The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Sheila – Hamas-Fatah, Erdogan, European Court, Andrew White Award, Yom ha Shoah

25th April 2014
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope you are well and not too depressed by the constant bad news reports in this world. Remember that the bad news is what they report not the wonderful everyday beauty.
I wish I could start with good news but unfortunately I must begin with the disturbing news that Hamas and Fatah have come to a reconciliation. Rather surprising considering the vitriol that is their normal manner of communication. Mahmoud Abbas swore that he would never join forces with Hamas, indeed Hamas in Gaza is guilty of multiple murders, nay slaying, of Fatah members as in gang wars. This news brought John Kerry to declare his distaste yet neither he nor other negotiators threaten fiscal punishment for this sidewinder which so clearly puts any talk of peace in danger. Arie Shavit describes clearly the ups and downs of the negotiations in his article in Haaretz
“Hamas’ charter views jihad as the means to capture all of “Palestine” from the Jews and to destroy the State of Israel. It states that Palestine is comprised of sacred Islamic land and it is strictly forbidden to give up an inch of it because no one (including Arab rulers) has the authority to do so. Repeated statements from Hamas leaders define Palestine as including not just the West Bank and Gaza but all of the current State of Israel.  In the introduction to the charter, there is a quote attributed to Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it….” Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians are seen as links in the jihad chain.”
Two of the worlds major legal minds, Prof Alan Dershowitz and Prof Irwin Cotler, two of Israel’s finest defenders, united to write about the legal rights of Jonathan Pollard “It’s a matter of justice”
Turkish PM Erdogan made a breakthrough statement expressing regret over the deaths of one and a half million Armenians. He did not call it genocide, which it clearly was, but he finally admitted it happened. Armenian leaders are not satisfied but it is a start toward the recognition they so richly deserve. I will not call it a holocaust because Holocaust is specifically the Shoah, but genocide it certainly was.
The European Court of Auditors revealed major dysfunctions in the management of EU financial support to the Palestinian Authority, and called for a serious overhaul of the funding mechanism….. The court criticized the absence of any conditions for EU aid to the Palestinian Authority, an approach that reduces the potential leverage of the EU to push for more reforms from the Palestinian Authority.
Maurice Ostroff is indefatigable in his writing to everyone in power or with the ability to print the truth. Here is part of his letter to the NY Times (he doubts they wlil publish it!) “The UN must now reconsider its position as the new PA-Hamas entity is not the same as the body that was granted observer status. The organization that was granted observer status didn’t include the Hamas terrorist organization THAT PUBLICLY REJECTS THE VALIDITY OF THE RELEVANT UN RESOLUTION. And the organizations to whom the PA has submitted membership applications must insist on revised applications in the name of the new PA-Hamas entity.”
During Passover, a former IDF soldier came to the rescue in London when a car went up in flames trapping passengers in the blazing car. The ex-IDF soldier and another Jewish man heard screams nearby and rushed to rescue a panic-stricken elderly man whose seat-belt was stuck, a child from a car seat, and two other passengers from a burning car. Shortly after, the Peugeot 307 exploded.
A new scholarship program in Israel has been created to aid Indian women gain the education that they need to rise to the top in corporate India. With the aid of The Bonita Trust and The Israel Asia Center, Tel Aviv University’s Recanati School of Business Administration‘s Sofaer International MBA program will now offer scholarships to prospective Indian women entrepreneurs.
I am as proud as Punch! Our incredible friend Canon Andrew White is the recipient of the William Wilberforce Award for 2014. “The William Wilberforce Award recognizes dedicated change makers who are working to create lasting impact in our cultures and communities through inspirational Christian action.” I cannot think of anyone in this world who is more deserving. Andrew White, aka “The Vicar of Baghdad” epitomises the Christian Ethos of acceptance, love, peace and tolerance – combined with many additional aspects he learned during his year of study at the Karliner Yeshiva and a deep love of Israel. Andrew, we love you.
Two nights ago we went to the opera in Tel Aviv. It was really fun seeing many old friends and new as we mingled in the foyer, and spectacular to watch, see and hear the incredible production of La Boheme under Maestro Daniel Oren’s baton. The set was magnificent, the performers, each and every one, outstanding but for us, the absolute star, the most exquisite performance was that of Musetta, the singer. It is not by chance that we loved her, our expectations were high after hearing a quick excerpt of her part at our Seder night as Nadine Sierra sat beside me. We were well rewarded by her fabulous performance. I don’t have her singing Musetta but……
I just picked my grandchildren up from school. They come out early on a Friday so that they can get ready for Shabbat. First Yosef, from his Chabad school then we race over to the two girls, Talia from big school and then Ayala who is still in nursery school although to talk to her one would think she was at least 35!!! As I sat with Yosef I explained to him about Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel which falls on Sunday night and Monday. I explained that there would be a long siren and we all stand to attention during the siren in memory of those who died. “Did you know anyone who died, Safta?” He asked. “No”I said “it happened before I was born, but Saba Kalman and Safta Ala lost all their families in the Shoah and that is why Saba Zvi has no Aunties or Uncles or Cousins.” It was a lot for a 9 year old to absorb and then he asked “How come Safta Ala and Saba Kalman suvived?” To which I responded “Because they were in Israel, not in Poland” He sat quietly then he said “Why didn’t their family come to Israel too Safta?” Gosh, how do you explain to a nine year old that Saba Kalmans family didn’t come because their life was good, their social position high and their connections excellent and they could not believe that anything would really happen – they thought it was just words. “Darling, they just didn’t manage to get here in time”
Today is the third anniversary of Zvi’s mother Ala’s death and Zvi and I went to the cemetery to place a stone on both their graves. When we pray for them we pray for their families too since Zvi put their family’s names on the gravestones too so that they would have a marker of their existence instead of a pall of smoke in a cruel land. The truth is more dramatic and diabolical than any movie. The horror is that the dehumanisation is happening again and no-one is willing to take off their rose tinted spectacles.
Hannah Senesh, poet, fighter, paratrooper faced her killers – her poem Eli Eli was set to music.
What is different today? Not the words of hate nor the dewhumanisation, that is rampant, the difference today is that we have a country of our own. We came home, we have a place where the world can yell out its vitriol but we don’t really care, it is their loss. The PCérs can constantly tell us to “give back” which means “give up” because Jordan and Egypt don’t want the land back!!! Israel is a haven, a strong innovative country which is deeply aware of what can happen if we lose this war of words, of untruths and rhetoric. What terrifies me is what happens when the next round of world leaders, indeed Israeli leaders, do not have a direct link to those who died or those who barely survived. If we do not remember what the world was like before we had our own state then ………………..
I cannot bear to think about it. I want to reiterate the words of the important song “I have no other land” because we tend to forget. The pictures you will see are from the second Intifada so each time you hear someone talk about the “Wall”remember why it was built. Today we walk with confidence, heads held high.
So another Shabbat is on its way. The Passover dishes are back in place and we relished our first delicious taste of hummous and pita behind us. Tonight we are back to Challot instead of matza. Zvi and I decided to have an evening alone – no children no guests – no-one. I will still set the table, Shabbat doesn’t mind how many we are, and I will make some delicious fish quenelles (the real meaning of that word) and spicy fish fillets with the salads I made yesterday. Oh you want to know what salads? Well I did an aubergine in Tehina salad, cucumber in yoghurt and mint, tuna with lemon, mint and red onion, red cabbage and the inevitable chopped salad. Zvi will sing the Kiddush over the wine and we will think of our parents and the Shabbatot we had with them and those with our own children. Judaism is, primarily a religion of traditions. Tevye got it right!!!
Jerusalem in all her shades is getting ready for Shabbat. I didn’t go to the Shuk this week but thought you would enjoy a visit anyway. The rainbow of culture comes together in good will. The Arab fishmonger wished me Shabbat Shalom and it did not feel strange to wish him the same. Jews, Christians and Moslems wish each other a good Sabbath day. Indeed last week saw a very very busy Old City as Christians celebrated to Light, Jews Passover and Moslems Friday prayers. Those who do not have the tolerance and common courtesy will never spoil our peace – our Shalom.
Shalom Aleichem Shabbat Shalom. Finally, I leave you with the version I love so much Shalom Aleichem – May Peace be with you.
With love from our Jerusalem, our precious jewel, our City of Gold to which Hashem gave 9/10ths of the worlds beauty.