The view from my veranda

170324 Westminster Bridge, JCC, UN, Azzam Azzam


24TH March 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. This week has been overtaken by deep sadness as terror strike again, this time in the heart of London. 4 people lost their lives including an unarmed policeman, Constable Keith Palmer, just 44 years old, who, through his incredible bravery, stopped the slaughter by halting the terrorist in his tracks.

For those who do not know the area surrounding the Houses of Parliament, the bridge over the River Thames leading to the exquisite architecture of the Palace of Westminster, is a favourite tourist site, giving a wonderful aspect of the embankment and the Parliament buildings including the Elizabeth Tower which houses the Big Ben Bell. Security is always heavy; protecting both tourists and parliamentarians alike – secure in rational terms but nothing can protect us from the insanity of vehicular terror attacks. My heart goes out to Londoners and tourists alike, those who were killed and their families, those who were injured and those who saw sights that nobody should ever see. May the souls of those who died rest in peace.

 Col Richard Kemp Tweeted Police: “London attacker was inspired by international terrorism.” No, he was inspired by violent Islamic doctrine.

The Metropolitan police work closely with Israeli security services on how to fight terror and they reported that over 100 potential attacks had been prevented but even the highest level of security cannot stop each attack. Prison, prison is the school for terrorists and hatred. Be it British prisons, Israeli, American, European, indeed all over the world jails are the pressure cookers of Islamic fundamentalist recruitment. Those within are often disenchanted with society, social misfits who never found their place are suddenly part of a group, find religion and become soft targets for extremely clever manipulators who convince them that their acceptance is dependent upon the death of infidels wherever and whenever they may be. Most are not immigrants, many like Khalid Massoud, are born in Britain. Massoud was born and brought up in in area near Birmingham where many Asians settled and thrived. If you want to understand the process of indoctrination you need to understand the Imams who teach  young people hatred of the country which welcomed their parents and grandparents and everything Britain (indeed anywhere) stands for. Please see the clever and terrifying Allah Islam by Zvi Yehezkeli who went undercover in Europe and Britain.

Not everything is as simple and clear as it seems. The terrifying threats on JCC’s across America distressed and disturbed whole communities and fingers were pointed at President Trump for awakening the ugly face of anti-Semitism in America. The threats were a clever play, a malevolent, cruel plot by a 19 year old American born Israeli. Beyond understanding that a Jew could possibly have devised such a cruel plan, worse that it diminished the genuine threats to a news item about an Israeli instead of highlighting a real danger.

Hillel Neuer is the founder of an amazing organisation which fearlessly stands up in the UN to put Israel’s case. He pointed out that while the UN is obsessed with the Palestinian “refugees” (the only ones in the world who can inherit the status) nobody has given a moments thought to the Jews who fled Arab countries. Perhaps the reason is because we never asked for a penny in assistance from the UN because they came home from dispersion.

Prime Minster Netanyahu has been travelling a great deal recently; at first in Africa and most recently in Asia. The purpose is to widen Israel’s economic base since the USA and Europe have become uncertain economic partners. This visit, long in preparation, is to strengthen China-Israel economic relations but also to ensure that Chinese companies do not meet with Israeli businessmen and simply copy the product as happened in the past. It certainly seemed a warm discourse.

The war in Syria becomes more and more horrific. The number of dead has risen above 500,000 and has been mis-handled from the very beginning. Nobody knows who is fighting whom and the human tragedies continue unabated. What is proportional response? One wonders why the outcry was not stronger when a school/shelter was bombed in an American airstrike and 33 (at least) civilians, mostly children, were killed.

Hundreds of bottles of booze were uncovered near Ramle in the remains of an old British fort used during WW1. I have a feeling the drinks came from the Officers Mess. Why? Because the bottles contained both whisky and gin. Gin of course was imbibed by the officer class, a habit from the time of the Raj in India when Gin and Tonic was the prescribed antidote to malaria!!! The embossed name of Gordons Gin stood out but no tonic was found!

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has undergone constant restoration since coming back into Israeli hands after 1967. I still remember going there in 1967 and feeling sadness and the dilapidation of the entire Church. Well now the latest restoration is magnificent and is of the Tomb of Jesus. See for yourselves

As I told you we went to Akko (Acre) and Rosh Hanikra last weekend with Zvi’s choir and our little grand-daughter Amit. Leaving Jerusalem at 06:30 we headed north. Our driver was a brave man, driving a choir yet singing his heart out most of the route! First we went to the Old City of Acre and the Fort which served as a prison for “Jewish Underground” basically of the Lehi or Stern Gang and the Irgun where they were held by the British. They determined to escape and luckily very few died but one was Yair Stern, leader of the Lehi. His son and daughter in law are looking for any information about him. If you have anything please send to me. It was far from a picnic in the prison; crowded, with simple woven rugs as mattresses and basic food but as you will see later it could have been a lot worse.

 From Acco we went to Rosh Hanikra. So exquisite, her caves and tunnels carved out of the sandstone rock by the mighty sea Rosh Hanikra provides food for the soul in her beauty. We then went back to our Youth Hostel – as good as most hotels – for Shabbat. Friday night we learned about the many tunes associated with each familiar prayer, a lecture by our friend Dr Motti Friedman then too exhausted to dally we went to sleep. Next morning we set of on foot to explore Acco’s Old City. The Crusader great halls have been recently excavated, discovered whn a lady had trouble with her plumbing, the plumbers dug down and found……….. a labarynth of enormous rooms in an incredible state which told stories of the Templars and the Hospitalers. Our guide, Eva, ensured we saw every fascinating facet. Acco, Akko, Acre, irrelevant how you say it it is deeply important as a Napoleonic/ Crusader/ Ottoman and Jewish city. Akko is before all else a Moslem City and Israel would never ever try to claim otherwise.

In the afternoon Azzam Azzam came to talk to us. Azzam Azzam, an expert in textiles and ladies underwear had been sent by the Israeli company he worked for, to negotiate with the Egyptian manufacturers. An Israeli Druze, Azzam was fluent in Arabic and seemed the ideal candidate. On his last day after buying gifts for his 4 children and his wife, he headed back to the hotel to pack. He was met by two burly men who roughly bundled him into a car, blindfolded and terrified, and taken to a prison where he was beaten and starved. It was some time before he was tried and given a 9 year sentence as a spy for Israel – no proof, no witness, no reason. The Israeli Embassy worked tirelessly to free him and Prime Minsters worked to free him. Early in the story his wife had been to see Ariel Sharon, then a Minister. Sharon promised that if he became Prime Minister the first thing he would do is to free Azzam. So it was. The story is complex and told with incredible good humour and self-effacement. The torture he endured in the filthy prison, sent there by Mubarak himself, was slightly eased when he learned that Mubarak and his sons were imprisoned in the same jail. A true patriot,  true Israeli whose entire family served in the IDF and who loves Israel as no other.

So tell me – how many cupboards have you cleaned? How ready are you for Pesach? I am doing one cupboard a day –and we have Zvi’s boys and children coming for Shabbat dinner tonight so they will help me get rid of a lot of food from the freezer – they are good eaters!!! Tonight we have two soups (Pumpkin and pea), Meatballs in Chraime sauce; Chicken patties for the children and pulkes in onion sauce all together with various salads and ptittim (rice shaped pasta) with onion. I will light the Shabbat candles with the little girls then Zvi will lead Kiddush in his amazing bass baritone and bless the homemade Challah – I decided to let Rachel off this week and make my own. I think I will try a 7 strand this week. I will take the children out onto the verandah to see the incredible array of spring flowers – bright reds, purples and yellow from bulbs we bought in Holland last summer.

Tomorrow we will go for a walk in the Gazelle Park just down the road to the right or maybe walk to the Biblical zoo on the left cutting through my special park; we’ll see what the weather does!!!

Dame Vera Lynn sang to Britain and held the Bulldog spirit alive during the 6 long years of WW2 with her sweet voice, natural strength and beauty. Dame Vera celebrated her 100th birthday this week. So I chose to give you the song for which this East End Jewish girl became loved. We’ll meet again

While looking for a song to lift our spirits when the world seems to have gone crazy I found this one by Yaakov Shwekey. I Believe –

So that’s it. Another week has gone by, Zvi is with his Parliament putting the world to rights. My Challa is rising and needs to be kneaded – the table is set, the food cooked and Shabbat is coming in later this week because we are on summer time!!

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Let us all determine to make our lives sweeter this week, no matter what horrible news is thrown at us – because the best way to defeat evil is to succeed, to thrive, to live our lives in freedom.

With love