The view from my veranda

161216 Friedman Ambassador, Benny Begin, National Library, Aleppo


16th December 2016

Shalom Shalom! Shabbat Shalom from sunny, cold and crisp Jerusalem.

President Elect Trump has chosen his future United States Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. Friedman was a senior Advisor to the President Elect during his campaign and is an open and clear lover of Israel. His appointment has created an eddy of opinions from “Trumps Ambassador is a pro-settlement bankruptcy lawyer” – this of course from the Guardian immediately suggesting that there is something sleazy about the man – to the delight of most Israeli news media. My feelings are mixed. Delight at the thought of the American Embassy finally being moved to its rightful home in Jerusalem; elation that all the other countries that waited for this opportunity will follow suit; concerned that the Ambassador will have problems in the Consulate which has no Israelis working there, only Palestinians (not Israeli Arabs); fear that the repercussions will be extreme. In the final analysis, by moving the Embassy (Embassies) to Jerusalem the statement that Jerusalem is the Capital City of the Jewish State is absolute. It is a brave move with cause for concern because those who would deny Jews the right to even a tiny corner of this land will rebel – not against us, against any country that moves its Embassy creating a fait accompli. In other words – terror will reign.

On Tuesday I went to the Israel National Library on the Givat Ram Campus of the Hebrew University together with a group from the Jerusalem Press Club. The Library has metamorphosed from a small building in the centre of Jerusalem, to the Hebrew University Campus on Mount Scopus, from whence the books were brought in a clandestine operation to Terra Santa after the Jordanians took the surrounding land allowing a small enclave of students to remain. The scientific books have predominantly been returned to the Mount Scopus site with all the Humanities on Givat Ram. National Library sounds boring but this Library is so much more than books. Quite apart from concerts, lectures, manuscripts (Isaac Newton, Einstein, Maimonedes and much more) and exhibitions the building houses the most incredible collection of Jewish writings – both by and about – maps and Islamic and Christian works relative to Judaism. We were there to see a new exhibit, although not open to the average public everything will change when the new, accessible and people friendly Library will open next to the Knesset.

The Middle East is in turmoil with the deaths of innocents growing daily. Aleppo, or Chaleb – was a beautiful, thriving city and as with so many beautiful cities in the Middle East it is a shell, its citizens dying by the thousands due to the corruption and tyranny of its leaders and the negligence of ours

The Israeli news showed the argument between the United Nations representatives for the USA and Russia concerning the current horrors in Aleppo.
I paraphrase
USA: Are you incapable of shame?
Russia: Don’t claim to be Mother Theresa, you didn’t do anything to stop the killing
Both are right!

The other culprit of negligence is the UN who after half a million dead have final made a statement.

Israel has a major internal problem at the moment – over and above our usual ones. One concerns Amona, an illegal settlement (aka village) which the government decided should be removed and the villagers rehoused. They would mostly move a short distance away in accepted village, still in Judea and Samaria. The villagers and a large number of young zealots, have chosen to stand and fight to stay. They have taken Amona as their Massada, and some of their leaders have suggested they fight the young soldiers who come to move them. This is a disgrace – it is wrong on so many levels. How dare they suggest fighting with the youngsters for whom the last place they want to be is in Amona; it looks awful in the foreign media who love to portray us as zealots; it ruins our chances of keeping the accepted areas and presents the government and the Supreme Court with a Catch 22 situation. Shame on these few who make life difficult for the many. I believe in my heart that Judea and Samaria are Jewish from the days of the Bible but one must also recognize that sometimes one must accept the small sacrifices to attain the far larger goals.

Going back to Syria, 35 years ago, Hafez Al-Assad, the father of the current Assad, said he would not make peace with Israel even in 100 years.
Prime Minister Menachem Begin had recently signed an agreement with Egypt, accepting that for peace he had no choice but to agree to rehouse the residents of the town of Yamit and all Jews on Egyptian land.
Assad’s statement made Begin realise there would never be even a cold peace with Syria and decided to go against American advice and officially annex the Golan Heights.
From his decision to the passing of the law took just one day.

By coincidence, on the 35th anniversary of that historic decision, Menachem Begins son, Prof. Benny Begin, came to speak to us at the Jerusalem Press Club. Prof Begin is a geologist, so much more than just another politician, and he spoke with great eloquence and knowledge. He spoke of the Balfour Letter, of the changes made in the final Declaration, of the understanding of both David Lloyd George and Lord Balfour, as devout Christians, of the Holy Land and its connection to Jews and of Chaim Weitzman’s disappointment at the changes made. Iranian leader, Ali Khameine’I stated very clearly “Israel has no right to exist. This is not based on European Anti-Semitism but on well-established Islamic principles.”  As he said, we have done so incredibly well under the worst of conditions so let us simply carry on, fight the battles that face us and continue being the best we can be. As to annexing Judea and Samaria he responded “How can you annex something that is rightfully yours? You simply extend your jurisdiction” You can hear the whole talk

News in short

Turkey’s new Ambassador came to Jerusalem, to the Presidents House to be sworn in and made reference to the renewed relationship.

New F-35 super fighter jets were due to arrive in Israel with great pomp and large crowds – but unfortunately it was delayed by fog (what?????) and the crowds went home disappointed and the planes landed in darkness without a single soul to cheer!

Prime Minister Theresa May has decided to adopt a specific definition of anti-Semitism according to the Holocaust Remembrance Day outlines.

I think it is time to talk about rain! Amazing life giving rain fell this week and cleared the air, unfortunately flooding large areas of the north and along the shore but being lucky enough to live in Jerusalem with all our hills, we just enjoyed getting wet!!! At one point I looked out of our back window to see the most perfect rainbow, a fabulous arc against the black skies promising a great deal more rain!

Chanuka is imminent, Christmas is around the corner and everyone is shopping!!! The incredible array of sufganiot (doughnuts) is ever more varied and the Christmas lights have gone up on the road to Bethlehem and all over the Old City Christian Quarter. This wonderful video from last year shows the Chanuka display next to the Jaffa Gate of the Old City   The display of chanukiot (menorah branched candles) has taken on new proportions but the traditional Jerusalem chanukiot are definitely my favourites – glass boxes with oil lamps within kept outside the homes so that all can see the miracle of that essential battle expressed through eight days of light.

Perhaps the most Jerusalem of all songs is Jerusalem of Gold. The words express our longing, yearning, and of our return. Truly magnificent it brings tears to my eyes no matter how many times I hear it.

I sang lullabies to all my children, in Welsh, Yiddish, English indeed any language that helped them go to sleep. My younger son Gideon loved three songs “You are my sunshine”  “Calon Lan” and “Tumbalaika” so for Gideon and his Stephanie, who celebrate their anniversary tomorrow, here is Tumbalalaika in Yiddish with the real words not my made up ones!!!!

No cooking this weekend! Tonight just Zvi and I so we will eat well but whatever is in the fridge and tomorrow we are with Zvi’s son Leor with Shiri and the girls because it is Amit’s 10th birthday. My contribution is already made – Delia Smiths grilled peppers except that I do it with wonderful Israeli mozzarella!

With much love from Jerusalem, wherever you may be remember that Jerusalem is in your heart and in your prayers – you can’t help it – King David made sure of that!!!! Shabbat Shalom