The view from my veranda

180713 Friday the thirteenth?


13th July 2018 – Friday 13th!

Good morning! G’day! Bonjour! Buenos Dias! Guten morgen! Salaam Aleikem! שלום עליכם. Bora da. Shabbat Shalom. I wanted to speak to you in your own language and since, unlike Zvi, I am not a polyglot, that’s as far as I go!!!

This has been a fascinating week on the international scene, from Presidential visits to football disappointments to the miracle of rescued boys.

The Presidential visits have been fascinating. In his inimitable, somewhat gauche manner President Trump told the Europeans what every American wanted to hear, even though they almost certainly refuse to admit it. The United States share of NATO payments is simply too large! It is high time that nations which have the money pay a more substantial quota into the defence fund from which they benefit. It may be unpopular but in truth, it is a major part of the reason Britain left Europe – unfair level of payments and insufficient response. How long can successful countries underpin the crumbling structures of unsuccessful economies?

The President arrives in the UK today to a reception at Buckingham Palace and full pageantry. I am deeply ashamed at the childish and disrespectful behaviour of protesters in London. It is irrelevant whether one approves of or dislikes the President of the United States, he is the President of the United States, Britain’s greatest ally. The decision taken by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who up until now has proven to be a clever decision maker, to allow a giant balloon deriding and poking unworthy fun at the American President is disgraceful and unbecoming – in fact it simply isn’t cricket. Britain is known for the warm welcome extended to her diplomatic visitors and this simply doesn’t do anyone justice. While not a fan of Piers Morgan, I believe his article in the Daily Mail sums up my reaction

The Irish Government has given its support to a dangerous and racist legislation in support of BDS, in other words supporting a boycott of Israel.

They have taken ancient battles with England and applied it to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. It would do the Irish people and their government well to remember who provided succour to the Irish –after the USA offered a paltry 50 pounds and Queen Victoria a mere 1,000– it was the Jews. Amnesia seems to be the common thread among those who hate Jews.

For the first time since 1966 I sat through an entire football match! Supporting England doesn’t come naturally to this Welshwoman but support them I did, alongside Zvi, Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala and a somewhat bemused Ceci Bayon and her gorgeous grandson Liam. The first half brought out the fruit, crudités and popcorn, amidst excited cheering but the atmosphere became progressively downcast in the second half and then disaster in extra time. Oh well, at least nobody threw the popcorn in the air in celebration! Good luck to Croatia in the final.

The whole world was praying for a different football team and their coach in the beautiful Chang Rai region of Thailand. Rescuers came from all corners of the earth, from Australia and Britain, Israel, USA, Belgium, Russia, (full list below) and incredibly, they succeeded! The boys are now in hospital, checking them out for residual infection and malnutrition, but safe.

“The Wall” can refer to two subjects – the foul and disgraceful anti-Semitism of Roger Waters or Israel’s security barrier. The first is easy to explain, he “ain’t got no education” and without his racist BDS statements he would have disappeared into oblivion; the second means Israel, which is equally anti-Semitic since 68 countries have defensive walls and only one is described as “apartheid”. Yes 68 countries

Continuing in the same line – or as they say on TV the perfect Segway – we went to the offices of Standwithus in Jerusalem last night to watch a fascinating and revealing new documentary movie. The film was made by the Kirk family of the UK and their foundation Generation2generation. They took 11 young people from various backgrounds and countries to the Palestinian Authority and to Israel. They spoke to politicians, military personnel, “settlers” and members of Fatah and Hamas and at the end drew their own conclusions. One section has all the Palestinian politicians talking of apartheid, occupation and oppression until the youngsters spoke to a Christian representative in Bethlehem who said “What Occupation? I have not seen any Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem” The Kirks did their best not to guide or push the youngsters in any direction but to let them come to their own conclusions. The film is just over one and a half hours but is riveting, fascinating and to watch the minds of these young people analyse the information is magic. Both Zvi and I were particularly impressed by the young German woman. The Kirk family lost funding because of the fairness of this project – funding that would not have been lost had they been anti-Israel. The message that comes throughout the filming in Israel is that one must feel compassion for ordinary Palestinians but recognise Israel’s need to defend herself and her right to be the thriving multicultural country she is. I highly recommend getting this film to show in your communities or for recalcitrant youngsters who have been brainwashed on campus!

Sunday night, thanks to the delightful Paul Israel, we were invited to an Australian evening at the King David Hotel, the culmination of a three nation conference with politicians from Australia, Britain and the US who met with Israeli counterparts, organised by Albert Dadon. My dearest friend Andrew Stone (aka Lord Stone of Blackheath) had prepared two of the participants to look out for me – Professor David Trimble, Nobel Peace laureate for his part in halting the Ulster “Troubles”; Meta, Baroness Ramsay, who is one of the most delightful people I have met in a very long time, and was thrilled to learn she was MI6 in her past! Among those new to me were the wonderful Joan Ryan, Chairperson of Labour Friends of Israel and fearless fighter for Israel within her own party; Member of Parliament, John Woodcock who asked the most relevant question of the night of the two American politicians “Is the USA leaving NATO?” Chris Pyne and Former PMTony Abbott of Australia spoke beautifully of their loyalty to Israel and their desire to move the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem and FormerPrime Minister Ehud Olmert explained the Israeli perspective as only he knows how. My quote of the evening came from the almost taciturn David Trimble. We were chatting before the big dinner and he told me that many Brits and Irishmen ask him why he supports Israel. His response “Because it is the right thing to do”

The following day, in the unbelievable steaming heat of July in Israel, I collected Rachel, Talia and Ayala, together with their friend Avishag, and headed off to Holon and the Yamit 2000 Water Park. It was a ladies day and if you can imagine about 3,000 females of all ages and religious persuasion, from bikinis to entirely covered, noisily enjoying the water slides of terrifying height and angles, the pools the fountains, squealing their delight; you may reach something close to the noise level!! The children thought it was the best thing ever………. I was happy to be heading home after 5 hours!!!

Cecilia Bayon is a dear friend from Mexico City whose husband Jacobo has been Zvi’s friend since they were both 13. Ceci took the brave move of bringing her grandsons to Israel on her own, to show them every aspect of this incredible country. They visited virtually every site and sight in Jerusalem – Liam (11) said that he was most pleased with Yad Vashem, although it made him sad but thrilled that they followed that by going to the exceptional Herzl interactive Museum. The older boys loved the nightlife of Jerusalem, the throngs of young people laughing, eating, and sitting in the streetside cafes unfettered by the fear of most big city centres. All the boys aged from 17 down to Liam, are enjoying themselves and today they go up to Kfar Blum for some physical fun on the Jordan!! Ceci and her love for Israel will ensure that the next generation absorbs as she did.

I cannot allow this special time of fasting and thought for Jews to go without mention. It is a difficult time, but proves yet again that we survive and thrive. Rabbi Jeremy Rosen explains it beautifully as always

This weekend we will be in Tel Aviv, to rest and relax and meet friends. While Zvi goes to his Tel Aviv parliament in the morning with Yitzik Lev I will be with my special friend Gloria Goldstein, Gloria and I never run out of conversation! We will stay at Amiad and Noga’s home so that after Shabbat we can go to the beach to celebrate a friends 70th birthday.

The weather has been searingly hot but the evenings wonderfully balmy, after all this is Jerusalem!! Sitting on the veranda and overlooking Jerusalem, picking out the new buildings springing up all over the horizon is a new game, showing guests the neighbourhoods that lay before us, from Gilo, through Ramat Rachel, Beit Tsafafa, Baka, Talpiot, Arnona where the American Embassy sits, the German Colony, Katamon, Katamonim, Ramat Denya, Bayit Vegan………….. gosh it takes my breath away. I admit absolute self-satisfaction as I bring my eyes back to the veranda itself and the stunning bright scarlet of the geraniums and the newly planted lobelia and petunias. It almost seems a shame to go inside! I know that the Israeli invented irrigation system will ensure the summer display.

Today I am not going to Givat Ze’ev, Zvi and I are going to Mamilla Mall next to the Old City to meet our Argentinian friends Julio and Monica Jarak and the whole family. Nothing pleases me more than seeing whole families, especially the youngsters,  coming and seeing Israel for themselves. That is the only way to ensure the truth.

I don’t often write about Zvi, although he certainly deserves it. I was thinking that 28 years ago I didn’t even know he existed! Knowing Zvi has enriched my life beyond belief. He is a man of absolute principles from which he never wavers; he is a man that everyone turns to for advice and help and he doesn’t turn anyone away; even when tired and in pain he will never refuse to take friends or friends of friends or friends of friends of friends on a tour of Jerusalem; he is loyal, tireless, noisy, funny and incredibly clever and his motto is “We don’t have problems we just have to find the solution”  – here is my song for him, my man of dreams who fights for a better world.

For Shabbat, for this turbulent time in the Jewish year I chose Ana b’Koach, a Kabbalistic prayer which prays for calm and understanding in a world that has lost its way

I can’t promise you a welcome like this one when you arrive at Ben Gurion airport but hey, who knows!!!! Hevenu Shalom Aleichem – We bring you peace!!!

With much love from both of us as we sit on our veranda looking out over the view……

Shabbat Shalom to you all!