The view from my veranda

Vatican Papers, Blair, US Embassy, Mercy Gate, Haifa

8th March, 2019

Good morning! Good Friday, good Shabbes – Shabbat Shalom.

I read a Steve Jobs quote this morning, one that encapsulates my beliefs in a very few words. “Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice

Every day we are inundated with the opinions of others, be they politicians, journalists or television presenters, never forget that most are called “opinion makers” which means that their job is to make OUR opinions. Stick to your beliefs and uphold your principles. If each and every one of us listened to our own rational conscience, our inner voice, think how amazing the world could be. Back to the Power of One.

Unfortunately, we are in the hands of those politicians who run our countries, many of whom have no inner voice, just the need to keep their seat warm and those who speak their truth are ridiculed. That’s why I am not going to discuss politics today. Nothing really changed since last week except that we are waiting for a Supreme Court decision as to whether two parties in the Israeli electoral list may well be discounted – for extremism. Both are extreme – the Jewish and the Arab list disturb me equally and I would be far happier if they were denied the right to spout their hatred.

Holocaust experts have long spoken of the Secret Vatican documents  outlining the Vatican’s actions during the Holocaust. The fact that the papers were secreted away could mean one of two things, either collaboration or agreement with the Nazi regime, or both. Discovery is essential to expurgate the ghosts of an improprietous past. Pope Francis has brought the winds of change to a Vatican ashamed of its past. A fine leader.

Universities worldwide have become less and less centres of education and more and more fomenting hatred and politicization of a situation they have little knowledge of. From Cornell to Toronto, from London School of Economics to Vassar, UCLA and Berkeley claims that Jews are responsible (note not Israel, Jews) for the ills of the world and placards scream out “Let’s stuff some Jews in the ovens” and “every time I read about Hitler, I fall in love again.”   Friends, it is all too easy to look at Europe and ignore what is happening in the USA, but that is dangerous. I can’t and won’t tell you how to respond, you already know. In the Sixties we fought for love not war, today’s students would never wear lovebeads.

Talking of Anti-Semitism, Britain has her share within the Labour Party. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is an unashamed Israphile who spends a great deal of his time in Jerusalem. Here he talks of his distress at what has happened to the Labour Party.

You heard my complaints about the previous workings of the US Consular Services in Jerusalem, now the US Embassy, whose staff were predominantly Palestinian and rather unpleasant to Israelis, I am happy to report that that is about to change. The former consulate on Agron Street, a beautiful old building in the heart of Jerusalem, will become the US Palestinian Affairs Unit and the new, rather grand Embassy in Armon Hanatziv will deal with the needs of Israelis. Both will be under the auspices of the US Ambassador to Israel, currently Ambassador David Friedman.

Hamas has called for rioting and disturbances in the South, in the North and in Jerusalem. Their latest excuse to wreak violence in Jerusalem thus to radiate the anger throughout the Moslem world is an old one. Let me try to explain a very complex situation – but then this is Jerusalem so of course it is complex!

The Mercy Gate, (Shaar HaRachamim) is the gate through which, in Jewish tradition, the Messiah will walk as He descends from the Mount of Olives and ascends to the Temple Mount bringing peace to the world. The WAQF (in this case the Jerusalem Islamic court which controls Islamic buildings ) thought that the Messiah would be a Cohen (Priest) rather than the tribe of Israel (one of the people) and so they placed a cemetery over the path to the Mercy Gate (Cohen’s are not allowed into cemeteries); when they understood that wouldn’t work they bricked up the Mercy Gate, later building the office of the WAQF inside. That office was closed 16 years ago and today they want to turn the office into another Mosque although there are already 5 or 6 Mosques on the Temple Mount. The purpose is to demand the right to change the purpose of the office, then use the refusal to create incitement to violence and of course it works.

Please understand that I am far from being anti-Islam, I am not against any religion or religious expression, I am against the evil interpretation of that religion and its misuse by evil terror organisations like Hamas and its Northern twin Hezb-Allah, both financially and idealistically supported by Iran. Iran is trying everything to close in on Israel from all sides. They are amassing to our North in an attempt to reclaim the Golan Heights which until 1967 was their shooting range for the Israeli sitting ducks below. On the Southern Border the rioters are sending pretty balloons and toys with explosive devices attached over the border in the hope of enticing Jewish children in the towns, villages and kibbutzim to blow themselves up as they reach for the innocent looking devices. The incredible part after all the horrific descriptions above is that we protect ourselves and despite a level of despair at the sheer unabated hatred directed toward us, we are a strong, secure and happy people!

This has been a rather pleasant week, not too crazy. On Wednesday I went with the Jerusalem Press Club to Haifa, for International Women’s Week. What an amazing experience. After a delightful ride northward in a minibus which allowed me to see all the sights I normally miss when I drive! Our intercity roads are excellent, wide and well maintained and the journey went quickly. Our first encounter was a walk through the Haifa German Colony and views from the top of the Carmel.

Our next stop was in Bet Hagefen, an Arab-Jewish centre for intercultural dialogue where we met Shahar Reem and her team from the MASHAV Golda Meir International Training Centre.  They train women engaged in community work in developing countries in Sustainable Community Development, Early Childhood Education, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The Centre hosts both men and women from all over the world, but this was IWD!

Next we went to Wadi Nisnas an old neighbourhood of Haifa which is predominantly Arab, both Christian and Moslem. The nature of Wadi Nisnas is one of tolerance and co-existence. The art on the streets, installations and graffiti, was fascinating especially the upside down carpet with a finjan and coffee cups – Café Hafuch! I was especially fascinated by the greengrocery stalls where one could buy one’s vegetables hollowed out ready for stuffing!! We stopped at the lovely Fatma’s bakery where she prepared amazing fatayas, a pastry triangle filled with sour herbs and spinach leaves (collard greens or mangold) and baked in a taboon oven – oh my they were good! It really is a must to visit her!

Finally, we went to visit the newly elected Mayor of Haifa Dr. Einat Kalisch Rotem. Of course, since this was International Women’s Day, many asked her if being a woman made a difference to her campaign. She felt it made no difference, actually the fact that she is an Urban Planner swayed the vote. Haifa has several major problems including ghastly air pollution which originally emanated from the petrochemical industry. During the British Mandate a train line was built to bring oil from Iraq and they built a huge port to accommodate it. Since that time a huge amount of industry has flourished using the port but success has its downside in emissions. Dr. Kalisch Rotem intends tackling the port, access for Haifa residents to the sea, refurbishing the old areas and ensuring that Haifa is on the tourism map. “I don’t want to be Tel Aviv nor Eilat and not Jerusalem, Haifa stands alone as a tourist destination with glorious beaches and a tolerant history of co-existence that runs through our veins”

Our delightful friend Roy Salomon received a well-deserved honour. Roy, who played Varsity basketball at Duke University and is known as Canadas Mr Maccabi won the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award. Roy’s determination to guide young people is encapsulated in his words “When I marched into Ramat Gan Stadium in 1969, things changed for me. I had loved the idea of Israel, but I’d never been there before. When I came into the stadium, my thoughts were: we’ve been through pogroms, the Inquisition, the Holocaust and we’re here together. Israel is strong and we’re proud to be there.”

Israelis love to eat! We come home from work, eat and spend time with the children, take a nap and then the entire family goes out “shpatzeeren” promenading and going to coffee shops. It is so much fun and a joy for people-watching, whether it is in the centre of town or in a park. Take a look at the options in Jerusalem!

We had a wonderful visitor this week. Henrique is the nephew of Zvi’s cousins Billy and Ruth Shapiro in Mexico City. Henrique with his parents and brother came to live in Israel about 10 years ago and Henrique in now taking a special course for the IDF Air Force engineers in the Hebrew University, so obviously he is with us! It has been such a joy hearing how surprised he is with the fun to be had in Jerusalem, about the city, about the beauty and the restaurants, really fun for a 24 year old. His Mum Rosie makes incredible Mexican food and sells it all over the country.

On Tuesday The Yuri Shtern Holistic Centre for Cancer Patients and their Families is holding a gala performance at the Jerusalem Theatre to raise funds for this incredible cause. Cancer touches all of us and this organisation eases the path through chemo for all the family. Please, please, give whatever you can.

The sunrise and the View from Our Veranda brings me joy that is hard to describe. To look out over Jerusalem washed in red as the sun rises over the horizon gives me strength to face whatever the day brings. I wish you could see it!

Enough musings. Music music music. The people you see in this clip are all from the Eshkol Region of Israel, a predominantly agricultural region that is next to Gaza and the violence that emanates from that troubled area.  Look at their faces and see the spirit and joy that is Israel

Yachad a song about opening one’s heart to love. “Together, heart to heart, we’ll open up and see the light in the sky. Together, heart to heart, we’ll open up with hope for love. As the heart opens up, it embraces the world, and with a great big shout to sing for love”.

Finally Shir la Shalom – a Song to Peace with Adam Lambert.

I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, I wish you a kinder world where each person has a place to grow and to fulfill their dreams.

Gut Shabbes, Shalom, Salaam, Pax, Paz, Pais


If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

Facebook      Sheila Silver Raviv
Involvement The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center