The view from my veranda

Political Tsunami, Hike in the Desert, Eli Cohen and RAIN

1st March 2019


Good Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom and Happy St. David’s Day!!!


Today, March 1st, is St David’s Day. St David is the patron St of Wales and the only patron St to have visited Jerusalem. When my children were small I used to sing Calon Lan to them – now Only Boys Aloud represent the best in Wales.
The boys come from a former mining area, without a chance for jobs and the probability of delinquency, the choirmaster brought them together, gave them hope and a song in their heart.


I know you didn’t expect me to start with Wales after an Israeli political tsunami, but I had to keep up my reputation of presenting a positive front! In truth, it was expected and no one is surprised.


My friend Doron Maresky wrote thus (I changed a tiny bit)

While I think it’s a sign of strength of a country when the legal process “works” even in the face of immense political pressure. On the other hand, it’s a badge of disgrace when the judiciary has to act against sitting legislators and political leaders. In Israel’s case, wearing this badge of disgrace has become almost commonplace, with numerous Knesset members and government ministers having already been convicted of various crimes over the years, a sitting President being convicted of rape and a sitting Prime Minister having been convicted for far less than is being brought against Netanyahu… and there are still many unanswered questions surrounding the political lynching of that Prime Minister – Ehud Olmert….

Two things worth noting:

  1. When an indictment was brought against that Ehud Olmert, it was Netanyahu who was most vocal about why the mere indictment required that the PM resign.
  2. As minor and as dubious as the indictment was, PM Olmert swallowed his pride and out of respect for the office he held and respect for the voters of Israel, he honorably resigned and vacated his seat.


For me the worst aspect, above any accusations of bribery and corruption, is that Mr Netanyahu attacked the Attorney General Dr Avichai Mandelblitt, an honourble and brilliant man who served as the Chief Military Advocate General of the IDF, who was chosen for the position by Netanyahu himself; the former Chief of Police Alsheikh; and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, claiming their decision is purely political thus demeaning both their position and the rule of law. Mr Netanyahu, it wasn’t the Israeli legal institutions nor the political left who caused your problems, you did it yourself.


In truth I am more than a little depressed by the whole affair, even though we have been privy to his legal malfunctioning for years, after all he is our leader, he represents Israel on the world stage and yet again a Prime Minister is unable to function. Almost every public official, left, right and centre, has quoted Mr Netanyahu’s statements concerning PM Olmert and his decision to resign the Premiership to deal with legal issues.


It is irrelevant as to whether the charges would have been brought anywhere else in the world, this country is under Israeli law and, unlike in the past, today we do not allow our politicians to stray even one inch from the straight and narrow.


In the world at large, President Trump met with President Kim and they seem to have an understanding, even a friendship, which is incredible since their world views are diametrically opposed! Never forget that a great leader said “Jaw jaw jaw is better than war war war”.


India was “born” just a few months before Israel. The same principle of partition although in their case it was separation between Hindu and Islam, India and Pakistan – at that time India and East and West Pakistan which later became Bangladesh. The partition didn’t work well for India either since their neighbours of Pakistan and Bangladesh have been at war with India ever since. India also has a large Moslem minority which like Israel, has a very violent sector within. This week the never ending battle over Kashmir reached unexpected heights, even more dangerous than our over-hyped situation since both India and Pakistan have nuclear weaponry.


In Argentina the Chief Rabbi was attacked and beaten, his wife tied to a chair and the government is trying to say it wasn’t a racially motivated attack since burglary is common in Argentina. If that were true why did they ask him if he was Jewish, call him racist names?


Britain made the decision to outlaw all branches of Hezb-Allah, the military and the “political” much to the chagrin of Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition who lost credibility within his own party and is going down quite dramatically in the polls.


Since I have already admitted my distress, can I ignore the remaining world politics and just tell you about my week? I think you enjoy hearing the good news just as much as I enjoy writing about it.


On Friday morning, at 07:00 we drove down the road to the Pais Basketball Arena, parked our trusty little 18 year old Daihatsu and made our way to the awaiting bus and all our lovely friends from Zvi’s choir, Hakol Yachassi. Yes, we were off to see the incredible Calaniot (wild anemones) which, thanks to the recent heavy rains, cover the normally arid parks of the South. It was amazing! We walked and walked, each time finding even more carpets of red. Obviously we didn’t pick even a one, a practice very much frowned upon in Israel. I amazed myself by walking 5 kilometres without feeling a moments pain!!


Next we went to the Meshek Shmueli Goat Farm where we not only met the goats, we learned how to make goat’s cheese!! It was so much fun. The owner explained how he left a highly lucrative position in HiTech after surviving a particularly invasive form of cancer and chose to return to his first love, kibbutz life and goats. The business is a family business and makes for a delightful visit.


Of to the hotel Ibis in Yerucham, which in itself was a great surprise, delightful rooms, all of them suites, and a surprise outside. Shabbat dinner was special and held another surprise! The other group that was visiting the hotel were from Holland, all of them supporting Israel. They joined us in our singing of Shabbat songs and later when we sang all together. The funniest moment was when one lady spoke to a friend in the choir telling her that she sings in the Shaare Zedek Choir in Holland, asking if Ora knew the hospital. Oh boy does she know it! Ora is an oncologist in Shaare Zedek!


At a very amusing talk by highly colourful local character Rafi Biton, who came with his family to Yerucham 62 years ago, from Morocco, and the culture shock of being dropped into a virtually uninhabited village in shacks without running water or electricity. He told of the other groups who arrived to the same welcome – Romanians, Iraqis, Yemenis……… and how everyone grew together to help form a town of 10,000 inhabitants and the industry they brought to encourage full employment.


What was the surprise outside the hotel? Stark, arid, exquisite desert! After the glorious green fields and calaniot, it showed the other side of the coin of life in the South. Led by Eli Pardess, who sings in the choir, we set off on the longest trek I have done since doctors told me I would be in a wheelchair within 6 months…………. 10 years ago! The terrain was really tough, hills and wadis, stones strewn across our path, and the most wonderful clean, clear air. We walked and walked and I was amazed to find that most of the choir were only a few hundred metres ahead of me, many of whom came back to ensure that a hand was extended to help me over the various dips and mounds. Of course Zvi was next to me most of the time, so I felt confident of my steps. It was worth every moment and by the time we made it back to the hotel we had trekked for 6 kilometres!


We got back home at about 21:00 on Saturday evening to a warm welcome from our lovely friend Kim who had arrived the night before from Cardston, Alberta, Canada. The next morning, at eight o’clock, I took Zvi and Kim to the Inbal Hotel for the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency meetings. I was not there for most of the meetings, but from what I heard from many of the attendees, they talked about anti-Semitism on Campus but had no relevant suggestions – in fact they talked about many things.


After the meetings, on Tuesday evening we were honoured to be invited to a dinner in honour of the retiring DG of the World Zionist Organisation, Eli Cohen, a wonderful man who is young enough to recognise it is time to move on to the big wide world. Since we sat at a table with Ellen Hershkin, Kim Taylor, Danny Lamm with Helena Glaser popping over for a chat although officially on the top table, we had enormous fun. Everyone loves Eli Cohen who did a terrific job.


Right at the beginning I referred to the political tsunami, well we very nearly had a tsunami in the Jerusalem Hills!!! Torrential rain created huge floods in every wadi, valley and dip in the road! Here the emergency teams rescue a man who was trapped in a raging torrent on a side road in Jerusalem


OK – Music, music, music!


It seems appropriate to give you the song Rain, by Eli Luzon, from the excellent Israeli movie Afula Express. I love this song even if it is not strictly Shabbesdik!!!


Another brilliant Israeli singer is Boaz Sharabi and his song Halleva’i talks of peace and faith, and our search for hope


Finally,  a Shabbat song about the meaning of Shabbat to all of us around the world (in English)


So dear friends, you came with me on a journey to the South of Israel and new discoveries on our journey , you felt my pain at the probable indictment of another Israeli PM, you celebrated St Davids Day………. And now I must run because my Challot are in the oven and I don’t want them to burn! Of course they will not be a patch on Rachel’s but I was the official wet weather driver for Rachel and the children yesterday,  fighting deep puddles and drivers who have no concept of bad weather conditions!! Everyone managed to get to their dance class and Yosef to the Gym so I am taking a break today and cooking for Zvi’s boys and families who are coming for supper tonight. It’s a small Shabbat dinner today, we’re just 11. Pea soup, Celery soup, multiple salads, salmon, lasagne, broccoli “pashtida” and beautiful baby ogen melons for dessert.


Shabbat Shalom to you all, may we be blessed with leaders whose only care is to lead their country wisely. About time eh?


With much love to you all