The view from my veranda

180412 Holocaust Memorial Day, Syria, Iran and more


12th April 2018

27th Nissan 5778

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Dear Friends, Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. At 10:00 precisely all traffic stopped, pedestrians stood to attention and passengers stepped down from their buses, everything stops exactly where it is. The siren wailed in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust. This is a song of hope, sung by 300 Survivors and their families. The name of the song “Chai” – Live”

It has English subtitles

Today is a day of both mourning and celebration. Celebration? I hear you ask. That we survived as a people, at a cost that is unimaginable, but we survived, we built a nation and those who were barely alive after the horrors of the Holocaust, the Shoah, came to the nascent State and helped to build a country, a Jewish Country, where they built families. Surely the most incredible response to the killing machine of the Third Reich is to build a family and see your grandson among the Israeli pilots who flew over Auschwitz in Israel Air Force aeroplanes.

Zvi and his choir are already in Kibbutz Lochamei ha Ghettaot – the Kibbutz of the Ghetto Fighters – where they will sing at the closing ceremony.

Sassi Keshet is the Director of the Yiddischspiel Theater in Israel and he sang a beautiful song “Violin of Sorrow” or Violin of Hope- both in English and in Yiddisch.



Two news filled weeks have passed since I last wrote since last Friday was Pesach.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has made and unmade a few decisions, the most glaring was on the work seekers whereby he came to an agreement with the UN and then reneged. I always say that one doesn’t know what really goes on when you are in the hot-seat but it confused everyone.

During that time Hamas has ordered a “Demonstration of Return” on their border, as always ready to send their young people to the front while staying back in their bunkers.

Israel admitted wiping out the Syrian nuclear facility during the Premiership of Ehud Olmert; Assad the Syrian leader has been using chemical weapons on his own citizens, killing another 200+ to add to the 500,000 already killed in a war that started 7 years ago and due to weak Western leadership has continued unabated and allowed Russia and Iran a strong strategic foothold. We also wiped out both Iranian and Russian bases…………. Shhhhhh

Syria is to head a UN committee on nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament……. I am not kidding, it is too ridiculous to be a lie

Incidentally, one fact has been missed by all the media people in Syria. Syria was always an Alowite minority (the religion of Assad) and a Sunni majority – thanks to Iran it has now made a distinct switch to Alowite minority and Shia majority!

This one is not a belated April Fools, really. Hamas gathered and burned thousands of tyres on the border with Israel, causing an ecological disaster and at great cost… then………. Wait for it……….. complained that Israel was not sending them tyres for their vehicles!!!!!

One of our projects – Zvi and I – is mentoring a group of wonderful young politicians, headed by Ofer Berkovitch, who are now vying for the Mayoral race in Jerusalem. It is time for Nir Barkat to go and also time for a centrist coalition to take over. Enough is enough.

I often talk about Impact-se and the wonderful work done by that organisation to bring tolerance in education. Well, it is working. Enlightened Palestinians are showing a deep interest in changing the paradigm, of giving their children a chance in life for more than jihad.

Even more incredible, David Geffen, Founder of Loving Classroom, has transferred his belief that love really can conquer all into enormous success on the ground. What may seem “airy fairy” is in fact both down to earth and incredibly effective. No matter where, his method teaches children that they do not have to be cruel to survive – they can actually gain from caring, loving – see what David has to say……..

So Passover passed over!! During the seven days we had 50 visitors who ate at our home, which I must admit I loved even though it was often at Zvi’s initiative!!! The dishes are all back in the store room, the kitchen has returned to its former glory and I rested for two days!!! From the family through Zvi’s parliament and various lovely friends, after all, what is a festival without a houseful?

During Pesach we had a surprise phone call – Canon Andrew White was in town! His unexpected call told me that he was visiting the wonderfulLola and Norman Cohen the next day, which came as a surprise to them!! We went to see him armed with a chocolate cake to help Lola out with her visitor! Andrew found it very funny that because of Pesach he “couldn’t find a room at the inn” and went to stay in Bethlehem – don’t worry he slept in a comfortable bed not a stable.

On the 30th of March we were grateful for Kinneret Chayas 17th re-birthday – it is an incredible 17 years since she was horribly injured in a terror attack in Tel Aviv. Her revenge? She is not only alive, she is now a happily married lady with four amazing children – who said miracles don’t happen!!

We managed to see my friend Sari Singer, who shares a love for KC with me – and a love for each other; we also saw Ceci Bayon and her parents all the way from Mexico. One really fun night with Fred and Joyce Claarat the First Station for supper, then we had dessert with Meira and Michael Partem and then danced to the band playing for everyones entertainment – to find that right behind us were Elaine, Marc and Amy Oppenheimer!!!  Gosh I love Jerusalem!

Two days ago I took my friend Ruth to Givat Zeev to finally meet my daughter Rachel. I am happy to say it was a great success!!!

Today I had one of my favourite visitors. Andrew Stone (aka Lord Stone of Blackheath) came for coffee “I don’t want to eat, just a coffee and a croissant with jam or honey” Well the problem is that none of the coffee shops or bakeries was open last night so I had nowhere to go to get a croissant…….. so I got up early and made Brioche!!! I was so proud of myself! They really turned out wonderfully and we sat out on the veranda, Andrew, Zvi and I, talking about a myriad of amazing projects that he is far to humble to allow me to relate. Andrew is a truly effective, clever and fair person and what he is doing to ensure the security of his beloved Israel while ensuring the safety and prosperity of our neighbouring countries is phenomenal. Enough said!!

And so we go back to the normal run of things – for a few days anyway!

Tomorrow night Leor and the children will come for supper, including little Yuval who at 2 months old is not going to partake of the pea soup, chicken and dessert – not directly anyway.

Remember, even though the signs are written all too clearly on the wall remember Daniel’s interpretation of the Biblical writing on the wall “Mene Tekel Upharsin” which predicted the fall of Balshazar and his kingdom. We are strong if we will only stand together – forget our differences and strengthen what draws us together, we share so much.

After all, as David Geffen would say “All you need is Love”  but that isn’t the song I want you to hear – We Are a Miracle – Shwekey

Finally, dear lovely people, the only song, the only words, the only anthem that can end this particular missive – Hatikva, The Hope.

Shabbat Shalom to each and every one of you.

With all our love from Jerusalem, the dream that came true.