The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila


6th November 2009.

Shabbat Shalom Dear Friends.

On the 2nd of November 1917, Lord Balfour wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild. This letter was the Balfour Declaration, the basis for the creation of the State of Israel.

Lord Balfour can rest easy that his determination to care for the small number of non-Jewish residents in that part of the land designated for the Jewish People has been heeded. Palestine (Israel and Trans-Jordan) was indeed partitioned and made into the Jewish State of Israel as declared and the Arab State of Jordan to appease the Hashemites. In a further act of appeasement to the Arabs the Jewish State was then cut further to approximately 1/10th of its originally intended size, which was still not acceptable to the Arabs who attacked, and attacked and attacked and the ultimate size of Israel is still infinitely smaller than originally intended. When the media refers to the “occupied Territories” they refer to land that Lord Balfour designated as the Jewish half of the equation.

Incredibly it is 14 years since the devastating news that our Prime Minister, Yitzchak Rabin had been shot and killed while leaving a Peace Rally in Tel Aviv. This shy man’s final act as Prime Minister was to sing “Shir ha Shalom” before an audience of thousands. There are those who loved him for trying a new path, there are those who hated that path but all will agree that on that fateful day Israel lost her innocence, as Jew assassinated Jew because he disagreed with his politics. I miss the man, the leader and the innocence. We are supposed to be different.

Israeli Secret Services and the wonderful men and women of the Israeli Naval Commandos (Shayetet) uncovered an enormous arms cache hidden aboard a German ship, the Francop. The ship had undergone customs inspection in Egypt but without specific knowledge they could not have known that hidden behind bags of agricultural polyethylene was a huge arsenal. Using state of the art equipment the Israelis were able to look behind the wall of innocent looking bags to see the hidden treasures. The IDF have been able to identify the source as Iran and the intended recipients as Hezb-Allah. Of course the Syrians deny all knowledge of the armaments; but then as all of a certain age and nationality will recognise “Well they would, wouldn’t they?”

The Goldstone kerfuffle continues. In a non-binding resolution in the United Nations the vote to endorse the Report were 114 for, 18 opposed and 44 abstentions, not a surprising result. Endorsed in principal by those who have something to hide in their human rights record, it allows them to enjoy respite as long as Israel is on the chopping block. Our friend Laura Ross has been commissioned as part of the United States Mission to the United Nations – a very positive move on the part of the US Government and a well deserved position for Laura.

The United States Congress, exercising due democratic process voted overwhelmingly to condemn the findings of the Report. See also the Brandeis debate between Gold and Goldstone

If Israel were not at the mercy of misrepresentation and politicking the United Nations would recognise that no-one is more critical of Israeli comportment in warfare than Israel. Major Kemp was right; the IDF is the most moral of armies. The internal investigation of Operation Cast Lead was underway before we withdrew and we do not need a defunct and corrupt organisation to tell us how to clean our own house. The preliminary results are public. We have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of

The Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah is the most recent to hit the news. The Arab residents are angry because a Jewish family has moved into the neighborhood. If that happened in any other country, that someone was denied the right to live where he chose based on colour creed or faith it would be called racism. Where have our values gone wrong? Why is the perception so distorted? The right of Arabs to live in Jewish areas is protected by law. Why can’t Jews live in Arab areas? Incidentally, if you heard about the disruptions on the Temple Mount over the last short period, I would like to explain the cause. Sheikh Raeed Salah and others are convincing young Moslems that the Jews are taking over the Temple Mount and want to invade their Mosque (Al Aqsa) which has been theirs since time immemorial. We just want to be able to go to visit our Holy sites (Jews and Christians) when it is not prayer time for the Moslems. We have to put things into proportion. This country, of which these people are citizens, ensures the right to prayer and faith of all peoples. That includes us!!!

Easyjet the British bargain airline carried out their advertising campaign with great panache. The not only built Mahane Yehuda in Spittlefields Market and Tel Aviv in Trafalgar Square last month , they chose the 2nd of November, Balfour Day to begin their service. Israelis are not thrilled that the leg room is limited and of course, that there is no food service on board. Israelis without food – perish the thought!

Israelis are brilliant at innovation I haven’t decided if it Tikkun Olam or the innate belief that we always know better!!!! You really must watch this amazing interview with Dan Senor on CNBC in which he explains how Israel has managed to become a leader in business innovation. One observation which caught my eye is that not only are our young people aware of their problem solving capabilities, honed by the National Service, but their bosses understand how to utilize their skills from their service records. Dan Senor and Saul Singer wrote the book ‘Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle,’

This morning I did something I loathe, I went to the shopping mall on a Friday! Every one of the six coffee shops and the huge food hall were packed. I told you Israelis eat!!! The place is filled with the full rainbow of society – Jews of all varieties, the Haredi men trying hard not to brush up against the scantily clad young women – Israeli Arabs in a similar variety of attire, from jeans and T-shirt to full burkas, and confused tourists who didn’t know that Israelis rush everywhere….. determinedly!!!

And so to bed…. Jerusalem is now slowing down. Zvi and his friends are at the Angel’s coffee shop, in the petrol station, noisily putting the world to rights the typical Friday lunchtime pastime for people of a certain age, men and women. The car park of the Mall is thinning out, the streets emptying and the citizens heading toward a light lunch and bed. Aah siesta – such a clever invention! As usual I still have a few last minute delicacies to prepare to surprise Zvi’s wonderful 96 year old mother. She may not remember what she ate but she will enjoy it at the time.

We wish you Shabbat Shalom and much love from our beautiful City of Gold.

With much love