The view from my veranda

Voting Violence and Dissent


6th November, 2020


Shabbat Shalom! Wish you all a good weekend. No point in worrying, what may happen, or may not……it already has!!


I sense that the world in general and the USA in particular is in a state of turbulence, agitation with extreme conflicting emotions roiling inside her. Here in Israel we have seen it before, 25 years ago, when opposition leaders incited their followers to the extent that a Prime Minister was shot to death, assassinated, when leaving a peace rally. He looked so happy up there on the stage, singing in his rough gravelly voice, his usual shy expression complemented by a huge smile, singing about peace. Indeed the song was Shir l’Shalom, a song to peace. Yitzchak Rabin was not a left-winger, he didn’t keep a flock of white doves to release every time he spoke, indeed he was very much a Zionist of the old school, what in Hebrew one calls a “bitchonist”, Israel’s security was paramount, but as a former Commander in Chief of the IDF he also understood that Israel couldn’t continue the animosity without trying to reach some form of agreement. What I am trying to say is that words killed Yitzchak Rabin. I see a repeat of those words here and I definitely see a repeat of the abusive verbal incitement in the USA.


Back to the subject in hand, who will be the next US President, which way will the final count of the votes go and will the people accept the result or will they riot? Perhaps the final count will show that out of about 330 million citizens of the US the decision of who will be the next President will be counted in the thousands. When Trump was elected the left, the far left rioted, will the right riot now if Biden wins? I lived in the US in the ’60’s, falsely remembered for flowers in one’s hair and free love, the number of riots and killings was horrendous, and two great leaders, Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King were assassinated. It piqued my curiosity of civil unrest in the US. I was staggered when I read the list, the very long list.


It takes courage to accept defeat, whether it is an argument with one’s spouse, in court or in national elections. It is a sign of true democracy to accept the leader you didn’t choose. We will not know who will lead the free world for a few days, so please, please, remember that what you want more than anything else is for the USA to get someone who cares more about his country than about himself. One of my favourite quotes is this  “A politician looks forward only to the next election. A statesman looks forward to the next generation.” Abraham Lincoln


Vladimir Putin’s family has asked him to step down from office as his Parkinson’s Disease takes a turn for the worse. The man whose machismo knows no bounds appears to have reached the end of his political road, taken down by his health not his opponents.


Benjamin Netanyahu’s determined effort to sully the reputations of all the officers of the law and judiciary, almost all of whom he chose in the first place, seems to have reached an all-time high, with some of his closest allies in the Knesset using threatening language on air against Avichai Mandelblitt, the Attorney General, if Mandelblitt doesn’t drop the indictments against Netanyahu.


Perhaps the world order is changing, but let it be through legal channels not through riots, hatred and death.


Going back to that fateful evening, the 4th of November 1995, in the centre of Tel Aviv, when Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated by another Jew, I ask myself whether we have learned any lessons. Yitzchak Rabin was loved by Presidents and Princes, Kings and Prime Ministers, they all came to his funeral, President Clinton coined a phrase “Shalom Haver” and for a short time our stunned country stopped the words of hate, but I see them rise again, I see the extremism that killed Yitzchak Rabin, the man I was so proud to call friend, raise its ugly head again. A temperate political climate is slipping away in Israel and in the USA. The quiet rallies of those who want to see our Prime Minister face his accusers in the Court of Justice have become louder and the right wing “La Familia” have become more and more violent in opposition. I watch the “discussions” on television and hate the fact that instead of elegant debate they always descend into screaming matches which give a terrible example to those who watch. So no, I don’t think we have learned any lessons from the earthquake of Rabin’s assassination and I pray that we come out of this period intact. I disagree with the behaviour of my Prime Minister but I would never wish him, indeed anyone, harm.


Well that was a bundle of fun wasn’t it? I assumed that you would want me to tell the truth, even when it isn’t what you want to hear.


On November 2nd 1917 British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour sent a letter to Lord Rothschild, prominent member of the Jewish community and close friend of Chaim Weitzman, expressing his and Prime Minister Lloyd George’s firm belief in the need for a Jewish homeland. That letter came to be known as the Balfour Declaration the very basis of the establishment of the State of Israel.


The 6th of November 1962 saw the UN finally condemn the cruel Apartheid regime of South Africa; 6th of November 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President; 1917, Lenin led the Bolshevik Revolution; 1985 the Iran Contra Affair; 1989 Lech Walensa led the Solidarity rebellion. What will history have to say about November 6th 2020?


I often talk about our wonderful friends/family, Ira, Valeri, Tomer and Shelly, and this week we have some wonderful news about Shelly. She passed her officer’s course and had the ceremony just in time before the skies opened and the rain fell. Due to the pandemic, we couldn’t actually go to the base but it was recorded on Zoom. So proud of you Shelly!!


Shelly’s family made Aliya in 1991 just one year after I made Aliya – Aliya literally means to go up, to ascend, to rise by coming to live in Israel; to become an Israeli citizen. The Israeli Government has decided to commemorate Aliya, from before the declaration of the State of Israel until today, by creating “Aliya Day”. I always remember that when Zvi spoke of Aliya (today he is on the Aliya Committee of the Jewish Agency) he said “We mustn’t forget that even when one moves from village to village one loses one’s status, and when one moves from country to country the only thing that stays with you is your accent as you tackle a new language, a new society and a new social standing.” It is obviously true, unless you decide to remain stuck in a society of people who came from your country of origin, but unlike other countries it isn’t a matter of relocation, one is coming home. Zvi’s parents made Aliya, before the State, in 1934 and 1935 respectively, leaving their families behind. They became part of society here because so many of their friends had done the same brave Aliya, the lucky ones who realised that Europe was becoming more and more dangerous for Jews. Their Aliya saved their lives as the 3rd Reich took every single member of their family who remained in Europe, believing things would get better. Jews from North Africa, 900,000 of them who fled oppression came home on Aliya, indeed some came on the wings of eagles (from Yemen), and in recent years the Aliya from both Ethiopia and the FSU. An ever growing number are coming voluntarily from Western Countries as young Jews realise what a wonderful life they can build for their children right here in this tiny land of opportunity. Read about it here


Did you know that the Sea of Galilee, the Kinneret, which had suffered drought which led to a disturbing lowering of her waters, is already pretty full after last winter’s rains and now, after the rains of this last week, her waters are rising beautifully and winter hasn’t even arrived yet! The rains were wonderful, accompanied by noisy thunder and spectacular lightening. The coastal towns got the brunt of the rains, streets turning into rivers and car parks into lakes, admittedly not of monsoon standards but after complaining that the rains would never come we got a month’s worth in one day!! I am not sure if it is my Welsh upbringing but I love the rain! In fact if it rains again this evening I’m going to put on my gabardine mac (and for the Brits amongst you I’ll put on my wellies too) and go for a wet walk!


This morning we woke to sunshine! The pinkish, white stones of Jerusalem are glistening after the rain. Always beautiful the city is even more wonderful after the dust of summer has been washed away. The sand of Sahara sand storms and summer dust has been washed off our veranda and the trees, herbs and flowers have revived after the never ending heat. This week Rachel, Yosef, Talia and Ayala came to visit and we cut the first ripe orange off the little tree. There are two more which will be picked by Leor and Amiad’s children – one for each family! Today is little Ori’s 9th birthday but unfortunately we can’t go to celebrate thanks to Corona.


I was so thrilled to find this article in the Times of Israel which told the story of the Harlem Yiddisher Cantors. Click on the music as well as reading the story. It’s wonderful!


Shalom Aleichem, the song that welcomes Shabbat. I wish you Shalom, Shabbat Shalom, Peace, Pax……….


The song that Yitzchak Rabin sang on the stage just minutes before his assassination was a song of peace. Here Shiri Maimon sings it for you with translation.


We wish you a Shabbat Shalom, a peaceful weekend, one that sends a message of togetherness.


With love