The view from my veranda

170714 Submarines and telephones, Avi Gabbay, Moshe Yaalon, Amos Yadlin and Maccabiah


14th July 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. A week of incredible jubilation with the Maccabiah and of confusion and accusations over Telephones and Submarines.

Sadly I must start with the tragic news that three Arab terrorists came in through the Lion’s Gate searching for policemen to kill. They shot three and succeeded. There are no Friday prayers on the Temple Mount today.

As you know I try hard not to criticise our leaders – there are enough Israel haters to do that – however – Prime Minister Netanyahu is yet again under the microscope and I am not sure that his vast supply of Teflon will save him this time. As I said many times I did not vote for him and wouldn’t vote for him, my reasons are many, but predominantly because he is too easily influenced by those in his Cabinet and too fearful of making brave decisions alone. Our Prime Minister has one aim – to remain in office.

I do not fully understand the “telephone” or communications issue but I know that people close to the PM in the communications field are deeply involved and that Mr Netanyahu determinedly kept the Communications Ministership close, refusing to relinquish it.

The second charge is more serious. Channel 10 investigative journalistRaviv Drukker felt something was not right about the submarine deal with Germany and investigated the issue in depth – and many aspects came to light until, finally, Former Defence Minister and Chief of Staff Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon spoke out. He said that at the time Israel intended to buy 5 submarines from Germany but that the PM insisted upon 9, which Ya’alon felt was a waste of precious funds. It appears that many people close to the PM could benefit from the sale of additional submarines to Egypt which according to Yair Lapid, Leader of the opposition party Yesh Atid and former Minister of Finance, is tantamount to treason ………. I am not on the inside so would prefer to allow Moshe Ya’alon tell you about the Middle East, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the submarine question in an interview with Christiane Annapour

I believe that the Prime Minister has done many good things and am willing to accept that, even though the Secret Service updates him on all issues, he didn’t know about the activities of his friends; however over the last period he has allowed his political allies to take his policies to a level that has torn both the Israeli society and our Diaspora relations to shreds. Even if he is innocent of all suspicion, it is time to go.

I am thrilled to say that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is home with his family and feeling infinitely better. The investigation and trial surrounding his alleged corruption was orchestrated by those who feared his ability as a Prime Minister and leader, almost all the charges were dropped, the much vaunted “Holyland Affair” laid clearly at the feet of others yet he served 19 months in prison over a “slightly illegal” $15,000 campaign contribution. Still felt by most Israelis to have been the best Prime Minister for a long time he is now free and I am happy to say he sounds wonderful. Friends from all over the world are sending him love – at least 90% of his friends have stayed close and care deeply about this very special man and his family.

Still with Israeli politics, the Labour Party has chosen a new leader. Avi Gabbay, born in Jerusalem and just 50 years old, beat fellow Moroccan Israeli Amir Peretz in the final round. While little will change in the Knesset – Gabbay is not an MK and has chosen Yitzchak Herzog to remain as Leader of the Opposition – it shows a big change in voter choice. The Likud voter was traditionally of North African origin and the Labour voter of Eastern European origin and the percentages have changed – certainly on the very Ashkenaz Labour leadership. It pleases me and shows a fascinating demographic change. Gabbay is not left wing, like Izchak Herzog, and may well bring the Labour Party back to its natural centrist position.

Yesterday I went to the Jerusalem Press Club to hear a fascinating and erudite lecture by Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF Intelligence. He covered many highly important points in a concise manner. I will try to do the same.

1.The greatest threat to our security, and yours, today is through cyber attacks. Our enemy is not stupid and they have the ability to create total havoc.

  1. Amos Yadlin is left wing but he made it very clear that theObamaAdministrations decision to disengage from the Middle East, betray Mubarak and leave a vacuum of power which was gladly filled by Russia and Iran.President Trump waded in at the Riyadh Conference and his “no nonsense” policy and acted immediately in the chemical weapons incident in Syria showing that the US is invested in keeping the peace. Through the new policy the Palestinians are no longer the centre of attention – Iran, and as a by-product Qatar, has taken centre stage.
  2. An American journalist asked why the PA/Israel situation cannot be resolved quickly like the Americans did with the Marshall Plan. The answer was straightforward. It was not the Americans but rather the Allies together with the Americans and not all wars are fast and then out – Afghanistan is now 15 years; Iraq 8; Vietnam was long. The USA destroyed both Mosul and Aleppo, with vast “collateral damage” without looking back but Israel can’t and won’t because the world has double standards.
  3. With the new Arab alliances Al Sisi of Egypt is pushing forMohammed Dahlan, Former Gazan security chief, Hebrew speaker, arch enemy of Hamas, to lead Gaza to change.
  4. The most important question was “What keeps you awake at night” and the response? “Missed opportunities. Now is the moment to step in and change the paradigm of our region but we have no coherent leadership.”

Two leaders, military and secret service, who say it is time for political change.

I want us all to have a good Shabbat so I intend changing the subject completely and move to immense Jubilation and enormous camaraderie as the sportsmen and women of the 20th Maccabiah come together in competition, excellence and romance. Romance? What do you expect when 7,000 young Jews from 80 countries get together for sport ?

Last week I wrote about the opening ceremony, this week I will talk about those honoured by Maccabi World Union for exceptional service. Tal Brody, the sportsman who came to a Maccabiah to compete and discovered his identity and his home and decided to make Aliya. Tal is so much more than a sportsman; he is a Goodwill Ambassador for Israel. All of the recipients are deserving, Tal; Igal Carmi; King of Hasbara in Spanish Roby CroitorescuAmnon Inbarz”l; Daniel JonasRicky ReffBeny SpeckmanJordy Weinsteinand Ronald Bakalarz. When Ronald Bakalarz gave the address in the name of the awardees he spoke of another recipient, our friend Guiora Esrubilsky z”l. Guiora was Ronnies best friend and a very special person. His wife Marta and sons received the honour for him but neither words nor awards can express our loss, the loss to the family, friends, the Maccabi movement and to the Jewish world.

We went to the Award Ceremony with Michelle Gandel which made an impressive evening into a wonderful one! Michelle is clever, fun and lovely and most of all a Gandel which means she is a great friend and speaks her mind, my two favourite virtues.

On Saturday night, Sunday and Monday we had three wonderful little girls staying over – Amit, Gili and Ori, the daughters of Zvi’s son Leor and his wife Shiri. Since their ages are diverse (11,8 and 5) we thought deeply on what to do with them to ensure excitement and fun. Sunday we took them out for lunch and then to see a Smurf movie and then in the evening, while Zvi went to sing with his choir, the girls and I set off for Mamilla and the “Son et Lumiere” on the walls of the Old City. They were entranced! After the show we went down into Mamilla for a big ice-cream, waffle and home!!! The following morning I gathered my strength and a long list of essential school stationery and we went down to Shouk Ramle and Hannah and Yaacov. It was total chaos, teeming with shoppers and very noisy but thanks to the help of Hannah and Yaacov, and the list, we succeeded in finding everything on the list, right down to the last eraser!!!!

On Tuesday I met with my adored friend  Judith Hallside for lunch and farewell. Judith is moving to Oxford after 37 years in Israel. Jerusalem will always be in her heart and soul but her daughter Michal is drawing her to move. Judith, I wish you all the luck in the world – joy and fulfillment but oh boy will I miss you!

Yesterday we went back to Mamilla to meet with Carlos and Evelyn Hausmann. What a delight! We found it hard to go our separate ways because our conversations could have gone on all day even if it was without the delicious iced coffee and cheesecake

  1. I must go soon because I have to do a bit of gardening on our veranda, see the grandchildren inGivat Zeevwhile collecting my Challot from Rachel and prepare supper for 12 people. Carlos loves hearing about the veranda and the flowers, well Carlos, the kumquat and lemon trees are in blossom, sadly the orange tree is too hot and won’t produce fruit this year; the new hibiscus is blooming, the pomegranate has babies; the geraniums are a blaze of bright colour and the aromatic herbs are looking for a dish to use them to their full advantage.

The view is still hiding behind a heat haze – it really is HOT!

Zvi found this wonderful video of Jewish/Russian Jazz – and I loved it!!

Lecha Dodi is the song/prayer we sing to welcome the bride of Shabbat. The tune is irrelevant – the words are special.

With the divisive events of the last weeks perhaps we should end with this song. ” behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” Hinei Ma Tov

We wish you a truly beautiful Shabbat, that you find the answers to your prayers and that those answers fulfill your dreams

With love from Jerusalem