The view from my veranda

Perseverance Pays


3rd June 2021

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Today I intend pouring my heart out about the state of politics here, actually, that’s the wrong expression because I firmly believe that, if it actually comes to fruition, Israel will have the only truly democratic government in the world! Just think about it, discount the extremes and take 3 right wing parties, a left wing party, 2 centrist parties and a representative Arab party and put them all together into a melting pot of discussion able to come out agreeing to disagree for the better of the country. Indeed of all the outstanding politicians I believe that Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz stand out. Why? Because both are willing to take a step back in order to create a working government which covers the interests of the vast majority of this country, those who serve in the IDF, work hard and pay taxes who have had a bad deal over the last 12 years. Having expressed my pleasure at the prospective government I, together with the vast majority of Israelis, am tired of the system which allowed one Prime Minister to use every possible ploy to stay in power, bring us to 4 elections and refuse to step down despite very serious legal issues.

Sadly, a once brilliant man, Benjamin Netanyahu, has brought us to such deeply fractured society that it will take a long time to heal. I hope and pray that this government will come to fruition and we will all reap the benefits. Finally and at last a budget so that Ministries can operate and disburse funding.

Isaac “Boug’ie” Herzog is a seasoned politician, understands the Diaspora, is not confined to just Jewish interests and is a real gentleman. He was the leader of the Labour Party, his last position was as Chairman of the Jewish Agency and last night he became the 11th President of Israel. A truly worthy candidate and a man who, I believe, will do the position great honour. The alternative candidate is a wonderful woman, a woman who draws at everyone’s heartstrings having lost two sons to war, but not as President of Israel. I believe that Isaac Herzog is the right person to fill the very impressive boots of Reuven Rivlin and Shimon Peres; two very tough acts to follow but he will do it well. His father Major-General Chaim Herzog was an Israeli politician, general, lawyer and author who served as the sixth President of Israel between 1983 and 1993. This is the first time that a son has followed his father into the Presidency.

In Israel the role of President is titular, but has enormous power in terms of the international community and is often the face of Israel to the outside world. Well, Isaac Herzog is a gentleman. Don’t be fooled by his baby face, he is ideal for the job! Actually, I’m going to tell you a secret, Zvi is the one who gave him his first ever speaking engagement when Herzog was just 24. Zvi was responsible for speakers for the Diaspora within Keren Hayesod and one day he was approached to give a very polite newly wed a chance at speaking “He’s President Herzog’s son”. Zvi immediately arranged a speaking tour in the UK, since Herzog speak perfect English having been raised with an Irish/Israeli father, and so his career began. Unlike all the other people that Zvi set on their path to success, Boug’ie has never forgotten and proudly presents Zvi to all and sundry as “the man who got me started”.

There is just one problem with Mansour Abbas’ Ra’am Party joining the coalition, well actually there are more but the current problem is that he refuses to recognise the LGBTQ community, his objections far stronger than any of the religious Jewish parties. Who would have thought that with all our security problems that might be the one that breaks the proverbial camel’s back!! Today was the Gay Parade in Jerusalem which brought the subject to the forefront.

So as we suspected the main purpose of the Hamas missile attacks was to get attention and more money! However, they have come up against a brick wall. Oh they will get the money but only if they are willing to allow Mahmoud Abbas to oversee the disbursement. Remember that one of the catalysts to the confrontation was when Mahmoud Abbas cancelled the elections in the West Bank because he realised that Hamas would win which in turn made Abbas, Abu Mazen, Haniyeh sworn enemy. In the meantime, in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Doha, Qatar, one of the leaders of Hamas spent over $1,000,000 for a week’s stay including some $26,000 on massages – I was sent the receipt!! Please remember that they are about to get $300 million from the USA. The people get nothing!

Talking about foreign aid and Gaza; as you know most of the aid is monitored by UNWRA which is supposed to deal with education, welfare etc. The Director of UNWRA in Gaza was a gentleman by the name of Matthias Schmale, made a statement which angered his bosses and his wards  Schmale told Israel’s Channel 12 last week that the Israeli military strikes on the Gaza Strip appeared to be carried out with “sophistication” and “precision.” He has been relieved of his position and his deputy declared persona non grata. Hamas is furious!!

Impact-se has done it again. Bild, the most visited German news site and leading newspaper, released a piece showing how Palestinian textbooks promote antisemitism and fuel hatred of Israel under the headline “School books stir up hatred of Israel.” The article cites examples from Palestinian textbooks, sourced from IMPACT-se’s most recent report on the Palestinian curriculum. The report details lessons that delegitimize Israel, glorify suicide bombings, encourage violent jihad and justify the killing of Jews.

As I receive reports about the constant and often violent reports of beatings and stabbings of Jews throughout the Diaspora I am desperately worried about you. At least here in Israel we know who our enemies are and have the IDF to defend us; you don’t. The attacks are becoming an everyday event, unprovoked and vicious. We have our wonderful young activists, out spoke and brave; some write about is  

These attacks, even if they are “just” verbal must be reported; whether the ADL in the USA or CST in the UK, don’t let it go unreported to the police. Today’s verbal abuse is tomorrow’s physical abuse…… I know life is good but don’t be complacent, please. Wake up and smell the stink of Kristallnacht.

If you can think back as far as pre-Covid-19, you will remember our insane social life, well, moving to a new apartment just 1 month ago hasn’t made a difference! Zvi not only sings with the Jerusalem Academy of Music choir, he is on the Board. This week saw the meetings of the Academy, the ceremony for the presentation of prizes and the inevitable food. The best part was hearing the phenomenal talents of the youngsters chosen to play or sing for us. There was one cellist who brought tears to my eyes his playing was so exquisite and an oboist. This young man succeeded in bringing sweet sounds from one of the most difficult of woodwinds. The next evening there was a private concert at the Jerusalem Theatre in which the Academy Orchestra played a modern piece and then one of my absolute favourites “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Yesterday Sergio and Sara Verbitzky came for lunch and then I escaped and went to see my Rachel. The children were all home and it was great, hearing their constant chatter about what they learn and who they were with and which exams they were learning for. On my way home I managed to stop, just for you, and wonder at the panorama from Samuel’s Tomb. The soft evening light turned all the buildings of the patchwork of neighborhoods turn a pinky gold, the soft undulating hills of the Golden City delineating the growth from the ancient Temple Mount to a thriving city of 900,000 inhabitants.

Today I went out for lunch, to a fabulous restaurant where just three weeks ago a missile landed!! Such a strange thing, it didn’t bother me!! Tomorrow we are off to Dimona for Shabbat. No not to see the place that Shimon Peres created and everyone knows exists but doesn’t talk about… we are going with the choir to an hotel which holds singing weekends. Should be fun.

Why are Caleb and Joshua so important in the history of this land? When Moses sent out the 12 spies to see what the land of Canaan was all about, 10, too lazy to really check things out for themselves, made up stories of giants and evil creatures whereas Caleb and Joshua came, searched, investigated and found a land of milk and honey. So it is today, those who have never been here have absolutely no idea what a treasure this country is, filled with “kol tuv” with goodness and beauty. Just imagine if Moses had listened to those too lazy to discover for themselves. That is part of this week’s Bible reading and it seems so appropriate.

Back to the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, they made a flashmob at Ben Gurion Airport at a time when there were actually people there to welcome the young people of Taglit! Shalom Aleichem, Peace be with you.

Keren Peles is an Israeli singer who, like so many, goes to various IDF bases to entertain the troops. Here, right on the border of Gaza, she found a young “Kravi” soldier who fought through to be there, a Commander, a girl. They sing together

Each morning, as we wake, we thank the Almighty for returning our soul to us; each morning we thank the Almighty for everything around us. Omer Adam singing Modeh Ani

I wish you all, wherever you may be whatever your persuasion, a good Shabbat, a day of rest.

With love from Jerusalem