The view from my veranda


8th March 2024

153rd of October

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom today, International Women’s Day.

I thought that the slogan “Me Too except for Jew” was exaggerated, but as time went on and not one women’s organisation condemned the vile attacks of Hamas, the demonic instances of necrophilia, sadism, paedophilia, genital mutilation of women (and men) and so much more was totally ignored in a frenzy of Jew hatred. Finally, after 5 months a United Nations report has stated clearly all of the above. Finally, out of the hundreds of women’s organisations, the least likely of all has chosen, under immense pressure, to admit the truth. Hamas is a Mephtistophelean military dictatorship that like Mephisto, sold its soul to the devil. May God help those still in captivity.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the UN (SRSG) Pramila Patten came to Israel at the request of the Israeli Government, to perform a complete investigation of the events of October 7th. They produced a damning but incomplete report, partly because so much evidence was tainted by the first responders who unknowingly removed evidence and partly because of Jewish tradition to bury the dead immediately. Of course, she visited, and I quote from the report “the Occupied Territories”, I believe in the hope of finding evidence of Israeli sexual mistreatment of prisoners in Israeli jails which clearly did not exist. Nonetheless, and despite very “fluffy” language, the report could not deny the demonic actions of Hamas.

Most women in Israel are feisty, clever, strong and women are at the forefront of the battle against Hamas, Hezb-Allah. It was a tank with 4 young women that fought off Hamas terrorists on October 7th, eliminating over a hundred; It was a grandmother, Rachel Edri, a Safta, who, for over 20 hours of being held at gunpoint and an unpinned grenade, convinced terrorists that if they just left them alone, they would be rewarded with canned pineapple, tea and her home-made cookies; it was young women IDF spotters who warned of the impending Hamas attack, reporting highly suspicious movement on the border. Their warnings were ignored by an officer who did not pass the information higher, many of the spotters were killed, but that is another story. Women also created a secret and unique weapon for the arsenal against terror, a precise guided missile called Iron Sting. Here those amazing, clever women explain.

The ever generous United States has made air-drops of food into Gaza. Don’t be fooled, it isn’t because aid has not been arriving into that awful place, it’s because the United States and President Biden are fully aware of the fact that Hamas grabs all aid that comes into Gaza on the hundreds of lorries that cross the border every day. The aid that is parachuted in has a greater chance of reaching the people because the landing sites are unknown in advance. In the meantime, Israeli aid to Gaza has increased. Yes. That’s what I said, Israeli aid to Gaza has increased. Have you ever, but ever, heard of a country at war against a diabolical enemy whose only aim is to wipe one off the face of the earth, sending humanitarian aid?

In order to facilitate aid the US government is building a pier off Gaza City. Since the violent piracy of the Houthis access is very limited and since the US troops will be delivering the aid will also oversee delivery it is another way to ensure that the aid goes to the people

Many years ago, on a mission headed by Malcolm Hoenlein, I met with the then Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayaad. Fayaad had a plan, based on the plans of the leaders of the nascent State of Israel. Just as Jews were encouraged to join the British Army, Mandate Police, serve as clerks in the offices of Mandate administration, thus learning how to run a country, an army, a police force etc, he wanted the Palestinians to do the same but in the Israeli equivalents. His vision was for an organised Palestinian State. Sadly, his vision was not to the taste of the leaders and he soon found himself out of office, out of politics and back in the business world. A rare rational voice in the PA he was interviewed for the Jerusalem Post.

I really do my best to be apolitical, a far as is humanly possible, but our current situation is beyond politics. Our current kakistocracy has caused untold damage internationally, internally and ultimately brought us to war and death. The Mount Meron disaster, the deaths of pilgrims to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was avoidable. Yes, avoidable. The official report of the disaster points clearly to the top, to Benjamin Netanyahu who ignored the warnings, ignored the demand of the officials responsible for the Mount Meron site to close as too dangerous to hold the vast number of pilgrims to see the lighting of the flame on Lag b”Omer, the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer. One official said that after his warnings, directly to the PM, Mr Netanyahu stood in Mount Meron with the Haredi leaders, expounding the importance of the site and inviting the thousands to come and “celebrate”. 45 people died on the steps of Mount Meron. Equally, Netanyahu continued what he blindly called “negotiations” with Hamas right until days before October 7th, insisting he had the situation under control. Cabinet Members Smotridge and Ben Gvir are sadly quoted as it they are the consensus in Israel, causing untold damage in the foreign media without any redress. On the other hand, General and Former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz took a major decision very much against the wishes of the Prime Minister, and as a member of the War Cabinet, met with senior members of the United States administration, continuing to London and a meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. I must be said that Rishi Sunak has not only risked his political career in his absolute support of Israel, he is risking his life and that of his family by taking such a firm stand against Hamas. Back to Benny Gantz, He didn’t demand any special treatment or private planes, no entourage or security, he just went to do what he felt was right since nobody was willing to meet with Netanyahu. Someone had to be the adult in the room and explain our position.

Wow, I hope you had the patience to read what I wrote, every word is carefully chosen to ensure that you have the verbal ammunition to face those who choose to believe the “River to the Sea” brigade. One way to respond to their inanity is to say “It’s not Hamas, it’s not Hezb-Allah, it’s not the Houthis, IT’S IRAN STUPID” While the eyes of the world are on Israel and Hamas, Iran has almost certainly completed their nuclear programme!!!

I usually keep music to the end but there is one song, one special song, a blast from the past, which embodies International Women’s Day. Helen Reddy wrote a song about one woman’s struggle for recognition as a strong, independent, capable human being. I Am Woman is about women all over the world. I dedicate it to the phenomenal Israeli women soldiers in the IDF with a depth of gratitude that is hard to express. They are not Amazons, they are mothers, grandmothers, wives, leaders in business, nurses, doctors, teachers all of whom chose to put on the IDF uniform and serve our beautiful country

On Sunday Zvi and I headed off to the Khan Theatre, that beautiful old building that housed pilgrims, travellers and their animals in the early Ottoman period. The play, the premiere, was about am amateur troupe in a play, about a play in 1931 Poland. The subject of said drama was Dreyfuss, and the members of the troupe, both imaginary and actual, talked about the situation that brought about the Dreyfuss Trial. I love the Khan actors, really brilliant and more often than not they write their own original material. If you can imagine a play about a play about Dreyfuss which was funny, clever and left you thinking, that’s Dreyfuss!

Monday was a relatively quiet day, and Tuesday was a complete surprise! When Merle and Frank Friedman suggested that I go with them to a lecture about Anna Karenina I have to admit that I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I sat in rapt attention as the speaker, the lecturer, explained the scenes and how the story unfolds. Although I read the book many years ago and found is interesting if long, there were so many hidden messages of love, betrayal and sheer snobbery that I had not realised. Loved every minute than went for lunch in Kibbutz Kiriat Anavim, to the Pop-up coffee shop and its wonderful chef. That evening, our Mind and Movement session was very special. Again, a sense of empowerment for women. Yesterday, Nattie and Yolli Zonshein popped in for coffee on their way through to Jerusalem, that wonderful popping in as only good friends can, and then I met a friend in the local Mall, more for the chat then the coffee and in the evening I  went to my “Creativity” group while Zvi went to a rehearsal of the Jerusalem Symphony Choir who are loth to let him go!!

Why do I tell you about my week?  Probably because I want you to know that while traumatised, we are not cowed. We go about our busy lives, spending more time with friends but basically supporting each other in a very positive manner. Indeed, we have a way of thanking the Almighty for “Little Gifts” Matanot Ktanot.

Probably the most terrifying aspect of October the 7th is the response of the world. We are castigated, blamed, threatened, in a manner that took Jews all over the world by storm. From Melbourne to Montreal, from Minnesota to Manchester, Mexico City, Madrid, Miami everywhere, Jews are attacked. “From the River to the Sea” is yelled by people who just hate, no other reason because they don’t even know what river and what sea!  Many years ago, Bob Dylan understood the situation. His song “Neighborhood Bully” in 1983, but like so many of his songs it is prophetic, sadly appropriate to today. Listen carefully to the words, I wouldn’t call them lyrics because it is a determined scream to the world for understanding just who is the aggressor in these parts and it isn’t us.

Since Dylan had a way of slurring his words, such deeply important words so here they are.

At this moment, indeed as we are chatting, my amazing 15 year old grand-daughter Ayala is running in the Jerusalem Marathon! Not the whole distance, but 10 kilometres is pretty good! Her proud Mum is there to ensure that the event is recorded in photographs and on her way through the 40,000 thousand participants and even more spectators, she snapped the Shalva team as they ran too. Soon I will get myself ready to go to Rachel’s and hear all about it! This evening we will spend our Shabbat Dinner with Amiad and Noga and family and tomorrow, tomorrow, rain permitting, we will go for our walk above the reservoir. I cannot get enough of that view and there are always new people to chat with.

Our veranda is exquisite! All the spring flowers are starting to emerge, mostly still in bud form but I know that in a couple of days the iris, ranunculus, daffodils, grape hyacinth, freesia will all burst into a blaze of colour. Actually, perfect timing since our upstairs neighbour’s son is marrying and I want her overseas guests to see how beautiful her surroundings are. Most of all, or best of all, the tiny apple tree is in blossom! I am so excited!  Incredibly scented, pink and white, exquisitely formed blossom that gives promise for a fruitful summer.

I wish you a peaceful weekend, a Shabbat Shalom. May your prayers come true, your family be well and your faces turned toward Jerusalem, our beautiful Capital City which today is the site of great festivity as runners of all races, colours, creeds, shapes and sizes run through her streets, in pride instead of fear.

With love