The view from my veranda

180601 Gaza, goldy, Maccabiah and Protea


1st June, 2018

Shabbat Shalom everyone. Hope you are well. Lots of good news this week and a short report on a day that hit the world headlines despite the large number of real wars going on in our region and further.

I woke this morning to a familiar yet rather unique sound. Do you remember the old “Rag and Bone” men who took their horse and cart to collect old clothes and housewares? Well in Israel it is different – firstly they use small trucks, secondly they are mostly Israeli Arabs and thirdly- they call out in Yiddish “Alte Zaken” – which means old things!!! It is so incongruous yet so very Israeli. It is one of my favourite of many incongruities in this fabulous country!

So, you want to know all about what happened in the South of Israel this week, and I will try to explain. First and foremost, understand that there is not a wall on the border with Gaza, it is a fence and not a very strong one at that; Gaza is a stone’s throw (literally) from the towns and villages of Southern Israel; Despite the rhetoric of “occupation” – yet the disengagement from Gaza was 13 years ago, leaving them the agricultural infrastructure which they promptly burned, since when they have constantly instigated terrorist activity against us. That’s just a reminder of the historical background. Now for the recent conflagration – Iran understood that its power struggle in Syria was not going well and that the United States was not giving in to their demands thus decided to use their proxies to attack Israel and steal the limelight or take the attention of the world in a different direction. Who is the obvious target? Israel! Who are the proxies? Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Who are the targets? The farmers, villages, towns and kibbutzim in the border. Over 120 rockets and mortars were launched at Israel which involved at least 25 “Red Alerts” sending the civilians racing for cover. One landed in a kindergarten playground just before the children arrived and the calm reaction of a headmistress? “Kindergartens are the safest place for the children because they are all made of bomb-proof material” Of course she is right but it is so sad that little children need a bomb proof building! 24 hours of non-stop attacks and Hamas called a halt, which of course means that they were in control. Why call a halt? Because had it gone on any longer Israel would have garnered sympathy from the media whereas this way Hamas got its publicity without damaging its sympathy base. Now do you understand? No, neither do I!

Roseanne Barr – where do I begin? I find her crass and I always hated her programme and her Tweet was in terrible taste, I have no intention of repeating it now, but the reaction was so over the top that I am suspicious of the motives. Jimmy Kimmel, the Baldwins, Joy Behar, Kathy Griffin, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Maher – all are still working even after Kathy Griffin showed a beheaded American President in a supposed satirical skit!!! Why Roseanne? I leave that to your own judgement. Actually, after the Starbucks scandal in which Howard Shultz, a great philanthropist and supporter of the Democratic Party was vilified in the media Rabbi Jeremy Rosen wrote this wonderful piece on the misinterpretation of racism and its consequences

What do you know about Israel? Well although this was admittedly created for Israel’s 68th birthday I love this youtube of Israel’s many qualities

Faith Goldy is Canadian. I know very little about her except that my friend Jean Evans sent me a clip of hers and I was both surprised and pleased at the result. This clip is about breaking the myths about Israel.

OK – another question. How much do you know about Maccabi World Union? Everyone knows that they hold the Jewish Olympics every four years but what else do you know? Did you know that Maccabi Youth is conceivably the largest Jewish Youth Movement in the world? Maccabi is inclusive rather than exclusive.  For me, every time we go to Kfar Maccabiah, in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, I get to meet old friends from all over the world, incidentally Eva Bensky you were missed, next time please come with Leo-Dan. For Zvi it is much more serious as he takes part in the policy and planning meetings. Friday night with Rabbi Carlos Tapiero and a wonderful group of young singers got everyone singing along and doing folk dancing after an excellent Shabbat meal and the interactions of people from diverse cultures in this social setting familiar to everyone is very special. At the huge party there on Monday night Einat Saruf was the star performer, she has a special knack of singing all the familiar songs and getting everyone to join in. As usual she recognised Zvi from previous events and got him to take a mike and sing with her! It was extra special because we all knew that within a few days we would all meet up again at the wedding of Maccabi CEO Eyal Tiberger and Ettie’s daughter Orit. Until you have been to an Israeli wedding you haven’t lived! Not only incredible food before the food (really I am not joking) with time to enjoy meeting old friends, but the sheer joy of the ceremony then the ebullient dancing of first Israeli songs with everyone jumping to “Moshiach” and “Ani Ma’amin” graduating into popular music and time for the youngsters to have fun with all kinds of funny noses, hats and sparkly things. As one would expect the food inside was also amazing! We drove back to Jerusalem happy but tired arriving on the dot of midnight. What never fails to amaze me is that the roads are almost as busy at midnight as they are during the day!!!

Also on Monday I went to my friend Susan‘s and at the invitation of Joy Goldman I spoke to the most adorable and fascinating group of people I have met in a long time. The talk was in a special community, purported to be for what in Israel is called “ha gil ha shlishi” the third age, in other words for retired people who still have a great deal of life left in them. If you wish there are courses in just about everything all day long!! Anyway I was not nervous, strange for me, and the moment I saw the crowd I understood why. Firstly I saw my lovely friend Sylvia Wallis who moved to Protea Hills recently and then after a short introduction by Joy, with Susan sitting next to me for confidence, I started to explain why the talk was called “The Power of One”. Who I was and how I got started on my writing path. As the questions began another co-hasbarist, Stuart Palmer, joined me at the microphone to reinforce what I said. Everything went swimmingly and I was really having fun, then it happened! I had asked everyone how long they were in Israel and why they came here when Sylvia Dombey spoke up. Sylvia is a wonderful lady of 90+, bright as a button, who made Aliya a short few years ago, as she said “My house needed painting and I couldn’t be bothered, so I decided to come and live in Israel”! I was so delighted by her story and her sheer joy at being in Israel that it really made my day!!!

We meet many people, every day ordinary folk and those who think themselves at a higher level – I am so impressed by the humility ofKathleen and Earl Cox. Their intentions are pure, on the edge of altruistic, and they have never let us down either as friends or in their love of Israel. They remember who helped them get started and have remained steadfast for the last 15 years or more despite great success. In fact I told Earl the true story of the day I took him to interview Ehud Olmert about the upcoming disengagement from Gaza……… I went in to Ehud first and told him to use the phrase Pikuach nefesh when talking about the disengagement. Pikuach nefesh means to save a soul – in Judaism one is allowed to break any rules, even Shabbat, to save another human being. Ehud did and Earl had a story!! Earl and Kathleen have gone on to great broadcasting success and I am very proud of them.

On Thursday Rachie and I met up with Daniella and Justin Selig and their children for a delightful lunch. That was when we heard about their daughter Mimi’s incredible feat of raising 3,000 pounds for Zichron Menachem, a beautiful organisation which makes wigs for children with cancer and takes them on holidays and trips. Not only that but she grew her hair so that she could come to Jerusalem and donate it. Mimi – your grandparents would be so proud of you! What an amazing 10 year old.

I have a feeling that my beautiful grandson Zachary in London, an avid Chelsea supporter, will be coming to Israel more often since the owner of Chelsea, Roman Abramovitz, made Aliya this week. Britain’s loss is our gain!!!

Zvi is in the middle of a meeting in the other room and then of course he will go out to Kiriat Anavim for his parliament, (they no longer meet at the petrol station), and I must go and get Talia and Ayala from school so that I can simultaneously take them home and see Rachel, Yosef and Igal too. Everyone is in the final throes of preparations for Talia’s Bat Mitzva……… secrets about dresses and surprises abound and Rachel has made the most incredible Piñata I have ever seen. It is a ball gown piñata!!!

I know that you know about the panorama of Jerusalem on the way home but I rarely talk about the view from the girls school. It is a view of the ever growing Ramallah, creeping, or racing, closer and closer to the fence. Beautiful houses, one can see the huge, modern shopping mall and Ramallah is spreading in all directions. If we are supposedly committing genocide, exactly who is living in these newly built houses?

My salads are made, the table set, the candles ready for lighting…………..So let’s think about music.

So often we take what we have in this world for granted. We forget from whence we came and how we got here. Yonatan Raza’el is a classical musician who writes beautiful music to Biblical texts. This is definitely one of my favourites. Katonti  – I am humbled

As a child I would say this prayer every morning as Mummy woke me from my sleep. Modeh Ani – I Give Thanks

Finally, also a song of thanks Matanot Ktanot – Small Gifts.

I wish each and every one of you a sweet Shabbat, time to be quiet with oneself, a time of calm and contemplation and of giving thanks for the wonders of every day.

Shabbat Shalom with love from Jerusalem