The view from my veranda

Heroines and heroes one and all

Friday 24th of May 2024

16th Iyar

Shabbat Shalom. Hardly a Shabbat of sweetness and calm for those of us who saw the short and terrifying video of the capture of the young Israeli women and the savagery of Hamas toward them.

I forced myself to watch, but behind my horror at what I saw and the obvious intent of the Hamas terrorists, two thoughts rose in my mind. One was of the bravery of those young women who tried to connect with their captors, even with blood streaming down their faces and the other, the desperation of their parents who chose to release the video. For those who did not see it, four young women, hands tied behind them, in their pyjamas, one lying unconscious in front of them, still verbally fighting for their lives. These are not just ordinary citizens, these are the young women, the IDF scouts, who for months reported unusual activity on the Gaza border but nobody was listening.  

Naama Levy, soldier and peace activist, her face bloody after a clear beating, told them “I have friends in Gaza” but it did not help. The worst part is that the spoken intention of the Hamas terrorists, their captors, was to rape them and when we finally get to them, if they are alive, they will almost certainly be pregnant. They were captured while serving this country and we have to leave no stone unturned, no tunnel open until they come home.

This is the video of their capture. Even though the parents took out the worst moments, it is horrific.

Captured Hamas terrorists are spilling the beans without any need for torture! In their interrogation concerning their part in the October 7th massacre, two captured Hamas terrorists, a father and son, told of how they raped women before killing them. Indeed, in the notes found in the pockets of all captured and dead terrorists, one of the directives was to rape and kill.

It is almost ludicrous, no, it is ludicrous to go from the savagery of Hamas to the case brought by the oppressive regime of South Africa to the ICC. I didn’t understand the difference between the ICC and the ICJ so I looked it up. The ICJ can investigate and come to judgement against a country whereas the ICC judges individuals according to the Rome Statute. If the decision taken by the judges is that the individuals named have committed crimes according to said Statute then it goes to the United Nations and we all know what that means. As you know, I am no devotee of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government, but to class him alongside Sinwar and Haniya in this South African case is a perversion of the law, a clear act of legal, unashamed bias in a forum intended to bring justice. This is a prize for Sinwar and Haniya but a diabolical slander of Israel and the entire Jewish people. Lord Grabiner KC, Baroness Deech KC, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar KC, Lord Pannick KC and Lord Banner KC wrote an exceptional letter in the London Times echoing PM Sunak’s dismay at the suggestion of moral equivalence.

This BBC explanation of the ICJ interim decision is excellent.

I believe that there should be a Palestinian State. I suppose that my number one reason is that they would them be responsible under the Geneva Convention, but quite frankly, if they have a State then the millions of inherited refugees would no longer be refugees, they would legally have a homeland and so UNWRA would no longer have a role and  – oh so many reasons! Those who oppose the 2 state solution have come to that decision looking only at the many negatives, and the fact that Israel may need to accept unwelcome aspects of any deal, as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recognised when he offered Abbas 97% of the Palestinian demands, they will not accept anything less than the annihilation of Israel. They would lose vast funding, have to be transparent in their finances, learn to be self-sufficient and so many other aspects to independence that they find abhorrent!

As to the timing of the declarations of Spain, Ireland and Norway, I feel that it is timing, their timing suggests a reward for October 7th.

I’m sure that you have questioned the reaction of so many allies to our fighting in Rafiach – Rafah. Well, think about it. Most of the tunnels from Gaza into Egypt run through Rafah. It is the route to bring arms and explosives to Hamas, but Egypt is an ally of the West and nobody wants to embarrass them!!

Not everything is dark and many people are bravely fighting back, pushing back against the slander of the pro-Hamas ignorance.

Michael Ziff is a quiet man, but he isn’t willing to stand by as an alumnus and former Board Member of Leeds University, to allow their negligence in the face of pro-Hamas demonstrations. It can be classed as negligence or the refusal to take a stand; on the other hand, it can be seen as tacit approval of the “River to the Sea” demonstrations at the University. He honoured me with a copy of his letter and his response to the unsatisfactory reply of the University.

I met Michael, along with many wonderful people at the Maccabi World Union meetings. Just a mention for the Mexican contingent who refused to be frightened away by the ongoing war. In fact the Mexican contingent was possibly bigger than the USA! If I begin to name the fabulous friends I will be in trouble! Zvi has been involved in Maccabi World Union for about 70 years, indeed his father, the wonderful Kalman Raviv, was a contestant as far back as 1935 in Bialystok and was one of the organisers of the first Maccabi Games held in the newly formed State of Israel in 1948. The opening event was exceptional. Idan Reichel not only sang, but also introduced and spoke with some of the phenomenal heroes of October 7th, each more wonderful than the next, who spoke of their experiences and received an award of heroism. The evening, rather than yet another cocktail party, had deep meaning for the participants, their emotions ready for the next day’s visit to the Southern Border towns.

Iranian President Raisi died in a helicopter crash in bad weather conditions. However, the Arab press, and indeed an Israel/French journalist, took Israeli humour too seriously and when someone wrote that the helicopter pilot was an Israeli called Eli Kopter, and they took it seriously!! It has been the cause of great hilarity that the media is so gullible!

We had a visitor from Mexico this week. Silvia Jaet loves Israel, has known Zvi for many, many years and wanted to be here, not just to hear the news. She loved it! In just 3 days Zvi showed her just about everything, he really is the best. On the first day of Silvia’s visit Zvi took her to the IDF Memorial and Mount Herzl, the Herzl Museum and the Israel Museum, then I met them in Shalva, at the amazing restaurant and a visit to Dr Dan’s Room which was in full activity, the youngsters having a ball at what they said is their favourite activity! It made me so proud, I know that my Daniel z”l would have loved it.

The next day I joined them for an amazing visit to the new National Library, a masterpiece of architecture with every book relating to Israel ever published and books about all religions with specific large sections on Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  From one Architectural marvel to another, Israel’s Supreme Court. It is unlike any other, not only in its physical beauty, but in its accessibility to the wide public. The US Supreme Court sees about 80 cases a year,  the Israeli Supreme Court sees more than 20,000 cases a year!

From the Supreme Court we drove into the city straight to my favourite place in Israel, Mahane Yehuda Market – the Shouk. We were thrilled to see how packed it was, even though it wasn’t Friday! The usual cries of the costermongers touting their wares, the aromas that awaken even the most bored of taste buds, the fruit straight from the kibbutzim and farms and the vegetables of the highest quality – all local produce. Everything is seasonal so we never get bored by any imported fruit, it always changes. Knaffe cooked right in front of you on revolving gas cookers and individual pans; halva of every conceivable flavour including diabetic friendly flavours; all this along side trendy bars and great restaurants. Our first stop, as always, was to the Zidkiyahu brothers, Yaron and Boaz, whose family was among the earliest vendors in this famous market. I always thought that MahaneYehuda meant the Jewish Market or Camp but Zvi explained that in fact it got its name from the fact that the local growers used to come to an open field owned by, you got it, Yehuda, which became the farmers market and grew into the social and physical centre of Jerusalem. Loved it. I went home and Zvi and Silvia went on to the Kotel (Western Wall), an essential spiritual pilgrimage for anyone visiting Jerusalem.

Today I have a special treat, I will meet my dear friend Susan Wagner, fellow afficionado, Board Member and passionate proponent of the exceptional work of Impact-se . We will meet in the King David Hotel where Susan will leave the group so that we can have a quiet catch up time together. I love Susan, her honesty, kindness, quiet enthusiasm and determined work for Israel.

Tomorrow, Bill Izo brings our friend and mentor Roy Soloman, from Montreal, to sit on our veranda, until now he has always been too involved in Maccabi affairs but this time, with Bill’s help, he will come to us and to the Kotel. Roy is an exceptional man, a loving lover of Israel and a true friend to Zvi and later on to me too. Later in the day we have friends coming for lunch, taking advantage of the fact that the heatwave will ease so we can sit outside.

My choice of music this week makes me happy

Yehoram Gaon, the ultimate Jerusalemite, has been singing for many, many years, part of every Jewish event! Here he sings with our wonderful IDF, “Lo Tenatzchim Oti” They won’t beat us that fast! Surely the most appropriate song for the times.

Eden Golan sang Hurricane in the Eurovision Competition. After her return home she sang the original lyrics with the original title October Rain in Hostage Square. After a short speech in Hebrew for the assembled families of the hostages, she speaks in English. A truly wonderful young Israeli warrior of song.

Natanel Hershik has the voice of an angel. Here he sings the prayer for the safety of the IDF soldiers, together with the Maccabeats, the words of Benny Gantz and the sights and sounds of all Israelis, especially our children, our soldiers, our heroes of the IDF. I admit that my tears fell from start to finish.

I know that most of you think that we all sit in our safe rooms and tremble with fear but it isn’t our way, we are survivors, we fight back, we stand tall and despite the scandalous libel of the outside world, the hatred,  want you to understand that we are here, our arms always open when other doors close.

Shabbat Shalom. When you light candles tonight, being Jewish is not an essential factor in lighting candles to light the world, say an extra prayer, please. Pray for logic to enter the thoughts of both leaders and students, our future leaders. In a world gone mad where right is wrong and wrong is applauded we have to pray and become pro-active, to fearlessly preempt.

With much love from Jerusalem