The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Coral Gables

1st November 2012
Shabbat Shalom from Coral Gables. Shabbat Shalom from the most beautiful garden on earth!
Before I continue to wax lyrical about South Miami I want to wish all of those who live on the East Coast of the USA and Canada who were hit by hurricane Sandy and the path of devastation that followed, a speedy return to normal life without too great an upheaval.  Our hearts go out to everyone, especially those we love – you know who you are.
Fascinatingly this force of nature may have changed the outcome of the election here in the USA, assuming that the election takes place on time despite the lack of electricity for the electronic voting! The swing may well be toward a President who became a philanthropist when disaster struck. I promised I would be quiet about US elections since I am an Israeli not an American but…………………. no, I always keep promises.
As the investigation continues into the Benghazi Embassy fiasco the State Department and the administration appear worse and worse. I cannot go into details but assure you of the veracity of what I am going to tell you – I know for a fact that the diplomatic staff knew what was about to happen and even wrote emails to their loved ones expressing their understanding that they would not live through the night, they knew, they sent messages but help did not come.
It is time to accept that most Moslem countries and Arab countries in particular HATE THE UNITED STATES AND ALL SHE STANDS FOR. It is very convenient to include Israel in the hatred (and the UK) because everybody already hates the Jews so why not place them front and forward while burning American flags? It is 33 years since the seizure of the American Embassy and the Iranians celebrate by burning flags……..American flags of course.
This week I will write less about the news because there are two articles I want you to read, both positive, both special and both written by Moslem Arabs.
Aatef Karinaoui says “If there is more cooperation between Arabs and Jews in Israel, we will broadcast that and fight the libel in the Middle East to show the Arab public that we are part of Israel and proud of it and that we get what we deserve and this will bring immense benefits to Israel. And even the Iranians will have nothing to say” .
Secondly an article by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim about the negativity brought about by spouting calumny against Israel and concentrating all their initiative on hatred while Israel flourishes.
Finally, if many of the Arab states are in such disarray, then what happened to the Arabs’ sworn enemy (Israel)? Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. Wasn’t one of the judges who sent a former Israeli president to jail is an Israeli-Palestinian?
The Arab Spring showed the world that the Palestinians are happier and in better situation than their Arab brothers who fought to liberate them from the Israelis. Now, it is time to stop the hatred and wars and start to create better living conditions for the future Arab generations.
Please write to commend his bravery in writing what he wrote and believe me he is brave
November 4th is the 17th anniversary of the assassination of our friend and distant relative, Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. I was away from home on that day too, in far away Acapulco and I can never forget my horror, dismay and disbelief that a Jew could have killed him in cold blood. I could not believe that the shy, kind, beautiful man who hugged me just 9 days before in the Rotunda of the Capitol could be dead. How could it  have happened? Could it be a bad dream? Was that the last hug he would ever give me? Would we never see him walk shyly into a room, head bowed, hands behind his back, his downward gaze relieved only by seeing us in the room?  Israel lost her innocence on that day, the day a Jew killed a Jewish leader and we began to understand that Jewish extremism exists and is pernicious.
And so to sweeter thoughts! After our exciting sojourn in Las Vegas under the careful eye of Richard Farwell, our host, who ensured our visit to Las Vegas included everything – the Hoover Dam, fantastic hotels, insane activity and amazing shows (we saw O and Love by Cirque du Soleil) …. We reached the last stop on our adventure, we reached Gan Eden!!! Actually it is called Coral Gables, Florida, but for me it is Gan Eden. Lush undergrowth, glorious orchids, graceful palms, sleeping in Robert Frosts cabin and……… ah and my favourite of all the majestic Banyan trees which have been allowed to spread their gigantic branches and supporting new trunks as nature intended. The Banyan always reminds me of the Jewish people, certainly as we used to be, each branch producing tiny fibrous hanging roots which gradually thicken and become new trunks to support the branches as they become heavier. This interdependence, the determination to support each other as we grew and spread our wings is what kept us together  as a people but of late I feel the tree is being trimmed, the fibrous roots considered messy without understanding the need for further support so that the branches will not be weighed down and break.
Our beautiful friends Kim and Marianne Taylor came all the way from Alberta, Canada to see us – although our hosts Martin and Helene think they came for them!!! Thanks to Helenes clever inquisitive questions, I discovered even more about the LDS Church (AKA Mormons) and their incredible social system to help those less fortunate or those who fall upon hard times. The social structure of the society ensures that no-one is left out or uncared for, whether through food friendship, financial support or a kind face it is a system which gives people to wherewithall to get back on their feet by giving them a rod not a fish. Of course we did more than discuss our relative religions, we had fun all together and Zvi and I took Kim and Marianne to Vizcaya and Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial while Martin took Helenes excellent suggestion and took us to the Fairchild Gardens……. all well worth a visit. The high spot came when Kim, Martin and Zvi went to watch Ilan play baseball where he did them proud – a run and he stole a base. Well done Ilan!!!!
Yesterday we went up to Aventura to see Paul Hariton which was delightful and then on to the home of Jojo and Isabella Naim where we discovered that Jojo is a descendant of Rabbi Yitchak Abarbanel . Jojo told us of his narrow escape from Tripoli as a 14 year old Jew and his years in Italy without his parents before they were able to join him and ultimately take him and the family to Venezuela where once again he was threatened as a Jew and came to Aventura, Florida. Who says that Jews in Arab countries were not oppressed, banished and worse? Our day ended in Miami Beach at a fun kosher restaurant with Martin, Rabbi Yakov and Rebbitsen Gutel Fellig of the Coconut Grove Chabad. These are two people who epitomise the deep ethics of Judaism, openness of heart, love of Israel and the Jewish people, indeed of all people. It is always both enlightening and sheer joy to spend time with both of them………. the food was good too!!!
Today we will have lunch with Nora and Marcelo to catch up with them and probably see a new part of Miami life and then tonight we have Friday night dinner at David Efrons together with Martin and Helene and family, Paul and Flory Hariton and of course David and Kathy! I have no question that there will be lively political discussion amongst the jokes and prayers!!
This has been a truly incredible adventure and we have so many people to thank for hospitality and generosity of time and spirit. Beginning with Rivka and Michael who hosted all seven Ravivs and on occasion three Cammermans in their home for two weeks to give us an opportunity to be with our grandchildren and children. They survived the Raviv tornado only to meet with the fury of Hurricane Sandy this week. Stay safe my loves.  Then to Boston and Danit and Richard who ensured we saw everything there was to be seen in and around Boston. From there to LA and the welcoming arms of Lidia and Mauricio who I got to know at last. San Diego began and ended with a car ride with Becky (and Fallo) and the middle was spent with Becky and Sylvia for some true family time. Las Vegas was Richard again, as I said above he did us proud. Finally to Helene and Martin, Ariella, Ilan and Jeremy……..and all the household where I feel at home as no other place but Jerusalem.   Indeed to everyone that we met along the way – old and new friends, we wish you well and thank you for spending time with us we are truly grateful for your friendship.
Zvi now moves on to Mexico and the arms of his family there, especially Billy and Ruth, and the 50th anniversary reunion of his graduation from The Yiddische Schule High School, gosh are we really that old???
Soon I will be out on our veranda, absorbing the beauty of Jerusalem and talking again as she slows down toward Shabbat, the streets emptying and the aromas of generations and ethnicities rising to greet me. I can’t wait to see the moonrise over the horizon, the soft pink glow on the Jerusalem stone of the buildings and, and most of all the joy of my grandchildren as they run towards me and hug me at least 6 weeks worth of hugs  and my sweet Rachel, my daughter. I saw a cushion which said “A daughter is a person who grows up to be your best friend” It is true!!
Love to you all, I hope you are dry and safe and able to enjoy a truly wonderful Shabbat. A special get well to my lovely brother in law Melvyn who broke his ankle, to Pastor Leo Giovinetti and to Canon Andrew White who is undergoing treatment for his MS and is feeling absolutely rotten.  Refuah Shlemah to you all
Shabbat Shalom from Coral Gables