The view from my veranda

180202 Poland, Nikky Haley, State of the Union, Chelsea,


2nd February 2018

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this missive finds you well.

With devastating irony, less than one week after the whole world supposedly remembers those who died in the Holocaust, the Polish Parliament passed a law that made it illegal to use the terms “Polish Death Camps” or “Polish Concentration Camps”.  They insist that they be called German or Nazi camps. True, they didn’t initiate them but they did initiate over 100 years of pogroms and they willingly accepted the role of landlord to the camps. Perhaps the most apt letter written about International Holocaust Day is that of one of my heroines in this world, Kay Wilson, Jewess, Israeli, survivor of a diabolical hatchet attack while guiding a friend who was killed before her eyes right here in Israel. Read her words, even if you don’t want to.

Talking of women who are heroines, I have a new one! Nikky Haley, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, is a tenacious and steadfast prolocutor for her country and the USA’s moral stance in a highly immoral and duplicitous organisation. The United States “pays a high price to be disrespected”

Last week I promised you the Jerusalem Press Club link to the outstanding lecture by Brigadier General Yossi Kupperwasser on the security situation in the Middle East. Here it is – it is fascinating.

An incident in Bethlehem was virtually ignored by the international media. A group of United States officials was invited by the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce to give a workshop on digital commerce and had to flee because of the riots against them.

President Trump, gave his “State of the Union” speech. He spoke of and reported on achievements in finance, international trade, employment and introduced people he felt worthy of praise. In a country that claims to be the birthplace of democracy and the flagship thereof I was horrified to see a video of Democrats in San Diego throwing shoes at the screen as President Trump spoke. Firstly, that is not an American tradition, it is a Moslem expression of scorn and contempt, secondly – are you serious? Freedom of expression? I didn’t vote for Benjamin Netanyahu, wouldn’t vote for him, but, when he does good things I applaud because that is good for our country, I could never imagine showing such contempt for the democratically elected leader of my country. I may criticise, roundly criticise, but show such idiotic contempt – never. Just incidentally, the media concentrated on illegal immigrants but in fact I checked and I have a video of both Clinton and Obama saying virtually the same thing about illegal immigrants – perhaps even stronger!!!!

Having said that, the sheer hedonism of the Netanyahu family is currently deeply distressing to most Israelis. I would be lying if I were not worried that a Premiere’s wife wields such power. However that argument is for another day.

There is uproar about Israel’s illegal immigrants being sent to a second country – at least, there is uproar about the African illegals being sent to a second country, nobody said a word about all the Eastern European illegals who were a) the vast majority and b) were also “repatriated”.

Great leaders have great advisors. Moses was a wise and great leader but it was his Father in Law, Jethro, who taught him the rule of leadership – surround yourself with wise people who are capable of dealing with the day to day problems and ensure that you have to deal only with the earth shattering ones. Perhaps it would do several of our world leaders to read this week’s Torah portion to understand that principle.

I absolutely adore my grandson Zachary! This week I realised that he is not just beautiful and clever, he is also wise. Zachary, or as he is known in the family Zackaroony, is an avid fan of Chelsea Football Club. When I say fan I mean he knows all the players, their families, history and if they are nice people; Zacky collects books and stickers of the club. I always thought it was a normal 9 year old fad. This week I found out that it is so much more. Chelsea football club is on an all-out battle against antisemitism. Before the match huge screens showed players and Israeli personalities speaking out against antisemitism and a huge circular sign held the motto. Bravo Zackaroony – bravo Chelsea

This week was a good week. I went to two shouks (markets) a wonderful uplifting lunch with incredible women and a meeting of the Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre which brought huge hope.

It started on Monday morning when I went to Shouk Ramle, not in Ramle but rather in the Malha Train Station car park. Arriving early, 08:30, since I hate the seething mass of shoppers later on, I went in, bought the little jackets I set out to buy, found Zvi some amazing guavas and left…… all before most of the stalls had been set up!!!! From there I drove to Modiin, a dormitory new town about half way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. There I met up with my 5 soul-mates – friends from our childhood in Wales. None of us would live anywhere else, we love our lives here in Israel, but there is something very special about being with women who already know who you are, your achievements and your tragedies, so that one can simply relax and speak of Cabbages and Kings.

That evening I headed to the German Colony and the tiny apartment that creates miracles for Cancer patients and their families. As you know, I am on the Board of the Yuri Shtern Foundation, Holistic Centre created by Lena Shtern to honour her wonderful husband MK Yuri Shtern z”l. Thanks to the incredible work of all the staff and the giving volunteer therapists this has been a wonderful year of increased activities. We have extended into the Paediatric Oncology department of Shaare Zedek Hospital and have increased the course together with the Reidman School of Complimentary Medicine. We never have enough money, despite the efforts of Varda and Ayala, but when there is a loving determination to help others, to give of ones innate talents to ease the pain, anything is possible.

On Wednesday I went to your favourite place – Mahane Yehuda. Actually Zvi was there earlier in the week for a good Hummous and a chat with Ron and Rena Katz and Ron’s Mother. I love that place. As I pull into the car park I feel the excitement grow and then walking down the few steps into the market itself, nothing like it. “Shalom, ma shlomchem”? Shalom how are you? from all the costermongers who take a break from shouting their wares to greet us. This week the market was even more colourful than usual since it was Tu b’Shvat – the new year for trees and a delightful harvest festival – the festival of dried fruits. I bet you didn’t realise how many fruits can be dried!!! Everything from pineapple to mango, kiwi, strawberries, mango, forest fruits, apples, prunes, apricots and fruit tisanes. It was a joy – the colours and aromas were amazing. Of course we went through Tzidkiyahu’s stall with it’s myriad of olives, pickled and cured in a hundred ways; Middle Eastern delicacies glaore – I highly recommend his beef patties with tehina in the centre!!!

I didn’t really understand the titles of the Blue Moon, Blue Bloody Moon but it certainly brought back memories of sitting on the grass in Lady Margaret Beaufort High School for Girls in Cardiff, with my buddies and singing………. or

Tonight we have guests. All the children are busy so we took the opportunity to invite friends for Shabbat Dinner. The table is laid, white cloth, beautiful dishes, and most of the food is already prepared. Tonight is a milk meal, “orange” soup, salmon, roasted with sweet chilli and garlic, charred, roasted aubergine with tehina, Zvi’s famous courgette salad, stuffed peppers, a big green salad, sliced beefsteak tomatoes with Israeli buffalo mozzarella, and a dessert that has not yet been devised! Of course we begin with singing – Shabbat Shalom and Shalom Aleichem n – and then Zvi may, or may not, recite Eshet Chayil, Woman of Worth – it’s not that he doesn’t love me just that we sometimes forget!!! Kiddush, the blessing over the wine then bless the Challot, Rachel’s delicious intricately braided Challot. Oh yes, of course I am going to see the children just as soon as I finish writing to you!

I wish you a Shabbat Shalom – a Shabbat of peace and contemplation, of acceptance and the will to fight for the good of mankind. Remember, Tikkun Olam is the basis of Judaism – or as Rabbi Hillel, who was born in Babylon in 110 BCE, said “What is hateful unto you do not do unto your neighbor”

With love from our blossoming, fruitful verandah. Yes Daniel, I am successfully gluing the lemons and kumquats to the tree (haha) so that Joshua and Callie can pick them in two weeks!!