The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
22nd January 2009.
I want to begin this letter by extending our love and condolences to a very special family who though far away in Melbourne, Australia are very close to our hearts. Saul and Lucy, Lucy and Saul they were always together like the song “Love and marriage”. They complemented each other totally and when Lucy became ill, Saul faithfully arrived every morning to take care of her in the home; and every morning she would run to his arms and tell him she loved him. We are not talking of young lovers, or maybe we are, but Saul is over 90, a highly decorated citizen of Australian and untiring worker for Israel, Australia, family and love in equal proportions – Saul is what the Prime Minister of Australia called a mensch, a mensch who loved his Lucy who sadly passed away this week. Everyone who knew this couple understood what true love was, from Prime Ministers to shop girls. Saul, we love you, we wish we could be with you and we can never forget Lucy’s face as she looked at you with adoration.
This will hopefully be the last letter dealing with bias concerning the Israeli operation in Gaza.
The article “Images of bloodshed obscure truth” by Albert Dadon, in The Australian was sent to me by Prof. Paul Zimmet. It is an accurate assessment of our greatest hasbara problem. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24945114-7583,00.html
In another article, Tim Butcher, Middle East correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph returned to Gaza City for the first time since the war and while accepting that much damage had been incurred outside the towns he had this to say:
I knew Gaza well before the attacks…….One thing was clear. Gaza City 2009 is not Stalingrad 1944. There had been no carpet bombing of large areas, no firebombing of complete suburbs. Targets had been selected and then hit, often several times, but almost always with precision munitions. Buildings nearby had been damaged and there had been some clear mistakes, like the firebombing of the UN aid headquarters. But, in most the cases, I saw the primary target had borne the brunt. But, for the most part, I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be. It has been a tatty, poorly-maintained mess for decades and the presence of fresh bombsites on streets already lined with broken kerbstones and jerry-built buildings did not make any great difference.
The Arab world is already miffed by President Obama for having the gall to imply that Hamas should stop launching rockets at Israeli citizens. How could he take such aggressive action when it could strain diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia?
If you still doubt Israel’s claim that the IDF only fired at buildings from which missiles and gunfire emanated, see these out-takes of Alarabiya-TV’s Hannan al-Masri learning of a Hamas missile being fired from the ground floor of the Gaza TV complex housing the Alarabiya Studio. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY50cktUKbA
Israelis are still distressed by what they were forced to do. We are not a warring nation, we were meant to spend our lives creating not destroying; taking medical initiatives not the taking lives; building towns not crushing them. We had to fight; we are prepared to fight, because the days of walking silently to the ovens are gone; but it is so deeply ingrained in our souls that our place on earth is to perform tikun olam (repairing the world) that we sometimes forget that in order to perform the mitzvah (right) of tikun olam we first have to survive.
Talking of Tikun Olam. Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician and film maker, made a documentary called Fitna http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=216_1207467783 which uncovers and speaks about the violence within Islam, at times comparing the Koran with Mein Kampf. As a result Mr. Wilders has been subject to Fatwahs and threats upon his life and has now been brought before the court in Holland charged with overstepping his rights of free speech as a Member of Parliament http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7842344.stm I do not condone those who promote Islamophobia but equally I will not suffer those who call us Nazis yet threaten death to those who say it about them.
If you wish to defend free speech for those who criticize Islam as well as those who practice Islam then please sign this letter of protest against the actions of the Dutch Government http://www.petitiononline.com/wilders/petition.html
While a Dutch Parliamentarian is being prosecuted for comparing the Koran the Mein Kampf in Holland, there are not such controls on the speech of Islamic groups in the USA who do exactly that. Please, please take the time to see this amazing presentation by the David Horowitz Terrorism Awareness Foundation http://www.terrorismawareness.org/jihad-academia/
To bring our thoughts back to today; Michelle Obamas dress, Aretha Franklins hat; the uncertain oath and Joe Biden’s comment thereon; the excellent inauguration speech; Mr. Olmert speaking as he feels and not as he ought, all are of note!
As Israel’s February 10th elections come closer we need to lighten up and wander round Shouk Ramle and Mahane Yehuda; climb into the Jerusalem Hills and allow ones eyes to feast on cloud after cloud of wonderful pale pink Shkediot – almond blossoms, in the knowledge that at least these little trees will fulfil their promise to bear fruit and feed the birds and small mammals which live on the rocky undulating hills. Let’s go to any or all of the plethora of coffee shops to drink a delicious “Café Hafuch” (upside down coffee – aka latte) accompanied by what Israelis call a corasantt (croissant) and sit and chew the fat with friends without the guilt of knowing our boys are in Gaza and Israelis in Sderot are being traumatized every day..
I wish you a Shabbat Shalom in the hope and dream that the next letter you receive from me will be next Friday and nothing of consequence will happen between now and then……unless of course we win a great basketball match or the rains finally come and wash away the war.