12th February 2021
Shabbat Shalom, Chodesh Tov (the new month of Adar) and Happy Year of the Ox! I hope you had a blessed Candlemas
So there is a huge kerfuffle about the fact that President Biden has not yet called PM Netanyahu. He has called Canada, Mexico, UK, India, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, South Korea and Russia and his office has clearly stated that the Middle East must wait – and let’s face it we are in the Middle East with an election pending (if he calls it could be deemed as interference in the election process) and quite honestly, I see nothing ominous in his silence! I trust the opinion of Dan Shapiro, former US Ambassador to Israel who is now a full-fledged Israeli living here.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague deems it necessary to prove itself to the non-aligned and Islamic members has yet again opened the wound of possible prosecution of IDF action in the Palestinian Authority, including Gaza. There are two reasons this is ludicrous, actually probably more than two – the IDF, aware of the possibility of prosecution by this non-legal body, ensures that any clash within the PA is recorded on body cameras; the Palestinian Authority’s own police force (subject to the Oslo Accords) is responsible and takes often violent action against disorder; the IDF, in turn, is subject to both the civil and military legal system which thoroughly investigates and severely punishes behaviour unbecoming. Thus any politically correct action by the ICC is moot. Australia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Brazil, Uganda and Canada expressed their opposition to the investigation.
US Vice President Kamala Harris signed a letter last year, when she was still just a senator, calling the International Criminal Court’s intentions toward Israel “dangerous” and stating that “the US should stand in full force” against them. “ICC actions currently underway could lead to the prosecution of Israeli nationals despite the fact the ICC does not enjoy legitimate jurisdiction in this case. Both Democratic and Republican administrations have refused to join the Court in part because they feared its politicization and misuse.”
Talking of Democrats and Republicans getting together – The USA Senate voted 97-3 to keep the US Embassy right where it is in Jerusalem. The three opposing votes were Democratic Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tom Carper. No surprise!
Since the whole issue of “walls” came up again in the media, I thought I would do a bit of research and was amazed to find that it really didn’t take much effort! Growing up studying British history we learned about the Emperor Hadrian (CE 120) and his famous wall forming a boundary between between Roman Britannia (England) and unconquered Caledonia (Scotland). However I really didn’t need to go that far back to find boundary walls between countries, especially in countries which scream and shout about Israel’s supposed “Apartheid Wall” Walls exist between Belize-Guatemala to Egypt-Gaza; India has 3 walls two still under construction; Norway-Russia; Mexico-USA and Israel already has 3 border walls with Egypt, Lebanon and Syria – the wall with the PA is only partial, unfinished and mostly a fence, intentionally to allow Palestinian workers to come into Israel to earn a crust! Don’t believe me? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_barrier Of course the huge wall across Belfast, which separates Protestants from Catholics isn’t mentioned
Tolerance in Education was the title of a wonderful Webinar held last night by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. The discussion was between Members of Parliament Stephen Crabb (Labour Friends of Israel), Steve McCabe (Conservative Friends of Israel) and Marcus Sheff CEO of Impact-se, of which I am proud to hold the position of International Chair, explained how Impact is changing the world to be more tolerant. It was more than enlightening, all three speakers were exceptionally well versed and eloquent. Well worth watching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9aux5gHc-s&feature=emb_logo
We are into elections, again. So far it has been relatively polite but I see the vindictiveness slowly seeping into the conversation. There is no real manifesto, to which we can hold the parties after the elections, but rather “We promise to make things better, end Covid and bring back the economy” which doesn’t convince anyone. Sadly Benny Gantz is proving too much of a gentleman for politics. He, and the few MKs who stayed with him fought bravely to ensure that no extreme measure were taken by this government, but he is not good at self-promotion having spent his life fighting real enemies not political ones. https://m.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/israel-election-2021-who-is-running-and-what-do-you-need-to-know-658714/amp
Shlomo Hillel z”l was an exceptional man. A true hero, an honest politician and leader of the Jewish people who succeeded in saving the Jews of Iraq and bringing them home. A man who wore many leadership hats, Shlomo was a humble man of huge talent, the perfect spy he was able to enter a room and disappear into the walls, alert and aware of everything and everyone around him. He was a loving man, a warm and kind man, he lived to the ripe old age of 97, fit as a fiddle and totally compos mentis knowing that he had lived his life for his people and it was good.
I wasn’t going to talk about the pandemic but hope is in sight – real hope. Ichilov Hospital research has shown that 29 of 30 severe Covid patients who received their EXO-CD24 treatment recovered in three to five days, mostly feeling fast relief in their breathing.. Many COVID-19 deaths are associated with a cytokine storm, which means the immune system begins attacking healthy cells. The EXO-CD24 treatment for COVID-19 is based on exosomes, which are responsible for cell-to-cell communication. The treatment delivers CD24 protein to the lungs, which helps calm down the immune system. A major Greek hospital has shown interest and wants to continue trials of the treatment.
I love the fact that in Bnei Brak (Ultra-Orthodox area next to Tel Aviv) they are giving the community an incentive to get the Covid inoculation – if you come to have your vaccine you get a plateful of Cholent (Shabbat stew)!
Israel has seen her current Prime Minister in Court this week and, coincidentally, the Torah Reading for Shabbat is……….. Mishpatim! Mishpatim means laws and we learn of all the laws handed down to Moses https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/1298/jewish/Mishpatim-in-a-Nutshell.htm
The weather was glorious this week, up in the 20’s even in Jerusalem. I took advantage of the break in winter, went to the beach with Rachel and Yosef. Yosef even dived into the chilly, calm, transparent waters coming out more goose bumps than skin but wearing a big smile as only a 16 year old can do. Rachel and I just luxuriated in the warmth of the sun, the cloudless blue skies and best of all, the empty beach. The other day I went for a picnic in the Jerusalem Forest with some friends. It was so wonderful to be out, just to be able to drive out into the countryside and enjoy the sunshine. We walked about in awe of the display of wild flora, calaniot (cyclamen) rakafot (anemone) a few tourmous (lupin) and shkediot (almond blossom) walking carefully between the carpets of colour when suddenly I saw it! Just 3-4 centimetres high, a tiny, exquisite blue iris, the forerunner of the Dutch Iris we all take for granted. Israel has many picnic areas and Israelis love to travel around our own country and find “nature”, Well I can only tell you that from this vista point, high in the hills, the vista was one of pure nature, green undulating hills and rocky fields of glorious spring flowers. It revived all of us and we were ready to face the world!
The warm weather is about to end abruptly next week when heavy snow storms are forecast for the country. I have no idea if it is true because Accuweather claims it will be rainy, but who knows? One thing for sure, finally Israelis will adhere to the closure rules – they don’t move from their homes when it snows. Actually that’s not quite true. Tel Avivim have a tendency to risk all and drive to Jerusalem, up the icy perilous ascent, just to fill some bin-bags with snow and take it back to the shoreline!! 7 years ago in the last blizzard, abandoned cars, of those who drove to see the snow, littered the road! They hadn’t realised that snow and inexperienced drivers don’t go together!
OK, Music, Music, Music!
“This day for Israel (the people of) is a day of light and joy, Shabbat, day of rest. Avraham Fried https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBlX_XWb_DU
I couldn’t resist this one. Four Israeli stars singing in Yiddish – so much fun! Don’t worry you don’t need to understand the words, just put on your dancing shoes! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-SItM3B9QQ
I know how much you love Koolulam, and I found a new one! Koolulam in Sao Paolo, Brazil, last December singing “Tempos Modernos” Modern Times. Read the words…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J81b1uyvQUM
It doesn’t where you are, how you pray, whether you are carnivore, vegetarian or vegan; it doesn’t matter which football team you support or what party you vote for, we must unite. Unity is our only hope in this insane time of plague and anger. What matters is to understand the other, to understand each other, to listen more than we speak, to speak quietly – everyone will hear you much better. Almost Shabbat, almost time to light the candles and let the gentle light spread across the world.
Special love to the “Shapiro” siblings, Jack, Sylvia and Becky who are all together in San Diego for the first time in many years.
With much love from Jerusalem