The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
1st February 2019
Gosh is it really the first of February? As a child I would rush around saying “Pinch, Punch, first of the month”, but somehow it isn’t appropriate – especially since Israelis have no idea what I’m talking about!!!
Shabbat Shalom! How are you? It would seem that you are either frozen and covered in snow in the Northern hemisphere or boiling and towns ablaze in the Southern hemisphere. It makes me feel guilty that this weekend Jerusalem will be sunny and about 19+ degrees celcius! Blue skies welcomed me yesterday when I woke up and I actually had my first breakfast on the verandah this year! It was so amazing to feel the warmth of the sun on my face and to look out at the view. Jerusalem lay before me in all her glory.
Zvi has gone off to Nes Ziona this morning to a “Saba and Nechda” (Grandfather and granddaughter) morning at Ori’s school. I thought it was a super idea. He came in to show me his attire, to ensure he wouldn’t embarrass Ori! Of course he looked very handsome and appropriate!
Israelis have been inundated by politics this week. One question has been hashed out and discussed above all others – would Netanyahu (and his wife Sara) be indicted or not; would it be for misuse of power or corruption or both. Sadly his campaign against the police and Attorney General was not becoming and annoyed me immensely. Attorney General Mandelblitt is a thoroughly honest man, a deep thinking man whose reputation both as Chief Military Advocate General of the IDF and as Attorney General is impeccable. To suggest that he chose the timing of his decision on the PM relative to political considerations is a disgrace. The Attorney General has promised a decision before the April 9th election day, because the electorate deserves to know what they are voting for. Incredibly most Likud voters stand by Netanyahu even if he is indicted! I feel that the position of Prime Minister of Israel is so complex and multi-faceted that it deserves absolute concentration without personal defence detracting from State affairs. I am very concerned. Coincidentally the weekly Torah reading this week is Mishpatim or Laws. More of that later.
Former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz finally broke his silence and spoke to the people. He barely spoke of policies, he spoke about honour, honesty, intentions and his loyalty to the people of Israel, his love of Israel. I was pleased to see that another former Chief of Staff, Boogie Ya’alon chose to join Benny Gantz on the stage and on his platform rather than running alone. The right hated his speech and the left expressed concern – while both laughed at his somewhat over-enthusiastic young followers who cheered throughout his speech. I found his speech almost regal, showing leadership without pomposity, and he didn’t make promises he can’t possibly keep. As a Brit I am used to each party presenting its manifesto, its declaration of intent that the electorate can see clearly and which can be compared to achievement if elected. My dream is that Gantz, Yaalon, Lapid and perhaps Bennet can form a combined government, spanning many views and bringing a fresh leadership to Israel. We need a leader that is honest, performs according to his voters and brings friendship from world leaders. Admittedly seeing a handsome man, nearly 2 metres tall, lithe and smiling, speaking softly and clearly was a wonderful change.
The polls vary widely, but then it all depends upon the manner of the question asked and who is asked. I just think about the old Mark Twain saw – “Lies, damned lies and statistics”.
Brazil suffered a ghastly disaster when a dam broke and poured a sea of mud, sludge killing hundreds and leaving far more homeless. Within hours of hearing the news the IDF rescue team was flying to Brazil. They have been working under diabolical conditions to try to rescue trapped Brazilians but sadly have found only bodies. Israel is the only country to send aid to Brazil.
Despite complex situations both here and abroad PM Netanyahu expressed support Venezuelan political coup. The PM was advised that support for Guaido could bring repercussions for the already threatened Jewish Community but he chose to do the right thing. President Trump requested from most European countries, and Israel, to show support for the newly declared interim President Juan Guaido. After years of corruption, cruelty, fiscal disaster and civilian desperation, first by Chavez then by his clone Maduro, Venezuela deserves a complete change in leadership. One can only hope that Guaido will provide that change and not be corrupted by power.
The 27th of January 1945 was the date the Russian troops liberated Auschwitz and was chosen as International Holocaust Day. I find it so sad that even that day was marred by anti-Israel (anti-Semitic) incidents. BDS showed no respect for those who perished, not even one day. British BDS’ers, followers of the obnoxious Roger Waters, tried to persuade the BBC to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel in March. I am happy to report that their efforts were to no avail when the BBC said “The Eurovision is not a political event”. I sometimes wonder how close todays rhetoric is to that of the Third Reich – and sad to say it bears comparison. Look at 1933-1936 in history and you will see the similarity. Ireland site of the Limerick Boycott or Limerick Pogrom in 1904 when for two years all Jewish businesses were boycotted accompanied by assaults, stone throwing and intimidation; Ireland which today is considered the most anti-Semitic country in the Western Hemisphere. Poland, which has recently made it against the law to say that they took part in the Holocaust (!!); France, the UK; even distant Australia; the USA where Jews in Crown Heights and Los Angeles are attacked in the street, even the USA, our greatest ally, has its history – see the Madison Square Garden Night of a thousand Nazis https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2018/12/09/night-thousands-nazis-packed-madison-square-garden-rally-violence-erupted/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9ab244e1f2ae
I was drawn to a children’s poem from the Holocaust and its deep yearning for a home.
I’d like to go away alone,
Where there are other, nicer people,
Somewhere into the far unknown,
There, where no one kills another.
Maybe more of us,
A thousand strong,
Will reach that goal
Before too long.
One glimmer of hope came from the International Paralympic Committee in London when they stripped Malaysia of the right to hold the IPC Swimming events after they banned the Israeli Paralympic Team. Sometimes the right decisions are made.
Uri Geller has returned to Israel but sometimes his thoughts go back to the UK. He believes that his kinetic powers can prevent Jeremy Corbyn becoming the Prime Minister of the UK. For the sake of my family and friends who live there is sincerely hope that this time he will bend Corbyns spoons.
17 years ago we watched horrified as Daniel Pearl was killed by the evil Pakistani terrorists. His last words were – My name is Daniel Pearl. I’m a Jewish American from Encino, California, USA. I come from, uh, on my father’s side the family is Zionist. My father’s Jewish, my mother’s Jewish, I am a Jew. My family follows Judaism. We’ve made numerous family visits to Israel.” May his soul rest in peace and his determination to die as a Jew never be forgotten.
40 years ago today the Ayatollah Homeini returned to Iran after 15 years of exile two weeks after the Shah and his family escaped. As a result of Khomeini taking power an extreme Shia regime took over bringing with it dire restrictions and in the November 1979, 52 Americans were held hostage in the Embassy in Teheran for a total of 444 days. Thank you James Earl Carter for your support of democracy in Iran and the deposing of the Shah.
100 years ago the Paris (Versailles) Peace Conference took place and if you look at the decisions made you will understand the idiocy of those who claim Israel is not a legitimate state. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/zionist-organization-statement-on-palestine-at-the-paris-peace-conference
I said I would return to the weekly Torah reading, Mishpatim. All the social laws are set out in this portion as if written for today – relevant to today and tomorrow and every day. Laws concerning treatment of strangers, of servants, social mores that if they were adhered to today we would find a kinder world. https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/1298/jewish/Mishpatim-in-a-Nutshell.htm
Shabbat Lunch was delightful. Amiad made his superb cholent, in both the meat and veggie versions as the centre of a groaning table of goodies and we all celebrated little Ella’s 6th birthday sitting in the sunshine in their garden.
Zvi and I were both poorly this week with totally diverse viruses, so we didn’t do a great deal, however, on Monday we had some lovely visitors for lunch. During the toughest time of my recent illness a lady I had never met (except on Facebook) was incredibly supportive. She would check each day to see how I was, if I had left hospital yet, generally being a real friend without ever seeing each other! We had a mutual friend, Madeleine Burke Lewis, but other than that we just seemed to click, many, many similarities. On Monday she and her husband had to be in Jerusalem, so of course, we invited them to our veranda! It was a delight! Jean and Tommy Philip really raised our moods, took us out of our virus doldrums and we got on like a house on fire! I wish us all good friends through good health not illness.
On Wednesday we went to the Jerusalem Theatre for a delightful evening of reminiscence with personalities of our age! The stories they told of Israel over the years were wonderful and the songs by Ettie Navon even better – it was an evening of lifted spirits.
And now for something completely different! Music of course!
Hadassah Hospital is a place one normally visits either because you are ill or because you are visiting a friend or family member who is ill. Sometimes it is worth going there for a concert….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzwWskM4hN8
Yom zeh l’Yisrael – is a traditional Shabbat Song that celebrates that on one day a week we rest and rejoice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBlX_XWb_DU
When Naomi Shemer, the premier Israeli poet and songwriter, heard John Lennon’s Let it Be she thought how appropriate it was for Israel and she wrote her own version, more poetic, more Israeli – Lu Yehi. Here sung by Chava Alberstein with subtitles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfMoeK6UVB0
I wish us all that our prayers for tolerance, peace, kindness in our cruel world be answered and a miracle will happen. If not for us then for our children and grandchildren. Amen
Shabbat Shalom dear friends
With love from Jerusalem, both of us and our veranda.