The view from my veranda

160318 Meir Dagan zl, Russian withdrawal Syria, Purim


18th March, 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Shabbat Shalom from beautiful Jerusalem.

Meir Dagan passed away this week. May his soul rest in peace for he has definitely earned his place in heaven.
As a young man he was given a photograph of his grandfather, Zvi. The photograph was of his grandfather being beaten and derided by the Nazis just before they killed him. Dagans parents managed to survive and escaped Russia while he was a small child and the family came to Israel. The young Meir swore to his grandfathers picture that such horrors would never happen again.

As Head of the Mossad, Dagan lead with a hard hand and great love for his soldiers. He blew up both the Iranian and Syrian nuclear facilities, presenting photographs of the destroyed Iranian facilities on the desk of the American Security Chiefs, saving Israel and the world from horrors of gigantic proportions.He also ensured that several of the most nefarious among the terrorist leaders of ISIS, ISIL, Al Qaeeda etc, met their doom.  His love and deep respect for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was legendary, and their work together was seamless, Olmert backing Dagan’s decisions, recognizing his superior knowledge.  Sadly his relationship with our current PM was not quite as smooth.

While watching Israel Channel 10, I learned an enormous amount about the leader and the man from an outstanding report by Alon Ben-David, who brought us the man and the deeds.
Meir Dagan, hero, leader, determined soldier who protected his people from another Holocaust and made his late Grandfather Zvi proud. To his family he was a loving, husband, father and grandfather  – ברוך דיין אמת

Russia pulled out of Syria. Well actually, Russia pulled her fighting troops out of Syria. They went in to support the evil Assad, which may seem a strange thing to do, but in fact the evil Assad is a mere pussy cat next to those who took advantage of a civil revolt against a dictator and brought with them a regime far, far more dangerous and certainly more evil than Assad could even dream of.  Actually, I haven’t heard the inane expression “The Arab Spring” for some time now – I wonder why!

Talking of Russia, Israel’s President Rivlin visited Russia this week. It appears to have been  successful visit, both leaders prepared to listen. In the meantime a former President, Moshe Katzav, brought his case up for review with the possibility of early release. It is now in the hands of the Attorney General since Katsav has never shown any regret for his actions or admitted he did anything wrong. It is a tough decision.

I am the first to acknowledge my own ignorance on certain parts of Israels history. While at a wonderful reception for the launch of our dear friend Dr. Motti Friedman’s new book about Herzl, I not only learned a great deal about Herzl himself but also about Operation Agatha “Black Sabbath”, when the British army took action against the Lehi. Worth reading – this report doesn’t take sides.

Anyway, Motti’s book delves deep into the man and the motivation of Herzl. Apparently his charisma was vast, enabling him to reach many leaders who knew nothing of him or his dream. Herzl’s greatest achievement was not really the re-creation of the State of Israel, but rather of his determination to create a common purpose behind which to unite the Jewish Diaspora . His World Jewish Council, from Basle onward did just that. Sadly today we are going in the opposite direction, not understanding that dream, how essential it is that we pull together rather than forming factions, fighting factions over who is superior. The book is in Hebrew but the moment it is published in English I will let you know.

I loved this video telling us exactly how to Boycott Israel properly

It is so difficult to understand statistics and the sheer numbers of people in this world. Watch this and you will get it! If the world were just 100 people, a brilliant explanation of our world in just a few minutes.

You already know how I admire the Maccabi World Union people. Their motivation, like Herzls, is to unite the Jewish world, but under the umbrella of sport. We are approaching the next Maccabiah already! On April 20, Maccabi USA will kick-off their fundraising efforts for the 2017 World Maccabiah Games with their 20thMaccabiah Launch Gala at Gotham Hall in New York City. Funds raised from this event will be used to ensure that qualified Jewish athletes from the USA and around the world are able to participate at the 20th World Maccabiah Games in Israel, Summer 2017, where 1,200 American Jewish athletes will join 8,000 athletes from 75+ countries to compete for Jewish pride, for country, and to unite as one Team in support of Israel. You can be a part of Team USA by supporting the 20th Maccabiah Launch Gala!

As I was driving over Samuels Hill, next to Samuels Tomb, I slowed the car down to take in the panorama and see how many towers and steeples I could count!!! It started with the Calatrava Bridge, working through to Augusta Victoria and the radar tower of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus. In my very limited glimpse there were about 10 prominent ones and in Jerusalem’s crazy building spree many more are coming up but not of the historic variety, rather to provide dwellings for Jerusalemites. Had I glanced to the left rather than the right I would have seen Ramalla, with an equal number of high rises, but all new, al built recently, all during the time that Israel is told to stop building in disputed territory. Annoying? Yes.

The EU has built more than 1,000 buildings on that self same disputed territory that they tell Israel not to build on!!!!!

Purim is approaching and the fancy dress costumes are out in full bloom!!! Still a very few Queen Esthers but little Israeli girls are just like little girls everywhere and Nici, Elsa, Batgirl and so on are the favourites with boys still going for cowboys and Superman! Supermarkets are filled with the makings of Mishloach Manot – food parcels for others – for friends and family. Mini packaging of all sorts of goodies, joined by home made Hamentaschen are the usual contents – happy children delivering and receiving. Here Rabbi Jeremy Rosen explains Purim; Serious or Fun

I am inordinately proud of the IDF. Israelis defy Maslo’s pyramid of needs, not only by being happy but despite imminent danger we still reach out to those less fortunate. Watch this and feel yourself swell with pride – I did. By the way, Angelina Jolie came to visit IsraAid aid camps in Greece this week. Tikkun Olam indeed.

Our veranda is ablaze!! I have never seen anything quite like it. My petunias have opened in one carnival of colour, absolutely smothering the entire wall. It makes me smile! I love seeing the results of planting a tiny little seedling and reaping the reward of gentle nurturing. It’s a bit like Israel Advocacy – one plants seeds of truth, ensure they are watered by compassion and watch the fruits of our labour.  Yes, I still believe in the power of one.

So Shabbat is close – Zvi’s birthday cake is made and iced and the food is ready. Actually I didn’t have to work because we are going to the inlaws for Friday night and to celebrate – they still don’t want me to work!!! Rachel made the Challot and I know they are incredible because she saved a little one for me to have for lunch!!!

When you arrive at Ben Gurion Airport you will see this amazing display. The 50 Most important Israeli discoveries

This week I give you the Chief Cantor of the IDF singing the Prayer for the safety and peace of Israel. So moving.–mNIZhU He talks of his pride at singing with the IPO giving such honour to the song and its meaning.

Yaakov Shwekey sings this emotive song of a child in the Holocaust. I cannot quite decide why this is so appropriate today – perhaps because I see what is happening around the world and fear a recurrence of evil. It starts with a beautiful Yiddish cong that my Mummy used to sing to me as a child.

With love to all of you from Jerusalem, this incredible city of love that incurs such hatred.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom