The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. missiles on Har Dov, Auschwitz 70, JNF-US

30th January 2015
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom after a week that proved so many of our theories, in a very sad manner.
Hezb-Allah attacked the Israeli border land of Har Dov, site of the kidnapping of the bodies of  Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.  The road that many civilians use was just too great a temptation when the Hezb-Allah spotters saw an army convoy travelling to their base. The launched anti-tank missiles which found their target and snuffed out two young lives injuring 7 others. The two IDF soldiers killed in the Hezollah attack on the Israel-Lebanon border on Wednesday are Captain Yohai Kalangel and Sergeant Dor Nini. May their souls rest in peace and their families be consoled among the mourners of Zion.
The immediate reaction from Hezb-Allah was that they do not want an escalation ensuring that  any Israeli response will be met with severe admonishment! Once they knew that two Israeli soldiers had died Hezb-Allah began celebrations in the streets of Lebanon, their way of saying that they avenged the killing of Jihad Mouniah.
As I write a huge terror attack by Da’ ish on the Egyptian army has taken place in Sinai. At least 44 Egyptians dead. Why is it that all the terror in the world right now stems from Islamic terror?
The debate on the Iranian nuclear facilities continues. The USA is against wiping them out but then the USA was against bombing the Iraqi facilities but in 1981 Menachem Begin decided to do so anyway – as indeed Ehud Olmert decided to bomb the Syrian nuclear facilities, and thank heaven they did. Both Prime Ministers were admonished but they took a decision and saved millions of lives. The signal of a great leader is in his decisions, not in his popularity.
One such leader, arguably the greatest leader of modern times, was Winston Churchill. While PM Neville Chamberlain is remembered for his naivete in declaring we have peace in our time, he was the leader who declared war on Germany, on the Third Reich. His weakness was never forgiven and it was Britains fortune that Winston Churchill took the Premiership. For three long years Britain, together with the Canadians and ANZAC troops fought tirelessly against the Nazi machine before the USA came into the fight. Churchill fought hard to bomb the train tracks to Auschwitz to no avail, Roosevelt would have nothing of it. Oh how different the world could have been.
70 years ago the Allied Forces liberated the death camp of Auschwitz. Those who found the emaciated bodies of the surviving inmates will never ever forget the sight, the stench or the horror of that place that represents the greatest evil of man upon mankind. Many believe it is a very Ashkenazi experience but that is a conclusion drawn out of ignorance. Yes, the majority of the Jews rounded up and slaughtered were of European origin but that is a matter of geography; the communities of Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Rhodes, were also taken by train to that hell-hole.
Indeed it was in Skopje that we visited the Jewish Museum. The Museum, almost devoid of artifacts, held a deep impression upon me by its very simplicity. In one room stood 3 silver urns which contained ashes brought from Treblinka to Skopje by a member of the community. Although we believe that most of Zvi’s family were taken from Lodz to Auschwitz we know from the records that his Uncle Yosef, a physician and a soccer player in the Polish National Team, was taken to Treblinka, to be the physician of the 4-600 Jews who “worked” in that death factory. We also know that Uncle Yosef, his wife and daughter were killed 3 days before liberation. For the first time in his life, standing beside the silver urns, Zvi was able to say Kaddish over the ashes of a relative from the Shoah.
Never Again? Empty words dear friends, empty words. The preparation of the ground is already under way. The dehumanisation of Israel and the Jews has begun and is very successful, falling on welcome ears. Rare countries stand beside us and Canada is among the very few. Canada has spoken out through her leader Prime Minister Harper and his Foreign Minister Baird and now, Canada produced a special stamp of Canada/Israel friendship in 2010 – literally putting a stamp on her words. 
In the short hiatus as the world felt deep guilt over the ashes of our ancestors we succeeded in getting a vote to establish a Jewish home passed. Israel is not the result of the Shoah but the vote was. The modern day prophet Theodore Herzl gave his life fighting for attention for his determination to fulfill the millenia of Jewish dreams and come home. A war in Europe in 1914-18 and the need for acetone for the war machine enabled a Jewish scientist with excellent political connections to use those connections after successfully producing synthetic acetone for the war machine. Chaim Weizman met with Lord Balfour and the rest is history. Never again? Maybe not but now we have our own home, maybe it should read Never forget.
When Anti-Israel protesters disrupted the a New York City Council meeting, protesting against a motion commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz, this is what Councilman Greenfield had to say about the Anti-Semitic outburst: video
Proudly Jewish actress Maureen Lipman is thinking of leaving the UK due to rising anti-semitism. Winston Churchill is spinning in his grave.
This week Zvi and his parliament were invited by Avraham Kalman and Russell Robinson to join a JNF-US special tour of Southern Israel close to the Gaza Border. Even though the Jewish world is Zvi’s speciality he was delighted with the projects they saw.
The worlds largest bomb shelter cum indoor playground is probably the most used of JNF-US projects. Capable of holding 500-1,000 children at any given time, during the last Gaza War it proved its worth many times over since it is fully protected. Zvi and his parliament friends donated funds so that Ethiopian children in the area could use the facility for free.
On their drive down south the tour passed below Gaza along the Egyptian border (check your maps to see what I mean!!!) where they found a tract of land which was once suggested to Arafat in part exchange for settled areas of the West Bank. Arafats scouts declared it barren and useless and refused the land. Today as JNF-US projects, 3 Moshavim (agricultural communities) excised from Gush Katif in Gaza, conduct a thriving agricultural business growing carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and very high class Citrons (etrogim) on the very land Arafat refused as barren. I guess it all depends upon whether you see milk and honey or war.
Of all the projects that Zvi saw the Aleh Negev Village made the deepest impression. Aleh Negev is a village totally dedicated to severely disabled children. It helps the children and the parents and provides everything they could possibly need in both residential and day care. A truly magnificent project of JNF-US. Please, watch this video if you never see another one.
Incidentally, Israel recycles between 85 and 90% of her waste water which is then used for agricultural irrigation. The next highest water recycler is Spain at 22%. So that there be no confusion all recycled waste water is carried in bright purple pipes.
The tour ended in Beersheva where together with other organisations (Hadassah among them) they are developing a huge park. To understand its size it will be twice as big as Central Park NYC.This park already serves as a drawing point for both Israelis and new Olim to move to Beersheva. Kol ha Kavod to JNF-US and their energetic director and our friend Russell Robinson who celebrates his birthday today!!!
Here in Israel we make strange friendships, actually not strange but unexpected. That is exactly what happened to Ex-Pat British Israeli Kay Wilson and Nazereth born Mohammed Zoabi, cousin to the dreaded Member of Knesset Hanin. Kay’s story is one of survival and Mohammeds is one of the decision to stand up for what is right.
So Shabbat approaches again. The Torah portion this week is BeShalach from Exodus. We read that the Children of Israel finally left slavery in Egypt and when Pharoah chased after them G-d told Moses to raise his staff over the sea and it parted and let them through. First the Children praised G-d but then they got hungry, footsore and churlish and began to complain forgetting the miracles that had been performed to get them where they were. We all know about their rebellious behaviour and lack of gratitude and infighting which quite possibly held up any further advances. So it was not until later that Joshua formed an army and the Children defended themselves from all comers. Hmmmmmm sound familiar? Today we rarely recognise miracles and always want more but luckily the IDF is here to protect us.
Zvi is at his parliament in the beautiful restaurant at the Hebrew University on Givat Ram. The campus is so green and lush and the restaurant delicious if somewhat noisy from the opining of his fellow members although these days Elihu Ben Onn, the journalist I have encouraged you to talk to from all corners of the world, Elihu is the chair of their debates making them just that, debates rather than arguments. Right now the topic is going to be the tour with JNF-US and the upcoming elections. Sara Netanyahus antics and Naftali Bennets choices will undoubtedly be top of the list!!!
I am thrilled to say that Canon Andrew White is back in Israel having undergone his treatment in Baghdad. No-one knew where he was which is just as well. Most importantly he is doing just fine.
The sun is shining, the shoppers about to wend their weary way home. The phenomenal aromas of our dispersion reach up to our veranda and waft through the apartment. Tonight we are going to have dinner with Itsik Mussachy and his daughters, then tomorrow we celebrate Tu b’Shvat early with the 2nd birthday of Zvi’s little grand-daughter Ella. In honour of being born on Tu b’Shvat her name is a type of tree. The terebinth is native to this region and is mentioned in the Tenach or Old Testament, where the Hebrew word elah (plural elot) is used, although the word is sometimes translated as “oak”.
Tu b’Shvat (on Feb 4th) is a wonderful Jewish holiday also known as the New Year for Trees. It is a time to plant trees an act which not only represents hope but is ecology in its purest form.
I must end now before I tire you with the length of this weeks missive. I wish you all a truly beautiful and contemplative Shabbat. I wish you could enjoy Jerusalem through the eyes of my friend Tikvah Ruth who is seeing the city for the very first time. Her exploits and adventures are breathtaking as she discovers the fascinating beauty of this city. Her myriad of photographs on Facebook make me laugh because I understand her emotions, I feel them every single day I live here.
Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from our Jerusalem.
With love

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