The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach


8th October 2009.

Shabbat Shalom, Moadin le Simcha, Chag Sameach, Happy Tabernacles!

WE DUNNIT! Professor Ada Yonat of the Weizman Institute won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2009 for her undaunting research into ribosome culture and structure toward the creation of antibiotics effective against diseases unresponsive to current medication. To congratulate the Professor, the first Israeli woman to win a Nobel Prize, who accepted the Prize with humility, grace and humour, write to,7340,L-3786746,00.html

Zvi and I went to Eilat last weekend. The city was buzzing with children and the hotels were jam-packed for Succot. The weather was perfect, and the evenings balmy as the sun set over the Red Sea. It was a glorious break together with two of our grandchildren (and their parents!). After the 4 hour drive through the Negev desert with its exceptional acacia trees ; the Ramon crater and the miraculous Dead Sea , we went straight to the hotel, switched on the television in fear, pain, anticipation and no small amount of relief, to see the video broadcast of Gilad Schalit.

The video clearly shows his fear, his frail body, his constant concerned glances toward his captors, but it shows he is alive, relatively healthy and coherent. As he uttered the names of his parents, Noam and Aviva, his face changed, a yearning fleetingly apparent, and fear that his weakness may show. Unlike political and terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails who get frequent visits from Red Cross representatives to ensure their human rights, Gilad, son of Aviva and Noam, whose crime was that he was an Israeli soldier on undisputed Israeli land at Kerem Shalom, does not know that fellow soldiers in his platoon died when he was captured. Gilad has no Red Cross visits, no rights. The women for whom the video was exchanged, were near the end of their sentences, are all well fed, well tended and clearly had conjugal visits since one went home with a small child, and they had the opportunity to study – something they could not do in their own anti-feminist society.

Was it worth the release of twenty women to get the video? Absolutely.

Young Moslems have been throwing stones on the Temple Mount, and in Arab neighborhoods around Jerusalem after the Northern Islamic Movement of Israeli Arabs led by Sheikh Raeed Salah (yes he of the excavations and destruction beneath the Temple Mount), and Ismail Haniya of Hamas, stated that not only is Israel not Jewish, that the Temple Mount predated by Harm el Sharif, but that Jerusalem never has been and never will be the city of the Jews. It is irrelevant that Judaism celebrates 5770 years, King David’s Jerusalem over 3,000 years and Mohammed’s Islam began in 622 CE!

Their promulgation of Holocaust revisionism assumes that Israel was created as a result of the Holocaust and as a consequence Israel has no right to exist. As thousands of Jews flocked to Jerusalem to hear the ancient priestly blessing at the Kotel, Raeed Salah claimed that the Jews were coming to “take over” Al Aqsa Mosque. He has been arrested for incitement. The Arab desire to exterminate Jews is not new witnessed by this video of the relationship between the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Adolf Hitler.

Avdat is a World heritage site- a Nabataean Village which includes a Byzantine Church lovingly excavated by Israeli archaeologists. Avdat was on the Incense Route. This weekend Bedouin men – one a guard at the site, vandalized, threw paint, broke pillars and destroyed many years of work on the relics. Destruction of proof of our pre-existence is paramount.

The Jerusalem Parade takes place every year at Sukkot/Tabernacles with the participation of over 70,000 Jews and Christians, veteran soldiers, scouts, B’nei Akiva and all who celebrate the city, the festival and our shared values. The participation of so many thousands of Christians is ensured by the hard work of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.

By contrast Gan Sacher held the Red Bull Soap Box Festival – flying go-carts!!!

Bravo to Israel 21C ( for spreading this story of an Israeli cure for the virus which is devastating the bee population of the world on to most of the major news networks. Bravo to Israel for originating the cure. If the bee population dies, no plants are fertilized and our world ecology changes drastically in a manner which puts Al Gores fears into a cocked hat.

Rahm Emmanuel provides great material for stand-up comics. I beg your pardon on the expletives not deleted at the end but it is a marvelously funny skit.

Fellow South Africans, former members of that wonderfully active Jewish community, have responded brilliantly to Judge Richard Goldstone after his report on Operation Cast Lead for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Barbara Fix wrote a personal letter to her old mentor and Maurice Ostroff an analysis of the report I urge you to read both.

So many issues are hidden from us in our democracies! The decision taken by the Palestinian Authority not to support the Goldstone Report has been hushed up, and the reason they took that decision has been totally removed from the media. A t story appeared in the Israeli newspaper Maariv a few days ago then disappeared. The story claimed that before Operation Cast Lead Abu Mazen and several members of his cabinet had numerous meetings with PM Olmert, Defence Minister Barak and Israeli Ministerial counterparts asking them to go into Gaza and decimate the Hamas operation. The meeting was recorded and when the Goldstone Report loomed PM Netanyahu threatened to release the tape if Abu Mazen supported it – hence the reversal by the PA. The story disappeared completely and if Zvi had not read it with his own eyes I would not have known of its existence. Now we know why there has been a virulent anti-Abbas campaign in the PA since Operation Cast Lead.

This morning Zvi and I met our old friends Earl and Kathleen Cox of Front Page Jerusalem News. Kathleen and Earl have proven their friendship to us, to Israel and to Jerusalem over and over again as, showing deep respect for Judaism, they not only talk the talk but walk the walk.

Sukkot has special aromas. Childhood memories of the intense fragrance of over-ripe fruit hanging from the Succah roof enhanced by the citrus and myrtle of the Lulav and Etrog mixed with the sweet Kiddush wine and cakes which awaited us after the service at the Cardiff Synagogue, for me embody sukkot,. Those aromas re-awaken memories of the Rabbis, the congregation, the friends, holding tight on to my parent’s hands not to be lost in the crush and the warmth of belonging found in a small community. True that today my friends from Wales are spread over the globe, but a surprising number from that tiny Welsh community made Aliyah (500 out of 3,000 Jews) and this Sukkot five of us and our husbands (one Welsh too) will sit in our succah, share memories and create new ones. I love my new and very special friends, but admit that I am more and more aware of the comfort that binds those of us with shared memories.

With much love from Jerusalem, centre of our world, heart of our hearts