The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

17th May, 2012
Shabbat Shalom everyone! How are you?
The BBC has completed its task. That august institution that once upon a time was the ultimate in elegant honest news has become a left-wing, irresponsibly biased organisation which is ungovernable and feels no responsibility to represent those who pay their licence. Never since the days of Goebbels have so many been fooled by so few……… Their constant demonisation of Israel has finally reaped its reward, in a recent poll of their viewers and listeners Israel was voted among the four most threatening countries in the world to the Western way of life. Hmmmmmmmm what’re we going to do – kill by hi-tech and medical research?
Talking of killing with kindness – Israel 21C reports this week on the top twelve Israeli innovations which save the third world from starvation – let the Bloody Biased Corruption put that in their pipe and smoke it!!!

Mark Twain said “It is easier to fool people than convince them they have been fooled”a fact the PA and the media rely upon.

This week the Arab world in general and Palestinians in particular “celebrated” Nakba (disaster) Day by shooting, setting ablaze, rock and stone throwing and general disorder. Their anger at the founding of the State of Israel is mistakenly directed at Israel when in fact it should be pointed at themselves and their leaders. Imagine if, in 1947, they had accepted what was offered to them and lived beside us in peace; they would be amongst the leading technological countries in the world, they would have everything we have and more; they could have harnessed all that excess energy of their young people to build a country instead of turning becoming so jealous they are incapable of building a future.
Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) is upon us. This is the day we celebrate the re-unification of the City of David after just 19 years of its division. Despite the constant disinformation of the media, Jerusalem was Jordanian for only 19 years (1948 to 1967), during which period many Jewish and Christian sites were either destroyed or simply left derelict. During the War of Independence (1948) the battles over Jerusalem were especially difficult and our wonderful friend Shalom Dror z”l was a hero of the fight for the neighborhood of Katamon, ironically his eldest son died in the battle for the Temple Mount in 1967. This year Shalom will not be at the ceremony on Ammunition Hill but other heroes will. Jerusalem is a thriving wonderful city, the only one in the entire Middle East which guarantees freedom of faith and prayer to all its citizens, whether Moslem (8 denominations), Christian (52 denominations), Druze, Bahai, Makoya, Buddhist and of course Jews (about 500,000 denominations – so who is going to agree!). Zvi and I will be celebrating in the glorious gardens of the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem with visitors from Australia, Eva and Alan Gold – OK Harold? Here we see Jerusalem, 4,000 years in 5 minutes!
A clear problem in Israel today is one that I have often spoken about, that of divisions in Israeli society caused by uneven distribution of responsibility and obligation. The current, newly formed coalition has put this issue to the forefront of its priorities determined to find a logical solution to an illogical problem caused by Ben Gurions naivete. If one reads the media one could mistakenly think that all Haredi families shirk responsibility both in the workforce and in defending this country which is just not true. A wonderful example is the Sztrigler family, for whom we have a special love; warm, deeply religious and every member of the family served or serves in the IDF and holds a good job. The Horowitz family that I met a few weeks ago are the same, it doesn’t harm their religiosity and it strengthens their link to this country and all of its citizens. One cannot bury ones head in the sand and ignore our responsibility to each other just as one cannot ignore the fact that Arab members of Israeli society who do not serve in some capacity also miss out and none can be equal footing until they give back to the country.
On Thursday we drove up the fast highway to Haifa and the wedding of Zvi’s cousins daughter on the shorefront which was lovely – hugging family we don’t see often enough. Sunday more family then we drove inland to the glorious village of Timrat to meet Zvi’s sons future inlaws who really were delightful and welcoming. The view from Timrat across the Jezreel Valley was breathtaking, still green after the wonderful rainfall of this winter, the agricultural land producing Israeli delicacies.
Saturday, Shabbat, was special, so special because our friend Canon Andrew White came to Shabbat lunch with two of his friends and we were joined by Professor Gabby Barkay of whom I speak often. Gabby helped Andrew and I in the Ezekiels Tomb project and Zvi’s lovely Canadian relatives, the Pomerants came too Andrew, larger than life (he is even bigger than Zvi!) and one of this earths last living altruists, spoke of his life in Baghdad; every day filled with danger from every corner, he cannot travel anywhere without some 35 bodyguards from the Iraqi forces, he is confined to the compound of St Georges Church yet his congregation is multi-cultural all finding solace in the purity of his love and His love. Andrew is fighting Multiple Sclerosis and seems to be winning at the moment, managing to fill each day with twice the activities of a healthy man; travelling the world educating, speaking, helping, loving and explaining, bringing people together. If the Allies would listen to Andrew Iraq would be a better place and the world in general. Intensely intelligent he manages to use his excellent mind to bring people together when all hope of such is long past. Andrew relishes Jewish tradition and loved Zvi’s somewhat hoarse Kiddush! – by the evening his temperature reached 40 degrees!!!
On Sunday I took my childhood friend Averil and her niece Naomi around Jerusalem in a flying visit. We went from north to south, leaping out of the car to catch the spectacular panoramas of the city from every conceivable angle, looking over Bethlehem from Gilo and then to the city centre heading straight for Mahane Yehuda Market for lunch to absorb that most Jerusalem part of Jerusalem. Even though Sunday is not the ideal market day since many stores declare the day off, the winding alleys are still redolent with the aromas of spices, herbs and mountains of fresh strawberries and nectarines, loquats and peaches and shiny purple aubergines (egg plant). As if the display was not enough we went to the Olive Oli stand to sample six different types of olive oil advancing toward the sweet sticky halva and pungent, delicious gourmet cheeses. Lunch, sitting outside the coffee shop watching the world go by, was, of course, delicious!
Tuesday’s meeting with Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Naomi Tsur and my lovely friend Lord Stone of Blackheath was fascinating. The meeting was held in a small restaurant in the Municipality campus adjacent to the walls of the Old City, between the Jaffa Gate and Damascus Gate in a beautiful modern campus, but the restaurant is in a building whose walls still showing the scars of conflict from many, many years ago. As we sat, watching the light rail (tram) pass us by, somewhat incongruous on the ancient street, Naomi told us of her plans for “Green Pilgrimages” to Jerusalem; pilgrimages which can be religious or cultural to learn of and to teach about green answers to the worlds ecological problems while absorbing the spirituality of the city that King David chose as his and where he wrote his psalms irrespective of the path one takes to that spirituality. “Green Pilgrimage” – If anyone is interested in contacting Naomi about the Green Pilgrimages I will be happy to give you her email.
The rest of the week is a blur of meetings and grandchildren, old friends and new and yesterday it ended on the veranda of the King David Hotel eating lunch with 5 girlfriends to celebrate Dana’s birthday. This wonderful hotel, elegant and historic, has a veranda overlooking the old city, the ancient walled fortifications framing the beauty of Jerusalem. One sits and feels surrounded by history. The names of Presidents and Prime Ministers line the floor of the main hallway and the high decorated ceilings tell of the conversations held in the meeting rooms. I love it!
Today we will see all our friends from around the world for Shabbat in in Kfar Maccabiah near Tel Aviv as the Maccabi family meets to plan the 2013 Maccabiah. What a spectacle that will be! I love the Maccabi family – sport and love know no boundaries and I will see our friends from Turkey and Hong Kong, USA and Peru, UK, Australia and Timbuctoo!!!! I love it!
Time to go dear friends, I could go on but I fear exhausting your interest! Before leaving you I thought you would enjoy this short explanation of what Jerusalem means to Jews by Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Commonwealth Lord Sacks
With much love from this wonderful, vibrant, beleaguered, misunderstood yet marvellously happy city
Shabbat Shalom to you all, whatever your faith, whatever your path – let it be one of love.