The view from my veranda

Rabin, Russia and Education


28th October 2021

Shabbat Shalom! Hopefully a Shabbat without too many ghosties, Ghoulies and things that go bump in the night as All Hallows Eve becomes an international celebration of the noble Pumpkin!!

Israel has survived many trials and tribulations since her birth but none so traumatic as the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. Months of incitement against him from the political opposition, posters of him in kaffiya, insulting posters, speeches from hotel balconies and worse led up to November 4th, 1995 the day when Israel lost her innocence and a fellow Jew shot and killed our Prime Minister, ironically as he walked toward his car after a peace rally where he sang, or rather growled in the monotone of a heavy smoker, “Shir le Shalom”, a song to peace. Since that time the left have adopted Rabin as a symbol of a policy he most definitely did not represent – Yitzchak Rabin was above all a “bitchonist” (security minded) the security of Israel was his prime, sometimes only purpose. A determined IDF Chief of Staff, he remained a painfully shy man, the antithesis of the slick eloquence of  at least one of his successors, he cared deeply about this little country and his personality created a special relationship with all his fellow leaders around the world, a rare thing indeed. I loved the man, not just the Prime Minister, I loved the fact that at the opening of the Jerusalem 3000 celebrations in Washington (Zvi was the international Director of the celebrations) Yitzchak Rabin entered the Rotunda and instead of going to greet all the political glitterati there his only concern was me, little insignificant me, because he worried that I was post-surgery and someone may hurt me in the crush. A rare man indeed.  Liat Collins expresses my thoughts on what ensued extremely well.

Our current Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett also lacks the gift of the gab, but when he speaks one feels he means what he says. He has been meeting leaders internationally; top of his list was the meeting with President Biden but he understood the importance of discussions with Putin’s Russia too. In fact Putin gave a tacit agreement to Israel defending herself by taking out Iranian installations in Syria. Bennet has many problems within his fragile coalition, not helped by the silver tongue of the leader of the opposition who sees himself back in the House on Balfour Street (the PM’s Residence). The coalition is made up of widely disparate political beliefs, which makes it all the more democratic but very hard to handle and makes for a very noisy Knesset! One of the most recent bones of contention was the debate on recognition of the massacre by the Irgun (the para-military organisation pre-Independence led by Menachem Begin) in the Arab village of Deir Yassin, near Jerusalem, in 1948 in which some 120 villagers were killed. War is never a gentle polite affair, the question is in interpretation of a battle.

There were two recent blips in our relations with the USA; one was the administrations clear disapproval at the announcement that new housing in the disputed territories was approved, despite the fact that a large number of Palestinian housing was also approved, and secondly, that Minister of Defence Gantz proposed banning certain Palestinian NGOs on the basis that they incite to hatred and support terrorism. High time that the West came to understand that free speech carries an element of restraint and understanding that the written word can kill.

I find it really hard to understand why the International LGBTQ community would want to boycott the Tel Aviv LGBTQ Film Festival! They actually support the “Palestinian Cause” when they have no idea of the torture members of their community suffer in the PA. Anyway, not everyone is so blind,

Impact-se is in the news again – actually the Arab press. The Palestinians are not best pleased with us and are particularly piqued by the fact that most of the countries in the region not only admire Impact-se’s work but are asking our advice!! Leading Arab media outlet, Raseef22, with a readership of 360 million in 22 countries, ran a feature story on IMPACT-se’s work to create a “new generation, to make sure that our children are learning peace and cultural tolerance.” The piece referenced positive changes driven by IMPACT-se in Saudi Arabian textbooks, which led to the start of “the actual normalization with Saudi Arabia,” according to the outlet. Raseef22 also noted IMPACT-se’s work exposing hate and antisemitism in UNRWA, PA and Jordanian textbooks leading to pressure from the EU and Norway. The outlet noted the failure by the PA to confront IMPACT-se’s work, no wonder the PA is peeved especially since The UK Government announced yesterday that it is has ended direct funding to Palestinian education after a campaign waged by the UK’s pro-Israel community, supported by IMPACT-se research and briefings to policymakers.

The “Blue Flag” International aviation exercise, held at Uvda Airbase, took place over the last 10 days with the participation of Germany, Italy, Britain, France, India, Greece and the United States. To open the proceedings German and Israeli fighter jets flew over Jerusalem a truly historic event. This is the first deployment of a British fighter squadron in Israel since the establishment of the country, as well as the first-ever deployment of an Indian “Mirage” fighter squadron in Israel, and the first deployment of a French “Rafale” fighter squadron in Israel. Another first was the visit of the Emirates Air Force Chief. Quite a coup for our IDF.

This week we had a truly delightful visit from Perla and Carlos Jinich. Zvi and Perla were at school together in Mexico City – at the Yiddische Schuleh – where Zvi’s parents taught Hebrew as emissaries of the Jewish Agency to the Mexican Community. We went for lunch to my favourite restaurant, Caffit in the Botanical Garden, for my first visit there in 2 years. Zvi is there most Fridays since his parliament meets there to put the world to rights. Lunch was delicious and as always I ordered my very favourite – the Oreganatto Battatah – an Italian salad with roasted strips of sweet potato. I shouldn’t talk about the food because the company was a delight and unlike most of Zvis friends, Perla and Carlos spoke in English (as opposed to Spanish) so that I could understand. After our lunch Perla said that she wanted to see something very “Yerushalmi” (Jerusalem-ish) that she hasn’t seen before so we headed off for the spectacular panorama from Har Gilo. Truly magnificent, even I have never seen such a complete view over Jerusalem way up high above the city where the air was clear and the delight of our guests complete as Zvi explained virtually every building and historic site laid before them. From Har Gilo we came back down into Jerusalem then drove home through the Jerusalem Forest, in itself a treat, along the winding road, surrounded by trees planted by each and every one of you through KKL/JNF. I was so happy that they came to our new home and we sat out on the veranda, enjoying the history of Arza, Theodore Herzl’s visit and the ancient history of Motza Illit, but most of all, of each other’s company.

Maureen Lipman is so much more than an excellent actress, author and stand up comedienne, Maureen Lipman is a proud Jew who stood up to the Labour Party and is a  spokesperson for Israel on many a tough television debate. She is not mawkish about it, she is matter of fact, being Jewish and loving Israel are of paramount importance in her life. I remember when she had a weekly page in a very popular women’s magazine in which she talked about her life, her family, her husband, author and playwright Jack Rosenthal and her interests, very funny and very clever, my favourite being when she wrote about her son’s Bar Mitzva. Deservedly, she paid a visit to Buckingham Palace to receive the title Dame, Dame Maureen Lipman. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

This morning Zvi and I will wend our way to the Habima Theatre in Tel Aviv for a musical performance, the first time we have been to Habima since Covid. Zvi’s connection with the Habima Theatre goes back a very long way as his family founded Habima in Russia and he spent most of his childhood backstage as his Mother’s cousins performed. Hanneleh Hendler and her daughter Dalia Friedland were the inspiration of his mother, Ala Raviv, to form a student theatre group at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1939. No wonder Zvi is such a great speaker!

Last word- Mark Zuckerberg has been under great pressure to make changes to Facebook after finally understanding that Facebook had evolved into the source of much incitement and racism. Zuckerberg says he’s chosen Meta, because of its meaning in Greek – “beyond”, which alludes to the “Metaverse”, an online virtual oasis that he wants to build. Trouble is he chose the new name without thought of his Jewish roots or Hebrew META in Hebrew means dead!!!

So what songs fit the news of this week? Since most Israeli songs have the word peace – Shalom – in them, let’s go with that. One is clear, so very clear and that is “Shir le Shalom” the song Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin sang before his assassination. I wonder, in how many countries do you see young soldiers singing a song for peace?

Next another song for peace as Jews and Arabs get together – Love it

Finally, we each choose whether we create a storm or if we act as a bridge over troubled waters, it is a conscious choice. Do we stay quiet, allow complacence to rule our lives or should we step up and try to teach, calm, learn……. Here the incredible Shalva Band sings along with Tareq Al Menhali, Arqam and the Jerusalem Symphony.


I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, a blessed All Hallows and a weekend filled with joy

With all our love from Jerusalem