The view from my veranda

Am Yisrael fights back

31st May, 2024

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

The world is full of surprises, of “firsts” and the USA is no exception.

For the first time in American history a President of the United States has been convicted in a criminal trial. The jury determined that he falsified documents and acted in violation of the law when he paid hush money to Stormy Daniels using funds of the 2016 election campaign. This renders Trump unable to vote in this Presidential Campaign, according to the draconian Florida electoral laws, but can still run for President. An anomaly indeed. According to Professor Alan Dershowitz the conviction will not stand, however one wonders if it is appropriate for a convicted man to run for President.  

Hamas is willing to consider hostage deal in an extensive prisoner exchange. Obviously, we must bring the hostages home, whether alive or not, but we must not forget that the last major prisoner exchange, also made by Benjamin Netanyahu, led to the release of Sinwar and over 1,000 other convicted terrorists, unquestionably leading to October 7th. Sinwar repaid Israel doctors who saved his life, removing a life threatening, fast growing brain tumour while he was imprisoned. Our society, our intensely humane society, just wants our loved ones home, but at what price.

U.S. Central Command said in a statement that U.S. and British forces had hit 13 targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen in response to the piracy and attacks of the Houthis on ships. The British defence ministry said the joint operation targeted three locations in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, which it said housed drones and surface-to-air weapons.

Coming back to Israel and the Rafah (Rafiach). The IDF is not interested in Rafiach, but rather the so-called Philadelphi Corridor. Wikipedia explains is more concisely and clearly than I. “Following Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the Philadelphi Accord with Egypt was concluded, which authorized Egypt to deploy 750 border guards along the route to patrol the border on Egypt’s side. The Palestinian side of the border was controlled by the Palestinian Authority, until the 2007 takeover by Hamas.[2] The joint authority for the Rafah Border Crossing was transferred to the Palestinian Authority and Egypt for restricted passage by Palestinian ID card holders, and by others by exception.

One purpose of the Philadelphi Route was to prevent the movement of illegal materials (including weapons and ammunition) and people between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.” Rather than serving the people it became the centre for the illegal passage of arms for Hamas through tunnels underneath the Corridor. The discovery of those tunnels which operated under the tacit approval of the Egyptian government, would have caused great embarrassment to all involved. However, we just took over the Philadelphi Corridor and found that all of the above to have been overturned.

The Western media was full of vitriol against Israel for the dreadful fire that erupted after a pinpoint killing of senior Hamas operatives in Gaza. The IDF has released an intercepted call between two senior Gazans who state that the explosion and fire resulted from flying shrapnel from the airstrike, which was 180 meters from the actual refugee camp, which in turn caused the detonation of an entire arsenal of explosives hidden inside the refugee camp.

War kills. War is ugly. To blame Israel for what is called “collateral damage” is disgraceful and those who cast blame should take a look in the mirror. The USA is most certainly not the only country to cast blame but take a look at these figures. The U.S. post-9/11 wars have forcibly displaced at least 38 million people in and from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya and Syria. At least 940,000 people have been killed by direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan. The above fire, if caused by Israel, cannot be compared with the intentional use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. The current double standard is deeply influencing the “Headline Generation” of students who have no idea of history and are being led like sheep to the slaughter by the brilliantly evil Iranian regime.

The Jerusalem Gay Pride parade took place yesterday much smaller than usual with 10,000 participants. As with most things in Israel, this is very different to most Gay Parades. It is a very inclusive parade; a socially aware parade and its purpose is manifold. You have to understand that those marching, whatever their sexual preferences, including transgender and transsexual participants, they served in the IDF. Their social awareness goes far beyond their own very real concerns. They marched for the hostages; they marched to change the government; they marched to create a better society; they marched, it wasn’t a fun day to dress up, their purpose goes well beyond gay rights.  

Before I forget, since so many of you told me that are coming to Israel, it is very important that you know that from August 1st there are new rules before landing in Israel. Similar to the ESTA form for the USA we now have a pre-arrival form!

I tend to lean toward my tenuous Welsh heritage despite the fact that may parents were both Polish, but the comparisons are worth mentioning. Wales and Israel are approximately the same size, literally a few square kilometres difference. Both are feisty little countries very proud of their heritage and Wales was once a deeply religious country which basically observed Shabbat on Sunday – no travelling, no working, writing, spending money etc, which is why they accepted the Jews who emigrated from Eastern Europe whose traditions echoed theirs. Indeed, the Welsh National Anthem rings true for Israel too! So, what happened? Why do Hamas supporters enter a supermarket and dig holes in all the Israeli avocados? Why do the spray paint kosher products? How can the generation that donated in the street for Israel during the 6 Day War turn so abruptly? I don’t have the answers except for the usual one that I outlined above – young people are unthinking sheep led by an evil shepherd, unaware of their own history.  

One of the saddest results of this, indeed, any war, is the vast number of seriously injured young people, our soldiers of the IDF. Many amputees and back injuries that require months, even years, of rehabilitation. The incredibly good news is that the Gandel Rehabilitation Centre in Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus opened its doors early and is serving young soldiers with the very latest equipment and physiotherapy. It is good people like the Gandels (who I am proud to call close friends) that are saving these youngsters from the wheelchair.

Talking of young people, wheelchairs and disabilities, Rachel and I had the honour of taking the Selig Family to Shalva this week. Justin was/ is and always will be my song Daniel’s best friend. They met as two nerds who loved playing with make believe Lightsabers in break times in Carmel College, when they were both 10 years old and remained inseparable even when they travelled the world. Today Justin is married to the fabulous Daniella with four terrific children, regular visitors to Israel. For Justin visiting Dr Dan’s Room was difficult, and walking into the studio, passing the dedication even harder, but he came, he loved the room and the entire family was blown away by the enormity of Shalva and the sheer joy in every corner.

Talking of Shalva, my grandson Yosef decided to volunteer, just one day a week, teaching Shalva youngsters to swim. One day a week turned into becoming part of the Shalva family and he goes there as often as his schedule allows, helping others, making friends with all the other young volunteers. In fact, when Yoav Engel, who runs sports in Shalva returned from a trip to Miami everyone was talking about this new recruit! Yoav is worried that the other departments will poach his new protégé! I am so proud of Yosef and his innate kindness and determination to do something important with his life.

Lag b’Omer, the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, the predecessor of Lent, passed without any major incidents, despite the attempts by some Haredi groups to go up to Mount Meron despite the police closing the site. Of course, it was a low key celebration but celebrate we did, with bonfires and parties. Lag b’Omer celebrates the end of the plague which killed many of Rabbi Akiva’s students and many also celebrate Bar Kochba’s ill-fated rebellion. As with everything in this region, it’s complicated!

So many weird things are happening but Zvi just told me of one that stretched even my imagination. Someone in Andorra published a poster saying “From Andorra to the sea Catalunya must be free”, put that together with the new cartoon book being read to children in a Johannesburg Mall , entitled “From the River to the Sea” an explanation of Palestine. On the other hand, drones flew over the Brandenburg Gate carrying photographs of the hostages. If you have tiktok (X)

Since we last spoke, I had a wonderful time with Susan Wagner who introduced me to her sister Linda who is equally delightful! They were staying in the King David, you can’t beat the King David for sheer class, and I was so thrilled that they found time in their ridiculous schedule to meet me. Susan is a very active member of our Impact-se Board and has become a dear friend.

On Shabbat we had friends over for lunch, a lunch that deserves a paragraph of its own! Among our guests, wonderful friends, were Professor Shimon Sheetrit who is an expert on international law and Arabic law and Professor Eugene Kandel, master economist, former advisor to the government and lovely man. The rest of us were not just bystanders, we all waged in, asking, arguing, fascinated by their ability to put things into perspective. Eugene has written an article in Haaretz on how to save Israel’s economy including the changes that must be made. Unfortunately it is a readers only article so I can’t share it with you. Lunch was really fun despite the subjects discussed. Each and every one of the guests loved our view and my “garden” veranda which was in full bloom.

The very next day we had honoured guests, Lloyd and Sherri Levin. Lloyd was Zvi’s mentor when Zvi was given the task of creating Keren Hayesod Young Leadership in the model of the UJA Young Leadership. That evening Lloyd and Sherri came with us to Tel Aviv where they entertained their Israeli friends in a Tripoli restaurant, many of their guests were former emissaries to Milwaukee.

The rest of the week was filled with Zvi’s rehearsals, my courses, a visit to the theatre and meeting a new friend, originally from Johannesburg, a lady who will definitely become a good friend.  Today we will go up to the cemetery and say the prayers for Zvi’s parents, Kalman and Alla. Incredibly it is 20 years since the very special Kalman passed away.

So much more to write about but I think that you will start to complain so let’s go straight to music! Next week I’ll give you a full report of the happenings of Impact-se and the fact that we have changed the schoolbooks of Saudi Arabia.

Idan Amedi is a famous Israeli singer/songwriter, he could have refused to go to Miluim, but on October 8th he rushed to put on his uniform to join his plugah to fight for his beloved country. Idan was very seriously injured but quietly fought his way back.

The next song is a complete departure from my usual music, I’m not usually into Rap, but listen carefully, it’s clever! “From the River to the Sea”

Am Yisrael Chai – The people of Israel Live – Eyal Golan sings our prayer. We will survive, we will thrive, we always do!

It is irrelevant which direction you pray as long as you pray for peace, for unity, for a togetherness that the majority of this confused world’s population dreams of. It is irrelevant if you are Sikh, Buddhist, Hindi, Makoya, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Jewish – whether Haredi, Orthodox, Conservative, Masorti, Reform or Reconstructionist or traditional agnostic, all we want is to create a better world for our children and grandchildren. Don’t give up hope, keep fighting for what you know is right and teach your children everything they need to know about who they are and the world will ultimately right itself.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom, wherever you may be. With much love from Jerusalem, beautiful, spiritual Jerusalem. Come and visit, Israel loves you!