The view from my veranda

5 weeks and 2 days

5 weeks and 2 days and they are not home

13th November 2023

Tami Isaacs is a pastry chef, an outstanding pastry chef in London; Tami makes the best pastries, babkas, rugalach and Challot (apart from my Rachel of course). Today Tami put a post on Facebook, simple words that tell the full story “The thing about Jews is that we have deep empathy and resounding resilience in equal measures. Our hearts are broken but our spirit is not.”

I have come to the conclusion that I really don’t believe in free speech. Free speech was a very nice thought in its inception, but it has become a vehicle for incitement to hatred without any thought of consequences. It has become the bane of our generation and the results are shown every day in our schools and universities. It has become dangerous to be a Jew in MIT Harvard, Stanford, NYU, Cornell, Penn and many more where it is acceptable to bully and harm Jewish students so that they fear going to class, all in the name of free speech. I point out the American Universities, especially the elite US universities where our future leaders learn, but it is happening all over. Freedom of speech is not the same thing whatsoever as free speech especially when one group becomes the scapegoat yet again.

This war, as far as Israel is concerned, began on the 7th of October with the diabolical massacre and kidnapping of innocents, it is a war that was thrust upon us, it is a war that we have no choice but to win on the ground but also one we must win on the small screen of social media. If we want our children to live in freedom, everywhere in the world, we have to take a stand on line. Youngsters in the West learn everything from their screens.  I feel that nobody out there has the brain or moral compass to empathise with those killed in a rampage of evil and our hostages held in Gaza, scared out of their minds and their families who wait in limbo until their return.

I have a new word for you to add to your Hebrew lexicon, atasha or more actually milchemet atasha, which means a war of attrition, the gradual wearing down of one’s enemy with the specific intention of causing them to back off and back down . Hezb-Allah are launching missiles one by one, one by one, killing one by one, one by one, which makes one think, what do Hamas and Hezb-Allah have in common? Both are Sunni, both appear to be offshoots of the original PLO of Yassir Arafat. They do not realise that we are stronger than they and will survive and thrive once again, but in the meantime, it is exhausting and as each day we hear of beautiful young lives taken in defence of this country, it is hard.

Thomas Friedman wrote an excellent article for the New York times, but they demand that one pays a subscription to read it so I found this site “I’ve never been to this Israel before” about the difference in Israel before and after October 7th. Worth reading  

If I can go back to Hamas however, Hamas has correctly been compared to ISIS and Daeesh but I am inclined to compare them to Boko Haram who killed over 6,000 Nigerian innocents in one year. I am sure we all remember when they took over a Christian girl’s school and the horrific results. They all embrace nihilistic jihadism at its cruelest. We must remember also that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and most of the West Bank (aka the Biblical Yehuda and Shomron) have been inculcated with murderous hatred for Jews and Christians through the schoolbooks produced by UNWRA.

Impact-se ( ) is fighting the good fight against hate education in schools in the entire region even in the most unlikely countries who accept that teaching children to hate kills a society. We were the first to discover that the schoolbooks in the PA and Gaza are written by UNWRA, a United Nations branch supposedly created to take care of the everyday needs of the people of the PA and Gaza. Major votes on the Hill in Washington have backed up our work, our CEO Marcus Sheff has just returned from meetings with senior people in the Foreign Affairs Committees who use our reports as the basis for decisions, knowing that every word is accurate and without bias. We are about to embark on a major project to improve the material that young Palestinians are taught, to lead them away from the hate and violence as they have been taught in the past. It will take a separate budget but it is essential if there is to be any hope of change and a future for them and for us.

Talking of essential teaching, our incredible friends, the Gandel family in Melbourne Australia, have established a teaching facility and programme to educate teachers about the Holocaust so that they in turn can teach their students. Building Holocaust awareness and education, one classroom at a time. A truly worthwhile project

I have long been a huge fan of President Isaac (Bougie) Herzog. He comes from a family that gave itself to the State of Israel and his father fought as a British Soldier in WW2, and was at the liberation of Bergen Belsen telling the emaciated inmates that he was a Jew who came all the way from the Holy Land, fighting for their freedom. Chaim Herzog went on to be the President of the State of Israel. This week the British television journalist Piers Morgan spoke with President Herzog and whatever my thoughts before this interview I have quadrupled my admiration for the man. I am bursting with pride at his responses, his eloquence and his honesty to the clearly impressed Morgan. Please, this is 47 minutes long but you will find yourself in rapt attention for the entire time.

This morning Zvi told me that our dear friend Itzik Mussachy had asked for help at the sandwich packing station of Chabad (the Lubavitch), in Jerusalem. Packing sandwiches? For whom? Why not go and see? It was a revelation! The first person I saw was the wonderful Dina Haviv, who quickly set me to work. About seven tables were covered in hygienic plastic, each table producing filled bread rolls. One with humus and pickle; one with cheese slices, tomato and cucumber; one with tuna and pickle, one with Nutella and so on. Around each table was a human conveyer belt, stuffing, each element at a time, then bagging and closing the bags, in a flurry of black hygienic gloves. I started tying the bags but soon realised that three people doing the tying meant a backlog of filled sandwiches and not enough to tie! Honestly!  So, I went over to bagging and that worked very nicely. I was just getting into the flow when we reached out goal. Zvi and Itzik were carry huge boxes, each labelled with the contents of the bread rolls, and preparing them into bags for distribution. School children of the refugees, especially those in hotels, and of the families of soldiers will receive their package in time for lunch! Every evening the volunteers of Chabad go out and set up barbeques for the soldiers on base. It really is incredible and the epitome of Judaism of Chessed.

After we left the Chabad house, Dina, Zvi and I felt hungry so we went to the German Colony and the famous Caffit restaurant, where I had my very favourite meal, the Oregenatto Batata, a delicious salad with strips of sweet potato on top. Zvi then went off to his voice lesson and I went to get him his sugar free mandelbroit from Marzipan. Finding myself with time to spare before Zvi finish his lesson, I was drawn to the Aldo Ice Cream Parlour and just by chance I wandered in. As I sat eating my vanilla cornet, a young soldier came in with his mother who told the following story. He was given a free day to come home but couldn’t find a lift or bus until a taxi driver offered to take him home, no charge despite a long ride. The one thing he wanted before going home was a great big ice cream. He chose and then when his Mum tried to pay the owner refused her money “chayalim lo meshalmim etzli” Soldiers don’t pay in my shop. I love this country!

Being Welsh I love Rugby and of course the New Zealand team. Whereas the Welsh sing before a fixture the Maoris and most of the islanders of the South Pacific do a Hakka. A Hakka is an ancient war dance and it is spectacular. This group of pro-Israel Mew Zealanders did a Hakka to honour Israel. Gotta love it!

If I may go back to the beginning and Tami’s words, our spirit is battered, but not broken. We do our best to continue with normal life, or some semblance of normal life. The hardest question one can ask or respond to is “How are you”. I promise that we won’t be beaten but we need your help too. You have to stand up for yourselves, you cannot allow anyone to put you down or call you names. Just remember what the wonderful Eleanor Roosevelt said “No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent”

Yaakov Shwekey always blesses the soldiers of the IDF whenever he is in Israel and here he sings the special prayer asking the Almighty to bless and protect the Soldiers of Israel. We have already lost too many in a war we didn’t want and I cannot imagine the situation of the soldiers who have been kidnapped.  


May God bless you and keep you far from harm

With love