The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter from Sheila


Friday 5th of February 2010.

Shabbat Shalom!

Gosh, I had no idea it was so late. Here I am on a soggy Friday in Jerusalem, slightly miserable that the snow did not materialize (though the Jerusalem Municipality proudly invited the press to view their up to date snow-moving equipment); busily cooking and cleaning the apartment ready for the weekend when I suddenly realized we don’t have much time to talk of this weeks happenings before lighting the candles for Shabbat. There is something so pure, so special in the inherited tradition of women’s faces glowing in the candle-light as they welcome the bride of Shabbat. No matter where in the world or the diversity of the culinary delights the tradition has survived thousands of years.

The inequality in reportage takes on a special light when Jerusalem is discussed, from the ludicrous freeze on Jewish building to the outrage when illegal buildings are pulled down (a global practice) but only if the housing freeze is Jewish and the illegal housing is Arab!!! Mayor Barkat is not willing to be blackmailed by the threat of bad publicity as well he shouldn’t. If a home is built illegally; ergo without adhesion to building codes, then those areas rife with illegal and unsafe buildings could provide our first response teams with a Haiti situation when the inevitable earthquake occurs. Californian homes survived is because the building codes were enforced.

There is much current discussion as to the “benefits” of super-power interference in the Middle East. Khaled Abu Toameh, a top Israeli Arab journalist who writes for the Jerusalem Post among others expresses the opinion, which most locals would agree with, that we did much better before all the “do gooders” came on the scene after the disastrous Oslo Accords. Most of us hoped and prayed that the Olso Accords would bring peace – but we didn’t realize that we were opening a Pandoras Box of intractable demands, insane ingenuity in new forms of tortuous terrorism; and total dehumanization of Israel and the Jews.

The funniest video of the Obama Governments attempt to win the Arab world over by intelligent discussion made me laugh. Irreverent but good.

As a result of the Goldstone report the IDF has published its own report of their internal enquiries on Gaza as on all operations. In a BBC Newsnight report Col. Tim Collins, a celebrated Iraq war veteran gave his view of the Gaza conflict.

From the Sunday Express newspaper in the UK comes this article about Israel’s ecological projects. We are amongst the worlds leaders in ecological initiatives and inventions although few media sources report it. It makes me so proud that as Saul Singer says in his NY Times best-seller – despite the incredible external pressures Israel has taken her meagre resources and created a flourishing society. Start ups are not only in the city!

Not only the BBC’s fair report on the continuing discussions on Gaza; CNN, through my dear friend, Senior International Reporter John Vause tell of the continuing work of Israelis in earthquake-torn Haiti. Children who appear sunny and happy cannot say the word “earthquake” they call it “the thing”. The thing that destroyed their homes and families requires the work of psychologists, specialists in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Please watch this outstanding report as Vause asks all the pertinent questions. The first video is of the children and the second Vause interviews one of the senior Israelis in the team.

The Israeli movie Ajami has been nominated as an entry for the 2010 Oscars in the position of “Best Foreign Film”. Ajami is an Israeli film about the Moslem – Christian Arab neighborhood of Ajami in the ancient city of Jaffa. Written and Directed by Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani the film tells five stories of life in the neighborhood, in Arabic and Hebrew. This synopsis of the movie makes one glaring error – it describes Scandar Copti as a Palestinian when he is an Israeli who studied at the Technion.

Zvi is now at his parliament – the one in the coffee shop at the petrol station. I am absolutely certain that they discussed all of the subjects above – very, very loudly! It amazes me that the coffee shop does any business when it rains – at least when the sun is shining the other diners can escape the heated and raucous arguments on every and any subject in the world. Every subject is open to absolute certainty – there is no suggestion that anyone has doubts or questions his knowledge on any subject! For those who know Zvi they will understand my amazement to discover that he is one of the QUIETER combatants!!! I am delighted to say that my husband is doing really well after his operation, although the magnificent tales of his diverse room-mates continue.

I have a few things to finish up and then it will be time for that pre-Shabbat, time-honoured tradition THE SCHLAFFSTUNDER, siesta, rest….. nap, before having supper with Zvi’s Mother Ala. Her memory is not what it was but her memories are intact. I love leading her to her youth and the stories of when she first arrived in the nascent state – in 1934. The hardships were incredible, few of her fellow students of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus had families to support them, to spend Shabbat with, to give them a hug – and the saddest part of all, most of these students had left their families in Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Austria, Germany and were never to see them again since the majority lost their families in the Holocaust while they stayed safe in the war-torn land of the Jews.Her memories of the Mandate, of her time in the Haganah, of Jerusalem “shel Pa’am” of all those years ago, hold me spellbound.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

Always have time to listen to the stories of those who seem to have lost their memories – we have so much to learn, so much to be grateful for.

With love from Jerusalem – beautiful even under the huge grey skies filled with blessed rain – but no snow!!!