The view from my veranda

150724 Doctoroff, Wagner, Ari Shavit Iran, 10 years Gaza, Abdulla Dermibas, Melvyn

24th July, 2015
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you had a good week.
For us this has been a very difficult week, interspersed with meeting wonderful people but sad nonetheless.
My beloved brother in law, Melvyn, passed away after a brave fight to survive. Melvyn was a quiet man but not quiet in the sense of weak, he had a rare moral and ethical sense which meant that he was a man who one could rely on, throughout, no matter what. For me when so many others were not by my side, Melvyn, together with my incredible sister, was loyal and never questioned or reasoned, he just was. He was an amazing father, what he didn’t express with words he expressed with his magic hands, by making phenomenal toys and surprising for his children. He loved making things, from model boats to almost full sized planes………. but above all that he was, quite definitely the most adoring husband to my beautiful sister Doreen. As a family we are heartbroken but if you are listening Melvyn, I promise we will take care of her as she has taken care of all of us. May his soul rest in peace and his family, the legacy he has left this world, be consoled. Melvyn, you left me with amazing memories, I miss you already.
Two days ago, our dear friend Bernardo Romanowsky passed away after travelling to Chennai, India for a heart transplant. Bernardo, fought so hard to stay with his love, his Reizeleh, and like my wonderful brother in law, saw his Rosa as his Queen.  שיהיה זכרו ברוך
In the meantime, to my surprise, the world continues, the sun comes up each morning and brings more joys and more concerns with it. From the sublime to the ridiculous.
One ridiculous news item was written by one Daniel Wagner in the Jerusalem Post who decided to take a photograph of HM the Queen, as a small child, giving an apparent Nazi salute. While true that her Uncle, the Duke of Windsor, followed his American wife in adopting several Nazi sympathisers as friends, but nothing suggests that the Queen was a Nazi sympathiser, indeed, the opposite. She, and her parents, constantly supported the troops who fought Nazi Germany from 1939 and throughout the war. Mr Wagner also suggests that Britain stopped refugees coming to the UK – what? The Kindertransport and many Jewish refugees were absorbed at a time when the USA did not allow refugee boats to land. Wagner also claims that the pressure from the USA caused Britain to allow 1,500 immigrants per month into Palestine – I understood that was in the White Paper!! The Royals are not perfect but are not responsible for British policy during WW2, nor in Palestine – unlike the USA where the President used his Executive Power, the Queen is a titular head without such powers. 
And so we come back to Iran! Ari Shavit is wiser than I and better able to look at the situation clearly. “After a long, intensive work week and an intensive hour in Channel 1’s television studio, I took a plane and craved for the moment in which I could finally close my eyes. But until take-off I decided to take a quick look at the thick document of the nuclear agreement with Iran. After reading all kinds of summaries, it was time to read the text itself. “The joint comprehensive plan of action” that was signed in Vienna on July 14, 2015, turned out to be a thriller. While my neighboring passengers plunged into their dreams, I couldn’t put down the 159-page document, which could turn the world we live in into a nightmare.
It is ten years since the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon, the warrior leader, decided to take all Jews out of Gaza. Despite media hype, the people of Gush Katif and the towns and villages of Gaza were secular and religious, farmers and ordinary businesspeople, indeed ordinary folk who just wanted to live their lives. I remember at that time taking our dear friend Earl Cox to interview Ehud Olmert, who at that time was Deputy PM. I went in first to see our friend and discuss what he would say in the interview. “Sheila, I know that it will not be popular but Hamas is taking over the Gaza Strip and I am terrified that we will have an awful lot of dead Jews if we don’t take them out. This is a case of Pikuach Nefesh” whereby In Judaism, Pikuach Nefesh the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious obligations. Was it done well? Was it done efficiently? Was it essential? We can never know but the government and several donors decided to leave the highly successful farms intact for the residents of Gaza – and rather than benefit from them they destroyed them.
When are our leaders going to refuse to fund the United Nations? It has become worse than biased, it is a time and money wasting source of extreme racism and incitement to hatred. In the latest move the UN decided that Israel is the worst abuser of human rights in the world….
American Jewry was noted for its generosity, support and connection with Israel, led by the UJA and others. Sadly that truth has changed and some of those leaders have led their flock astray. UJA President Alisa Doctoroff apparently represents the new generation of apologist Jews in her support for the New Israel Fund and other negative organisations which support BDS. I am horrified.
Zvi and I went to the stunningly beautiful International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem to hear a fascinating speaker, a visitor from Turkey, Abdulla Demirbas. His visit was even more emotive because that morning there was a homicide bombing on the Turkish border with Syria where over 30 youngsters were killed. The former mayor of a city in Turkey decided to change his world – and thus our world. Beginning with a relatively small project to revitalise and rebuild an old area of his city he began a magnificent journey of tolerance. On one street he built a Mosque, a synagogue, church, chapel, temple but instead of just building them, each sector had to rebuild the prayer house of another. Abdulla served time in prison for his ideas and there is a FATWA on his head, but as he said “You can kill me but never kill my ideals” From small acorns huge oak trees grow and he is here to meet and talk with other leaders. Impressive.
Saturday night and Sunday bring Tisha B’Av – the Ninth of the Hebrew month of Av. It is a day of fasting, of reflection and of determination to do better. It is primarily the remembrance of the destruction of both Temples and of many disasters which befell the Jewish people. Here I give you two different meanings, the traditional and Rabbi Jeremy Rosen who gives it a modern touch.
“Those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana was not referring to Israel, but he might have been. When all is said and done, the fast of Tisha B’Av, the Ninth Day of Av, is a fast that symbolizes and commemorates bad decisions. The Israelites were always very good at that. The wonder is that they survived at all.
So, as always the food is already safely in the refrigerator. Spicy Middle Eastern fish, Stuffed veggies, multiple salads including, beetroot in lemon, Moroccan mushrooms, Butter bean humous, normal humous, Veggie Noodles, Aubergine in Tehina, lettuce, tomato and endive and a few more…….. I will set up the table outside on our veranda, the day is searingly hot and maybe, just maybe we will get the relief of the incredible, balmy mountain air of Jerusalem.  The children love it when we eat outside, it gives them the freedom to play as the grown ups talk about the week. I love their delight as Jerusalem spreads out before them, the lights twinkling, the fireworks from Moslem weddings and festivities in Beit Tsafafa attracting their attention.
So life goes on, the vacuum slowly recedes and becomes a memory, never filled, just finds its own place. Tonight we will count our blessings as we watch the children play, as they help us make the blessings over the wine and the two loaves of plaited bread. Tonight will bring us Shabbat – time to gather our thoughts, to say thank you for our blessings and go through the virtual photo album of our happy times.
A couple of months ago I went with my daughter Rachel and her beautiful children to a concert of Yaacov Shwekey. This song, above all others, caught my heart. If I forget thee oh Jerusalem. Never 
Yerushalyim Shel Zahav, we usually hear this glorious song in a very Western way, but when you hear Omer Benayoun sing it it takes on depth and a very appropriate Middle Eastern flavour.
The final song I want to give you today has nothing to do with Shabbat, but rather a tribute to my brother in law Melvyn and his love, his absolute love for my beautiful sister. Nat King Cole singing When I Fall in Love –
Shabbat Shalom. Remember to show appreciation for your loved ones every day, in every way. Be remembered for your kindness, your warmth, your humour and your generosity.
With love from Jerusalem

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

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