The view from my veranda

Sheila’s Shabbat Shalom Letter


7th April 2010.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends

It is all in a name.

When David Ben Gurion made the decision to call this land the State of Israel for the Children of Israel rather than Yehuda for the Jews he felt it was natural and right. Israel was formed from greater Palestine by the United Nations two state solution (Jordan and Israel). We had no concept of the problems that name would cause or that Arab immigrants would name themselves Palestinians. Logically the world knows that Palestine/Trans-Jordan was split into two, a Moslem state and a Jewish State, but when ordinary folk hear the word Palestine today they perceive an oppressed indigenous people. We are nearly 62 years old and our very existence is questioned again….. that is what is in a name.

Israel has been anxious to know what Anat Kam did to be held under house arrest. A press embargo was placed on the affair after Uri Blau’s report in Haaretz. The story had been passed by the censor so why the kerfluffle? Kam was a serving a IDF soldier when she stole a disk containing secret documents from the office of former Central Command Chief Yair Naveh with the intention of uncovering Israeli secret service plans. Freedom of the press is one thing – stealing and publishing State secrets is quite another.

Talking of storms the Obama storm whirls around us in eddies of emotional reports from the White House and the world media. We know that the American people are with us but we are thoroughly confused as to what really happened. We need our Prime Minister to tell us what happened and how he intends dealing with the situation. Isi Leibler explains in this weeks “Word from Jerusalem” Prime Minister Netanyahu: Talk to us

As an appendix to the Obama issue listen to Canada Radio. I don’t know this broadcaster, his views are w-a-y right of mine and of Attila the Hun, coarse and opinionated, but…interesting! Galganov destroyer of Ivory Towers!

Our dear friend Canon Andrew White brings joy, peace and true Christian love to war torn Baghdad. As he prepared for Easter prayers huge explosions were heard near St Georges Anglican Church. The mayhem which followed smashed into the contemplative prayers in a whirlwind of devastation and despair as people rushed to his church for safe haven. Neither the first nor the last act of terror in his beloved Baghdad.

One of Israel’s most loyal spokesmen of recent times was Winston Spencer-Churchill. My sense of history has not lost its bearing, Winston Spencer-Churchill, grandson of the late, legendary Prime Minister was a sterling friend of Israel. He never lost sight of his loyalty. He died recently aged 69 beloved of Israel and loving Israel. His memory is deserving of tribute as a rare and unswerving ally.

Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writes “Tufts Friends of Israel, the pro-Israel group on campus, has decided to cancel a lecture by Khaled Abu Toameh, scheduled for next week, in fear that he will be seen as anti-Islam by the Arab students and would make Tufts Friends of Israel look bad.” Words fail me!

Wonder where your aid money goes? A senior Palestinian economist can tell you

Check out Israel 21C this week. Everything from painless treatment for youthful skin to delicious Israeli chocolate from the “Bald Man”

Want to be free of our reliance on petrochemicals? It’s easy – watch this amazing video from Elot in Israel. With wind and sun this could spearhead clean, cheap energy.

During Pesach Zvi and I travelled North on highway 6 to Akko, ancient fortress town and thriving city of diverse Arab and Jewish life. Akko has 5,000 years of multi-faceted history; capital of the Ottomans, centre for the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaler desired by Napoleon and a major port on the old trade routes. I love travelling through Israel and exploring her many exciting locations. Travelling North is fun on the old road if you have time; stopping along the way at Bedouin outposts to buy ceramics; Bet Shean for the best falafel in Israel at Falafel Zahava; on the sores of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) for a quick dip in the healing spa waters or the Hamam or to sit on the waters edge at Kibbutz Ein Gev and eat St Peters fish. Everywhere is fun and food, ah the food! From the Kinneret you pass my favourite place in Israel (after Jerusalem) – Mitspeh haYamim Spa Village, across Israel to the shore, up the coastal road to Akko and on to Metulla and the Good Fence. Walk around in Israel don’t stay in your hotels; chat to people in the street. That’s the magic of Israel, everybody walks and talks even at 2am you find people strolling in the streets, going home from coffee shops and restaurants which close when the last customers leave.

Yesterday, Gloria Goldstein, a dear friend from Sydney Australia and I explored the Islamic Museum’s fascinating illuminated Korans and extensive clock collection. Later we went to Caffit in the Botanical Gardens for lunch. The weather was perfect, the air clear and the sun shining as we sat beside the pond watching the black swans and ate our delicious lunch.

Sunday night Zvi and I will be at a ceremony at Yad Vashem as Israel Remembers.

We will remember the 6,000,000; we will remember their families who survived with bitter nightmares; we will remember the grandchildren who never knew grandparents and the generations unborn from wombs exterminated. Yom ha Shoah. At the eerie wail of the siren people stand with heads hung, silent beside their cars and buses as Israel pays tribute and the wailing siren weeps for us all. All over this country people will remember. Some forget that although G-d didn’t make us perfect he never abandons us – he weeps too. Please watch this video created by my friend Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence of the Great Synagogue in Sydney Australia whose grandfather, composer Heinz Levine, perished in Auschwitz yet his music lives on in his grandson’s heart.

March of the living this year will be led by Natan Scharansky, former Chief Rabbi Meir Lau and Professor Mark Spigelman (both Holocaust survivors). Prof Spigelman’s first childhood memory is of the cold metal of a gun in his mouth, held by a Nazi soldier threatening his mother with killing her little son. He survived, thrived, excelled scholastically, married and brought three fine sons into this world as his revenge.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.

Never, ever forget that this is home – this is our home – this is one place where no matter what is said and done we don’t need to flee —- ever again, never again.