The view from my veranda

Scared, Sacred or Scarred

15th March 2024

161st day of October

Scarred and Scared

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. For a change I want to begin with a letter from a friend. It fascinated me and helped me understand many aspects of what it means to be both here in Israel and in the country of one’s residence, the USA, during this particularly worry time.

“I arrived in Israel three days before the war started. On Shabbat morning I wake up to the news of what Hamas had done and that the war had started. I was staying with my brother and sister in law in Natanya. Of course, it was a shock to the system, to say the least. After the first few moments, I felt grateful that I was in Israel with my close family. I would have gone crazy had I heard the news in Los Angeles, were I live. Of course, I started to receive phone calls from my children and grandchildren to come back to the US. By then, I had relaxed and my mind was made up. It took a few days and phone calls, back and forth, to make them understand that I was not afraid. That I knew the IDF would take care of all of us and, most of all, I could not abandon my family in Israel. That I would have felt like a coward! That my life was NOT more valuable than theirs! Most of all, that I would never be able to forgive myself nor live with myself! Finally, they all understood. I assured them that I would fly back the day and time I was scheduled to return, which I did three weeks later.

I must admit that my fear is much greater being in Los Angeles than it was while I was in Israel. I never thought that there would be such antisemitism! In Israel, we all thought that, finally, after such an horrific attack by Hamas, the world would get it! That did not quite happen. Most of all, what is of extreme concern to me, are the acts of terrorism that, I believe, will take place. I must admit, unlike while in Israel, and I have been to Israel many times, now I am terrorized! I have never felt this way before! I worry about my family here, my friends and the Jewish community.” 

There has been uproar here since the Sefardi Chief Rabbi, Yitzchak Yosef warned of a mass exodus of ultra-Orthodox Jews from Israel if the government were to revoke their exemption from conscription to military service. Sadly, just as young Haredi men are beginning to understand the need to join the IDF, this has created yet another rift in our society. It is all too close to “sinat Hinam”

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly made an incredible claim while on an official visit to our area. She has devoted $1 million investigating sexual harassment of Palestinian women! Not a word about October 7th, not a word about the continued situation of the hostages. Yes, Canada. We remember Canada’s response to the Jewish refuges during WW2. Apparently, nothing has changed. I know who one of your advisors is but I can only say, “Look out Canada’s Jews”

Do you remember the Yazidi women? In 2019 thousands and thousands of Yazidi women and children were captured by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and sold into slavery, raped, beaten and their husbands killed. Not a word from the world, except for the wonderful Canon Andrew White, silence, nobody cared. Islamic State is a brother group to ISIS, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israeli women and children were taken into captivity, raped, murdered and what happens? The world turns against us.

Hillel Fuld made some exceptional points about the hypocrisy of current world reactions to the War in Gaza. My lovely friend Stanley Roth brought my attention to this. Well worth reading.

UNWRA was at the top of the agenda for the Over 20 parliamentarians from various countries actively promoting pro-Israel legislation through Christian faith-based diplomacy were invited to discussions at the Jerusalem Chairman’s Conference, organized by the Israel Allies Foundation. The conference heard Members of Knesset and visited the South. They also learned the fact that 1,468 UNWRA employees are active members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad while 50% of UNWRA employees have a first-degree relative who is a member of one of the terror organisations. I am so proud of Impact-se ( ) as the organisation which warned the world about UNWRA through their violently anti-infidel, anti-Israel schoolbooks.

Israel Katz in UN. Thanks to USA, France and UK and to Japan. For arranging this meeting. Forget his accent, listen carefully to his message “Close your eyes and imagine that the Nova Field was your field”

Not everything is bad news. In the Israeli Bedouin settlement Bir al-Maksor, which means Broken Well, Ramadan began with a parade with the Israeli flag held high. The settlement is near the Jezreeel Valley. I must say that it warmed the hearts of many an Israeli Jew.

Sarah Idan, the former Miss Iraq who stood up to the theocratic dictatorship now in Iraq, stood beside Mia Schem at Sir Elton John’s Oscar party in Hollywood. Sara made a powerful fashion statement wearing a dress she designed. The dress included the names of 19 Israeli women still held hostage in Gaza. Thank you Sarah Idan for standing with the hostages! Sarah designed her own dress, with broad yellow sashes declaring “Bring Them Home” and Mia Schem, looking beautiful and proud, her arm still in a cast, showing the world that despite the untold horror of captivity as a hostage with Hamas, she is living and thriving. Israeli women will not be cowed by the dire brutality of Hamas.

World famous boxer Floyd Mayweather, not only sent supplies including bullet proof vests and so much more in his private plane immediately after October 7th, he came again to Israel to visit the South and to declare his absolute support for Israel.

Mike Freer is a Member of the Tory Party and a Minister in the UK. He is Gay and, like his PM Rishi Sunak, really understands what is happening. Here he speaks out about the inanity of LGBTQ support for Gazans i.e. Hamas

Purim, the story of a brave woman, a cheating husband, a clever man and the usual, same-old same-old story of a cruel, but powerful man, leading his King astray, telling such far fetched lies that he convinced him that he must kill all the Jews in his Kingdom.  Purim is so much more than getting cross at Haman, the cruel man, and eating triangular cookies!  However, since we are on the good news section of this week’s missive, let’s talk about those cookies. Patisseries and bakeries are festooned with every kind of filling that a small triangular pastry case can possibly contain! The traditional poppy seed or pereg, chocolate, that wonderful dried fruit paste called mincemeat, hundreds and thousands and some very sophisticated ones that our grandparents would never have recognised!   I grew up calling them Hamantschen or Haman’s hats or tricornes. Zvi grew up calling them Oznay Haman or Haman’s Ears and today the joke is that they should be called Oznay Sinwar, since Sinwar is as cruel as Haman, is the leader of Hamas and has big ears! Yes, Israelis have a black sense of humour, we’ve been given no choice. By the way, don’t forget that Haman got his comeuppance and suffered the same fate as he ordered for Mordechai.

What is the relevance of Purim today. My dear friend Rabbi Jeremy Rosen always seems to come up with the explanation I search for and always at the right time. Purim is not for another week or so but our current situation begs this analysis.   I quote from the first paragraph. Purim matters so much this year. It tells a never-ending story. We were threatened with destruction. We responded by finding ways to combat the threat.  We did not capitulate. We called out evil as it was. We celebrated our survival by emphasizing charity, friendship, and gratitude, strengthening our communities, all positive qualities, building not destroying. We did not rejoice in needless pain or seeing others suffer. Purim makes another point. That one reaction to evil is to laugh at it. Not to exclude fighting it of course. But to show that evil however horrific, can also be laughed at. There are many other ways of fighting evil.  Just think of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, and Mel Brooks’ The Producers. Often as effective as serious analysis. 

Many of you heard about the One Family Organisation started during the 2nd Intifada by Chantal and Marc Belzberg. Since that time One Family has grown into the number one support for Israelis of every age and faith no matter where they live, Israelis who have been injured or family members killed in terror attacks. Kinneret Chaya was horribly injured in that first wave of terror and their support for the Boosany family was superb which is when I fell in love with both the Belzberg family and One Family. Thousands upon thousands have been given love and assistance by One Family and now at long last they have been officially recognised. One Family is the recipient of the Genesis Prize. Mazal Tov to the Belzberg Family. Never has a prize been more deserved.

Eden Golan is a fabulous representative of Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest singing Hurricane. It’s just a few weeks since she won the “Star is Born” competition to be the Israeli representative and what struck everyone, panel and public alike, is her professionalism and confidence, especially in one so young. At the demand of the powers that be in the contest they insisted the words of the song be changed since there was a slight suggestion that the original words mentioned her pain after October 7th. Do listen. She has a fabulous voice.

Shulem Lemmer breaks all the preconceived ideas we have of a Haredi man, and he has the voice of an angel. Life is tough for all of us at the moment and here, together with Dovid Hill, he sings a beautiful song of dreams of a better world.

Am Yisrael Chai is so much more than a call, it is a statement, it is a call of hope, a call to remember that we have suffered worse than this but if we will just unite we are strong. This too will pass. Eyal Golan with Am Yisrael Chai

This weekend, this Shabbat, this Sabbath, it’s hard to be calm, to believe everything will be alright, especially for Jews and Christians in an ever confusing world, but I hope and pray that you will find your quiet place, your calm zone, your place of belief that we are stronger than any disinformed public. Find the beauty in spring flowers, in kindnesses, in smiles, don’t fall into the abyss of disbelief. We ae strong, we have an inherited memory that good always wins over evil.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom, a peaceful Shabbat, with all the love in the world from Jerusalem OUR beautiful city, the fulcrum around which the world revolves.