The view from my veranda

170609 UK Elections, Qatar, Haley, Jerusalem 50, Lindens


9th June 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you managed to keep up with the constant news this week! Perhaps I should do a run down and then we can talk about other things.

Let’s begin with the British elections of yesterday. If one looks at the map of the British Isles one could well be fooled into thinking that the Conservatives enjoyed an overwhelming victory!  Britain does not have a proportional representation form of government – it has constituency voting and constituency representation so sheer numbers are irrelevant. One must also hope that the Ulster Unionists, the Liberal Democrats etc will join Mrs May rather than Labour. The big losers are the Scottish Nationalists!!!!

Next question, how can a country that has suffered horrific terror attacks in the last few weeks give such a boost to a man who openly talks of his friends in Hamas and Hezb-Allah? It’s very simple. My generation grew up with free university education, free health care, easy social welfare and it was wonderful but in the long run it broke the bank of Britain and slowly means-testing and austerity replaced it. At that time it was very popular to hate Margaret Thatcher who, it turned out, revitalized the British economy. Jeremy Corbyn has hidden behind empty promises of returning to free university education for all and all the former social benefits. He has hidden his foreign policy agenda, hidden his anti-Semitism, forgotten to mention his alliances but the idea of lots of goodies convinced a younger generation who forgot the price paid. The only promise which I can honestly agree with is his determination to help those with chronic illness. Add to all this the undoubted fact that Theresa May lay back on her laurels and didn’t campaign. Corbyn went out to the people and convinced them. In Hebrew victims are Corbanot – sadly Brits have fallen Corbanot to Corbyn.

Can Mrs May survive it? I don’t know but the alternative is Boris Johnson – brilliant but unpredictable. We could conceivably have two leaders, one each side of the Atlantic, both of whom speak their minds and have weird hairdos!!!!

London Bridge  and environs is a thriving area filled with pubs, clubs and restaurants. It is the epitome of London nightlife. Perhaps that is the reason three fanatics in a white van ran rampage killing 8 people and injuring at least 50 others. Yet again attacking the Western style of life. Through my deep sadness at the loss of life I found this headline the most distressing The perpetrator used his social benefits to fund the attack. No words.

Teheran was rocked by a terror attack which they did not fund. Members of their Parliament died and there was talk of a coup d’etat.

Qatar has been shunned by the other Sunni Arab countries who have chosen the path of less resistance – not peace but less resistance. Understand, Qatar is enormously powerful having bought up any available real estate, football teams, hotel chains, airlines, indeed anything that is for sale. They founded and own Al Jazeera. This headline staggered me – they own more of London than the Queen if you are quietly saying “Stupid Brits didn’t see it coming” try this for size  Washington Civic Centre? Qatar and Iran share an oil field which is apparently sufficient for them to break the Sunni based coalition. They don’t need anyone!!!!

In the words of someone on the inside, Donald Trump wrote “Jerusalem, Capital of the State of Israel” in all 6 of his Middle East speeches and all 6 times the State Department took it out. However the understanding in the Middle East is that one cannot mess with this President. He can be louder, crasser and more determined than any of them and that is something they understand. The Presidential visit has its successes, unlike his predecessor Trump recognises that democracy cannot be imposed, it has to be attained. Nothing anyone can do will reverse the damage of the Carter Administration, but it is changing.

One excellent choice made by President Trump is the American Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. She has spoken out loud and clear on the misuse of power of the Human Rights Council – its constant lambasting of Israel while ignoring horrendous violations elsewhere. Well Nikki Haley arrive in Jerusalem this week for meetings with the PM, the President and many other bodies. As with everything else, her visit was without fuss, but elegant and businesslike. She made it clear that she will not countenance bullies – and that the USA may just remove its funding of the UNHRC. Sorry to gloat but always said that is the only way!

A dear friend made a promise about 6 years ago, Josephine Lindentold me she would come back to visit Jerusalem and that her husbandTom would come with her. Since she made that promise while on a glorious cruise with the Gandel Family, I didn’t hold her to it, but she reiterated her vow every time we met! Well, Josephine and Tom arrived and we had a ball. Zvi did a phenomenal job as their guide, not missing a single important site, and I joined in for the Mount of Olives and Mahane Yehuda. They loved it and of course Zvi’s explanations and historical knowledge brought everything into clear perspective. I am thrilled to say that they loved every moment and I got to show them my favourite place. The market lived up to its reputation – buzzing with activity before Shabbat, the throng enjoying the noise and bustle, discovering the sweet cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, each one giving a good kvetch to the produce to ensure its freshness. It is the season of cherries, apricots, peaches and nectarines and the air is redolent with their perfume. We then went to check out the famous Mahaneyuda Restaurant and were deeply disappointed. Music screaming out, diners crushed together – we went off to the delicious Sima Restaurant where the food was typically Jerusalem and absolutely scrumptious and the staff delightful!!!

Zvi decided we should go to see Mea Shearim and the Haredi preparations for Shabbat, a “Zvitours” speciality. All went really well, we found parking with ease and set off on our wanderings. Our first shock was the signs which proclaimed “Judaism rejects Zionism” “Zionist Occupation in any part of the Holy Land is Heresy and Crime” and Palestinian flags. Understand there are few newspapers in Mea Shearim – they read their news on posters. Then it happened – we realised there was a huge angry crowd gathering and didn’t understand why. The rabble grew more and more aggressive and then we saw him, a lone young soldier walking through Mea Shearim. The abuse and eggs thrown (one landed right near Josephine) horrified me. We tried to help soldier and Zvi ran to stand and walk with him while I called the police. We were in a minority but refused to leave him. It turned out to be a police sting – and 11 were arrested. Do they call themselves Jews? Well they certainly do not represent any part of Judaism I know. The ludicrous part is that they are exempted from national service anyway! I am very pleased to say that when I told my Haredi grandson Yosef about what happened he asked me if I managed to punch on of them – when I said that would not serve the purpose he just said he was proud of Saba Zvi and I and that the rioters were a disgrace. You see not every Haredi is like that. The reason they are rioting is because they have to go to the enlistment centre to receive their exemption papers!!! Incidentally – we got a parking ticket!!!

On Monday night we met Robert and Anita Simons and went for dinner in the IMA restaurant. I love Robert and Anita, such honest good people. Anyway while sitting in the restaurant which serves traditional Middle Eastern food, friends walked in, Naomi and Daniel Furman. It was very exciting when Daniel told us he received an honour from the Hebrew University and then to our amazement he turned to Robert and told him he was responsible for his continued volunteer work with the University because years ago he realised that Robert came faithfully to every important meeting of the HU, all the way from Sydney, Australia. “If he could come from Australia, I could come from Tel Aviv!” Not the only people Robert has influenced since, all those years ago, he met a young man called Zvi setting up Keren Hayesod Young leadership worldwide!!!

And so to Jerusalem, the beautiful birthday girl, the entrancing, deeply spiritual woman, who becomes more beautiful every year. Ilana, Eddie and Denise Podolsky are in Israel, all the way from San Diego, for a ceremony at the Museum of the Diaspora, honouring Denise (aged 11) and her Shorashim (Roots) work on her family. She was chosen out of thousands of entries! They came to Jerusalem and of course we met in Mahane Yehuda (where else) then headed off to Mamilla for a quick bite to eat and then climbed the steep steps past the Italian Restaurant and wandered down a little, filled with excited anticipation – we were going to see the much talked about “Sound and Light Spectacular“. Thousands and thousands of people crowded around the Jaffa Gate and then it happened; the show began!! I have never ever seen anything like it! On the walls of the Old City, history played out before our eyes, singers sang, Biblical passages, Jacobs ladder, Abraham and Isaac, “The Temple Mount is in our hands” came to life in a manner that took my breath away. The production is superb, the experience without equal. An apt celebration of the reunification of this unique city.

I took a break to go and see the grandchildren – that’s why I am a bit late today. No apologies, my priorities are absolutely spot on!! After I gave Talia her 11th birthday gift of a hair straightener (yeah I know but that’s what she wanted!) lots of hugs and kisses, stories of their week, talk of their school trips this coming week and of course hugging my daughter too, I took my booty (4 absolutely scrumptious challah rolls fresh from Rachels oven) I made my way back over Samuels Tomb, wondered afresh at the panorama and came back to the air conditioning at home – good grief it is hot!!!

I want to put this video in because it is brilliant. Presented by 4il

Zvi has been official babysitter this week, both in Tel Aviv (Altneuland translated by Nahum Sokolov into Hebrew) with little Ella and Yonatan and last night in Nes Ziona (The banner or pennant of Zion) with Amit, Gili and Ori. This morning he got the girls up bright and early and they went off to be with their cousin Denise for her big moment.

The first song is of deep meaning for Jerusalem – a child’s dream come true

We cannot bring back those who died in the fight for Jerusalem or in the 6 Day War, indeed any war, but the song says rather than shedding bitter tears we should sing of peace

Meir Banai of a famous theatrical family that grew up near Mahane Yehuda, wrote about the Old City and the Mercy Gate, through which the Messiah will come (or come back).

Tomorrow we will meet Canon Andrew White at Lola and Norman Cohens for tea. A wonderful  group of people – the best anywhere, all of whom have a special love for this amazing city.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wish you peace and the return of that joy felt by Jew and Christian, at the thought of returning to our Holy places.

With love from Jerusalem