The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
6th December 2019
Shabbat Shalom! I hope this missive finds you sane and balanced as election fever takes over so many of our countries, a process to drive us crazy at the best of times and of late to test our brains to the limit.
As always George Bernard Shaw puts things into perspective if not into rational thought.
“Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few”
Here in Israel the indictment of so many people in positions of trust demands respect for our legal process, slow, steady and refusing to be swayed by popular opinion, and dismay at the betrayal of those who chose greed over service. I cannot decide if nepotism is the driving force, or that oh so popular of the 7 deadly sins AVARICE. My instinct goes with the latter. Choice positions in public office were given to supporters of the PM rather than far better candidates and those chosen failed miserably in their jobs.
Israel, a country with so much going for her, is in political turmoil. A Prime Minister who appears to be behind so many inappropriate, nay illegal, actions, refuses to budge, not from his position of power nor his control over every tiny move within the country, dragging us into yet another costly election, costly in financial and emotional terms. There are 18 year old voters who will be on their third election if the PM doesn’t step down from his pedestal and realise his feet of clay are apparent for all to see. If he is innocent then the courts will decide “One cannot serve the country and tackle security issues while fighting a legal case” Those words are in inverted commas for a good reason, I paraphrased Netanyahu’s very public statement to Ehud Olmert prompting Olmert to step down and face his trial.
I can only pray that if common decency doesn’t win then the Likud Party will force the issue. As you know I voted for Blue and White – I believe that the range of centre left on social issues to centre right on security issues suit my beliefs, and the fact that they refuse to form a coalition headed by a man facing legal prosecution.
Gosh that was hard to write. I love this country with all my heart – I chose to live here because I believe it is my home. I heard stories of Israel from my parents who came to visit very early, my sister says in 1949 and again in 1951, I still have movie of my Mother dancing with children, orphans of the Shoah in the WIZO Baby Home in Jerusalem; of Daddy standing on a hill overlooking Jerusalem and excitedly holding a whole hand of bananas! Israel was always a topic of conversation, books and study and my parents chose wonderful projects to donate their money. I volunteered for Israeli causes and when I was divorced and broke I chose to lift my life by working as a professional for Israeli organisations prior to making Aliya. This is still one of the finest examples of democracy on the face of this earth and I will not sit back and watch it become a dictatorship.
From the frying pan into the fire. The British elections and the clear responsibility of every freedom-loving individual – racism or capitalism! Corbyn, anti-Semite, anti-Israel, anti-monarchy, supporter of the IRA and close friend of the man who killed Brits in the Hyde Park bombing or Boris Johnson, unpredictable but unquestionably loyal to Queen and country.
How quickly we forget terror attacks. Just a few days since the London stabbings when two beautiful young lives cut down by one of those they were trying to help Richard Kemp wrote “The 74 terrorists the PM says have been released early are the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds more have returned from their orgy of mass murder, rape & torture with the Islamic State & never faced justice. MI5 have 23,000 jihadists of concern in the UK.” The law must be changed and all of our countries have to recognise the danger of terror https://edition.cnn.com/2019/12/01/europe/london-bridge-stabbing/index.html
Yair Lapid in Paris “We need to explain to humanity what it hears. It hears the voice of hate. The BDS movement is the voice of hate. The voices of protesters against Israel here in Paris, in London, on US campuses – are the voice of hate. The politicians who propose to boycott Israel and support terrorist organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah – are the voice of hate. This is not a political debate. This is not an argument about Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians. It’s a years-old attempt to destroy and kill a small, talented people who insist on maintaining its unique character and voice. We are preparing to continue to insist on our voice. We will continue to sound it everywhere to tell the haters – the Jews are done being silent. The Jews are done being afraid. We know you, we know what you are, we will fight you.”
Fatou Bensouda is a very important lady. She is the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Ms. Bensouda, a Gambian Moslem, rejected prosecution of the IDF over the Mavi Marmara affair. At the 4th attempt by the PA she found No case to answer, indeed she complimented the IDF on their behaviour. https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Did-Palestinians-accidentally-push-ICC-Prosecutor-into-complimenting-IDF-609766
Here’s a video you must watch! An Al Jazeera report on “Gaza’s Prosperous Economy” fine hotels, shopping malls, incentives to investors. https://youtu.be/ZbH1nJf9ye0
Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, recently seen crying and embracing his Israeli counterpart, will compete in Israel next month https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iran-News/Iranian-judoke-Saeid-Mollaei-will-compete-in-Israel-next-month-report-609805
I have two favourite NGO’s both of which bring sanity into my life, both of which brought great news to cheer my soul this week
Bravo Impact-se on the second school term of revised school curriculum in East Jerusalem with the removal of hate-speech and the introduction of tolerance and, thanks to the hard work of our Director Marcus Sheff, the ruling coalition in the Norwegian parliament announced that it is instructing the Norwegian government to “reduce or withhold financial support to the Palestinian Authority if they do not provide satisfactory improvements in school materials.” The Norwegian Parliament stated: The coalition has been made aware of very reprehensible teaching material used in the Palestinian Autonomous Territories, as evidenced in reports by IMPACT-se (Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education), which has prompted an ongoing review initiated by the UK Department of International Development. www.impact-se.org
The second is the Yuri Shtern Holistic Center for Cancer Patients and their families. We are a financially poor but emotionally rich organisation, totally reliant upon donations, our 160 volunteer therapists give totally of themselves with a rare generosity of spirit, urged by our founder, Yuri’s widow Lena Shtern. The out-patients clinic and central office has been working out of a small, rather cramped apartment near the German Colony in Jerusalem but as of two days ago we are moving soon to much more appropriate premises, in an historic building in the German Colony, beautiful but not extravagant, it will enable us to reach out and help even more patients and train new therapists in the very special way of performing therapies for Cancer patients. I am going to see the house on Sunday morning to put up the first Mezuza………. More to follow!! www.yurishtern.org.il
We all suffered Black Friday and its red stickers on reduced items. Well, this is a very Israeli story – first of all Black Friday means any day of the week, but that’s not what made me giggle. This week the Israeli Ministry of Health decided to implement a decision to mark foods with green labels for healthy foods and red labels for those with too much fat, salt, msg etc etc. Israelis in the supermarkets saw the red labels, thought they were on sale and bought the items by the cartload, only discovering their mistake when they got to the checkout!!!
Despite the fact that I am not on top form I managed to do two wonderful things this week! On Sunday I went to a Chocolate evening at our local school, part of Jerusalem Municipality’s fun evenings. Imagine being given a tray of chocolate shells and lots of piping bags with every flavour under the sun – caramel, passiflora, vanilla, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, coffee, endless, and piping the creamy fillings into the little chocolate cups, tasting along the way!! It was so much fun to see about 25 adults becoming children again! The “sadna” was given by a young woman who was a lawyer and gave it all up to make chocolates – a highly successful international business. The Cocoa Forest https://www.yaaracacao.co.il/?lang=en
The second was extra special, I haven’t really left for the apartment for a while but I had a good day and met my friend Ruth in the Botanical Gardens restaurant, Caffit. Of course we shared a Sweet Potato Oreganato Salad and then decided to push out the boat in celebration of getting together and had the croissant bread pudding with ice-cream!! Oh my goodness it was delicious! We managed to beat the cold and although it was breezy, we sat outside on their veranda, beside the pond filled with the former beauty of the huge water lilies, now brown and withered, their huge seed pods winking in the sun. It was so lovely and the staff are always so kind and friendly. Yesterday we were served by Yovel, three days after completing his IDF service and his second day of working in Caffit.
The countdown to Christmas has begun! Advent Calendars are opened by excited children the world over. One Welsh father decided to make a Christmas video of his little boy. Put up yesterday it has already had well over a million views, one of whom was Martin Lindenfeld who knows I’m a sucker for anything Welsh!! https://youtu.be/pDtCXO71FJU
Rachem – compassion, pity, mercy – is a traditional song, here many of the great Israeli singers join Yaakov Shwekey in Caesaria “Have mercy Hashem, on Israel your people, on Jerusalem your city. Mercy Mercy Mercy” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxfKbIoy2_g
It rained, it finally rained, heavy, strong, life giving rain! The theme song of a wonderful Israeli movie “Afula Express” is one of my all-time favourites. Rain – Geshem, sung by Eli Luzon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8HlStOESOU
Time to get ready to go and see Rachel and the children. If I’m ready in time I will go and collect the girls from school, take them to Nehama’s Bakery and then on to the apartment to hear what their week has held. I love the fact that they will busy themselves with Shabbat and make salads, clean the floors, bake a cake and so on while Yosef tidies his room. They are such good children. Best of all I can watch them laugh together, tease their Mum and hug me.
Zvi is at the memorial service for our dear friend Samuel, Shmuel Benalal who wss killed 3 years ago in a terror attack in Mali. In fact it is always an emotional time as I lit the Yahzeit (memorial) candle for my beautiful Mother who passed away an incredible 56 years ago.
My eldest son Daniel is landing in London, of course to see Gideon and family but specifically for the Bar Mitzva of Daniella and Justin Selig’s eldest son Rafi. Mazal Tov to the Seligs and to all of us because Justin is family ever since he and Daniel started Carmel College together all those years ago.
I wish you Shabbat Shalom
With love from Jerusalem