The view from my veranda

160226 David Cameron, Jewish Agency Meetings, Norman and Lola

26th February, 2016
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this missive finds you well and happy.
Politics are strange, indeed on occasion unfathomable. British Prime Minister David Cameron, a proclaimed and proven friend of Israel, suddenly came out with a distressing statement in Parliament, a double whammy yesterday when he said that after touring his beloved Jerusalem, he was horrified to find that East Jerusalem was surrounded – then added OCCUPIED East Jerusalem.

Et tu David?
Surrounded? By whom? 
The Old City is surrounded by a wall that the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt. Inside live Jews, Christians and Moslems. 
Jerusalem has expanded into the new city – just expanded not surrounded.
Next the use of the word occupied. Again WRONG! The land around Jerusalem is not occupied, it is disputed, legally disputed, it was Jordan and is now disputed.
Now for SURROUNDED. What exactly is he trying to say – that the Arabs are surrounded by Jews? Is he serious? Israel, the very tiny land of Israel, is utterly surrounded by countries that want her gone!!!! 
Get your facts right Mr Cameron. With all due respect what you are suggesting is as ridiculous as a Canute statement that Britain is surrounded by the sea!!!!!
Prime Minister Netanyahu responded thus
“My friend David Cameron, who is undoubtedly a friend of Israel, seems to have forgotten some basic facts about Jerusalem. Only Israeli sovereignty prevents the Islamic State and Hamas from igniting the holy sites, as they do throughout the Middle East. Only Israeli sovereignty over the city’s Arab residents promises roads, clinics, places of employment and all other means they would not benefit from their brethren throughout the Middle East. Only Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem preserves the rule of law for everyone, something that did not exist in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, and large parts of the Arab world, including the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip. Only Israeli sovereignty ensures all this and it is important for friends in Europe to remember this simple fact.”
It is worth remembering that Jerusalem was divided for only 19 of her 3,000+ years existence and it was Jordan, not a Palestinian State that held East Jerusalem – indeed Jordan occupied East Jerusalem. During that time Christian and Jewish sites were destroyed and Jews could not reach their Holy sites. That should also be remembered. Perspective.
To show the inverse morality of our world leaders, Venezuela and Syria have been elected to a United Nations Committee on the “Subjugation of Peoples”!!!! Israel, free, open, democratic and caring, is reviled and admonished every day of the week yet these oppressive societies are invited in. Ludicrous.
If you wondered what any 13, 14 or 25 year old, with all their future in front of them, could possibly gain from stabbing a few Jews, you don’t know about the Iranians! No, not only encouraging the violent rhetoric of the Imams, they pay up to $7,000 a month to the families of those who kill Jews! A new home will replace the one that we pull down as a punishment –so it goes. Until the PA develops a viable economy instead of hugely fat bank accounts for its leaders we have no hope. The inverse truth is that if only Western countries would stop giving the PA aid, their people could benefit and if they stepped out of the arena entirely – we could achieve peace. I find it hard to understand why educated Israeli Arabs go off to fight for ISIS but I guess that is another story.
The Canadian Parliament is the latest to vote on outlawing BDS.  Sadly it has taken too long for them and for other governments to wake up because the vile and fictitious message has taken hold, but better late than never. I love it when our politicians do a good job though. Overnight a series of posters condemning Israel appeared all over the London tube stations. MK Yair Lapid was in contact almost before the MP’s woke up and by the end of the day all were taken down, much less time than it took in Chicago!
This week I went along to some of the meetings of the Jewish Agency Congress in Tel Aviv. I love to see the people who are there to be seen and those who go to change the status quo which isn’t really working. Of course my Zvi always tries to rock the boat, to innovate and rejuvenate a tired organization. I see the enthusiasm in WIZO’s women, especially Helena Glazer, I saw it in the Hadassah leaders like Marlene Post, but the feeling of stagnation worries me. The Jewish Agency needs strong leadership to take her into the century that is already 16 years old. I was deeply impressed by our new Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblitt. A surprisingly humble man, he spoke of togetherness and one of his first acts was to demonstrate that by approving the law to allow mixed prayer at the Western Wall. We sat at the table with one of his former soldiers in the IDF who said he was the best officer he ever met. After he spoke, strident feminist Anat Hoffman of Women of the Wall, not one to give compliments, let alone to an Orthodox male Jew, spoke of his openness and generosity of spirit. Augers well for his term of office. The very next day he approved a law whereby publicly funded cultural events and theatres that deride or endanger the State of Israel or refuse to perform for political reasons, would lose their public funding. As long as that law is enforced carefully I approve too. Nobody is saying they cannot perform whatever they choose, just that the State will not pay for it.
If you had a wish, any wish, what would it be? If you lived in Jerusalem, would your wish be different?
We are only 0.3% of the world’s population – let’s love each other, accept and celebrate our differences.
As you know, I am crazy about Shouk Mahane Yehuda. I love the sounds and smells, the noisy yelling of the costermongers, the incredible mountains of spices, red paprika, yellow turmeric, rice with every conceivable seed and nut to make delicious dishes, tiny roses for tisanes, long long sticks of cinnamon, and I haven’t even begun on the freshly picked vegetables and fruit! At this time of year there are huge mounds of fresh strawberries, sold loose by the kilo! Anyway, I digress! This amazing project by Israeli graffiti artists, “When the Shouk Closes” describes how they paint the metal shutters after the stallholders go home. Take a look for yourselves!
Last Shabbat Lola and Norman Cohen invited us for tea. Canon Andrew White who loves Norman and Lola as much as I do, was most thrilled about  the delicious shortbread. The biggest bag of Yorkshire Tea I have ever seen in my life ensured a good cuppa, scones, shortbreads and delightful tea-time delicacies, to which I added Welshcakes – of course! The conversation was excellent and I am inclined to think that Lola doesn’t tell the truth of her age – she looks wonderful!
Incredibly, two nights ago we celebrated the 18th birthday of Tomer Silver. Tomers parents, Ira and Valeri, became our family when they made Aliya from Moscow just one year after me. We have watched Tomer from his brit, through his first confident Ma Nishtana and are so proud of him. A fine addition to the Israeli family. Tomtom – we love you.
We are about to receive guests. Zvi ran off at 07:00 to the gym to ensure a good appetite for breakfast. Our guests are American, military and I can’t tell you more but they are really lovely people I intend introducing them to Shakshuka for breakfast, a wonderful tomato-y, spicey sauce with eggs broken into it and gently cooked so the albumen is firm and the yolk runny and scrummy!!!
I can’t wait to show them the view from our veranda, it always surprises first timers, and this time I want to emphasise that here in Jewish Jerusalem, Arabs, be they Christian or Moslem, live side by side with Jews, without any animosity. The residents of the neighborhood of Beit Tsafafa, right in front of us, has exactly the same rights and services as Pat, right next door, and Gilo above. Indeed Gilo has many Arab residents too. Remember that when the CNN reporter says he is in the settlement of Gilo!!!
Music. Music music . Aaah if only we could all sing together wouldn’t the world be a better place? The Peace Choir with David D’Or and Dudu Fisher sing for the Pope and Shimon Peres in the gardens of the Presidents House, in Hebrew, English and Arabic, expressing  our hopes and dreams for peace.
Breakfast is over, the Shakshuka eaten and Zvi has taken our American guests to visit the Holy places in Jerusalem. They so enjoyed the view from our veranda – amazed to see the vitality and vivacity of this city form our vantage point.  They were even more excited by our “Rogues Gallery” of photos in our office and the stories we tell. After touring and taking their lives into their hands by going to Zvi’s Parliament, we will take them, both devout Christians, to Shabbat Dinner with Zvi’s boys – their first time!
Shabbat Shalom dear friends
May God Bless you and keep you safe from harm.
For your perusal if you wish
Mark Twain wrote ”…If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.
The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
– Mark Twain (“Concerning The Jews,” Harper’s Magazine, 1899)

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