The view from my veranda

Elections and so much more

4th November 2022

Shabbat Shalom! I hope this missive finds you well.

“The fault lies not with the mob, who demands nonsense, but with those who do not know how to produce anything else.”

Cervantes in Don Quixote

So the Israeli elections took place and the results must be accepted, whether we like it or not. The true test of democracy is when your party does not win. Like it or not we must accept the democratic process. I happen to believe that the media is partly to blame for the rise of the extreme right because every single newscast for the last few months reported on the aggressive histrionics of Itamar Ben Gvir, supporter of Meir Kahane, with the inverse effect of making him a hero not the anti-hero they intended. As the individual terror attacks increased, his melodramatic gun waving seemed almost sane and two men, neither of whom served in the IDF hold the balance. I hope and pray that this isn’t a green light to the “Hilltop Youth” to run amok.

Although I did not vote for Benjamin Netanyahu, I accept his win. He is a very clever man and a brilliant speaker, but his campaign, claiming that both Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz are “left wing” has put him in bed with two parties that will hold him hostage over policies that are against the principles of the Likud Party and the good of the entire country. The electoral manipulations and name-calling created an atmosphere as if the undoubted diplomatic and political successes of the last 18 months dissipated into thin air. Perhaps, hope against hope, he will recognise the danger and ally with the centrist parties, only the next few weeks will tell as the President calls upon him to form a coalition. When it comes down to it, everything depends upon demographics and whether the centrists came out to vote or went on vacation.

27 years ago, on the 4th of November 1995, a peace rally was held in Tel Aviv attended by many politicians including Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. Yitzchak Rabin often complained that the level of security was too constrictive, indeed when he invited us, together with Ehud Olmert, to join him at an event in the State Department in Washington, just 9 days previously, we were amazed at the lack of security as we simply walked in to an event with President Clinton. We had no idea that would be the last time we saw him. I’m sorry, I digress, the purpose of mentioning security was that prior to the above-mentioned peace rally, the level of incitement by the extreme right can only be described as murderous incitement to hatred and as a result a Prime Minister, a former Chief of Staff was assassinated and Israel still hasn’t recovered. Rabin’s understanding of the birth of the Jewish nation, his combination of Chief of Staff, Defence Minister and Prime Minister who was born in Mandate Palestine can no longer be repeated. Please listen to his interview on American television to fully appreciate the great man that he was.  

Possibly the most ironic fact that came out of the final recount of votes is that Avigdor Liberman gained a seat and Torah Judaism lost a seat.

A sad fact is that the left wing Meretz party is out of the Knesset caused by internal turmoil, a poor campaign and the understanding that their policies are no longer attractive.

One of the first responses from over the border came from Jibril Rajoub, Secretary General of Fatah’s Central Committee and Minister for Football (really) in the PA, who came out describing the potential government as militant and racist. General Rajoub is no longer an active terrorist but was, and despite his continuing refusal to accept the State of Israel has all his money (lots of it) in a Bank Leumi account under the name of Gil Regev!!!

Last week, one of the only Christian villages still remaining in the Palestinian Authority, the village of Beit Sachur between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, held a Christmas Fair. At last something both fun and entirely Christian in a village where finding work is almost impossible and most come into Israel to work. Two young thugs came into the village and tried to disrupt the event and the Priest threw them out. Sorry two young Moslem thugs came into the village and tried to disrupt events and the Priest bravely threw them out. They came back with a couple of dozen cohorts and stoned and beat up the Christians at the fair. It didn’t even rate a mention in the media! However, Melanie Phillips wrote about it I ask you to read her report.  Sadly, Bethlehem is now barely 10% Christian.

I love Rabbis, indeed clergy of all faiths, who look outside their own world. My dear friend Rabbi Jeremy Rosen did just that this week as he talked about a religious leader who he admired, Pope John 23rd. Pope John had the rare ability to see the world as it really was not as he had been taught, he changed that world in uncountable ways. Please read this excellent essay.

Racist, anti-Semitic attacks, both verbal and physical, have increased dramatically in the USA. American Universities have become a hotbed of hatred toward Jewish students in an overt and terrifying manner. I have written to Deans and Proctors of Universities asking why they do nothing about it. The answer is inevitably “Freedom of Speech” which is undoubtedly the least acceptable response. Freedom of speech? Freedom and democracy mean that all sectors are protected from hatred, not just one sector and no sector should be targetted. Kanye West is the latest example and his followers are mindlessly accepting his rants. If only he and his ilk could hear Rev Dr Martin Luther King speak of the Jews, who incidentally walk beside him from Selma and fought the fight with him. Until the Jews, no not only the Jews of the United States, all good folk, react and shun those responsible, life for the American Jew will become untenable.

We had an interesting week, quite apart from the elections! Lots of visitors who make me feel so much better about being at home, and Zvi went to his audition with the newly formed Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra choir and was accepted!! Of course, anyone who knows him is not surprised, his mellifluous, bass baritone is world renowned – well amongst friends anyway! I am walking regularly, trying to build up toward my two kilometres a day and I walked to the polling booth with Zvi, which in itself was a lovely social event, meeting many people in our estate on our way and in the kindergarten where it was held. People are so friendly and caring as they cheer me on my way. One of my favourite aspects of Israel is that we all talk to strangers, irrespective of introductions, we just do it!

Nattie and Yolli Zonszein came to visit and the “boys” went of on a Jerusalem exploration and Nattie and I sat out on the veranda enjoying the glorious weather, the colours of the hibiscus bushes, the burgeoning lime, kumquat and lemon trees and just being together. When the boys came back we went for lunch nearby in the Pop-Up Café in Kiriat Anavim with its glorious gardens making one feel so at home. Galia and Menashe came all the way from Yavneh and we just sat together “noshing” and talking about the world. Neighbours popping in and doing normal things is deeply appreciated as my recovery advances and of course a visit from Rachel lifts my mood enormously – her smile and a hug makes the world seem right. Perhaps this is the time to tell you that Zvi has been amazing! Caring and taking on all sorts of duties that I still can’t do.

Impact-se ( ) held a Zoom Board Meeting and I was so happy, as Chair, to see the faces of the board members as Marcus Sheff, our exceptional CEO, brought excellent reports of the changes in our region, changes which give hope in a seemingly hopeless period of time. I believe that the positivity of our work keeps me balanced and believing in the ultimate good of human beings.

The weekly Torah portion this week is Lech Lecha – Go Forth – which tells the story of our people on so many levels. Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael……

As soon as I finish this missive, we are going to visit a young couple right here in the estate for coffee, but beforehand we will pop in to another young couple where the wife, mother of 3 young children, is recovering from very painful surgery for a persistent injury sustained in the terror attack on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem – 2002 when she was a child.

And so to music!

All those years ago, in what is now known as Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Yitzchak Rabin joined in singing Shir Le Shalom, a song to peace in his off-key, gravelly, smoker’s voice before a Jewish zealot killed him and for many the hope he represented. Here Shiri Maimon sings 

Mosh Ben Ari wrote a song, a prayer for peace, a song of few words repeated over and over again. Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu – Peace will come to us – and to everyone. Salaam, Shalom.

Continuing the theme of peace, of accepting each other, of opening our hearts to those who are different this song is called Song to Love or Together. In Hebrew and Arabic the words “Speak of Hope”

That’s it! Today promises to be very exciting on many levels. For Zvi, he is relieved of his caring duties and he will go to his parliament which will undoubtedly be quite noisy today as they discuss the election results and what they believe the compilation of the future government under the Prime Ministership of Benjamin Netanyahu will be. Then, at about 16:00 Zvi will go to Ben Gurion airport to collect our wonderful friend Dr Kimball Taylor from his marathon flights from Calgary in Canada and bring him home. Kim is here for the Jewish Agency meetings where he is a very active and important participant. Despite or maybe because of his LDS beliefs Kim is a very active participant of the Jewish Agency and pro-Israel activities in general. He also happens to be one of our very closest friends.

This evening I will be leaving the environs of Jerusalem for the first time since my surgery, as we all set off for 11 year old Ori’s birthday, family Shabbat Dinner where we will meet up with Zvi’s cousin Jack Shapiro who is here from Mexico! It’s all very exciting! Unfortunately I will not see Rachel before Shabbat since I am still not allowed to drive, which, incidentally, is driving me crazy!!

Perhaps the greatest lesson we Israelis have learned this week is that one must not give up hope, must accept the results of elections without rancour and work hard to prepare for the future.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wonder if you know how much I care for you, each and every one of you. I have grown to know you, to feel your pain and your joy. That’s why I beg of you, wherever you may be, stand by us because we are family. We may disagree but when it comes to the bottom line, we must stand up for each other.

With all my love from Jerusalem, a city so beautiful, so spiritual that wars are fought over her. Her beauty is so great, her heart so big that there is enough for all her residents and the whole world to share.

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom, a peaceful Sabbath,