The view from my veranda

Lots of news

30th July 2021

Shabbat Shalom! I hope this missive finds you well. I have a question to start us off…. It’s basically the end of July 2021, more than half way through the year…..where did the time go? I feel a bit like the song “I’m busy doing nothing” because these past two years have flown by with ridiculous speed! I suppose one could say that when one has hot and cold running guests and move house simultaneously life does take on the speed of sound.

The storm in an ice-cream cone continues, not because Ben and Jerry’s is of even the slightest importance but rather because of the message it sends out to the world. Basically it says that while there are dozens of countries which encourage wife beating, slavery, Sharia Law, genocide, we have singled out Israel as a country to be embargoed. Why are we singled out? Is it because we self-describe as “the Chosen People”? Hardly an asset as Tevye the Milkman pointed out. Why are Jewish children still told that they killed Christ or that they are Dhimmis? It isn’t anything new, certainly not since 1948 or 1967, these are old, even ancient insults, so why? Rabbi Jeremy Rosen tackles the question.

Have you noticed that the word “settler” has taken on a new and unwelcome meaning? Virtually every country lauds its original arrivals as settlers, proudly talking of bringing religion to the natives or in the case of the USA providing that country with its aristocracy. What is a settlement? A settlement is simply a town or village that is newly created where people go to live. Instead of generating a picture of ancient peoples building a village or of brave pioneers discovering an uninhabited wasteland the modern evaluation is that of genocidal Israelis wiping out indigenous Palestinians! The idea is preposterous, our conscious minds know that, but if the mark of Cain fits…… As Goebbels knew only too well… if you repeat a lie enough it become the truth. It is irrelevant that most settlements provide work and medical attention to locals; it is irrelevant that no homes are destroyed to build; it is irrelevant that Jews are not allowed to live in predominantly Arab lands but Arabs live freely in Jewish lands. So that brings us to the relevance of B&J’s statement and all of those who went before them and follow suit. Just remember that thousands of Palestinians lost their jobs and have no hope of the social benefits because you forced Sodastream to move from Maale Adumim.

Dr. Ahmed Tibi has been Deputy Speaker of the Knesset repeated through many governments. This week, Itamar Ben Gvir, a far right, racist, Member of Knesset got up to speak from the podium, ignoring Tibi, who was acting Speaker. Tibi asked Ben Gvir to follow protocol and begin his words with “Mr. Speaker, Sir”, Ben Gvir responded by calling Tibi a terrorist and refused. Ben Gvir was taken, kicking and fighting, out of the Knesset Plenum by the Knesset guards. I am ashamed to think that Ben Gvir was part of the last government of Israel. Personally I believe that he should be removed, permanently from the Knesset.

Now that you are utterly depressed, I intend changing your mood with a lovely new project! Israeli tourists are invited to join a summer programme in the Bedouin town of Rahat, to learn about the Bedouin culture and to learn Arabic. I love it! Speaking about the new initiative, the mayor of Rahat, Faiz Abu Sahiban said that “We are after a difficult period in the country, and we all have a responsibility to cool down the atmosphere as well as to return Israeli travelers to Rahat. They will be able to learn a new language in the best possible way, have a direct dialogue between the learners and the host families and get to know the Bedouin lifestyle and culture in a traditional and renewed city like Rahat.”

Impact-se ( has done it again. I am so proud to be Chair of the Impact Board and even more proud of our team led by CEO Marcus Sheff. Marcus just got back from an exhausting trip to the USA, but with incredible results. Since the start of this year, IMPACT-se has engaged with around a hundred Congressional offices and has educated around two-dozen of officials from several branches of the State Department on multiple occasions, including extended meetings in Washington in July. HR 4373, outlining the budget for the State Department and other foreign operations for the 2022 fiscal year, states US support to UNRWA will be conditional on ensuring compliance with UN values in their educational materials. The Framework for Cooperation between the US and UNRWA emphasizes a zero-tolerance policy toward educational content which is hateful or incites to violence. 

Saied Mollay is best friends with Israeli Judo champion Sagi Muki, a friendship that has weathered the test of time and politics. Saied, an Iranian, was forced to become a refugee after his refusal to boycott his fight against Sagi Muki. After winning the Silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics he dedicated his medal to the Israeli people.

Israel is about to introduce a third Covid vaccination for those who are over 60 and at least 5 months since their second vaccination. I will run at the first opportunity! If there is any chance that I can be saved the horror of this pandemic I will take it. Not only for myself but for all those I love, all those I meet – it is like wearing a mask – I don’t see any precautions as restrictive, that would be utterly self centred, all precautions are for the good of the many. Both PM Naftali Bennet and former PM Benjamin Netanyahu have already shown example and had their 3rd shots, and today the PM asked Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy and Supreme Court President Esther Hayut to follow suit as an example to the people.

Only in Israel does a major optician chain take huge posters across the main road to advertise one of the Ten Commandments at a major Jerusalem intersection: “Honor thy father and thy mother” and ask when was the last time you called your parents to say good morning!

Idit Harel Segal couldn’t decide what she wanted to do to honour her 50th birthday, when suddenly she realised that her parents had always taught her to give back to the world and she made an unexpected decision – to donate a kidney to little boy, a little Gazan child. An amazing story, just another “Only in Israel” one

In an interview with Fareed Azaria, King Abdullah of Jordan stated that Jordan is not Palestine or Palestinian….which is rather strange because history clearly states that Jordan and Israel were created out of Palestine (the original one not the made up one) One country for the Moslems one for the Jews.

Two surprising pieces of news – Georgia (as in Europe not the USA) is opening its Embassy in Jerusalem, indeed in Malha where we used to live! The other one is that for the first time ever Taiwan is opening a Jewish Centre….Proving that no everything is bad news!!

Zvi and I enjoy our daily constitutional around the park, part of the joy of living where we live. Each evening we meet others, say hello, but two nights ago we met a lovely couple, both of whom hailed from the FSU, and are our neighbours! We stood talking for about an hour until my legs demanded that we continue the conversation drinking coffee on our veranda!! Michael and Natalie came to Israel in 1990, after many refusals by the Soviet regime, for them to join Michael’s family here in Israel. Sadly by the time they came Michael’s parents had passed away but they are such wonderful, giving proud Jews, proud Israelis, and we are very lucky that they are now our new friends.

Last night was so much fun!! Right here in our grounds we have a wonderful building, the design based on the White House and right in front of it is a large area for people to congregate. Several of the families were celebrating the graduation of their children and decided to treat us all to a musical concert, bringing chairs, wine and water, and old songs, both Israeli and Beatles! We all sat out in the beautiful balmy air of Motza, chatting with neighbours and enjoying the show. Zvi enjoyed seeing friends and of course invited them back to us for coffee, and I just jiggled to the music…I just can’t keep still when music is playing!

Talking of new immigrants, our lovely friends Merle and Frank Friedman made Aliya from South Africa a few months ago and after all the procedures of isolation, inoculation, and finding the right health fund, they finally managed to come and visit! In fact we invited our lovely friends Prof. Gabby Barkay and Ester and Zvi’s childhood friend Yechiel and his beautiful wife Rina to join us too. Tomorrow we will explore our area with Frank and Merle, because there is so much to see. About an hour ago, sitting on our veranda, Merle was so excited about the weather here in our little paradise…..after the horrific humidity of Tel Aviv and Raanana.

Earlier in the week Zvi and I met with the wonderful Carlos and Evelyne Hausman in Tel Aviv. Zvi and Carlos are old friends ever since Carlos was the Chairman of Keren Hayesod in Venezuela.  What lovely people, we spoke about everything from past to present, old friends and current situations, it was delightful. I think I even discovered Israeli family for Evelyne!

I’m not going to Rachel and family today, I went yesterday, bought some more plants for our veranda, one can never have too many, and on the way home, yet again thrilled at the view from Samuel’s Tomb.

So, since we have long decided that each and every one of us has a role to play in making our world a kinder place, I thought that the perfect song to start with is “Ani ve Ata” – You and me- by Arik Einstien.   

I know that most communities around the world say the prayer for the State of Israel every Sabbath but few sing it – here Cantors from around the world join as one voice.

As a child the overwhelming aroma of Palwin 4a Sweet sacramental wine succeeded in overcoming Mummy’s delicious table heaving with gefilte fish, chopped liver, the inevitable chicken soup with kneidlach (matzo balls), roast chicken, roast potatoes and her unbeatable steamed bread pudding. Today it’s all changed and Israel is producing some wonderful and highly acclaimed vintages. Here the Maccabeats say the blessing over wine with an array of Israeli wines!

So that’s it! Back to the kitchen. Zvi is at his parliament and Merle and Frank went to meet friends – both at Caffit at the Botanical Gardens. Yes of course I love it there and wish I was sitting beside the lake eating a delicious Oreganatto with Sweet Potatoes but I chose you!!!

I wish you a wonderful weekend, a Shabbat Shalom and a Blessed Sabbath Day. We may be separated by a pandemic but we are together in our prayers.

With much love from the ever more colourful veranda, my pride and joy.