The view from my veranda

180525 Nero, Embassies, Turkey and Gaza


25th May 2018

Shabbat Shalom! How are you? I hope you are well or at least recovering!

When we were children we were told the story of Nero fiddling while Rome burnt and tended to take it as literal, whereas in fact our romantic version was allegorical the true story was filled with tyranny and corruption. Nero himself set fire to the Christian Quarter of Rome to build himself a huge palace. Today’s media are the modern equivalent of Nero, they play their own fiddle irrespective of the flames that engulf most of the world, concentrating on their political agenda and the agenda of whoever pays their advertising. The days of believing what is reported in the press are over, done and dusted. As I always say to those who criticise Israel as a cruel overlord, “If all I saw was what the BBC I would probably feel the way you do” The view from there is so slanted that the violin has no strings.

This week’s death tolls – Syria – 204, Sudan – 170, Yemen – 230, Ethiopia – “dozens”, Nigeria– 1,351 in 10 weeks, Congo – 49 out of 5,000,000. So why did the media, UN and ICJ ignore those horrors and suddenly care about 50 Hamas deaths?

The violent “demonstrations” on Israel’s Southern Border are slowing down as Hamas once again asks for a brokered Hutnah – cease fire. The question is whether the cease-fire will benefit the Gazan people or if they will use the hiatus to rearm and build new tunnels. The International Community has missed an essential element in the situation – education to hate.   The worst perpetrators? UNWRA schools.

There is a huge difference between the Palestinians of the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority, and the Gazans. Quite apart from the ethnic differences there is another important element, the West Bank Palestinians have lived, and in most cases, worked, alongside Israelis. While the youngsters have been radicalized it is still a much smaller minority who call for the destruction of Israel. Their young people want the fine things in life, the pop music, the electric bikes, the fashionable labels on their sports shoes and clothes, they see that life can be good if they are. Let Khaled Abu Toameh explain, he does it better than anyone.

USA, Guatemala and Paraguay have already moved their Embassies to Jerusalem and Jerusalem has welcomed them with open arms and great ceremony. Two Embassies are within sight, the Guatemalan and Paraguayan Embassies are in the Technological Park right in front of our veranda. The irony is that they are in the same building as CNN and BBC!! Our neighborhood became hot news for ten minutes! The Czech Government chose to open an Honorary Consulate rather than an Embassy but their Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky spoke out loud and clear on the subject of the Gazan demonstrations. He said they have no connection to the return of the American Embassy to Jerusalem and are simply acts of terrorism. A brave statement indeed as the lone member of the European Union to speak out for Israel.

There was a very important vote in the Knesset this week and for once I agreed totally with Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg. For diplomatic reasons Israel did not recognise the Armenian Genocide,the forced exile of at least a million and the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Turkey.

Our relationship with Turkey was healthy on military, economic and tourism levels even during the beginnings of the more and more megalomaniacal regime of Tyepp Erdogan. His rantings and ravings are more like Hitlers every day, his hatred for Israel, Turkey’s former ally, his deepening alliance with extremist Islamic groups deepening by the minute.  We no longer have to bend to the will of Turkey, on this subject we never should have. Israel, of all countries, must recognise the Armenian genocide – and we must honour the Armenian community who found safe haven here in Jerusalem.

It is ironic that a Turkish leader accuses Israel of genocide in Gaza, a miserable place to live but with a burgeoning population, yet chooses to ignore Turkey’s decimation of Assyrians, Armenians, Greeks, Maronites and Dersim Kurds. Attaturk is spinning in his grave. See this article by Ambassador Zvi Mazel

I try my best to stay out of the politics of other countries, but I must express my disappointment concerning the meeting that apparently will not take place between North Korea and the USA, Kim and Trump, in Singapore. Let us hope it has simply been deferred to another date. Meanwhile the posturing continues!!

So who watched the wedding – or as my Daddy would have said “de vedding”? I thought it was spectacular. Elegant to the last white flower; what about those elegant, interesting and funny sideways hats which for some strange reason are called “fascinators”? Since we no longer have the BBC on our TV provider and it seemed inappropriate to hear the commentary in Hebrew I watched CNN. Richard Quest clearly knew what he was talking about as did Iysha Sasey, both raised in the British traditions, but I must admit the statement from a lovely American lady “specialist” brought a fast response from Mr Quest, not known for holding back…. She said “Now that there is a feminist woman of colour in the English (British please) Royal Family she will no doubt change many things” to which Richard Quest quipped “Hardly likely. Even the Queen can’t influence policy”! I love these occasions which bring out that old fashioned British loyalty to Queen and country, which has become unfashionable. Union Jacks abounded, laughter and joy were the order of the day and the handsome couple brought romance back into a very tough world. Gosh the Brits know how to perform ceremonial occasions.

Talking of the Royal Family being unable to influence policy, the Royals have made several private visits to Israel, Prince Charles for both Peres and Rabins funerals, Prince Philip for the honoring of his Mother, Princess Alice of Greece, as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem. Both Charles and Philip visited Princess Alices grave on the Mount of Olives. All of these visits were unofficial, that is without the official consent and organisation of the Foreign Office which is about as pro-Israel as the State Department! Anyway, whatever the reason, Prince William is headed our way. On June 24th he will arrive in Amman to meet King Abdullah then he will visit Jerash, a truly magnificent site which we had the honour of visiting with King Abdullah’s Royal Archaeologist years ago. From there he will travel to Tel Aviv then Jerusalem, finally to Ramallah before heading home. As the future King of Great Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth I believe this to be a very important step.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is an exceptional woman. Her contribution to her country and her loyalty to her heritage are unequalled. The first Cuban woman to enter Congress she is also a proud defender of Israel. Please read all about her.

Before we get to the happy, clappy part of my missive I have to let off steam. Not only the idiots who held a very public Kaddish, prayer of mourning, for the 50 Hamasniks who died in the “peaceful demonstrations”  …they called themselves Jews yet felt no allegiance whatsoever to Israel or our need to defend ourselves. Perhaps even worse than that is the ignorant spoutings of some members of ………. No I won’t say it, some people we know who left Israel and went to California and the good life. They are so ignorant of the truth that they support anti-Israel groups, and have lost even the tiniest iota of moral relevance. I am so mad I feel sick! I don’t expect anyone to love us or everything we do but to totally deny the amazing contribution this little country has given to the world is ignorant, infuriating and treacherous. OK Rant over. Now to good things.

Last Saturday evening Zvi and I found ourselves in the Baka neighbourhood of Jerusalem in the wonderful garden of Rami and Yael Erez where we were all dressed in white! White is traditional apparel for Shevuot, even though in Israel Shevuot ended as dusk. It was such a delightful evening with many, many old friends. One person I had long wanted to talk to, to and spend time with is Dassy Stern, wife of Yair Stern, the son of Avraham Stern the leader of the Lehi. Our conversation was of today not of the past and I hope we will continue over a cup of coffee!

Why is IKEA Israel different to all other IKEA’s? Because the food is all Mehadrin Kosher and the stores are not open on Shabbat. Rachel and I always try to get there before opening, drink the excellent free coffee and order one of their outstanding breakfasts.

Despite the horrendous heat – 41 degrees two days ago – the veranda is looking spectacular! Geraniums need no looking after, just dead-heading but to my amazement the Hibiscus bushes are all doing really well, rewarding us with orange, yellow and pink blooms. The remnants of the Sahara which fell upon us last week have now been cleaned away and the garden chairs are in place for the balmy Jerusalem evenings.

I am about to go to Givat Ze’ev to see the family which is fun and I won’t need WAZE to get me there, I will follow the aroma of Rachel’s freshly baked Challot! I don’t need to cook this Shabbat because we are going to Kfar Maccabiah, the Maccabiah Village for Shabbat. Imagine, me not cooking!!!! Tonight will be amazing, meeting up with old friends especially Leo-Dan and Eva Bensky from Finland, very excited they will be here together.

So what should I play for your enjoyment this week?

Richard Shavei-Zion is a former South African who lives in Israel and produced this outstanding international rendition of Oseh Shalom

The next song makes me very happy – in fact I can’t imagine it not making anyone happy!! A wonderful Jerusalem version of Pharrell Williams song “Happy”

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, I will think of you as I go over the hill next to Samuel’s Tomb and look over the breathtaking panorama of Jerusalem. Maybe next time I’ll take you with me!

With love from Jerusalem and our amazing veranda