The view from my veranda

180216 Parkland, Guns, Iran-Syria, Netanyahu


16th February 2018

I wish you a good Shabbes, a peaceful Shabbat, a weekend without tragedy.

My heart is breaking for the families of those children whose lives were taken by a crazed gunman in Parkland, Florida. I cannot imagine what horrors the other children saw, but they will be haunted by it for the rest of their lives.  I am furious that a crazed criminal, known to the FBI, the police and the local school authorities could walk into a store and buy an assault rifle AND WALK INTO THE SCHOOL UNHINDERED. I am sick and tired of being attacked personally because I find the gun culture abhorrent – and equally tired of being told that crime in Britain is worse than the USA when all the statistics that I carefully researched say that petty crime is possibly higher but gun crime, murders etc is definitely not. It is irrelevant to yesterday’s horror but if you wish here it the proof.

20 years ago there was a mass shooting in a school in Dunblane, Scotland after which the British Government introduced strict gun control laws and there have been no further such incidents – 22 years ago, in Port Arthur, Tasmania a gunman opened fire and killed 35 people, within 2 weeks Australia introduced strict gun control, there have been no more mass shootings. If the issue is freedom then give children the freedom to live. The amendment giving people the right to carry arms is hundreds of years old – time to change.

As to violence in schools – my family always called me Pollyanna because I try to find the good in all people and all things, but I am a realistic optimist! As Zvi taught me, there are no problems we just need to find solutions. I believe in Rabbi David Geffen and his incredible programme to bring love to schoolchildren, even in the most “difficult” schools. It works

The Prime Minister of Israel is about to be indicted on corruption charges after an interminable investigation and the country is in turmoil. The satirists are having a field day and I am sick and tired of hearing of the antics of the Prime Ministers household. I don’t know if the Prime Minister is guilty of bribery or of extreme hedonism and misuse of friendships to feed his desire for rich friends, fine cigars and champagne, but we are at a terrifying crossroads in a confused world and we need someone whose mind is utterly on the good of the country. It was Benjamin Netanyahu who made a long speech telling Ehud Olmert that he had to resign during that investigation because Prime Minister Olmert could not concentrate on the job of Prime Minister – for charges that dim compared with the current charges against the Netanyahu family.  Netanyahu supporters have verbally attacked the Chief of Police, the Attorney General but when the leader of the Likud Party stood in the Knesset and called Yair Lapid a “nark” or “grass” because  he told the truth when asked by the police to testify before the investigation I understood that the Party had reached an all-time low.

I don’t know if you received my midweek update concerning the Syrian/Iranian/Israeli cross border incident, please let me know if not. This is the potted history that brought us to the incident

A potted history since the first time I saw Lebanon

  1. Lebanon 1963 there was no real border between Lebanon and Israel– a Jewish country and a Christian country, not enemies. We stood and chatted with Lebanese soldiers the other side of a car park like barrier and wandered in and out of both countries for a photo-op
  2. 1970 – Arafat attempts a failed coup in Jordan, causes deaths of at least 10,000 PLO supporters at the hands of King Hussein and is flees Jordan. Syria refuses to accept him and he and his cohorts are accepted by Lebanon – in a move of Christian sympathy.
  3. Since that date the advance of destructive forces of Hezb-Allah have grown in Lebanon, destroying that once Christian country from the “Pearl of the Middle East” (Beirut) into a war zone.
  4. Hezb-Allah is supported by Iran.
  5. Iran takes advantage of and encourages the dreadful war in Syria with the help of Hezb-Allah which until the insertion of Iran in the equation was a failing organisation.
  6. Iran is delighted to take advantage of the utter chaos and establish bases in Syria which gives them a strong foothold in the region.
  7. Iran brings “volunteers” from Pakistan etc to help them in the training of Syrian troops in advanced warfare and establishes military bases in Syria.
  8. Syria shoots an advanced anti-aircraft missile from an equally advanced drone at an Israeli aeroplane, successfully downing the F16i on Israeli soil, the first time that an Israeli aeroplane has been downed in very many years.
  9. Israel decides to retaliate successfully targetting 12 Syrian and Iranian installations – whose sole aim, apparently, is to destroy Israel – in the words of the Iranian leaders.
  10. There is a media message to the world, cleverly worded, that Israel is the aggressor even if the reaction is justified.
  11. Prime Minister Netanyahu has telephone conference with President Putin who is also trying to prevent the escalation.
  12. A world that stayed silent over the murder of over 500,000 Syrians at the hands of a despot leader is suddenly concerned about Israel responding to an attack on her soil.

Israel does not take the possibility of war with Iran lightly but since they have infiltrated virtually every one of our neighbouring countries (despite the best efforts of Jordan and Egypt), and have a Government Ministry dedicated to the annihilation of Israel I think we had the right to defend ourselves. I am happy to say that both pilots who ejected are now safe. The badly injured pilot is in a room beside a Syrian patient brought to Israel by the IDF for treatment. Just another anomaly in the story of this region.

Incidentally, the issue of Russian interference in the United States elections has risen yet again. Understand two simple facts. Everyone, every country interferes in every country’s election!! It is a given!! Fact number two? Every country spies on every other country. What? You seriously thought that all the Embassy staff brought in are actually guards, clerks, attaches and secretaries?

This was a quiet week – yes it happens on occasion! The heavens opened and the rain came down, probably because I bragged about the glorious spring weather last week! When I say a quiet week, it was a special week. Yuval came into the world! Yuval is the newest baby to join the Raviv family, a beautiful little girl, the fourth daughter for Zvi’s son Leor and his wife Shiri. Of course the family is very excited, especially Amit, Gili and Ori who chose the name Yuval for their little sister. Mazal Tov to all concerned a fabulous start to the week!!

I am always fascinated by Israeli hospitals. This time it was in the Meir Medical Centre in Kfar Saba. The patients and staff run the full gamut of Israeli society, in fact there were far more Arab patients than Jewish – and that is great! We all wish each other “Refuah Shlemah” a complete recovery with nary a thought of religious leanings.  I just wish all those who claim Israel is an apartheid state would come and really visit Israel, especially the hospitals. Perhaps they should compare it to what happens when Israelis find themselves in a Palestinian town

This is a very special Shabbat for us. As soon as I finish writing I am going to the airport to greet the El Al flight 008 from NYC carrying my eldest son Daniel, his lovely wife Karen and my unbelievably incredible grandchildren Joshua and Callie! On our way home we will stop in Givat Zeev so that Rachel, Igal, Yosef, Talia and Ayala can get their hugs in and I can get my Challot and a load of photos to send to the “Londoners”. Tomorrow we will spend with Leor and Amiad and their children, so that they can break the language barrier and play together. I am beyond excited. The Shabbat table has been laid and ready for two days and all their favourite foods cooked! Wow…………. This is exciting!!!

When the world appears too filled with hate and division I listen to music. David Broza “Yihyeh Tov”

Shiri Maimon with Shir le Shalom – a song to peace

Finally the answer to it all, right David Geffen? All You Need is Love

I wish us all a kinder world, one in which Yuval can grow up safely, surrounded by love.

In this weeks Parasha, G-d tells us how to put together a “tent” that He can descend to be amongst us. Perhaps the elements of the tent are symbolic and the true elements are love, compassion, empathy and humility.

With all our love, from the Veranda, from our home and from Jerusalem.