9th June, 2023
Yesterday the temperature went up into the mid-30’s Celsius and the forecast said that today would be hotter but with occasional showers. Are they serious? It began at about 05:15 this morning with several huge claps of thunder, actually not thunder claps, more like a 3,000 audience applause! Thunder of the rolling kind, followed by torrential rain and high winds. I ran around the apartment closing windows and mopping up wet patches where the rain had changed course to horizontal! In truth, we needed it after last weeks Sahara visit, it washed away that sandy deposit, but admittedly it came as a surprise. Storms in June are not that frequent but then if I had to choose between stormy weather or stormy politics, I’ll take the rain any day.
Last Sunday the unimaginable happened. The border with Egypt is considered a safe place to serve in the IDF, but last Sunday it became a living hell. Sgt. Lia Ben Nun, 19, Staff Sgt. Ori Yitzhak Iluz, 20 were on guard duty watching for drug traffikers, when an Egyptian policeman crossed the emergency border and shot them to death. He was chased and the situation ended in a gun battle with the perpetrator, and Staff Sgt. Ohad Dahan, 20 died in the crossfire. Such a tragedy. Apparently the Egyptian policeman had become inculcated with hatred at his mosque and acted on his own volition. May their young souls rest in peace and their families know no more sadness.
The lack of experience in international affairs of the new Israeli government, despite the wide experience of Netanyahu, has engendered a reprimand from both President Biden and the White House. Call it criticism, lapsus linguae, indiscretions but nonetheless lack of respect for the USA. Foreign Minister Eli Cohen openly criticised Vice President Kamala Harris when she said that Israel must maintain an independent judiciary, he suggested that she hadn’t even read the material and Advisor to Netanyahu on Foreign Affairs Gilad Zwick said that President Biden was unfit for office. A major diplomatic gaffe that could well affect our relationship with a deeply pro-Israel President
The Israel Day Parade took place in New York City on Sunday, mostly without incident. The attempt to disrupt the proceedings by a number of people who are against this government’s policies did not succeed in spoiling the day. I am still unsure as to whether people who live outside Israel should express their legitimate anti-Netanyahu feelings by playing into the hands of our detractors; with huge placards and, even though I am utterly against MK Rothman’s snatching of the megaphone, I am not sure what my reaction would have been if I was constantly harassed by someone shouting insults in my ear with a megaphone. I am ambivalent as to the value of the anti-Israeli government actions by those who do not live here. I know that I am raising a hot potato subject but, I worry.
One of my major concerns is anti-Semitism on campus, particularly in the USA. I was horrified to read that Harvard, seat of higher learning, is the number one campus on the anti-Semitism (aka anti-Israel) list. Then, thanks to Brenda Katten’s article in today’s Jerusalem Post magazine, I learned that during World War 2 Harvard and Yale both invited Nazi sympathisers to speak! If you look at the list of large donors to those esteemed institutions of learning you will see that Jews are high on the list. So what went wrong? I ask myself whether the new generation of Jews understands what the world was like before Israel existed? Do they realise that their new found confidence stems from the recreation of this little country? Are they aware of their own country’s racist past? I venture to guess not. I mention the USA but it could be almost anywhere, sadly the disease of anti-Semitism among the young is highly contagious.
If you think that the Children of Israel’s infighting began with the recent demonstrations, think again! This week’s Torah portion with the difficult name of Bahalatecha or your ascent, tells us that Moses had plenty of problems but he decided that perhaps the wisest route was to collect 70 wise men (well the women didn’t have a say in those days) and ask their help in governing the people. The Children of Israel moaned that they didn’t like the manna from heaven, they wanted meat not bread; Moses father-in-law left the tribe because Moses didn’t take his advice and Miriam, she just moaned. No nothing new under heaven!
Sadly violent crime in the Arab sector is growing at an alarming rate. In the past the Israeli police tended to allow the village or town leaders to ensure order but it has reached horrific proportions, all most all criminal based, but the level of illegal guns in that sector has risen horrifically. Yesterday 5 innocents died in a gun battle. 98 Arab Israeli citizens have died in gun related crimes in the first six months of 2023. It has become a major issue that must be addressed.
We all know that there are lions in Africa, but the African Lion Joint Military co-operation is a very different animal. The military leaders of 18 countries, predominantly African, gathered to discuss interaction and co-operation. For the first time ever Israel and the IDF were invited to take part in the meetings in Morocco. Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana visited the Moroccan parliament and 12 members of the Golani Brigade joined the African Lion exercises. https://www.africom.mil/article/35209/african-lion-23-begins
This week Israelis were glued to their televisions watching the Israel Under 20’s football team beat Brazil. The entire country was ecstatic! Reality set in yesterday as Uruguay beat our brilliant young team in the quarter final. It is worth noting, however, who scored the three winning goals against Brazil. Adnan Khalaili an Israeli Arab, Hamza Shibli an Israeli Bedouin and Dor Turgeman an Israeli Jew.
Robbie Williams wowed everyone in his packed concert in Israel and then came Guns and Roses whose concert brought 60,000 delighted fans to Hayarkon Park. Bands and major singers are coming to see us, regularly expressing their love of Israel. They all describe this as the friendliest and most welcoming country on their tours.
Last weekend was delightful and I didn’t need to cook at all! Shabbat dinner was with our cousins Rachel and Yossi Ribak. Ribak was Zvi’s family name until, under the direction of David Ben Gurion, all emissaries and teachers who went to other countries for the Israeli government had to Hebraicise their names hence Zvi is now Zvi Raviv. The next day we were with Nurit and Danny Baram for brunch where we were delighted to meet up with old friends and relax. From there we went to see Rina and Yechiel HalOr, who we hadn’t seen for far too long!
Zvi is on the Boards of two Jerusalem institutions (among all the others) and on Wednesday evening we were invited to the final student performances of graduates from the Jerusalem Music Academy in the Hebrew University on Givat Ram. Amazing young musicians, singers of opera and popular music, a group whose singer sang Arab traditional music and a choir that raised the roof. From there we raced to the Jerusalem Theatre for a performance by the various age groups of Hora Yerushalayim. Before the performance we met with and chatted to Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion. He knows that we didn’t vote for him but he is doing a good job. After he gave a delightful introduction the performance began. I was astonished by the sheer professionalism of dancers whose ages ranged from 6 to 60. All amateurs who have attended rehearsals after school and work for months on end. They are based in the Efron Dance Centre in Jerusalem, donated by our friend David Efron.
Yesterday saw a huge and festive Gay Parade in Tel Aviv. Luckily the only disturbances were the traffic jams, and a great time was had by all culminating in a party in the Park. In Israel the Gay parade is not only for the Gay community but for everyone.
Yesterday I met my lovely friend Ronit Dagan for a quick coffee in our local shopping mall then came home to cook.
Tonight our wonderful friends Anita and Robert Simons, from Sydney, Australia, are coming to dinner. They will be joined by Arik and Ora Shiffer and Merle and Frank Friedman. Amazingly nobody has allergies, no vegetarians or vegans and I have a free hand in my choice of food. I decided that we will start with salads, chopped liver and egg salad, then move on to Rachel’s delicious beef, Sticky chicken, veggies and potato kugel ending with Eddie’s plum flan and home made parev ice-cream. I think that they will enjoy! I had planned to eat outside on the veranda, but despite the now clear blue skies I don’t trust the weather! Tomorrow, weather permitting, our estate has a “Coffee in the Square” for all the 240 families who share this heaven on earth. I love it, a chance to turn unfamiliar faces into friends.
What music fits this strange week? Do you prefer the English language songs or the Israeli songs?
There is no question that we are a people who love to argue, to criticise but when it comes down to it, we are one tribe, one people. https://youtu.be/oBLAlJ5s1Aw
Hannan Ben Ari is an Israeli singer and songwriter. His songs are wonderfully melodic. Here famous Cantors, religious Jews, sing his songs. Sorry there isn’t aren’t translations but you can be delighted and surprised as I. https://youtu.be/MO2rgwQBFR8
Here Hannan Ben Ari dedicates this song “ Aluf ha Olam” or “World Champion” to the One Family organisation https://onefamilytogether.org/ which was started by Chantal and Marc Belzberg during the Intifada to guide, help, strengthen those who experienced loss and trauma during those ghastly times. Their strength has grown and their work is phenomenal https://youtu.be/2jATxza1i_0
I wish you a good weekend, a Shabbat Shalom. Hopefully, just as this morning began with storm clouds, thunder and torrential rain yet now the skies are blue, the sun is shining, so it will be for you and for us.
With love from Jerusalem, the City that is above politics, above religious fighting. The city which enjoys 52 Christian denominations, 8 Moslem denominations and nearly a million Jewish denominations! I believe that what is happening now in Israel is the ultimate expression of democracy, of every man and woman’s right to pray as they choose, to live a life that is within the law but as they choose to live it – a democracy.
Shabbat Shalom everyone!
PS I loved your messages telling me about your week. Keep it going!