The view from my veranda

170421 Bargouti, Impact-se-UNWRA, Erdogan and Holocaust Day


20th April 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope your Pesach, Paschah, Easter went smoothly and that your home has returned to normal.

Marwan Bargouti is in an Israeli prison for acts of terror, he receives more than the rights demanded by the Geneva Convention and he has completed his PhD while incarcerated. He is a murderer and was convicted on 12 out of 33 counts of murder, including the my son-in-laws Aunt, Yaela Hen, in January 2002. Bargouti is a former leader of the Al Aqsa Brigade and a senior member of the Tanzim – the military arm of the Fatah movement – a terrorist of the highest level. Despite all of the above the New York Times chose to publish an op-ed by Bargouti, sanitizing his identity as a Palestinian parliamentarian, stating his intended hunger strike. The NYT claimed he was a political prisoner, not a terrorist, therefore eligible for publication. Of all the weak and disgusting excuses for publication I have ever heard that beats them all. The New York Times chose to publish the clever rhetoric of a terrorist and ignore his racist murderous past. Of course it is not the first time the NYT has carefully chosen its coverage of the murder of Jews “Reporting on the Times” was a documentary produced in 2012 . Sultzberger, the owner/editor of the NYT at the time intentionally hid Holocaust stories on middle pages claiming he was not like the poor Eastern European Jews being affected.

Israeli Holocaust Memorial Day begins on Monday night. It is a day of mourning and contemplation, especially since the recent revealing of the relevant papers showing that it could have been stopped. The NYT was not the only body to hide the truth from the people, thus causing the horror and slaughter to continue.

This BBC history account of Sir Winston Churchill’s sympathies for the Jews and his attempts to save the European Jews is both fascinating and deeply important  Sadly Sir Winston’s plan was not accepted – indeed US Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy strongly advised against it and the plan was never carried out.

Richard Dimbelby was an exceptional reporter. In the days when the BBC told the truth he was a supreme truth-teller and his report of entering Bergen Belsen was conceivably the most emotive and factual of all reports

To help you understand the deep meaning of Yom HaShoah in Israel, the tears as the sirens wail out our horror at the death of 6 million of our brethren

The ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial is exceptional, broadcast on all television stations; Members of Knesset read out the names of their family who perished; the movie channels show films of the Holocaust; all other stations show testimonies of survivors; restaurants and places of entertainment are closed on the eve of Yom HaShoah and Israel becomes a country in mourning.  It would do us well to remember that many of our enemies use Mein Kampf as their textbook. Since todays anti-Israel rhetoric is all too familiar, fueled by the lies taught from kindergarten in many Moslem countries where Mein Kampf is number one on the bestsellers list, the next paragraph makes important reading.

I am very proud to be a member of the board of IMPACT-SE(  and our work has become even more relevant since the recent UNWRA report on Palestinian textbooks. The basis of Impacts academic research is tolerance and respect for the other in school textbooks from countries as varied as Iran and Israel (both secular and Haredi schoolbooks), the PA, including Hamas and most surprisingly Arab Jerusalem, a result of an agreement after 1967 that the textbooks in East Jerusalem would remain as those when Jordan occupied the area – now changed to Hamas textbooks. Impact CEOMarcus Sheff has reported to British and US Foreign Affairs committees giving essential information which forces UN bodies such as UNWRA to rethink their policies concerning education in their schools. To read the reports and methodology go to

The other news in short

Recep Tayyip Erdogan went to the people and has given himself enormous powers ensuring the death of Ataturks dreams for a modern, tolerant Turkey

Theresa May, Britains Prime Minister has called for elections on June 8 to consolidate her position in the country as the Labour Party under the extreme left-wing leadership of Jeremy Corbyn loses members of his own party.

British politicians calling for revoke UK citizenship of Asma Assad for support of husbands cruel murderous regime

President Reuven Rivlin met with both Catholic and Greek Orthodox leaders to address the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

For some unknown reason the Mayor of Tel Aviv decided to take the opening of convenience stores on Shabbat to court in Tel Aviv – and the decision was to keep them open. Why to court? I cannot think other than a publicity stunt. The corner shops are open anyway, no change in the status quo was intended, and despite one rather idiotic comment – this is an amazing democracy – but a JEWISH democracy – and the deeply secular David Ben Gurion understood the need for basic Jewish principles – after all we gave the world the day of rest for a very good reason! The law doesn’t change Israel from a democracy to a theocracy or vice versa. Gosh I get cross with the attitude of being Israeli not Jewish.

Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Pesach, Passover, have all been and gone. The church bells of Jerusalem rang out clear and loud, calling the congregants to prayer, as they walked to church in freedom. Pilgrims flooded the Old City, enjoying unusually balmy weather. The restaurants that opened were filled with surprising Passover concoctions yet again proving that good food and interesting menus are not harmed, indeed are enhanced by Kosher food.

Every year, as Passover ends I face a challenge to my memory – as do most Jewish households – “Where on earth did all those dishes come from; where do they belong and why am I left with an empty cupboard at the end”!!! You see Jews change dishes and pots for Passover, making everything new and special, this in itself is a challenge but, am the only one who can’t remember which is what and where? Anyway that is over, life has returned to normal or as close as possible to normal in our household! The multitude of spontaneous guests has slowed down and we are back to our usual insane pace.

On Wednesday we had the Board meeting for Impact-se at the Hebrew University office. The people involved  stand a head and shoulders above me and it is such a privilege to be included in their midst to learn from them. As described above the work is becoming more and more relevant and as the individual terror attacks increase we recognise the need to change the textbooks of hate to some form of tolerance.

Yesterday lunchtime Haim Elimelech Slawsky took me to lunch at the King David. Chaim Elimelech is a baby and a gorgeous one at that, but even his charm couldn’t improve the unusually dreadful service although his parents and company ensured a lovely lunch in the perfect setting of the veranda overlooking the Old City. The weather was ideal, the company excellent and the special beauty of the King David won us over.

After lunch I raced home to prepare the Shabbes table for tonight and then back to the King David  to meet with Canon Andrew White, or as he calls it Dave’s Caff, together with Norman and Lola Cohen, Hanna Ishaq, Rabbi Naftali and Andrew’s helpmeet Patrick. The service didn’t improve in the few hours since our last meal but again the company was excellent. Canon Andrew’s life is very serious, his mission to save the world through kindness and love with a firm hand is serious, his illness is serious, so I always try to make him laugh – and usually succeed!! As always he starts with gefilte fish, lots of gefilte fish then we all eat fish and chips – honestly!! The conversation flew from Baghdad to Syria to toilet paper to his Jordanian projects for Iraqi refugees and finally back to toilet paper! It must be said that toilet paper was the joke part but for those less you we remembered the really rough kind and using orange wrappers because my grandparents refuse to use newspaper!!!!!

This morning my lovely friend Batsheva is coming from Tel Aviv for a day together. After collecting her from the Central Bus Station we will go to collect Yosef from school, drive to Givat Zeev and spend time with Rachel before the aroma of baking Challot drives us crazy and we take our booty (little challot for all our guests) kiss the children and Rachel and drive over my favourite panorama from atop Samuels Tomb to show Batsheva the incredible white puzzle that makes up Jerusalem. We will then spend the day just remembering why we care so deeply for each other – from the veranda still ablaze with colour.

Sadly Canon Andrew cannot come tonight because while his speech has vastly improved the lack of visa and security clearance meant he waited too long to get to Baghdad for his stem cell treatment and he needs to go back before his legs will take him where he wants.

Tonight the Slawsky’s and our wonderful friend Samuel Bettsak come for supper together with Millie, Gail and Shmuel. The menu will include rice because Cristine and her sister, in true Phillipine tradition, eat rice at all times of the day. I hope they like my stuffed vegetables – lots of rice in there. We will start with “orange” soup (pumpkin, leek, carrot and courgette) and then beautiful fresh salmon, herbed rice stuffed peppers, courgette salad, roasted aubergines, green salad, chopped salad, home pickled cucumber salad and Gail is bringing dessert. Of course Zvi will sing Kiddush, gosh I love it when he sings, and we will have Rachels Challa for the blessing over bread. I am excited to see Chaim Elimelech’s reaction to the candle lighting…………..

Sorry I seem to have gone on a bit! Seriously time for music and I will write to you a short note before Yom haShoah.

Monty Python would say “And now for something completely different” Nissim – 1 Million Years

A beautiful rendering of Adon Olam

And finally……………….. HakolYachassi, Zvi’s choir, with a beautiful Ladino song lyrics by Eli Yaron, music by Adi Hayat, the gorgeous dancer is Liron Mussachi –

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, beautiful Jerusalem.