4th February 2022
Shabbat Shalom! I know I should have written on the 2-2-22 then it would have been fascinating, in fact even better at 22:22 on 2-2-22 but then I couldn’t have wished you Shabbat Shalom!!
An acquaintance of Charles Dickens wrote “Charles Dickens, the large-hearted, whose works plead so eloquently and so nobly for the oppressed of his country… has encouraged a vile prejudice against the despised Hebrew,” she wrote. “Fagin, I fear, admits only of one interpretation but while Charles Dickens lives, the author can justify himself or atone for a great wrong.” But did he, was Fagin so abominable? Was not Dickens a recorder, a diarist, a journalist of his times? When played by a Jew, as the wonderful Ron Moody (who described himself as 100% Jew – totally Kosher) did so beautifully, bringing out the sympathetic Fagin, almost lovable. One, as always, must look at issues through the eyeglass of the times not by the standards of today.
Amnesty International was created to end hate, imprisonment of dissenters and promote tolerance. Yeah right! Like so many “charities” that grew from altruistic beginnings, Amnesty International has become one of the premier inciters to hatred, liars and cheats, playing on the good nature of their donors to promote anti-Semitism in the guise of Anti-Israel. Their statement this week should be taken to the international court, a clear case of misappropriation of funds to the purpose of calumnious accusations.
Yosef Haddad is an Arab Israeli and had this to say in response.
How dare you claim that I, an Arab-Israeli who served along with Jewish soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces and managed hundreds of Jewish employees, live under an apartheid regime?
How can anyone say our society is living under an apartheid regime when among us you will find doctors, judges and even lawmakers? How can you say Samer Haj-Yehia lives in an apartheid regime when he is the head of the biggest bank in Israel? Amnesty International has already broken the record for hypocrisy, but to compare Israel to an apartheid regime is not only a distorted lie but an insult to all those South Africans who actually lived through apartheid. It is contempt for and cynical exploitation of the concept.
The above preamble brings us to the question of Whoopi Goldberg. Of course she forgot to think before opening her mouth but was what she said so very terrible? Were her words deserving of the public outcry? My knee jerk reaction was “sack her” but then I began to think. Today one tends to think and speak within the bounds of experience, of self, and to her Jews are white, not black, brown or any colour whatsoever, kind of pink, Eastern Europeans with dark hair who Hitler hated, not a nation, not a race – Jews. She, like so many, spoke from ignorance that Jews come in every colour, including Jews expelled from thousands of years of living in Arab lands, many taking on the appearance and traditions of that country, the host country because despite the wide world wide dispersion, we always thought of the Holy Land, the Land of Israel, as home. Perhaps she should have listened to historian Lyn Julius explaining the history of Jews from Arab lands. My lovely friend Ruti Tamir reminded me. “The Untold Exodus of Jews from Arab Lands” https://youtu.be/1COVgAM1bRY
Defence Minister Benny Gantz went to Bahrain this week and met with the top Military echelon and the ruling Royalty. Just think about it! The son of a Holocaust Survivor, born in Israel, a former Chief of Staff of the IDF flew to Bahrain for discussions and friendly talks and the signing of a new military deal. If that isn’t a miracle then I don’t know what is.
The Abraham Accords has created opportunities that we never believed possible. As Israel gains new friends in the MENA region every day, and those countries approach Impact-se (www.impact-se.org) one after the other to improve their schoolbooks so that their children will learn to accept the “other”. For some reason, thanks to our former allies in Europe and to an extent in the USA, Jews are once again demonized. Sorry, I should just celebrate what we have instead of mourning what we had but clearly the people and governments in the West are too naïve and accept the repeated lies and disinformation of the media. The new vision in MENA is a far greater message to Iran than any drawings of bombs in the UN.
More good news! President Isaac Herzog visited the Emirates this week. As a result of their exceptionally friendly talks Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed decided to unfreeze the $10 billion investment fund, investing in Israeli companies over the next 10 years – some $200 million in 2022.
Next, some beautiful news to make up for my opening rant. As I wrote a few weeks ago, Prince Charles commissioned a series of paintings of Holocaust Survivors for an exhibition in the Queen’s Gallery of Buckingham Palace. The Exhibition opened for International Holocaust Day and Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall greeted the Survivors and their painters and a select group of invitees. The exhibition will be open to the public. https://www.rct.uk/collection/themes/exhibitions/seven-portraits-surviving-the-holocaust/the-queens-gallery-buckingham
I love watching travelogues of places far and wide, and admit that I am obsessed with Joanna Lumley’s “Nile” and “Northern Lights” but this week just happened to see a travelogue about Siciliy, especially Palermo, the Capital city. Yes I know we all think about the Mafia but Palermo’s history is so similar to Jerusalem’s in the number and origin of occupying powers and the turn around of Churches becoming Mosques and Synagogues becoming Churches then Synagogues becoming Mosques then Churches again, all dependent upon who occupied Palermo! Curious, I checked out the size of Sicily. It is bigger than the whole of Israel in square metres!
We seem to be busy even when we are not officially so! Several events were cancelled due to Omicron, in one case even a Zoom meeting because one of the attendees was too ill to participate! Omicron has saddened both Zvi and I because we were meant to be in Miami this week for a truly special wedding of a very special girl who we have watched grow up from a quiet, gentle young child to become a confident, gentle, outgoing wonderful young woman. Noting would have thrilled us more than to see Ariella walk up the aisle and stand under the chuppah with her Daniel, joined by our special friends Martin and Helene but it wasn’t to happen. Big sigh, but hopefully we will get to be with them soon. We were also meant to meet Nancy and Harry Bloomfield in our favourite restaurant Naya, in Kiriat Anavim, but they had Covid…….hopefully next week since they are not allowed back home to Canada as planned until well after having Covid. I managed to get to the beach in Herzliya however…..just to walk along the beach, get some ozone into my lungs and have a breakfast with some friends in Yankeleh….which was delicious by the way.
Tonight we will dine alone, unless I decide to invite a neighbour or two!! That’s what we did last week, when Yael and Naftali came for lunch. Almost everyone in our building of just 6 apartments has already had Covid so we feel fairly confident about their coming into our home.
Each day, without fail, I walk my two and a half kilometres, which may not sound much to most of you but for me that’s quite an achievement! My favourite walk is right here in our park, walking the zig-zag paths through the playgrounds and trees and when Zvi is with me we go outside and down the Seven Sisters to the village of Motza Illit, where the original residents of the village still live in their wonderful bungalows then back around into our park again. Zvi enjoys the gym and pool but I love the fresh air. Last Shabbat we went for a long walk, or should I say we intended going for a long walk, toward the dam of Beit Zayit (means house of olives) and the beautiful reservoir but I admit that after nearly losing my shoes in the sticky mud after the rain and snow and the number of people who had gone before us and had the proof of their efforts on their very muddy bottoms, we decided to turn back and walk elsewhere. At that moment a very familiar couple came into view! Sharon and Ernst Voss, who lived in Jerusalem and who, sadly, we hadn’t seen for ages, were walking toward us! They too moved to the area and after inviting us to Kiddush and a cup of coffee (“You don’t have to stay for lunch, really” we arrived at their home to find Ernst and their daughter setting our places at the lunch table! It was delicious and we got to meet their future son-in-law and of course we stayed for lunch. One never argues with an Israeli woman set on serving you lunch!
I had planned to go to Shalva (www.shalva.org) and meet with the wonderful Rachel Feuerstein, a close friend of Daniel’s from his days in Carmel College, to show her Dr. Dan’s Room (www.give.shalva.org/daniel ) and the amazing progress the team have made but then poor thing, she got Omicron! In fact next week would be much better because huge progress has been made on the Music, Drama and Dance Studio with fabulous décor on the walls of each section. Next week Rachel OK?
I’m about to make my first ever sourdough Challot! My childhood friend Averil Wien makes sourdough bread all the time and it looks amazing – I swear the aroma reaches the 100 kilometres from her house to mine!! Averil gave me a starter which is currently in the fridge and then I will think about what to make for supper, for Shabbat Dinner. How about veggie soup, roast chicken and roast potatoes with baked cauliflower and a bread and butter brioche pudding for dessert? Sounds lovely and warming, real comfort food, on what promises to be a very stormy, rainy Shabbat.
When it comes to the music chosen there was only one song that fitted this week’s missive. The exceptional, late, Ron Moody. “I’m Reviewing the Situation” https://youtu.be/96rC4X_KWl4
Zvi loves to sing. As I have written many times his Kiddush on a Friday night is spectacular, his bass-baritone voice filling the room. Zvi sings in three choirs. One is Hakol Yachassi, together with friends he has formed a small ensemble which sings Yiddish and traditional songs for the elderly and the third is Cantus, the choir of the Jerusalem Academy of Music. Here is their latest offering https://youtu.be/TRS0VR4iIwA “Dona Nobis Pacem“
Finally, Boaz Sharabi, one of the finest voices in Israel, sings the song that says it all. “Haleva’i” which means If Only https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwEatU285N8
I wish you a good Shabbes, a weekend of joy, laughter and good health. To whomsoever you turn in prayer may your prayers be of tolerance and peace, of acceptance of the rainbow of mankind and understanding that racists do not choose which group to hate, they just hate and Ms Goldberg’s statement as simply made out of ignorance not hate so instead of writing insults perhaps we are guilty, we are not pro-active in explaining who we are.
I’m going to sign off but at the bottom of this missive I wanted to put something my lovely friend Sheila Zucker (my friend Sheila) sent me from her son Nathan’s Facebook page to remind the ignorant of the true history of this region. It doesn’t discount peace with our neighbours, just gives facts.
With much love from our view, from Jerusalem.
Basic History for the uninformed:
* Before Israel, there was a British mandate, not a Palestinian state .
* Before the British Mandate, there was the Ottoman Empire, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Ottoman Empire, there was the Islamic state of the Mamluks of Egypt, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Islamic state of the Mamluks of Egypt, there was the Ayubid-Kurdish Empire, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Ayubid Empire, there was the Crusader Frankish and Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Kingdom of Jerusalem, there was the Umayyad and Fatimid empires, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Umayyad and Fatimid empires, there was the Byzantine empire, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Byzantine Empire, there were the Sassanid-Persian Empire, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Sassanid-Persian Empire, there was the Byzantine Empire again, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Byzantine Empire, there was the Roman Empire, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Roman Empire, there was the Jewish Hasmonean state, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Jewish Hasmonean state, there was the Hellenistic Seleucid empire, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Hellenistic Seleucid empire, there was the empire of Alexander the Great, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the empire of Alexander the Great, there was the Persian empire, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Persian Empire, there was the Babylonian Empire, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Babylonian Empire, there were the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, there was the Kingdom of Israel, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the kingdom of Israel, there was the theocracy of the twelve tribes of Israel, not a Palestinian state.
* Before the theocracy of the twelve tribes of Israel, there was an agglomeration of independent Canaanite city-kingdoms, not a Palestinian state.
Actually, on the small piece of earth known as the Holy Land, there has been everything, EXCEPT A PALESTINIAN STATE.