The view from my veranda

Ben Gurion to Haniya

9th of February, 2024

October 126th

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Did you know that ”email message” in Yiddish is Der Blitsbriv? It’s amazing how Yiddish, an old European Jewish language, is still morphing, changing with the times. Most of the Jews of Eastern Europe communicated with each other in Yiddish, yet that language did not die with the Holocaust, it is thriving and ever growing, a bit like us!

On the 8th of February, 1940, the Lodz Ghetto was announced and the Jews began heading, with what few belongings and all the courage they could muster, to the crowded conditions of the Ghetto, leaving their homes behind. Despite their sense of foreboding, they prayed for the best, after all they had no alternative, there was no Jewish homeland. Like Jews all over the world, they were, and are, visitors in another’s home. Despite the fact that we are rather like the worker bee whose work is the basis of nature, we are treated as a cuckoo who must be thrown out of the nest. Both sets of our parents had left Poland, mine in 1910 and 1920 whereas Zvi’s parents, who left in 1934 and 1935, were saved because they came here, to the nascent state of Israel. Despite going back to Poland and begging their families to leave, all of them felt they were safer there. Sadly all perished, only Kalman and Alla survived, here in their own land. I don’t believe in Never Again, I believe in Never Forget.

Always curious, I had a look at what happened on this day in history. 30 years ago today Shimon Peres signed an accord with Yassir Arafat; 40 years ago, the headlines could almost have been of today, except for the hostages, when the USA left Lebanon with the suggestion, intention, assumption, that Israel would patrol her own border with that imminently dangerous area; 50 years ago today the British miners strike created havoc yet great neighborliness as everyone gathered around our log fireplace by candlelight; 60 years ago today the Beatles went on the Ed Sullivan show, the beginning of the unofficial social reforms together with Mary Quant and Vidal Sassoon. Isn’t it strange how one can find life fascinating when searching for thoughts to take one away from reality.

As news leaks out about more and more deaths among the hostages, the issue becomes more and more urgent. Hamas were not only body-snatchers on October 7th, they are holding on to the bodies of those they have killed, either murdered or simply denied urgent medication, an untenable situation for the families and for the nation. As I told you last week, every hour of every day on Israel television, is dedicated to news and families of hostages or fallen soldiers are invited to join the panel of experts to tell their story. The bravery of the families is astonishing, but outside Israel the displaced Israelis are often forgotten. Over 140,000 people have been asked to leave their homes in the South and the North and they are living in hotels, the intention to protect them from the bombardment by both Hamas and Hezb-Allah, but emptying the towns and villages goes against everything that David Ben Gurion believed.

In March 1955 there was a wedding in Patish, a moshav near Gaza, when Fedayeen terrorists came in from Gaza and threw hand grenades at all the guests. When Ben Gurion came to support the moshavniks (members of the Moshav) he saw several packing their bags to go elsewhere. To paraphrase his long speech, Jews do not run away any more. I feel that demanding that all those people leave their homes, albeit to prevent deaths and damage, the message to our enemies is that they have won, the Jews are running again. The “Old Man” who’s courage was legend, would not have approved.

Another David Ben Gurion quote is even more appropriate. The UN in Hebrew is haUmot hameuchedet, or UM; which Ben Gurion, when informed of the UN demands said “Um Shum” or United Nations is nothing! They were useless even then!

Back to today, I cannot escape from what is happening, the lies told and the facts on the ground. Israeli Brigadier General Dan Goldfus took foreign journalists to Khan Yunis to show them the extent of the most recent tunnel discovery. Tiled walls, a kitchen, bedrooms, dining room and a cage for the hostages.  The conditions under which those hostages were and are held, those who are still alive, were inhuman. Barely fed, no air, no light, no medication. Those who were held in private homes were kept in even worse conditions, constantly threatened by their “hosts”.

We now face the Catch 22 situation of prisoners for the hostages, both the survivors and the bodies of those who did not. It was announced that at least 32 of the remaining hostages are dead and possibly another 20 also did not survive. If you remember the last prisoner release was in exchange for Gilad Shalit. At that time Ehud Olmert was firmly against the release of prisoners with blood on their hands, but Benjamin Netanyahu chose to agree to the deal and could be seen at the multitude of photo ops with the Shalit family. Among the 1,047 prisoners released was Yahyeh Sinwar, and we all know the result. The prisoners who may be released in any deal for the release of the hostages, are almost all proven terrorists with blood on their hands, but the level of their atrocities is wide. The most serious is Marwan Barghouti who was responsible for the First and Second Intifadas. Barghouti was always considered the most dangerous, highly intelligent, he was exiled to Jordan in 1987 for terror activities then returned to lead the Tanzim, the Fatah military arm. He was caught in 2002 and convicted to 5 terms of life imprisonment. His release is being considered but it is essential that if released, he understands that it was secured by Israel not by Hamas. Despite the bloody history of Hamas against Fatah in Gaza, when Hamas murdered any and all Fatah supporters, if he feels gratitude to Hamas he may just join them with disastrous results. Like everything in this part of the world, it’s complicated!

To understand the depth of our pain, our longing for the return of the hostages, Jerusalem Municipality, Safra Square and empty beds.

Rafah is on the so-called Philadelphi Corridor and the final stage for the IDF battle against Hamas, despite strong objections from Egypt. It is where most arms were smuggled into Gaza. Egypt, very wisely, created a safe zone on their side of the Egypt-Gaza border, clearing a wide swathe of land of housing that abutted the border. Of course when Israel tried to do the same on the Gaza side of the border with Southern Israel we were accused of just about every sin in the book! Both Egypt and Israel must protect themselves from the crucible of hate that is Gaza.

Did you know that the USA hit 85 sites in Iraq and Syria this week? All were linked, like Hamas, to Iran’s IRGC militias. I think the media were too busy condemning Israel to even notice!!

This week Jordan and Holland answered the Hamas request for medicines. Seriously? What about those truckloads of medicines that we saw going into Gaza after they demanded 1,000 times the medication Israel provided for the hostages? If you go back to the video of the tunnel you will see boxes of medicine thrown on the floor.

Time and again Israel shows inhuman generosity when dealing with the sick from Gaza, but this one is exceptional! Ismail Haniya is the leader of Hamas, residing in luxury in Qatar. At various times members of Haniya’s family have been treated in Israeli hospitals. Haniya’s niece, who lives in Israel, gave birth to a dangerously premature baby who was taken to Soroka Hospital and treated with the utmost care, as are all patients. Israel celebrates life not death but that leaves no impression upon the cruelty of Hamas.

Nova Peris is an Aboriginal heroine. An Olympian athlete she has proudly represented the indigenous peoples of Australia and now she supports the indigenous people of this land. Truth telling is her aim. What a wonderful lady.

Yuval Freilich already won the Gold Medal in the European Fencing Championships and has now won Gold in the Doha Grand Prix. Yuval has brought more than personal and national honour, Hatikva was played in Qatar. Wonders will never cease. Yuval is not the only Israeli athlete to bring in the prize this week!

Sharon Kantor won the Gold in the iQFLiO World Windsurfer Championships in the Canary Isles

Last night we drove up to Netanya for the combined birthdays of Sergio and Sara Verbitzky. I thought I would be rather lonely as the only non-Spanish speaker in the room, but in fact it was a delightful evening and many of the guests came to talk to us! Such lovely friendly people especially the Mexicans!  The first lady that we spoke to was Miriam Zaga who came on Aliya with her job some 20 years ago. To say that Miriam works with Naaleh is wrong, it is her vocation. Naaleh brings young people from all over the world who make Aliya before their parents. I love this programme. Read all about it.

Yes it has been another busy week and I succeeded in knitting my 23rd hat for soldiers! It’s so relaxing! One visitor was Gaby Hirsch. Gaby has been my link to my son Daniel z”l although she never met him. Gaby guided me through the creation of Dr. Dan’s Room, the studio for the performing arts in the magical Shalva Centre where people with special needs are given the opportunity to be part of society and their parents to know that their children are just as beautiful as everyone else’s, in fact more special. Gaby is going on to a new and exciting position and I, along with everyone who knows her will miss her smiling face. Good luck Gaby; love you arms and legs.

Perhaps it is most appropriate that my first song is with the Shalva Band and All You Need is Love. You’ll see Gaby in her office, Shalva soldiers, happy children and volunteers along with the Band

Natanel Hershtik has the voice of an angel, His father, Naftali Hershtik, was the Cantor of the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem and Natanel is a loving son of his parents and of Israel. Here he sings the prayer for the IDF, for our soldiers

One day we will live in peace One Day a very different Koolulam.

I wish you a weekend of peace, a weekend of kindness, of calm, of Shalva.

Shabbat Shalom from beautiful Jerusalem where the sun finally came out after weeks of rain. I can’t wait to go to the Nature Reserve opposite for our weekly constitutional to see the reservoir overflowing with the recent rainwaters and the spring flowers showing their faces to the sun

With love