The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
19th March, 2019
I can’t really wish you Shabbat Shalom yet but I wanted to be sure that you received your pre-Purim newsletter before we set off for Olivia’s Bat Mitzva in London.
The electioneering stopped for a few short hours this week as we were shocked and saddened to read of a shooting attack near Ariel. Yes, I know that there are shootings every day near you but this was not a gang, nor a drug related shooting, it was a racist, terrorist murder.
A young soldier, Gal Keidan z”l, was 19 years old when a Palestinian 19 year old stabbed and killed him, took his weapon and began a shooting spree that also killed Rabbi Ahiad Ettinger z”l as he drove past on his way to work. Of course Hamas handed out celebratory sweets and cookies in Gaza. Gal had barely started his life but Rabbi Ettinger brought 12 amazing children to this world, each of whom received special time each evening no matter what time their father came home from work. Rabbi Ettinger wasn’t an ordinary man. He began a Yeshiva in Tel Aviv’s poorest, underprivileged area to ensure that the children got an education. He was an alternative therapist and his beliefs ensured that after his death his organs were donated by his loving family to ensure that his death would not be in vain. May both their souls rest in peace and the 19 year old terrorist understand that he killed good human beings not just Jewish monkeys. May the families of both be consoled and the injured heal quickly.
If you think that we take the United Nations racist behaviour sitting down, think again. The recent papers concerning “Israeli War Crimes” during the Gaza Protests were challenged roundly by, among others, Colonel Richard Kemp. Also present to protest the recent revelation that the UN collated a confidential report listing Israelis who they deemed liable to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Sounds like Nazism to me. Shame on the now UNprincipled and UNscrupulous United Nations.
Among those present was my friend Kasim Hafeez. I met Kaz some years ago in a coffee shop in Jerusalem. His story is amazing. Born in the UK to a religious Moslem family he was taught that Jews are the enemy and Israel the devil. While at University he read Prof Alan Dershowitz book The Case for Israel and began to think for himself. Ultimately found true love, moved to Canada and then the USA and is a spokesperson for the Christians United for Israel. With a bit of luck we are meeting this evening on Ben Yehuda Street.
New Zealand was shocked and distressed, rightly so, by the horrific slaughter of Moslems at prayer in a Mosque in Christchurch. The shooter, an Australian White Supremecist, a xenophobe, simply went in and shot the worshippers giving them no hope of saving themselves or their loved ones. Why did he have guns? New Zealand is an utterly peaceful country far from the strife of the rest of the world. Why? May the souls of those who died rest in peace.
Almost every day I am asked how to respond to anti-Israel rhetoric. “What should we tell our children to say when they get to University”? How can we react to ignorance? Well this is what I wrote for a friend who asked just that question.
A friend asked me how to respond to anti-Israel bias in her community and university in the USA, but it is appropriate to every country.
Did you know that every other country in the world has held on to land won in war and nobody screams foul play? Israel is the only country that was actually recreated by a vote in the United Nations. India was also declared a country just a few months prior to Israel and nobody ever doubts India’s existence. Since Israel was declared many have chosen to denigrate her existence and her democracy yet there are 56 Moslem countries and no one ever doubts their right to exist. Indeed many of those Moslem countries do not allow prayer of any other religion and Jews are not allowed there at all!!!!!
There is no comparison between the USA’s Native Americans and the Palestinians. Native Americans were indigenous to the “New World” and in the large part dispossessed, as were the Canadian Inuits, the Australian Aborigines and the New Zealand Maoris. Although there were Arab (Moslem families) in Palestine the vast majority came after the first Aliya (turn of the 18th – 19th century) to work. You will find many names such as El Massri (Egyptian) El Suri (Syrian) El Baghdadi (Iraqi) etc etc throughout the Palestinian Authority. In an 1838 census there was a majority of Jews in Jerusalem. In this part of the world, we are sadly aware of the Sunni-Shia divide and killings, the Hamas slaughter of anyone who disagrees, the oppression of Christians in the PA (Bethlehem is now 90% Moslem and who remembers that Ramallah was a Christian City?)
Israel is a Jewish Democratic Nation, although the national religion is Judaism, all other religions live in total freedom of prayer and worship. For instance, Jerusalem has no less than 52 Christian denominations (who knew there were so many) and 8 Moslem denominations. Throughout Israel, there are Circassians, Druze, Bedouin,(most of who serve loyally in the IDF) Shia and Sunni and all have the same political and civic rights as Jews. In fact, we have had several Deputy Speakers of the Knesset who were Israeli Arab and highly vociferous Arab political parties who are more than able to express their democratic rights!
Just incidentally, did you know that Israel sends over 130 truck-loads of aid to Gaza every day? Did you know that all Israeli citizens left Gaza (Gush Katif farms) years ago including every Israeli soldier and no Israeli soldiers have set foot in Gaza unless attacked by rockets and missiles? (Including the rockets shot at Irit in Tel Aviv last night) Did you know that many Palestinians and Gazans come to Israel for medical treatment? Did you know that within Israeli Hospitals at least one-third of the patients and the Medical staff (my Professor in Shaare Zedek Hospital) are Arab – both Moslem and Christian? Did you know that the biggest house in our neighbourhood belongs to an Israeli Arab? So many reasons that Israel should be loved for providing incredible innovation (cell-phones, messaging, medical advances such as stents and new procedures – the list is too long to put here) yet Israel is criticised for existing. I can promise you that as a totally democratic country we are more than capable of criticising our own leaders and do so daily.
Ergo – anti-Israel is anti-Semitic.
I hope that gives you what you wanted to respond
We will be in London this Shabbat and Olivia will read her portion from the Torah. I am so proud of the incredible young woman she has become – loving, bright, diligent and an amazing sportswoman with an exceptional sense of fun.
There are many people who pass through our lives who love to talk about their grandiose plans to tell the truth about Israel to unwilling audiences, but few who really do it. Out of those good people there are even fewer who do so just because it is the right thing to do. Today I met with one of my very favourite good people, Kaz, Kasim Hafeez. Kaz’s journey was a tough one but today he is one of the most effective proponents of Israel’s cause, working with and for the Christians United for Israel – not bad for a British Moslem! Kaz, I know your journey was difficult but today you are a phenomenal man who has met his wonderful Shian. It was a joy having a cuppa with you!!!
Finally, Purim. Purim is not just a chance to dress up and little girls no longer dress as Queen Esther, but it has so many deep implications and significance for today’s world. Through clever planning and bravery a simple man with a beautiful and clever niece succeeded in thwarting the evil plot of a senior politician! So relevant to today. https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/why-is-purim-important-today/
What always interests me is that tradition demands that we become a little tipsy (never drunk) so that we cannot differentiate between Haman and Mordechai – evil and good. We are commanded not to hold grudges, to be a forgiving people, ready to move on to a new and more hopeful future. The principle is fascinating even to teetotalers.
So Shabbat we will be in London with all my family and of course with Zvi and his grand-daughter Amit who will have great fun meeting and reconnecting with all the noisy, loving, funny, members of my clan. Stephanie and Gideon will happily open their home to the insanity of a get together as we all descend upon them for Shabbat. Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg will glow as he oversees Olivia’s Bat Mitzva and me…… I will just beam from ear to ear the entire time!!!
Here’s your Purim music! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgJInVvJSZg
The story of Purim in Music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4B16qlblG8
I wish you well. I wish you joy and of course I wish you a peaceful week. To my husband Zvi I wish a happy, happy birthday and many more years of driving me nuts in good health and love.
Facebook Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement http://www.impact-se.org/ The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=kMhjARej5-o