The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila


February 20th 2009

Shabbat Shalom, I hope you are well.

When Major-General Avi Mizrahi spoke to his soldiers at Gelilot military base he condemned Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s foot-stomping departure at the Davos Economic Forum and demand that Israel be cast out of the UN. Maj-Gen Mizrahi said that if Erdogan wants Israel banned from the UN then Turkey should be expelled for the mass murder of Armenians, Kurds etc. We cannot allow another country to dictate what an officer in the IDF is allowed to report to his own troops. Mizrahi should be commended not reprimanded.,7340,L-3671618,00.html Ataturk is spinning in his mausoleum; the Islamic domination which led to extreme racism, which he worked so hard to eradicate, is creeping back apace.

Amnesty International has presented a report on the suffering in Gaza in which they disclose Hamas cruelty.

Sport is supposed to be the great leveler but this week Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe’er was denied a visa to the Dubai Open because she is Israeli! Can you imagine if Israel refused a visa to an Arab player? Congratulate the Tennis Channel for opposing the decision which arguably caused the change in policy (and important precedent) of allowing Andy Ram to play, and complain to sponsors Sony Ericsson for allowing it to go ahead anyway.

Hatred is turning me into a Jew. is a marvelous article, the writings of Nick Cohen, a British journalist who is not Jewish but inherited his Jewish name from his paternal grandfather.

In response to highly controversial move taken by Lord Nazir Ahmed to ban Geert Wilders from the House of Lords and the House’ obsession with Gaza, Baroness Deech gave a thoughtful, considered and proportionate response,

Emotionally it is obvious- bring Gilad Schalit home; but at what price? In the “Jibril Deal” of May 20, 1985, 1,150 terrorists were exchanged for three soldiers. Then Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin (z”l) said that he could not bear the grief of the parents and accepted the exchange. The Jibril Deal taught the Arabs that Israel’s weakness lay in her determination to save her boys- and many of those released went on to perform heinous acts of terror costing many Israeli lives. How can one make that decision? I, like Yitzchak Rabin, would find it impossible to look into the eyes of the Schalit family, but how does one look into the eyes of those families decimated by the terrorists we intend freeing?

The Government will be formed by Benjamin Netanyahu. I support Kadima, but will accept whatever government is formed, such is democracy. Kadima has thus far chosen to sit in opposition rather than in a broad government with Likud and Israel Beitenu although President Peres is making strong efforts to change that situation. I believe that taking part in the decision making of this country is the more responsible path. Mr Netanyahu is an able politician, not as right wing as his election rhetoric suggests, and yesterday we heard the much vilified Avigdor (Yvette) Lieberman speak at the Conference of Presidents (more later). While his policies are revolutionary they are issues which must be addressed; conversion, civil marriage for those who cannot be married in the Rabbinate and the “bête noir” of loyalty. Loyalty is not a racist issue; he refers to the ultra-orthodox who mock the State of Israel and kiss Ahmedinejad, Arab MK’s who openly incite and support those who would see Israel destroyed, Arabs who are the enemy within (a minority) and finally the “Tsfonim” North Telavivim who do not serve in the IDF. Rights demand obligations. Incidentally if Mr Netanhayu is forced into a coalition with the religious parties those changes are out of the window.,7340,L-3674886,00.html

This week Jerusalem hosted the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations led by the indomitable Dr. Malcolm Hoenlein, whose brilliance lies not only in organisation but in keeping very high profile, informed Americans interested and stimulated by bringing the most excellent of speakers. As we went into the conference hall Zvi was met by Carolyn Greene, Dr Hoenleins right hand woman, who requested that her kiss with Zvi be officially recorded in this weeks Shabbat Shalom!

My mind is reeling with the essential, positive and deeply disturbing information we absorbed over the last two days. World Islamic Jihad and how to combat it; Israel’s defence against the onslaught on our society, and Malcolm’s final comments at the conference where he reiterated the fact that Jewish Americans worry about Israel, anti-Semitism in Europe and Latin America not accepting that the USA is as bad if not worse than those countries. American Campuses have become a hotbed of anti-Semitism and unlike communities around the world US Jews have no communal defence or support, the communities are entities not a homogenous group. If attacked American Jews run to the local police but have no first line of defence within the community. I will go deeper into the issue in another letter, my thoughts are so fragmented, but I will analyse and report. In the meantime please read Denis McShane

I know you are waiting for the good news!!!! Well, it rained – unfortunately it tends to wait for the weekend but it rained. Yesterday, when we got home from the conference I opened my window blinds and as they rose on the fabulous view of Jerusalem which always refills my soul…… brown nothingness, the Sahara came to Jerusalem!! The view was shrouded in sandy, mucky dust hanging in the air but magically, during the night, the rain washed the dust away and I awoke to my view of Gilo, Talpiot, Beit Safafa, Baka, German Colony, Katamon and of course the glorious Shkediot (almond trees) in full bloom. It makes me laugh at the way the Tel Avivim race miles and miles to see one singe almond tree in blossom and send out photographs to all their friends. Hey guys, come to Jerusalem, they abound!!!

Finally, we may not have peace with Syria but over 20 truckloads of apples, approximately 8000 tons of fruit, are being exported from Israel to Syria over the next few weeks! The fruit is grown on the Golan and beats anything you guys have!! Our apples are not as big or red but they are fresh! Israeli apples (except the generic Golden Delicious) are eaten within days of picking – our fruit is seasonal – not cooled and kept and stored – fresh! When we go to the shouk the incredible rainbow of fruit and vegetables is all freshly delivered from the source and crunchy and crisp as nature intended.

After two days of lectures I think it is time to do some Shabbat cooking! Zvi will go off to his “parliament” at the petrol station Angel’s bakery, where they will shout and yell and argue the toss as if they really had the answers to all the worlds’ ills. Danny Liwerant will explain what is happening in Latin America as he did marvelously yesterday. I will happily stay home to prepare Middle Eastern salads and stuff some beautiful multicoloured peppers to give me pause to absorb and evaluate all the information accumulated over the last days so that I can report to you next week!

Have a wonderful Shabbat and don’t be downcast, we have been through worse and we always bounce back in a better and wiser form.

With love from Jerusalem, the heart of our world.


PS Yitz – I know it is long this week but you should have seen what I cut out!

For those who still have the patience – these oh so relevant words by Rudyard Kipling from his poem IF which were quoted at the Conference by Prof Daniel Freedman – Israel’s Minister of Justice.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

And so on and so forth