The view from my veranda

171110 Casting Couch, Kristallnacht, Patel, Armistice Day

10th November, 2017
Shabbat Shalom dear friends.

What a strange world we live in! I never thought, not in a million years, that good could come out of the revelations of Harvey Weinstein’s diabolical predilections but it opened the floodgates for women who feared the publicity of admitting they had been raped. As children we heard about the “casting couch” without understanding the implications to those who were so desperate to work that they gave themselves to that depraved world. Is any work really worth debasing oneself or was the sense of “no choice” prevalent in a different time? I don’t know because thank heaven the theatre is not my milieu, but it happens in all spheres, work, jobs. It has to stop. I must add however – too many women are calling abuse over a compliment, a friendly pat on the shoulder and such, it demeans the plight of those who suffered and lessens the impact of their pain.

Between the 9th and 10th of November, 1938, the first visible incidents of what was to follow occurred in Germany. The Night of the Broken Glass – Kristallnacht. Synagogues and Jewish businesses were burnt and their windows smashed, and over 100 Jews died that fateful night. That night proved to be the physical culmination of careful manipulative disinformation of the masses. 79 years and the manipulative disinformation is back.

Headlines scream that Priti Patel, British International Development Secretary, was “thrown out of the British Government for meeting Israelis” which is true but untrue – as usual a twisting of the facts. Ms. Patel is in the British Parliament and protocol demands that if one meets with ANY foreign politicians one must report it. It is true of any country, any government not just Israel. Ms Patel was in Israel on a private holiday but met with Israeli officials including Prime Minister Netanyahu. Even if she just had a nice cuppa with them it should have been reported to her seniors. She offered her resignation with apologies and sadly Theresa May accepted it. That’s all.

Another diabolical shooting incident in the United States. The First Baptist Church in Southerland Springs Texas was the scene of tragedy, tragedy that could have been avoided. The shooter should never have obtained a gun of any nature let alone an automatic weapon. I was at the receiving end of much anger when I said that the gun laws must be reconsidered, but a change is essential. The laws of purchasing automatic weapons should be of the highest priority – why would anyone who is not in a war situation want an assault weapon? This is not a matter of civil rights – this is a matter of life and death. Yes I know I am interfering in American politics but should this be a political issue?

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. On that date and at that hour in 1918, millions of people stopped butchering one another and lay down their arms. Armistice Day. It has come to mean much more as the soldiers of the British Commonwealth are honoured at the Senotaph, the memorial to the Unknown soldier in London. Royalty, Military, Politicians and Old Soldiers alike, lay wreaths and stand for a 2 minute silence. In Britain and the Commonwealth most people wear red poppies on their lapels to commemorate the dead. Why Poppies? Flanders Field, near the town of Ypres in Belgium, was the scene of one of the fiercest battles of WW1, the poppies flourish crimson but the dead cannot return. John McCrae wrote
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly, Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago, We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie, In Flanders fields.

Last weekend Zvi and I went to Northern Israel with the choir “Hakol Yachassi” for a fascinating tour arranged by our friend Eva Yaron. We went to the Bedouin Village of Shibli, home to the Shibli family who have milled grain for many many years and learned of the proud history of the Northern Bedouin and their love of Israel. Our next stop was the Circassian village of Kfar Kama. The Circassian history is proud and exceptional, the museum well worth a visit. Circassians, who originated in the Caucasus, are Moslems and have the highest percentage of men in the IDF of any sector including Jews! Our final stop for the day was in the Druze village of Nebo Shu’eb, Jethros Tomb, where were received the most fascinating lecture from a pious, beautiful man who was open to explaining their history, his personal journey and his devotion to Israel. As a result of the loyalty and bravery of the Israeli Druze the IDF made the decision to try and rescue the encircled Druze in Syria, despite the fact that most of the men were fighting Israel in the past. Total loyalty to the country of ones origin is essential to the Druze. We arrived in Nazareth and relaxed, rested then went to the dining hall for Kabbalat Shabbat. As always Zvi’s mellifluous bass-baritone was joined by the entire choir to the delight of the other diners. That night we sat around and sang – gosh it is wonderful! Our musical Director Adi Hayat is a fine musician, indeed often accompanies Andrea Boccelii on his tours.

Shabbat was a walking day – through Christian Nazareth. A fascinating day indeed. The winding cobble roads suddenly give way to a vast variety of churches and chapels, while the muezzin calls to prayer. A true rainbow of people.

Now for an incredible man, Sheikh Noor Dahri – devout Moslem, he now explains why he is a Zionist. His logic should be played to many Diaspora Jews who just don’t get it.

The 3,000,000th tourist arrived in Israel yesterday!! Yup, 3 million in 2017 so far, including some famous people who came on private visits. We got to meet just a few of them, Nancy and Harry Bloomfield invited us to supper together with their good friends from Montreal, Rosemary and Mel Hoppenheim. We met at the newly revamped Anna Ticho House restaurant which is no longer very “Yerushalmi” but rather a very classy gourmet restaurant. Zvi couldn’t come but I was thrilled to accept (I can’t refuse Nancy) and we spoke of everything pertaining to Israel, world Zionism and generally putting the world to rights.

Miraculously, my BFF Arlene Wittels came to Israel with her family – husband Milty, daughter Rona and Rona’s husband Jack. I cannot explain Arlene and my friendship, it was love at first sight. A phenomenal lady, a leader, a “doer”, a fine woman and ardent Zionist, to say nothing of the fact she is an amazing friend. Arlene’s love of Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular made her determined to come here, to hug Jerusalem, Zvi and me not matter what. She came, she saw and we both cried and laughed together as always. Tears of pride fell as Arlene told us about grandson Jordan who is currently working with the Israeli Delegation at the United Nations, a difficult task which he absolutely adores. What an amazing woman, extreme physical difficulties were not enough to stop her coming here – no excuses – no pseudo- justifications, Arlene came to her beloved homeland with her Milty.

On Tuesday I went to visit a truly magnificent organisation. Shalva. The building is amazing, the restaurant delicious and the work of Shalva ground-breaking. Shalva supports the families of special needs children of all ages. My dear friend Merav took me there. I won’t go further because next week Gabby, the Director is going to give me a tour and I promised I wouldn’t write about it this week.

Jewish music has evolved through the years, sometimes following the current trends, sometimes going off on a tangent known only to other Jews! Here we follow the trail of Jewish Music with grateful thanks to my Rachel for sending it to me

Almost every Jewish and Israeli song refers to or prays for peace, perhaps Adon Olam more than any other. This recording was made in 2008, for Israel’s 60th birthday, in the same studio as Band Aid.

With much love from our veranda! The pomegranates are ripe, the kumquats and lemons almost ready and the hibiscus blooming but all of the above are overpowered by the brilliant crimson of the geraniums – gosh what a show! In a minute I am leaving to see Rachel and family, and pick up my Challot straight from the oven. As always I will gasp at the sheer beauty of the panorama from Nebe Samuel, and the hive of activity in the religious neighbourhood of Ramot. Tonight I will try out the Freekeh produced by the Bedouin of Shibli, everyone said it is the new superfood. Of course I will give it a Middle Eastern twist and stuff juicy red peppers with it!!!

May peace be with you and your family. If I have a prayer above all others it is that we truly lay down our swords and plough the fields to feed the world instead. We have done it within Israel, why can’t the Moslems outside Israel accept our prayers for peace?

Peace, Shalom, שלום, , Paix, Pax, السلام معكم وعلى الجميع