The view from my veranda

180125 Yakir Yerushalyim Gabby Barkay, Pence visit, Kerry, Arab MK’s

28th January 2018

It was the best of times it was the worst of times, so said Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities. It is a time of huge achievement and a time of unutterable misanthropy, so said Sheila Raviv in Jerusalem.

It is with enormous pride that I begin with the great achievement of our friend, Zvi’s childhood friend, Professor Gabriel Barkay. Gabby has been named as a recipient of the coveted title “Yakir Yerushalyim” – Beloved of Jerusalem. Gabby is a renowned archaeologist but his work to return the earth dug out and discarded by Sheik Rayeed Salah from underneath the Temple Mount has, over the last 11 years, revealed vast numbers of priceless relics of our history including pre-First Temple. When the various authorities told him it was too dangerous to go and retrieve the hundreds of truckloads of ancient earth Gabby was undaunted. I am so proud of him.,com_adsmanager/page,display/tid,436994/catid,99/Itemid,361/

Among the worthy recipients is Professor Avi Rifkind, who during the Second Intifada created the Hadassah Trauma Unit, saving the lives of innumerable patients; Chef Shalom Kadosh who, in his humble manner, has done so much to ensure that Israeli and Jerusalem epicurean delights are known throughout the world. Chef Kadosh organised the amazing King David’s Feast to celebrate Jerusalem 3000, with major chefs from all over the world, all producing incredible dishes using only kosher ingredients.

I don’t know if I would go so far as to call John Kerry a misanthrope, but in my secret thoughts I do. Zvi and I met him some 12 years ago and were deeply unimpressed, finding him an utterly unsympathetic and harsh character from every aspect. His “work” during the Obama Administration caused many deaths in the Middle East and now his true character is once again emerging. In “private” meetings with Hussein Agha, personal advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, Kerry advised them to ignore the Trump Administrations negotiations “to stay strong in spirit and play for time and not break and not yield to Trumps demands”. The word is that he intends running for the Presidency. G-d help America.

Apparently the Administration in the USA is in shutdown. What on earth is shutdown? Anyway I looked it up and discovered it happens quite frequently!!!!

The Mike and Karen Pence visit to Jerusalem was both emotional and important. His speech in the Knesset, his stammered uttering of the Hebrew prayer “Shehechiyanu, vekimanu, vehigiyanu lzman hazeh” Who has given us life, sustained us and brought us to this day. During the Vice President’s speech the members of the Arab List suddenly held up placards announcing “Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine” breaking every conceivable ethical and moral code of Knesset Protocol. It is high time they decided if they represent Israeli Arabs or Palestine – currently they do not represent their constituency here in Israel.

The usual formalities took place, visits to both the Prime Ministers and the Presidents homes, to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, their stay at the King David, all were reported; his announcement that the US Embassy would move to Jerusalem within a year caused the usual ripples; his private visit to the Kotel, the Western Wall, with his wife was considered a hugely positive visit except for a few Israeli women journalists  who strongly objected to the “mechitsa”, the fence which divides men and women at the site. Had they just turned around they could have captured a story the men could not – Karen Pence quietly reciting the Psalms at the women’s section. I know my words may be unpopular but these same women tend to admire major women journalists such as Christiane Annapour and Lyse Doucet who cover their heads and arms in Arab countries in order to show respect – I have never been a fan of double standards. Had they spent more time working instead of complaining then they would have also captured some truly amazing photographs as did Sharon Marks Altshul. Since a picture is worth a thousand words……..

Israel is a tiny country. For many years, because of our open door policy, African immigrants suffered the horrors of a long trek and the cruelty of the Sinai Bedouin in order to cross into Israel. Some were genuine asylum seekers but the vast majority are work seekers. It was against Jewish moral code to throw them out which sadly left us with a conundrum that is appears to have no solution. To allow them all to stay here, tens of thousands, is not an option, to discover who are genuine asylum seekers and who are not is virtually impossible and the option of sending back from whence they came seemingly immoral. The option of sending them to a third country is, however, an option. The cries from outside Israel are loud and harsh but when one think about it, their treatment here is better than most countries where they would be held in jail at the airports, in mean conditions, until deportation. The hypocrisy on the subject is phenomenal. In the USA currently there is outrage at the Presidents statements on illegal immigration but…….. wait…….. isn’t that exactly what President Clinton said just a few years ago?

Yohanatan Geffen is a poet, some would say a major Israeli poet. That he is on the left is fine, we need diversity of thought especially in the arts but, what is left and what goes too far? In a recent poem he compared Ahed Tamimi to Anne Frank and Hannah Senesh. Who is Ahed Tamimi? The 16 year old Palestinian girl who since the age of 6 or 7 has goaded, punched, kicked, hit and spat at Israeli soldiers to great attention from the international press. Yohanatan Geffen, nephew of Moshe Dayan, father of Aviv Geffen – shame on you.

Last week, in my extremely hurried missive, I spoke of people we met on the cruise. One morning as we sat at breakfast I noticed the two wonderful boys at the next table “Your children are so well behaved they are a pleasure” I told the parents. We began talking, Carla and Alex Tetievsky and their two boys are from Argentina, now living outside Barcelona and travel some 120 kilometres each week to bring their boys to Kabbalat Shabbat in Barcelona. We became firm friends and it seems they have never been to Israel but want to. My dream is that they will come to our home for Pesach. We also met up with and became friends with Jaquie and David Sackwild from London which was great fun as we travelled around the Canary Isles together. Indeed, as I have recently learned, our habit of talking to everyone, loving new people, getting to hear of their lives is perhaps the healthiest route to stay young.

This has been a good week. On Tuesday I met with my friend Merav at the beautiful coffee shop in the “Shalva” building. We had a marvellous time, chatting about everything and then as we left we remembered……… The Pence retinue was on its way to Yad Vashem, very close to where we were, and we were stuck. Thinking I was very clever I turned left ionstead of right and Merav, also thinking I was very clever followed me. We spoke about 10 times as we sat immobile!! Finally she said she had turned and was on her way home, my route cleared as the bus that was stuck beside the road works got through and we both put it down to “That’s Life” when US dignitaries come to visit!!!!

In a few minutes I must leave you for a while and head off with Zvi to the Jerusalem Press Club in the glorious Yemin Moshe neighborhood overlooking the Old City walls descending and then ascending the 150 steps to the JPC, to hear Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasserspeak. I will report!!! Oh my goodness that was incredible! What a genius speaker! We covered Iran, the Shia-Sunni power struggle; European blindness; the importance of the new American alliances; the importance of moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem (if you remember I have been saying that for ages); the poor me attitude of the PA is wearing thin with the world – it is no longer sufficient excuse for failing as an authority or getting funding for terror. As soon as the video is put onto the Jerusalem Press Club site I will put it on FB.

In life if one is really lucky, friends become family. So it has been with the Selig family. My Daniel and Justin became firm friends at Carmel College and Justins parents Daphne and Abba, his sister Eliana with my Rachel became inseparable. Daniel and Justin did their “gap year” together in Canada, the USA and Israel. As time went on Daniel went to the USA and Justin and Daniella to London where the friendship continued with Gideon and Stephanie. Special people. Last year we lost Ivan (Abba) and a few days ago Daphne went to her peace. The world was a better place for their lives. Miss them but they were meant to be together. May their souls rest in peace. Love you Paddy.

In 1979 Israel didn’t try to be “international” for the Eurovision Song Contest. We sang in Hebrew and sang a very Israeli song with Galia Atari’s lovely voice at front. We won

The legendary Bob Marley loved Israel, loved Jerusalem. He passed that love on to his son Ziggy, who later married an Israeli woman! “If you have no past you have no future” In concert in Jerusalem Ziggy sings about tomorrows people “How long will you last without remembering your past” Wise words

On the same theme, but from a very different singer – Matisyahu and Bob Marleys’s Jerusalem

The sunrise each morning gets more and more spectacular lighting the view from our veranda with magenta, red and orange flashes of colour, as the sun rises behind the scuttering clouds. Gosh I am a lucky person.

Tomorrow is going to be stormy, rain, hail, thunder and lightening with a chance of snow in Jerusalem – already snowing heavily on the Hermon – so we are going to stay overnight at Noga and Amiad’s new home. They have set us up with our own King-size bed for my King size husband, and the children, Ella and Yonatan, are already over-excited at the thought. On Shabbat the family arrive for Ellas 5th birthday party. Afterwards Zvi and I will go to eat cholent with Nomi and Daniel Furman, after all we are already in Tel Aviv!!!!

We wish you a beautiful Shabbat, a Shabbat of joy and peace, with friends and family.

With love from our Jerusalem