The view from my veranda

Passports, Riots, Banks, Javid, Tweets

5th of July 2019


Shabbat Shalom! I hope that those of you who celebrate Independence Day had a wonderful day yesterday. Of course we are happy George the third lost the battle and the United States of America came about, but sad about the ghastly waste of decent tea. Let’s face it, tea at the time was a precious commodity, the aromatic leaves brewed in a round teapot, stirred lovingly, poured steaming hot through a silver stainer into porcelain cups, a splash of milk and sipped with appropriate delicacy………….. not chucked unceremoniously into the brink!!!


I was fascinated by the Henley Passport Index which rates the passports of the world according to the number of visas required or countries which deny access to those passport holders. Japan, Singapore and South Korea ranked 1, the UK is 5, USA and Canada 6, Australia 9 and Israel, considering the fact that most Islamic countries do not allow Israeli passport holders entry let alone visas made a very honourable 22.


Starting the missive with July the 4th and passports gave me time to take a breath before beginning the major Israeli story this week. Israel is made up of many different sub-societies, immigrants – hardly a singular situation, but our immigrants didn’t come one at a time, they came in large groups over a very short period of time as Jews were rescued from oppression and repression in various countries. Yemen, Morocco, Iraq, Russia and Ethiopia predominantly and absorption was the aim. Israel welcomed all Jews, they were coming home after all – or that is and was the official line. It isn’t always so and tolerance is not always present.


The Ethiopian immigration has produced outstanding IDF officers and soldiers, journalists, Members of Knesset, lawyers and doctors, but there is an element of rejection in the wider Israeli society which has made many young Ethiopians very frustrated. This week an off duty policeman heard a young man calling in distress, he went to investigate. A group of young men were fighting and one was being beaten so he stepped in – the situation got out of hand with stones being thrown and feeling threatened he shot a bullet at the ground, the bullet ricocheted and hit one of the young men in the chest and he died of his wounds. The young Ethiopian Community went on the rampage and what were meant to be demonstrations, sit ins etc became riots. Roads were blocked, cars burned, stones thrown. I understand the frustration of the youngsters but I cannot excuse the behaviour and violence of the riots.


Many rumours flew concerning the young man who died, the police officer and the general public disobedience so I did what I always do, I consulted with someone who understands both sides of the picture – I spoke to Danny Adino Abebe, award winning Israeli journalist of Ethiopian parentage. Danny told me that the riots had nothing directly to do with the death of Salomon Teka z”l, that was the match that lit the fire of frustration. We must find a solution. When Danny gets back from his term in South Africa I am going to try and form a peoples committee to find out how we can change EVERYBODY’S perception of the “other”. Israel isn’t perfect but we are trying to improve all the time.


There is good news as well. Bank Leumi, Israel’s biggest bank, has a new Chairman, Dr Samer Haj Yehia. Dr. Haj-Yehia, 50, served as a lecturer in economics at MIT, Harvard, the Hebrew University and the IDC Herzliya. He chairs the Audit Committee of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and is a member of the Council for Higher Education of Israel. The banking system in Israel has always been open to senior positions for women, immigrants and minorities – retiring Bank Leumi Chair Rakefet Russak-Aminoach and former Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug are just two examples.


Sajid Javid is a Moslem. He is the British Home Secretary and he and his family are supporters of Israel – so much so that he brought his wife to Israel for their honeymoon. This week he came on an official visit to Jerusalem, prayed at the Western Wall and expressed his support for Israel.


Sometimes the informal, non-diplomatic route is what is needed. Working through the laborious bureaucracy of officialdom and its bias for the status quo and old hat ideas leaves entire countries and conflicts in a state of continuum despite the good will of the people. This week President Trump was in Japan for the G20 meetings when he decided to send a Tweet to Kim Jon Un of North Korea saying basically “Hi, I’m here in the neighborhood, why don’t we meet to shake hands and say hello”? Incredibly the North Korean leader said yes. They met in the Demilitarized Zone, indeed shook hands and then as they walked and talked the President took a few steps over into North Korea. One small step for man? Who knows? Remember one doesn’t need to make peace with ones friends – only with one’s enemies.


Last week there was a fascinating debate in the House of Lords (UK). Few outside Britain recognise the importance of this august institution and its influence on lawmaking in the UK. The debate was on how the UK can be a leader in the fight against Anti-Semitism which is rife throughout today’s world. Of course the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn and his followers has particularly distressed the “old school” Labour Party supporters. It is not short but it is fascinating. My thanks to Lord Stone of Blackheath (aka Andrew Stone of Cardiff) for drawing my attention to it.


Dr Miriam and Sheldon Adelson are conceivably the greatest philanthropists in the Jewish world, Israel and in the USA. This week they received the Friends of Zion Award from Dr Michael David Evans of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem. The purpose of the FOZ Museum is to educate and thus stem the tide of anti-Semitism in the world. Wish we could have attended!


Linor Ashram won two Gold Medals in the European Games in Minsk. Brava Linor. Israeli Gymnasts had an amazing year including Alex Shatilov in Qatar and Sagi Muki in Abu Dhabi. Perhaps the crowning moment was when Shatilov climbed onto the winners podium in Qatar and they played Hatikva! Yes in Qatar.


Thanks to a journalist friend, Itzhak Rabihiya, my missives have found a new audience. A Korean philanthropist has opened a worldwide television news outlet which has no bias but, among other news, wants the world to understand what really happens in Israel. Well, Itzhak introduce the gentleman to my work and he now puts it on the website every week! Do you remember what I always said about the power of one? You can do it too!!!


Lovely people have been to visit this week, Bikur Holim although I’m not ill, just healing!!! Averil and Sue came and we talked of Cardiff, old friends and crosswords before they went to collect Sue’s wonderful Mother Tema and go out for lunch. I love Tema; Dana spoke of the new exhibitions that are coming to my favourite Museum in the world, The Israel Museum where she volunteers and then there is Stanley! Stanley Roth lives in far off Sydney Australia but has been involved in Israel and Keren Hayesod from the days that Zvi created Young Leadership down-under. Stanley is funny! You have probably seen his name crop up when I talk about the fruit, herbs and flowers of the veranda, yesterday he checked them all out, saw the panorama and spoke of old and new times and how to solve the problems of the world! Loved it! Next time with Charmaine, Harold and Rebecca!!


California had an earthquake and Israel has an infestation of jellyfish…… in other words, it’s summer!!!


Dubi Gordon produces an outstanding weekly column for the Boston Community called Shabbat Shalom from Natick. Dubi and I met on Facebook and have become firm pen-friends, and my column appears in his newsletter each week. Last week he sent out the recording of Bostonians singing with Koolulam – Celebrate Israel Boston – It’s My Life by Bon Jovi!!


Bon Jovi are performing in Israel again on the 25th of July. Last time they were here Jon Bon Jovi stood on the stage and dedicated the next song to Israel. It’s called We Don’t Run.


The Sheba Choir with Shlomo Gronich helped us understand the pain of the Ethiopians who trekked through Sudan to reach their beloved Jerusalem. Of course not everyone came from Gondar Province, many lived in Addis Abeba but….


One more – just one more – especially for Shabbat and for all of us, to bless us in strange and perplexing times. “May the Lord Bless You and Keep You


Rachel and Talia are about to arrive to take me for a walk outside! I am ridiculously excited at the thought. Wish me luck!!


I wish you a Shabbat of peace and contemplation, prayer in whatever language or direction you may pray. Pray for understanding, tolerance, generosity of spirit, pray for acceptance of the “other” just imagine a world where we all minded our own business!!!


With all our love from the veranda, the view, our home and our hearts


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

Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center