The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom Letter – Teenagers die, Sderot bombed, Canon Andrew in Iraq

Friday, 4th July 2014
Shabbat shalom dear friends and to all America and Americans I wish you a truly amazing Independence Day.
I wish the USA the strength to be a light unto nations, a leader among followers and an example of democracy, a caring democracy which looks outside itself to make this world a safer, better place.
America gave us so much more than hamburgers and hot dogs but must recognise that while her own economy is important her leadership in our current world war is even more important and her example in dealing with it is the catalyst for good.
I pray that Hurricane Arthur will pass by quickly and without harm to human life.
Here in Israel life became sadder, more complex, the chasm between civilizations wider. The horrific news that our three boys, three teenagers on their way home from school, were killed almost instantly after their kidnapping, shook the entire country. One visitor to Israel said “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, children die every day”- well Daniel Gordis explains better than I in his blog Because They Were Jews 
Days later we heard the news that a young Arab boy from the upmarket Jerusalem Arab neighbourhood of Shoefat was kidnapped, killed and his partially burned body found in the Jerusalem forest. The mothers of Gil-Ad, Eyal and Naftali, even as they sat Shiva for their sons, offered compassion to Muhammads mother. Naftali Fraenkel’s Mother said “There is no difference between blood and blood” The President of Israel, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Knesset begged for “Ipuk”for restraint.
Immediately the family of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir blamed Jews;immediately riots began throughout the West Bank of Yehuda and Shomron; immediately the world, which seemed indifferent to the deaths of 3 Jewish teenagers, expressed anger and infinite sympathy with the Arab parents. The autopsy is complete, the results still uncertain but for me there is one element that makes it unlikely that Jews perpetrated this diabolical crime – Muhammads body was partially burned. My instinct tells me that it was not a Jew but I do not know – if it was then I want their home demolished because anyone who could do that to a child, whatever his origins, is a terrorist. A very telling statement in Daniel K Eisenbuds report in the Jerusalem Post suggests that this is not the first time that a member of the Abu Kheidar family was subject of attempted kidnap due to inter-tribal dispute.
When I begged for Ipuk – restraint- on Facebook Doron Maresky responded thus ” I think it’s even more that just “ipuk” or “restraint”. Restraint implies holding back or suppressing an urge to do something in return or retaliation and for many ipuk is what is needed. Watching the bereaved parents yesterday, I saw in them something far purer and far nobler. There was no urge for retaliation to restrain or suppress. Even in their grief they exuded a majestic inner strength that holds us on a spiritual level far higher than those who would see our downfall. Having said that, this does not retract in any way from our right and duty to punish and deter those who transgress against us and to do what is necessary to keep us safe in our own land.
In the meantime, almost ignored by the media, 45 missiles were launched from Gaza on the residents of Sderot and the South in a 24 hour period, destroying homes, destroying peace, destroying the lives of so many children who grow up with PTSD. If you want to understand the terror, the horror, the fear and the trauma, please just watch this video
Hamas, who deny any connection to the kidnappings and murder, even of the missiles, are deeply into destroying any attempt to reach an agreement. Ehud Yaari is one of the greatest experts on Middle Eastern affairs, in this video interview he reveals many truths “There were 44 Hamas attempts to kidnap Israelis just this year and the perpetrators were known Hamas operatives” – “When the boys were kidnapped the police recording over the phone, in perfect Hebrew – “Head down, head down” then shots – then you hear them singing “We have got three, we have got three”.
The boldness of Hamas is encouraged by their knowledge that whatever they do will be enabled whereas whatever we do to defend ourselves will be disparaged.
To put our lives into perspective and to understand that the media does not report tragedies they simply support whatever political ends are flavour of the week, please watch the first two movies about Canon Andrew White in Baghdad.Heart wrenching and eye-opening we begin to understand what is not told.
I debated whether or not to send you the next article, then realised that although it may anger some I simply had to. It is critical of the Administration’s Middle East policy and more. I would love to have a response from any of my wonderful Chicago friends.
I said so many times that Israel is a schizophrenic country, that even in the midst of horrific turmoil we still enjoy life, and this week was no different.
After Shabbat our lovely young friend Steven Gandel arrived from London, where he has been working. I love Steven, indeed he is the third generation of his family that Zvi and I adore!!!! Zvi brought Steven from the airport and collected me so that we could go out for a bite to eat (Steven does enjoy his food) and see some Jerusalem nightlife. Of course we went to “The First Station” and while we ate we watched the world go by. Dancing in the central square, children racing around on hired vehicles, families out promenading, restaurants, all full to the very brim and of course the beach! Yes the beach! We discovered the beach with Debbie and Sammy Bettsak but this time actually walked on the sand – no water but a palm-fronded bar, beach chairs, music and fun. Amazing eh? We were very lucky to spend lots of time with Debbie and Sam but only a few grabbed moments with Maida and Allen Gerskup. All of the above, Steven, Debbie, Sam, Maida and Allen were here for “Simchas”, be they Bar or Bnei Mitzvot,  Weddings or parties. They enjoyed every moment of great restaurants and clubs; hotels and sunshine. Life goes on here, we survive and thrive because we are not hysterical. As a people we cope, maybe because we know that we survived the worst that humanity could throw at us and we are stronger now than ever; maybe it is because we survive through our belief and traditions.
Last week I made a mistake in the Torah Portion but hope that my cross checking this week has given us the right information. The Parasha (Torah Portion) this week is Balak -Numbers 22:2-25:9.  The biblical accounting of Balaam’s behavior, without rabbinic interpretation, is rather straightforward. Balak, king of the Moabites, has asked Balaam, a non-Israelite sorcerer, to put a curse on Israel. Balak, aware that the Children of Israel were blessed by God, hopes that a curse will allow the Moabites to be victorious in their battle against the Israelites. After several entreaties from Balak, along with permission from God and a stop along the way with God’s angel, Balaam ends his journey at a mountaintop, where he sees from a distance the Children of Israel encamped. From this vantage point, Balaam proceeds to bless the Israelites four times. It is some of the most beautiful poetry of biblical literature.
So many want to curse us, so many want to kill us, so many defile our name, and they do not hear that those who bless us thrive. We are a giving society – even as the bodies of the 3 boys were discovered  5 Palestinian children were given free treatment by the Save a Child’s Heart Foundation here in Israel; a Syrian refugee baby was born; hundreds of Palestinians were being treated in Israeli hospitals, schooled in Israeli schools and educated in Israeli universities.
Our determination to find a way to peace is epitomised in this wonderful song Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu ​ The words – Shalom, Shalom – Peace will come to us – Peace will come to us and to everyone – Salaam to us and to the whole world​ – Salaam
So the table is set, Zvi ready to go to his Parliament, the food unprepared. I think we will have fried fish balls – a very British recipe. One prepares the mix for gefilte fish and then simply breadcrumb them and fry them – it is a great way of getting children to eat fish!!! Recently I varied the recipe since the excellent fresh fish shop in Givat Zeev makes a mix of minced salmon and white fish which makes a delicious fish ball- just fish, onion, eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper (with a tiny spoonful of sugar to help the fish go down!!!)! The children love ptitim – a baked rice-shaped pasta with onion, and I have some wonderful salads with aubergine and tehina, courgette, mushroom and of course a traditional chopped Israeli salad. The Israeli chopped salad is different, little ridge cucumbers, peeled and finely chopped, juicy tomatoes, deseeded and chopped, finely chopped purple onion, parsley or coriander and loads of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Crunchy, healthy, tasty and very, very Israeli!!!!
 I still have to choose your Shabbat song and thought that talking about food the muse would hit me………….. but I really want to choose something new,  something to honour the great United States and Israel both. this video amazed me
The one invocation that links all Jews is Shema Yisrael – Hear oh Israel. We say this prayer upon waking and before retiring, it is the first prayer that a child learns, it is a prayer that binds us. A vunderkind, child, Yitzi Rosinger, singing in Yiddisch, grabs ones heart and his voice rises to the heavens expressing our prayer for peace and understanding, for a kinder world.
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Be kind to one another
With love from Jerusalem, beloved pearl in our crown.
By the way – to end on a high note, Harry Freedman sent me this video all the way from Sydney, Australia and I agree with him that this is the best Jerusalem music video for ages

If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

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