26th July, 2019
Good Shabbes! Shabbat Shalom! How are you feeling? I hope you are well, or at least getting better.
You have a lot of links to open this week, but I promise it’s worthwhile.
Just when you thought Israeli politics couldn’t get more complicated – Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and another former Labour MK Stav Shaffir have formed a mini-coalition left-thinking party, possibly followed by Labour (Avoda) number 2 Itzik Shmuli leaving the newly elected Labour leader Amir Peretz in the lurch. Ehud Barak chose to take a surprisingly low number 10 spot which is considered realistic. If they really form a coalition with Avoda it could yet save both Meretz and Avoda from extinction and bring Meretz in from the far left. Gosh it is all so confusing! The new combined party is called the National Democratic Party and their full list will be published soon. https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/politics/1564030004-israel-barak-merges-with-left-wing-meretz-to-form-new-democratic-camp-party
Britain, like Israel, doesn’t have direct elections for her leaders. Each Party chooses its leader and the leader of the party in power becomes Prime Minister. This week the Tories (I don’t like the misnomer Conservatives) elected Boris Johnson with a 60+ vote against Jeremy Hunts 40+ vote). Boris Johnson presents himself as a jester to cover his sharp intelligence, wit and determination. His first promise as leader is to broker a fair exit from the EU. The new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has one thing in common with me – he volunteered on Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi!!! His Kibbutz father, Alec Collins said in an interview “Boris was very bright, very funny and even in the 80’s, as a very young man, one could tell he would be a leader. He took nothing for granted and asked about every aspect of Kibbutz life – even who washed the dishes in the communal dining hall – to which I answered, “You!” Photos of the time prove that at least his very blond hair colour and style is natural!! He claims to be pragmatic but only time will tell. His priority? To ensure that Brexit will be to Britain’s benefit, brokering a better deal with the bureaucrats of the EU. He has spoken many times of his relationship with Israel here are his views on the Middle East. https://www.jpost.com/International/Boris-Johnsons-Middle-East-policy-problems-596580
The first appointment of the new PM is Foreign Minister Dominic Raab like Johnson, of Jewish lineage on his father’s side. Raab isn’t known as a push-over on any subject and many believe he will follow the Foreign Office line; however, in the 1990’s he studied a course in Middle Eastern studies in Bir Zeit University and talked to people in the street – he wrote ” “The average Palestinian I met had far more direct experience of Arafat’s venal regime than Israeli brutality – my university lecturer quipped that he had been imprisoned by the Israelis, but tortured by the Palestinian Authority – a fact that fuelled the rise of Hamas on a ticket of honest government, welfare for the needy and wiping Israel off the map.”
In the USA The House passed legislation to oppose the global boycott movement against Israel. The resolution to put lawmakers on record opposing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement passed easily on a 398-17 vote. Sixteen Democrats, voted against the resolution including Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who openly support the BDS movement. If you want to know who voted against the bill https://forward.com/fast-forward/428179/congress-bds-aoc-tlaib-omar/
It would appear that many Democratic Representatives hate Trump more than they love Israel when they chose to defend Ilhan Omar and the so-called “Group of 4”. The President was misquoted in almost every report, although his Tweet was badly worded – he apparently wrote that they should go back to their countries, learn and come back to the USA to show how to deal with immigrants ( not a direct quote but the gist). Before I am attacked as I was over the last few weeks for daring to comment on American politics, since it concerns Israel – yes, I do have the right to comment! Strangely enough the attacks came from those who claim that free speech is sacrosanct! https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Democrats-should-have-backed-Israel-but-didnt-596500
Several Arab journalists and bloggers arrived in Jerusalem to see for themselves the reality of this region. One Saudi blogger, Mohammed Saud, who has written many times of the need to recognise Israel, went to the Temple Mount to pray in Al Aqsa; as he walked through the Old City he was pelted with chairs and stones and told to go pray in a synagogue not a mosque. https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5555575,00.html
Maayan Hoffman wrote a long article in the Jerusalem Post coming to the conclusion that Israelis don’t understand American Jews. What was the reason for her conclusion? Because Israelis didn’t understand the egalitarian prayer section! She took that as proof that Israelis don’t understand American Jews. Israelis are not interested in the Egalitarian Section of the Kotel – it isn’t on their radar any more than American Jews are interested in which party Israelis vote for. Both issues are vital but don’t reflect understanding or lack of it! I believe that the leaders of the Jewish Agency have got things wrong too and do not consider the needs of non-American Jews but that’s another issue that will get me into trouble! https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israelis-are-ignorant-of-world-Jewry-and-its-concerns-new-survey-596478
Benjamin Netanyahu became the longest serving Prime Minister of Israel, overtaking David ben Gurion’s record. Prize winning Author and journalist Tom Segev wrote a fascinating article for the WSJ comparing Ben Gurion and Netanyahu https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-pessimism-shared-by-david-ben-gurion-and-benjamin-netanyahu-11563462671
I’m not sure if it’s good news, bad news or bad news that became good news… in a Europa League football match between Maccabi Haifa and Strasbourg Alsace in Strasbourg, the local police decided to limit Israeli fans and disallow Israeli flags in the stadium after 3 Israeli fans were attacked in the town. However, the French Foreign Ministry intervened and immediately lifted the ban. Wonders will never cease. We lost by the way!
I have to give a shout out to former Australian Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma. Newly elected as the MP for Wentworth part of his maiden speech in Parliament was dedicated to unwavering support for Israel. What a mensch!!
Zvi has gone to Montenegro with his choir and I took the opportunity to have two of our grand-daughters, aged 12, to stay. Amit and Talia both learned in school about the cruelty of Britain during the Mandate and never a word was taught of the British and ANZAC troops who fought alone for the first 3 years of WW2 or the Kindertransport. Then they spoke of the “ban” on Aliya, so I gave them some figures of immigration of Jews during, after WW2 and before 1948. 80,000 to Britain, 12,161 post-war to Australia, 6,000 to Japan, Canada none, USA 1,000 over the quota and 1,000 imprisoned plus 200 sent to Alaska and the story of the St Louis (post war 100,000 came to the USA). The number which blew them away was 60,000 Jews who came legally to Palestina during the Mandate. Their favourite moment of their visit was at 05:30 when they sat on the veranda to watch the sunrise – little did I know they stayed up all night talking and watching television!
Worried about world ecology and plastic pollution? We should be. My friend Elisabeth Gelb sent me this video about Israel’s latest innovation to save the world’s ecology.
Bravo! Israel Under 20’s Basketball Team won the European Basketball Championships for the 2nd year running beating Spain 92-84! The match was held in Tel Aviv and man of the match was 19 year old Deni Avidja who scored 23 points. https://www.timesofisrael.com/?p=2116057&preview=true&preview_id=2116057
I didn’t need convincing that Bon Jovi is amazing and let’s face it, John Bon Jovi is gorgeous and their music is fun. I admit to being like a teenage fan when they sing. Now I have even more reason to love them!! They arrived in Israel prior to their performance in Tel Aviv – but I’ll love them even more if they come to Jerusalem! https://www.timesofisrael.com/?p=2118943
Every so often I am amazed by my readers. This week I was not just amazed I was brought to tears by the kindness and appreciation of Binnie Greenspon, partner of the lovely Roy Salomon of Montreal. Never a week passes that I don’t get an email from them and yesterday a beautifully addressed envelope arrived. My curiosity piqued I immediately opened it to find that Binnie had planted trees with JNF in my name as a thank you for my newsletters. I was stunned. Binnie, I don’t have words to thank you.
Since Zvi is away and my beautiful daughter is worried about me so she is coming to me for Shabbat!! It is so rare and so welcome! Rachel sent her husband and the children to his sister in Modiin and she will be with me, just us, peace and quiet, relaxing and celebrating a Shabbat without TV, without noise, just us and conversation. She has already done the cooking so that I can relax, actually she is really strict with me and won’t let me lift or do anything I shouldn’t!! Perfection. As much as I love my Shabbatot with Zvi’s incredible Kiddush it’s great for him to be with the choir and for me to be with my baby (aged 45).
I had a leisurely breakfast on the veranda, reading the paper, doing my favourite word games, soduko etc realising just how lucky I am. The air was fresh, a light breeze and all I could think of was my family in the UK who suffered in the 39C temperatures. Imagine Paris, 41C without any A/C!!! I also remember my cousin who lived in Veranasi, India, telling me of 56C temperatures so I will not complain, I will enjoy every moment of the beautiful veranda, drinking a cup of good coffee and reading about the troubles of the rest of the world.
So to music.
Even when their lives are disrupted by rockets, fire bombs and explosive devices hanging from colourful balloons the people of the Eshkol Region find the strength to sing of love Koolulam https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcSgyNtTnNY
One to make you cry – again Koolulam bt this time from the Schneider Childrens Hospital. Sorry no translation! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMT2EGe-L_E
Since we are doing Koolulam – here’s Believer in Tel Aviv and it’s in English! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQhj_aKQkBY
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I would love to hear from you. Sometimes I feel that I tell you all my secrets (well most of them) but you don’t tell me yours. I really care how you are and would love to hear back. Be well, health is so precious and never be afraid to speak out against evil.
With love from our Jerusalem