The view from my veranda

150515 Shabbat Shalom, New government, Dutch, Nepal, Jill, Jerusalem Day

15th May, 2015
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, looking exceptionally beautiful today, the sun glistening on the freshly washed white buildings after a real spring shower yesterday.
So, Mr Netanyahu succeeded in forming a government by the skin of his teeth. The negotiations were tough, the natural partners wouldn’t join and the end result imperfect, but form a government he did. There are still many questions – particularly legal questions, surrounding two members, Arieh Deri and Yoav Galant. Arieh Deri served a prison term for corruption and bribery and Yoav Galant was denied the position of Chief of Staff for illegally claiming land as his own. I firmly believe that a man who pays for his crime be given a second chance, but not in government! I understand that Mr Netanyahu was pushed into a corner by several parties, either by their impossible demands or by their refusal to join with him (he offered Herzog a rotation of Prime Minster to join the government). Time will tell if this government will succeed, I pray that it will because we cannot cope with yet another election. I also hope that one of the first laws they pass is to change the electoral system to a logical one, preferably constituency.
Mr Obama’s first words were to claim this government is right wing and therefore peace with the Palestinians is not in their programme. Oh really? How come Mr Begin succeeded in bringing peace with Egypt where left wingers failed? Mr President, an elusive peace that did not succeed through all previous governments is not going to fail because Mr Netanyahu is Prime Minister but rather because Israel does not have the acceptance of her allies. You don’t live in the Middle East and still believe that democratic elections bring democracy. Indeed, in our despotic neighbouring countries you accepted corrupt and evil leaders because they were elected, why not accept Israeli democracy which is absolute?
Last night, in his response to the Prime Ministers announcement, Isaac (Bougie) Herzog gave the speech of his life. I could not help but think that had he spoken that way before the election, and had the strength to go forward without Tsippi Livni, he would have swept his party to victory. The importance and strength of his accusations and arguments for a comprehensive government instead of one sector of society was strong, although Mr Netanyahu reiterated his invitation to Herzog to join the government, it was refused on the basis that platform of the new Israeli government is extreme sectarian and, in his opinion, hopeless. The one member of the coalition who received his absolute support was Moshe Kahlon
In a disgusting move the Dutch government voted to reduce compensation to any Holocaust survivors who live in “the settlements”!! Foul, disgusting, ignorant and inhuman. Where are they talking about? The Home for the Aged in Gilo? The old couple in French Hill? Obviously anti-Semitic this must be fought – taken to the International Court of Human Rights.
Israel cannot deny the current, and real, problem of acceptance of Israelis of Ethiopian descent. I spoke of it last week after the demonstrations and many people overseas mistakenly compared it to the situation in Baltimore, Watts, Brixton etc, and it isn’t. Things are not perfect, we still have a way to go, but that is true of any new immigrants to a society, especially when that society has traditionally found it difficult to accept, not absorb but accept, each new immigration. In Israel immigrants do not arrive one at a time by choice, they come in large groups because they were oppressed and exiled. As Liat Collins says “The problem with the Ethiopian immigrants is not that they’re black, it’s that they’re transparent” 
Nepal suffered another catastrophic earthquake. Buildings didn’t fall because there were few left standing but water supplies broke down and caused even greater suffering. IsraAid is still there, saving the lives of 7 babies in remote regions and this incredible report tells it all. I hope you have Facebook! 
While the world ignores the suffering of the Syrian people who are dying in their hundreds and thousands, Israel cares. The civil war has been kidnapped by the most extreme Islamist factions and Iran and those who rebelled against the despotic regime of Assad are suffering from both extremes. Israel cannot interfere but does what we are best at –  treating the wounded here in Israel. Excellent CNN report.
Have you ever thought about the size of Israel?
How does the existence of this minute dot on the map of the Middle East possibly threaten anyone? Why is even this miniscule piece of real estate have to be cut yet again into two states when it was already cut into two states –  Moslem and Jewish all those years ago? Israel was not just declared by Britain and France like most countries in the region – Israel was ratified, voted upon and decided upon by the majority of the worlds countries in the United Nations. The worlds leaders should rescue all the other countries from cruel extremists and Israel from their determination to wipe us of the face of the earth 70 years after you vowed it would never happen again. Israel, only 8,019 sq. miles, compared to California 163,696 sq. miles, apparently it is because Israel is a Jewish blot on someones landscape.
My disappointment of the week is the Vaticans announcement that it recognises the Palestinian State. Oh yes? what about the Christians of Bethlehem, of Gaza, of Ramallah? What about your own people Your Eminence? Have you ignored their suffering at the hands of the PA?
What an amazing week! Last weekend with the Sturmans, Zvi’s family from the USA, we went to little Yonatan’s first birthday party where they enjoyed seeing all Zvi’s family.
Jill is here which means we went to all her favourite haunts. She went to Netanya on Sunday morning to visit with her friend June, using the excellent services of Egged Buses; we went to eat at Zion ha Gadol for a traditional Middle Eastern feast and then to the Kotel, the Western Wall. At 9:30 at night it was alive with hundreds and hundreds of people, praying, pleading, loving, feeling the intense spirituality of the closest site we have to the Holy of Holies. In fact, Judaism does not need places, edifices to pray, our only truly holy object is the Sefer Torah, but being human we sometimes need something tangible and the snow of notes, pushed lovingly into every available crack in that ancient supporting wall, are proof positive of the wishes and desires of the secular, traditional, religious, Jew and Christian alike.
On Wednesday morning we headed off to my favourite place in Jerusalem, Mahane Yehuda. The shouk was busy but not crowded, giving us the chance to see everything and everyone. The scents, sights and sounds as intense as ever, speaking of Jerusalem through the food, coffee shops, juice stands (my favourite is pomegranate and orange)  Judaica, Jewellery, spices, fresh fish, colourful vegetables, succulent fruit, rich olive oils, thirty flavours of Halva, plump chickens and………..amazing cheeses. The noise and urgency of Mahane Yehuda is unmatched. It should be number one on your Jerusalem list!!!
After catching our breath we went to collect my grand-daughters Talia and Ayala and headed out to my favourite Kibbutz in Israel, Jill’s home for two years, Beerot Yitzchak. Situated right near Ben Gurion Airport, Beerot Yitzchak is a little slice of heaven, upholding the original priciples of religious Zionism at its very best. All the way there Talia and Ayala begged for the wonderful song written for Zvi’s 70th by our friend Eli. It is so beautiful that Jill and I enjoyed it and the girls learned the words.
Our first stop was to see Katy, Jill’s teacher and mentor, who despite her advanced age still works with the kibbutz babies and studies Tenach and Tehilim. Katy, the epitome of a good Jew, good Israeli and good woman, a true Eshet Chayil. She has spent her life teaching and molding young lives to be respectful, inquisitive, learned and kind. The girls were fascinated by the fact that Katy is almost the same size as they are!!!!
I took the girls for a wander thorugh the kibbutz, to give Jill time with Katy, and much to their delight and then we returned to see Katy’s son and daughter-in-law, Tsippi and Eliyahu. Tsippi took the girls off to explore and they had a ball, deciding that they want to live on Kibbutz. After a delicious meal at Tsippis, the family wanting to hear everything possible about Jill’s family (each calling her Ruth or Gila, her kibbutz names) Talia and Ayala enjoyed the freedom of kibbutz life by running around and then, the peak of their visit – Eliyahu took them on his kibbutz golf cart to see the animals. They fed the goats and cows, visited the chickens and turkeys and generally had a ball. I love what Tsippi said in response to Jill’s question about agriculture during the shmitta year (in Judaism we leave the fields fallow every 7 years and tend crops only to the minimum). She said that in a shmitta year we can’t tend the crops so Hashem sends rain – and its true this year we are still receiving blessed rain. Shmitta is the Basis of modern agriculture laying fallow every seven years to enrich the earth.
As I write, Zvi has gone to Herzliya to a reunion of his primary school (yes really) and Jill is sitting out on the veranda, pretending to read the paper. In fact she is absorbing the view, holding the panorama in her heart to take back to Victor. I can see her glance darting from Gilo to Baka, from the bright red flowers of the pomegranate tree to the tiny nascent oranges, the new leaves of the lemon tree and the bright colours of the fuschia, geranium, day-lillies and the last few freesias. It is very special to find someone who is as inspired as I by the view from our veranda!
Next Sunday we celebrate Jerusalem Day – the reunification of our beloved city – at the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. I love the building, the people, their leader, everything about the place and will introduce Nancy and Harry to all of the above!!!
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Naomi Shemer caught the magic with her song, written just before 1967 and the final verse celebrating our ability to visit the Holy Sites.
If I forget thee Oh Jerusalem – are we?
I wish you a wonderful Shabbat, a truly amazing weekend and the ability to see beauty around you in all things.
Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom
Love from Jerusalem, divided for 19 out of her 3,000 years but celebrating her unification. Now all we need is for the world to love Jerusalem as we do.

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

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