The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
3rd July 2020
Shabbat shalom dear friends. I hope you passed the last 2 weeks without too much drama and are well and surviving yet another round of isolation or closure.
“Get your facts first,” said Mark Twain “and then you can distort them as you please.”
Today’s journalists rarely get their facts first, rather than distorting facts they distort everything. Today’s journalists do not report, they opine, often with the sole intention of giving their readers, listeners or viewers a skewed vision of the truth to suit their own political views. Few and far between are those who research their subject and inform.
This week in Israel the news has been full of annexation, Corona and the falling world economy coupled with the odd honour killing and rowdy youngsters fighting on the beach, probably very similar to your news broadcasts and one aspect that probably didn’t reach your news.
This week Prime Minister Netanyahu was intent upon demeaning, disregarding and disparaging a war hero. General Benny Gantz has the strange title of “Alternate Prime Minister”, of equal rank to the PM while serving Defence Minister in a government formed to deal with the Corona Pandemic. In his usual fashion Netanyahu pays no heed to anyone else and his announcement on annexation was made without consultation with his co-PM. In a Press Conference this week both PM’s were to speak on both Corona and the annexation issue and as Benny Gantz sat waiting, his remarks prepared, Netanyahu simply walked past him, said what he wanted to say and left, ignoring Benny Gantz presence. Jerusalem Post Editor Yaakov Katz asks the most important question in Israel right now “Who’s in Charge Here?” in an opinion which covers the annexation, broken communication in government and Corona https://www.jpost.com/opinion/between-netanyahu-and-gantz-whos-really-in-charge-comment-633700
The knee-jerk response of the Israeli press to any disagreement with Israeli policy from any leader around the world is that they are “Anti-Israel or Anti-Semitic”. Most leaders have been disturbed by the timing of the unilateral declaration of annexation. Boris Johnson, a clear friend of Israel who charmed me by his brilliance and warmth when we met in Jerusalem, believes that the timing is unwise and expressed his concerns with clarity – I agree with every word he said.
Here’s an abridged version of the current overbearing Netanyahu control.
Netanyahu wants annexation now without discussion under the deep influence of US Ambassador Friedman. He also wants total control of all policies and will not abide by the agreement with Blue and White. His actions are intended also to deflect from his imminent trial for corruption and abuse of power.
Gantz, as a former Chief of Staff, promotes careful consideration of implications to Security and the status of the Jewish State and believes annexation must be combined with negotiations with Palestinians and acceptance of the Arab world
Ashkenazi (Foreign Minister) also a former Chief of Staff, is trying to thwart the annexation plans as inappropriate timing
Edelstein – Minister of Health. Forthright, aware of economy but doesn’t hold back in demanding the wearing of masks, social distancing, love your grandchildren from 2 metres but visit the elderly taking precautions, in general disagreeing with opening the country as Netanyahu demands.
PA President Abbas, taking advantage of Israel’s current indecision coupled with USA threats to cut funding, announced that the Palestinians are willing to return to negotiation table, conditional to picking up where the former negotiations ended. In other words, 1967 borders and the return of all “refugees”. Abbas doesn’t want independent country. With independence come the demand for a viable economy; no further aid from the UN, US, UK, EU and all the other abbreviations; acceptance that their demand for right of return will not happen; abiding by the Geneva Convention rules and be held responsible for incitement to terror. Abbas is losing power, rumblings from all sides in the PA so perhaps this is not the time to come to an agreement with a man who is soon leaving power.
Enough already! I find all the machinations of power, and it is all about power, overpowering and depressing. We, the little people can do nothing about it until elections and even then it is debatable as to our influence. Let’s talk about important subjects instead.
As you know I spent the latter part of last week in hospital, a fascinating social, racial and religious amalgamation on every level of responsibility. My surgery, for which I was wide awake, was carried out by the Head of Surgery at Shaare Zedek, Dr. Alberton, who made Aliya from the FSU at about the same time as I made Aliya; his assistant surgeon was an Israeli-born Jew, the anaesthetist came originally from Uzbekistan, the male Theatre nurse an Israeli Moslem Arab and the recovery room nurse in charge was born in Manchester! Upon arrival back onto my wonderful, spacious, airy room I was greeted and coddled by a fabulous nurse who came home from Ethiopia in 1984. Other countries talk about the melting pot but Israel really is one – especially in the medical field. We have our racists, we express all the usual human foibles, but essentially we are a wonderfully brightly coloured rainbow of humanity. Most importantly, all of the above was on our socialised medicine system and everyone, from the road sweeper to the professor, gets the same treatment.
Before going into hospital I had a meeting in Shalva and I am amazed, touched, emotional and excited to tell you that we reached our goal of $125,000 to build “Dr. Dan’s Room” a Music Therapy classroom equipped with every kind of musical instrument appropriate to even the most physically and mentally challenged children and young adults. Every time I go to Shalva I am uplifted. There is a sense of hope and acceptance that is rare and makes each of us a better person. I walk inside and know that this is what my Daniel, my beautiful son, would have approved of because Shalva represents all of his basic principles in life of loving, giving, understanding, accepting, healing and helping these youngsters reach their potential. I cannot bring Daniel back but, together with all of Dan’s family, especially his children Joshua and Callie, and his closest friends, I can give this world a beautiful reminder of his humble determination to bring kindness to our world. To understand why I chose Shalva, please watch this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjcgIeMVwcA
Dame Helen Mirren introduced a fantastic Israel Philharmonic Orchestra internet concert which we all enjoyed this week. It was truly amazing! Enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib3O-9Sp6ss
Black Lives Matter is an organisation which has lost its way, lost its morality. As a child and young woman my heroes were the incomparable Dr Martin Luther King and a fine scholar and gentleman called Paul Robeson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Robeson. Paul Robeson was black, poor yet won an academic scholarship to Rutgers University in 1915, aged 17, an exceptional achievement and then attained a law degree from Columbia University. Robeson was a polyglot with at least 15 languages and a law degree. He was a victim of McCarthyism and found safe haven in the UK where both his singing and legal careers flourished. One little known aspect of Paul Robeson was his love of the Jewish people and Israel. This deeply religious Christian loved the Yiddish language and his repertoire went far beyond Old Man River, Otello or Porgy and Bess – here he sings two wonderful Yiddish songs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ3lRWyVX9A and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGgFqq1yVe0
English, Arabic, Spanish and Hebrew – Omer Adam and Eden Ben Zaken have a multilingual, fun new music clip. I love it!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d60H5D9GefE
I changed the order around a bit this week just because I felt like it! My week has been limited, obviously, but Zvi and Rachel have been amazing. Zvi now makes a good British cuppa fit for a queen, in fact fit for The Queen!!! Rachel made us cheese borekas that are so easy and delicious that I couldn’t believe it. Roll out puff pastry fairly thinly and cut into squares of appropriate size. For the filling mix, (you can do all of this low fat) cottage cheese, either feta or Bulgarian cheese and sour cream until a nice firm consistency. Fill the squares, top with spinach, use beaten egg to seal into triangles then eggwash. Pop onto a cookie tray into a medium oven until puffy and golden brown and enjoy!!!
I have spent most of my relaxing, recovery hours sitting on our veranda, just enjoying the burst of colour of my winter planting in the foreground framing the breathtaking view of Jerusalem spread before me. I named my newsletter “The View From My Veranda” because in the year 2,000 the beautiful view was clouded by explosions, the air shook from the reverberations and the site of the latest Palestinian terror attack was pinpointed by palls of black smoke. Thank Heaven times have changed and thanks to the border fence and the brilliance of the IDF, 95% of attacks have been thwarted. Today the view from my veranda is one of beauty, of a city which has temporarily slowed down, but is tentatively opening up again like a flower which is scared of the sun. We have no choice but to abide by the demands of a terrifying pandemic and are learning to read between the lines of our leader’s words, judging for ourselves the need to be very careful.
Almost Shabbat. This week’s Torah reading is a lesson in forbearance. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, the people of Israel arrived in the arid wilderness of Zin and they were thirsty and somewhat rebellious. G‑d tells Moses to speak to a boulder and command it to give water. Moses was angry at the attitude of the Israelites and struck the stone in frustration. Water poured out but God told Moses that because of his outburst neither he nor Aaron will enter the Promised Land. Violence may get you what you want now but denies you the ultimate goal.
On that note…….
I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, a safe and healthy week filled with loved ones at a safe distance.
With love from Jerusalem
I just received this from my nephew Jeffrey and I couldn’t believe the level of stupidity. Young people in Alabama are holding Corona party competitions and the first one to be ill gets a prize https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/02/us/alabama-coronavirus-parties-trnd/index.html?fbclid=IwAR1iqjh-xl1a2MyCYxDYwRBd2_8iaBomG6NgbZznUaHSJbHBhhDDYNIt7Rk