The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. Wales, Jeremy Rosen, Scarlett, Purim

21 ‎March ‎2014
Shabbat Shalom dear friends.
So here I am back in Jerusalem after a truly amazing time in the UK with my glorious grandchildren and my loving family. I know how popular it is to “knock” the UK but I enjoyed every second of my visit, am delighted by the warmth and civility of the people, their friendly smiles and incredible willingness to help. I needed to change trains at one of the oldest stations which still has static stairs and everyone, passengers and staff alike, carried, guided, smiled and expressed great warmth. I have never hidden the fact I am Israeli and it has never held me back. I know how popular it is to “knock” the UK but I still get a strong sense of that British Bulldog country that stood up to Hitler and fought so bravely alongside her “Empire”. I am sorry Lyse but I blame the BBC for the frightening turn of public opinion against Israel- half a truth is an outright lie.
Did you know that the Crimea was a peninsula? Did you understand the complexities caused by Kruschevs drunken decisions. Wow.
Today the Jerusalem Marathon will halt traffic and interfere with life, but I don’t mind. 25,000 people, including the Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, will run either half or full marathons through the streets of the city, both old and new and a sense of festival will descend upon this wonderful place. There is an expression here in Israel “Kol siba lemesiba”- every reason for a party. Hope the runners enjoy the crisp and beautiful air and remember to thank G-d for their energy and this day. Shabbat Shalom to everyone
This has been a week of confusion and concern that an entire aeroplane can simply disappear. Indeed, not just disappear but disappear after a strange series of events in which the pilot/s divert from the accepted routine. The Australian government has announced that large pieces of fusilage have appeared on their satellite surveilance screens and their navy is currently heading for the site. AUSTRALIA? The aeroplane’s flight plan was in the opposite direction! Was there an attempted hijacking? Did the passengers foil a plot?
The direction of the so-called peace talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority is directed by the American government, with all good intentions, but the truth will out as always. It is becoming clearer and clearer that Israel wants the talks to lead to a rational status quo but the Palestinians want to win. Neither the rhetoric of public speaking nor the  hypocrisy of diplomatic talks can be taken as the truth – but any leader who goes to his people, as Abbas did yesterday, and tells them not to worry they will win in the final decisions, is not serious about a peaceful conclusion.Abbas: I Am a Hero. I Said No to Obama by Khaled Abu Toameh
When you hear that the IDF has uncovered an arms tunnel between Gaza and Israel I am sure you think of a skinny, muddy, very basic construction. That is far from the truth. These tunnels are often large enough to transfer vehicles, certainly men, they are well lined with cement, yes the very cement that the Western leaders told us we had to transfer to Gaza because they poor souls couldn’t build housing, and solidly and professionally constructed. This particular tunnel was packed with an entire arsenal and emerged next to a kibbutz, a pastoral haven threatened by terror.
I often quote Rabbi Jeremy Rosen especially when he discusses the Haredi community in Israel and their refusal to give back to the country of their birth and the governments attempt to change the status quo.  The sad fact is that one section of our people has come to expect the other to go to war and die to defend them. That cannot be an ethical position, even if you do believe that serving God is the highest good. Not only, but the bill is offering an alternative to military service; it is called community service. It has even included an agreement with Chabad to exempt a number of young men from community service in Israel to serve communities abroad.
Maurice Ostroff is an exceptionally erudite gentleman and write beautifully about important ossues. His article in the American Thinker concerning Israeli borders and wrongful perceptions thereof is well worth reading. “Conventional Wisdom (CW) is often very wrong. Millions believed the earth is the center of the universe and that smoking is not harmful to human health. So too, CW is wrong about about the “Green line” that delineates the positions of the opposing forces when armistice agreements were concluded in 1949. Politicians who should know better have mistakenly swallowed the factoid that this Green line is a recognized border in terms of international law. But there is no such law.  An armistice is not a peace agreement. It is merely a temporary suspension of hostilities with a view to negotiating a more lasting peace agreement as fully set out in Security Council resolution 242. While there is no legal justification for CW calls for an agreement based on the 1949 armistice lines, there is a binding legal agreement that is highly relevant to determining Israel’s future borders. At the San Remo conference in 1920 the Balfour Declaration became entrenched in international law and legally enforceable. The agreement has never been abrogated and is therefore still binding on the parties.”
Scarlett Johanson is a rare and special person in tinsel town, she actually cares and has a conscience. The huge furore about her advertisement for Sodastream has not sent her into an hysterial tizzy but rather brought out the strong moral woman in her. I am delighted to announce that unlike Rhett Butler, Scarlett really does give a damn.
There are so many high-points in my visit to the UK, apart from my morning hugs with the children. Purim was special on two counts; one was the special needs service in the synagogue for our beautiful Sammy, thoroughly enjoyed by all of us and the other was the amazing Purim service, the reading of the Story of Esther. The entire synagogue was filled with wildly dressed congregants bearing noisemakers and shakers ready for the name of the dreaded Haman……… even the Rabbi was dressed as a pirate!!! I love the fact that the emphasis was on the fact that we beat an evil Persian leader who wanted to kill us and beat him by our intelligence and wiles. My favourite part is not just Esthers brilliant tactical moves but rather when the King Ahasuerus asks Haman what he would like for the Kings favourite person and then turned the tables on Haman and put Mordechai on his white horse paraded through town as a hero while Haman……………… well Haman was hanged from a high gibbet! Shushan, Persia, Iran, who said history doesn’t repeat itself?
My journey down to Wales brought back a million memories. Visiting our parents in the old cemetery with my sister Doreen we passed the graves of so many people of our past (Julia K – I saw your family graves). I was not surprised to see our parents gravestones were leaning toward each other – just as they did in life. Driving around the old streets, walking around my family home, now my brothers home, having dinner with my sisters family, spending time with my brothers family, managing to see Yaffa and Martin and talk of cabbages and kings, and of course my delight when Valerie and Martin drove from Reading to have dinner in a wonderful old pub and came to see my children. Valerie and I “grew” our children together, had a business together and saw each other every day – that sort of love and friendship never changes, you just continue the conversation. Other than that I missed meeting more friends than I can count but I want them to know they are in my heart but I go to the UK to see my children and my siblings.
I want you to hear three generations of singers from the Land of Song, from Wales. First is Harry Secombe, late beloved comedian (The Goon Show) singing of his Welsh home, the Rhondda Valley Next is Tom Jones with Amazing Grace  finally “Only Boys Aloud” at the final of Britains got Talent singing my very favourite Welsh song Calon Lan which I used to sing as a lullaby for my own children.
So, here I am back as delighted at the view from the veranda as I was the first time the electric blinds rose to reveal it. I see Jerusalem preparing for Shabbat. The sounds are different to last week in London, even the aromas reflect a different ethnic background but the hustle and bustle of preparations and shopping for Shabbat are the same. Whether you buy your Challot from Ami in London or from Nehama in Jerusalem it is irrelevant. The traditions are the same. I love to see the similarities, the Shabbat table, candles, kiddush, challot and shining childrens faces just as we did at our parents table.
Back in Jerusalem, the city I love, back with my Israeli grandchildren, back in Israel I thought you would like two  diverse songs about this special city. First is the phenomenal Ofra Haza rendition of Jerusalem of Gold at Israel’s 50th anniversary celebrations  At the other end of the musical range  I love this song and the video – “Happy” by Pharrell Williams in Jerusalem!
I wish you and yours a Shabbat Shalom, I wish those members of my family and friends who need our prayers a full recovery and all my love. I wish my wonderful friend Canon Andrew White a safe return to his beloved Iraq and blessings on his tireless determination to perform the miracle of peace. Andrew dear, if only we could clone you!
I am off to see my Jerusalem Grandchildren, to tell them stories about their cousins who love them and they love right back. So Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.
With love