The view from my veranda

The Boycotters got Boycotted

16th August 2019 – Tu b’Av 5779


Shabbat Shalom! How are you?


Today is Tu b’Av, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av, a mini-festival which has evolved from a day of joy to a day of love! Once upon a time young men and women would dress in white and go out into the fields and courtyards to find their mate and declare their love. Today is somewhat more sophisticated and has become a day of marriage proposals, romance, bouquets and chocolates, but still has a strong sense of where it all began.


Not a lot of love around at the moment and yet again Israel finds herself in a “damned if we do and damned if we don’t” situation.


Rashida Tlaib stood in front of the television cameras with a big smile and then gathered all the pathos she could and said “My 90 year old grandmother is so proud that I am a Congresswoman in the United States and now I cannot go to see her” not forgetting to throw in a few words about infringing on her rights to free speech. Of course CNN, BBC and NYT all jumped on the cruel actions of Israel for preventing her from seeing her grandmother in the “occupied territories” together with Ilhan Omar. So the boycotters got boycotted!!


These two women rose to power, not through caring about or promoting the USA or American policies; they rose to power on the back of their hatred for Israel. Tlaib and Omar both refused to meet with Israeli officials, surely that tells you something!  I just deleted everything I wrote about the issue because my friend Daniel Seaman, American born, former Director of the Government Press Office wrote

“The real outrage should be that these two anti-Semitic, terrorist supporters are elected members of the Democratic Party. This is how far Americans have fallen. Would any of you expect us to host a White Supremacist, neo-Nazi? Could someone like that even get elected? There is no difference. If you tolerate these two provocateurs, you are no better than them.”


It’s embarrassing that Jeffrey Epstein is so very Jewish”! That isn’t what embarrassed me, it embarrassed me that so many rich and famous people were either taken in by him or much worse, used his “services”. His sidekick in his sick and foul empire is/was Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of media tycoon Robert Maxwell, and apparently she too has disappeared. Perhaps she is lying low but the mystery surrounding Epstein’s death and the vast number of extremely powerful “friends” each and every one of whom was logged and recorded by Epstein lead one to suspect further foul play. How many of the elevated will fall, who knows.


I really can’t avoid discussing Israeli politics as much as I would love to hide from it. A court decision allowed the far-right parties to take part in the elections but the prognosis is that they almost certainly lose their deposits with 2% of the vote. In truth all the polls show that Likud will gain 29 seats, Blue and White 30 and Liberman will hold the balance with 11 seats………. Wait, isn’t that the same result as last time and the reason we went to the polls again? Liberman and Blue and White hold firm on their decision that they will not enter a coalition government with Netanyahu at the head as long as he has the indictment hanging over his head. It infuriates me that the people of Israel are paying billions to hold new elections when the result is a foregone conclusion while those billions could be fed into our health system that is desperately in need of funds. Oh I hate politics!!


Yet again religion has become a bone of contention in our elections. What the secular politicians don’t realise is that the Haredi parties are the only ones who concentrate upon serving their constituents! They are chosen by their Rabbis to represent the needs of their communities and they do it very well. If the secular politicians spent as much time serving their constituents rather than fighting the Haredim to promote their position then our lives would be so much better! Since the days of David Ben Gurion the cause of bringing the Haredi community into the fold has been at the forefront of secular politics – as both sides become more defensive no solution can be found and we have enough problems around our borders without internecine fighting. For the hundredth time, please, give us your manifesto, tell us what you intend doing and stop the negative hype!


The only major difference between Israel and other democratic countries is our Jewish identity. In order to preserve that identity a middle road must be found to uphold the traditions and values while accommodating the needs of the secular Israelis. I really don’t care about the Shabbat needs of those who can afford a car, it may be pleasant to meet friends for breakfast on a Shabbat morning in a non-kosher restaurant but it is hardly a basic human right – I am talking about some form of transportation service for those who can’t afford a car. I don’t expect the government to provide it but why not encourage private minibuses to take a route through less salubrious neighborhoods throughout Israel to take people to the central bus station where private service awaits to take them to the beach. As I said, find a solution but ensure it is compatible with being a Jewish State because that is our raison d’etre.


I wish you could meet Marcus Sheff! Marcus is the CEO of an incredible and erudite organisation which is based in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Since Marcus joined the Board (of which I am a proud member) advances in understanding the ill effects of intolerance in education, or hate education, have opened doors that seemed sealed and locked. The purpose of Impact is to encourage tolerance in education and we set those criteria for UNESCO. Marcus travels the world and recently gave a presentation of the reports of Impact-Se to The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on the need to reform the Palestinian Curriculum to remove hate and racism. Marcus presented Impact’s reports on the Palestinian curriculum.


The vote on the non-binding resolution condemning the BDS movement in the House of Representatives the result was 398-17. 17 Democrats voted against condemning BDS. Want to know who?


Back to Israel! Last week there were violent demonstrations on the Temple Mount against Jewish visitors. Jews are not allowed to move their lips at all while visiting the Temple Mount for fear that they will pray for the Messiah to come and thus the Moslem right to the Mount will be denied. I learned something new from Linda Olmert, it would appear that there is no ban on Christians praying on the Temple Mount. Why? Because the Moslems do not consider Christianity a monotheistic religion because of the Trinity thus their prayers are not considered effective!! The dilemma was caused by an Israeli politician and general with a deep knowledge of history and archaeology but disdain for Judaism. Despite Motta Gur’s declaration “The Temple Mount is in Our Hands” it isn’t.


At long last I have almost returned to normal life!! On Sunday I went to visit one of my very favourite friends, a 97 year old lady with a marvellous mind and precious memories of my parents. This wonderful lady is full of stories of my childhood and tells stories that even I didn’t know!!! On Monday I went out with Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala to the Mamilla Complex where we had a delicious meal overlooking the Old City while right next to us people of a certain age were dancing to Israeli and jive!  Yosef was fascinated by the fact that many Arabs stood to enjoy the sight too! On Tuesday I met with my Cardiff friend Angela Ben Gur at the YMCA, oh my goodness it is a beautiful building. We sat in the forecourt on a balmy Jerusalem evening and listened to a fabulous free concert of young musicians who played everything from Bach to Beatles and back again.


On Thursday I met Ruth Dodziuk-Justitz for a late breakfast in the Botanical Gardens where we sat beside the lake marvelling at the phenomenal water lilies towering majestically as we ate our delicious lunch. Zvi came back from Rhodes and as he and his boys came into the greeting hall he was absolutely amazed and delighted to be met by the beautiful Shelley Silver (accompanied by Dad Valeri) who chose to celebrate her finally completed driver’s licence by collecting Zvi from the airport and bring him home. Of course I had lunch waiting for them! As if we hadn’t eaten enough we then met Debby and Sam Bettsak for supper in Focaccia in the German Colony. It was the best meal in a very long time. Of course the portions were humungeous but the cuisine inventive and delicious. It infuriates me when I’m told that can’t get good kosher meat! They should just try the burger with paper thin entrecote on top or the beef pizza or Sam’s liver in balsamic reduction, it was all delicious. The week ended with a singing get together for the HaKol Yachassi choir at Itzik Mussachi’s home. This choir not only sings well, I love every single one of them!!


So as you see I am trying to make up for the 6 weeks of relative inaction, not exactly running a marathon yet but then I couldn’t before either! If there is one thing I have learned over this last year is that we all have to listen to our bodies. In fact instinct is almost always right on every level!


It’s boiling hot! I know we shouldn’t be surprised, after all this is the Middle East and it is August but it always takes everyone by surprise and the TV advertisements for A/C units abound! I thank heaven for the wonderful cool breezes of Jerusalem every evening as I sit on our veranda taking in the view and enjoying the scents of a hundred verandas in our neighborhood. Jasmine, ah jasmine, there is nothing so redolent and sweet at jasmine, it fills the air and makes one feel happy!


I’m off to Rachel in a few minutes and Zvi is going to his parliament. Wherever he goes he comes back with chocolates for the “boys”, apparently they all do it! This time Greek dragees are the order of the day. I will hear the stories of the adventures of the last few days when they travelled north with Rachel’s father, swimming in the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), horse riding in the Galilee and generally having fun. I can already feel the incredible aroma of Rachel’s freshly baked Challot! I will return to wonder at the view from Samuel’s Tomb, to come back and hear from all of you what your week has been like!


We aren’t going anywhere for Shabbat dinner. I decided I want to just be with Zvi and hear all his adventures of the last month in Montenegro and Rhodes. I think I will set the table outside on the veranda so that we can absorb the full sense of Jerusalem Shabbat, the calm, the very special feeling of a day of rest.


So you want music do you? I don’t know if you realise that often it takes me more time to research the music than to write the newsletter!!


The Mercy Gate of the Old City is how the Messiah will enter the Temple Mount and the world will be beautiful. I am not going into the politics just listen to the song by Meir Bana’I


Together – together to the light


I am thrilled that our friend Danny Adeno Abebe and his beautiful family have returned from their stint in South Africa and in his honour I give you this last song – The Journey – by the Sheba Choir about the treacherous journey from Ethiopia to Israel.  We should never forget their trials and tribulations or their determination to come to Israel no matter how hard the road.


Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wish you a day of joy and family and the time to think about how we can make our little corner of this world better.


With love from our home and the View from Our Veranda