The view from my veranda

Sheila’s Shabbat Shalom Letter

Today is the 19th of March, 2010 my wonderful husband’s 65th birthday.
Shabbat Shalom to you all and Happy Birthday my darling Zvi – not forgetting his “bruvver” Yitzik, and my daughter Rachel and her husband Igal on their 6th anniversary!
Moslems are killing hundreds of Christians daily in Nigeria and the media is silent; over 300 rockets have been shot at Southern Israel since Operation Cast Lead and yesterday a man was killed by one of them – silence; Hamas tried to incite the 3rd Intifada by telling young hotheads that Israel is trying to overtake the Al Aqsa Mosque – silence; Israel announces plans to build in her capital city and the media is having a field day of condemnation. Maybe we should commission Judge Goldstone report on their disproportionate response? To make things even more interesting IMRA reports that Ramat Shlomo, the area in dispute, is in “no man’s land” not Jordan, according to maps signed by representatives of Israel and Jordan in 1994.
Tom Carew writes about Ruth R Wisse’s article “How about an Arab “Settlement” Freeze? Ruth’s estimate of 100,000 square miles of Jewish-owned land in the Arab world lost from 1947 is TWICE the size of England, and about Syria and Jordan combined, or 25% of Egypt. Nearly 1m Jews fled the Arab world and Iran, but 711,000 Arabs fled Israel – most staying WITHIN Palestine. Who lost most? And who still complains most?

A quick run down of the latest news items

This article on Ynet puts things into perspective; the foreign press receives daily reports of aid going into Gaza from Israel but it is never reported. Amid ‘siege’ claims, Gaza is enjoying more aid than quake-ravaged Haiti,7340,L-3864592,00.html

Marwan Barghouti, vaunted as a potential leader of the Palestinians, is supposedly “festering” in an Israeli jail (5 consecutive life sentences for murder). In fact he is enjoying civil rights accorded to all prisoners in Israeli jails and just achieved his Ph.D. in Political Science! Ah that Gilad Schalit could just see his parents or receive mail or a visit from the Red Cross, or that someone demand it; but then he is just an Israeli.

Fahmi Shabaneh, former head of the Palestinian anti-corruption unit who blew the lid on corruption within the PA was not only ignored by the foreign media but they didn’t even notice that his home was confiscated as a result of his bravery.

We do not forget. After 7 years of thorough work we arrested the perpetrator of the Café Hillel bombing which killed Prof. Appelbaum and his daughter on the eve of her wedding, and 70 others, victims and survivors of his vast terror rampage. Due punishment will ensue.

To disprove my theory that all the media is biased we received support from an unlikely source – the Christian Science Monitor – in this article revealing the motives behind Israel Apartheid Week
Public statements bear no resemblance to reality. Brazilian President da Silva refused to visit Herzl’s Tomb yet went to Ramallah where he was draped with a Kaffiah. That is the public image. The reality? Brazil and Israel intend to swell bilateral trade to more than 3 billion US dollars within five years. Mercosur/Israel free trade agreement becomes effective April

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s younger son, Avner, is keeping up Sara’s family tradition by winning the Israel Bible Quiz and will go on to represent Israel in the International Bible Quiz.,7340,L-3863878,00.html

Last Friday evening we were invited to Shabbat Dinner at the historic King David Hotel by Ruvi Herzog of Melbourne, Australia. Ruvi is a truly amazing young man; religious, open, kind, staunchly Zionist and a thoroughly proud Australian. Among the guests were Paul Israel (bravo on the organization), Vivian and Paul Zimmet, Ehud and Dagmar Ya’ari, the Wismans from the Bahai community in Jerusalem, the Stanleys from the Anglicans, a young Yeshiva student and two Israelis married to Aussie wives. The special guest was the new Australian Ambassadrix , Andrea Faulkner, who despite the fact that she landed in her new posting just a week previously, impressed us all with her composure and warmth. The evening was a delightful mixture of religion, tradition, humour and of course politics. When one Arab expert (Ehud Ya’ari) and a number of Israelis who are expert on everything else, get together with the opportunity to pour out our hearts to the new Ambassador we tend to take it! The Ambassador was delighted that everyone spoke honestly rather than in diplomatic double-speak and we found a real friend in her. She was especially thrilled by the Jewish aspect of Shabbat dinner as Ruvi explained the Kiddush, the Challah and the Grace after meals to us all. Each and every one of us left a wonderful evening with a sense of pride.

Israelis have always been good at laughing at ourselves. This advertisement is the last word on the “Dubai Affair” as the cameras follow people around the supermarket finding “metziyas”. You don’t need to speak Hebrew to follow!!

Preparations for Pesach are in full swing as we race up to the last furlong in a flurry of feather dusters and carpet beaters! The Saharan dust storms have subsided, the rains washed away the residue and the sun is out. The traditional terrazzo tiled floors are gleaming as new and “trissim” or window blinds are shining white again. The supermarkets have specials on every type of Passover food as Ashkenazis search out the “no kitniot” labels. Sefardi and Mizrachi Jews are allowed to use “kitniot” or pulses at Passover whereas Ashkenazi Jews are not allowed to use anything resembling grain which can be made into flour.

This time next week Zvi will go to Mea Shearim, to buy my gefilte fish, I cannot possibly make enough for 34 people and survive, anyway, in truth, Zvi doesn’t like my gefilte fish. Israelis are used to carp which is bought still kicking from the shouk and I find carp meat too “fishy” so I make it from whitefish; too light, too white and too sweet for my husbands taste! Our Mea Shearim compromise suits me down to the ground and Zvi loves the insane rush of people, sidelocks flying in their haste, preparing for Shabbat and the subsequent Seder night. My charoset meets everyone’s approval, though very different to the traditional Israeli one which is ground dates and nuts, mine is my beloved Zeidy’s recipe. After he had been exiled to the garden to grate the hot as an inferno horseradish for the Bitter Herbs he would come back into the kitchen to guide Mummy in the art of Charoset. Ground almonds, grated apples (ah Cox’s Orange Pippins I miss you!), cinnamon, very finely shredded lettuce (for the combining) and a splash of either sweet wine of Tirosh (grape juice) – leave overnight to blend together and… unbelievable! Passover is not only to celebrate and tell the story of our freedom from Egyptian slavery; we must study and learn from every aspect of what we read. Our situation today is not an easy one, and do not think that it is only Israel that is under attack. We are not slaves but if we are not careful we will also not be free men. The greatest lesson, if you carefully look between the lines of the Haggadah and the multiple courses of the food, is that we must create our own freedom. We must educate our children, let them know what a proud history and fine tradition we have and teach them to stand tall in the face of derision and lies. They can only fight back from knowledge. Nothing in Judaism is about the food – although that side of festivals is never forgotten!

Shabbat Shalom to you all and especially to my Zvi, who has honoured Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam and made it his life’s work. Zvi’s motto is “We don’t have problems, we have solutions”. If the problem is greater the solution is tougher but it exists.

As you sing “Le Shana ha Ba’ah be Yerushalyim ha B’nuya” end with the words Did you hear Mr. President?

With love from Jerusalem