and wrongs but simply say that it was a brilliant and highly respectful speech. Time will tell of the wisdom of Mr Netanyahus determination and resolve to speak out about Iran but I wanted to give you just one quote and ask if it in any way seems insulting to America or the American President. The final words of Benjamin Netanyahus speech
“Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. I leave you with his message today, ‘Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.’ חִזְק֣וּ וְאִמְצ֔וּ אַל־תִּֽירְא֥וּ וְאַל־תַּעַרְצ֖וּ מִפְּנֵיהֶ֑ם
My friends, may Israel and America always stand together, strong and resolute. May we neither fear nor dread the challenges ahead. May we face the future with confidence, strength and hope.
May God bless the State of Israel and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you. You are wonderful. Thank you, America.”
The Arab world agrees with Prime Minister Netanyahu! Actually the Sunni world agrees with him and Saudi Arabia in particular. Al Arabiya complimented him on his accurate assessment of the situation! Before their fight against the West Shia Iran’s hatred for Sunni Saudi Arabia is paramount. Indeed Sunni-Shia hatred is above any other fight.
Col. Richard Kemp, British soldier, soldier and spokesperson for Israel feels  there are striking similarities between the objectives of Churchill’s speech nearly 75 years ago and Netanyahu’s today; both with no less purpose than to avert global conflagration. And, like Churchill’s in the 1930s, Netanyahu’s is the lone voice among world leaders today.
I would not have made the comparison, but, Winston Churchill was unsuccessful in his quest that the USA fight beside him against Hitler and also unsuccessful in persuading Roosevelt to bomb the railway lines to Auschwitz. History does repeat itself because we forget – we live today forgetting that today is built from a million yesterdays.
Who would understand Israel’s position better than a Czech President?
“Now we all must say, ‘I am a Jew,’” he told a packed auditorium in Washington, DC. After extended applause from the audience, he repeated the sentiment in Hebrew, saying, “Ani Yehudi.”  “Of course, your discrimination is our discrimination,” he added. “Your victims are our victims.”
Dr Dan Schuftan spoke at the Centre for Jewish Affairs in London. His speech was eloquent, erudite and amusing, telling the absolute truth about Israel, the Middle East and the world. Well worth listening.
One of my readers castigated me for not writing about the diabolical, terrorist killing of Dan Uzan z”l, a volunteer guard of a synagogue in Copenhagen three weeks ago. I was remiss, not because I didn’t care but because I was remiss. I do not compare my error to the omission of any reference of ethnic slaughter of Christians and other religious minorities around the world – Nigeria, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Philippines, Iraq, I could go on ad infinitum or should I say ad nauseum because it sickens me that the media ignores these atrocities completely. Know that I honour the memory of Dan Uzan, but mine was an accidental omission, not the medias intentional and politically motivated disregard of the suffering of millions of Christians, Yazidis, Assyrians and so many others. Balance. Quite apart from the fact that I was in hospital undergoing surgery when I wrote two weeks ago.
This week in the Judaism, we read about a weak leader, a strong and ill-intentioned royal advisor, and the victory of a wily Uncle and his beautiful brave niece. In our celebrations we are not allowed to hate our enemies, not even Haman. We are instructed to drink until tipsy, until we cannot distinguish between friend and foe, to forget hatred and blame. Adloyada – Until he will not know. Festivity, dancing and joy there is no religious vengeance in Judaism. Haman coined one of the most infamous anti-Semitic canards: That the Jews are a clannish and alien people who do not obey the laws of the land. At Haman’s contrivance, a decree is then issued for all Jews in the Persian Empire to be massacred. But, as the Book of Esther subsequently relates, Haman’s plot was foiled and, “The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor…a feast and a good day.” How does it relate to today apart from the obvious Iran/ Persia plot?  Read Jeremy Rosens wonderful piece this week, “Purim Torah”
Talking of Adloyada, that is the name of the Carnival of Israel! Towns hold their Adloyada Carnivals in the main streets, children and adults dressed up and dancing, floats of brightly coloured laughing tableaux of Purim and politics, music, sweets and Hamentaschen!!!  Most important are the children, well this is Israel after all! Each school gets to parade While I am not thrilled with the music this video gives a better view!
Isn’t it strange how perception is rarely close to truth? When the uninitiated talk of Israeli apartheid they not only insult a monumental and historic struggle for freedom in South Africa but totally misrepresent Israel. Last night I had cause to go for tests at a walk in emergency unit. No don’t worry it was only tests, and looked around at both patients and medical staff. A fantastic mix of Jerusalems rainbow. Doctors, nurses, laboratory staff an equal mix of highly qualified Arabs, Jews, Moslems, Christians, men and women and the patients sitting with uncharacteristic patience we of an even greater mix! This is Israel. Whether directors of vast hospitals or shop assistants in Kosher delis – there is no discrimination. Fine restaurants or local Mahedrin Kosher felafel stalls – you will see every possible combination of race, colour and creed. That is what i love best about Israel. Perhaps the ultimate example is the Arab “Rag and Bone” man who calls out “Alteh Zachen”as he passes ( alteh zaken is old things in Yiddish!)
Today is a glorious day. The sun is shining, the air has a seasonal crispness and the spring flowers dance in the breeze. The desert is blooming literally, pink wild cyclamen, bright red poppies and anemones and a wild panoply of colour as the sun shines on the rain drenched earth proving yet again that the Negev desert is fertile, just parched.
As the very noisy and celebratory Shushan Purim draws to a close it will bring several hangovers but more importantly it brings the peace of Shabbat.
Shabbat. Shabbat. A day of rest. The first song we will sing in the synagogue is Lecha Dodi, Come Friend, which welcomes the bride of Shabbat as she enters our homes, bringing light and joy
Shebahi Yerushalayim ( Bless Jerusalem, Bless the Almighty) , one of my favourite songs.
Finally, Judaism is feminist! Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear the gasps of dismay! Truly, by the standards of time, not of todays determination to be the same, the prayer, the blessing of the woman of the household every Friday night at the Shabbat table, is exceptional. Read the words with the wisdom of history, not of today. Eshet Chayil – Woman of Worth
Actually, today Zvi is the feminist (he is anyway). I don’t need to cook today since we are invited out but being Israeli one always takes at least one dish to the host’s table. Today a delighted Zvi is cooking!!! Normally he complains that I have either already prepared everything or that I won’t let him in the kitchen! Today he is preparing his two favourite salads – Potato salad (known in the States as Russian salad) filled with potato, onion, gherkins, peas and carrots; the other is known in our house (by Zvi anyway) as “The best salad in the world” – Zvi’s courgette salad! A wonderful mix of grated courgette and onion, lightly caramelised, then cooled and mixed with grated hard boiled egg and mayo – it is delicious!!!!
So dear friends, another week of world problems and personal joy.
I leave you with the clever Pat Condell on British Universities and freedom of speech. Don’t be smug – it is true of the University near you too.
I wish you a Shabbat Shalom and much love from our beautiful, sun drenched, thriving and vibrant city – Jerusalem.
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