The view from my veranda

Tragedy, Turkey and Truth

26th May 2022

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I wish you a weekend without tragedy

I grew up in a country without guns. The police, with the rare exception of the Special Squad, didn’t carry guns, in fact they were the friendliest lot you could ever imagine, very child friendly. When I lived out in the country our local Bobby, Constable Jones, used to pop in to check on me and the children when my husband was travelling, leaning his bicycle against the front porch. I know it was a different, more innocent world, but nobody I knew, nor anyone they knew, would ever have thought of buying a gun. For me, I cannot understand a society which refuses to serve alcohol to an eighteen-year-old yet allows him to buy hand guns, weapons, assault rifles, in other words allows a mind which is still unformed to kill, to go on a rampage killing children, teachers.

It worries me not to see a soldier, especially a soldier in the IDF, walking in the street carrying a rifle, admittedly without the magazine in place, because I know he’s been trained and vetted. If I see someone with a handgun, I know that they have been through a very strict vetting both physically and psychologically, so I don’t worry, but I am certain that the 2nd Amendment didn’t want insane 18 year olds to carry weapons!

I weep with the parents of those children mowed down, I weep for those who were injured and I weep for those who saw the horror and the gore as their friends were slaughtered by a troubled young man who just walked into a store and bought weapons and 500 rounds based on his ID and proof of age. As President Biden said “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There’s a hollowness in your chest, you feel like you’re being sucked into it, and it’s never quite the same.” I never write about American society because it isn’t my place, but I couldn’t hold back especially after the President begged, prayed for a change in the gun laws before the next time.

Perhaps, instead of writing, I ask you to watch this fascinating interview. Rachel sent it this morning, knowing I would write about the horrendous shooting in Texas and although long, the interview goes deeply into the question – Why has America Changed – and of course I know that this is an example of one country, but we see all around us, wherever we live, the leaning toward extremes on both sides of the political sphere, and the inability to listen to a different opinion.

Erdogan, the President of Turkey, has run the gamut of alliances, looking to reinstate the Ottoman Empire but without much success. He is a fickle leader searching for greater power. It began with trying to impose his will on Egypt but he was rejected by President Assisi. He then attempted Libya but was thrown out; next he was rejected as a member of the European Union so turned his targets on the Moslem world beginning with Syria and Assad until he realised he could not win when he embroiled Turkey in a horrific war. During this entire period, especially after the Marmara Affair, he supported the Palestinian cause. Finally, Erdogan, after years of derision and blame toward Israel he has recognised something his citizens knew all along, that his real ally is Israel. Turkey’s tourism depends upon us and Turkish Diplomats and Politicians have been visiting Jerusalem for talks, even going to Yad Vashem! Actually, I’m pleased. We very much enjoyed our various trips to Turkey, a colossal country with a long history, amazing natural and man-made sites, warm people and a lesson in history that their present president forgot. A theocracy can only work if it includes tolerance for others who live within.

Yes I know, things have been difficult here between the ever increasing civil unrest by the Palestinians and the media’s determined efforts to tell us the government is falling! When you have a government containing utterly disparate views it is proof of a thriving democracy but it does not lean toward stability! However, this week the threat came from a shocking corner. When Defence Minister Benny Gantz put forward a law whereby combat veterans receive tuition stipend when they leave the IDF. The Likud, the party of Menachem Begin, the party that puts Israel’s security as its forte, threatened to vote against this scholarship just to topple the government. In a recorded quote Miri Regev is heard saying “We decided as a party that we’re going to be a fighting opposition and that we want to bring down this government,” Miri Regev could be heard saying at last week’s meeting. “So there is no queasiness [when voting against] the disabled, and there is no queasiness with cases of rape, and no queasiness with battered women, and no queasiness with soldiers, because we all understand that this is the rationale.” Politics stink!

This has been a week of Zooms and friends! Zoom meeting are very useful when the Board members, whatever the organisation, are spread all over the world, or even the country! It’s lovely to see people anyway! The great advantage of our current home is that it is on the way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem so it is easy to drop-in and visit! As I’ve told you I love spontaneity, love it when people call and say they are on the way and within 30 minutes a meal is on the table! Zvi’s cousins from both Mexico and Argentina were here, Sergio and Sara just drive from their new home in Netanya, a gorgeous apartment right on the beach near the promenade and Victor and Mirta came too, enjoying a wonderful evening meal with the family. We were 18 for supper, which pleases me enormously. Yes I know I just counted 4, plus Alan from Mexico, plus Leor, Shiri and their 4 girls, Amiad and Noga and their two and Gabriella Zvi’s most recent family find! It really was wonderful and the food was a great success. The funny thing is that on Shabbat Zvi bumped into one of our neighbours in the next group of buildings and he said that his wife, Shiri, had heard Zvi singing the Kiddush, the blessing over the wine, and taken the children onto their veranda to hear him!!

Motti Friedman, aka Dr Mottle Friedman initiator of the Herzl Museum and maven on anything Herzl, came to rehearse singing with Zvi in Yiddish, then Ehud comes to rehearse with Zvi for the concert next week at YMCA. On Monday I had a wonderful morning with Rachel, just the two of us. Tuesday and Zvi’s old friends from primary school, Dina and Yoram, Yossi and Netta came to tea and we talked of old times, old friends, cabbages and kings. Yesterday, I had a wonderful surprise visit from Sheli, Valeri and Ira’s incredible daughter.It is rare indeed that I get to see her alone and we sat outside on the veranda and ate supper and talked about her future plans when she leaves the IDF and those of her big brother Tomer.

Finally today! Well Zvi went off to more rehearsals and then we sat down to lunch with Alan (Mexico) to hear what his plans are from this point onwards. He came on an Israel trip and now he is moving on toward Berlin before going back to San Diego. Tonight we have two weddings simultaneously. Luckily they are near each other but we have told the hosts not to book us in for meals, we won’t have time and the cost is horrendous!! Did you know that during the ceremony under the canopy (chuppah) it is said that all your prayers go straight to heaven? I’ve got a few I need to try out myself.

On Monday we celebrate Jerusalem Day. Traditionally, the flag parade begins next to the Rav Kook Yeshiva and continues into town going down toward the Old City and culminating at the Kotel, the Western Wall. Almost every year since 1967 the parade has come in to the Old City through the Damascus Gate winding its way to the Kotel, but this year there have been terrible threats if it happens. The PA and Hamas have threatened terrible attacks if it goes ahead, as if they haven’t attacked anyway. Last year PM Netanyahu gave in to threats and cancelled the parade but this year, after the Jerusalem Police claimed they could protect the parade, it will go ahead. I guess that gone are the days when we allow anyone to dictate where we hold our flags.

After Shabbat, on Saturday evening, we are going to the home of Danny Adeno Abebe to hear stories of the trek from Ethiopia to Jerusalem. One night in July 1983, the inhabitants of the village of Tilamado disappeared. Barefoot and wearing traditional dress, the men and women, the children and the elderly, set out on a journey they had dreamed about their whole lives: the journey to Jerusalem. Little did they know what horrors waited along the way and what terrible price they would pay to fulfill their dream. Joining this exodus was a young boy, Adeno, the son of Yidege and Bazeto Abebe. The village had been his whole world. Before the age of eight, he was already running around in the meadows as a shepherd boy—and now, he was embarking on a trek with no end in sight. Thirty-six years later, Danny Adeno Abebe’s journey between Ethiopia and Jerusalem is still ongoing. The boy who grew up in a village north of Gondar and never knew his own date of birth managed to overcome adversity to become the first Ethiopian-born soldier in IDF Army Radio and the first Ethiopian-Israeli journalist. Compelling reading, Danny’s book is up for a serious prize.

The weather has been glorious! The flowers on the veranda are phenomenal, the lemon tree is about to blossom for the second time, the first time the gales were so strong they blew the blossom away! I hope the lime and orange trees will follow suit! Pansies, geranium, petunias, nasturtium….and absolute riot of colour and then, calm. Calm as we look over the forest opposite. Gosh it pleases me. After all, when Herzl came to Israel (Palestine) and remember that he was very unwell, he was told to come and spend time here in Motza, because it has the best air in Israel. That’s the reason that the Histadrut (Union) built the sanatorium for their members right here in our park. Strangely enough the architect chose to design it in the form of the White House!! Actually it is stunningly beautiful in Jerusalem Stone.

Shabbat afternoon, the amphitheatre beside the gorgeous building will be the site of a “Happening” an evening of friendship for everyone here in Arza. I’m really looking forward to it.

So that’s it! Alan is on his way to new adventures, taking his suitcase with him. We wish him Bon Voyage until his next visit.

The Beatles wrote All You Need is Love at a time when we really believed just that. I still believe it but sometimes feel very alone. Shalva believes in Love, just watch this and you will too

Roy Salomon sent me this song by Shiri Maimon L’Shana Ha Ba’ah – Next year – with English subtitles. I love her voice and this song, its very innocence brings a smile to my face.

When 2,000 people from all across the country decide to do a Koolulam and sing “Mehuzakim LaOlam” (“Empowered to the world”) by Avraham Tal, we definitely feel there is hope for a better future. Crank it up, cuz it was one hell of a party. Enjoy!

I wish you a beautiful weekend, one without tragedies. I send special love to Jeanne Futerman and the Spivak family. May you know no more sadness

With love from Jerusalem

Shabbat Shalom