The view from my veranda

171117 Congress-Knesset on PA, Begin and Sadat, Krembo


17th November 2017

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Why is it that as soon as I get used to writing 2017 it is almost 2018???

The most important news for Israel this week barely made the headlines, certainly not around the world! The Knesset and Congresshave made a joint declaration urging the US Administration to demand that the Palestinian Authority recognise the existence of the Jewish State of Israel. It is a groundbreaking declaration – the question is that, even if it comes to fruition, whether it will be implemented or whether it will be another decision that is “deferred” by an American President who, surprisingly for a democracy, can over-ride any decision made by the elected representatives! If you don’t believe me then ask yourselves why the unanimous decision to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, has been “deferred” since 1995!

Simultaneously Congress passed a motion that would rescind funding to the Palestinian Authority unless they cease payments to the families of terrorists. If the proposed union of Fatah and Hamas goes ahead this will be highly unlikely.

40 years ago this week two men, two warriors, decided to lay down their arms and meet to talk. Anwar Sadat, leader of Egypt, stood in Jerusalem and said “In the past, yes, we didn’t agree to your being here – but now I came here to tell you that we agree” such simple words such huge consequences. Menachem Begin responded “With God’s help, no more war between our nations”. Menachem Begin was lauded and applauded – Anwar Sadat was assassinated. Our peace is a cold peace, we don’t spend our time hugging, but we do spend our energy in preventing wars, in ensuring peace, in co-operation and military teamwork. Hosni Mubarak fulfilled Sadats promise, although brought down by a misguided US Administration; Mubarak was Sadat’s military leader and continued his Presidents course with a very hard hand. The West doesn’t understand the Middle East where only a hard hand, a sometimes harsh regime, can control the multiple clans and paramilitary rebels which infest the area. Egypt, under the military rule of Al Sis, which ousted the Moslem Brotherhood from its elected but terrifying position, is ensuring peace in our region. Andwar Sadat and Menachem Begin both earned their place in heaven – may their souls rest in peace.

Iran suffered a horrific earthquake, destroying housing and killing people. As is our wont Israel offered humanitarian assistance – an offer which was instantly rebuffed! As Denis MacEoin wrote – “In Persian, we say ‘che khabar?’, ‘what’s the news?’ Well, here is some. Iran, badly handling a massive calamity after an earthquake, turns down help from one of the world’s top rescue and relief countries.” Many blame the outrageous corruption for the flimsy and unstable housing which caused the loss of life, I blame a leadership which is so full of hate that it is unwilling to accept assistance for fear of being proven wrong.

Education is the road to success or failure. It can be the way to learn about the wide and wonderful world or to narrow and close a child’s mind depending upon the curriculum. It can widen one’s views or close it to everything that is not acceptable to your leaders. At Impact-se we, or rather our brilliant Hebrew University Professors and doctoral students, under the watchful eye of Dr. Eldad Pardo, translate and research the curricula of many Moslem countries, of Israel and of Islamic schools around the world based on one subject – tolerance – sovlanut. Impact set the criteria for tolerance in education for UNESCO, who admittedly are slow to implement it, but governments and organisations around the world benefit from Impacts reports. The CEO of Impact,Marcus Sheff, is our roving Ambassador, speaking to parliamentarians and organisations and opening their eyes to what is possible. The most recent report is on the PA  Reform or Radicalisation.

One prayer in Israel is that we will have nothing better than the weather to talk about! This week it almost happened – not weather but something far more serious – the shortage, insufficiency nay dearth – ofKrembo!!! Krembo is half Munchmallow, joined with mallow cups and is the favourite winter alternative to ice-cream for Israeli children. The newspapers were full of the lack of Krembos !! I loved it!

I know we are creeping toward Israel’s 70th birthday but I loved this video sent to me by Larry Elowsky. 68 facts you probably didn’t know about Israel

Arlene and family have returned to the USA, sad to say because I miss knowing she is here! However Frannie and Julian Greenebaum are here from Michigan with a group of Conservative and Reform movements. They are just the most delightful people, and very aware of what goes on in this part of the world. We spoke of the campaign for recognition of Conservative and Reform Judaism in Israel, which although tacit is not overt and often leads to deep misunderstandings.  In general Israel is a liberal country, based on Jewish principles. In recent years the natural flexibility of Judaism has taken a back seat creating a chasm between religious and liberal Jews. As an individual I have always believed that each person does as they wish within their own home, and have never ever told anyone what to do, but on the other hand I am an individual, not a country, not a Jewish country which must uphold traditional Judaism, to be Jewish in order to exist as a Jewish State. On the other hand…………… we have become “Fiddler on the Roof” and I am becoming closer and closer to Tevye in my decisions.

If one wants recognition; if one wants the law of the land to change then one must become part of the society, run for political office and fight for change through the political process – it cannot and must not be enforced from outside Israel. The Haredi Members of Knesset serve their public well, the secular Members of Knesset do not! The secular MK’s are far too busy politicking to be concerned about their secular public and their needs.

This weeks Torah reading is Toldot, all about Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau. I have always been uncertain of who I support in this complex story, Having favourites among ones children, lying to ones blind husband, cheating one son out of his birthright………. And then to cap it all Esau’s third wife is the daughter of Ishmael!!!! Quite a confusing one I am sure you will agree. Perhaps that is the purpose – to show that nobody is all good and sometimes the rough diamond is the kind one.

Wednesday night was special – in fact Wednesday was special. It began with breakfast with Frannie and Julian at the King David at 07:30, collecting 4 little girls from school, taking them to Rachel’s, helping with their homework (Gideon don’t laugh) hearing about their day then taking two of them to a course in bar decoration for weddings and bar-mitzvas!!! Fabulous!

The evening was extra special. Thanks to my dear friend Sue Yakir, a Cardiff girl, I went to an event of a predominantly women’s group, held in the home of my old friend Joanna Kushnir. It was a music evening of guitar and reminiscences as we sang along to songs of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Pete Seeger, John Denver and the musician herself Kaley Halperin. I wish you could have seen all our faces as we sang along to the oh so familiar songs  remembering every word– revealing our ages one and all!!!! Perhaps the most poignant of songs is If I had a Hammer– so relevant today.  For me it is sitting in the woods beside Castel Coch, at a Pesach picnic with Habonim and the late Theo Christie singing this song.

In this wonderful rendition of Lecha Dodi to welcome the bride of Shabbat I want you think about how many different types of kippot and head coverings you see!!!

Friday night, the house changes personality and becomes a place of family, love, prayer and reflection the entire family changes focus around the Mother, the woman. It is the time that every Jewish husband is expected to praise her for being the centre, the heart of the home. For me it is irrelevant who does the cooking or who brings home the biggest salary, and it is irrelevant in Judaism too – she is the very heart and soul of the household. Before beginning the Shabbat meal a Jewish husband declares his love for his wife.  Eshet Chayil – Woman of worth.

This morning I woke early and opened the electric blinds onto the veranda…….. and caught my breath at the beauty before me. It wasn’t just the incredibly display of flowers and fruit, it was what lay beyond – the most incredible view of sunrise – bright orange, red and yellow reflected on the scudding clouds, and it was phenomenal! I took a photo to put on Facebook but even that didn’t do justice to the sheer miracle.

Zvi has had a relatively easy week, rehearsing and recording a disc with his wonderful choir Hakol Yachassi. I can’t wait to hear it! Here is an older recording with fond memories of our dear friend Shmuel (Sammy) Benalal who was killed in a terror attack in Mali.

That’s it! I am off to pick up my Challot from Rachel and see the children of course. Her home will be very busy since she has a family of about 12 people coming for Shabbat Dinner. She refused my help insisting that while she can she will do everything herself! The children each have a task, from mopping the floor, setting the table, cutting the salads and breaking up the kitchen paper towels ready for use. There is a special expectancy in a religious home as Shabbat nears. Everything sparkles, the best china is on the white tablecloth, the glassware is sparkling and the children scrubbed within an inch of their lives……….. it is so special.

With much love and wishes for a truly magnificent Shabbat and of course – Shabbat Shalom from our Veranda