The view from my veranda

170804 Azaria, Netanyahu, Hatzadhasheni


4th August 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. How are you? How is life treating you? How many moral conundrums have you faced this week?

Israel, each and every one of us, has been faced with a moral conundrum that has the entire country both fascinated and confused. Our soldiers are meant to protect us from harm. Every single day of their service they have to make enormous decisions whether to shoot or withdraw, whether to help of they see danger – however well trained one is the ability to make the right decision is difficult enough but here in Israel in tandem with the military issue we insist upon weighing the moral decision too.

Elor Azaria was 19 years old. He was on patrol when he heard shots fired and shouting from his post. Running back he saw a man lying on the ground and learned from his mates that it was a terrorist who had stabbed his friend. He claimed that the man moved toward what he believed to be an explosive device and he shot and killed a man who had already been neutralized. His reasoning – this man had stabbed his friend with the intention of killing a soldier. Both of his officers involved, who were present at the incident, claimed that he had lied and expressed a desire to kill the terrorist whatever the rules.

What in many countries may seem a logical explanation is not acceptable in Israel (nor in the UK incidentally). The Elor family chose to take the issue well beyond the original military tribunal, rejecting the IDF lawyers presented to them, and took a private lawyer – a shark. The agony for the family, for the IDF and primarily for the country has presented the deep moral conundrum I spoke of at the beginning.

Should we support the actions of our soldiers when they are faced with a terror attack? Yes of course but not if they flout clear IDF directives as Azaria did in this case. Never to shoot a neutralized prisoner.

Should it have become a public issue when it could have been dealt with by the original military tribunal? No of course not.

Should Azaria have expressed regret for his actions before the military court? Yes, absolutely yes and he didn’t.

The outcome currently depends upon the decision of the Chief of Staff who may decide that Azaria has served enough of his sentence – or that Azaria should serve out his sentence in a military “service” position. We will see.

The country is once again in turmoil concerning corruption charges against a Prime Minister  – this time Benjamin Netanyahu. The charges are not about a few thousand dollars campaign contributions, it is apparently far more serious than that. The PM’s lawyer, campaign manager and his right hand man have both turned States witness. They say what goes around comes around.

Jared Kushner, President Trumps advisor on Middle Eastern Affairs has actually admitted what we have known for a very long time. There is no solution to the Palestinian/Israel “problem”. He doesn’t place the blame on either side but I do. All the American, British, European leaders, but predominantly American, have given in to the demands of the PA because they know that Israel is on their side whatever. Israelis don’t want to prevent anyone from visiting their religious sites, indeed we protect that right, but equally we want the same rights accorded to us.

Actually there is a solution but I am not sure anyone is willing to chance it. Just stop the money!! Since the PA leaders have either taken the aid to line their own pockets or given it to the families of those brave and valiant men and women who gave up their lives for Allah on condition they took some Jews with them. Hence nothing in the kitty!! If the money stops coming in then they are finished, the trouble is that here to is a conundrum – the fat cats at the top will still have food and the people will starve. Alternatively, stop the money to UNWRA. UNWRA is the biggest employer in the PA and Gaza and they are also responsible for most of the terror!!

I would start with education.

This week I found that I was curious as to how many terror attacks are avoided throughout the world through the diligence of our police, secret service and military. Curious – how many terror attacks have been avoided through thorough police work around the globe? Britain is the most open about her statistics. 23,000 avoided and counting written by the excellent Denis MacEoin  260 killed and 368 wounded in the USA from terror attacks; just this week another attacks was foiled in Australia – can you imagine the number in Europe, India, Pakistan, Russia…… and none of the perpetrators are Israeli – we keep that for ourselves!!!!

Did you know that 11 Arab States and another 6 Moslem States ban Israeli passports? I didn’t although suspected it. Then Tom Carew put it on Facebook. You know me, I have to check and recheck and I found this list. Tom was wrong (a rare occurrence) it is far more!!!

I told you last week that we were having at least three little girls to stay for a few days – Zvi’s (our) granddaughters. I can only tell you that I realised yet again that there is a very good reason why we don’t have children at age 70! They were good girls but I was exhausted! It’s the cleaning, cooking and so on but much more it is keeping them amused. Since Ori, aged 5, had an accident the day before we had to keep her out of the sun so that meant entertaining everyone at home. Rachels two girls joined us in the afternoon but my long forgotten expertise in craft came to the front. I already bought a ton of equipment and things that shine in the night and we set to it. I have to admit I loved it!! The next day we set off for the Chocolate Factory in Kibbutz Tzuba where they built houses and a car out of chocolate and I got to make a chocololly as their helper!!!

On Monday we had a fascinating meeting. It had to be at home since one cannot leave 3 girls alone at home. Robert Croiterescu and Anabella and Oscar Jaroslavsky of HaTzad Hasheni to discuss further how to go forward in their outreach and education of the truth about Israel in the Spanish speaking world. The only way to fight BDS and other liars is to be aware of what really happens here – and ensure that our young people are informed so they know how to respond. The meeting went very well and I hope Zvi and I were able to contribute to their further success.

Monday night was Tisha b’Av – the day of mourning for many Jewish disasters that occurred on that date. I spoke about it last week so will not go further but the most important aspect is that the next day we are asked to start over – to turn the negative into the positive. We are told not to dwell on our misfortunes, after all if we did, as a people, we would not have survived. Jews move forward. Out of each horror that befell us we turned it around and created greatness. That is the big difference between us and the Palestinians. We do not continually beat our breasts to the world about being refugees – we wash off the sackcloth and ashes and build something new and better. For example, although Israel was on the cards and was planned it was the Holocaust that made us sit up and create a phenomenal national home.

I have often spoken about Zvi’s deep sense of history and its Jewish relationship which is why he chose the day after Tisha b’Av to honour his parents by building a “pinat limmud” a study corner in the Gilo synagogue where we used to take his father to pray. Kalman and Ala Raviv – both orphaned by the Holocaust – lived the ultimate Jewish life. They educated an entire generation of Israelis and young Mexicans; not only teaching but educating them to be better people. Fine gentle folk who gave their all for this country. Zvi gave a speech about learning, tolerance and real Judaism which is a generous and open religion, in a synagogue which should welcome all comers.

Zvi was especially pleased that in addition to Leor, Shiri, Amit, Gili and Ori, Silvia, Alex and Avraham Feinsod, Zvi’s cousins from Mexico, were able to come to the synagogue, to be with Zvi at this emotional time.

Alex will celebrate his barmitzva at the Kotel next week and I promise you I will be there too! I am so proud of him, he has overcome many obstacles to become an amazing young man.

Yesterday I met with 5 girlfriends from my childhood in Wales. We try to meet frequently but all lead busy lives. We speak of our past and our present; we all live in Israel now and love every moment. There is something so special about meeting old friends, they know who you are, from whence you came and the life you live and lived. I love every one of them.

So this morning we went to the Opera, thanks to Elihu Ben On. I admit that I am not especially fond of modern opera, I find the music is not to my taste, but the performance was excellent, in the school of excellence in science and the arts down the road and it was a very pleasant way to spend a Friday morning!!!

I am not going to put you through opera – although, on second thoughts yes I will!!!! Nabucco, that most Jewish of operas, Daniel Oren, the Israeli Opera Company and the chorus of the Hebrew slaves sung by the thousands of people in the audience. A true song of longing for our land

In 2014 the world made Havdallah in the Shabbes Project. Havdallah means separation or difference. After Shabbat ends we return to our normal lives, reawaken our 5 senses and thank G-d for bringing us to this day.

Many years ago Mark Knopfler wrote a song, Brothers in Arms, which was a massive hit. What most didn’t know or understand is that he wrote the song for the IDF. This clip still makes me cry, but in pride.

So dear friends, another week has gone by, full and fascinating. Shabbat is almost here and we can put all distress and concern aside and contemplate a better, sweeter kinder world.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends from that city in the hills that is so incredible that everybody wants her.

With love


Oh and Stanley, the kumquats, pomegranates and lemons await you!!