The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – Kerry Konfusion

16th August 2013
Shabbat Shalom dear friends
I don’t know about you but I am extremely confused. The world seems to be upside down and morals, friendship and ethics a thing of the past. Truthfully I feel betrayed. Israel feels betrayed. Israel is betrayed. If you look at the service to the world of all our neighbours, yet our neighbours ae accepted, pitied, empathised with while Israel is vilified. I truly don’t understand why.
We are more tolerant, less violent, more democratic, educated, giving, innovative and generous than all the neighbours put together yet they garner sympathy while we are dehumanised and hated, yes real unadulterated hatred. It doesn’t stop us sending doctors and nurses to Haiti or aid to New jersey; It doesn’t stop us reaching out to the Palestinian Authority to bring sick children to Israel for life saving treatment; it doesn’t stop us reaching for the skies in Hi-Tech, medicine and agriculture – the latter saving countries in Africa from famine…………. so what is the reason?
The easy target is the media which has successfully sewn a complex tapestry of half truths portraying the Palestinians as the indigenous peoples of this piece of land, denying any Biblical, historic or actual truth, and Israelis as the parvenus, the violent occupiers. Did I say easy targets? Prime targets would be much more accurate. We are portrayed as worse than Assad, Ghaddaffi and Osama bin Laden, every terrorist killed is a victim while Assad and the rebels have caused a death toll of 110,000 one drone hit by Israel is considered an international crime! Perhaps the Egyptian army will continue to do our work for us in Sinai so that no-one can blame us for that situation!
Which brings us to the major question – why is Israel blamed, before the fact, for the failure of the latest round of talks – indeed any talks – with the PA when we have fulfilled all of the requirements and they have not fulfilled even one? Why have we, time and again, released murderers, terrorists; and America just demanded we release even more, when the mere suggestion of releasing Guantanamo prisoners in exchange for bringing Al Qaeeda to the table would be considered treason of the highest order since the USA does not negotiate with terrorists? David Horovitz thinks we shouldn’t.
“ Netanyahu does not want to see Israel blamed for the failure of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s relentless efforts over six visits to the Middle East to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians. “ I wish it was all as easy as this wonderful little cartoon about compromise
The current situation in the Middle East is dangerous, overflowing into chaos, lethal and horrific – yet called the Arab Spring. Why? Because no one understands the underlying fierce religious jealousies and internecine Islamic fighting (Shi’a, Sunni, Alowite) and the ever growing ethnic cleansing of Christians and Bahai – not Jews since they already fled. This is true of Egypt, of Iraq and just about everywhere in this insane region. As if you needed proof
Right now – Israel is the victim of the new America/Russia Cold War – with Israel as a pawn and China waiting in the wings to see who wins. Indeed they know which side to back and we realise that our best friends are not always looking after our interests
This week I went with my daughter for some regular medical tests. As I looked around the patients I was struck yet again by the multi-cultural aspect of Israeli society. Clerks, doctors, radiologists were a mixture of races and colours. We then went to several stores in the centre of Jerusalem, Ben Yehuda, Jaffa and King George streets and again we shopped, ate and promenaded together, indeed helped each other choose shoes or find the right room for the ultra-sound or X-ray. If only the politicians would leave us alone life could be so good!!!
I love Danny Seaman. Zvi knows about it and approves! Danny was the head of the Government Press Office dealing with the foreign press here in Jerusalem, not an easy task. Danny was supposed to take up his position in the Prime Ministers Office specialising in Hasbara – surely the most important single task at hand. Danny however wrote some uncomplimentary things on his private Facebook page and is now in deep trouble, probably losing his chance at turning the hasbara situation around. I think it is harsh and unwarranted punishment – literally biting off our nose to spite our face. Listen to Danny address the Jerusalem Conference in January 2009 on the complexities of a democracy managing a biased foreign press in Israel and the Disputed Territories particularly during Palestinian-manipulated media-events designed to damn Israel.
I just got back from my Friday visit to see the grandchildren in Givat Zeev. Driving there has one kind of expectation……… of love and hugs and kisses, driving back is a different kind of feeling. You have heard me describe (ad infinitum) the glorious view from Nebe Samuel (Samuels Tomb) and the sudden burst of colour as the marigold -planted central reservations (yes Arlene I know it sounds funny) of Ramot come into sight and I thought of the profound difference between Israeli towns and villages with bright flowers and landscaping and statuary and the plain un-beautified sight of Ramallah on my left. Strange because Ramallah has fine houses, big shopping malls and so on but for some reason, no colour, no flowers, no joi de vivre!
As I was driving through Ramot a bus behind me had a big poster on its front “Habonim Dror UK” clearly filled with young Brits from that wonderful organisation and it took me back to my youth, my wonderful youth, and how I came to love Israel. Of course it came from my parents whose love was shown through my beloved Mothers unstinting work for WIZO, my fathers joy when he spoke of Israel and also from Habonim Dror. There were several mentors within the organisation but for me it was Norman Berg and his Chanich, Andrew Stone. Their incredible enthusiasm and love of Israel encouraged many of us to come on Aliya although they themselves did not. They were part of the reason that 500 out of 3,000 Welsh Jews came to live in Israel, that and the fact that the entire community was staunchly Zionist.
Here we are, back in Jerusalem and everyone is smiling and wishing each other Shabbat Shalom – from the bus driver, the shopkeepers, the neighbours and the soldiers – all smiling because they know that Shabbat is nearly here. The cars with sleeping children are pulling up – everyone laden with pots and cake tins ready to put together all the parts of the Shabbat family meal. Since it is summer salads are the main menu – aubergines, huge misshapen wild ones, are charred over flames then chopped with celery and spring onion and loads of lemon or left whole and served with freshly made tehina over the top. Red peppers are similarly charred, peeled and served with olive oil and garlic. Mushrooms, cooked up with Moroccan spices served hot over a big dish of humous and of course the traditional chopped Israeli salad with a hint of lemon juice and mint.
So dear friends, Zvi is on his way back from his Parliament at the University coffee shop, having completed his examination in tourism today. He loves his course and it really stimulates his mind. The table is set, the white cloth covering the table, the challot in place under their cover, the candles ready for lighting and the dishes ready for the special foods. As it grows quieter and quieter, the traffic slowing, the sun growing softer over the beautiful white building of this amazing city and family and friends gathering in traditional fashion.
The tunes may differ but the songs are the same – for two groups of people this Shabbat is their first as Israelis, 120 young Americans who came to serve in the IDF as Israelis and 27 Yemenis who are finally free to be, pray, laugh and live as free Jews.
I wish you a Shabbat Shalom with this song, my favourite of all Israeli songs because it talks of the honey and the sting, the bitter and the sweet and above all never ever to forget hope. and also the incredible song Sh’ma Yisrael by Sarit Hadad – Please G-d listen to me now that I am alone., give me strength to go on……………..
With love from Jerusalem, heart of our world.