The view from my veranda

170113 Terror by truck, Mahane Yehuda, Gideon Saul

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens


13th January 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. This has been a very sad week, not the best of times, yet babies are born, young couples marry and great celebrations take place. It is indeed both the best of times and the very worst.

On Sunday, a group of Officer Cadets of the IDF and their trainers, came to Jerusalem on an educational seminar. They, like most of us, went to see the incomparable vista point of the Haas Promenade in Talpiot/Armon haNatziv – perhaps to understand what they are fighting for. As one group alighted from the bus an Israeli Arab (not a Palestinian although the media insists upon it) took his flatbed truck and simply drove into and through the soldiers. He then reversed in order to kill and maim more of them but several soldiers took out their weapons and shot him. He had mown down the lives of 4 beautiful young people, 20-year-old Lt. Yael Yekutiel z”l, 22-year-old Lt. Shir Hajaj z”l, 20-year-old Sec.-Lt. Shira Tzur z”l, 20-yearold Sec.-Lt. Erez Orbach z”l who volunteered to go into the IDF despite the fact he had special needs. 17 others were injured – all of the young people will never be the same again. May their sweet souls rest in peace and their families be consoled with the mourners of Zion.

The terrorist comes from the neighbourhood of Jabel Mukaber, right next to Armon ha Natziv. Zvi’s children grew up there and in those days Jabel Mukaber was a tiny village of a few dozen families who shared the playgrounds and facilities of the Jewish neighbourhood. During the second Intifada, when the Israeli police and IDF were busy trying to prevent terrorist attacks, thousands of family members of the original village poured into Jabel Mukaber from Hebron and there are now nearly 10,000 inhabitants. Those people receive all the social services of Jerusalem, medical, social security, jobs, everything. Now do you understand?  Nothing to lose because when they build homes without planning permission CNN etc are right there ensuring Israel looks bad for pulling down unsafe buildings.

In the meantime terror attacks took place in Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and some 17 JCC’s in the USA were threatened. Yes it is the worst of times.

Ironically, just minutes after the diabolical attack I was walking down the steps of the glorious neighbourhood of Yemin Moshe to the Jerusalem Press Club to hear none other than Yossi Beilin speak. I hoped he may say something different, a new perspective but sadly he didn’t. Such a brilliant man who is unable to think out of his box. He still lauded Oslo and Sharm, talked about a Federation between Israel and the PA. I felt like mis-quoting Einstein at him “Failure is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results

We are so dumb. When we can’t accept a democratically elected leader we determinedly put him down and make his tenure illegitimate. This is negative on every level, especially negative to our standing in the world. It is irrelevant whether it is your leader or mine. The sex stories of Donald Trump suggest that no President in the past ever had a questionable sex life; then we come to the investigation of the Netanyahus. Since as long as I can remember, and certainly Zvi can remember, politicians have been hedonists, egotists, and a nice cigar or a bottle of Champers could gain entry to their cahal. Get over it everyone – try to build a future and stop trying to change the present!

On Monday I went to Shouk Mahane Yehuda with two friends from my childhood, Adele Landau Roffman and Angela Hexner ben Gal who have taken so much of the work of arranging the imminent delight of the Welsh/Israelis St David’s Day party that I feel free to enjoy our Florida sojourn. The party will be held on March 1st, obviously, in the Botanical Gardens in Jerusalem.

I love the Mahane Yehuda in case you hadn’t guessed yet!!  You really should take the tours I bought some delicious fruit tea to take to my daughter-in-law Karen and some special warm hat things that can either be neck warmers or hats for Daniel, Joshua and Callie!!! The aromas emanating from the huge variety of tisane mixes was quite heady – not only potable flower and fruit mixtures – they even have edible hibiscus flowers, unsweetened dried pineapple, mango, guava and Zvi’s favourite, papaya – and you should really try the herb and spice mixes for rice dishes!!!!. We walked up and down the main alley then out into the daylight of the outside shouk, stopping to say hello and taste the fresh delights along the way. We sat in Café Aroma, drinking the best coffee in the world, watching the world go by. Love it!!!

I want to jump and shout the next piece of news which is so fabulous I woke up at 04:00 smiling and crying simultaneously. I received permission to tell you about it but was told not to include too much slush!!! Actually the easiest thing to do is to copy you the note from my son Gideon Saul Cammerman QC!!!!

Of course I am happy for you to schlep some nachas. But, please just write that on recommendation on the Lord Chancellor, the Queen has appointed me one of Her Majesty’s Counsel or as is more commonly known, Queens Counsel.

Now tell me, could you hold back? I am so proud I could fly, but Gideon, I promised to hold back and not be slushy. I wouldn’t dream of saying you are brilliant and wonderful, but I can wax lyrical about your wonderful wife Stephanie whose part in your success is immeasurable. I am flying to London to attend the ceremony in the House of Lords on the 13th of February and I promise you I will not hold back then. Gosh, my baby is taking Silk!!!’s_Counsel

We leave for Florida very soon and lots of you asked for our schedule. On the 25th of January we are speaking at our dear friend Michael Meir’s synagogue, Skylake Synagogue in North Miami Beach, actually Zvi will be speaking because it is in Spanish and I can only listen. On the 27th, by special invitation of Bob and Faith Krasnow we will be at Temple Beit El – 2815 North Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach which is the prime reason we are travelling to Florida. Zvi will speak and I will occasionally interrupt when asked! On the 4th of February we will be speaking in Boca Raton at our friend David Steinhardts Temple Bnei Torah. Those of you who have our Israeli cell numbers – we can be reached on WhatsApp. I am flying up to NYC to see my beautiful family there and Zvi is going down to Mexico to see his cousins. Family is everything for us.

Last night we met with some of my very favourite people. Canon Andrew White, Hanna Ishaq, Lola and Norman Cohen. in what Canon Andrew calls “Daves Caff” aka the historic King David Hotel for supper. I am so excited that Andrew is back in his special city, his special part of the world. I wish him better health and a great deal of strength as he embarks on a whole new project to help the same people he loves so much. Andrew has created a new organisation called  the Canon Andrew White Reconciliation Ministry

Brenda Katten is an exceptional lady. I first met her in the UK and since then have been enthralled by her writings as well as her person. This week she writes about the dichotomy nay the chasm between the media and the truth. Here she talks about Syrian, Palestinian and Gazan children treated with love in Israeli hospitals.

Shabbat comes in early in the winter as dusk begins to turn the white stones of Jerusalem a deep pinkish gold. The colour change lasts but a moment or two but it excites me each day. I stand before the big windows overlooking our veranda to see the flash of gold, as the sun goes down behind us.  I never weary of our view, of Jerusalem spread before me, she, the city which so suits the Dickens quotation, here we know the best of times and the worst of times. Of late we feel abandoned but then I receive incredible letters of support from ordinary folk of every religion, letters from so many different countries telling me their politicians do not represent the people, Israel is in their hearts. If you really mean it – come to visit; come to see for yourselves what an exciting, innovative, modern country this is. You will see all religions and all sectors of all religions represented in the stores, streets, shopping malls, and hospitals, indeed everywhere – you will wonder at the history and be amazed by the modernity. Most of all you will love the food. Ah the food, the amalgam of thousands of years of dispersion coming together in a magnificent epicurean experience.

OK as my Gideon said I am prone to waxing lyrical!!!!


My first song has nothing to do with Shabbat, less to do with Israel and everything to do with my son Gideon.  Gids, More Than Words. You gave me the best birthday gift any Mother could ask for.

The next song gives me hope and makes me cry. We Are a Miracle by Yaacov Shwekey is our story and miracle is the perfect definition.

Meir Bana’i passed away last night. The Bana’i family, true Jerusalemites every one, is a theatre family, the very basis of the Israeli Show business world. His song is of the Mercy Gate through which the Messiah will descend from the Mount of Olives. Shaar ha Rachamim  May his soul rest in peace.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. May your dreams be sweet, your Shabbat truly restful and your family safe.

With love




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