15th May, 2020
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom and Ramadan Kareem
Obviously you know that yesterday was the 14th of May but I wonder if you know that two historic events occurred on that date? The first, which brought such enormous joy and pride to the Jewish people is the Declaration of the State of Israel and the second was a huge disappointment!
Last night, 72 years after the declaration of the State by David Ben Gurion, the new Israeli Cabinet was to be sworn in. An insanely large Cabinet, said to be between 34-36 members, many positions invented for the occasion, but nonetheless a Cabinet. Israel was about to have a working government for the first time in about 2 years! At the eleventh hour the swearing in ceremony was delayed until Sunday! The rotation of the PM position was worked out and Ministries for Blue and White Party members were accepted but the rebellion came from the Prime Minister’s own Party! Why? Because Netanyahu did not find Cabinet positions for 6 of his closest allies, Ministers in his former Cabinet. Of course Gantz immediately withdrew his resignation as Speaker of the Knesset since his position as Minister of Defence is no longer a certainty. Oh boy – their Shabbat will not be filled with Shalom. https://www.ynetnews.com/article/S1qDJv9qL
Politics is a dirty business and loyalty is rarely repaid. Yemina, Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked, have loyally supported PM Netanyahu throughout but yesterday they learned that they have been discarded like old rags.
The 14th of May this speech was made by Winston Spencer Churchill, conceivably the greatest leader of modern times, made his first speech (‘Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat’) as Prime Minister to House of Commons. “What is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival”. 80 years ago (1940), https://winstonchurchill.org/…/blood-toil-tears-and-sweat-2/
May 14th was also the date of the very first broadcast of Kol Yisrael, the Israeli Broadcasting Company
I missed the 100 year anniversary of the San Remo Conference by a few days, so it wasn’t on May 14th but rather at the end of April 1920, but its importance history and in refuting the cant of the far left and the Palestinian misrepresentation is ultimate. The full text of the Balfour Declaration became an integral part of the San Remo resolution and the British Mandate for Palestine, thereby transforming it from a letter of intent into a legally-binding foundational document under international law. What is little known about the San Remo Conference is that the Arab representatives at the conference never opposed the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine, His Royal Highness the Emir Feisal, representing the Arab States was far too concerned with the formation of Arab States and hardly bothered with the “hell-Hole” called Palestine. I suggest you not only read this excellent article by Dan Adler but watch the video of history unfolding. https://israelforever.org/interact/blog/why_you_should_know_san_remo/
Today, the 15th of May, the day after the Gregorian anniversary of the declaration of the State of Israel, is Nakba Day – Catastrophe Day – for the Palestinians. It has taken on a life of its own and spurred the international belief that Israel displaced an entire nation and performed ethnic cleansing. In the world of today it is very hard to prove that someone is not an underdog but rather that they created their own very real hell. My prayer is that the day will pass without any more terror attacks. Sadly there have already been 3 individual attacks and a soldier lost his life. Rather than explain yet again I chose to give you a brilliant article by Khaled Abu Toameh explaining the real situation of Palestinians in the entire area https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/15979/apartheid-coronavirus-lebanon
Much has been said about the behaviour of the Haredi community during this pandemic. Here in Israel it took time before the level of danger was understood and at first the tightly knit Ultra-Orthodox communities did not follow the rules and suffered terrible losses. However, in the USA particularly “obviously Jewish” groups have been the target of terrible anti-Semitism and accusations equal to the blood libels. That doesn’t surprise me and neither has the secular reaction to those accusations but wait, let’s take a look at the situation here in Israel, it has turned on its head! While criticizing the observant Jews for wanting to go to synagogue the secular Jews have been crowding the Tel Aviv beaches, not observing either distancing or masks and standing for hours to get into IKEA! It is a case of pots and kettles and it is time we learned to live together, each in their own way before the situation explodes.
This pandemic, whether you call it Covid-19, Corona, the virus or any other name has, tragically, taught us that all the things we thought were essential to the “good life” are actually irrelevant. Families have learned to live together and to deal with loss, to appreciate those who care for us, from the Consultant Physician to the garbage collector; the work of teachers and school administrators fell upon parents who no longer believe that the education of their children is easy. Many discovered cooking and making meals became a joyous, even fun, family task; working from home gave so many young people the chance to get to know their children. The elderly and infirm (in Israel at least) became stars in their own cities with meals brought to their doors and young people calling to see if they needed anything or just for a chat; in other words, I believe that we learned to appreciate the little things in life like having a Shabbat meal together. Where is it going? Is it going? Will it come back? I don’t know and every prediction is made on a whim because nobody knows but let’s try to count our blessings. My friend Dr. Nir Boms wrote https://www.jpost.com/opinion/covid-19-has-taught-us-that-life-is-always-priceless-627323
This time next week we will celebrate Jerusalem Day, in honour of the Hebrew date of the reuniting of the City of Jerusalem after 19 years of Jordanian rule. The story has been told and the songs sung but little can describe the joy of returning to the Holy sites. Today we take a visit to the Kotel (Western Wall) for granted, not realising the battles fought and even the way the beautiful plaza looked when our soldiers arrived there. Here are two videos of the entry into the Old City and the famous words “The Temple Mount is in our hands” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6e3kKu5XaU and the same men today https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-sdse016Dk
Those of us old enough to remember that day, indeed that war, the 6 Day War and the implications thereof. It was the most glorious victory, a victory for the right to pray at our holy sites and yet that was the moment the world turned on us. As Ephraim Kishon so brilliantly wrote in his book “So Sorry We Won” the world never forgave us for defending ourselves.
So this week was really exciting!!! Zvi and I went for a wonderful walk in the Gazelle Valley https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/ent/gazelle-valley/ and even had a social distancing picnic in the Jerusalem Forest!! I enjoyed both so much that the next day I went back for a walk in the Park with my friend Betty. We didn’t see any gazelles but it was just wonderful to feel the breeze in our hair and walk through the wilderness and see the newly replanted fruit trees – this was once the orchard of Jerusalem. Unfortunately there is little breeze today and it will get hotter and hotter over the next few days with temperatures into the 40’s. To my amazement Zvi put the air conditioning on almost as he woke up yesterday!!!
As the restrictions lighten I will go to see Rachel et al today. As always it will be so hard to keep my distance but I must and tomorrow is Yonatan’s 6th birthday so we will join the other “oldies” in their garden, sitting far from the children but thoroughly enjoying being near them. The restrictions are slowly being lifted here. Parks are opening, shopping malls too but while in Tel Aviv they are full here in Jerusalem people are more cautious and I noticed that the car park of the mall is barely one third full. Schools are returning, slowly, carefully but it is time for parents to go back to work or the economy, both personal and national, will fall completely. The best part is that we can begin to meet as families again, which was the hardest part for everyone.
Choosing music this week was not difficult. Obviously Jerusalem of Gold, Yerushalyim shel Zahav, which celebrates the liberation so emotionally. Shuli Natan sang the words of Naomi Shemer at the Israel Song Festival in Jerusalem on May 15th 1967. She won and the last few stanzas were added after we could finally reach the Old City https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2KcBLXdlNk
In case you hadn’t already guessed, I love Koolulam! Their latest video is of people all over the world singing Coldplay’s Fix You in a Zoom recording. It’s stupendous!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_7jvxBObaw
Finally a recording of Leonard Cohen’s Halleluya to celebrate first responders https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=vH4UA_Ocf4o&feature=emb_logo
That’s It! I have to go – I am going to visit my friend Frida who has not been very well lately, obviously sitting well away from her. I thought to take her some plants for the garden, to cheer her up. Then on to Rachel whose incredibly beautiful plants were attacked by some particularly yucky yellow bugs……with more plants!! It looks like a busy day.
Be well, be calm, be hopeful that this will all pass soon I promise you that Israel is on the verge of some incredible scientific innovations concerning this virus.
Shabbat Shalom to one and all. Please give your loved ones virtual hugs from me.