The view from my veranda

150313 Elections

13th March 2015
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you are well and that the upcoming Israeli elections are not disturbing your sleep! I am afraid that I have reached the oint where I change programme or simply turn off the TV when the nightly political broadcasts begin. I still haven’t decided where to place my vote but I think I will probably go with the  rare politician who tells me what he intends doing about Israel’s standing in the world; about the nearing of ISIS/Daish and the PA; general security; solves the lack of reasonably priced housing; the fact that two large sectors of society do not contribute or take part in the life of the country and of course, security, the great big issue, security.
Israel is a very special country with very specific problems, and yes it is the most amazing country in the world but it wouldn’t be a Jewish country if everything ran smoothly. We have enemies who want to annihilate us lurking on our very borders, our local allies are not our friends but they are our allies because we share a common enemy, both Egypt and Jordan suffer alongside us. Our allies in the world have fallen victim to the naive ideology  that if you treat your enemy with respect you can persuade him out of his murderous intent, sadly our social mores do not fit the neighborhood, strength, even force wins through. One cannot win over fanatics ready to die for their cause, to say nothing of to kill for their cause, by sweet-talking them.
We do not have a Prime Minsterial election. The electoral system is a party system and the leader/leaders of the winning party are asked to lead the government –  in principle. Actually even that system is not necessarily the fact because the Israeli President can choose the leader/party most able to form a stable coalition to form the government. So complex.
The potential leaders are:-
Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu – we already know his policies and potential so I won’t waste your time and energy.
Zionist Union. Buji (Isaac) Herzog and Tsippi Livni represent policies that are also familiar. Labour by any other name, although Livni has run the gamut of political leanings, going from hard right to soft left.
Yesh Atid. Yair Lapid, Central to their platform is the inclusion of both Arabs and Haredi, religious Jews, into the society through either military service or community service and social change. On defence they are very security minded.
Kulanu (All of us) Led by Moshe Kahlon. A seasoned politician who although right wing politically, his list, including Michael Oren, puts social issues above all.
Shas.  Religious and Social led by Arieh Deri emphasising the influence of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, exclusively Eastern Jews, refugees from Arab countries
Yahad. Eli Yishai. Left Shas in break with Arieh Deri but they share policies and ethnic leanings
Meretz. Zahava Galon, True to their policies for many years. This is a party that has never wavered from its leanings or policies. They believe that we should negotiate with the Palestinians and leave the West Bank returning to 1967 borders.
Then come many of the smaller parties.  Israelis vote but not everyone cares to honour that right. I love the current government ad which says that one has no right to moan about the government unless you played your part in the elections. No vote- no moan.
We are a nation of newsaholics. We listen every hour, indeed every half hour on the radio and even the smallest event (like the recent snow) involved all day newscasts!!! While we are learning a little about sales on election day, it is taken very seriously because we, like the USA, need a strong leader, one who will act as a true leader, defending his/her people with every process at their disposal recognising that the final count when presented with causus belli they have the guts to carry out threats.
We were horrified by the Taliban destroying ancient artifacts, aghast at the removal of proof of Jewish life under the Temple Mount and now the destruction of Assyrian statues. I hate all of the above, but to declare it a crime against humanity surprises me since surely the slaughter, the ethnic slaughter, massacres we hear of every day demands greater outcry?
The IDF is a very special army. The clue is in its name, the Israel Defence Force. In recent years the IDF has taken exceptional measures to include people with special needs. If a youngster with Downs Syndrom wants to enlist, and he/she is able, there is a special unit. Someone understood that many types of autism give people the ability to see and understand what they see in a manner that normative youngsters could never achieve. Thus the special unit for map reading and deciphering satellite information was developed.
Israel21c is a website which tells us about the latest innovations and inventions in Israel, a good news site. Here they talk about 19 outstanding young Israelis aged under 19
Sandy Hollander is a leading light in the MetroWest community having served in just about every voluntary position that touches on Israel. Although Sandy grew up in the USA, he and I have something very important in common, we both grew up as a tiny minority in a small town, Jews who are not surrounded by other Jews. It intensifies ones sense of identity. Sandy’s wife Roslyn is a renowned artist and perfectly balances Sandy’s love of politics with her family and art orientated viewpoint. We ate at a fine restaurant in the First Station complex in Jerusalem. All the conversations were lively and enlightening but one phrase sticks in my mind. Sandy said  The sign of a great country is not in the way they fight a war but how they behave in victory. I am sure that if we ever lost a war, or if YOU lose the current war, the victors would simply oppress or wipe out everyone.
Last night we went to Tel Aviv for a very special reason, Zvi’s long time friend, Yitzik Lev, who shares a birthday with Zvi, had his 68th birthday party. Itzik told the story of how, in her later years, he and Zvi convinced the wonderful Alla, Zvi’s Mother, that Yitzik really was Zvi’s brother. The party was a total surprise, organised by his wife Irit and daughter Mali. We sang to the wonderful sounds of Gidi and Linda, we ate and danced and it was really fun.
Today was the Jerusalem Marathon 42.2 kilometres, 21.1 kilometres, 10 k, 5 k,  and the hand-cycle for those with disabilities. They changed the route this year, sticking to the centre of Jerusalem and looping toward the Hebrew University at Givat Ram. Marathon Day is a holiday in Jerusalem because the roads are closed so many children turned out to cheer the runners along. Luckily the rain cleared and the heat stayed away, perfect running weather – not that I speak as an expert! 25 thousand runners, from every corner of this earth running through Jerusalem. Brilliant!
The city looks spectacular, the dust of the last few weeks washed away by the cleansing rain. As I drove over the high point of Samuels Tomb yesterday, I soaked up the panorama. I never tire of it just as I never tire of the view from our veranda. There is something so magical about this city. It has everything, intense spirituality, great beauty, culture and diversity, everything that makes it special. As someone said yesterday, living in Israel isn’t necessarily easy but it is so worthwhile that one cannot imagine living anywhere else. The usual rules of “no religion, no politics, no race” in conversations fly out of the window! Here everyone talks politics, obviously each firmly believing that his is the only truth; religion, ah religion is an essential topic and one prays for the rare person who is either secular but really understands Judaism or religious but understands that not everyone has arrived at the same conclusions. The vast majority do not fit either category! Either ignorant of Judaism or ignorant of the world and convinced everyone else is wrong, I prefer to be a bystander because it is an argument one cannot win. If I am presented with the question “Where do you stand” I simply tell the questioner that I am a traditional Jew. I honour the memory of my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents back through the ages. When I set the Shabbat table I see what my mother saw, when I prepare the food the aromas are those of my Mothers kitchen, when Zvi and I bless the challot, the wine we use the words of my Father and our ancestors back hundreds and hundreds of years.  Tradition, Judaisms glue.
So my dear friends. It is that time. Zvi is wending his weary way back from his Parliament, the last one before the elections. I have no doubt he will be exhausted from the pure amount of opinions around their table. He also went to visit Hasem, his barber in Abu Ghosh, so he will be tired but handsome!  Next week Zvi has his 70th birthday, just 2 days after the election. Wouldn’t it be nice if he won a tangible and stable government into the next decade.
I leave you with a favourite, one you have seen before but it holds a special place in my heart. Jews sing about peace, pray about peace and teach peace. Shalom Aleichem Malachei ha Shalom- May peace come to you angels of peace 
Shabbat Shalom and much love

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

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