The view from my veranda

180720 Israel Twito and Tisha B’Av


20th July 2018

Shalom, Salaam, hello and Shabbat Shalom to everyone.

So much has happened this week in our world. The reactions to the Trump-Putin summit have been so filled with hate that it terrifies me; the Trump visit to Britain was portrayed as if the entire island was anti Trump for one reason only – nobody showed the very large pro-Trump and certainly pro-USA rally; Gazans have been lobbing anything that terrifies Israelis and destroys farm and parkland and one rocket landed on a home injuring the residents; in fact as we come closer and closer to Tisha B’Av (the ninth of the Jewish month of Av) I see what is referred to as “sinat chinam” – hatred for no reason – that caused the destruction of the second Temple. We Jews become more and more split as we each hang on determinedly to our own opinion and sector. We are so lost in hearing our own voices that we are unable to be tolerant or liberal or see the other person’s viewpoint at all. We prefer to hate.

To be tolerant and to open oneself up to finding a solution instead of fighting the problem is perhaps one of humankinds hardest tasks because we seem incapable of finding it in our hearts.

That was a very pessimistic introduction because I see it more and more and it is depressing. I don’t necessarily like what or who is leading our international politics, or internal politics, but I would never ever photoshop an innocent, if silly, photo of Israeli politicians taking a selfie and put them in front of a part of “the wall” with Death to Arabs graffiti on it! It made me feel sick – it is exactly what our enemies need to fulfil their propaganda dreams. So it is with the USA, and for that matter with the UK. Take a step back and breathe – does your hatred get you anywhere?

Surprisingly, all of the above came out of the most incredible visit to a factory yesterday! The factory is the result of the dream of one man who in his deep humility decided to change his world and the world of those around him. His name is Israel Twito.

Israel Twito and his family lived in Tunisia, his father was a Zionist and when life for Jews in Tunisia became very difficult he decided to take his family to the Promised Land. Since it was before 1948 his family encountered immigration laws that prevented their entry to Israel and they went to an internment camp in Cyprus. In 1948 they came to Israel and since he was never a talented student Israel Twito chose to become an air conditioning mechanic. Despite his lack of formal education Israel had, and has, an exceptional mind and he decided to build his dream alongside his wife Shoshana and children. It started small producing parts for air conditioners but then came the fruition of his dream – Israel took his factory to the Barkan Industrial Estate in the Shomron town of Ariel. The factory now employs over 100 people, Israelis and Palestinians alike all of whom have a personal relationship with Israel. Moshe explains the story better than I, and then I will continue with what we saw.

The factories produce electronics for Smart houses and parts for air conditioning, Israel Twito has registered some 160 patents,  and the Barkan Industrial zone employs 7,000 workers half of whom are Palestinians who live within a very short distance of the factory – indeed the fence that runs beside the factory is already in the PA – indeed the factory next door is in the PA but Israelis are not allowed to work there. Israel and his right hand man Moshe, arrive each morning and go from worker to worker, be they Palestinian or Russian Immigrants to wish them a good day, to ask how their family is and if they feel good. The Russians say  Sabah Alkhyr to the Russians and the Arabs say Dobroye Utro to the Russians. The warmth and security of the factory is tangible. If Israel sees a particularly bright worker he will pay for them to go to university in the PA and then promote them to responsible positions on their return; if a workers child is sick he organises health care- indeed one child had cancer and the hospital in the PA couldn’t treat her so Israel organised for her to go, with her mother, to an Israeli oncology unit where she was for a whole year and she is now 3 years after her cancer and healthy; he closes the factory on one fun day a year and takes the entire factory for an overnight in Eilat – not easy since there is a law going back to Mandate period that does not allow neighboring Arabs to go to Eilat but Israel managed to overcome that and his workers flew for the first time and had a ball in Eilat.

Why am I telling you all this? Because when I looked up the barkan Industrial Park on Google I found the most damning of articles, be it Haaretz or NYT or the Guardian, suggesting that all the Industrial Parks are built because of Israel’s colonial ambitions etc. Both their ilk and BDS would like nothing better than to close Israel Twito and his big heart down. Because those people – Jews, Christians, Moslems and atheists alike don’t get it.  Let me give you the figures so you understand

Let us assume that 100,000 people from the PA work in factories in West Bank “settlements”. Each of those 100,000 has a family of at least 10 people dependent upon their salary including wives, children and parents, which makes 1,000,000 people hungry if those factories were closed by the idiocy of Roger Waters and his ilk. The Israeli economy would be fine, it may be a small glitch, but the Palestinian workers who receive equal pay and great working conditions would suffer dreadfully. They do not get any social services from their own government! Moshe took this to the European Parliament –

So back to everyday life.

Our weekend in Tel Aviv was delightful and we managed to see many friends. I love Gloria Goldstein and we always have so much to tell each other that no matter how long we are together we have to part too soon!

On Wednesday evening Zvi and I met our lovely friends Ruth and Jozek Dodziuk-Justitz for dinner. They were thrilled to find a restaurant that we didn’t know right next to Shouk Mahane Yehuda! Zvi and I parked our car up at Mount Herzl and took the light rail to Mahane Yehuda and found the restaurant at 113 Jaffa Street. I love the name“HaMotzi“. We all four had absolutely incredible Middle Eastern food and got to know each other even better. Since they are coming on Aliyah very soon we can continue our conversations for a long, long time! Next time we meet I want to hear Yozek’s story!

Tonight we will have a quiet Friday night. Of course I have prepared salads, much to my lovely friend Arlene’s amusement, I never have enough space because I love to see it full of goodies – after all I never know who is going to turn up at the last moment!

Considering the Hebrew and Jewish significance of the date – Tisha b’Av should have been tonight and tomorrow but since it is the Sabbath it is deferred by a day and the fast will take place on Sunday after nine days of mourning for so many disasters in our history including the destruction of both the first and second Temples, the expulsion of Jews from Spain on this day. It is time to remember, as I said at the very beginning of this missive, that we almost disappeared as a people because of Sinat Chinam – a total lack of tolerance for each other – internecine fighting which looks all to familiar.

I cannot bear the thought of being without music. I can fast, I can limit my enjoyment on so many levels but I am tied to music in my very soul.

They say that the Kabbalistic song/prayer Ana b’Koach has powers beyond it’s words to heal our world. I know I have given it to you before but I feel we desperately need it now. Sing it with all your heart

Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu ve al koolam – Peace will come to us and to everyone. Shalom – Salaam

Actually the answer to all of the above is something that Israel Twito already knows  “All you need is Love”

Shabbat shalom to you all wherever you may be, whatever your beliefs, I love you