The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
22nd November 2019
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wish I could tell you that this has been an easy week but I would be lying and I never lie to you.
Yesterday was a very sad day for Israel. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblitt announced to the nation that after exhaustive investigations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted for fraud, breach of public trust, receipt of illegal gifts and bribery. After so long, so many denials, so many threats to States witnesses, one has a strange mixture of relief that it is finally over, deep sadness that it was all real and anger at the brass of the man to stand before us and take the nation through yet another round of elections because he wouldn’t step down – so great is his sense of misplaced self-righteousness. I am also inordinately proud of the Israeli legal process and the man at the head of it, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblitt who has suffered constant insults and demonstrations beside his home by Netanyahu supporters, he is an honourable man.
After the announcement Netanyahu stood before the media and berated the legal system, the police and the media claiming it was not a genuine investigation but a plot of the left wing against him and his family in an attempt to depose him. He spoke for 17 minutes, his face ashen, and I felt that he finally lost the last semblance of honour. A brilliant man, a fine representative of Israel with so much potential to become an historic leader, brought down by greed and a love of power almost bordering on megalomania.
Now to the other “plonter”, the political one – we are still without a working government, have operated under an interim, powerless government for almost a year and yesterday Benny Gantz had to hand his mandate to form a government back to President Rivlin because they did not reach a centrist government majority. Blue and White made it very clear that they wouldn’t form a coalition with Likud as long as Netanyahu was at its helm and under threat of indictment. In other words they refused to join forces with a corrupt PM, but would have instantly joined with Likud if they agreed to dump Bibi. Avigdor “Yvette” Lieberman refused to join either Likud due to their coalition with the Haredim or with Blue and White and their possible coalition with the Arab List. So, according to Israeli Law, before going to the people, every Member of Knesset has the right to gather as many other Members around them until a majority is formed (61 seats) which of course won’t happen. Please don’t ask me how that works because it seems impossible to me. https://en.idi.org.il/articles/28659
The one person who has remained above the nastiness of the last year and behaved with supreme grace is President Ruvi Rivlin who has taken a strong part in trying to bring the people together and the political nastiness out.
With great fanfare and amid a festive atmosphere, the Grand Rabbi of the Satmar Hassidic Dynasty, Rebbe Zalman Teitelbaum, the virulently anti-Zionist Rabbi distributed some $5 million on Wednesday night to approximately 150 institutions in Israel that do not receive funding from the state. The monies were described as “Pure Shekels” since they do not touch the much despised State of Israel. The rabbi was lauded by hundreds of his Hassidic sect as he entered the celebration hall to the sounds of rapturous music. Personally I would have denied him entry to Israel rather than stopping the traffic to allow him free passage. https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Satmar-grand-rabbi-distributes-5-million-to-institutions-refusing-state-money-608539
Just to make life perfect, after the rockets from Gaza, to which we responded as responsibly as possible, suddenly four rockets were launched from Iranian held Syria! We responded firmly but only against Iranian military sites in Syria.
Hezb-Allah are Shia Moslems under Iranian funding whereas Hamas is Sunni, hence the rivalry between those terror organisations, don’t be fooled by their common determination to wipe out Israel. Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq have all fallen under Iranian control, thus now Shia. Most of the Islamic Arab countries are Sunni and although Iran is not Arab it is firmly set upon reaffirming the Persian Empire. Iran’s new BFF is Turkey which in turn wants to return to the Ottoman Empire under Erdogan. The fascinating aspect is that both Turkey and Iran were relatively free countries with excellent relations with Israel until their current regimes.
After President Trump’s announcement over the legality of Israeli settlements I thought I would check the legality of Israel’s rights https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/294359/israels-rights-in-the-west-bank-under-international-law and then I became curious as to how many countries have territorial disputes. The answer? Over 200!! The fact that the world concentrates on just one is quite phenomenal – I am not sure it is a compliment though. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_territorial_disputes
I was going to write about antisemitism in the Democratic and of course the Labour Party, but the fabulous Maureen Lipman has done it for me. I love Maureen Lipman, so clever and funny and so Jewish. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fttknbIFiR4&app=desktop
Gosh I need a breath of fresh air! I hate being negative and I know everything will be fine, but I need something really positive – so here’s something to cheer us all up. Kelly Craft. We aren’t used to the name yet but I have a feeling we are going to hear an awful lot about this incredible lady. Kelly Craft is the new US Ambassador to the United Nations. She had very impressive shoes to fill and it would appear she is just as tenacious as Nikky Haley. Here is her Maiden Speech https://youtu.be/lPjp6ZpMM4k Judge for yourselves.
The media and political obsession with Israel is bordering on the insane. When one considers that over 12,000,000 people have been displaced through wars in this region, at least half of whom are children, it becomes obvious that as opposed to the idiotic BDS, something must be done to educate the children, the next generation, differently. I received a Tweet from Impact-se about a new project which they have promoted, from Sesame Street. Yes really a Sesame Street in Arabic which unlike the copy-cat Sesame Street of Hamas and co, encouraging beheading etc, this is the real thing and encourages tolerance and openness. https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/20/world/sesame-workshop-syrian-refugees-trnd/index.html
I want to stop talking politics and the diplomatic treachery against Israel, so I’m going to tell you about our lovely week and the people we met.
As I told you we spent last Shabbat in Tel Aviv. Ronit Dotan’s birthday party was gorgeous! Held in a beachfront hotel, women only we had a ball! A comedienne who had us giggling and a wonderful singer from the Yiddishspiel theatre, the party was beautifully organised down to the last detail as only Ronit knows. Shabbat evening was spent with Nattie and Yolli Zonszein who have fulfilled their mutual dream and made Aliya. After a restful sleep at Amiad and Noga’s we went round the corner to Laura and Uri Neiger who not only cooked up a storm but brought along delightful friends. We got home after Shabbes just in time to pack for the next day!!!
Sunday morning at 11 o’clock precisely we stood beside the coach taking us to the Dead Sea, herded on board by Ronit Dagan, the charismatic and funny director of our Community Centre. The driver was a Bedouin and he entertained us with totally inaccurate “facts” of the landscape we passed. What a fascinating geological area – moonscapes of lost water, mountains of folded rock, sink holes, singular fauna which has learned to grow on arid, salty land – like the Negev Acacia, capers and reeds. We relaxed, dipped in the hot, healing waters and had great fun meeting new people.
Every little boy’s dream came true this week when Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini landed in Israel, the great Messi. Despite many threats on all the players the Uruguay and Argentina teams came for a friendly match held in Tel Aviv. It was a brilliant game of football and the 2-2 result completed the joy of the fans. A wonderful philanthropist called Sylvan Adams covered the costs and brought phenomenal publicity for Israel as the teams snapped their Instagrams of the wonderful life in Israel and sent them around the world.
On Wednesday evening we found ourselves on the road to Tel Aviv yet again. I was happy to drive because at the other end of the journey Zvi not only got to play football in the park with Amiad, Ella and Yonatan but we went on to have supper with delightful Mexicans, Perla and Carlos Jinich. Such lovely people who spend at least two months a year in Israel.
Although it has nothing to do with Israel I just want to take a few moments to express our distress and give our love to all our friends in Sydney, Australia who have been suffering horribly from raging bush fires which have left the incredibly beautiful city under a cloud of smoke and ashes which will take a long time to dissipate.
That’s it! It’s Friday again and another Shabbat. In a short while I will go to Givat Ze’ev to see Rachel and the children then tonight we will spend our Shabbat dinner with Leor and Shiri for two of their 4 daughters birthdays. Tomorrow we will rest!!
The weather has been unbelievably dry and windy bringing rather a lot of sandy dust onto our veranda but the view remains breathtaking. The geraniums haven’t lost their crimson beauty and the Hibiscus and my “Valerie” Fuschia are enjoying the cooler weather. The leaves of the pomegranate tree have blown away exposing the big juicy fruits of the pomegranate behind them.
Hopefully next week I will have time and space to send you recipes and talk about the incredible fun one can have in Jerusalem. The plethora of museums, many of them new, and the glorious parks. I fact it is a while since I have been to the Botanical Gardens, hmmmm, I need to rectify that and share a huge Caffit Oregnato salad. I thought you may want to see what I am talking about so https://caffit.co.il/en/menu/orgenato/#orgenato-2
Today is the 56th Anniversary of the assassination of an American President and the 56th anniversary of my beautiful Mother’s passing. She used to sing this beautiful Yiddish lullaby to me when I was a child. She sang with so much love that I still feel it today. Roshinkes mit Mandlen – Almonds and Raisins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDZJq6Hc9QI
This has been such a tough week but maybe this scene from “The Life of Brian” will put things into perspective. It really isn’t heretical, it is just reminds us to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJUhlRoBL8M
“A Tribe of Brothers and Sisters Together” Shevet Achim v Achayot Beyachad – is a song performed by about 30 Israeli Singers for Yom Ha’Atzma’ut. President Ruvi Rivlin speaks the words at the end.
If you click on the 5th icon from the right you will get a translation in subtitles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=22&v=xWx3R7WaAQY&feature=emb_logo
I wish you a good shabbes – a day to forget about politics and war, just one day to recharge our emotional and spiritual batteries, to say a prayer, to kiss your family
“And on the 7th Day G-d rested and looked at his work and it was good”.
With much love from Jerusalem and our View from the Veranda