The view from my veranda

170106 Confusion, Azaria, US Embassy and Alan Dershowitz


6th January 2017

Shabbat Shalom on the very first newsletter of 2017!!! Shabbat Shalom and Happy Orthodox Christmas.

What a confusing week! Congress voted to overturn the UNSC vote on Jerusalem; President Elect Trump’s office says he won’t make Mexico pay for the “Wall”, of course the wall is very clearly built in many parts of the border; Turkey, a Moslem country despite the efforts of Attaturk, yet again suffered a terror attack, this time in Izmir outside the courthouse, because they arrested the perpetrators of the horrific nightclub attack on New Year’s Eve; Hanan Ashrawi, spokesperson for the PA, a Christian, has declared that Jerusalem is not Jewish thus denying her own religion; Egypt’s A-Sisi has made the decision to give Saudi Arabia two disputed islands in the Red Sea after years of angry dialogue, yet A-Sisi who is giving his people what they need is denounced as a tyrant; the diabolical war in Syria continues, Assad the murderous tyrant is supported; and …..Israel will play in the World Baseball Classics in Korea in March……….. now that is really confusing!!!

Probably the most confusing, saddest, most divisive yet legally correct occurrence in Israel was the case of Elor Azaria, sadly nicknamed “The shooting soldier“. Under normal circumstances I would be on his side, fearful of the repercussions of charging a soldier on duty with manslaughter for killing a terrorist. Under normal circumstances I would worry that others will not act quickly enough in similar situations for fear of prosecution. It sounds so cut and dried, but there are many aspects that are not. The terrorist was already lying on the ground, unable to move, after stabbing a soldier, but alive. Azaria shot him while he was already disabled. Azarias Mother was known to inculcate her children with hatred for Arabs – which almost certainly created the mind-set for what he did. The huge publicity surrounding the case, the media hype, was not conducive to logical public opinion, as I said it was divisive but nothing, no matter how one feels, excuses the threats on the life of the judge by the extreme right. The final question is “Should he receive amnesty?” No. The Knesset is not above the law and the law has spoken.

Further confusion? Our dear friend Professor Gabby Barkay, he of theTemple Mount Sifting Project, occasionally takes special groups and guides them on Jerusalem Archaeology. A few days ago, Prof Barkay was speaking to a group of visitors to the Temple Mount, as always speaking respectfully. He was approached rather forcefully by the WAQF who admonished him for using the term Temple Mount rather than Harm al-Sharif! As if that is not bad enough, the Israeli police, who were present, told him not to use the term Temple Mount again!!!!! Has the world gone mad?

So you thought I was going to begin on the straightforward and obvious….. well, I have one more and it is a really incredible one. The United States Senate has put forward a proposition to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem. Wait a minute! Zvi and I sat with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the floor of that austere institution when they voted unanimously to move the Embassy to Jerusalem in 1995!! The unanimous vote of the democratically elected representatives of the American people was vetoed by a supposedly democratic process over the last 20+ years! A similar Senate bill was presented in 2011 to obligate the President to recognize the former vote and equally ignored. Sorry but I thought that the Senate represented the people who made a decision – it is anti-democratic to overthrow the will of the people, isn’t it?

Professor Alan Dershowitz decided that he would help to reduce confusion concerning the legality and legitimacy of the State of Israel. How can the current vociferous denigration of Israel be explained? Anti-Semitism

We had a quiet Friday night and then on Shabbat Lunch visiting family came from Detroit. It was wonderful. Francie and Julian Greenebaum, their daughter Jennifer and her 3 amazing children, Sarah, Rachael, Damiano and Charlotte arrived uncertain what to expect. We turned it into a Q&A for the children trying to keep our responses lighthearted but factual. It was a blast!!! They have so enjoyed their trip to Israel, seeing the real Israel not the CNN version. They love Jerusalem, thoroughly enjoyed their Israeli food and the sheer quantity and variety!

This week had a very strong Welsh flavour. Lunch with 5 amazing Welsh, Cardiff girlfriends; coffee with a Welsh Lord who was my madrich in Habonim; meetings with Angela and Adele about the upcoming St David’s Day celebrations on March 1st for all the Welsh Jews who came here on Aliya, and there are many. The Welsh community was a strongly Zionist, in fact in my childhood Wales was very pro-Israel which came with their firm Christian beliefs but sadly, since that time both religious and social reasons for supporting Israel have disappeared. The Welsh party will be held in Jerusalem, at the Botanical Gardens, and we hope to have an amazing programme. In the past it was organised by the wonderful Gerald and Mimi Rapport and Les and Viv Greenbaum, but they handed it over to us this year after many years of successful effort. Here’s a little about the Jews of Wales  but you really need to read the books of Bernice Rubens and the poetry of Dannie Abse to understand.

I also had a meeting with a wonderful lady called Virginia Myers who I met at the Jerusalem Press Club. We met in the German Colony and it was a wonderful start to a good friendship. The German Colony, next to the Italian and Greek Colonies denoted the areas where pilgrims of various countries would settle in Jerusalem. When the British Mandate came in to Jerusalem on the heels of the First World War, the first thing they did was to change the Teutonic names of the streets to William Deedes, David Lloyd George, Josiah Wedgewood etc. A truly magnificent area with many Bauhaus buildings and a restaurant culture that is truly exceptional.

Anyone who thinks Jerusalem is just antiquities and Bible should check out this site. Just click on each “old” photo and you will get the “now”, the wonderful modern Jerusalem

The weather has been crisp and wintery in Jerusalem with major rainfall along the coast. Yesterday Zvi was in Nes Ziona and as he drove along he suddenly saw a magnificent total double rainbow, the colours clear and bright, the arc defined – since it was a complete arc one could not know which end held the pot of gold!!

Tonight we will be with Zvi’s children for Shabbat. I love the way they begin with singing Shabbat Shalom to welcome the lighting of the candles and the bringing in of the Sabbath before Zvi sings the Kiddush, the blessing over the wine, his strong bass-baritone succeeding over the noise of 8 children!

In just 12 days we leave for Florida. We have many friends there, both residents and snowbirds, who we hope to see and will be speaking at several Temples and Shules. If you want us to talk to your group we may be able to fit in one more. Many of those friends are from Latin America an excuse to give you my favourite video of the week with the paintings of my favourite artist – Botero –

Rabbi Israel Meir HaCohen was a great Rabbi known as Chafetz Chaim – the one who desires life. His words resound throughout our faith “Mi ha Ish – who is the man”

Wow! As Mi ha Ish finished this music came on! I don’t know which market they sang in but it is so Israeli and so much fun – who needs the sophistication of Tel Aviv when you can have the warmth of this place!

Zvi has gone to his course on autobiographical writing and then will race off to his parliament  and I can tell you without any doubt that the subject for discussion will be Elor Azaria. It will be the subject this evening with the children too……….

So, are you a little less confused or did I complicate your thoughts even more? So many of the questions don’t have an answer but there is one thing you can be sure of, Israel is here, Jerusalem is ours and you will be welcomed with open arms whenever you come to this little miracle of democracy in the middle of a sea of war, tyranny, corruption and confusion.

With much love from our home to yours, from the land of small, round, hardy lemons (Stanley) and more flavours and concoctions of a hundred traditions cooking away on a million stoves to bring in the Shabbat. Traditions.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem