The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
23rd of April, 2021
Shabbat Shalom dear friends and Ramadan Mubarak to my Moslem friends
The weather is perfect, the sun is shining, Shabbat is before us and I am deeply worried. In 2017 a woman, a 65 year old woman, a 65 year old French woman by the name of Sarah Halimi, a 65 year old French, Jewish woman, was home in her apartment when she was beaten to death by Kabili Traore while he quoted verses from the Koran and then he threw her from her 3rd floor window as he shouted “Allahu Akbar” and the French Court found him not guilty of murder due to diminished responsibility – because his actions are those of an insane man on drugs. Traore was a neighbour who had harassed Sarah on numerous occasions in the past. His actions were premeditated. This is a spectacularly heinous hate crime, in which the French Court’s decision says that if one kills in the name of Allah while smoking pot one is not punished. President Macron is calling for a change in the law and Sarah’s sister is asking Israel to retry the case. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56845041
I am horrified that good people all over the world are not making a huge racket about this case, calling France to order – or am I horrified that the rest of the world is frighteningly unaware or doesn’t care. The case is being taken to the European Court of Human Rights but has little chance of success. Sadly, we in Israel see videos of only slightly less horrific incidents in New York. Video from CCTV cameras of young Jews being attacked and of Haredi men and women on the streets of Brooklyn being beaten up. Hatred is growing, we must approach our governments, everywhere. Don’t be a bystander, remember ” “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke
May Sarah Halimi z”l rest in peace and her family find some consolation when they learn that we all care.
Here in Israel we still don’t have a government – actually we haven’t had a working government for over 2 years – and even the announcement of an official Minister of Justice is delayed and deferred, leaving Benny Gantz holding the temporary responsibility as both Minister of Defence and Minister of Justice, while the hope of Netanyahu forming a government sinks like the setting sun. In a very short time it is expected that President Rivlin will pass the mandate to form a government on to Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition and of Yesh Atid, the second largest party. Lapid is hoping to create a wide government, representing all aspects of Israeli society, from right to left, excluding all extremes. The only way that the Likud Party can play a part in that government is if they choose a new leader. Gosh it is complex, but a complexity created out of narcissism not love of country.
Ephraim Halevy was the head of the Mossad and in an interview on radio he said clearly that it is essential that we continue talks with the Iranians on every issue including their Nuclear Programme. Unlike Mr. Netanyahu he feels it is dangerous to isolate them. He also said that during every President’s Administration talks have continued. So logical.
Israel is in shock from two incidents. In one a young soldier suffering from PTSD found self-emollation the only way to draw attention to the invisible war injury. Most soldiers who fight a war suffer from some level of PTSD, even the most level headed of us, but a smile hides the terror, a laugh hides the anger and far too often their inability to lead a normal life is misunderstood. Itzik Saidyan just couldn’t cope any more https://www.timesofisrael.com/ptsd-afflicted-idf-veteran-sets-himself-alight-suffers-serious-burns/
The second incident involves the man who we all considered a hero, a man who saved innumerable lives and set up a magnificent organisation, ZAKA, Rabbi Yehuda Meshi Zahav. After his secret life of sexual abuse was discovered, he went into hiding and just before he was indicted, and before an expose of his second life was aired, he chose to commit suicide on his family’s balcony. His letter to his family was discovered and an ambulance came immediately and he was revived but in critical condition in Shaare Zedek Hospital. In the unlikely event that he will return to life he will stand trial and all his incredible tsedaka will be as nothing. Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde – an evil man can do good and a good man can do evil. How sad that the organisation he formed will suffer due to his evil proclivities.
The final sad news is that young Jews and Arabs on the edge of the Old City of Jerusalem and Jaffa, Yobbos on both sides, have been conducting “West Side Story” style battles. Neither side understands the effect of their senseless aggression and neither understands that the outcome will be death and imprisonment. What is the cause of their frustration? Lack of leadership and past hate education of both.
If we are talking of the lack of tolerance in education – read the latest reports from www.impact-se.org Progres in ensuring awareness in world governments is astonishing as they hold meetings and discussions of our reports and of the changes Impact-se suggests. The recognition of the misrepresentation of UNWRA, of the truth of hate education in Saudi Arabia and the determination of most Arab countries to change to the criteria of tolerance in education according to UNESCO (criteria which we set) has given enormous hope that schoolchildren everywhere will learn tolerance of the other.
OK now to happier things!
As I am sitting writing to you I can hear the sound of military drums beating out the marching of young graduates of an army course. I don’t know if it’s the end of basic training or the end of further training course but I can hear the energetic voices of young men and women who are very pleased with themselves! It always fascinates me to recognise the difference between an Israeli 18 year old and an 18 year old from almost everywhere else. Most young people start running and physical training a year before they join the army, to make sure they are in tip top form. Once in the IDF they learn about discipline, responsibility – to each other, their unit and their country – they gain a sense of self-worth and confidence and they grow up, they are no longer narcissistic teenagers. When they complete their army service they already know what they want to learn/ study/ do in their lives.
As we speak, Zvi is in Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem, with his choir Hakol Yachassi, filming a clip with the Mayor of Jerusalem Moshe Lion, who has a beautiful tenor voice, recording a clip for Jerusalem Day. From there he will go the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo to sing at the inauguration of a butterfly garden in the name of our friend Rosie Ben Tovim z”l. We have meetings almost every day, both Zoom and actual, and are thoroughly enjoying meeting our new neighbours. So you see we may be moving house in 5 days but that doesn’t stop our activities.
Which brings me to another very Israeli subject. Removal Companies or as they are known today in PC Talk – Relocation Experts!!! Whatever you know about such companies – forget!! First of all there are no pantechnicons in Israel and Pickfords do not exist! They don’t come into your home, assess, pack everything in an appropriate packing case while you watch, there are not tall cartons for clothing to neatly hang, in Israel it is a very cooperative effort, you cooperate and they make the effort!……. One is expected to pack virtually everything alone, cartons are provided at a cost, and then they take the cartons that you packed, along with the furniture and take it to the second location…… When I asked about my few antique furniture pieces I was told “Don’t worry, we have plenty of special blankets!” I decided to pack the precious items but the general kitchen stuff and the everyday plates will be packed by them together with the entire study….neither of us is good at parting with books and we have so many signed copies that we love. Now the pictures and paintings is another matter entirely – We have a phenomenal collection of Mexican art and Israeli art which will be packed and ………..then what? Oh well, those should be our only problems.
Yesterday Rachel and Yosef came to the new apartment and were amazed at the progress. We now have a fridge, dishwasher, hob and oven; cupboards in our bedroom, bathrooms and a beautiful study just waiting for those books. I have no idea what the internet will be like after the move so I am not sure that you will hear from me by Friday but I promise to try.
Tonight Zvi’s boys, Amiad and Leor and families, all 12 of them, are coming for a farewell Shabbat Dinner on this veranda – this mirpesset. The requested menu is simple, baked salmon, roasted veggies, roasted cauliflower, a carbohydrate fest of chips and pasta for the children and they are bringing a couple of salads. Dessert is orchestrated by Gili and Amit!!
And so to your favourite bit – the music. I must choose carefully since it is the lst time I sit at my desk and look out over Jerusalem.
Last year Eden Alene was deeply disappointed when the Eurovision was cancelled and she couldn’t represent Israel and perform her terrific song. Well this year she’s back with an equally great song! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nss3FsrgJo
Years ago I asked my friend Jill what Israel meant to her, she responded “Israel is both my mother and my child. She watched over me like a mother and it cherish her like my child” Here Shlomi Shabbat sings of those emotions on Jerusalem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kQCTlFuCqQ
We all pray for peace, shalva, understanding, tolerance, sovlanut…..Here Israeli Jews and Arabs sing together https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5d_i2F2LlF8
I wish you a beautiful weekend a Shabbat of gentle enjoyment, as we, Zvi and I, leave this View from our Veranda and begin a new phase of our lives with a new view and a new veranda to entertain you!
With much love