The view from my veranda

Iran, Gantz, Visitors and Museums

25th October 2019


Shabbat Shalom everyone, I hope you are well.


I assume you have all read or heard the news that seems to have centred around the Kurds this week, despite the fact that the cruel civil war in Syria is 8 years old and half a million have died, or more accurately been slaughtered by their leader. Yes I know I have said it all before, but it simply proves that the media chooses who it’s sorry for and apparently they don’t care about Syrians and bewailing the fate of the Kurds fulfills their need to berate the American President, despite the fact that all of the above occurred during the administration of another President. Ah how fickle we are. Napoleon Bonaparte once wrote “To write history one must be more than a man, since the author who holds the pen of this great justiciary must be free from all preoccupation of interest or vanity.”


Incidentally, Kurdish children, injured in the fighting, are being treated in Israeli hospitals but nobody would bother writing about that either


President Trump surprised me! He appears to be one of the only foreign leaders who understands the Middle East! When he announced the brokered Turkey cease-fire, he said “the definition of the word “permanent” could be somewhat questionable “in that part of the world


Iran’s master plan is a 1,200 kilometre contiguous line of control from the Gulf to the Mediterranean. Christian Lebanon is already lost to Iranian controlled Hezb-Allah, Iraq and Syria has almost gone, and in the meantime they talk about the great enemy, Israel. They have accurate missiles and drones and sit in wait ready to pounce at will but the West has yet again been distracted from the facts and only worry about the Kurds. Iran already took over Iraq and Syria and the only thing that is holding the Iranians back from attacking us from Lebanon is the Hezb-Allah leader Nasrallah doesn’t want war – he remembers all too well that the last war with Israel culminated in his living in a bunker for 10 years.


Chief of Staff Kochavi described “Amplitude” – the intricate plan to defend Israel and the need for long term funding to prepare for what he deems an inevitable attack on Israel by Iran. We can beat them but we need the means.



Who’s the bigger man? President Rivlin presented Blue and White with the mandate to form a government after Netanyahu failed to do so.  Benny Gantz, despite the level of name calling by Bibi Netanyahu, has suggested burying the hatchet and joining forces to form a centrist coalition, hoping to prevent a third round of elections, which will again cost billions of shekels. Perhaps Netanyahu will retract his accusations that Blue and White have acquiesced to the demands of the Arab parties despite the fact that he made the identical offer to select members of the Arab Parties a short while ago!  Ayelet Shaked has also expressed a wish to join the coalition


The country was shaken when young zealots from the settlement of Yizhar attacked an IDF vehicle injuring a soldier. Their behaviour disgusts me and I can only hope they will be dealt with very firmly by the legal process. Yesterday the IDf was ordered to dismantle an illegal hilltop settlement next to Yizhar


Concert-goers were sad when Maestro Zubin Mehta conducted his final Israeli concert. Zubin Mehta, the man who when he heard of the Gulf War scud attacks on Israel immediately came and held a concert in the Mann Auditorium, waiting only to allow his audience to put on their gas masks. A fine man, a loyal friend and a brilliant musician Zubin Mehta proved that one can be famous and a mensch.


Sir Richard Branson, has done an absolute about-turn from his previously anti-Israel stance and arrived in Israel yesterday speaking of his admiration for Israeli innovation and a desire to learn about space technology. His plane landed and he knelt down to kiss the tarmac! He’s back on my admiration list!!!


I am so proud to be an Israeli for more reasons I can count – and here is just one of them.

In only 71 years, Israel has provided humanitarian aid to over 150 countries. You will never hear about this in the news. Albania * Angola * Argentina * Armenia * Azerbaijan * Belarus * Benin * Bolivia * Bosnia & Herzogovina * Bourkina-Fasso * Brazil * Bulgaria * Gurundi * Cambodia * Cameroon * Chad * Chile * China * Columbia * Congo * Costa Rica * Cote d’Ivoire * Cyprus * Czech Republic * Democratic Republic of Congo * Deominican Republic * Ecuador* Egypt * El Salvador * Eritrea * Estonia * Ethiopia * Fiji * Gambia * Georgia * Ghana * Greece * Guatemala * Guinea * Guinea-Bissau * Guyana * Haiti * Honduras * Hungary * India * Indonesia * Jamaica * Jordan * Kazakhstan * Kenya * Kyrgystan * Laos * Latvia * Leshotho * Liberia * Lithuania * Macedonia * Madagascar * Malawi * Malta * Mauritania * Mauritius * Mexico * Micronesia * Moldova * Mongolia * Morocco * Myanmar * Namibia * Nepal * Nicaragua * Nigeria * Palestinian Authority * Panama * Papua New Guinea * Paraguay * Peru * Philippines * Poland * Romania * Russia * Rwanda * Senegal * Seychelles Islands * Singapore * Slovakia * Somalia * South Africa * South Korea * Sri Lanka *Swaziland * Tajikistan * Tanzania * Thailand * Togo * Tonga * Tunisia * Turkey * Turkmenistan * Uganda * Ukraine * United States * Uruguay * Uzbekistan * Venezuela * Vietnam * Yugosloslavia * Zaire * Zambia * Zimbabwe


Columbia University had over 100 anti-Semitic incidents this year. This horrifying statement is not exceptional either.  Many friends from the USA bewail the increased anti-Semitism in Europe and what they describe as Londonistan yet the rise in overt acts of anti-Semitism on US campuses has become a plague. While searching for a different set of statistics I came across this disturbing article entitled  “The 40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students”. In most other countries the racism is at a grass roots level but in the USA it is far more prominent at college level, and in the colleges who produce leaders. Ergo, in 20 years the leaders of the USA will be anti-Semitic. It is not a new phenomenon as many Democrats claim, that it is new and blame Donald Trump. The script has been carefully written, scene by scene, over the last 20 years, predominantly by the “Nation of Islam” on campus, who demonise Israel to impressionable students who know no better.


The Temple Mount Sifting Project run by Professor Gabby Barkay (yes you’ve seen his name once or twice in my missives!) has moved to a new site amid great publicity and ceremony but behind the scenes they have problems. Prime Minister Netanyahu personally promised them 4 million shekels in funding which has not materialized nor taken seriously by culture minister Miri Regev, yet another broken promise. Research and their work in the laboratory to clean, date and register the thousands of artifacts found in the earth removed by the WAQF is slowed down by lack of funding but Gabby and his colleague Zachi Dvira plough on


Succot has been and gone, Simchat Torah with its joyous dancing with the Sefrei Torah (Scrolls of the Torah) as we begin from the very beginning again, back to Genesis and the Garden of Eden. Bereshit. The tabernacles or succot have been dismantled and the weather has changed dramatically as the evenings cool and the autumnal aromas of ripening fruit fill the air. It wouldn’t be appropriate to use the American term “Fall” for this season since we don’t have the glorious colours of Massachusetts, the Ardennes or the British countryside but rather a slowing down from the searing heat to a gentler season.

There is an Israeli expression for a flow of visitors, “Mitah Chama” or hot bed. Basically it means that one changes the sheets quickly, launders and returns before the next visitors arrive. Merle and Frank left to go back to Raanana before heading home to South Africa, I can’t wait for them to come back! Billy and Ruth Shapiro, Zvi’s Mexican cousins, arrived only to be whisked off to Tel Aviv for Simchat Torah with Zvi’s boys and their families. Of course I took half of the meal with me but that’s the way things go here. David Efron joined us at a friend’s home for supper. Ruth and I met Rachel for breakfast one day and they had great fun catching up.


Zvi did a sterling job of finding new museums and exhibits for Billy and Ruth who have been so many times that they fancied seeing new things. The Friends of Zion Museum, The Hebrew Music Museum, the Hallelujah show at the City of David among the many new attractions here in the City. A wonderful new museum is the Memorial at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery, deeply impressive architecture.


Our dear friend Dr. Kim Taylor arrived to give us a full house. It is rare that we get Kim for a week, he always comes for the Jewish Agency meetings and after travelling for 27 hours to get here, he goes home after 3 days. This time we actually had time with him! Last evening Zvi, Kim and I met David Efron and Yair Green at the Efron Dance Centre here in Jerusalem, home of the Hora Dance Centre, where dancers of all ages learn Israeli dance.  The children of the Hora Dance Troupe (the 11-13 year olds) put on a joyous performance for us. Yair danced through the years from childhood until very recently with the Hora Dance Troupe and serves as Chairman of the Board. As both Zvi and Yair said, these children learn discipline, team work, and joy through dance and they showed it in their every step, including the performance they gave for President Rivlin.


And so to Shabbat. My brain is totally addled by the festivals and general comings and goings. Since everything closes for the festivals in Israel, well not in Tel Aviv which carries on as if it were an ordinary day, one forgets which day of the week it is!!


I haven’t even started to think of supper! Perhaps gefilte fish for hors d’oeuvres with fiery horseradish sauce, courgette salad, roasted aubergine with lemony herb tehina, my now famous orange soup, and then……. and then… you think I should go for a heimische (traditional Ashkenaz) dish, or treat them to a Mizrachi (Eastern) dish; should I do fish, chicken or meat? They will love Rachel’s beef recipe “take a piece of brisket, lay it on a bed of onions, add salt, pepper and garlic and simmer for about 3 hours. Cool the meat, if possible overnight in the fridge, and then slice paper thin and return to the pot and simmer for another 2 hours” It is the most scrumptious dish imaginable and if the heat is low enough it produces its own delicious gravy! Yes, definitely meat and I’ll cook some spring chicken, roast veggies, roasted cauliflower and broccoli with a turmeric and paprika topping, chopped salad and apple crumble for dessert. Now that’s decided I can think about music.


Koolulam. I love the motive behind the inspiration and here it is explained. Phenomenal. “We don’t have to be friends, I just want to know you” “We can make this harmony together and when you understand this we can change society. Harmony is a healing power”. “When we sing together we change our world”


Famous Israeli singers of many generations got together to sing “A Tribe of Brothers and Sisters”. Here with English subtitles


I am a lateral thinker so when I wrote about Bereshit, or Genesis I immediately thought of the group Genesis for the music and sadly this song is the story of our times “Tell Me Why” by Phil Collins and Genesis


So that’s it! I’m off to make breakfast for everyone, each to their taste, then I will go to see Rachie and the children not forgetting that incredible panorama of Jerusalem from Samuel’s Tomb. Incidentally a place of worship for both Jews and Moslems, nobody knows if it is the tomb of Samuel One or Samuel Two!!!


Next week will be full of the Jewish Agency, World Zionist Council and Keren Hayesod meetings – hopefully they will be coordinated so that everyone gets to go to their relevant meetings. At least it is a chance to meet wonderful old friends!!


Shabbat Shalom everyone, Shabbat Shalom. May your lives be filled with harmony and joyous thoughts – it changes who you are.


With love from Jerusalem and the View from Our Verandah.