The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila


19th November 2009.

Shabbat Shalom

This week I was angry. Not the anger that one feels toward those whose hatred is overt but rather the anger one feels toward those who claim undying friendship yet fail to deal an even hand.

Let me describe the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Gilo for you. White stepped buildings typical of Jerusalem’s hillsides roll down toward the Israeli Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa; they have an incomparable view over Jerusalem to the Old City. The railway line which formed the pre-67 border with Jordan is just down in the valley and one sees clearly where the old border cut Beit Safafa in half, splitting families who are now united under the Jerusalem Municipality and consider themselves Israeli.

Gilo is home to nearly 50,000 people, good regular folk who just want to go about their lives. There are medical clinics, drug stores, local corner shops and stores, pizza parlours and a good shopping mall; there are parks and schools, old people’s homes and normal, normal life. These are not extremists they are people just like you and me and the popular Jerusalem neighborhood needs more homes. To call a press conference stating that building in Gilo is the only stumbling block to peace is an insult to our intelligence and treachery in the first degree. The greatest stumbling block to peace is the fact that our neighbours are sworn to kill us! The greatest stumbling block to peace is that we are told to stop building on disputed (formerly Jordanian) totally empty land while the Palestinians build at a phenomenal rate with impunity.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat stated: “Israeli law does not discriminate between Jews, Muslims, and Christians or between eastern and western Jerusalem. The demand to halt construction by religion is not legal in the United States or in any other free place in the world. I do not presume that any government would demand to freeze construction in the United States based on race, religion or gender and the attempt to demand it from Jerusalem is a double standard and inconceivable.”

So why was I so angry? Why was this day different from all other days? Because not one TV report mentioned the fact that simultaneously the Jerusalem Municipality is building housing in Arab neighborhoods too! The announcement came over the wires exactly as the others but only IMRA chose to pick it up.

All the major US Emissaries from Dennis Ross to Martin Indyk leave their positions and tell of the unyielding stance of the Palestinians yet, while “on duty” they refuse to speak up. No-one refers to the fact that the Two State Solution was executed in 1948!!!

Incidentally, Gilo is part of a contiguous city – part of Jerusalem – all the photos you saw which indicate that it is a settlement on the top of a hill were taken from the formerly Christian Palestinian village of Beit Jalla or the formerly Christian town of Bethlehem. You can see the protective wall which was built when the Palestinians were shooting at Gilo.

The Palestinian Authority intended unilaterally declaring statehood, or not – depending upon with whom one speaks. Terrific! It would cut our taxes by at least 10%; mean that we wouldn’t have to give free water, gas, electricity and hundreds of trucks of aid each week if the Palestinian Authority became an independent state. Unfortunately I think they did their sums and decided that they prefer milking us all dry instead. Vast quantities of money have been sunk into the PA, money which should have relieved hunger in Africa and Asia, but has been squandered on the corrupt Palestinian leaders by countries who want to keep everyone’s attention on this tiny area so that no-one will notice their own mismanagement at home. . I know where my tax money goes since it is all published but I am not sure that you do.

This week Zvi gave one of his entertaining and informative speeches before the marvelous and highly appreciative Buffalo Mission in the King David Hotel. The hotel was buzzing with the Saban Forum attended by President Clinton, Governor Schwarzenegger, Senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. They met with PM Netanyahu and many other Israelis but in essence they talked, travelled to Ramallah came back to the finery of the King David and went home. Good intentions have done nothing to bring peace but the attendees enjoyed Israeli hospitality at its finest.

One of the finer aspects of Israeli generosity to the PA is shown in medicine. Whether through the free passage of Palestinian patients to Israeli hospitals for treatment or the training of PA medical professionals at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital this week for a seminar on the treatment of cancer

Israel’s scientists are rated number four in the world in scientific activity and publications. Not bad for a little country eh?

Just in case you had any doubts as to Israel’s contribution to our world “Tikkun Olam” click on the link and watch this outstanding video and then send it to everyone you know. I believe it was inspired by the brilliant letter by Barry Shaw after attempts to boycott Israel.

In Judaism we are told that we must leave the world a better place than that we found. This Israeli team has built a hospital in Equatorial New Guinea where they live with the nationals and serve them, teaching and nursing. This Youtube video shows you the side of Israel and the Israelis we want the world to know – the real one. Sorry it is in Spanish and Hebrew but the message is clear without words.

Incidentally the Governors of Trondheim University in Norway halted another attempted boycott.

This amazing video, Mexican entry to the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is required viewing for Mr Ahmedinejad, David Irving, Jeremiah Wright and Mahmoud Abbas whose doctoral thesis was on the premise of Holocaust revisionism, indeed anyone heartless enough to claim there was no Holocaust.

It rained again this week and my veranda is rewarding the Heavens with a sudden surge of growth and colour. The Jacaranda tree is losing its leaves, gathering strength to produce its long lavender flowers next spring; the vivid purple bougainvillea flowers are so bright from the wash and dry cycle that one needs sunglasses to look at them; the fuchsia, relieved that the scorching sun of summer has finally gone is greening up and producing flowers in abundance; the oranges are rounder, bigger and plumper slowly reaching their luscious edible state as are the kumquats; the “hadass” (box hedging) are green and fragrant, the herbs flourishing and best of all the pomegranates are bursting with pride at their sheer fecundity offering succour to the tiny “tsufit”, an iridescent black native bird rather like a humming bird in shape and habit, as their fruits explode to reveal the bright, red juicy treasure within. Imagine all of this with the beauty of Jerusalem in the background. How lucky are we?

I wish you and yours a wonderful weekend, a fine Shabbat, a beautiful Sabbath day of peace and warmth, love and kindness.

With love from a spectacularly beautiful Jerusalem, white stones gleaming and glistening after the cleansing rain.