The view from my veranda

150605 Blair NGO, Orange-Israel, Farhud,

5th June 2015
Shabbat Shalom everyone! How are you this fine Spring day? Are you depressed by the media news or busily finding answers? As my wonderful husband always says “If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem”
Before we get to the news I want to tell you that this week I met several people who decided to be part of the solution. The lovely Stephen Ryde, about whom you will hear more later; Ashley Perry; Chantal and Marc Belzberg of One Family; Lena Shtern of the Yuri Shtern Foundation; Chen Mor – a young man preparing to change the world; indeed so many good people along the way. There is a wonderful Israel song about good people that you meet on the street – you just have to recognise and learn from them!
The Orange cellphone company’s French CEO, Stephane Richard, visited Egypt and instead of telling his audience that Orange is stepping back from several countries that franchised the Orange name, including Switzerland, chose to make a thoroughly populist point that he was withdrawing from Israel, specifically, as soon as legalities allowed. 
There are those who recognise the desperate need for an NGO which deals with Anti-Semitism and racism in Europe. Actually it is need in the Americas too but in the meantime Former PM Tony Blair, who left his post with the Quartet, has been appointed head of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), a Brussels-based organization that fights against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
“It is with great pleasure that I take on the honorary role of Chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation,” Blair said in a statement on Thursday. “The work they are doing is crucial, because despite our best efforts to build a consensus around tolerance in Europe, we still see injustice, discrimination and hideous acts of violence on the continent.” Actually every time I here of more anti-Semitic incidents I think of Tom Lehrer
Israelis were saddened to hear of the tragic death of Vice-President Joe Biden’s son Beau on Saturday after battling brain cancer, the vice president said. I pray that his family will find the strength to find a place for their grief and that they be consoled among the mourners of Zion. Zvi and I spent a week in Israel with the VP and found him to be a fine, warm and very pro-Israel man.
Sunday saw 30,000 people having fun in Manhattan at the Celebrate Israel Parade. Mayor Bill de Blasio prepared for his August visit to Israel by dancing and holding hands  with Habadniks to the sound of “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem”  the most popular of Israeli songs.
Egypt shut down Al Jazeera after they aired an interview with a. Egypt sent in troops to deal with the Sinai Bedouin. Egypt closed passage from Gaza. Egypt razed homes to create a buffer zone. Egypt…….not Israel!
By the way, Hainan Airlines, the private Chinese Airline, will fly directly to Ben Gurion Airport three times a week. Apparently China yet again shows that they are on the way to being world leaders to fill the void.
The Farhud, the Mufti inspired Krystallnacht in Iraq, 1941
The entire Jewish world has heard of Krystallnacht. Yet very few have even heard of the Farhud, where Nazi sympathizers in Baghdad, killed, maimed and committed numerous atrocities aginst the Jewish population on the two days of Shabu’oth in 1941. 
Remember the Farhud: the Farhud was the Holocaust-era massacre committed by Arab nationalists, done in coordination with the Nazis. The Farhud took place June 1-2 1941 in Baghdad when hundreds of innocent Jews were murdered, thousands more were brutalized, and Jewish property was pillaged on the holiday of Shavuot. Palestinian Arab leaders, including the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, were central instigators of the violence in Baghdad. The Farhud was one step in the process that resulted in the forced exodus of 850,000 to 900,000 Jewish refugees from centuries of peaceful existence in Arab countries.
Terror. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes it thus:  a very strong feeling of fear; something that causes very strong feelings of fear : something that is terrifying; violence that is committed by a person, group, or government in order to frighten people and achieve a political goal
Terror is not necessarily a single gigantic act of horrific terror such as bombings of 9/11, 7/7, Boston, Bali or Jerusalem, it can be a “Trickle” of rockets flying over the heads of small children who never know when they can sleep a full night. Yes, Hamas denies the “trickle” of rockets over the South of Israel, but the children are terrified to say nothing of the adults.
Terror can also be the fear that ones children will not come home. In most places one fears paedophiles, lunatics etc, here we fear young people inculcated with hatred. It is a year since Gil-Ad, Naftali and Eyal were kidnapped and murdered as they waited by a “trampiada” a hitch hiking point near their homes. Their devastated parents did not scream and shout words of vengeance and hatred, they gathered their incredible strength and spoke of tolerance and love.
This week, we were invited by the wonderful Yehudit Zvidetsky, of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkats Office, to an event to commemorate the 3 boys, not with sadness but with joy, in the gardens of the Presidents House. Mayor Nir Barkat spoke beautifully of the courage of the parents and the acts of unity, of togetherness of tolerance by the prize winners.
President Rivlin, who carefully went to each family to give a word of love and support told the story of someone arriving at the Pearly Gates. He was shown both heaven and hell. Hell showed an incredible feast set on a laden table but they were given long spoons, far too long to get the food to their mouths and they were gaunt and scraggy from hunger. In heaven he saw the same scene exactly, but the diners were rotund and happy. “I don’t understand, what is the difference”? “The difference is that those who came to heaven understood that they could feed each other”.
Jeb Bush has announced that the first act, should he be elected President, would be to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem. Food for thought.
I love the Maccabi World Union Family!! They were here for the Maccabi World Union Congress, in preparation for the 2017 Maccabiah Games. I sometimes wonder if you recognise the impact of the Maccabiah, if anyone does. So much more than sport, it is, for many young people, their first contact with Jewish Pride, Israel, coming together in unity and competition, meeting young Jews from all over the world in a thoroughly positive manner. The current MWU President, Leo-Dan Bensky, promotes this cause with pride and love, Israel always in his heart. Mayor Nir Barkat proudly stated that the 2017 Maccabiah Games will be held predominantly in Jerusalem, the Capital of the State of Israel. Bravo Leo-Dan.
On Monday night my son in law Igal got tickets for the show of the season and I went with my daughter Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala to hear Yaacov Shwekey! The Payis Arena was filled with 7,000 happy, clapping, singing, dancing people, enjoying the incredible showmanship of Shwekey. It was so much fun!! I love his version of Vehi Sheamda 
Tuesday morning was a special treat. I love Gloria Goldstein, of Sydney, but despite spending most of our time in the same country we rarely manage to meet! We always have so much to say and I love her amazing up-beat personality. After talking about all our mutual friends, Israeli politics, world politics, our various and varied aches and pains and of our mutual concern for Michael, Col’s son who is recovering from a dreadful motorcycle accident, we spoke of Col, Gloria’s wonderful late husband, since we met on the anniversary of his death.
Wednesday I walked down memory lane! Jaqui and Victor Ryde used to live in Reading with their 3 children. Every time our group of friends came to our home I remember Victor being glued to his long-wave transistor radio, listening each hour to Kol Yisrael news in English. Their devotion to Israel now plays out in the exceptional work of their son Stephen, who is untiring in his writings in defence of Israel, supported by his lovely wife Gaynor. I loved every moment of the Rydes visit and when they asked to go to lunch at the Botanical Gardens life was complete!! While there we met Ashley Perry and decided to solve the problems of the world together with Stephen!!!
In the meantime Nelson, Olga and Aron Hariton came to stay with us. Aron has made Aliya, is currently learning Hebrew and is awaiting his entry into the IDF. I loved Nelson and Olgas enthusiasm at everything they saw and Arons pride in showing them”his” Israel.
My favourite FB quote of the week came from the adorable Kasim Hafeez, Kaz. Kaz works hard and fast to support Israel on highly antipathetic campuses around the USA. He wrote – The hilarious moment when you’re in Starbucks and a group of guys talk about the Israeli glad stickers on your laptop in Urdu and how they feel like breaking it. Then the shock and broken English apologies and hasty exit without ordering, when you say in Urdu, ‘If you want to try and break my laptop because of the Israeli flag, come and try, but I promise you, not one of you will be walking out on your own 2 feet.’
So that was another week in the lives of the Raviv family! Tonight we will spend our Shabbat dinner with Julio and Monika Jarak and family from Argentina. We will begin with Zvi’s kiddush, the breaking of bread (my daughter Rachel’s homemade challah) and then if he is in a good mood Zvi will sing Eshet Chayil
Since you get cross if I don’t tell you what I cooked up – a multitude of Israeli salads, pumpkin and sweet potato soup, Chicken Paprika, home-made chicken breast pastrami, stuffed vegetables, carrots in maple syrup followed by………… that will be decided once I have finished this missive and seen my grandchildren!!!!
We always begin our Shabbat meal with Shalom Aleichem, the hauntingly beautiful melody to welcome Shabbat. Zvi and I have a young friend called Sasha who is the love of Adi, the musical director of Zvi’s choir among other things. Sasha is a highly talented young violinist and I adore her rendition.
I leave you with a beautiful letter, written by a member of Zvi’s family, Alan Verbitzky. Alan and his family hail from Mexico City and Alan is about to make Aliya. I saw the responses to his announcement on Facebook, one suggesting he was brave to do so. Alan isn’t brave, he is clever to make Aliya!!!  Mazal Tov Alan, Welcome to our midst. Life is looking so hopeful, so fulfilling, you are a young man who knows exactly who he is.
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. As I sit and look out over our veranda at the city I love most. Next week I will write to you from London, where I will be filled with news of my grandchildren! I will not have time to travel around and see people, I will be too involved in loving them. I will go to Cardiff to be with my siblings but other than that will not move.
I will miss this view, albeit for a limited period, and of course my husband, my Zvi, and my Israeli family. However, next Friday I will hear Gideons rendition of Kiddush, eat Stephanies challot and enjoy a whole new generation to continue the traditions.
With love for a beautiful Shabbat

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

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