The view from my veranda

160708 Entebbe, Africa, 7-7-05, Dallas


8th of July 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Today is a very special day. Indeed it is one of three most special days of my life. Today, 44 years ago Gideon Saul, my sunshine, came into the world. His determination to make this world a better place, to fight for justice, has made him into a man I am so proud of, more than I can express. Happy birthday my Gids, enjoy the day with your Steph, the children and big bro Daniel and his family.

As Baghdad airport burned and chaos and terror reign all over the world there is a ray of light as Prime Minister Netanyahu travelled to Africa with Israel’s hand extended in an exceptional mission of friendship. His tour began in Uganda, in Entebbe, 40 years after his brother Yonatan was killed in the most daring rescue mission the world has known. I wonder if it could be achieved today or if we are all too paralysed by bureaucracy and fear, as happened in Benghazi.

If you cast your minds back, perhaps the most frightening aspect of the hijacking was that under the direction of Idi Amin, that cruel dictator who claimed to admire Israel, the Jews and non-Jews were separated and then the non-Jews freed. It demanded action, the most daring of actions. Anwar Sadat and incredibly even Yassir Arafat tried to negotiate the freedom of the hostages to no avail. The die was cast, the operation inevitable but there was one practicality that had to be overcome – the planes needed to refuel. Thanks to Kenyan Minister of Agriculture who persuaded Jomo Kenyatta to allow the Israeli planes to refuel in Nairobi, the basics were ready. The mission Commander was Yekutiel Adam a former deputy Chief of Staff. Among his officers were Brigadier General Dan Shomron, Matan Vilna’i, Shaul Mofaz, Uri Sagi and Yonatan Netanyahu. There were many heroes of this incredibly daring mission.

The first plane landed in Entebbe and a black Mercedes, exactly like Idi Amins, rolled out of the Hercules on to the tarmac. The soldiers raced to the terminal shouting in English and Hebrew “We are Israeli soldiers. Stay down, stay down”. They overcame the hijackers and took the hostages to another 3 Hercules aeroplanes – the entire operation from landing to take off took just 53 minutes.  Such bravery; clear understanding that we could not leave our own without bringing them home. That is the kind of leadership I want today.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit united seven African Christian countries, each threatened by Moslem Extremists, and formed an Economic and Military Union with Israel, thereby advancing their economic interests, providing for their defensive needs and creating a united political front with Israel as their protector and ally! Only Israel answered their needs, only Israel cared. The African countries and Israel will benefit from this new Union!

There were no official memorial ceremonies in London. 11 years ago, on the 7th of July 2005, home grown terrorists arrived in London in a Mercedes and placed bombs in the underground on 3 trains, killing 39 and a further 13 died in a bus bombing in Tavistock Square a short while later. Over 700 people were injured. We must not forget them. May their souls rest in peace and may the wounded forget the horrors they saw and can never forget .

Last night a rally was held in Dallas in protest of Police shootings of black suspects, the rally went horribly wrong and at least 11 policemen were shot, 4 of them to death. The suspects were black, but then so were many of the police officers. Is this a racist issue? Is this a society issue? Is this a gun issue or a fear issue? Probably some of each. The fact remains that the tragic killing of policemen on duty occurred. President Obama called to stop the shooting of black suspects, and rightly so, but he did not mention that many policemen are black so does that discount racism? I am saddened, horrified and confused.

The most recent declaration of ISIS Sharia Judges demands the killing of disabled children. Echoes of Nazism or writing on the wall?

Tikkun Olam. The Israeli that brought gardening to Harlem. I love this story and probably didn’t make the headlines…….. anywhere!!!!

This week was delightful, not too crazy and the weather was less searing and more summery. Our dear friends Flory and Paul Haritoncame for a short visit, not nearly long enough, but it was delightful to sit and talk with them and find out how their family is doing.

On Monday night Robert and Robert came to film an interview with me on our now famous veranda. The subject of the film was fascinating; basically the similarities between the history of the Jews and the Mormons which lead to the importance for the Mormon community to support Israel as the home of the Jews. Through our fabulous friend Dr Kimball Taylor we have learned more than most about the LDS, for instance, that in the 1840’s Elder Orson Hyde came to Jerusalem, stood on the Mount of Olives and declared that this must be the home of the Jews. I digress – the subjects I chose to speak about were – Family values, Tikkun Olam, persecution, misunderstanding on both sides and many more aspects while the two Roberts guided and filmed me overlooking Jerusalem. Of course I introduced them to the view and then the following night they filmed Zvi on the Haas Promenade with the entire panorama of Jerusalem behind him.

On Tuesday I went to see the finale of Talia and Ayalas dance class. It was amazing. Girls from 16 down to 5 danced, each age group performing, ending with all 180 girls on stage at once dancing to a hip hop Haredi song! Anyone who thinks religious girls don’t like noisy modern music is mistaken! It was all girls, women in the audience because my grandchildren are Haredi. They had a ball and so did all the Mums and siblings!!!

On Wednesday I met up with Cardiff girlfriends. There is something very special about the conversations with friends who have known you since you were a baby. The conversation is easier, no explanations, just easy and sweet. We each open ourselves up in a way one cannot with those who don’t know from whence you came; didn’t know your home, parents, siblings, cousins……… trials and tribulations. When with those friends I leave myself open, without protection in the knowledge that they will never willingly hurt me. I came on Aliya later than the others, just 26 years, and I love to hear that each and every one of us would never live anywhere else. We made the right choice.

Yesterday I went shopping. Not shopping in any old supermarket – I went to Osher Ad. Osher Ad has wide aisles, and an enormous variety of foodstuffs but most of all I love the people! Essentially a haredi supermarket one can find the full rainbow of Jerusalem life. Haredi men and women with the biggest trolleys piled high to feed their families, young people in jeans and skinny tops confused by the choice; Arab women in full Hijab comfortable and safe in their shopping; people like me who fit in anywhere and a surprising number of men shopping with their cellphones stuck to their ears “Which company should I buy? Red or green peppers? What flavour yoghurt?” For some reason there is always one person who just has to have the “best” cucumber from the bottom of a 2 metre high mountain of cucumbers causing a first curiousity as to the possibility and then horror at the result!!!! Among the mountains of fruit and veg are the aubergines (egg plants). They are not long and evenly shiny like yours, they are huge, bulbous and uneven and the best tasting in the world!!!The place is huge, with at least 20 checkouts and yet there are always long queues……….. which in Israel means conversations are inevitable, irrespective of  culture!

Yesterday I had the honour of looking after Ayala for the afternoon. We had great fun trying to do science experiments! Yesterday produced a hovercraft!! In the evening we went to the Deer Park. Zvi’s choir, Hakol Yachassi performed at the Gonenim Festival. Thousands of children and parents having fun learning about rubbish! Recycling rubbish into toys. It was fun, really fun.

And so to music.

Arik Einstein was a legendary Israeli singer. His song You and I, Atah ve Ani, is about changing the world, one at a time.

When we think about the song Hallelujah we think of Leonard Cohen’s version and forget both the Israeli song and that Hallelujah is a word of praise and prayer in Hebrew. In 1979, in a far less political world, Israel won the Eurovision song contest with Hallelujah, sung by Gali Atari and Milk and Honey.

I must get the house ready and lunch prepared because we are babysitting five little grandchildren, aged from 2 til 9, for lunch, then supper for us all and three are staying overnight. As I light the Shabbat candles tonight I will have all five of Zvi’s grandchildren – our grandchildren, showered and ready, the candlelight reflected in their shining eyes. They love to listen, and giggle, at Saba Zvi’s beautiful Kiddush and then rush to be the ones to dole out the fresh challot. In fact, I think I will bake challot (plaited Shabbat bread) with them this afternoon to keep them busy, who cares if the kitchen will be covered in flour!!

By the way – Wales is out of the European Cup – great game but we lost

Shabbat Shalom dear friends

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, beautiful Jerusalem……………