The view from my veranda

170524 Jerusalem Day, Manchester, President Trump


23rd May, 2017

What a tragedy. What a ghastly tragedy. Children spending a dream night at a concert starring their favourite pop star when an insanely radical Islamist, sent by ISIS, blew himself up taking 22 young lives, the youngest of whom was just 8 years old. He was not poor, he was not disenfranchised, he was not an outcast – Salman Abedi was British, a student at the University of Salford near the city centre. He radicalised of his own accord and inculcated with ferocious savagery which destroyed the lives of all who saw the horror, let alone suffered it. Our hearts go out to the families of those killed and we pray for the recovery of those injured and traumatised. I believe President Trump was right when he described the terrorists as “losers”, intentionally using a derogatory term because any other name assumes we are terrified of them and that is exactly what they seek.

The highly successful visit of President Trump to the Middle East has been a call to Islamic nations to fight and resist terror.

In Saudi Arabia he spoke of the fact that terror affected Jews, Christians and Moslems and he referred to Israel by name, all subjects formerly taboo in that country. When he spoke to the assembled Islamic leaders he reiterated the need to ensure that terror is not rewarded. His words clearly directed at Mahmoud Abbas and many leaders in the opulent conference room who fund the stipend given as a reward for killing Jews.

His arrival in Israel was filled with pomp and circumstance befitting the leader of the free world – apart from Oren Hazan’s selfie which the media deemed a move typical of Israeli chutzpah and lack of manners. In fact, while silently cringing I didn’t think it deserved the outcry it received!

The warmth of the visit was exceptional; the Presidents speeches restrained and yet warm. His constant referrals to Israel’s Jewish heritage, our hard fought right to be in our ancient homeland were heartwarming. His clear emotion at the Western Wall and Ivanka’s metamorphosis from Ivanka to Yael as she neared those ancient stones and reached out gingerly to touch them was an exceptional moment.

One of the most moving visits was by First Lady Melania Trump and Sara Netanyahu to Hadassah Hospital to show them the wonderful co-existence between Jews and Arabs both patients and medical staff. It was especially exciting for me since my “new best friend” Ellen Hershkin, President of Hadassah Women’s ZOA, proudly and elegantly escorted both first ladies and introduced them to the wonderful staff, Moslems, Christians, Druze and Jews at all levels of medical excellence. Bravo for bringing Mrs Trump to show the truth of our ability to live and work together if given half a chance.

Yad Vashem is a name that may not trip off his tongue with ease but his empathy with those who perished and his admiration for the survivors was apparent.  President Trump “gets it”.

All of my concerns as to what he was going to demand from us in his last speech dissipated as he continued in the vein of understanding and love of Israel – and his determination not to tell us what to do, or what not to do – just that we need to talk.

Of course there were bloopers. Mr Netanyahu saying “the President’s first wife” instead of First Lady and Mr Trump having difficulty with the name Manchester, but in the final analysis I believe it was a very important visit. His popularity in the USA may be low but here he could win any election.

Last night began the real celebration. Jerusalem Day!!!! 50 years ago, on the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, in the year 5727, Jerusalem was reunited after 19 years of Jordanian rule. “Har Habayit beyadeinu” The Temple Mount is in our hands – surely a moment we can never forget in a war that amazed the world in its brevity and drama.

Jerusalem. What a magical sound, more of a prayer than a city. Jerusalem, her name spoken with respect and with joy; with awe and with love – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks expresses our feelings about her so clearly – “Jews were a circumference whose centre was Jerusalem”

The celebrations for the people of the city brought a spectacular light show on the walls of the Old City

The 28th Day of the Hebrew Month of Iyar was the day the American President swore allegiance and friendship to Israel too, but of far greater importance, the 28th of Iyar is the date my incredible and beautiful grand-daughter Talia was born, in Shaare Zedek Hospital, Jerusalem, 11 years ago. An exceptional child, born in an exceptional city, to my exceptional daughter and I was there to see her enter this world.

Last night, well actually in the wee small hours of this morning, Zvi arrived from Ben Gurion Airport with precious cargo – his cousins Billy and Ruth Shapiro flew in from Mexico – mut more about that on Friday. Of course I will write on Friday – I don’t believe I am capable of entering into Shabbat without talking to you!

From our home to yours, with love from Jerusalem, a troubled but glorious city which lays before me in that View From My Veranda!


I end this brief missive with something very Israeli – very Jerusalem. Ephraim Kishon was a brilliant reporter of our place and time and he wrote this wonderful list of why this is the only country he could ever live in.

My Country by Ephraim Kishon

This is Israel!

This is the only country where the unemployed strike;

This is the only country where sixty year olds still hate their tironut commander;

This is the only country where the corporals’ mother has the commander’s telephone number;

This is the only country that has a communications satellite, but nobody lets you finish a sentence;

This is the only country hit by missiles from Iraq, katyushas from Lebanon, suicide bombers from Gaza and rockets from Syria yet a three-room apartment still costs more than in Paris;

This is the only country where an Israeli meal is made from an Arab salad, Romanian kebabs, Iraqi pita and Bavarian mousse. We must like eating ant-Semites!

This is the only country where the guy with the open and stained shirt is the honourable Minister and the guy beside him wearing the suit and tie is his driver;

This is the only country where the phrase “I don’t interfere” means that I want to interfere;

This is the only country where Moslems sell sacred souvenirs to Christians in exchange for bills that have the Rambam’s face on them;

This is the only country where, at the age of eighteen you leave home but at twenty-four you still live with your parents;

This is the only country where people who come to your home for the first time ask you if it’s OK to go and take something from the fridge;

This is the only country where you can tell what the security situation is from the songs that are being played on the radio;

This is the only country where the rich are on the socialist left, the poor on the capitalist right and the middle-class pays for everything;

This is the only country where there is no problem to get the software that launches a space shuttle, but you have to wait a week for your washing machine to be fixed;

And only here there’s a time unit called “sometime between 11 and 6”.

This is the only country where between the happiest day and the saddest day there are exactly sixty seconds;

This is the only country where most people can’t explain why they live here but they have loads of reasons why they can’t live elsewhere;

This is the only country where if you hate politicians, hate clerks, hate the situation, hate the taxes, hate the quality of service, and hate the weather, it must mean that you like the country…

This Is The Only Country I Could Live In!!!  It’s My Country!!!