The view from my veranda

Netanyahu, Moshe Arens z”l, Turkey, Mahane Yehuda

11th January, 2019

Good morning, Gut Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom and have a good day.

This has been a very strange week in the even stranger world of Israeli politics. An announcement by the Prime Minister that he had “an important announcement” which would be made on that evening’s 8 o’clock main news had an entire country on tenterhooks. Would he announce that he would step down until his name was cleared from all the accusations and possible indictments? Would he announce that the Attorney General had come to a decision on his case? Had Israel reached a peace agreement with her enemies thus making all of the above irrelevant? Well, Netanyahu has a favourite and much repeated expression for the legal battles “The will be nothing because there is nothing” All I can say is that his “important announcement” was to repeat that mantra, and the problem is that he held an entire country hostage on all the news channels and for what? Other than a public demand to confront the State Witnesses in his case he said absolutely nothing!!!

He was at the forefront of the determined group of politicians who insisted that Ehud Olmert resign the minute there were accusations, as did Yitzchak Rabin, yet with at least 4 major criminal files open he refuses to step down. Israel and the Western world, are fighting multiple enemies, politically, militarily and socially, and nobody can possibly concentrate on those issues under these circumstances.

Worst of all is his implication that the Attorney General Mandelblitt is not doing his job by choosing to announce the results of the extensive investigations and inquiries before the elections. Sir, Mr. Prime Minister, the electorate deserves to know for whom it is voting.

I believe that honest politicians are few and far between, and humble politicians are a rarity indeed. This week Israel lost a man who was brilliant, honest and humble. Moshe (Mischa) Arens aeronautical engineer, Professor, who came to Israel from the USA to help build Israel’s aeronautical industry, stayed and served as Israel’s Ambassador to the US and Defence Minister of distinction. In his eulogy President Rivlin described his friend as a rare man of principle who believed Israel is a Jewish State with responsibility to ALL her citizens equally.  President Rivlin – “’Whether slave or tramp, you were created the son of kings, crowned with the diadem of David, whether in light or in darkness, always remember the crown, the crown of pride and of Tagar.’ Thus wrote Ze’ev Jabotinsky, whose immortal words became the anthem of the Beitar youth movement. Dear, Misha, our older brother. Teacher and guide to so many in the national-liberal camp, myself included. A Beitari, one of the giants of the founding generation, a scientist and a statesman, amongst the finest of our leaders, and amongst the most important leaders of the national-liberal camp. A brave and humane man. An unbending ideologue who never submitted to popularity or to ease. A true Zionist, with every bone in his body, a servant of the people, and never the opposite. When I was asked how to define Hadar – the nobility, glory, splendor and majesty of a Beitari – I would look to you, Misha. You walked amongst us like a king.  May his soul rest in peace.

Five young Jewish extremists were arrested last week and 4 are now on house arrest and one remains in custody. Their crimes? Throwing stones at Palestinian cars, killing Aysha Ravi, an innocent woman who, with her husband was killed by a stone thrown by one of these terrorists. In addition they were found to have written anti-Israel graffiti and generally incited hatred against Arabs – a clear crime in Israel. Many leapt to their defence because the Israeli Secret Services (Shabak) didn’t afford them due process during the investigation. Although I am a law abiding citizen it did not worry me, a terrorist is a terrorist and it bothers me not if he is Jewish or Christian or Moslem – they do not deserve the rights afforded to others.

This week the United Nations proved itself to be utterly and totally morally corrupt. Yemen, number 149 out of 149 on the world scale for gender equality, has been appointed Deputy Director of the UN Women’s Committee – UN watchdog of gender equality.  As Hillel Neuer of UN Watch said “Electing Yemen to protect women’s rights is like electing a pyromaniac to be Fire Chief” Time for a true leader in this world to dissolve the current United nations and rebuild with totally new rules and voting rights. It was done with the League of Nations which failed to prevent WW2 – the time is now.

Turkey and her megalomaniac leader Recep Tayyib Erdogan, is doing everything to recreate the Ottoman Empire. Since his attempts to take over Syria have not been successful; his determination to retain and increase his hold on Armenia go ahead; his eyes are set on The Sudan (among others) and his hatred of both Israel and the USA have reached new heights – he is not taken seriously by most countries which is a terrifying mistake.

Tunisia, under Bourghiba, was the first Arab country to show signs of democracy and Western values, until the Moslem Brotherhood won the elections in the so-called Arab spring. Tunisia was to host the World Chess championships but chose to ban Israeli competitors and the World Chess Association may well remove the Championship from Tunisia. As many countries whose rebellion was hailed as the “Arab Spring – Tunisia is on the verge of anarchy.

As I have often said, I am very choosey about which organisations I am willing to support and sit on their Boards. I am so proud of IMPACT-SE ( ) the founder Yohanan Manor and the Director Marcus Sheff for the astonishing work done to introduce tolerance in education throughout the world but particularly here in our intolerant neighbourhood. Marcus and his team have reached out to Leaders around the world with great success and the UNESCO criteria of Tolerance in Education is based on Impact’s recommendations. This week Dame Louise Ellman, an important member of the British Labour Party, introduced legislation to halt British funding of the PA over hate education, information she received from Impact, which passed the first reading with ease. Dame Louise is not alone in the Labour Party, both the Commons and the Lords, in her unwavering support for Israel there are many all of whom are trying to silence the obnoxious and dangerous Jeremy Corbyn.

Talking of racist politicians – Professor Alan Dershowitz asks the question “Is Rashida Tlaib Guilty of Bigotry” surely a question that should have been asked before the elections?

Let’s remove the bad taste of politics from our minds and talk about the glorious rain here in Israel! It really has been amazing, non-stop (except for the occasional sunshine) and very cold, well Israel cold not NYC cold and certainly not Newfoundland cold! It never stops Israelis from going out and having fun even though in Tel Aviv one needs high boots to cross many roads awash from the unexpected downpour. Actually Tel Aviv is always surprised by downpours!!! I love the rain. I love the fact that the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) is filling up and will fill further when the heavy snow on Mount Hermon melts sending its precious water tumbling down the waterfalls to the Kinneret. Each morning, irrespective of the rain and cold, I stepped onto the veranda and took photos of the phenomenal sunrise, red, pink, orange and yellow, clouds scudding and glistening their reflection and thanked heaven for putting me in this incredible place.

This week I went to Mahane Yehuda again. The winter vegetables are incredible, leeks almost a metre long, white and sweet; herbs still wet with the rainwater of the fields; ginger, parsnip, celeriac and even potatoes with the mud still on them!! The stall next to David Dagim is the best for all of the above. Even through the mist of hot breath meeting cold air the costermongers succeeded in calling their wares with gusto, in Arabic, Hebrew and badly accented English! I cannot go to Mahane Yehuda without visiting Yaron Tsidkiyahu, the King of the Shouk. Yaron’s family have been important characters in the shouk for generations and their pickles are world renowned. Olives shine invitingly, of every shape and colour; sweet roasted garlic, sharp gherkins and delicious ready cooked foodstuffs from schnitzel to incredible meat patties filled with tehina. Absolutely delicious. Mahane Yehuda epitomises Jerusalem in its rainbow of customers and stallholders and I love walking through just looking and absorbing the atmosphere.

Tonight we are spending Shabbat dinner with Zvi’s son Leor, wife Shiri and their four girls, Amit, Gili, Ori and little Yuval. Shiri’s parents and sister will join us and we all contribute food, since most Israeli women work outside the home, everybody joins in! Tonight my contribution is oven baked Teriyaki salmon, pea soup for the children and roasted veggies. I know already that the table will groan with delicious food from everyone! Leor always gives his Dad the honour of chanting the Kiddush (blessing over wine) and the children join Zvi in the blessing over the bread. I love it. Shabbat is about children learning the traditions and continuing them because it was fun with Saba Zvi.

So to songs. I promise I am not going to put you through the horror of Pink Floyds “The Wall” although both our countries have our controversies thereof right now. I wouldn’t give the repulsive Roger Waters the pleasure or the royalties!!

Here’s one to get you dancing! Mi Shmaamanim – He who believes.

The people of the towns villages and kibbutzim along the border with Gaza have been incredibly brave and stalwart in the face of terror in the form of rockets, riots, kites and balloons with children’s toys packed with explosives. Koolulam brought them together to sing “Stillness above me” let’s sing the song of love.

Finally I have an admission – I am really jealous of all of you who went to Camp Ramah. I am amazed at the lasting friendships formed, the atmosphere and the lessons learned. So finally, a wonderful video of Camp Ramah. In all probability you won’t understand a word  but oh the joy!!!

Tomorrow night I will light a candle for my Father’s Yahzeit, memorial. He taught me so much in life. He taught me that a parent’s face can light up just because you walked into the room; he taught me to laugh even when you are sad; he taught me that life is joyous, he taught me loyalty; he taught me that even if someone is unkind or let you down they sometimes need a leg up; most of all he taught me that family is everything. Almost 30 years and I still learn from his wisdom – and all four of his children remember his cheeky laughter and incredible curiosity. He passed away at the age of 102, missing my Mummy for 25 years, and unquestionably, if he were alive today, he would have the latest iphone and computers and be busy on the net. So now you know where it all came from! Jack Silver, I am proud you were my Daddy.

Now I’m off to collect Talia and Ayala from school and get my hugs from Yosef, Rachel and Igal. On the way home I promise to take a mental picture of the panorama from Nebe Samuel, Samuel’s Tomb.

Shabbat shalom to all, may you have a Shabbat filled with joy and loved ones. Always remember that someone may be alone, a neighbour, a friend, a family member, so invite them………. After all a Jewish home always has enough for another mouth and it will bring joy into a lonely life. My Mummy had a tradition, she always put an extra place setting ready for unexpected guests, so that they wouldn’t feel that it was an imposition.

With all our love

Sheila and her Zvi