The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


29th August 2011

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat shalom to you and yours from Jerusalem.

Jerusalem has been sweltering this week, from many aspects that do not include the weather! The tent cities, protesting the immense cost of both buying or renting apartments, have been growing. Their basic cause is a good one but sadly there is little that can be done from the Knesset. If one wants to live in the major centres then one must pay the price. Israel is a free enterprise society and developers cannot be told to build cheap housing in city centres! However, the Prime Minister has already put forward a proposition to build 10,000 more student units and to build more public housing. When a Prime Minister makes such offers and is told that it is ludicrously little one understands that while there are many demonstrators who have genuine needs there are also political instigators who run the show. After the “Cottage Cheese War” which succeeded in persuading manufacturers and stores lowering the cost of this staple food many are on the badwagon.

This has been a week of evening activities and air conditioning! For the myriad of tourists who come from rainy Europe it is the perfect opportunity to don swimming gear and race to the pool but Israelis seek anywhere cool!

The South Sudanese secession has been very successful on the diplomatic front. Finally the Christians and Animists can live freely, no longer under constant threat of annihilation by the Moslem North Sudanese. The African Union has welcomed the nascent country and now Israel, one of the first to congratulate the decision, has formally established diplomatic relations. IsraAid has long been involved in helping the South Sudanese people.

I was staggered to read this article on MEMRI today US Serviceman refuses to serve in Afghanistan for religious reasons. He refused orders and is still free? I have 3 questions. Why is he in the US Army? Why isn’t he out of the US Army for refusing orders? Would this have been accepted if he were not Moslem?​/0/0/0/0/0/0/5514.htm
In Washington, Mrs Clinton is “suggesting” that Israeli Defence Minister Barak makes reconciliatory moves toward Turkey. We make the moves? Turkey sends us boats which carry IHH members who attack our soldiers while carrying unnecessary, and non-existent “aid” to Gaza, they declare us diplomatic lepers, continue to insult us and WE should make the moves. Yet again Mrs Clinton, you expect Israel to be the Uriah Heep. Sorry we don’t do that any more. Turkey needs Israel more than Israel needs Turkey and we want them to come half-way.
Israel’s open society expresses itself in many ways. Not just in the rainbow of people who walk the streets, shop in the Malls, barter in the shouks, live, eat and party in their own special manner but also in our freedom of expression which range from the rabid Member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi who was not only on the Mavi Marmara but also after the heinous Itamar killing the Fogel Family announced “I condemn the horrendous murder of the babies in Itamar and the breeding ground in which it was conceived: The Israeli Occupation of Palestine.” to the wonderful Israeli Moslems like Khaled abu Toameh and Ishmael Khaldi. Khaled is a journalist, much quoted on this newsletter and Ishmael Khaldi a highly respected Israeli diplomat who is currently a cherished advisor to the Foreign Minister. “I am Bedouin; I am Moslem and I am Israeli; I am a shepherd; I am a scholar and now a diplomat. Listen to his words.

By the way, guess what? Saeeb Erekat, despite resigning from the PA still appears as their spokesperson, is very angry at the distorted facts in Danny Ayalons amazing video The Truth About the West Bank. Worth watching, very clever.

Last Shabbat Dinner was a great success. 17 of us sat around the ever extending table on our veranda, the night was perfect, Jerusalem stretching before us in her Shabbat gown of white, the table groaning with the delicacies of the Diaspora and a few local dishes (yes I was tired but thrilled and satisfied) and the conversation ran the gamut of politics and religion (without those two subjects Israeli conversation would not exist) and heated arguments while the children happily played and ignored the adults!

On Sunday my beautiful friend Arlene arrived. I fought the crazy traffic in order to be there before she arrived from the airport but of course as I entered the King David lobby there she was, sitting on the beautiful sofas, admiring her historic surroundings. In truth, for me the wonderful intricate ceilings and panorama of the Old City Walls paled in comparison to the sight of my wonderful friend. We immediately continued our conversation of last year and caught up on gossip when in walked our friend Dalia Itzik who was there for a meeting. Upon introducing Dalia to Arlene I soon found that she was as intrigued by this incredible lady as I am. The former Speaker of the Knesset and Chairperson of the Kadima Party sat and listened to Arlene while hugging me. As soon as she discovered that we would be at the Knesset the next day she invited us to visit.

The very next day we had a meeting with Knesset Forum on International Affairs Chair Michael Gribov and Richard Wittman. We sat in the Coffee shop of the Knesset right next to the plenary hall. It was a hive of noisy activity, although we had an excellent meeting and we co-opted Arlene on to the Forum. Many MK’s passed us, Arabs and Jews; left and right all friends and chatty outside the hall which demanded rivalry and dissonance from all of them! There were two major votes going on so the noise levels were high and the TV crews aplenty. We both arrived home exhausted!

Wednesday saw us at a truly amazing reception to honour the great Chazan and singer Richard Tucker on the lawns of the King David, overlooking the walls of the Old City at night

We were invited to the reception by dear friends Joyce and Fred Claar who have known the Tucker family for many years. The Tucker Foundation which was founded by the 3 sons of the man whose greatest loved was Jewish liturgical music, presented an outstanding concert here in Jerusalem with the Israel Philharmonic under the baton of Zubin Mehta. I was delighted by the awareness of Jewish life and Israel in particular that his sons carry in the blood and their hearts. This was not just another group of people mingling for the sake of being seen, this was a group of people who care for music, for Judaism and most of all for Israel. We missed the concert but for a good reason!

Last night, in Maaleh ha Chamisha we went to the wedding or Erez, son of our downstairs neighbour Shoshana. Jill had a ball as did we all. The bride and groom under the canopy, under a prayer shawl and under the Jerusalem skies, pledged to love each other and keep a Jewish household, food food food and then more food and then the young people danced off their overeating while we sat unable to move!

Today I am a happy woman! Finally and at last a member of my wider family will see where I live, what I do and what I write about. My nephews daughter Carly and her fiance James arrive for Shabbat with Auntie Sheila and Uncle Zvi. The next few days will be a flurry of museums and parks, history and fun, food and experiences that make up Jerusalem. I am so excited! My dreams came true as I take Carly and James on the journey of a lifetime and impart my love of this incredible city and beautiful, innovative, generous, outgoing, noisy, brilliant country to my niece to filter through the rest of the family and generate a run on the Raviv hospitality!!!

Tonight will be a special Shabbat.

Wishing you all a loving and generous hearted family to share Shabbat with – especially right here in the most beautiful city in the world.

The country is in shock at the death of Rabbi Abuhatzeira, grandson of Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, known as the “Baba Sali”, a leading Moroccan Sephardic rabbi and kabbalist who was renowned for his alleged ability to work miracles through his prayers. The Rabbi, a recluse who rarely left his home, held an open meeting at his Yeshiva where a member of the public stabbed him to death. May his soul rest in peace.,7340,L-4101678,00.html So strange, right before the 9th of Av – the fast day of mourning to commemorate the destruction of the Second Temple – destroyed by “sinat chinam” unwarranted hatred.