The view from my veranda

160722 Turkey, Iran, Trump, Gay Parade, Ballam’s donkey


22nd July 2016

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Much has happened since we last spoke, some good, some bad and some surprising!

Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is a very wily political dictator. He had a problem however, he was uncertain of his military, both leaders and soldiers, and even though Turkey is not really the Middle East, the same principle applies – keep the army on your side or you are finished.

As we sat and watched the “military coup” unfold, one thought kept running through my mind “This is too staged, too choreographed. Something is not right”. I spoke out to many friends about my concerns and most disagreed but slowly, as we understand that he arrested thousands of military who were against his ever increasing closeness to fanatical Islam, his demand for the death penalty to be reinstated and his determined manhunt for anyone against his regime. It is unknown how many have already been arrested but it is in the thousands and possibly tens of thousands. Erdogan has declared a state of emergency which allows him to arrest without apparent cause. Erdogan has arrested thousands of judges.  You may think that this is a storm in a teacup, that it is taking place thousands of miles away, but do not forget that Turkey is a modern, well-armed society with a well-trained military, an effective air force and access to the Mediterranean.

More and more disturbing facts emerge concerning the Iranian Nuclear Arms deal. When a member of the Moslem Brotherhood is in charge of overseeing the nuclear facilities (El Baradei) and the leaders declare a desire to eradicate Israel and bring the USA under its rule one wonders why a deal was struck in the first place!! Perhaps one should begin with education – always education. It is not just a matter of weapons, it begins in kindergarten. The greatest weapon of all is educating ones children to hate. Following the one year Iran Nuclear Deal anniversary IMPACT-se  blog describes the possible future ramifications of the current Iranian curricula by IMPACT-se Director of Research, and author of our latest report:Iranian Education the Contusion Revolution – Dr. Eldad Pardo.

This weeks Torah reading deals with the fact that we often miss the truth which is right in front of our eyes, so clear that even our donkey can see both danger and signs before we do. It would seem that our leaders, all of them, do not have the acuity of that donkey and ignore the signs. Hopefully Theresa May, the new British Prime Minister, has that ability to see what is in front of her but Francois Hollande did not when he said that the French people must get used to terrorism. One never gets used to terrorism. One is never inured to its evil. As individuals we can only demand that our leaders will put up a strong fight on our behalf but if someone is intent upon changing who we are, only force can possibly stop them.

The Donald. Donald Trump, surrounded by his loving family, was accepted by the Republican Party to represent them in the upcoming Presidential race, despite the bitter and somewhat inappropriate words of Ted Cruz. Trump was not expected to get as far as nomination day let alone to be the candidate, which must tell us something about where people, Americans, are going in their minds. There are several conditions to voting. One is that Joe Bloggs vote is almost always against what was, DISSATISFACTION. Two is when one feels ones standard of living is threatened – POCKET. Three, and in the current world disarray perhaps number one is dread, consternation, distress – FEAR. There are many other factors, including one that I never understood which is party loyalty – I am the original floating voter who has always voted with the needs of the moment. Mr Trump represents a different, less slick, less sophisticated, openly aggressive form of candidate. The feeling of Joe Bloggs is that if any of the two fear triggers – pocket and fear – become a reality, he will stand up for them. Most of all, Joe Bloggs loves the fact that he calls a spade a shovel. One thing for sure, this will be a fascinating race, not necessarily a clean one!! Next is the Democratic Convention which will probably be without the drama of the Republicans but just as rivetting!!!

Yesterday evening was Jerusalems Gay Parade, the largest yet, with 25,000 participants, gay and straight alike. I don’t necessarily see the point of a specific Gay Parade – I think of everyone as individual, contrasting in views and appearance, thoughts and sexual preference without the need for a parade, but if that’s what they want then so be it. Many have fought hard for their freedom to be open and thus feel the need to express themselves. It was a festive affair, filled with goodwill, to celebrate the short young life of Shira Banki who was senselessly killed at last year’s parade. Shira was not gay; she just wanted to support her friends. I accept the right of everyone to express their views but not to incite hatred for…….. anyone. We lost two Temples because of “Sinat Chinam” hatred without reason, hatred of our own, isn’t it time we learned better? If you don’t want to go to the Gay Parade then don’t but let others live freely.

I went to Mahane Yehuda this week!!! Oh my goodness I love that place. We met Roselyn and Benjamin Freeman outside Tsidkiyahus pickle stand………….. but wait, I am getting ahead of myself.

On Tuesday we went to a miraculous wedding. Mordechai Tsidkiyahu, the groom, is a handsome young man whose family has run Shouk Mahane Yehuda for many generations and is very politically involved in Jerusalem. We have been friendly with Mordechais father for many years. When Mordechai was at his school graduation party, they brought in a big swimming pool and he decided to do a somersault into the water. Sadly he missed and broke his back, literally. Months of immobility in hospital, years of being a paraplegic in a wheelchair, cut is academic career short. Last Tuesday night Mordechai, on the arm of his beautiful bride, walked haltingly up the aisle to the chuppah. With the aid of a walker he was finally upright! It was miraculous and there was not a dry eye in the house. Mordechai stood to break the glass under the chuppah.

Back to Mahane Yehuda, Roselyn and Benjamin! Benjamin is doing a very special 3 week course for bright young scientists at the Technion in Haifa and we had the pleasure of seeing them before he began his adventure. Where to go to eat? Should we go to one of the amazing coffee shops or to the Indian restaurant, the Yemenite restaurant with the wonderful stew-like concoctions on low “ptiliot” wicks overnight, or what? Of course we asked the best person around, Yaron Tsidkiahu, where to go. “Just one genuine Middle Eastern restaurant, without fancy tablecloths but great food. Shamulah! Turn left out of the shouk, past Marzipan, over the road and it is on the corner on the left” Not only was it delicious but we discovered tha tour lovely friend Yossi was working there so we got a delicious tableful of stuffed vegetables, salads, kebabs, rice and beans…………. And each items was scrummier than the last!!! We left there barely walking but found the energy to buy some fruit in the  shouk. Oh my! This is the season of mellow fruitfulness – but Keats would not have recognized the incredible variety, lushness and colours of the current selection. Green and black grapes, big or tiny; Huge peaches that dribble down your chin as you bite into them, still warm from the sun; Orange, purple and green mangoes; nectarines, lychees and the very last of the cherries. Don’t even get me started on the vegetables………. If you haven’t been there you cannot imagine the vibrancy of super fresh, straight from the farm, vegetables. Misshapen and oddly sized they are all delicious. So we gathered out energy and resources, dropped the Freemans off at their hotel and set off for home.

Yesterday I didn’t join Zvi on his babysitting expedition, but met Irit lev at the Islamic Museum, a beautiful, small museum next to the Jerusalem Theatre. There was a wonderful exhibit of Iranian graphic art and then I showed Irit the unique and wonderful clock and watch selection. The pearl of the exhibit is an original watch made for Marie Antionette, phenomenal!

Sara Tuttle Singer wrote this excellent piece on Israel – not a normal country

Tonight we have friends coming for supper. I love watching those who have never been to us for Shabbat dinner before as Zvi begins to hum a niggun, then breaks into Shalom Aleichem,  reaching full voice as he launches into the Kiddush, the blessing over the wine. If I don’t go soon there will not be challot for our Shabbat and we will have to buy them, which will be very disappointing! Tonight we have a milk meal, fish balls in chraimeh (Moroccan sauce), fresh salmon in a Teriyaki and pomegranate sauce, roast potatoes, all sorts of salads and two coloured beans. Tomorrow the children all come to us and we will eat a totally different menu…………. One that they will enjoy!!!

And so to music!

I often, indeed usually, give you songs about Shabbat but forget to give you songs of Havdala. Havdala is the separation or difference between Shabbat and an ordinary day and the service takes place as Shabbat ends. We reawaken all the senses with the light of a candle, the warmth of the flame, the scent of the spices, the taste of the wine, the music of the song. Enjoy

It is followed by a fun video of the IDF Choir.

The next song is in honour of Mordechai Tsidkiyahu and my incredible grandson Samuel George and all our children and grandchildren. Yaakov Shwekey and I can be

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. All of us can bring light to our world – we just have to be heroes for a moment.