The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter


2nd December 2009.

Shabbat Shalom is coming early this week since I am off to visit my London grandchildren tomorrow at the crack of dawn. I spend one week immersed in them and rarely see anyone else or do anything else and am happy, satisfied and loved!

David Ben Gurion was a founding father, but was sorely mistaken in his belief that once we have a country we no longer need Zionism. The implication of the word may have changed but the significance remains. Today it means that we understand why we came back and that if we do not pull together it will be a different “gerush” (exile) but an exile nonetheless – and probably no less bloody.

IDF Chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi expressed the malaise of our society at a conference with school principals. It is the malaise of Israeli society, which I care about as our standard bearer, and Western society in general.

“We witness the problems young people take with them into the army, from excessive alcohol consumption to dropping out of the education system.

“There are soldiers who do not know the country and its heritage. A
third of the soldiers visited Jerusalem for the first time within the
framework of their army service. There are soldiers who think that we conquered Masada in the Six Day War. There are immigrant soldiers who don’t know the language.”

Our youngsters do not understand why Israel is, where it is or why, because neither parents nor teachers have bothered to spend the time to teach them. We take Israel for granted, both here and in the Diaspora. We have forgotten how to be proud of whom we are which is why we whisper to ourselves when leaders emasculate Israeli leaders – when Italians and Swedes dare to tell us to give our Capital City to the Arabs! Unless we learn to be proud of our heritage and stand up to be counted we stand to lose everything. Israels survival does not depend upon the phenomenal advances in science and hi-tech nor its brilliant doctors nor its agriculturalists who teach the poor countries to feed themselves – Israel’s survival depends upon us being proud of who we are – Jews and Christians alike.

The Jewish and Christian leaders who have the guts to really lead with brilliant initiative are few and far between. I can think of maybe half a dozen that stand head and shoulders above others. If our leaders cannot lead from the front we must lead from behind. Lobby, lobby, lobby.

We had the painters in this week; they came from Bethlehem, Christian Arabs from Bethlehem. They told us tales of unspeakable persecution, of loneliness, of their desire to attempt to fund their children scholarships to local universities so that they can get out of what is now a 90% Moslem city.

B. came into our study and was able to put a name to every photograph of every Israeli leader from B-G to BiBi – few of our Israeli friends could do so with such confidence. We are their hope. C. stood on our veranda – the one I always talk about – and said “You do realize it isn’t ours, the world has given it to them already. Jerusalem is not Jewish, Jerusalem is not Christian, Jerusalem is Moslem because no-one will stand up and say otherwise.”

It looks as if it will really happen – Gilad Schalit will come home. The last video sent to his distraught parents showed him even frailer than his natural boyish frame and it broke his parents heart. The captors promise and renege so frequently that we are scared to believe it will really happen and not be just another ploy like the Hezb-Allah return of dead bodies. The price is heavy, maybe too heavy – the long list of prisoners for whom freedom is demanded includes many masterminds behind terror attacks. They underwent trial and were convicted of triple and quadruple life sentences but will spend their lives in freedom in Europe planning Israel’s downfall. But that is who we are. Israel doesn’t leave her boys and girls behind – if a child s taken prisoner he is brought home.

Life goes on as always. We laugh, we cry, we shop, we create and go to theatre and we eat fabulous local food We don’t sit and mope, this is a society which knows how to live life to the full but we are aware of the dreadful lies being told about us and it hurts. To quote Shylock “When you prick me do I not bleed”?

I am off tomorrow at the crack of dawn in time to see the scarlet sunrise over the Jerusalem skyline before heading off to Ben Gurion Airport. For one whole week I will wallow in babies smiles and giggles and innocence and have long talks with my amazing daughter-in-law, argue hotly with my adorable son and try to see a few friends. It will rain, skies will be grey and I will love every second! Being with ones children means one always misses the one you are NOT with but relishing the one you are.

I can but think of my friend Jill. When asked about her feelings toward Israel she said “Israel is my Mother and my child. I feel protected as by a Mothers love and feel intensely protective as one is of ones child.”

Shabbat Shalom to you all