The view from my veranda

Kushner, Barak, Putin and Bahrain

28th of June, 2019


Erev Shabbat 25th Sivan 5779


Shabbat Shalom and lots of love from our home to yours


Aubrey Stone, aka Abba Eban, was a brilliant Israeli diplomat. Born in South Africa, educated in the finest British schools, he was a craftsman of the English language and a brilliant mind. He spoke some 10 languages all with a strong British accent! Abba Eban coined two phrases which sadly have encapsulated the Israel/Palestinian conflict right up until today.


“I think that this is the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.”

“The Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”


The above quotes bring us nicely to the most recent US fiscal “Peace to Prosperity” plan presented this week by Jared Kushner. I believe it is a good plan. It gives the Palestinians the means to build an economic base under a watchful eye (as opposed to the aid organisations) and also a helping hand to Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. It is fair and even-handed, which of course is one of the reasons the Palestinians have rejected it!!! Among the projects outlined are – Start-up matching, border facilities, a new power plant for Gaza, encouraging tourism, universities, improving hospitals and urban renewal. In other words, finally, the people will benefit and the corruption will be monitored. A genius solution. It is well thought out and changes the paradigm. Of course, the Palestinians not only rejected the plan but derided American efforts. Jared Kushner said “The President made it clear to the Palestinians that the US does not have to help them. They were also told that if they continue to criticize our policy – the aid would stop, and so it was,”


The Bahrain Conference has drawn much attention. Israel was “sort of” invited and her journalists allowed to attend. This gave an Israeli journalist, Barak Ravid an exceptional opportunity to interview the Bahraini Foreign Minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, an eloquent and highly educated gentleman, asking him his views on Israel and her neighbours. Most fascinating was the question of the Israeli Prime Minister visiting Bahrain on an official visit. The response “Hopefully in peace” I strongly recommend viewing this interview.


Bahrain, unlike almost all Arab countries, has a Jewish community, albeit just about 70 people. This week the synagogue came back to life when Jewish attendees of the Conference went to shule and made a minyan (quorum)!! I particularly liked this report.


Here in Israel, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak decided that 40+ political parties aren’t sufficient so has decided to re-enter the political fray and create a new one! Ever divisive he hopes to put the final nail in the coffin of the Labour Party (Avoda) and challenge Blue and White, firmly believing that together they can defeat Likud. It is my opinion, and only mine, that neither Avoda nor Blue and White were willing to take him in, because Ehud Barak will never accept being anything but the leader. He criticises all other leaders forgetting that his own peace plan and Camp David 2000, didn’t exactly work out.


Apropos nothing, I saw this wonderful video on YouTube by chance. It is made by a British group against bias in all its ugly forms. Short and to the point it is a joy.


In order for politicians to succeed they need enemies. Sadly fear is a major factor in for whom one votes. Perhaps the arch-enemy, until the Iranians, was always Vladimir Putin, beloved of cartoonists and an obvious target with his macho, wrestling image. Well, here’s something that gives a very different picture. Rabbi Berel Lazar “When he was a young child, he grew up in a very poor family. His parents were always out at work. He was fortunate that the next door neighbor was a Hasidic Jewish family, and they always made sure to invite him over,” Lazar explained. “They were extremely kind to him, and he realized that not only were they kind to a child that wasn’t theirs, not only were they kind to a child that wasn’t Jewish, but they were kind to a child in a time and place when it was dangerous to do that.” The family in Lazar’s story was that of Anatoly Rakhlin, Putin’s high-school wrestling coach, a man he considered to be a father-figure and at whose funeral he cried. Putin’s Jewish connection was not an anomaly limited to his childhood memories. In 2005, when Putin made an official visit to Israel, he visited his high-school teacher, Mina Yuditskaya Berliner, who lived in Tel Aviv. He even bought her an apartment in the city when he heard she was living in poor conditions.


The above story is a neat segway into the purported Putin/Trump meeting about the Iranian nuclear threat.


Alexandria Ocasio Cortez refused an invitation to visit Auschwitz with “From the Depths” – afraid of being proven wrong? Doesn’t she realise that her constituents are Jews, including Holocaust Survivors and their descendants? Has she no respect? Will Jews still vote for her?


Titus Flavius Josephus (Yosef ben Matityahu) 1st Century historian wrote that 2,700,000 pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount during the foot festivals of Shevuot (Pentecost), Passover (Pascha) and Succot (Tabernacles). Their actual route was unknown until recently. During repairs to deeply buried sewerage pipes in Silwan (the Ophel), workers found stairs. Of course the Archaeologists moved in and discovered the ancient pilgrimage route which began in the Shiloach Pool came out next to Robinson’s Arch – which is actually not an arch but rather a bridge and steps to the Temple Mount. The archaeology of Jerusalem is discovered at every turn, every building and every utilities repair!!


“The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more, it is the history of earth and of heaven” thus spoke Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister of Great Britain, Jew. He converted to Christianity yet until his dying breath proclaimed himself as the first Jewish Prime Minister.


This next story warmed my heartMagen David Adom is known for its ambulances and volunteer paramedics but it is so much more. There are other worthy organisation that perform those duties but its training courses for youngsters is exceptional. Read this little story to understand.

“A 16 year old Israeli girl who had done a course with Magen David Adom was flying to Amsterdam when a young man, also a teenager, lost consciousness as a result of a seizure.

She immediately went to his aid, and did everything that was required. He is fine now.

A doctor and nurse on the flight were amazed at her ability. She was more able to deal with his situation than they were because she had seen such situations in the field.”


I was deeply moved by the bravery of the young woman and put the story on Facebook. Almost immediately I received a response from our lovely friend Flory Hariton. Her son Dr. Eduardo Hariton, was a medical student in Boston when the diabolical Boston Marathon attack took place. Of course he rushed to the scene and said that it was his training with Magen David Adom helped him to stay calm and save lives. A beautiful testament indeed.


I’m sad. In fact, I’m very sad. Helene and Martin Lindenfeld have gone back home to Florida and I miss them horribly. It was enough just knowing they were in the country. Of course, it helped that they both fell in love with my daughter Rachel all over again!!! Their friendship is precious to us, it is a sibling relationship – one where even if we don’t speak frequently we are never out of each other’s thoughts. In fact, this is a week of farewells. David Feinsod, who has been here for a year of learning and volunteering is going back to Mexico to begin his studies; Danny and Judit Liwerant who are also returning to Mexico, but will be back frequently for Judit’s lectures at the Hebrew University and Danny’s exceptional work with the Jewish Agency. Danny, you represent the Jewish world outside the USA with logic, gusto and dedication; you are our voice, you are our champion, we love you.


Oh my, I could go on and on, so much is happening both here and in the world and last week I just couldn’t manage to write properly – I even forgot to give you songs. Recovery has been somewhat painful but I believe I am past that and well on the road to recovery. Of course the fact that Zvi and Rachel have been taking excellent care of me really matter – even if they are bossier than I would normally like! Yosef, who is now 14 years old, insisted upon taking a day off school to help me come home with his Mummy and Zvi – I’m sure it is irrelevant that it also gave him the opportunity for extra hugs. Between Rachie’s family life and Zvi’s dedication to the Jewish Agency meetings they really did a brilliant job!


The veranda is incredible! The hard work of the spring is paying me back in riotous colour and glorious scents. The only disappointment is that after a spring of orange blossom not even one little orange has resulted!! I remember as a child being told that red and purple should never be seen together in clothing because they clash – well that’s stupid! I see the reds and purples of nature side by side in harmony and it makes me happy. Each morning, as I raise the blinds, the light floods our salon, then I see the flowers and ultimately that view – oh my goodness, it takes my breath away and has done for 23 years! I am the luckiest person in the world!!


I am the luckiest person in the world for several reasons – one is because I have the most incredible children in the world. Daniel, Gideon and Rachel and their partners and my grandchildren are the sunshine in my life, and Zvi’s boys, Amiad and Leor and their families deserve a great big honourable mention, they are gorgeous! Zvi and I married in a spectacular ceremony on June 23rd 1996. 23 years ago Zvi and I stood beneath the walls of the Old City, in Rehov Yismach Melech, outside the home of Alan and Bonnie Cohen, under a chuppa surrounded by our children and Zvi’s parents, with the guiding hand of Rabbi David Rosen we married, כדת משה וישראל
Wonderful friends sang the 7 blessings, including Tsemed Reim, and as Zvi smashed the glass the sound of 400 shofars rang through the Jerusalem air and the Walls of the Old City lit up for the first time. We stood beneath the wedding canopy and pledged our dedication to each other and to Jerusalem.


The first song this week is spectacular and unusual. We hear all the time of the hatred toward Israel but rarely do we hear of the love extended toward us. Watch as the people of Papua New Guinea sing “Shema Yisrael“!


A Tribe of Brothers and Sisters – Shevet Achim v Achiyot – words by Doron Medali and music by Idan Reichel, sung by just about every Israeli star imaginable- it is our story – don’t forget to click on the subtitles icon on the bottom right of the screen.


During Helen and Martin’s stay in Jerusalem, they went with Zvi and their daughter Ariella to the Shalva Center. Ariella intends studying Art Therapy and Shalva is THE place to see it in action. The band dropped out of the contest to represent Israel because they refused to break Shabbat. Kol ha Kavod! I dedicate this song to Ariella – A Million Dreams by the Shalva Band


Thank you to everyone who wrote to wish me Refuah Shlema, I really really appreciate it.


With all our love from Jerusalem, from our home to yours. A good Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom.

Peace, Pax, Salaam and Shalom



If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

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Involvement The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center