The view from my veranda

Terror, Trust, Truth and Kinneret Chaya

The First of April 2022

29th Adar Sheni 5782

Shabbat Shalom.

As we near Passover, Easter, Pascha and Ramadan, a time of deep meaning as we look forward to family gatherings and prayer, others think of rage. It is hard to imagine such rage, encouraged by generations of hate-education and leaders who think only of vengeance. Hatred that kills.

Two foul, cruel terror attacks in one week. First Hadera. The Hadera attack was well thought out, never believe these are idiots, they are very clever.They planned the attack very carefully, learning the area and drawing maps of what and where. They arrived with bullet proof vests, pistols and over a thousand rounds of bullets for the automatic weapons that they planned to steal from soldiers or border guards that they would kill. They succeeded but they hadn’t reckoned with the group of off duty border guards who were having coffee together nearby, raced out and realising that they were wearing vests, shot them in the head and killed them mid-attack. Yazan Fallah and Shirel Abukarat lost their lives.

The first cousin of one of the terrorists is a senior police officer in Israel!! 

Incredibly there are courses, like an open university, for terror attacks, literally how to make bombs, where to get arms, the best manner of injuring and killing – everything is laid out and one can take a course, an alternative to learning Spanish!!!

Last week Hadera and this week Israel suffered yet another terror attack, this time close to Tel Aviv, between Ramat Gan and Bnei Brak, when a young man from a village close to Jenin, in the PA, crossed the border, got a machine gun from a cohort in Israel began shooting in all directions at anyone who passed in this normally quiet street. He saw a father with his baby, he shot at them – the young father of four lay over the baby and was killed saving his son’s life; two Ukrainian workers sat having a coffee outside the convenience store both were killed; a man walking by, shot and killed all of this seen and recorded by people from their apartments. A young family whose windows and doors were full of bullet holes because the terrorist saw them at the window. Two policemen on motor cycles were the first on the scene, one shot and killed the terrorist but not before he managed to return fire and killed First Sergeant Amir Khouri, a 32 year old Christian Arab, the son of a police officer and a man admired and loved within the force. Buses took Haredi mourners to the Khouri home yesterday for Amir’s funeral knowing he saved many lives.

The names of the victims are Amir Khouri, Avishai Yehezkel, Yaakov Shalom, Victor Sorokopot and Dimitri Mitrik. A Christian Arab, 3 Jews, a Druze and 2 Ukrainian Christians – they died because they were here in Israel, this has nothing to do with being Jewish, nothing to do with settlers. May their families be consoled among the mourners of Zion and their names be of blessed memory.

It isn’t new, they call it Intifada. 20 years ago, on the 30th of March 2002, in a coffee shop on Allenby Street in central Tel Aviv, a young, beautiful woman who was studying alternative medicine, was asked to fill in for the regular bar-tender; a young man came into the coffee shop and she served him, curious as to why he was wearing a big coat in Tel Aviv. She soon found out when he exploded himself shattering the glass front of “My Coffee Shop” and trapping her behind the bar. Trouble is there was alcohol behind the bar which in turn exploded and burst into flames. That young woman, Kinneret is her name, was found by chance when the first responders suddenly saw her hand move from under the remains of the wooden bar. At the hospital she was given a 2% chance of recovery, but that’s because the medical statistics don’t stand up to a Jewish Mother. Yaffa, mother of Kinneret Chaya, the additional name given by a Rabbi, meaning “lives – Kinneret Lives” and hundreds of family and friends encouraged Kinneret Chaya back to life despite 85% burns, some 4th degree, losing one eye, an ear and a lung, and her beauty shone through the scars, still does. On a visit to the Boosani home with Martin Lindenfeld, Pastor Mike Atkins, Zvi and I, Pastor Mike Evans said to Kinneret Chaya – “You can turn you scars into stars and bitter into better” and she has. Kinneret Chaya was told she couldn’t have children – she has 4; that she would never work – she does; most importantly Kinneret Chaya is a calm, joyous, spiritual, deeply Jewish human being who does not feel any hatred to those who caused her pain. I began to write about her that very night and made a diary of every tiny advance which many of you read – I still have it because KC, after 20 years, cannot face reading it. She is grateful for the amnesia that nature gave her of the event.

Other news this week

In a meeting in Kibbutz Sde Boker, home of David Ben Gurion, diplomatic leaders of the USA, UAE, Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain and of course Israel met and discussed greater co-operation stating that his is the first of a continuous process of meetings encouraging collaberation and condemning terror attacks. Indeed even Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attacks! Simultaneously Defence Minister Benny Gantz met with King Abdullah of Jordan in the hope of reining in the current wave of terror.

Of course one of the major topics of discussion was Iran, Iran the nuclear threat and the fears of all the other nations of the proposed new plan.

Israel and the UK have signed a memorandum to enhance and deepen co-operation in defence and security, increase diplomatic consultation and a new road-map for a free trade agreement. Israel will become a Tier One partner.

I came to Israel on Christmas Day 2000 and made Aliyah officially on April First 2001. Yes I have a quirky sense of humour but far from being a foolish decision it was the most incredible decision which has taught me more than one can ever describe. I’m going to quote my friend Jill, who when I asked her what Israel means to her she said “Israel is my Mother and Israel is my child” I have learned that Israel indeed cares for her people as a Mother for her children – despite all the noisy and sometimes unpleasant politics – and we, the people care for Israel as one cares for one’s child – always coming together, forgetting our somewhat overly verbal differences, to support and if necessary to fight side by side.

I love where I am, love my surroundings, obviously love my country of choice and most of all love showing it off to friends! This week my childhood friend Andrew met me in the Shalva Coffee Shop. After two years of Covid restrictions he was really excited to be here and I had a surprise for him. Andrew was the first person to see the sign on the door of Dr. Dan’s Room, the incredible Performing Arts Studio so many of you helped me to create. “In memory of Dr. Daniel Cammerman, Forever in our hearts”. It is stupendous! Before getting to the Studio Andrew was given a tour by the lovely Gaby Hirsch and he was “gobsmacked” by the beauty, joy, hope and mindfulness of Shalva, of the building into which every tiny detail took deep consideration for the thousands who come here every day, week, month. Gaby’s Campaign of “Remembering Daniel” has created a place of music, learning, joy and laughter, just as he would have wanted. As soon as we have a date I want to invite everyone who donated, donations big and small, to the opening. Family, friends and strangers all, we are family now, the Shalva family, the Shalva family that held me up when I thought I could not go on without my beautiful son. We turned tragedy into joy for so many young people with special needs.

Zvi was busy with his old friend David Efron who came for a few days to meet with the President, to go to the Efron Dance Center, the Jerusalem Academy of Music, the Kotel and to eat a falafel with Zvi! Unfortunately I was stuck at home because our trusty (until now) limousine (a 19 year old little Daihatsu with Lego tyres, 250,000 kilometres on the clock and faded paintwork) decided it was time to give up the ghost!! While I adore where we live one is somewhat stranded without transport. Of course being stuck at home just before Passover is a good thing and I am well into my Pesach cleaning – it’s amazing what one finds at the bottom of the freezer! The next step is to find all our Passover dishes etc currently hiding among the boxes and boxes of yet unopened treasures in our store-room!

So today I will not go to Givat Ze’ev or wonder at the panorama from Samuel’s Tomb but as compensation we have four beautiful girls staying over tonight and tomorrow!! Zvi’s grand-daughters, Amit, Gili, Ori and Yuval are coming to stay. Beds are made and food to suit varied and various tastes – including a new vegetarian – is ready. Best of all we will eat outside for the first time this spring!!

The veranda is spectacular with a riot of colour from the rununculus and narcissi, a jasmine about to burst into flower and fill the air with its incredible perfume; the four citrus trees beginning to bud, yet another source of perfume and the herbs starting to fill their role. Isn’t it strange – they say that spring weather is unpredictable but while in the UK the weather was crisp and glorious while it was cold and torrential rain here in Israel – now it is about to reach 30 degrees C here and in the UK snow fell!

We cannot let hatred change our lives, whatever our religion, whatever our origin, we mustn’t live in a world of “J’accuse”. As one Arab friend said “They don’t care who you are or what you are they just want to kill, I am in the same danger as every other Israeli. However what really hurts is that now every Jewish Israeli looks at me in fear”

What music should I choose? What can give us all hope?

For a change I want to give you three variations of the same song because the message of peace of all three is our prayer. Here European Jewish Choirs sing “Hevenu Shalom Aleichem” We bring you peace.

Once upon a time every El Al flight would play Heveinu Aleichem as we came in to land. That doesn’t happen any more but the Jerusalem Music Academy decided to greet a Taglit flight with the familiar tune…

The last version shows you Jerusalem and a translation of the very simple words

Remember these words from the Psalms of David

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
they that love thee shall prosper.
Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.
For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will say now,
peace be within thee.
For the sake of the House of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.

As we have found hatred knows no religion but love encompasses all.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom, Peace, Pax, Salaam, Heddwch, Paco, Mir and sweet thoughts.

With love from Jerusalem, the centre of our world