25th February, 2021
Shabbat Shalom! Pesach Sameach, a blessed Pascha and for those who do not celebrate those three, have a wonderful weekend!
Yes, I know, the elections provided yet another quandary! There is no clear winner of the fourth election in two years but I have a sneaky feeling that it may well be solved this time.
There are several options to forming a government
- Benjamin Netanyahu steps down and allows Likud to join with other relatively centrist parties to form a government coalition
- That the status quo continue and Benny Gantz takes over the Prime Ministerial position as per the original agreement (with the PM’s trial coming up very soon it could work)
- The Centre Left parties (Labour, Blue and White (Gantz), Yesh Atid (Lapid) and going centre right Naftalis Bennet’s Yamina, New Hope (Saar) join with Mansour Abbas (Ram party aligned to the Moslem Brotherhood) or the Combined Arab Party and form a wide coalition
- Likud (Netanyahu) joins with the Haredi parties and the far right Otzma Yehudit (Ben Gvir)
- All the anti-Bibi parties form a government, left right and centre!
- The most likely option….. a fifth election – the last 4 elections over 2 years cost us nearly 4 billion shekels!!
Just a couple of months ago the picture was entirely different. Netanyahu went right down as yet Israelis suffered yet another lockdown, economic closure and poverty hit a large proportion of his voters. Likud alternatives, Saar and Bennet were set to get about 15 seats each, Yesh Atid was on 20 and for some reason Gantz was not going to get in at all. We go back to work and apparently all is forgiven! Interestingly enough the Haredi and Arab votes are down.
Here’s an explanation of the system https://honestreporting.com/12-things-to-know-about-israeli-elections-and-what-happens-after/
The final count https://www.jpost.com/israel-elections
The politicians have stopped talking to us on TV but the pundits never seem to stop! Nobody really knows what will happen or which party leader will be given the task of forming a coalition by President Rivlin, but they seem to have opinions on everything! The recipient of most attention is Mansour Abbas!!! It never fails to amaze me how anyone could suggest that Israel is an apartheid country when Arab Knesset Members are highly vociferous and here is an Arab Party, aligned to Hamas, which may just hold the balance in the coalition!!!
Let’s get away from politics, please! We had an amazing time in Eilat with Zvi’s boys and their families and to make my life complete, after Shabbat, Rachel’s son Yosef put himself on a bus after Shabbat and arrived in Eilat at 04:00 joining us for the remaining 2 days. Eilat is not a sophisticated town; it is a beach and entertainment town. I hear you ask how on earth did we manage to go to an hotel in Eilat when we are still in semi-closure! Well, Eilat is a “Green Town”. Your Green Pass is checked on arrival, and any children are only allowed in with a current Covid test. The hotel itself is thoroughly checked and has to qualify with very strict Covid restrictions. It felt so amazing to be free, admittedly with masks but free to go wherever we wanted. The weather was crazy – 34C – but wonderful. It was arranged by the boys for Zvi’s birthday and it was fabulous.
If you think that I’ve been relaxing while surrounded by packing cases and Passover dishes, you are wrong. On Wednesday, Marcus Sheff, CEO of Impact-se and I went to see former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to tell him about the work of Impact-se. Of course our meeting was preceded by a discussion of the elections, but I cannot divulge his very clever assessment!! He was fascinated to hear of our initiating the European Parliament’s powerful Budgetary Control Committee passing a resolution censuring UNRWA’s hate-teaching.
IMPACT-se worked closely and for several months with committee leadership on the resolution. The result was an unprecedented condemnation of UNRWA by a European Parliament committee.
The resolution points to the “hate speech and incitement to violence” in UNRWA material;
Demands that UNRWA publishes all its educational materials in open-source form;
Demands UNRWA publishes the Palestinian Curriculum it teaches;
Demands that all school materials which are not in compliance with standards of peace and tolerance will be removed immediately;
For decades, UNRWA successfully evaded criticism by those who tried to hold it to account for hate-teaching and failure to promote peaceful conflict resolution. IMPACT-se’s review, policy recommendations, governmental and legislative activities have finally changed this pattern.
I was very excited to meet the team at Impact’s offices. What a phenomenal group of young people, each one a higher IQ than the next, all former members of Israel’s elite intelligence unit, each incredibly enthusiastic at the importance of their work. I really fell in love with each and every one of them.
Marcus and I spoke about our meeting with Ehud Olmert. To hear his explanations and to recognise that if not for him and his brilliant chutzpah in blowing up the Syrian nuclear facility, against US recommendation, Iran would now be in control of that facility and able to easily destroy Israel. What a bold and brilliant PM he was.
I came back to Jerusalem to the familiar aromas of cooking which fill the air before each festival. On Pesach the appetite arousing aromas of the traditional foods of our dispersion are intermingled with the scent spring cleaning and the occasional huge pot of boiling water on street corners of the religious neighbourhoods where one “dips” ones everyday pots and utensils to ensure they are rid of any bread/yeast related crumbs, and the sound of shopping…..shopping and more shopping as Passover gifts are bought, even if they are exchanged during the middle days of the festival!!
So having accepted that our political situation is overly democratic, that our current home is in a state of pandemonium and our new home beginning to take shape, we are on our way to Passover and all its beauty, telling the story of our flight to freedom, our lack of patience with our leaders as we sit around the Seder Table each of us reading a paragraph or two from the Haggadah. Even when the older children are bored by this adult activity they learn so much of our history – they have to pay attention or they lose their place for when it’s their turn to read! Learning of our Jewish history is every bit as important as learning about the history of where we live, if not more. It’s all about traditions. Traditions create our identity and those who have no patience with their past create children without identity.
This year, for first time in 56 years I am not making the Seder at home and we are taking everything to Amiad’s home where we will share the table with Amiad and Leor and their families, 19 people in all, including our “other ” family, Ira, Valeri, Tomer and Shelly. I still remember Tomer, aged 2, standing on the chair and reciting “Ma Nishtana” in a tiny piping voice – Why is this night different from all other nights. Today he is a graduate of the IDF preparing to either travel or study and Shelly is an officer in the IDF. Everything about that table and the service, even the foods, will reflect our past and the incredible people who made us – our parents and grandparents and those who went before them.
I readied two big sides of salmon, Leor and Shiri will bring the chicken, Judy is making a giant pot of chicken soup and I’ll make kneidlach, Amiad and Noga bought salads and will ready the Seder Table and Rachel made a huge pot of her delicious beef “Tsli” even though they will have Seder at their home – her house is already Pesachdik, dishes and pots changed, she and the children having scrubbed every inch of the apartment. Zvi’s parent’s beautiful gold and white service is already at Amiad’s as is my silver cutlery. Front and Centre will be my parent’s Seder Plate – bringing back so many memories. Today I will prepare the Bitter Herbs (fiery freshly grated horseradish), Parsley for dipping into salt water, burnt egg, lamb bone and of course my famous Charoset – or combining, according to my grandfather’s recipe. Grated apple, a spoonful of ground almonds, a touch of cinnamon, sweet wine or grape juice and a little very finely sliced lettuce. Oh it is scrummy and each time I taste it I think of my Zeidy, my amazing, gentle, kind, red-headed, Zeidy, Yosef Glicker. Every item set out on the Seder Plate has a deep meaning, every word in both Aramaic and Hebrew relates our journey from slavery to freedom. https://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1998/jewish/The-Seder-Plate.htm
Black history has changed the USA. Rabbi Jeremy Rosen wrote about the similarities and differences in the freedom of American Blacks and Jews leaving slavery to freedom. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and many other Jews walked beside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King on his walk from Selma to Montgomery on 21st March, 1965; I learned that a Jew, Abel Meeropol, wrote Billie Holliday’s iconic song “Strange Fruit”- read his wonderful article. http://jeremyrosen.com/2021/03/freedom.html
Something Ehud Olmert said warmed my heart and I take the essence of what he said “It doesn’t matter how the elections turn out, this is still the very best country in the world, we get through predicaments, we cope with enemies, we thrive through situations that other countries flounder and even through the entire pandemic we initiated and succeeded, at a cost to those who lost their jobs, but that will change”
Latest news! Professor Gili Regev leads the team that has inverted an Anti-Covid nasal spray that works within 2 minutes. https://www.timesofisrael.com/life-saving-nose-spray-that-kills-99-9-of-viruses-begins-production-in-israel/
So I must continue with my preparations as I wend my way through the packing cases…..
The songs we sing at the Seder table have evolved over the centuries, absorbed from the many countries of the dispersion, of the Diaspora. This one counts our blessings in a very special way https://youtu.be/1XU-3IuzPEE “Who Knows One”
Chad Gadya – Only one kid, appears to be the story of a man who buys a kid for 2 zuzim but in fact, is so much more and all about belief and life https://youtu.be/dsW1JTCByOs
Finally the Maccabeats and the Les Miserables Passover. Enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmthKpnTHYQ
I wish you a good Seder and hope that this year you can be with your loved ones
Shabbat Shalom, and remember that the evening ends with 3 words which sum up our yearning for freedom
“L’Shana Hab’aah b’Yerushalim – Next year in Jerusalem