The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


18th June 2010.

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. George Bernard Shaw

How does one choose a Jewish leader? Does one open it up to the highly talented and connected people who have given their lives to Israel and heed the opinion of world Jewish leaders or do you choose anyone with a title who is willing to take on the position? Despite the clear fact that youngsters are leaving their communities and organisations in droves…… apparently it is always the second choice – second best. Details upon request!!!!

We don’t always get it right – but this is a country of innate self-analysis. The official inquiry into the resettlement of Gush Katif has announced what we already knew – that we did a lousy job of resettling the people who left Gaza for peace. The country was unprepared and the people of Gush Katif were not given land to restart their lives and to this day some are unsettled. We failed them.

Can you imagine the difference in world reaction to the Mavi Marmara et al if those marines had been American and the USA saw their soldiers being beaten within an inch of their lives by Afghanis? Where was the outcry when Maggie Thatcher’s Britain sank an enemy ship. Enemy in waiting: why we sank the Belgrano – Times Online As the HMS Conqueror closed in on the Belgrano, the Argentinean Cruiser was well outside the British-imposed Total Exclusion Zone of 370 km radius from the Falklands and was in neutral international waters. USA embargo on Cuba has extended for decades and it was only after hardening the embargo that Clinton chose to allow humanitarian aid in…. but the US coastguard still sinks refugee boats in international waters

Politicians who risk their position are rare but this week we saw several. Members of Parliament David Amess and Nick Boles both questioned the Foreign Minister concerning the double standards applied to Israel when human rights are non-existent in the Gaza Strip and PA.

Congressman Mike Pence speaks on the House floor. “Mr. President, Whose Side Are You On?” A short but powerful one-minute message from the Congressman sowing is anger at Obama for not supporting Israel’s clear right to defense against the terror organization of Hamas in Gaza. WeJew Jewish Video Sharing Megasite – US Congressman To Obama – Whose Side Are You On? And former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar. Support Israel: if it goes down, we all go down Anger over Gaza is a distraction. We cannot forget that Israel is the West’s best ally in a turbulent region

The Haredim (ultra-orthodox) are demonstrating in Israel. There are a number of issues for the sometimes violent demonstrations. One is the continuing argument about digging roads, hospitals, homes because when you dig you may find bodies – albeit ancient pagan remains; recent riots are because Haredi schools do not allow Sefardi/Mizrachi students to come to their schools and the Supreme Court ruled this as racist and the parents chose to go to prison rather than allow their daughters to learn with Eastern Jewish girls and their cohorts are rioting in protest. This problem must be solved in Israel, not only of Haredim who believe themselves above the law but also of Israeli Arabs; they must become an integral part of society. Rights demand obligations; to become part of the defence of this country and to become part of the taxpaying public- one must be a participant and not an aggressive bystander. If we are not careful the backlash will cause our children to hate Judaism and then we will lose our ancient rights to this land.

Iranian “AID” ships are on their way to Gaza and despite the fact that Egypt is our partner in the embargo she had to allow the ships into the Suez Canal; ironically due to an international law instigated to protect Israel’s right of passage!!!

I have often spoken of our friend Dr Gabby Barkay and his brilliant decision to recover the remains of the earth removed from beneath the Temple Mount by Raeed Salah – yes the same Raeed Salah who was on the Mavi Marmara. This was not refuse but rather sacred soil – every grain of it is our history. The Temple Mount was violated by the WAQF yet although the soil was extracted illicitly we are learning so much from the sacred soil they discarded.

My niece Sophie is a brave young woman!! She not only teaches in an inner-city London school but on September 5th 2010 she will be supporting Meir Panim by abseiling downs Earls Court building! She will enjoy panoramic views across London from the top, before abseiling 20 metres / 66 feet to the bottom. Meir Panim is the largest supplementary welfare services agency in Israel. For more information or to donate, please visit

And now the latest song from the LATMA stable, The Three Terrors. Lets make it a hit!

Our dear friend Saul Same is here in Israel again all the way from Melbourne Australia. Saul is one of the finest people I have ever met, loves Israel, loves Australia, reached the top in all fields yet remained a mensch. Saul, who is over 90, brought his little sister Julie with him and we took them to the Mamilla Mall and walked along to see the incredible lights in Old city, along with hundreds of thousands of people from all over Israel and the world. Huge tulip-like likes filled the Jaffa Gate entrance and holographic bells rang on the tower of the Dormition. Eleven o’clock at night and the streets were heaving with a Jerusalem rainbow of people of every sect, cult, religion, denomination, origin and belief…. Oh how I wish that CNN and BBC would show that side of our life; the utter freedom of movement for all. I’m sorry I don’t have this years video but this is amazing too

I am so excited!! My beautiful friend Arlene is coming today with all family and we get to spend Shabbat Dinner and tomorrow with her and her husband Milty. Sorry Fegie….. my turn!!! I am not sure we will go anywhere since tomorrow promises to be HOT! I love it when the air-conditioned newsreaders announce that it will be hotter than usual for the season…… How hot is hot? Anyway we decided to spend the day out on our veranda, looking at Jerusalem; maybe sip a cocktail or two and talk about our love of Israel. Arlene will cry when she sees that I haven’t taken down our big Israeli flag since Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) and neither have most of our neighbours! I already see her sitting and quietly smiling as she looks out over Jerusalem, the whiteness of the buildings sparkling in the searing heat and the green of the myriad of trees which intersperse the white. We will hear children playing in the quiet streets and fabulous aromas will rise up to our veranda from the entire neighborhood beneath us. The cuisines of Moroccan, Tunisian, Polish, Kurdish, Iraqi, Romanian, Anglo-Saxon and French cooking blend into one mouthwatering mélange – Israeli cooking – the culmination of the dispersion is a truly wonderful epicurean delight!!!

I am late today and so I can already sense Shabbat’s approach. The bride of Shabbat always wears white in Jerusalem and she seems to smooth herself out and look up to the heavens in preparation for her visit to our homes. The shopping mall is closing its gates and the offices ended their work day. The buses race, resoundingly empty, to the nearby terminal to give themselves and their drivers a day off.

Shabbat, we all need a day of rest, Sabbath, Sabbatical, to recharge our spiritual batteries, to reconnect with our families and think over our week.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom, sweet recollections and joyous promise.

With love from Jerusalem, centre of our world.