The view from my veranda

Day 14, Shabbat shalom

20th October 2023

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wish you a Sabbath of remembrance and peace, forget the anger for one day and think of ways to honour those who were killed, slaughtered, massacred and captured. Light that extra candle tonight.

I’m sorry that I didn’t write yesterday but I was burned out by the rush of emotions that accompany every letter to you which forces me to express my confusion, helplessness and anger. Today I will try to bring you a more rational approach.

Although his visit received less media attention than the Biden visit, the visit of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held a special warmth as he spoke in measured terms of his unquestionable support for Israel, that Britain stands with Israel in our darkest hour (reference to Winston Churchill’s statement). PM Sunak is Hindi, his family emigrated from India and he was educated in the UK but with the principles of his faith and his family’s understanding of the Moslem violence in India, which is rarely spoken about. PM Netanyahu also referred to the British fierce 6 year battle against Nazism 80 years ago and our battle against modern Nazism in the form of Hamas/ISIS/ Hezb-Allah today.

The horrors of last week are still in our nightmares, even more names of those who were killed or captured is rising daily. Despite the clear threats of American and British warships in the area, Hezb-Allah are still launching rockets against the north of Israel, the wonderful pastoral beauty of the North, irrespective of the fact that there are innumerable Arab villages and towns in that area. Kiriat Shmona has been evacuated and the government are asking that all of you who have apartments in Israel please allow a family to stay there for a short period, hopefully a short period of the war. Unlike former “skirmishes” or operations, this is war, outright war. It will not be over in a matter of days, it is a long and painful war against a horrific enemy, an enemy that is raising its ugly hear right where you live, wherever there is a Jewish community. The famous Pastor Neimoller poem speaks of starting with the Communists but here there is a clear aim to this war, this worldwide war, they are coming for the Jews and then, who will speak for the rest?

Awad Darwashe, May he rest in peace, is a hero who happened to be Bedouin. He was a paramedic on duty at the Music Festival near Kibbutz Be’eri. Awad, despite being wounded himself, managed to save up to 30 young people before his ambulance was stolen by the terrorists and he was killed. His cousin, Mohammad lives on Givat Haviva working for coexistence. Israeli Bedouin are amongst the dead and captured, but due to the questionable legality of many of their villages and family campuses in the South, they do not have the security of shelters.

Did you notice the instant, knee-jerk response by the media to the claim that 500 Gazans died in an Israeli attack on a hospital? Despite the obvious proof of an “overheard” conversation between two Hamas operatives clearly stating that the hospital was severely damaged by a misfired missile from a Palestinian Islamic Jihad launching site in a densely populated area near the hospital and videoed proof, they have barely retracted their condemnation. Incidentally, the fact is that not only was it a PIJ missile but apparently it hit the car park of the hospital and the death toll was between 10-50.  If you are British and have a complaint about the content or half-truths of British news media please, please write to Don’t just sit and moan about the BBC, or SKY UK, do something about it!

The question on the lips of many of you is “What does Israel gain by stopping aid to Gaza” You say it doesn’t do any good to Israel’s image. Perhaps you are right but on the other hand all these years that despite rockets, missiles and terror attacks we have faithfully delivered aid to the Gazans the media still listened to and related the lie of a “siege on Gaza”. Hundreds of lorry loads a week, full of staple foodstuffs, fuel, you know the list only too well, and after international pressure we included fertiliser which ultimately was used in the making and firing of missiles and it did us no good on the public opinion level, so ask yourselves why are we suddenly the bad guys when Hamas, instead of building the infrastructure for clean water, planting crops built a terror infrastructure. They had plenty of funding for missiles but not for food. Until now the Egyptians refused to give aid, now they have to.  

David-Seth Kirshner is a Rabbi in the USA. In his open letter to the world he speaks of the fears of his congregants of the rising anti-Semitism, the overt danger of threats and actual violence, the fact that the true hatred of so many is coming out, especially but not exclusively in colleges and Universities in the USA and around the world.  A dear and wonderful friend, someone I truly love, has worked for a long time teaching in NYU, for the first time she is deeply troubled, aware of the tangible and aggressive anti-Semitism right where she worked, where she loved to work until now.

Eyal Waldman believes in coexistence. He founded and runs a Hi-Tech company called Mellanox and chose to employ some young Gazans in his company, to encourage them to seek knowledge and give them the ability to earn well. On the 7th of October, his daughter Danielle was at the Peace and Love Festival when she was killed, slaughtered by Hamas terrorists alongside her boyfriend. Please listen to her father’s words  

Together with my upstairs neighbour Yael, who was the spokesperson for Hadassah during the Intifadas, I went to a fascinating meeting of the “over 65’s” of the village of Motza. If I tell you that apart from the two younger women who organised the get-together, Yael and I were clearly the youngest! There were people who have lived in Motza village for 60 and 70 years and one or two who were born there. We sat and listened to their stories, short two minute synopses, each with a special sense of history. Some referred to the injured of the Yom Kippur War but when asked to give one good thing of our current situation and one disturbing thing, many wrote their disturbing thing “Helplessness” due to their age and physical inability to volunteer. The organisers, both of whom I know from my music movement class, asked me to explain about all of you, about my writings, which do not demand any physical prowess. When asked what is positive all pointed to the unity and volunteering, across the gamut of political thought. Of course, there are rumblings of discontent which are creeping back into our everyday life, but the anger of the pro-Bibi camp is still very threatening to any dissent.

I am so proud of the reactions of ordinary Israelis, and some extraordinary Israelis, who have created instant centres for the distribution of necessities to the surviving families from the south, who are now in hotels and homes all over the country. One aspect that was ignored at first is the fact that fields and fields of produce is unharvested so volunteers are taking the risk of going South to gather the vegetables and save the area. Our Yishuv, our village and the estate have established what is called a Hamal, a centre for information and patrolling, guarding the area. Zvi gets up at 05:00 in the morning to take his stint of watching the screens showing the large number of security cameras around the entire area. Right here, in our tiny village, we have people who bake, people who collect clothing, those who go to IDF bases with hot meals and those who ensure that all soldiers have the right equipment. Of course it is not only here, all over the country the people, civilians, ordinary folk have set up Hamals. The civil society in Israel has come together, showing backbone and strength in dire straits. I’m also proud of you, you have rallied to the cause, whether by donations or by standing firm in demonstrations or ensuring that information goes out. Please keep it up!

I know how hungry you are for news in English so here are some sources that you can reach

Amihai Grosz, principal viola of the Berlin Philharmonic, is sleepless with worry for his Israeli nephew, who is one of the 200 hostages snatched by Hamas and held to ransom in Gaza.

Amihai has authorised the Israel Camerata to upload his performance of Yizkor (remember) by Odon Partos, as a means of drawing attention to his nephew’s plight. I feel that it is for all those slaughtered and all those taken hostage.

As I hear the helicopters and aeroplanes overhead, I worry about family and friends in Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, and all along the coast and in the North, who are inundated with Red Alerts. While we have Iron Dome to destroy the incoming missiles, it does not stop the heart-stopping fear that maybe this one…..

Of all the many Israeli songs dedicated to peace, there in one which expresses our prayers, our plea, our orison that is in the heart of every Israeli, finally, the recognition of our existence here in this tiny, beautiful land. This war is the umpteenth battle in our War of Independence, when will we achieve that elusive peace?

The prayer for the Peace of the State of Israel sung by Shai Abramson, Chief Cantor of the IDF

Sending each and every one of you my love, my prayers for your safety and for our beautiful country

Shabbat Shalom, a peaceful Shabbat