8th May, 2015
Shabbat Shalom everyone! I hope this missive finds you well and that you are just a little bit warmer. Here in Israel the weather is absolutely stupendous! Not too hot, just right.
70 years ago the free world celebrated the Allied Victory over the evil Nazi regime in what is known as VE Day, Victory in Europe Day. This video of Churchill’s victory speech shows the enormous joy of Londoners, indeed Brits, that their cities and citizens would not have daily bombing and lose more of their sons. The war was not yet over but the Germans were defeated. As yet we did not understand the extent of the evil the troops had defeated. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rePb2NadxQw
A bill that would give Congress a voice in any nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran passed the Senate overwhelmingly on Thursday afternoon. The bill, which was approved 98 to 1, after months of negotiations, White House resistance which included the indictment of one of its sponsors and a Presidential campaign against PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before the final plan was presented. The only vote against the bill was by Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas. Americans returned their fate to the hands of their representatives.
David Cameron’s Conservative Party won the elections in the United Kingdom, Ed Milliband’s Labour Party suffered miserably in Scotland where the Scottish National Party made a clean sweep almost, and the good news, ladies and gentlemen is…….George Galloway lost his seat in Bradford!!!! It appears that the Conservatives may well have sufficient seats to dissolve the former coalition of Liberal Democrat and Conservative. David Cameron apparently speaks for more Brits than other parties. If Cameron has a clear majority he could prove himself to be a neo-Churchillian politician who stands up against injustice as no other. To see the full picturehttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/11584325/full-results-map-uk-2015.html
Mr Netanyahu succeeded in putting together a coalition but not necessarily the one he wanted. Isaac Herzog was offered a rotation of Prime Ministership to enter the coalition to ensure a balanced government – but yet again Labour (Zionist Camp) missed an opportunity to influence for the sake of arrogant pride (Livni did it in the last elections too) but the PM is keeping the Foreign Minister position open in the hope of persuading Herzog to take it. The outcome is, of course, that the government will be further right than intended, including Naftali Bennet who held out for the Ministries he wanted. Liberman, who despite his reputation is actually very pragmatic, declined when the Haredi parties came in and two of the new Ministers have criminal records! I wish the new government good luck because our future depends on them. http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-the-11th-hour-netanyahu-finalizes-61-strong-coalition/
I believe that the recent demonstrations by young Ethiopian Israelis were justified, their frustration exacerbated by a video of police harassment against a young soldier proved their belief that Israeli policemen specifically pick on young Ethiopians. The Jerusalem demonstration was justified, the Tel Aviv demonstration went seriously awry when trouble makers, almost certainly not Israeli and paid by foreign money, joined the young people. The demonstration became violent and derogatory to their just cause. Any form of racism must be wiped out but please, do not compare it to Brixton, London or to Baltimore, Maryland the situation is not as serious, nor will it ever be allowed to reach such levels of discrimination. The policemen seen physically harassing the soldier have already been thrown out of the force and will be summarily punished and brought to justice. In no way will we allow racists to get away with it here in Israel. Judaism is not dependent upon skin colour.
The Israeli presence in Nepal is physical and emotional. We send aid in the form of field hospitals, doctors, nurses, engineers. In 8 days the Israeli field hospital treated 1024 patients performed 70 life-saving surgeries, 6 Cesarean section and 2 natural births. Please read on if you want to know why it is important https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEk2glyCijw
The week since I last wrote to you began with a glorious Shabbat Dinner. I love meeting new people, as well as greedily holding on to loved ones, and every so often one meets a gem. Well we met two gems that morning two weeks ago in Tel Aviv, gorgeous people, Dale and Steve Hoffman and so that they would meet some delightful Israelis we invited close friends. It was so heartwarming. I loved the fact that as Zvi and I stand together, usually holding hands, for the Kiddush, Steve quietly walked around the table to stand with Dale and join Zvi’s bass baritone rendition of the age-old blessings. It is irrelevant from whence we come to the Shabbat table, we are united in tradition.
On Shabbat we had a wonderful walk, with Zvi’s boys and their families, around Yemin Moshe neighborhood, beautiful old homes, little parks, cobbled streets, steps, steps and more steps and fun with the children. I was especially proud when we got to the famous Montefiore Windmill, refurbished by Dutch Christians for Israel (Christenenvoorisrael) who lovingly brought an old tourist site into a working tourist site, actually milling flour – which meant that our lovely friends Herman and Gerda Schotanus came to oversee the work.
On Sunday night my friend Jill arrived from the UK to breathe the warm Jerusalem air and relax……not always easy in this household! Her lovely gentleman friend Victor has been unwell and wanted her to rest a little. Victor – we wish you a complete recovery and hope you can come and visit soon.
Wednesday, with thanks to the wonderful Avraham Kalman who represents JNF-USA and our friend Eitan Carmon, Zvi and I, together with Jill and most of the Jerusalem Parliament, met at Mount Herzl at 06:45 and boarded a coach and headed south, past the surreal moonscape of the descent to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, and continued to the Arava region of the Negev where JNF-USA has invested time, effort and money to encourage wonderful agricultural based settlements (yes that is a positive word) in what at first appears to be inhospitable, barren, desert land. Earth was brought in through our wonderful cooperation with Jordan, and deep wells into the aquifers, also in cooperation with Jordan, provide irrigation. The innovative, organic farming is Israeli, the research and hybridisation which give incredible fruits and vegetables is truly making the desert bloom. Noa and Rinat, both of whom gave up city lies and city jobs to give their children a better start in the Arava, took us around, explaining each Moshav.
The guide, who came with us from Jerusalem, Yedidyah, was a living example of Israel’s search for peace. Born in Yamit, and when Yamit was given to Egypt his family moved to Gush Katif and of course when we pulled out of Gaza (to ensure it was Judenrein) his disappointed family moved to the USA for a while but he came home to join the IDF and stayed.
The Arava International Center for Agricultural Training (AICAT) http://www.arava.co.il/english/aicat/aicat.htm
Over the years this Center has received students from Asian countries, including Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam, Laos, Philippines, India, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan, Jordan and Tibet to our amazement there were also students from Indonesia which doesn’t even have diplomatic relations with Israel, but the people need our help.
Several former students return to pass on their knowledge and act as translators. One, called Binot, from Nepal, was particularly emotional. Before explaining his involvement with the Centre Binot spoke of the deep sadness of the Nepalese students, 99% of whose families lost all their possessions and their homes in the earthquake. “We didn’t need money, not at this stage, we needed physical help, medical help that dollars could not buy. There was one country that understood, Israel. Thank you Israel you sent people we have nothing we can to do with money, nothing to buy”
What is so incredible about the college is that one takes young, bright people from countries where antiquated methods of agriculture keeps food supply subsistance level at best and provides them with the knowledge to give a filip to their countries economy and agriculture and hope to their villages and towns. This course creates future leaders. http://www.jnf.org/work-we-do/blueprint-negev/central-arava.html
Yesterday Jill, Zvi and I met with our lovely Montreal friends Nancy and Harry Bloomfield in the Botanical Gardens. As always Harry ordered vast quantities of food but it could not compare with the avalanche of questions in their attempt to catch up with the situation and news here in Israel. Nancy darling, Israel’s PR is not bad, it is simply true that every piece of information that goes out is either ignored or twisted. Harry and Nancy brought along the most impressive man I have met in many a year – Dr Cyril Sherer, born in New Zealand, studied medicine in the UK, made Aliya in 1961 and still, at age 94, practices medicine. His mind is sharp, his determination to learn intact and his curiosity unbounded. wonderful!!!
Nearly Shabbat! I can’t sit here and talk to you all day, even though I enjoy it so much. I have Shabbat to prepare, grand-children to collect from school, panoramas of Jerusalem to wonder at, indeed, I want time to sit on our swing-hammock and take on the incredible view from our veranda.
I didn’t have time to tell you about Lag b’Omer in Jerusalem so I will give you a link! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lag_BaOmer
I leave you with two songs. The first is actually a prayer of the High Holy Days and was written by a Rabbi during a time of deep suffering, thus appropriate to VE Day. In essence it is a prayer for a better world https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyBToUaon2w
The second is a prayer for the State of Israel, may our new government lead us to even greater achievements and finally, finally, recognition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q5–mNIZhU
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. May your Shabbat be peaceful and your health good.
If the media does not inform us we must inform the media
Sheila’s blog http://shabbatshalom-theviewfrommyveranda.blogspot.com/
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Involvement http://www.impact-se.org/ http://www.yurishtern.org.il/eng/content.php?id=17