The view from my veranda

The View from my Verandah – Yom Ha’Atzmaut


1st May, 2020

Good Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom, Happy May Day, just have a great day!


This week my missive really is about the View from our verandah since we haven’t been anywhere else!!


For a reason I have not yet worked out some of you didn’t get my missive for Remembrance Day, Yom haZikaron. I wish I was more computer literate and then I would find the switch over to Mailchimp which would make my life so much more simple. I currently send over 2,000 emails through 3 Gmail accounts and then the various organisations send it on from there, including an entire South Korean network! Anyway, here’s the one you may have missed.


I realise many people look to me for a positive outlook and I promise that will come but in the meantime I am seething! A disgusting person, one Yaron Oren-Pines, promised New York State some 1,450 ventilators at a cost of $47,656 each and without further ado they sent him a cheque for $69 million, despite the fact that his price was exorbitant! He never delivered. He’s a disgusting excuse for a human being and what were the New York State officials thinking? $69 million on a whim? I know that someone in the White House suggested they check it out but I cannot believe that they sent the money without due diligence, checking the recipient’s ability to produce the ventilators! Why am I so angry? Because, although he lives in California, this excuse for a human being is Israeli. Just another excuse for the ever growing number of anti-Semites in the USA to spread hate.


I promised that I would be positive from here on in – so deep breath and here goes.


Despite the advice of dozens of international law experts Fatou Bensouda, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague decided to reiterate her position that Palestine is a State for the purposes of transferring criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague. Dismissing the legal opinions of several states and dozens of international law scholars, Fatou Bensouda’s view, laid out in great detail in a 60-page document, could pave the way for an investigation of alleged war crimes committed in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. I am going to surprise you because I believe this can be good news. It does not necessarily mean that Israel will be investigated – it could well mean that finally the PA and Hamas will be held responsible for war crimes they commit. Until now, since the PA is not a State it could not be held responsible for its actions but this could well open the door to accountability and thus punishment.

We are still waiting for the announcement of a new government, but negotiations seem to be producing results and we are still praying. Too many Ministries to massage the egos of too many participants we are uncertain who will be included and who will be outside. Since this is politics after all, all sides are producing vitriol from those who feel that their “principles” have failed and they found themselves outside, but hey, that’s politics!!


Talking of politics – Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, not only survived the virus he became a Daddy for the sixth time with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds. At last, this little boy brought something to celebrate!


I have oft wondered what the Jewish response to the pandemic would be. Obviously to help, to innovate and to provide succour, but what would the great philosophers have said? Rabbi Jeremy Rosen has tackled just that question looking through the eyes of one of the greatest modern day philosophers who loved to stir up Jewish conventional thought. Rabbi Yeshayhu Leibowitz


Yom HaAtzmaut – Independence Day was very different, no crowds, no parks full of disposable “mangals” – barbeques; no crowds queueing to get into the spectacular festivities on Mount Herzl, no huge firework displays (most cities gave the money they would have spent to medical services), no parties – but it was wonderful!!


The ceremony on Mount Herzl was pre-recorded so that everyone, including the new Speaker of the Knesset whose traditionally hosts the event, everyone was protected.


The English speaking television news station i24 produced this video of the entire ceremony with translation. Rather too much speaking but on the other hand you get to watch the incredible torch-lighting ceremony. Idan Raichel shed a tear and 92 year old Rayna Abitbul who still volunteers at Shaare Zedek Hospital, taking 2 buses to get there!


President Ruvi Rivlin gave a heartfelt speech to the Jewish communities in the Diaspora, his warmth and love of Israel apparent in every word.


Not to be beaten by a pandemic Israelis bought tons of meat to burn to a crisp on their mangals, as tradition dictates! I have a feeling that the ecosystem took a backward step for an hour or two as the air became redolent with the aroma of burning meat ! A mangal in Israel comprises of chicken pieces, kebabs, steaks and burgers and skewers of vegetables (onions, peppers and mushrooms) and no barbeque is complete without hummous, tehina, chopped salad (called Israeli salad or Arabic salad!), aubergine salad made of aubergines burnt on an open flame, chopped and mixed with tehina, in fact just about any delicacy that can fit into a pita! This year since we were all at home many added falafel to the menu. I saw far more Israeli flags and bunting flying on balconies and verandahs, Israelis uniting in appreciation of our beautiful country for a short while without fighting right or left.


72 years in 72 seconds……


Talking of verandahs, ours is exceptional this year, probably because I had time to tend to the flowers! Each morning as I take my breakfast and newspaper outside I thank the wonderful spring rains for the display that brings a smile to my lips. The geraniums, simple plain geraniums are flowering a bright happy crimson beside the tiny orange tree, whose blossom greets me with a fabulous scent every time I walked out of the doors; the lemon tree still hasn’t blossomed but has produced beautiful new green leaves which add a marvellous tang to any dish; Fuchsias burst open to reveal wonderful colours inside; the mint, rosemary, tarragon, sage, lemon grass and lemon balm have sprung back into life and Rachel and I decided to have fun by planting the celery base, green onion roots, carrot tops and anything that promises to grow into the ground to see what happens. Mine are doing alright but from the photos I see that Rachel’s verandah are really thriving!


What would we do without Zoom, Facetime and WhatsApp? It isn’t the same as being together but it keeps us in touch with loved ones. It helps small children remember what Saba and Safta look like and it brings us together – but for the elderly, those who cannot communicate on the internet, it doesn’t help. For many who live in closed communities and old people’s homes, this has been a very lonely time since family cannot visit and in some cases, carers have proven positive for the virus and cannot look after their wards. As of yesterday families are allowed within the permitted 2 metres or just outside the perimeter of fences so that the lonely can see family even if they can’t receive hugs.


Municipalities and organisations like Leket have ensured that nobody starves and every older person living alone gets phone calls and meals. It makes me so proud.


Apart from our daily constitutional we really haven’t done anything exciting – or boring! Zvi has found unbelievable artifacts and they just keep coming. We try to hold meetings on Zoom and discussions on WhatsApp, I’ll tell you all about it next week after we hold a Zoom Board Meeting.


I just took a break because Zvi had his Zoom parliament and we only have one computer. Former Minister Shimon Sheetreet is a mine of information and the journalists spoke about what has been going on this week in the world in general and Israel in particular. One big question was about the Attorney General’s decision that there is no legal reason that Benjamin Netanyahu cannot take up the position of Prime Minister while under indictment. No other Minister or Mayor can do it but for some reason the law has a loophole for Prime Minister. It fascinates me to hear the different journalists give opinions so diverse and each of them says it is the truth….. I believe it is their truth not necessarily the truth. I love listening to Zvi who’s role in life is to be the devil’s advocate and draw out their genuine thoughts.


So let’s get straight to music and start with a wonderful collection of Israeli songs for you from IDF girl soldiers.


Yehoram Gaon is a real Yerushalmi (Jerusalemite) and his rendition of the song “Shalom lach Eretz Nehederet” Shalom wonderful country – made especially for Israel’s 72nd birthday is just gorgeous! I wish it had a translation but that’s life!


“Bo’ee” Come with me, take my hand, don’t ask where or when. Idan Raichel showing why he received the honour of lighting a torch on Tuesday as he brings together all sectors of Israeli society.


Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope that you are abiding by the rules because I want you here next week and for many weeks to come.


With love from Jerusalem, so beautiful, so spiritual that it gives a special flavour to life just by living here.