The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom. Day 34 and they are still not home

Day 34 and they are still not home

9th November 2023

Shabbat Shalom

Almost another Shabbat and 240 people of all ages from 8 months to 80 years, kidnapped and held hostage for 34 days. We cannot stop until they are all freed, irrespective of their nationality or religion. The thought of separating into Jews and non-Jews, Israelis and non-Israelis reeks of “selection” and we all know what that means.

Today it was announced that “under the right circumstances” two hostages will be freed because Palestinian Islamic Jihad is concerned that they cannot meet their medical requirements. One an elderly lady and a boy of 13 with severe asthma. To release two at a time is like the constant drip drip drip of Japanese torture during WW2. It then became apparent that this is not only a Hamas operation, Islamic Jihad are holding these two and probably another 30. Now we have to decide what to do. Perhaps the USA has forgotten the expression “no negotiations with terrorists” or the world thinks it doesn’t apply to Israel.

Danny Kashmaro is an Israeli reporter who went deep into Gaza with the troops. He showed us a classroom, obviously teaching biology, then walked not two metres into a complete armoury, an arsenal with Kalashnikovs, grenades and all. Incredible but hardly surprising. Cowards hide behind children.

The Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Head of the Shin Bet Ronen Bar also went deep into Gaza to raise the morale of the IDF troops there. They found young soldiers, conscripts and reservists alike, whose morale was high and their determination to wipeout Hamas and save the hostages is absolute.

Last evening we had some terrible news that our daughter in law Noga’s first cousin, Dov Moshe Kogan z”l was killed while serving in Gaza. Dov Moshe was just 32 years old, the father of 3 young children and a reservist volunteer in a highly respected unit. He was laid to rest at 23:00 last night in the Military Cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. May his soul rest in peace. And may his family be consoled among the mourners of Zion.

Tomorrow is the Anniversary of Armistice Day in the UK and the Commonwealth. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month a ceremony takes place at the Cenotaph in London to commemorate those who fought and died in two world wars that we may be free. This year will be different. The two minute silence will be broken by pro-Palestinians yelling “From the River to the Sea” as attempts to ban the pro-Palestinian demonstration failed. Metropolitan Police Chief Mark Rowley claimed that he had no legal right to ban the march, and as a result the Metropolitan Police have cancelled all leave for 10,000 policemen to form a ring of steel around the ceremony.

Avigdor Liberman predicted 7th October, if not the full horror but that Hamas would grow and grow into a horrific machine capable of carnage. In December, 2016, Liberman handed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a document warning of a large-scale Hamas attack in Israel.

“Hamas intends on moving the next conflict to Israel’s territory by getting significant numbers of well-trained forces in Israel’s territory, occupying an Israeli town (or even a number of towns), and taking the residents hostage,” the document read. “Dismissing a decision to ‘surprise attack’ Hamas would be a severe error with far-reaching consequences which could be similar to the results of the Yom Kippur War.” The document was seen by Benjamin Netanyahu and the then Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, but Netanyahu dismissed Liberman’s prediction. He also dismissed Yair Lapid’s prediction of this year “On Yom Kippur Eve, I’m forced to warn Israel’s citizens: we are getting dangerously close to a multi-front violent conflict. According to reports from the defence structure, the number of alerts from the West Bank is unprecedented, and the recent disruptions at the Gaza border are exactly like those that, in the past, led to conflicts.” I have no words.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib who claims to be Palestinian was censured for her pro-Palestinian, aka Anti-Israel stance, a very public stance accompanied by a Tweet of pro-Palestinian rallies around the USA. It is time Ms Tlaib decided if she is American or Palestinian because one of the loudest voices of those she calls her people, is for the downfall of the United States of America. If it sounds like treason, looks like treason and smells like treason, guess what? It’s treason!

Yahyeh Sinwar, the leader of Hamas and central architect of the October 7th  massacre is designated a terrorist by the USA, UK and obviously Israel. For orchestrating the abduction and killing of two Israeli soldiers and four Palestinians he considered to be collaborators in 1989, he was sentenced to four life sentences by Israel, of which he served 22 years until his release among 1,026 others in a 2011 prisoner exchange in exchange for abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. His release was during the previous term of Benjamin Netanyahu who greeted Shalit with huge ceremony, but now we know the result of releasing those terrorists most of whom were involved in the 7th of October massacre.

I had never heard of Representative Brian Mast until this morning and now I am a huge fan. Ignoring the calls for censure and many insults from his colleagues, Congressman Mast quietly and clearly debunks the Hamas claims of vast numbers of civilians killed in the Israeli fight to clear Hamas out of Gaza.

For anyone who doubts the right of Israel to defend herself under international law, this is your response! International law does not explicitly prohibit the use of force to eliminate a terrorist organisation such as Hamas. To the contrary, Israel has a right to defend itself under Article 51 of the UN Charter: Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations. Not only it is a right of Israel, but it is also Israel’s obligation under international law. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide requires Israel along with other states to prevent and to punish genocide. Hamas has been clear that their terrorist acts are carried out with genocidal intent. It remains crucial, however, that in exercising its right to self-defense and duty to prevent genocide Israel must abide by international humanitarian law that governs the means employed during the hostilities.

Thousands of children and teachers from at least 100 New York schools came out in protest of Israels response to the October 7th massacre – but they have no sympathy with those slaughtered, kidnapped and bereaved. The NYT building has been picketed, yes even the NYT!  NYPD cars have been daubed with pro-Palestinian signs and the world has gone crazy.

Yesterday a low flying drone, launched from Syria, landed in a school in Eilat. It is pure chance that no children were in the hall where it caused damage to the building but nobody was hurt. An Iranian missile from Yemen succeeded in passing the security of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel! Why on earth are the Houthis in Yemen getting involved?

The Mossad discovered a Hezb-Allah plot to attack a number of Jewish sites in Brazil. It sounds surreal but is clearly part of the determination to turn this world of ours into a Caliphate. Thank heaven the Brazilian authorities took heed and two men were arrested, so far.

Finally, just in case you thought that the war against this little strip of land is localised, read this article describing the Iranian involvement and the horrendous arsenal of 150,000 guided missiles provided by Iran and held by Hezb-Allah.

And so to the good news!

Philip Bloom aka Rami Salami, a street clown and balloon artist from Boston, spent much time in Israel, readily volunteering wherever he is needed. Philip has toured the hospitals making children with cancer smile; rolled bandages for the IDF and now, he is here performing for the children who have been forced out of their homes, with their families, to places of safety. Philip’s performances give these children, refugee children, a few moments of laughter. Kol ha Kavod Philip.

A fact-finding mission of Masorti Rabbis came to Israel for two days, among them two people that I admire. Rabbi Marcelo Rittner of Mexico City and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg from London, my son Gideon’s family Rabbi. Both spoke to their communities by Zoom to help them understand the situation.

On Wednesday my daughter Rachel, you know the one that makes the incredible Challot, had her 50th birthday, well, the Gregorian birthday because she celebrates her Hebrew birthday which was last week, but I digress as always. When I asked her what she wanted to do on her birthday her immediate response was to go to the beach. Let’s face it at the moment with missiles raining on our heads the choice was somewhat limited, but I cannot refuse Rachel anything, her demands are few and humble anyway, and it was her special day so I collected her at 09:30 and off we went to an unknown destination, until she decided “Herzliya”. Of course, my mind already drew a map of the park and walk down to the beach as to where there may be a bomb shelter, but off we went. It was a glorious day of clear blue skies and gentle sunshine and the minute we started to walk down the promenade to the beach I felt at ease. We chose a bench and sat looking at the waves, the sunbathers, the people swimming lazily in the azure sea and the white sails of the sailboats on the horizon, if it hadn’t been for the distant booms of missiles over Ashkelon, life would have been normal, perfect.

Next stop, Yankeles restaurant, just up from the beach, where we had a delightful late breakfast. The place was heaving, really busy, despite the fact that it was outdoors during a war! Yet another fact of Israeli life, nothing stops us eating good food and living our lives. The conversation almost certainly leads to “the situation” and many of the diners were in uniform, but nobody is going to stop us. That was when Rachel decided what her next request would be – a visit to Auntie Annabelle. Everybody loves Auntie Annabelle, my former sister in law, who is just the most giving and delightful person one could ever imagine. After many hugs we set off for home. After all, and even though we had a wonderful time, the missiles tend to increase at dusk. It was a wonderful day with a wonderful woman, my daughter Rachel.

Shiri Maimon and Tamir Grinberg sing a beautiful song that echoes our prayers for the 240 hostages and their families. 240 rays of hope are sent into the skies of Jerusalem as the singers are joined by the families themselves clutching photographs of their loved ones, held in captivity. The song is also dedicated to our children, the soldiers of the IDF who are fighting to rid us of an evil rarely known.

I wish you a safe weekend, a quiet Shabbat with prayers for the return of the hostages and even bigger prayer for their safety and health until that day, may it come soon. Remember that for every plea, every prayer, be positive and say AMEN. Pray for the safety of our IDF soldiers, Jews, Christians, Druze, Moslems, Bedouin, brave men and women determined to erase evil. Bring them all home, each and every one of them. Amen

With love