The view from my veranda

The Times They Are A’Changin’

3rd of May, 2024

Shabbat Shalom, I wish you a quiet weekend

Where do I start?

Students, George Soros, Iran, Police, demonstrations, hate, more hatred, and even more hatred? I suppose I should begin with the Students. Let’s face it, students demonstrate against power, always have, always will. In fact they demonstrate against almost anything because that’s what students do – but – and this is a huge but, this is different.

CNN and others have reported that many of the demonstrators are not students at all but instigators, inciters, there to create chaos and intentional anti-Semitism, anti-Israel, anti-American sentiment.

It is not a coincidence that the tents, in almost all the campuses, are identical. What does that tell us?

Young people wear kaffiyas, Palestinian flags, without even knowing where the PA or Gaza are. These are your future leaders! These young, ridiculously gullible, readily radical young people who have been brainwashed by the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel cant, are your future leaders.

The 7th of October has conveniently been forgotten and the very students who fight for women’s rights support those who raped and tortured.

One fascinating outcome of the violent demonstrations in the Ivy League universities is reported by Forbes – employers are no longer looking to those elite universities for new blood, they much prefer young people from universities where they work hard and demonstrate less! Another is that Congress voted to widen the definition of Anti-Semitism in the Awareness of Anti-Semitism Act requiring the education department to apply the definition as outlined by the Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Two videos deeply affected me this week, for very different reasons. “Screams Before Silence” is a documentary of October 7th. Difficult but essential viewing as young people tell their stories alongside what they recorded.  The second is infinitely lighter but just as important. Noa Tishbi has teamed with Emmanuel Acho talking openly about their new book “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Jew

Just in case you thought that the UN investigation into the participation of UNWRA workers on 7th of October might elicit some kind of truth, it didn’t. Impact-se delivered, personally, a 245 page document detailing the UNWRA involvement and knowledge of the events of October 7th and how UNWRA education had culminated in the massacre, yet the result was a foregone conclusion that UNWRA had nothing to do with it proving yet again that the United nations, as a whole, no longer fulfils the mandate for which it was formed.

Isn’t it strange? We Israelis worry more about you in the USA, Europe, UK, than you do for us? In a surreal fashion our lives here have taken a path, a daily repetition of deep regret for the families of hostages, the determination to bring them home and the understanding that our current government is not capable of any positive action. Having said that, life does go on. Just a few days ago I was in the centre of Jerusalem, something I usually avoid because the traffic is terrible and the parking worse. As I walked to my destination, I realised that the area was full of new coffee shops, hotels and bars and all of them were buzzing with activity, young people sitting and eating Israeli breakfast on tables set out on the pavements. It was a surreal situation, watching the faces, hearing snippets of conversation as I passed; visually it was impossible to grasp that we are at war but the conversations told me that we are.

Over the next two weeks, we will mourn the Holocaust, that eerie siren will remind us of what was and may be again; a week later we mourn our fallen, both in battle and in terror, the numbers of fallen soldiers has risen by over 600 and the victims of terror by an astonishing 1,500 or more over the last 6 months. As always, the solemnity of Remembrance Day will blend into the joy, this year a very subdued joy, of Independence Day. Too many Israelis will not be in their homes, refugees in their own country, after what I believe to have been a bad decision by this government to remove entire towns and villages from the North and South. Not just the obvious citizens living along the border with Gaza, those who suffered most on that ghastly day. The result? In the minds of the Iranian backed enemy, they succeeded in cutting the size of Israel down to the central region, without anyone, not Jew, Christian, Moslem, Druze, Bedouin, Circassian, no Israeli in the area that they bombard on a daily basis.

My goodness, I am depressing myself as I write the words, but it is our situation, one to which we have become accustomed. As always, I digressed, I meant to tell you why we worry more about you than about ourselves. Your enemy is not blatant, is not a face hidden behind a balaclava, it is your neighbours, your children’s friends, your academics and hides in unexpected places. The lies have overtaken the truth and Goerring’s plan of well repeated lies overwhelming the truth is working yet again. Most Western leaders understand and President Biden and Prime Minister Sunak have gone above and beyond in their attempts to stop the tsunami of hatred, but it is enveloping life as you/we know it.

I hope you don’t think that I am being flippant by changing mood, but alongside this chaos, Israel is winning prizes and medals in sport and science!

In science, Israel scored no less than 18 medals in the Science Olympiad. Revital Wallach, a 12th grade student who thinks physics is cool, competed against 74 countries and won a gold medal in the Youth Olympiad in Physics and was even announced as the most outstanding student in the world in the field of physics. Nir Cohen, won a gold medal in the International Chemistry Olympiad; Ori Frankel, won a silver medal in the International Mathematics Olympiad; Yair Shoham, won a silver medal in Mathematics.

Unbelievable performances by Israel’s Karate team in North Macedonia Europe Championships where the Israeli team of all ages and various competitions won an astonishing 19 Gold, 5 Silver and 5 Bronze medals! 

Yarin Shriki, who survived the October 7th massacre, won a Gold Medal in the Paris World Jujitsu Championships. He dedicated his win to his friend Yochai Ben Zacharia who was killed at the Nova Music Festival.

Raz Hershko, the Israeli Judoka, won Gold in the European Judo Championships! Israel won more medals than any other country.

Passover has yet again passed over! It was a busy time, entertaining friends who popped in or announced that they were coming, which is what I love. Apart from Seder night we had another three dinners and a lunch and as we ended the festival I saw the inside of my fridge for the first time in years. It was empty, devoid of food, the shelves bearing a few lonely left-overs! When the days of Passover are so close to the Sabbath, we tend to feel that we have entered Groundhog Day, the special meals running into one another! However, it’s over for another year, all our dishes and utensils are either down in the store room (thank you Zvi), the boxes carefully labelled for next year, or back in their rightful places in the kitchen cupboards. This Passover really was different to all other Passovers as we set a place for a hostage, used yellow napkins and said an extra prayer for the return of our hostages.

There is one very special person who lights the room wherever she goes. Her real name is Alex, but ever since she was about 12 or 13 years old she had a hairstyle which gained her the nickname Poodle, and Poodle she remained for the last 40 years or so! Rachel and I met Poodle in the Nehama coffee shop at the entrance to Givat Ze’ev the day after Passover. We sat amid racks upon racks of freshly baked breads, of every nature, which seemed to disappear before we had time to take in the aroma! Talk about going like hot cakes! Half baguettes and multi-seeded rolls, one would think that these people hadn’t seen bread for a week…… oh I forgot, they hadn’t. Anyway, our table was in the corner, literally surrounded by the most glorious aroma and we just enjoyed being together.  It was fascinating to hear that Poodle and her lovely husband David, were unsure about coming, having listened to the news on British TV, especially since they brought their sons to have the Passover Seder, but to her amazement, once here, they found that life here goes on. It’s a different life but we accept our new reality, understanding that we are fighting for our very existence, but as Poodle said, she goes to the supermarket, museums and everything feels just as safe as ever. For both Rachel and I, this very special lady, one of Daniel’s closest friends, brings light and a sense of confidence into our lives.

I’m thrilled to tell you that we have had many messages over the past week from friends who are coming to Israel soon and want to meet up with us. Of course the number of airlines is limited (crews watch too much BBC and CNN) but all the Israeli airlines are working overtime! When friends come to visit, when friends come to tell you that despite it all they love you and want to hug us all, life takes on a different perspective.

That’s it! I swear that I can smell the aroma of Rachel’s Challot (she promised me some today) calling me to see her and the children. I don’t want you to think that the only reason I go to see my daughter is because after we hug, she always has a hot, fresh from the oven, baby challah, a wonderful cup of tea and egg salad waiting for me on the table. The girls leave their studies to come out and hug me, real hugs, and Yosef tries to come back from his grandparents to complete the set.

Tomorrow we will celebrate Gili’s 15th birthday. One of the greatest advantages of a second marriage is that we have amazing shared grandchildren. Gili is my granddaughter Ayala’s closest friend, spending whole days talking to each other on WhatsApp!

Zvi is getting ready to go to his parliament in the Botanical Gardens. I already know the subjects they’ll discuss. If only they were the real parliament, the real government, but then that’s another story altogether.

And so to music. Yet again we find so many lyricists are indeed prophets and commentators of what is happening in this world of ours.

One such prophet is Bob Dylan aka Robert Zimmerman, “The Times They Are A’Changin”

Hope, Tikva is not only our National Anthem, it’s what keeps us going! This wonderfully happy song all about Tikva made my morning!

Five wonderful Israeli actors, all of whom are over a certain age, created a gentle satirical programme called Zehu Zeh which means That’s It. They began to sing at the end of their programmes and their careers took off in a totally different direction – they were wonderful! Other stars joined them each week and…….. Here they sing Lu Yehi – Let It Be, music and lyrics by Naomi Shemer. Their guests are Meir Banai and Shaike Levi. This a prayer more than a song  

I wish you a Shabbat shalom, a good weekend with love from our Jerusalem, the city for all religions, for all faiths, the city whose dazzling beauty lives on in all our hearts.