The view from my veranda

160129 Sweden, USA Military, Holocaust education


29th January 2016

Shabbat shalom dear friends.

Are you as confused by our world as I am? I am dumbfounded by the ignorance, no not ignorance, insouciance, nonchalant disinterest of the world, our Western leaders, as to what is really happening to them, their people and to Western society as a whole while successfully using Israel as a scapegoat! The American President at least referred to Jews on International Holocaust Day even though I felt it was simply politic to do so; the Canadian Prime Minister didn’t even mention Jews in his Holocaust Memorial speech; United Nations leader Ban Ki Moon, so sympathetic about the Holocaust actually had the gall to say that we deserve to be stabbed and blown apart because it is natural to fight oppression; and the Swedes…………… ah the Swedes deny the existence of the Holocaust, but then that happened during the Holocaust too so why am I surprised? Yesterday the first ever Palestinian Embassy opened in….. you guessed, in Sweden. Throughout the Second World War an embassy existed in Stockholm representing Nazi Germany. Neutral my foot.

Swedish Foreign Minster Margot Wallstrom, actually accused Israel of extrajudicial killings because maniacal knife wielding Arabs were shot on site. She then had the audacity to speak of the Holocaust!!!

Sweden is simply an extreme example of what is happening all over the world, not just in Europe so don’t be smug, everywhere, whether denying Bible teaching in American public schools or religious assemblies in British schools. When I discovered that all mention of the Holocaust has been removed from Swedish textbooks I asked myself why – because 10 and 12 year old Moslems stood in class and demanded it removed because it was offensive to Islam, and the Swedish Government stood by and agreed – that is not neutrality that is idiocy. As if that was not enough, Israel does not appear in Swedish textbooks!

Incidentally, all this after Sweden came to understand that not all the “refugees” had good intentions (maybe it was the unbearable percentage of rapes) and may well send some 60,000 back. Didn’t they claim Israel was racist because we didn’t absorb all of our African refugees?

While in a Roman restaurant, we met a delightful American military family who were on vacation. Devout Christians, we obviously invited them to Jerusalem, he was very polite and said he really wanted to come with his family. I later discovered that he will not come. Why?AMERICAN MILITARY PERSONNEL ARE NOT ALLOWED TO VISIT JERUSALEM!! Again Why? Because, according to the State Department, Jerusalem is disputed territory. I was flabbergasted!  The United States, our proclaimed closest ally, has not and will not allow her military personnel to visit their Christian Holy Sites? Shame; Disgrace, Scandal; Opprobrium – there are not enough words in the thesaurus to express my anger.

US Ambassador Dan Shapiro rebuked Israel for having double standards in their treatment of Israeli and Palestinian residents of the West Bank. Duh! Of course we do! One group is Israeli and the other should be cared for by the PA. Of course the NYT and the Guardian admonished Mr Netanyahu for expressing his distaste for the Ambassadors statement but they made up the next day!  If the USA is so worried about the plight of the Palestinians, why have they reiterated the need to label any products from the West Bank?

Part of my pre-Shabbat enjoyment is to visit the little parade of shops at the entrance to Givat Zeev. I love the fact that both Jewish Israelis and Moslem Palestinians have businesses there and everyone simply gets on with life. Two nights ago a Palestinian man came to that example of coexistence, ran, large knife at the ready, after a religious Jewish couple as they were going out for the evening to a restaurant, and stabbed the husband, injuring him seriously, right outside my fishmongers. I cannot begin to imagine the shock and horror of both Jews and Arabs who work there. The perpetrator was chased and caught by many of the people there, irrespective of their origin. I am sad. How dare he break the harmony? I am going to visit the fishmonger today. I hope that Abu Yosef is there and his village isn’t under curfew after the horrific attack. These attacks harm everyone; create distrust of friends and fear of revenge in the hearts of Arabs who work with Jews.

I forgot to tell you, when we flew to Rome, I sat beside a lovely, lovely young man. As we arrived at our seats I saw a young Haredi fellow, long payot (sidecurls), beard and immediately asked him if it is alright to sit next to him. There was no way Zvi could fit into a middle seat and I was concerned. He smiled and indicated to the seat next to him “My mother taught me that if you fly on an aeroplane I must behave nicely to the other passengers and not expect them to think only of my wishes” I was so impressed with him that I started up a conversation. He was from a seriously Haredi family from one of the closed sects, his father and brothers were teachers but he decided to go into business – into marketing, in his native New York. He spoke English, Yiddish and fluent, modern Hebrew. He was a delight! He encouraged me to reach out for my dreams, wanting was not enough, one has to act. He said that if I act I will have my own website and earn from it – and that my book will come to fruition. He recognized that studying Torah did not absolve him from providing well for his family; that there was no sin in having a nice apartment; that respect of ones fellow man, whomsoever he may be, was the basis of all Judaism and I knew this was the ultimate in a good Jewish man. His name was Baruch and he was indeed blessed.

The Oxford Union is famous for its Debating Society. Free Speech in its purest form, debate, not furied screaming matches. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach stood up to the finest of debaters who defended Hamas. Well worth watching

Another video which really amazed me this week was this brave rant by a young Moslem woman. She sat in her car so she would not be overheard but my goodness, may her voice be heard. It is extreme but…..

Not everything in my life is politics! We have fun too! This week Zvi met with the wonderful Earl Cox and his team, we had dinner with Coach Mike Gottfried. We ate in Ima Restaurant because he really wanted good Middle Eastern food and he relished the Humous! Two nights ago we had the pleasure of entertaining Sandy and Rose Hollander (Rose has the most incredible necklace with each member of her immediate family in Hebrew letters), who brought a group from Metro West and we invited our Jerusalem friends Danby and Marvin Meital to join us. They say if two Jews meet they will discover they are family, well it worked! The Hollanders and the Meitals had many people in common! It was a lovely evening and I am happy to say I received many compliments on my cooking, letters and Zvi regaled them with his arsenal of stories and jokes.

Yesterday we had a surprise phone call from Renee and Oren Meytes. We haven’t seen them since their marriage 9 years ago but they were in Jerusalem and we decided to meet at the Botanical Gardens – of course – since despite the extreme cold the sun came out for a few hours. Renee was marvellous when I was starting out and gave me space to keep my archives with a wonderful photograph of the View from My Veranda. She kept them all these years.

So, if I keep going I won’t be able to go to see my grandchildren before Shabbat! If I don’t see my grandchildren I won’t have the phenomenal Jerusalem panorama from Samuels Tomb and then I will feel deprived on every level so the time has come, as Lewis Carroll said in the Walrus and the Carpenter (Jabberwocky) to leave the Cabbages and Kings and go to music.

I wish you a Gitten Shabbes – a gorgeous, joyous, Yiddish song for Shabbat

Steve Lawrence sang a song that touched my heart. Perhaps once again it is pertinent. Where Can I Go?

So another Shabbat, another prayer, another plea for peace, for Shalom.  I was going to end with some words on how we feel abandoned but I thought about Harold Finger who rightly told me I must always end on a high note. We have some incredible people around the world who give us heart. We, the Israelis, will continue Tikkun Olam, will continue to send doctors, agriculturalists, educators, economists, experts in a hundred fields to help countries in need. We are a fine country, a democratic country, a country based on Jewish ethics and morals and we will not succumb, we grow stronger every day. This week we acknowledged the 70th  anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – look how much we have achieved!!!! We are a country that loves life and lives it to the enth degree.

As I light the candles tonight they will sit in the candlesticks I lit with my Mother. Nearly 53 years after her passing, every time I circle the candles and say the ancient prayer to welcome Shabbat, I feel the warmth of tradition in the knowledge that my Mothers teachings carry to my children and my children’s children.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends

With all my love from Jerusalem. Jerusalem, centre of our prayer, light of our life