The view from my veranda

Diplomacy, Halloween, Beersheva and Elections

28th October 2022

Shabbat Shalom!

Gosh where has this year gone? It’s almost Halloween aka All Hallows Eve, which began life as a Christian Festival leading up to All Hallows Day, to remember those who have passed away or to be somewhat less delicate, the Mexican’s call it the Day of the Dead! As with so many religious festivals it began as a harvest festival, predominantly Celtic/Gaelic, which of course brings us back to the Welsh, but today it has gone the way of many religious festivals and is simply a day of dressing up and carving pumpkins!

This has been a week of military successes, diplomatic breakthroughs and the insanity of the personality culture. The military success came when “The Lion’s Den” break-off para-military group in the Palestinian Authority which has been attracting young Palestinians to perform individual terror attacks, has basically been wiped out thanks to the incredible work of the IDF and Secret Services. Whenever there is a terror group there will always be a more nefarious, more monstrous group determined to show their ability to terrorise. In such circumstances the need for leaders to allow those who understand military needs to do what has to be done but without that ghastly phrase “collateral damage”, the loss of civilian life. If you are willing to accept the rhetoric then read all about it in this Al Jazeera article.

On the diplomatic front, it would appear the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come full circle after his failed attempts to ally with just about every nation in the Middle East after Turkey was not accepted into the European Union. Once our closest ally in the Mediterranean and the chosen tourist destination for many Israelis, Turkey, or to be exact, Erdogan chose to side with the PA and Hamas, particularly after the Mavi Marmara boat fiasco, but after intensive diplomatic encounters an exchange of Ambassadors is about to take place.

Another hard-earned success is the Maritime Agreement with Lebanon over the rights to the natural gas which has been found in the Mediterranean. The agreement not only benefits Israel but also poverty stricken Lebanon, once the Pearl of the Mediterranean which was destroyed by Hezb Allah. Since I don’t fully understand the implications of the agreement I suggest you read

Something else I cannot bring myself to understand is the current “personality” cult of so many people today. The need to follow the daily activities of a dysfunctional family, the Kardashians, and the fallout thereof. Take one ex-husband who has been a devoted follower of Adolf Hitler, almost calling one of his albums Adolf, who is given a stage for his insane rantings about Jews and the world listens. Kanye West broke his contract with Adidas and was thrown out of Skechers when he arrived unannounced but the damage is done. His poisonous words reached their target and the fallout continues. He is not alone in his venom or the extent of his following. Models, sisters, Bella and Gigi Hadid, have over 26 million Instagram followers daily, yes daily! Their constant anti-Israel tirade and their ability to influence is terrifying although I am sure that they were not thrilled to discover that our wonderful Gal Gadot overtook them on Instagram!

Do you know who the ANZACs are? The Australia and New Zealand Army Corps has an eternal tie with the town of Beersheva and each year ANZAC Day is celebrated in that town on October 31st. Their story is one of huge bravery and marks the anniversary of the heroic victorious charge of the Australian Light Horse Brigade of between 500-800 horsemen against the entrenched Ottoman Turkish forces in Beer Sheva. The stakes were high: water was urgently necessary for the horses and the soldiers; the element of surprise in the attack required an out-right victory; the conquest over the Turkish and German Armies in World War One.  I am not sure that many of you know that not only the ANZACs but the Australian Army stood beside the fighters of all its allies throughout its short history. From WW1, WW2 to Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, always a true ally.

The New York Times has excelled itself! An entire article dedicated to the “fact” that the culinary culture of the Palestinian people has been hijacked, of course implied that the hijacking is by you know who! Hummus, tehina, felafel etc etc which are common to the entire Mediterranean region are apparently Palestinian inventions and the rest of us stole it!

Iranian women are leading the fight for freedom in Iran. The simple act of taking off their hijab is a risk to life and limb, but they continue and their determination that their children are not subject to the extreme hate teaching in schools has become apparent in the latest report.

Rishi Sunak is the new Prime Minister of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Of Indian background this ambitious young man, supported by the Tory Party (I don’t use the name Conservative Party) is bringing new hope to the British people battered by the Johnson/Truss economic debacle. I wish him good luck, or as one says in the UK “The best of British” Britain has been through the political wringer lately, as our friend Michael Ziff said “ In 7  years we have had 5 Prime Ministers and 7 Chancellors of the exchequer and my grandson of 1 has had 3 prime ministers, 4 chancellors and 2 monarchs . Leeds United football club has had 6 managers” 

Finally, I can’t avoid the subject any more as Israel goes, yet again, to the elections on Tuesday. It feels like Groundhog Day although the configurations have changed. The television campaign has taken over our lives – each party gets air time according to its size and as usual use it for propaganda rather than a manifesto. As things stand, there is no chance that any single party will get enough seats to form a government but the President of Israel can call upon any party, not necessarily of the parties that glean the highest number of seats, to form a coalition of at least 61 seats out of the 120 Knesset seats, which gives us hope that the highly vociferous, attention seeking extreme parties will not be in any future government. I am a pragmatic citizen and believe that the ideal government should be made up of the three major parties, all centrist, but while both Gantz and Lapid refuse to sit in government with Benjamin Netanyahu they would be happy to sit with Likud and………. Groundhog Day!

This has been a relatively quiet week although we are so lucky that wonderful family, friends and neighbours have kept us company and well fed until I return to normal – would you believe that I haven’t needed to cook a meal since my surgery? On Monday Zvi took me to his “mini-parliament” which was my first real outing and it was very exciting to be allowed into the inner sanctum of his male friends. Parliaments are a regular occurrence in Israel, especially among the retirees, and can be all male, all female or mixed depending on the purpose. As you may well imagine, Zvi’s group loves to talk politics, to save the world, hence the fact that most of the women left the group! Actually, it was very interesting and they happily let me weigh in with my views. All liked my statement that the real trial of democracy is when the candidate or party you didn’t vote for wins. Accepting the popular vote isn’t always easy but that’s democracy.

As Winston Churchill said “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”

For some reason I find this weeks Torah portion somewhat appropriate. It is the story of Noah, the Ark, the flood and the Tower of Babel. God chose Noah as the only honest man in a world of hypocrites and evil, chose to save Noah and his family and asked Noah to save the world in a boat. As we listen to the forked tongues, the babble or Babel spouted around us sparking argument and dissent I think we are all looking for a Noah or at least an olive branch and a white dove.

And so to music

Perhaps the answer to all our troubles lies in this song. All You Need Is Love sung by the Shalva Group, with wonderful photos of the Shalva Centre……one of my favourite places in the whole of Israel! For me Shalva represents a haven for parents and children alike, and expresses the very best of Israel.

Tsur Mishelo Achalnu. A beautiful prayer giving thanks to the Almighty for the food we have eaten. This rendition is exceptional.

One of the major problems with the more recent generations of Jews is that we tend to get mixed up with religion, laws, belief and simple tradition, honouring our parents, grandparents in time immemorial. While Fiddler on the Roof was written at a time of women in the home and men supporting the family and obviously that is probably the major social change, nonetheless, Tradition is what holds us together. Friday night meals with the family, lighting the candles, making blessings, marriages all filled with tradition and wonderful interpretation seems to be lost on so many young people, who now float without a sense of identity. Tradition

Jerusalem. Even when travelling into the City on the brand new road 16, tunnels underneath the suburbs, and suddenly there we are. Jerusalem, much maligned, misunderstood but still the most beautiful, spiritual city in the world.

Shabbat Shalom to you one and all

With love