The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila


11th June 2009.

Shabbat Shalom!

James Wenneker Von Brunn, an 88 year old man who was a known white supremacist and clear anti-Semite, walked into the Washington Holocaust Memorial carrying a copy of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, with the intention of shooting Jews but was stopped by security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns who halted his potential murderous spree and died from wounds sustained in his heroic stand.

I have been thinking and thinking of President Obama’s speech in Cairo – what should be read into it? Was he trying to bring Arabs in to gain control or to give control? I saw no problem in his “Salaam Aleikem” greeting since it is traditional to greet the host country in its own language – in Israel too and had he said Shalom Haverim as another President did we would all have been ecstatic! What the President nor his advisors seem to grasp, however, that they are not talking to a coherent society when talking to the Arab States – each will read something else into his words; some will approve, some disapprove, some rebel and some mock. There is an entity called the Arab World but it consists of many different types of society and vastly different levels of acceptance of any outside (non-Moslem) interference. Jordan is ruled by the Bedouin Hashemites who fear and despise the Palestinian minority who were part of their inheritance when given the country as part of the 2 State solution. Egypt is a Moslem country which is trying to move forward and control the extremism which brought forth the Moslem Brotherhood, father organization to Al Quaeeda, Hezb-Allah, Hamas and so on. They are also fearful of their ever increasing extremist element. Saudia, Oman, Qatar etc are elitist societies with rulers and serfs – where none of the serfs is given citizenship and has to leave after two years….. and all of them despise the Palestinians (an amalgam of immigrants from many Arab countries) for their inability to rise above anything – but use them as the only cohesive factor in their world – at least the only cohesive factor other than disposing of Israel the ulcerating wound on their Islamic map. Only when this is understood can the US possibly achieve recognition in this region by anyone other than Israel – her natural, essential, strategic, moral, religious, democratic and emotional partner.

The attempted attack this week on the Gaza crossing where disaster was avoided by the diligence of the IDF border patrols who discovered men, horses and wagons with explosive material set to detonate and kill many soldiers. By using helicopters to detonate the explosives far from those soldiers many lives were saved. The helicopters were bought from the US by Israel and now the American President has denied Israel’s request to purchase more helicopters for just such situations because “Israel’s use of helicopters in Gaza is in question”. Even the Brits didn’t bat an eyelid at the fact that these terrorists were prepared to blow up horses laden with explosives in their evil quest – animal lovers maybe but when it comes ot the Palestinians everything is acceptable if it is against Israel.

In the recent elections the Lebanese have finally succeeded in wresting back control from Hezb-Allah and Syria. Saad Hariri, son of Rafik Hariri the former Prime Minister who was brutally assassinated by the pro-Syrian faction with his anti-Syrian coalition won 72 out of 128 parliamentary seats. General Michel Amoun, a Maronite Christian, won 32 seats – a small but significant showing for the Christians in a formerly Christian country.

Yet again that old canard of “stop the settlements” is raising its ugly head to the top of the pile of unthinkable demands upon Israel. Only those who have been here, seen the situation, understood our enemies and recognize our contribution can accept the inanity of such demands. I talk not of illegal outposts which are there to incite and which the Israeli government is also against, I am talking of beautiful towns such as Maaleh Adumim, Efrat, Ariel, Pisgat Zeev, Givat Zeev, built upon empty land, which serve as dormitory towns for the big cities and often have light industry which provides work for the local Arab community. I become so angry when Arabs build freely on Israeli land and that is considered a natural right whereas if a Jew builds on Arab land it is considered a denial of human rights! I do not understand why it is the most colonialist of countries which demand Israel “give back” land when they sit on land taken in former wars without any shame!!!

Jill is here!!!! After visiting her beloved mentor Katy on Kibbutz Be’erot Yitzchak Rachel and I brought her back to Jerusalem where she fitted into life as if she had never left. Shouk Ramle, Talpiot and of course to Givat Zeev and Rachel’s home to play with Yosef, Talia, Amit and Ayalah – our grandchildren who, even those too little to remember her, declare their love of “Jilly”. The ease with which Jill fits back into Jerusalem and her friendships is because she loves this amazing City, understands its significance in her life and in the lives of all Jews, still marvels at each sunrise and sunset and the changing colours and moods which seems so evident. While recognising the deep significance of the Kotel and the Old City she equally loves the fun side of coffee shops, restaurants, shopping malls and open markets. Jill sees and enjoys every aspect because in truth – this is her home!

Life is good, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Congress is happening this week, the Jewish Agency Board of Governors and the Keren Haysod Conference next week and we will see many friends from all over the world as we did 13 years ago when Zvi and I married on the 23rd of June so that our dearest friends from all over ht world could be with us as we stood under the chuppah (canopy) of Zvi’s tallit (prayer shawl) under the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, having signed the Ketuba (marriage contract) in the home of Alan and Bonnie Cohen. The 7 blessings wer sung by our loved ones – and “Tsemed Reim” Benny and Yisrael gave us the performance of their lives for our wedding gift.

Gosh we are lucky people – I thank G-d every day for giving us amazing children – albeit spread all over the world- fabulous grandchildren, great friends and for allowing us to be here in the heart of the entire world, in Jerusalem, City of Gold.

Shabbat Shalom and love from Jerusalem. My PS is worth reading – and very true!!!


My thanks to our friend Frida Albaranes for sending me this message which as she said “so suits your readers”

Israel is the only country in the world where one has difficulty digging a cellar without hitting ancient archaeological artefacts.

Israel is the only country in the world that introduces applications of high-tech gadgets and devices, such as printers in banks that print out your statement on demand, years ahead of the United States and decades ahead of Europe;

Where no coffee is grown but roasted coffee is becoming a major export and is so good that Starbucks went bankrupt trying to break into the local market;

Where people cuss using dirty words in Russian or Arabic because Hebrew never developed them and one need not check the ingredients on the products in the supermarket to avoid food containing pork;

Where the same drivers who swear at you and give you the finger will immediately pull over to help if you look like you need it;

Where no one cares about the rules when an important goal can be achieved by bending them;

Where army reservists are bossed around and commanded by officers, male and female, younger than their own children;

Where “small talk” consists of loud, angry debate over politics and religion;

Whose soldiers eat three helpings of salads a day, none of which contain lettuce (considered the food of the food), and where olives ARE a food and even a main course in a meal, rather than something one tosses into a martini;

Where their leaders take buses and trains; graffiti is in Hebrew and to call someone black refers to the colour of their clothes (Haredi) not their skin.

Israel is the only country in the world that has a National Book Week, during which most of the population attends a local book fair and buys books;

Where inviting someone “out for a drink” means drinking cola, coffee or tea.

Where bank robbers kiss the mezuzah on the doorpost as they leave the bank with their loot.

Where the weather and landscape is like California, without the earthquakes.

Where no one notices a foreign accent because everyone has a foreign accent.

Where patients visiting physicians end up giving the doctor advice.

Where people call an attaché case a “James Bond” and the “@” sign is called a “strudel”.
Where there is the most mysterious and mystical calm ambience in the streets on Yom Kippur, which cannot be explained unless you have experienced it.

Where the capital city is a prayer and the sunsets in Jerusalem are golden while the sky is pink.

Israel is the only country in the world where people read in English, buy in Russian, write in Hebrew, mimic in Moroccan and joke in Yiddish.

I would also add that Israel is the only country which Jews call home, Christians call the Land of the Bible and Moslems leave to go on pilgrimage to Mecca.