The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from LA

12th October 2012
Shabbat Shalom from Los Angeles!
What a waste of public money!! The Israeli Public Prosecutor decided to lodge an appeal against the acquittal and mild sentence of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a decision that was reached unanimously by a panel of three judges in the regional court – a unanimous decision of such a panel is normally considered legally binding. The vast amount of money wasted on the continued public vendetta, which has halted all effective government for fear of reprisals for about 6 years, will continue despite the fact that the crime was risible and all other accusations proven false. Time to stop the charade and let Israel move forward. Politicians who fear prosecution at every turn have their hands tied and Israel cannot afford to stagnate. Having just visited Salem we feel that the world looks at Israel as conducting a witch-hunt of the most popular politician we have produced in many a year.
While getting on with life, however, Israelis should now make quite sure they drive slowly – speed cameras have been installed all over country!!!!!
Two Ambassadors presented their credentials to President Peres this week – Egypt and Jordan. The Egyptian also presented a warm letter from President Morsi to President Peres which created uproar in Egypt but has been approved by the Egyptian regime. Simply shows that rush to judgement is never a good thing.
The Jordanian Ambassador, however, was disowned by his entire tribe for taking the position and should be applauded for his bravery The Obeidat tribe condemned the appointment of Walid Khalid Obeidat as Jordan’s new ambassador to Israel, saying that a person who accepts such an appointment is “violating all prohibitions, crossing all red lines and offending the nation and the tribe. ” Why? Because they claim Israel has stolen Palestinian land etc etc etc – what and Jordan is made up of……….?
David Horovitz hits the nail on the head yet again with his article “Debates? Ugh! Who needs them“. and comes to the conclusion that we Israelis really need them too. Zvi and I have had the privilege of watching the debates with great curiosity – particularly the  “He won -no he won” attitude of the press. Both participants are erudite, eloquent and well prepared. Both participants represent their constituencies and whether I agree with one over the other is irrelevant but I pray that people will choose a leader and not just follow a party.
In Boston we went to the JFK Museum with our hosts Danit and Richard; a stupendous museum in an exquisite setting, exhibiting so much more than the life of JFK.  The exhibit that impressed me above all was inaugural speech in which JFK spoke about the United Nations and the deep relevance of that speech today. Congressman Mike Pence apparently feels as I do and spoke thus
“Following the defeat of tyranny throughout Europe in 1945, and in the ashes of the Holocaust, the United Nations was born. It was formed to create a forum to confront dictators before they rose to global power. President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address warned some four decades ago that the United Nations must not become a forum for invective against the West.
“But as we saw yesterday with the leader of Libya decrying Israel in the terms of the ‘Israeli demon.’ As we saw the leader of the discredited regime in Tehran denounce the ‘barbaric attacks of the Zionist regime’ and continue to deny the Holocaust in public forums, we see the United Nations has become not only a forum for invective against the West, but especially a forum for invective against our most cherished ally, Israel.
“Today, the American people provide 20 percent of the financial support for the United Nations. And today the American people are asking, ‘why?'”
Now for an amazing story. Zvi and I decided to go to Boston from NY by bus – a fast and picturesque way to travel. Our bus driver was Indian, very amusing and I loved the fact that I giggled at his jokes and Zvi couldn’t understand his accent, sweet revenge for all the Spanish spoken on this trip! Half way through the journey the bus took a pit-stop and the driver came back to check the passengers had all returned. As he passed us he looked down at Zvi’s Hebrew novel and said “I asked for that at the library but they didn’t have it” Zvi laughed thinking it was a joke but then the driver continued in Hebrew!!!!! His name is Shlomo Benjamin – born in Bombay but raised in Israel who came to the States many years ago to learn to drive tour buses and stayed. Most of his and his wifes family are still in Israel. What a terrific story eh?
From Boston we flew to LA and to our gracious hosts Lidia and Mauricio Epelbaum who have opened their home and their hearts to us. Yesterday Lidia and I just sat and talked while the energiser bunny went to see friends who took him to see Rodeo Drive etc. Lidia took me to a ladies luncheon at the Jewish University where Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson spoke beautifully about the story of Abraham and Isaac. I loved his comment that in his imagination G-d first came to Sarah and asked her to sacrifice her son to which she answered “No way, are you kidding? I will not sacrifice the thing I love most in the world because you ask me and if you ask me such a thing then you are not the Almighty” G-d then went to Avraham who said “A test? OK I’ll take my son and sacrifice him” When Abraham stood with the knife poised G-d realised that Sarah was right – it was not a demand that the Almighty would make and stopped Abrahams hand. Loved it!!!
In the evening two friends from my British past came to see us. Shirley and Ramon Greene, formerly of Reading, Berkshire, came over and it was as if nearly 40 years disappeared and we simply continued the conversation where we left off. We spent a delightful evening together and hopefully it was the first of many either here or in Israel.
Today Lidia took us on a drive-through tour of this side of LA. I love the UCLA campus, it really is beautiful, and then we went on to the Getty Museum where we walked thorugh the gardens and listened fascinated to the talk on the external architecture and its purpose – absolutely stunning. Sadly my energy levels dropped and we didn’t see the inside – next time!!!
So this week we will spend Shabbat with Lidia and Mauricio before wending our way to San Diego and all our lovely family there. Becky Guttin is driving here to pick us up and take us down the coast…..nothing is too much for these wonderful people – they love us enough to put themselves out and believe me it is deeply, deeply appreciated.
I wish you friends and family who are always willing to put themselves out for you because they love you so much they need to be near you. Me? I would walk a million miles………..!!!
Finally, I leave you with my favourite Shabbat song. The song we sing on a Friday evening in synagogue, gently turning to greet the bride of Shabbat – Lecha Dodi – Come my beloved, come to welcome the bride of Shabbat 
Shabbat Shalom to you and yours. I wish you peace and gentleness to greet the Shabbat bride with love for each other and those who may annoy you but share your history and your future. Tolerance.
With love from Los Angeles – looking toward Jerusalem