The view from my veranda

Corbyn, IEAE, Panorama and why did I start writing

12th of July, 2019


Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you are well.


This has been an eventful week out there in the world and at home.

Here in Israel we are once again wading deep in the pre-election calumny and lies of the various candidates who have not learned that all we, the electorate, want, is their manifesto. Forget about putting the others in their place – what does each party actually intend doing for us? If Mr Netanyahu took his own advice and resigned to tend his legal issues, which are increasing daily, then we would barely need elections, Blue and White would join the Likud and probably the Labour Party too and extremes would be out of the picture. Sadly, it won’t happen and we are plunged into yet another round of elections which will provide us with another battle to find a viable coalition.


President Trump has signed a very important piece of legislation, the bi-partisan Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, introduced by Sen. Benjamin Cardin, which sets the criteria for action on behalf of the United States Government, deeming such situations as a matter of national security interest.


A recent report shows that Israel’s much maligned Mossad has prevented over 50 major terror attacks throughout the world in the last 3 years, including 3 against Erdogan’s Turkey. Mossad intelligence gathering has succeeded in foiling attacks from Iran and Islamic State.


10 months ago Prime Minister Netanyahu stood before the UN and dramatically announced that Israeli intelligence had uncovered the sites of Iranian “secret atomic warehouses”. This week the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) reported that soil samples from the site showed clear traces of radioactive material. Drama is drama and truth is truth. Remember that during the most critical development period of Iran’s nuclear capability the director fo the IEAE was later exposed as a member of the Moslem Brotherhood – Mohammed Al Baradei.


Brits are very concerned about Jeremy Corbyn. Basically, he has taken the |Labour Party from caring about wages, workers rights and social equivalence to join the new left’s hatred of their bête noir, Israel – overflowing into outright anti-Semitism. Accusations or truth? The highly respected BBC “Panorama” programme, which debates many subjects concerning Britain, aired an expose “Is Labour Anti-Semitic” after another 3 Labour Peers chose to step down from the Labour Whip in the House of Lords, following 9 Labour MP’s a few weeks ago. As one Labour Peer told me “Either I stop being Jewish or I leave the Labour Party”  It makes fascinating viewing.


7 people died and over 100 injured in terrible storms in Halkidiki a tourist area of Northern Greece; flash floods hit Louisiana and tropical storm Barry is hurtling through the Gulf of Mexico toward New Orleans; severe flooding in Washington DC and Dingwall (???). Strong earthquakes in California; golf ball sized hailstones in Germany; severe weather warnings in Southern Australia  – and you really think it is dangerous living where we live?????


I was thinking, something I have been known to do on occasion, perhaps you’d like to know you why I started writing my newsletters, missives, letters to the world. It’s sort of obvious and yet a strange turn of events. Basically I was so fed up of hearing journalistic reports that bore no relationship to actual events, not only in the foreign press but slanted politically to the right or the left within the Israeli press, that I decided to use my two mottos “The Power of One” and “If the media does not inform us we must inform the media” and stick my neck out! Of course everyone told me that it would never work, I would never influence anyone and the prize went to “Who do you think you are that anyone would listen to you”? Of course, I paid no heed and followed my conscience, started writing to family and friends, telling them what really happened here, not the BBC and CNN version of events. Then the 2nd Intifada erupted right in front of our eyes.


It was during the period that Ehud Olmert was Mayor of Jerusalem and Zvi was to all intents and purposes the Foreign Minister of Jerusalem, a task the Mayor happily entrusted to him. He met with and tended to the many groups of politicians and diplomats who came to Jerusalem, all of whom listened to Zvi, fascinated to hear the truth. They often came to our home for dinner and walked out from the salon onto the veranda, each telling me “I’m sure you see everything that happens in Jerusalem with the view from the Veranda”


One night I stood on the veranda; the whoosh, whooshing sound of the IDF stealth helicopters overhead, waiting for the gunfire from Beit Jalla onto Gilo; in the distance the flashes and ratatatat of gunfire, the booms of response, all in eerie darkness. Suddenly, beneath us, the huge spotlights of Teddy Stadium came on and the football crowd began to sing Hatikva before the match! We never hear the crowd but that night, Hatikva rang out loud and clear, over the helicopters and the explosions. It was surreal – it was a seminal moment.


When our friend Hassan, who cared for all the old people in Zvi’s parents Assisted Living  in Gilo, came to me in a state of deep distress telling me of the evil that was Yassir Arafat, I rushed home to write his every word. The next day I watched the evening news to see a photograph of Hassan! Apparently, Hassan, our “dear friend” was a major activist in the Tanzim (the military arm of the PLO), pretending to be a double agent he killed his IDF Captain and was killed himself wearing a leather jacket we bought for him in Mexico. That story was syndicated worldwide!!


Then it happened, March 30th 2002 – the event which changed my perspective. Kinneret Chaya Boosany. The phone call to tell us that our friend’s daughter was critically injured in a terror attack in Tel Aviv made our blood run cold. At first my writings expressed how I felt about her pain and about our constant visits to the hospital to be with her family – but it turned into her story from the moment her mother Yaffa called me in to see her tortured body lying on a mountain of green cushions. Through her horrific burns Kinneret Chaya turned to smile at me. She has the most phenomenal smile, her beauty shining through. From that moment the Intifada wasn’t about my thoughts, although I continued to report about my country, it was about one glorious human being and her determined struggle to survive and thrive. 85% burns, most of it 3rd and 4th degree, and she wanted to thrive. Her first food, her first steps, her family, her doctors, all became the focus of my newsletters, alongside events good and bad but suddenly I understood what you wanted. You wanted to identify, not just get a cold newscast, to feel empathy one needed a person not a country. Today Kinneret Chaya, like Israel, beat all the odds. Told she could never have children she has 4 and my goodness are they beautiful!!


So much water under so many bridges; some exciting and beautiful, some frightening, many surprising and incredible people to share it with. Malcolm Hoenlein took me to Jenin and encouraged me with many other experiences; Canon Andrew White and I had more adventures than I can count; Zvi and I met Kings, future and past Presidents and Prime Ministers, Jewish and Christian leaders, groups we spoke to both here and in the USA and of course wonderful people who just wanted the truth and have become my friends. Slowly the “list” grew, filled with people who search for the truth of what happens here in Israel; about our daily experiences. That’s how I met you! I have never worried about people’s political views, I want them to be searchers for truth and willing to stand up and be counted. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”


This week more friends came to visit! Rachel brought the children for short visits several times between their vacation treats.  Ronit Dagan forced me to sit on the veranda while she made me a drink and then proceeded to tend to all the beautiful flowers! She chatted and dead-headed the geraniums; she explained and carefully took out all the dead leaves; she laughed and continued to work until everything was back in its pristine condition!! The delightful Flory Benalal came to make me laugh and yesterday my lovely friend Sheila Zucker popped in. She is funny and clever and once we got the boring medical report out of the way we giggled and chatted to our hearts content. Finally, a truly special treat – my son Gideon is in Israel on business and after meetings in Tel Aviv he went to Rachel’s to see the children then they both came to collect me and we fulfilled Gideon’s request – we went to the Sima Restaurant near Shouk Mahane Yehuda. Just to see his face as he tucked into the delicious Iraqi Kubeh then a Meurav Yerushalmi was worth the effort to get there!! Meurav Yerushalmi or Jerusalem Mixed grill was invented during tougher times when every part of the animal was cut into small pieces, steeped in herbs and spices then grilled with onion and served in pita. Today it is much more sophisticated – it comes on a bed of rice!!! Rachel parked in the Shouk car park and we walked to the restaurant soaking up the atmosphere of the shouk. Both of them exceptionally solicitous of their Mum – this was my first proper outing! Gosh I love the shouk, the hustle and bustle, the shutters coming down on the stands to reveal fabulous graffiti and the coffee bars and restaurants opening in their stead. The hive of activity with everyone smiling!! I felt supremely happy with at least two of my three children beside me. I’m so proud of all three of my children and both of Zvi’s boys. We are so lucky.


Today we had a memorial for Zvi’s wonderful parents at the cemetery. I miss them horribly, they were exceptional people – it was people like Kalman and Ala Raviv who made this country, that built this country, teachers that were educators, parents who took their role very seriously. I fear that today the ideals they lived by are disappearing and appreciation for this country has been usurped by naysayers who cannot imagine a world without Israel.


As compensation for your patience in a long letter you get 21 songs for the price of one!!


The next song is a song of peace – I love it. In Hebrew and Arabic, with many famous Israeli faces.  Shalom Aleinu- Ahla min Salaam


Finally, songs of my childhood, Yiddish traditional songs, especially for Andrea Koven who melts every time she hears these songs.


I wish you Shabbat Shalom, good weather, good health and good friends – if you have those three, then life is so good!


With much love from Jerusalem, the city that is so incredibly beautiful that everyone wants her. Of course the winner of that competition is the faith that is willing to share her holy sites and encourage total freedom of faith and prayer. Remember, criticism is healthy but remember, just 70+ years ago our heads were still bent from the Shoah, few countries really wanted us and we didn’t have a place to call home.


בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמָן הַזֶּה


Barukh Atah Adonay Eloheynu Melekh ha’olam shehekheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.


Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom



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

Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center