The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


13th January 2012

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Wishing you a wonderful Friday 13th taking special care of my spelling and what I download on my computer today!!!

This has been a good week, despite the news that the USA has rebuked Israel for the “hit” on nuclear scientists in Iran. They have no idea if we did it, neither does anyone else, but such diversionist tactics are dangerous for this tiny country. We are allies after all. Indeed something strange is going on since the other staunch ally of the USA was insulted this week when an American diplomat discounted Britain completely. Maybe Obama prefers Sarkozy because David Cameron is not willing to whisper snide remarks about Israels PM.

Apple bought Anobit Technologies, an Israeli company, for $390 million which puts all the potential Israel boycotters in a tough position. Since Intel and Windows hav ebeen here for years and now Apple the poor things can’t use their iPods – actually they cannot use their cell phones. Indeed the ultimate nightmare of a boycotter would be to have a heart attack while texting on a cellphone and the ambulance crew would be MDA trained!!!!

I am going to pinch a wonderful summation of the week from Norman and Lola Cohen who are the driving force behind the British Israel Group here in Jerusalem – why improve on excellence?
A tiny stamp bearing the image of the temple menorah was found at an archeological site near Acre. It was probably used to stamp baked goods and may have belonged to a bakery that supplied Jews in Acre with kosher bread during the Byzantine period, some 1,500 years ago.
According to data compiled by the Home Front Command, 680 missiles, rockets and mortars, were fired at southern Israel in 2011. 80 grad missiles were fired at Israel in the same year compared with 2 in the previous year. Grads have a longer range and have a more lethal payload than other rockets fired at Israel. Throughout December 2011, 30 rockets and 11 mortar shells were launched towards Israel, in 30 attacks, compared to 1 rockets and 1 mortar shell in November 2011, launched in 10 attacks.

Israel’s Public Security Ministry released figures that show a dramatic decline in the level of violent crime in Israel, as the number of assaults, robbery, sexual attacks and street violence fell by 17% from 2007 to 2011. According to a recent Public Security Ministry poll, 74% of Israelis feel a high sense of personal security, placing Israel fourth out of OECD countries surveyed.

In this crime rates survey – Israel didn’t even make the list!!! In comparison with the USA

Tel Aviv was voted “Best gay city of 2011” in a world-wide survey of homosexuals sponsored by American Airlines beating New York, London, Sao Paulo and Madrid in the vote

Israel isn’t perfect and there is an unsavoury element in our society which does not accept the Ethiopian immigration as they should – recently exacerbated by the large number of Sudanese illegal refugees who have crossed our borders due to the ignorance of the masses. This expresses itself in the workforce not just the difficulty of Ethiopian graduates finding appropriate employment but at the lower levels and in schools. President Shimon Peres went especially to a Jerusalem school to talk to the children about racism and non-acceptance of the “other”. He told the Ethiopian children that when he arrived in the nascent state, aged 11, despite speaking Hebrew he was “different” and everyone laughed at him and now he is President! He told them that they have nothing to be ashamed of – those who make them feel bad should be ashamed because one day THEY may be President.

I was very proud this week. Zvi and I were invited to join a wonderful group of Australians of the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce by Albert Dadon of Australia and his “man in Israel” Paul Israel. It is always such a pleasure to join these evenings which have enormous effect but this was extra special since it was a combination of Australian and British diplomats and politicians. Alongside the Australian Ambassador Andrea Faulkner sat British Ambassador Matthew Gould who sang Hatikva as enthusiastically as G-d Save the Queen, Australian Parliamentarian Michael Danby, British Shadow Minister for the Foreign Office John Spellar (Labour) who thanked Albert and Debby Dadon for including the British delegation in the event and several members of the Conservative Friends of Israel including a wonderful Welshman called Guta (pronounced Gita) Bebb (Saboth Da, Guto) and many more. What amazed the audience, so used to hearing lies about our region, was the deep understanding of the true problems of this region and the strong support for Israel by of each of the speakers. I was thrilled ot hear our Australian friends talk about their pleasure to host the British delegation and their recognition of British defence of democracy and the British determination to fight for democracy such as in WW2 and in the establishment of the State of Israel – and made a comment that “Brittania Rules the air-Waves” which tend to be hostile to the only country in the Middle East which exemplifies their moral standards. The guest of honour was former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert together with his wife Aliza. Ehud Olmert, old friend to most of those attending, explained our position with expertise, as always. It was a delight to see old friends, especially Ruvi Herzog and meet new friends like Sonja Kohn, our delightful neighbour at table 16.

IMPACT-SE is in the news again, for its wonderful work on the education curricula of our neighboring countries. Click and learn.

Andrew Stone, aka Lord Stone of Blackheath, is so much more than a dear friend, even more than my “madrich” in Habonim in Wales and definitely more than a Jewish Lord – Andrew is my favourite type of person. He works for Tikkun Olam quietly, thoroughly, effectively and without self congratulation. We met this week in the Botanical Gardens on a cool and crisp day and sat outside, next to the lake, in the winter sunshine. As we talked of “Cabbages and Kings” we thought back to our youth, asking what was the greatest factor in making the Cardiff, Wales community so wonderfully aware of Israel. The answer was simple – youth groups. Zionist youth groups brought Israel to this tiny community and taught us self-pride and traditions and most of all Tikkun Olam – to leave the world a better place than we found it. We must revive the youth groups – more to follow.

On Tuesday evening we met the Nancy and Harry Bloomfield from Montreal for our regular meeting when they come to Jerusalem. We decided to go for a truly Israeli meal at Zion ha Gadol. Uzi met us at the door and as he emerged from our hug he suddenly saw Harry. “Shemesh”! they both yelled!! Uzi used to work in the Shemesh restaurant on Ben Yehuda Street and each morning he would to take Harry’s wonderful mother Neri her freshly squeezed orange juice. Fond memories indeed. Our table began to sag with the weight of the salads – humous, humous with chickpeas, humous with pine nuts, humous and tehina, freshly made tehina, tomatoes, pickles, chopped salad, aubergine salad, mushroom salad, burning hot Schug, fresh minced garlic and lemon and more and more and more………….of course with freshly baked Iraqi Pitta……and this is just the first course!! More fascinating than the food is the range of people – thin, fat, Arab, Haredi, secular, old, young, locals and tourists. Harry, an avid people watcher, loved it! The wonderful Nancy has a thirst for knowledge that is rare and so enjoyable and we managed to discuss the worlds troubles while downing our delicious meal.

I am thrilled to let you know that Canon Andrew White has been voted Vicar of the year. Wonderful and well deserved for the man known as the Vicar of Baghdad

It’s raining its pouring but the old man isn’t snoring – he is looking out the window at the view from our veranda, commenting on the incredible amount of traffic leading ot the shopping mall. Jerusalem is just as beautiful through the misty rain and our veranda is glorious. Winter means “rakafot” or cyclamen here in Israel. They love the cool weather and even survive the snow!
Tonight the children are coming for supper, with the grandchildren and right now I must go back to preparing the Shabbat meal. My favourite part of the evening is when the little ones look up at Saba Zvi as he sings the kiddush, the blessing over wine, and eagerly await their slice of Challah, checking that Saba doesn’t cut it in half! It takes me back to when my children were small and my middle son Gideon (a fine barrister today) watched my late father carefully in order to get a whole slice too! Traditions! It is all about traditions.

For anyone coming to Israel there is wonderful skiing snow on the Golan!

For your musical delectation today we have a truly amazing young man. Shalev Menashe sang with the Israeli Opera at age 10 and here he sings Hallelujah just for you

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wish you a beautiful Shabbat remembering that our love comes all the way from Jerusalem to you, wherever you are.

With love