The view from my veranda

The 86th of October

1st of January 2024

I want to wish everyone a wonderful New Year, a peaceful 2024, but I received a poster this morning which simply said

“I hardly noticed New Year’s Eve this year, for us in Israel it is October the 87th

Each year since 1999 I write about the year that was and the year I hope will be, and I knew exactly what to wish for us all, but last night, at the stroke of midnight, Hamas bombarded the entire lower half of Israel with a barrage of missiles, just to make sure that nobody enjoyed the New Year’s Eve parties and it confused me

Israel found out who her friends are since October 7th. President Biden has proven himself to be a true friend, a man who has put his political future on the line for what he believes in. British PM Rishi Sunak went as far as to bring in David Cameron as his Foreign Minister to ensure support for Israel. Perhaps the most surprising truthtellers of the year were both the New York Times and the London Telegraph who did not shrink from printing the truth of October 7th calling the lies of the deniers.

Here’s my list of wishes and prayers for 2024

My prayer, my greatest wish for this amazing country is that we will have leaders that are worthy of the citizens who have proven themselves time and again over the past 87 days, that despite political differences we have come together on every level. We deserve a government that not only represents us but a government that will heal the rift once this ghastly war is over.

I wish for the hostages to come home, all of them; that those who came home and those who will come home, will live healthy, productive lives, despite the time they spent in the hands of Hamas

I wish all of our soldiers could come home to their families very soon and heal from the horror of war.

I wish to see the “Salad Trail” kibbutzim and villages rebuilt and their families back in their rebuilt homes, honouring those who will never come back by living life to the full

I want to see an end to extremism in the world, be it left or right or that unholy coalition of Islam and the insurrectionist left. It is time to recognise the difference between truth and fiction. To paraphrase – No more lies, no more bloodshed

We must protect our children from the insinuation that Jews are guilty of all the ills of the world, an insinuation that permeates our institutes of supposed higher learning

Most of all, I want the tears of sadness to become tears of joy.

This morning my friend Ruth Tamir sent me a wonderful clip put together by a group I had never heard of before called QOTESOFIL and it really sums up the irony and even some comedy of the last year

Michael Ordman produces a “Good News From Israel” letter virtually every week. Not only full of information it is full of good news and although it may surprise you to know, even at this time Israel is full of good news! Our scientists are still working on new drugs and our hi-tech on new innovations. Here is his end of 2023 posting  

Now to my New Year resolutions! You will be able to tell me if I go astray!

  1. I pledge to be honest with you and with myself
  2. To begin each missive that I write with something positive
  3. To tell you about our walks in the nature reserve across the road
  4. To ask you to send my missives on to whomsoever you wish, but to keep them whole because each paragraph has its context in the whole
  5. To make those around me smile
  6. To always remember that words aren’t always necessary when someone is sad, a hug serves much better
  7. To sing! To dance! To laugh! To hug! To smile at everyone you meet even if you don’t know them – in fact especially if you don’t know them! To live life to the full
  8. To regret the things I do not the things I don’t do
  9. To always remember to say thank you and sorry
  10. Finally, and most importantly never to forget the power of one. We each and every one of us has the power to change the world. It may be by talking to someone, or writing a letter or best of all, meeting others who also possess the power of one. One plus one plus one plus one – we can change our world

The power of one can take many forms. 27 years ago Yohanan Manor, a Professor from the Hebrew University, began a campaign to change the way children are educated in many countries in our area – the bring tolerance and understanding through education. That dream not only became a reality but has evolved to become a driving force in changing attitudes in many Middle Eastern and North African countries. I just finished reading the annual report of Impact-se and I want you to know that I came away utterly amazed that so much positivity, so much can be achieved by one small organisation in such a short period of time. The countries around the world who use our reports as the standard by which they expect children should be taught, is wide and impressive. In fact, Impact-se has become the most positive aspect of the last few years and promises to be the greatest force for change in our world. We are not an oversized organisation that uses most of its funding for administration, we are just 5 brilliant young researchers, one COO and one CEO in a modest office, but we punch well above our weight. Just take a look, again

I wish the people of Gaza, who have suffered horribly for the sins of Hamas, will rebuild their lives and their homes, that the vast sums of international funding will be used to better their lives instead of building tunnels and buying armaments. Equally on this side of that breached border, Israelis will return to the rebuilt kibbutzim, moshavim and towns, to tend the cattle, hens and fields and all of us can sleep soundly in our beds. I pray that this war will end soon, we didn’t want it and we want our boys and girls home.

Finally, I wish us all, whichever direction we pray, the right to be who we are irrespective of our ethnicity. It all comes down to kindness and tolerance of those who are different to us.

The ultimate song, prayer of hope is “Ve Hi Sheamda”which tells of the many attempts to kill us but each time we stand back up again. This has no translation, but was recorded at a rally in Washington DC

One of my fondest memories of a Habonim outing to the wonderful forest surrounding Castell Coch near Cardiff when I was about 15 years old, was when one of the group took out a guitar and began to sing this song. Theo Christie is no longer with us, although two of his brothers will be reading this missive, but he taught us so much about the meaning of this song, Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer”  The hammer of justice, the bell of freedom and the song about love between my brothers and my sisters all over this world. We cannot let the Dementors win.

Nothing to do with war, peace or anything other than sweet memories of New Year’s Eve with the Young marrieds group in Reading Berkshire. Here is proud Scot Rod Stewart singing Auld Lang Syne

I wish you peace. Happy 2024