The view from my veranda

Politicians, politics and plagues

21st February 2020


Shabbat Shalom! I hope this missive finds you well and not too confused by the avalanche of words we are subjected to from left and right. In fact, I think I made up an appropriate quote for the current campaigns

Leadership is not easy, empty eloquence
Leadership is the ability to lead us into a better future


Actually, the most appropriate quote is from Benjamin Disraeli “There are three kinds of lies; Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”!


Our own elections are interesting and affect our future dramatically, but watching the Democratic selection process is totally incredible to one who grew up with a party system whereby the country’s leader is not chosen by the people per se but rather the people choose a party, a policy, then the party members choose the leader – which is what Israeli politics is meant to do but has somehow strayed into the personal and personality leadership state.


I thought I would look into the voting history of the USA candidates and decided the party system is much better!! We Israelis watch the lead up to the Democratic primaries and the inevitable debates. Did I say debates? Nobody put forward a manifesto they simply berated other candidates, having left Joseph Biden alone, for now, the current target is Bloomberg, accused of being rich, not sufficiently liberal and describing one of his female staff as fat!!


I’m not suggesting that Israel’s two main party leaders are much better! In fact, Netanyahu’s entire campaign is based upon calling everyone who isn’t Likud as being left-wing! Of course, it is a ludicrous accusation, a party led by three former Chiefs of Staff cannot be accused of not understanding the security issues!  Since I wrote about the Democrats Debate it is worth noting that Benny Gantz, the leader of Blue and White refused Mr Netanyahu’s invitation to a public debate. Here is a complete guide to Israeli debating and so much more since Jacob Magid says it far better than I


Our situation should be clear cut, should be an issue of policy and party but has become very dirty as our Prime Minister is fighting for his political life and more importantly for his name. Having chosen to fight his case in court rather than accepting immunity he now faces serious charges, the court proceedings begin a mere few days after the election and could continue for another four or five years, including appeals.


The three judges have been chosen, the site for the case is as yet undecided because the District Court, where the trial should take place, is in a predominantly Arab neighbourhood of Jerusalem which they say would be difficult to secure and has no parking or place for the press to sit. Ironically there are two options which are currently being considered – either Binyanei Ha’Uma where Demjanjuk was tried or Bet Ha’Am where Eichmann was tried!! Of course, there is no comparison but it just tickled my sense of humour!


The strangest outcome of the indictments is that it has not deterred even one Likud voter from voting Likud! Actually, even stranger is the fact that the Likud Members of Knesset chose to follow Bibi wherever he leads even knowing that if he resigned they could form a government with Blue and White and put us all out of our misery!!!


I know that I am part of a tiny minority when I claim that the Corona Virus hype is imposed by forces yet unknown. Erel Margalit, Jerusalem entrepreneur, was not afraid to declare, in interviews in NYC, that he believes that the Corona Virus was caused by a leakage of biological weaponry in China; I have no idea if it is true but it is not beyond the realms of possibility. I also believe that the Virus – COVID-19 – while clearly a virulent strain, is not more dangerous than recent influenza outbreaks which killed 10,000 Americans last year alone. There is great confusion in the World Health Organisation announcements, starting with hysteria and more recent announcements tapering of to concern since there is currently no immunization process in place.


The distress of the passengers on the Diamond Princess were held hostage to an air conditioning system that ensured the spread of any illness, including the Corona Virus was made worse by the slow progress of their release.


Here in Israel the government clearly waited until the preparations were completed on the isolation unit beside Sheba Hospital – which used to be the Rehabilitation Centre – and when one sees the futuristic protective clothing of the staff ready to accept the passengers for a further two week isolation upon their return to Israel, many thoughts passed through my mind. Particularly that this was an exercise in preparation for future chemical attacks. I know I am allowing my suspicious mind to go to great lengths but after being terrified by catastrophic predictions for Asian Flu, Spanish Flu, AIDS, West Nile Fever, Swine Flu perhaps we should try to keep things in proportion while taking all the necessary precautions. Don’t forget – sneezing and coughing into one’s elbow it number one!!


I am very proud to report the exceptional results of the work of Impact-se yet again, particularly of our CEO Marcus Sheff. Europeans are major funders of the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education. IMPACT-se‘s campaign on the continent led to the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini announcing in April 2019 an investigation of the PA curriculum over concerns of incitement to hatred and violence. In September the EU’s Budget Committee recommended to freeze €15 million in aid to the PA Ministry of Education. In April 2018, the EU Parliament passed legislation designed to prevent EU aid from being used to teach hate in Palestinian textbooks. Last December, the Norwegian Parliament instructed government to withhold funding to Palestinian Authority if incitement is not removed from textbooks. In January last year, the United Kingdom Parliament passed the first reading of Palestinian School Funding Bill. The bill mandates UK assistance to the PA education system to comply with international values of peace and tolerance (clip of the Bill passing first reading is here).


Impact-se has an unmatched library of textbooks and reports, to the sole purpose of encouraging tolerance in education at home and abroad. The library is moving to a permanent home in the Hebrew University and I am incredibly proud to tell you that the Impact Board has chosen to name this important reference center the Dr Daniel J Cammerman Collection. My son was devoted to children and most importantly to the freedom of children from hate and intolerance, he abhorred injustice and the decision of the Board, initiated by Marcus Sheff and Helen Borstein, made me even more proud and grateful for my connection to the organisation.


Ah the peccadilloes of winter. We wait and wait for the rains, bemoaning the dry and arid land then suddenly the skies open, the Kinneret fills up, waves lapping the shores of Tiberias, and the desert is abloom with wild anemones, poppies, pink cyclamen, indeed a riot of colour that defies nature! The Red South (Darom Adom) becomes a great tourist attraction – despite the determined attempts of Islamic Jihad to deter visitors with their balloon attacks with explosive devices attached. See the beauty of nature


I said pecadilloes because on the other hand while Southern Israel blossoms from the rains Southern Britain is suffering from two storms, Ciara and Dennis which have left vast areas under water, including the home of George Clooney in Sonning Berkshire – right next to where I grew my children and I am sure our former garden, beside the River Thames, is seriously waterlogged!!

In the meantime, without rain and in heavenly surroundings in far off New Zealand my beautiful great-niece Olivia married her Prince Charming Shaun watched by her Grandma Doreen, Mum and Dad Steve and Claire and her siblings Carly and Jacob and the rest of us have to make do with fantastic photographs!! Mazal Tov to everyone!!


I am walking more and more and have graduated from the walker to two ski sticks!! It is just 4 weeks since surgery and each and every day I am more grateful to the brilliant surgeons who have changed my life. My wanderings have reached beyond our car parks toward the beautiful wild almond blossoms on the empty plot next to us. I love the way they begin like pink clouds and gradually become pure white as they provide the promise of tasty treats for the wild birds – especially the bright green ring-necked parakeets, relative invaders to our skies who despite their beauty are threatening the hoopoes, wagtails and iridescent black Tsufit. Originally the parakeets simply stopped on their way north or south but decided this land of milk and honey was worth investigating further and they found it very fruitful!


Every morning I awake to a new and ever more glorious sunrise. In winter the sun hides behind the clouds and suddenly pops out from behind and lights up the edges of the great puffs of steam and creates unbelievable shapes. I try to capture the glory of the sights and if you are on Facebook you can see the results.


There is love in me – that’s the title of the song and the truth of our hope, our future. Here Koolulam sing Koolulove


God gave us the earth, he gave us Shabbat and Festivals, he gave us so many wonderful things so that we could bring children to this world. Just one more gift, small but wonderful, please give this world peace.


We all have dreams, we all wish for a kinder better world and leaders who speak for us not at us. In fact we all have a million dreams.


I wish you a wonderful weekend, at least some of your dreams fulfilled and time with loved ones, time to spend just loving each other and remembering why.


I wish you good Shabbes, a Shabbat Shalom, time for peaceful contemplation.


With much love from our veranda