The view from my veranda

That Was The Week That Was without David Frost

5th of July, 2024

Shabbat Shalom, Rosh Hodesh Tammuz Tov (Rosh Hodesh means a new month, as we go into the month of Tammuz) and of course, have a good weekend.

Where to start?

Elections all over the place, some good results, some worrying and an awful lot of mud slinging. In the UK the Tories lost out, not really, or not only because of the current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, but rather because of the very poor recent record of the Tory Party in keeping a leader. Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss preceded Rishi Sunak in a very short period of time. Labour won, which is not as bad as first appears. While it is true that Corbyn and Co won their seats, George Galloway failed so miserably that he didn’t turn up for the vote count! Kier Starmer is the party leader thus the automatic Prime Minister, is a good guy who did his best to clean up the party. The greatest criticism of Starmer from the Tories is that he will be a “part time Prime Minister because he said that he will leave work at 18:00 on a Friday, come what may. Why? Because he promised his Jewish wife that he would always be home for Shabbat Dinner.

France on the other hand has gone right – far right – in its voting; a clear reaction to what is happening there, the influence of Islamicists, including the beating up of an 88 year old Jewish woman and the rape of a 12 Jewish girl. In the EU the dreadful Josep Borell is out as head of foreign policy and Estonian PM Kaja Kallas is the most likely to take the position. Kallas has been very supportive of Israel and the only obstacle to her approval is that she has taken an anti-Russian stance. Then there is the USA. The dreadful slurs have been bandied back and fore, many of the accusations are accurate but it does not make the electorate feel that their beloved country is in good hands, and worse still it weakens the world leader at a time when insanity reigns.  I received private letters from those who have served under both Biden and Trump, and all tell of men entirely different from those described in the media. I only pray for a leader who will end the divisions in society and heal the wounds of those divisions. Now is a time for us to stand together or democracy as we know it will fall.

So that’s the rest of the world, and you wanted to know what is happening here. My problem is that I don’t know how to describe the sentiment of most Israelis, other than confusion and helplessness in the face of unwarranted criticism by the outside world, but I can tell you that Israeli Arabs, or more precisely Israeli Moslems, have been very quiet, virtually no incidents within Israel, predominantly because they have come to understand that as far as Iran is concerned, Iran and her proxies really couldn’t care a jot about them, the missiles and explosive drones don’t differentiate between creeds. Yesterday Hezb-Allah launched over 200 missiles at the north of Israel and I am certain that not even one was reported by CNN or BBC or any other initials you may choose.

Antony Blinken expressed his deep concern that Israel has lost the North. By removing everyone from the line of fire, which may sound the most humane approach, this government has lost the entire tract of land above Haifa…..  This approach meant that the constant bombardment from Lebanon killed but a few but destroyed beautiful towns, killed animals (two pedigree horses were blown to pieces) and prevented farmers from reaching their crops or gathering eggs from the chicken farms – if they managed to risk their lives to feed the chickens. Again, the international media is still showing Gaza, disinterested in the destruction of Israeli land.

An El Al passenger fell seriously ill and the plane had to make an emergency landing in Antalya, Turkey. The patient and family were taken off the plane for medical attention, and the pilot requested refuelling to fly on to Israel, common practice according to international agreement (IATA), but his request was denied. Without sufficient fuel to fly home the pilot was forced to divert to the island of Rhodes in order to refuel and then  on to Ben Gurion Airport. Still waiting for the Turkish ground staff to be castigated by IATA

Noa Argamani was released from captivity in Gaza and immediately went to tend to her mother who was at the last stages of terminal cancer. Her beautiful mother waited for her daughter’s release and this week was in turn released from her pain in the knowledge that her baby was home and safe. May her soul rest in peace.

Impact-se CEO  Marcus Sheff just came back from a very important briefing of the US State Department on the situation of education in the MENA region. It makes fascinating reading. Predominantly positive with honesty on incitement to hatred which is prominent some schoolbooks. For the explanation please read

Incredibly the head representative of the Norwegian government, Edmund Okrost, recommended UNWRA for the Nobel Peace Prize despite inarguable proof that UNWRA supported and encouraged Hamas in its murderous path.

Yesterday Zvi took us, us being David Efron and Kathy who are visiting from Miami, and myself, to Mount Herzl and to the incredible Memorial to Israel’s fallen since the 1870’s. It is a very special place, its exquisite simplicity telling the story of our never ending battle for existence. IDF, Mossad, Shabak, Police, all are represented. It is important to note that the names of the fallen on the myriad of tiny bricks are Jewish, Moslem, Christian, no differentiation, all heroes.  After visiting the Memorial we walked through the military cemetery, utterly different to Arlington, it is a place of peace, each soldier has a grave with his name, the names of his parents and a space between each one for those who visit. Tall trees shade those who come to mourn, Generals beside privates, sergeants beside captains, there is no differentiation, all are missed, all were loved.

This week we have lived the story of Israel. Actually, it begins with the end of last week and travelling north with Martin to visit a dear friend, Israeli Consul General Ishmael Khaldi, in his family’s village in the North, in the Bedouin village of Khawaled. I love the fact that Ish told us to arrive after 12:30 because before that he was out goat herding. Ishmael (aka Ish) the diplomat, is not satisfied in an easy life in New York, Melbourne, Washington, London or Paris, he specifically asks for a challenge, he was in Eritrea and is now serving in Turkmenistan, but this week he came home and invited us to visit. We met with Natttie and Yolli Zonszein who came too. His family home is absolutely beautiful and the welcome was as if we were long lost family. We sat outside on the huge patio, the table heavy with treats brought out by Ish’s sisters. His Mother is so proud of her son and we hugged as old friends, indeed the whole family greeted us with deep warmth. It was a joy, a rare joy. Ish wrote a book about his exceptional life

Before heading off to the airport Zvi and Martin went to the Kotel, the Western Wall. For 19 years we could not reach our beloved site, the 19 years of Jordanian rule over the Old City. I don’t know if you understood the meaning of what I just said. The Old City and all of supposed East Jerusalem, the West bank were Jordanian for 19 years and before that they were an unnamed wilderness known Biblically as Judea and Samaria, 19 years the Jordanians, ruled over by a Saudi family (the Hashemites), and no Palestinian State!!! Anyway, that was an essential digression by one who really wants to encourage a 2-state solution.

Yesterday, as I said, Zvi took us to Mount Herzl and then dropped David, Kathy and I at the National Library, yet another magnificent piece of architecture. Unfortunately, there was a mix up over the tour but we got to see some fantastic books and documents, just a very few of the over 8 million that are housed in the Library. Can you just imagine the work of moving everything from the former site in the University to the current ultra-modern site? I am always amazed by the architecture in Israel, in Jerusalem specifically, from the Supreme Court, the Museum of Tolerance, the Library and of course the IDF Memorial to name but a few. So proud.

Between the cemetery and the library, we went to Shalva. We had a delicious lunch with Kalman Samuels who told David and Kathy the story behind the formation of the Shalva dream, and then he and David talked about basketball, David’s over 60 team is world champion! The tour of Shalva left them both breathless in admiration for what the Samuels Family has achieved. Shalva is a place of joy, of respite for families of children with special needs, a place of inclusion and protection, a place to bring out the butterfly in each child. The tour, with both Yuval and Sarah, culminated in a visit to Dr. Dan’s Room, created out of tragedy when my incredible eldest son was killed in a tragic accident, and today brings huge joy to all the children who enjoy the studio for the performing arts. As we sat for lunch I suddenly saw a familiar face in the lobby, actually not only an exceptionally handsome face but one that I love, my grandson Yosef. Yosef is a volunteer in Shalva, teaching the young people to swim and feel comfortable in the water of one of the pools. He came to sit with us and we learned from Kalman that he is so much more than a regular volunteer, he comes most days to help others and is loved by all. Of course I am not surprised – I know his Mother! He is doing such a spectacular job that they want to keep him on as a regular employee. I’m am so proud of him. I just wonder what he and Zvi spoke about as they hugged.

Each day brings new sadness, just this week we lost 13 soldiers. It is undoubtedly true that we are tired, as a nation, as Israelis. Tired of our tragedies as each day young lives are taken in a war that we didn’t want; tired of the reactions of a cruel world in which the perpetrators of diabolical acts became the heroes; tired of being accused of crimes we don’t commit and tired of fighting just to prove we exist and possibly above all, tired of the stalemate and inaction of our government toward bringing the hostages home (alive or dead) and bringing an end to this ghastly war.

In my women’s group, here in the village, we didn’t do much creative craft work, we talked about our feelings, our fears and our hopes. Such groups have saved our national sanity.

And so to song, to lift our spirits.

Yachad! Together we can walk toward the light. A beautiful song with sign language, expressing the prayer of all good people .

7 years ago a group of women went into the desert and sang. They sang in Arabic and Hebrew, they came from just about every piece that makes up the Israeli mosaic, they sang of peace, of living together in harmony, of teaching our children to love one another. Today we understand that it is a dream but as the Women’s March this week proved, we still want to fulfill that dream. Truly beautiful

Shulem Lemmer is Haredi, a proud American and a proud Jew. In honour of July 4th, Independence Day in America I chose to give you his rendition of God Bless America, in English and Yiddish, for Senator Corey Booker.  This song, this anthem was written by a Jew, by Irving Berlin, who was so proud to have found a home, a haven in his beloved adopted land. Perhaps this is the time to express our gratitude, Israel’s gratitude to the United States for her unwavering support through thick and thin. A true and vital ally.

That’s it! I am about to get myself ready to go and visit Rachel, Zvi will go to his parliament and then we will welcome another Shabbat bride. Tomorrow Leor and his girls will come to visit and hopefully we will go for a walk and enjoy a slightly cooler day. Cool? Did I say cool? Apparently tomorrow the temperature will go below 90 degrees Fahrenheit!!

I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, one day without worry and regrets. These days we tend to ask for “B’sorot Tovot” for good news, so I will wish you all what I wish all my friends on their birthdays “A year of good friends, good health and good news” A special mention to Jennifer and Brian Bell, Jennifer has been my close friend since we were 7 years old in Cardiff! Today is their 59th wedding anniversary and I am proud to say that they met at my 17th birthday party!

Shabbat Shalom and much love from Jerusalem, the city that we have prayed to for thousands of years. The wonderful City of Gold