The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – Chavez death, Kasim Hafeez, Passover, Rita in the UN

7th March 2013
Shabbat Shalom dear Friends!
Hugo Chavez is dead – another tyrant falls. His body will be paraded in the streets of Caracas today in a 7 hour long parade. Today in the inaptly named Human Rights Assembly, a minutes silence will be held for Hugo Chavez, violator of human rights. U.N. Watch criticized the United Nations saying that the Cuban-led ceremony was “excessive, uncustomary, and disrespectful of its own experts’ findings of gross and systematic human rights abuses committed by the Caracas government, and of testimony by Venezuelan victims whom UN Watch had brought before the Council.
The American Consulate in Jerusalem is where all Americans in Israel to go for consular services and unfortunately so do Israelis requiring a visa. The Consulate, situated in East Jerusalem, is becoming more and more unwelcoming to Jews. Read what Naomi Ragen writes about it.
Syrian Rebels, who are supported by the USA and UK, have kidnapped 21 Filipino UN observers on the Syrian Southern Golan Heights and are holding them for ransom. They say they will not release them until the Syrian troops leave their village.
When the British Consul-General in Jerusalem, Sir Vincent Fean, visited Bir Zeit University in the West, bank his car was attacked with cries of “Get out of Bir Zeit”. Luckily Sir Vincent was not harmed but maybe Britain should get out of Bir Zeit and stop funding this hotbed of insurrection.
Yet again Canada stands up to be counted among the nations that will not be bowed by threats. Israel Apartheid week is threateneing to take place at universities all over Canada and unlike other countries there is an official response.
It isn’t even Pesach yet the plagues have started already!! Locusts by the million have flown in from Egypt to the Negev, to areas that Israeli ingenuity have turned from arid desert into major agricultural successes, and threaten to strip the fresh green leaves of spring. Potatoes are their favourites! In case you didn’t realise that we are at the forefront of agricultural economy and help to feed the world – watch this!!!%20
For the first time in history an Israeli sports delegation had two representatives on the same winners podium. Windsurfer Lee Korzits won gold at the world championships in Brazil on Wednesday with fellow Israeli Maayan Davidovich close behind in third. A strong performance in which two of the Israeli men were also placed in the Top 10.
Rita rocks the UN General Assembly!!! Rita the legendary Israeli singer sang in the General Assembly of the United nations in New York. Rita sang songs of love in Hebrew and her native Farsi (Persian). This proved to be an incredible coup for Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor who succeeded in convincing the United nations to turn the entire plenum area into a show hall. Kol ha Kavod to all involved!!!
Israeli medical research does it again as Stomach cancer is diagnosed through a breath test
Stand With Us and Danny Ayalon made this wonderful video about Jerusalem – short and oh so sweet. Must watch!!!
Talking of Stand With Us
I wish you could meet Kaz. Kaz aka Kasim Hafeez, is a British Moslem whose family came from Pakistan to find a new life in the UK. The environment in which Kaz grew up was very anti-Israel and he followed suit, peer pressure is a powerful tool for indoctrination. Kaz was a good student and went off to University where by chance, he read Prof. Alan Dershowitz’s book “The Case for Israel”. It opened his eyes to another point of view and Kaz decided to come to Israel, to see for himself.
He was amazed to see the freedom of movement, what I call the Jerusalem rainbow, of Moslems, Christians, Makoya and Jews of all sorts in this city. Kaz walked to the Western Wall, the Kotel and there, as he says, he had a Eureka Moment. He felt the deep history, the Jewish past flow over him and as a practicing Moslem he felt he had come home. It changed Kaz deeply, he realised that the teachings of his childhood were lies.
A few years have passed since that day, some very difficult as he found himself desperately alone in his own environment, and Kaz has become one of Israel’s greatest supporters, speaking to groups and governments. He is incredibly “normal” not extreme and absolutely delightful. If any of you wish to hear Kaz speak, contact him through and invite him, I promise you will be enchanted by his open-ness and humility.
Two things struck my logical side, after my emotional side was won over by his personality and genuine belief, Kaz really cares about the Palestinian people, but not to the detriment of Israel. He says that the only journalist who genuinely cares about their plight is Khaled Abu Toameh. The other thing he felt very strongly was that Israel should not cede any more land without a firm agreement, not peace which is an elusive condition, but an agreement monitored and absolute.
As we sat in a little coffee shop in Shaare Tsedek, Jerusalem, Kaz told me why he was in Israel right now – apart from a million meetings with Stand With Us people who have encouraged Kaz to speak out, he was here to run in the Jerusalem Marathon, or rather half-Marathon, sponsored in aid of the IDF Lone Soldiers Fund. He was staggered, literally, by the difficulty of the tortuous route but as he hit “a wall” he decided to continue because “My difficulty at that moment was nothing compared to these people who leave their families to join the IDF”.
There were many personal aspects that made me even prouder to know him, but as I said, they were personal and I would never break his trust and tell you, but believe me he is a truly amazing young man. Befriend him on Facebook and encourage his outspoken honesty.
So that’s another week gone by. Israel still has no government although the rumours abound and the demands exceed expectations. While I most certainly believe that the Haredi community deserves representation I do not believe it is an automatic right that they be part of the government. It depends upon who has the power of the voters. If you look back to my pre-election prognosis, I believed the coalition would hold Likud, Yesh Atid (Lapid), HaBayit ha Yehudi (Bennet), haTnuah (Livni) and Kadimah (Mofaz) although I thought that Shelly Yachimovic would bring Labour in too. Apparently that is more or less the future coalition and now the arguments are over the positions that each party wants to take.
Zvi has finished his 80 page dissertation on Mexico for his course at the Hebrew University, and is duly proud thereof. We still had time to see friends and yesterday he went to the Old City with Flory and Paul Hariton – but today he proudly went to have the printed work bound ready for presentation.
Today is sunny but bitingly cold with strong winds. It is absolutely glorious as I look out over the view of Jerusalem from the warmth of the salon picture windows…………. the veranda is too cold today!
Passover spring cleaning is going strong as the sound of vacuum cleaners fills the air until late at night so that working Mums and Dads can catch up on the preparations. It is the time to clean ones emotional house throwing unwanted garbage out with the dust. The different ways of making Pesach (Passover) according to imported traditions both thrill and amaze me. The only thing we all have in common is the cleaning because the preparation of food is utterly different. Moroccans, although North African Jews, don’t eat pulses; Kurdish Jews do as do Iraqi, Syrian, Egyptian, Yemenite and Lebanese Jews – all of whom fled oppression in the countries of their birth but brought their traditions with them. Eastern European Jews are totally pulse free which makes Passover cooking a complex issue and food shopping can only be accomplished with a good pair of reading glasses to see what the contents are. Each year additional grocery items leave the realm of possibility for Ashkenazi cooking, testing ones skills further and further.
Pesach honours our history, my parents, parents in law and my wonderful Zeidy, my adored grandfather who used to prepare two items for the Seder Table. One was the freshly grated horseradish which he used to do in the garden so that the entire house would not be in tears (!!!) and the second, his magical charosis (combining) recipe. Mix ground almonds, grated apple, a pinch of cinnamon and a tad of finely slivered lettuce (as the bitter part of the combining) and mix thoroughly with a little sweet red wine or grape juice to create a wonderful “cement”. It is phenomenal!! Make too much because everyone wants seconds and thirds and……….. it is as exceptional as my beautiful, tall, strong, gentle, ginger grandfather, whose memory makes me smile and conjures up the picture of him walking toward me every day to collect me from my infants and junior school to cross the road for lunch at their home. He never trusted me with the crossing ladies!!
This Shabbat we will spend with the wonderful Maccabiah Family in Kfar Maccabiah. Friends from Finland, France, Germany, Britain, Canada, USA, Mexico, South America and of course our Aussie buddies, will get together for a wonderful weekend of celebrating Jewish athleticism, yes it is a reality as you can see this summer with the 19th Maccabiah Games the opening and closing ceremonies will be held in Jerusalem and it is going to be fun!!!
I couldn’t decide which of these beautiful videos to give to you so I present both. Both are a prayer, both feature the phenomenal voice of David D’Or. First is Avinu Malchenu (Our Father our King) and second is Shema Yisrael, taken from a concert with the Israel Philharmonic and Chazan Yitchak Meir Helfgot
As their voices soar in the last few moments I dare you not to cry!
Shabbat Shalom and much love from Jerusalem, spiritual, giving, beautiful and most of all home. Next year in Jerusalem? Better still, this year!!!