The view from my veranda

Budget, Bullies and Ecology

4th of November 2021

Shabbat Shalom! How are you? I hope you are well and that the cooler, kinder weather is making life so much easier. The trees are turning to a million shades of red and orange and yellow and………… autumn.

Today’s date makes me sad. The fourth of November 1995 was the day that Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated after a dreadful campaign of incitement. One would think that it would be a diabolical lesson learned by the perpetrators of incitement but it appears that they continue with their campaign, this time against Prime Minister Bennett and his government. It would appear that politicians know no shame, remorse or contrition, their memory conveniently changing history. Why oh why are politics so dirty? Why can’t the party in opposition simply prepare itself for power rather than inciting to hatred? Isn’t it enough that we lost a beloved Prime Minister and a friend to dirty politics?

In a total 180 degree turnabout, comes the good news from the Knesset! With a vote of 61-59 the proposed budget passed last night after a night long lead up. Finally, after 3.5 years without a budget the various Ministries will get their funding, starting with the money starved Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Government decided to give immediate funding to the Health Ministry to cope with the enormous overload of the past 2 Covid years. The passing of the 2021 budget means a great deal more than the monies involved, it means that the present government is stable. Despite the cries of instability, the sheer wealth of political views in the current government show that Israel is a true democracy with every possible opinion represented.

Talking of democracy, one crie de Coeur (or crie de guerre) of the Antivaxxers is that governments do not give freedom of choice (so stupid) but here in Israel it just isn’t true. The issue of vaccination for 5-11 year olds is about to be publicly debated, between experts and concerned citizens. I’m sure that we will come down on the best choice to ensure the safety of the children and the concern for their parents and grandparents. Sadly the Head of Public Health Services, Dr. Sharon Alroyi Preis has received many threats from AntiVaxxers. Apparently their demand for the right to refuse includes the right to threaten her life.

I am about to be controversial.  I firmly believe that we have made a mess of our earth, we simply don’t take care of this amazing planet; however I do not believe we are near the end. I get angry at those who are lackadaisical about the amount of waste we throw into the life giving waters of the seas and oceans, the amount of food we throw without thought of the sheer waste, and I always thought that the use of disposable tableware was an issue until I read a report which showed that 96% of all plastic waste is in packaging!! While it may be harder to legislate against the use of plastic plates it could be a simple matter to come to an international agreement on packaging; just think how many times you come home from the supermarket, empty out the fruit and veg to wash them and are left with a mound of plastic packaging. So, I don’t think this is the end of the world, I believe that our world goes through cycles of heat and ice and the expression Global Warming is a misnomer, however, it is high time we respected our planet and treated it as we would our home, clean up after ourselves. I also believe that we must replenish our forests to ensure rainfall; however, despite the Glasgow Conference negativity, I think we can simply take better care of what we have. I believe Prime Minister Bennett spoke very well about the fact that Israel “just one third of the size of Scotland” may not be able to make an imprint on ecology but can improve the world with our technology. Incidentally with all the fanfare and expressions of concern, Israel’s Minister of Water and Environment Karine Elharar, who has Muscular Dystrophy and is wheelchair-bound, could not get into the Conference because the UN organisers didn’t think to make it accessible.

Just by the by, All Israeli homes have to have solar water heaters on the roof, by law, since the 70’s!!

The Iranians are willing to come back to the table for talks on their Nuclear Power. They chose the date and they decided upon the 29th of November in Vienna. Why? It should be clear to most of us – it’s the anniversary of the United Nations vote in 1947 on the partition of Palestine and the end of the British mandate. The United States, UK, China, France, Germany and Russia will attend. Iranian chief negotiator Ali Baqeri Kani said Iran had “agreed to start the negotiations aiming at removal of unlawful and inhumane sanctions”

Yet again the question of building in “the territories” has raised its ugly head after the current government of Israel announced that it proposed to allow the building of housing in the disputed areas. Incidentally, not just Jewish housing but also Arab housing; it was agreed that the new housing is not going to be on some hilltop but rather in already built up areas. What the international community fails to note is that under international law Israel is allowed to build anywhere it chooses in Area C which is under our jurisdiction and the Palestinians control areas A and B. Of course, we will be condemned and they will be praised but that’s life.

Finally and at last, individual visitors can come to Israel, abiding by the rules but yes – if your country lets you out then you can come here. Australians however have a different problem. Our friend Zvika came to see his children here in Israel and he has to stay a minimum of 5 months before going back to Australia. Those are the rules! Anyway, here are the specifications to apply to come to Israel

This week the Torah portion will tell the story of Jacob and Esau who apparently began fighting even when in the womb. I should tell you from the start that I am for Esau, but that’s another matter. They were twins and Esau emerged into the world before Jacob emerged holding on to Esau’s heel, thus ensuring that Esau be the recipient of their father’s birthright, lands, livestock and money. They grew up to be very different, Esau was the bucolic, but kind farmer, big, strong and hairy, whereas Jacob was the cerebral, nerdy type. Isaac loved both his sons but leaned toward Esau and Rebecca preferred her learned son, seeing his potential as a leader. Now Daddy Isaac was blind and as he came toward the end of his life he prepared to give Esau his birthright, but Rebecca had other ideas. She cheated her blind husband by dressing Jacob up as a farmer, smelly clothes and a “toupee” on his arms to be like his hairy brother……the rest is history but when one thinks about it, cheating to obtain what is not actually due to you is the story of every war, every battle, every political fight……….. Just saying.

Today was very special as our dear friends Yaffa and Martin Glass came to visit. They live in the North but popped in after a visit to Jerusalem. I say popped in because they only intended staying for about half an hour but when Yaffa and I start reminiscing…..anyway they stayed until Zvi got back from a meeting. Unfortunately my hostessing skills were not employed because they had eaten an Israeli hotel breakfast before leaving Jerusalem. Until you have experienced it you cannot begin to imagine what an Israeli breakfast looks like A dozens of salads, wonderful croissants of many flavours, breads of just about every variety, smoked salmon, pickled herring, hot and cold cereals, cheeses, yoghurts, Israeli Cottage cheese of various percentage of fats – from 0 to 5% – our Cottage cheese is smooth not lumpy! Huge platters of beautifully cut fruits……anyway, they just had no room for more food! It really was a delightful way to start the day. Come to think of it, they make a hobit of staying longer than planned! They came 2+ years ago for a couple of weeks and got caught here by Covid!

Tomorrow morning at 07:00 sharp, we will get on to the coach (in Wales we called them charabancs and every time it makes me think of Dylan Thomas’ short story about a charabanc  ride to the sea) anyway we will join the other members of Hakol Yachassi Choir and drive up north to Peki’in . On the way our first stop will be in Zippori where we will see the amazing mosaic and Eva will guide us and teach us about the history of Zippori. I hope that my childhood friend Rachelle Samuels will manage to come and see us for a quick hug. Rachelle and her husband Micha and their children run a wonderful olive farm which is well worth a visit if you are in the North.

I don’t know the whole itinerary but we will arrive at our hotel in Peki’in before Shabbat to settle in and then have a full Shabbat meal. I love it when we all sing the Shabbat songs together, usually Zvi makes Kiddush (the blessing on the wine) but not always….we will sing together in the evening and then on Shabbat we visit the many sights and sites in Peki’in which is a Jewish/Druze town.

So that’s that! Zvi will be home soon, he’s singing at the Jerusalem Music Academy, as he does every Thursday. He and four friends have also formed an Ensemble which gives performances for Homes for the Elderly (I prefer the Hebrew term which is a home for parents) which is a bit odd since he is actually the same age as most of the residents! In fact the made their debut performance this week in Jerusalem to a rousing ovation.

Although this isn’t the first time I’ve given you songs by Zvi’s choir here they are again, with the Mayor of Jerusalem Moshe Lion and a Jerusalem medley

Mi Ha Ish – Who is the Man? The Revivo Project with the haunting melody and the lyrics which are so relevant today “Who is the man who desires life, and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it.” Psalm 34

Finally, Shlomi Shabbat, pure of voice and recovered from Covid, sings about Jerusalem. I love his voice and this song is so special.

I wish you a good weekend, a good Shabbat and a blessed Sabbath. May your prayers be answered and your aspirations achieved. Remember who you are and where you came from, never deny, never forget, you are the sum of your ancestors, you carry the traditions of whatever your faith on your tongue to tell your story to your children and grandchildren. You cannot change where you came from, but you can ensure that future generations learn who they are. Whatever your religion, whatever your faith, however you pray or believe, or not……

With all my love from Jerusalem