The view from my veranda

Changes, Christmas, Covid and Education

17th December 2021

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

Just one week to Christmas and the Old City of Jerusalem, especially the Christian Quarter, and Nazareth are ablaze with coloured lights and Christmas trees! The main road to Bethlehem, actually called Hebron Road, has Christmas decorations and lighting and the general feeling is one of hope that the mood will change to one of peace. Sadly so far it hasn’t.

On the one hand Member of Knesset Ayman Odeh of the Joint List, a Moslem and pro-Palestinian, put a Christmas tree in his office; on the other hand, yesterday there was a drive-by shooting, a terrorist attack, in the Shomron region and a young Yeshiva student, Yehuda Dimentman, a 25 year old father of a toddler, was killed in a rain of bullets. As I have told you time and again, the moment that Hamas – or Palestinian Islamic Jihad – are out of the news or their funding is endangered – they incite and encourage individual attacks. The international community, both in the West and many Arab countries, has woken up to the imbecility of the claims and corruption of the Palestinian Authority and the funding is gradually drying up. Billions upon billions have been poured into those organisations to better the lives of their people and all they have done is to buy arms, dig tunnels and produce incitement so that their children will grow up …….actually they won’t grow up because they are taught to blow themselves up while killing Jews. Changes we have wrought in their schoolbooks will take a generation to undo the incitement of previous teachings. Indeed Impact-se’s latest research and report shows the level of incitement in Palestinian text books has not abated. Unlike most of the Arab nations they are not interested in tolerance in their text books or anywhere else. Switzerland is the latest in a long list of countries offended by UNWRA interference and writing of these textbooks, most of which have stopped funding the above.

I just wrote about Ayman Odeh and the Arab Joint List Party. I wonder how many countries around the world have members of the government who are bent on that country’s destruction? Members of the Government who call themselves citizens of a country which incites again their own? A country which is so democratic that it accepts diversity as a fundamental right – not only on the basis of freedom of prayer and faith but of views in direct opposition to the good of that country. Yes, that’s us – the much maligned country that is the only Jewish country in a world of Moslem and Christian countries……and we are proud of it!

One strange phenomenon is that one shooting, one killing, one attack here in Israel affects us all and hundreds are currently attending Yehuda z”l’s funeral which will leave his settlement in the Shomron to be buried in the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem. After all these years we cannot get used to shootings, stabbings, attacks which occur every five minutes in most cities around the world. It is the hatred, the sheer unadulterated hatred for us as Jews that is so horrific. Just as the beating of “obvious” Jews in the UK, USA, all over Europe and even in Australia that horrify us. Some of this is instigated by the biased reporting of CNN, BBC, NYT and the Guardian, but as Covid drives economies into the gutter the usual scapegoat is an easy target for anger.

Dame Maureen Lipman is an amazing British actress, author, stand-up comedienne and a proud and active Jew. When the British Jewish community decided to demonstrate against the BBC biased reportage of Israel, she recorded the following video. I apologise that it takes you to Facebook but sadly her words were not recorded on Vimeo or Yutube.

Her words carry great weight but there are not enough famous people who speak out. One who does in the States is Joshua Malina…..we need more.

Former President Donald Trump chose to go along the populist route and speak out, in a most undiplomatic manner, about Benjamin Netanyahu. Nothing like kicking a man when he’s down. Why? Why do it? Why do it now? Incredibly one of the only people to come forward and defend Mr Netanyahu was Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, proving once again that he is a Mensch. Mr Olmert was deeply offended by the former Presidents indelicate words and the offence to Israel and an Israeli leader.

Iran, Iran and more Iran….but no-one is really doing anything! Talks in Vienna, international Defence Ministers flying to meet each other, but just as in the past, nobody actually does anything just as they did nothing despite knowing that the former IAEA Chief was a member of the Moslem Brotherhood!! Every time there is a discussion on “What to do about Iran” I recall Shimon Peres sitting on the stage in front of an audience of 2 or 3 thousand Jewish leaders, sitting totally relaxed reading a newspaper (sorry if I’ve already told the story but it is supremely relevant) We all sat in quiet anticipation when suddenly he spoke up “There’s an article here about India” he said “Did you know that the public hangman retired 6 months ago and they can’t find a replacement” He continued reading and we all wondered if the great mind had finally begun to wander. He then turned to us and said “I am not afraid of a country that cannot find a new hangman having nuclear arms, but I fear nuclear arms in countries where everyone wants to be a hangman”. The man who fought the world to ensure that Israel achieve nuclear capability (which everyone knows but no-one admits) and build the facility in Dimona brought a sense of reality and context to the entire Iranian nuclear dilemma. Should we enter talks with the Ayatollahs? Talk but prepare.

Israelis love to travel, especially to countries we couldn’t go to previously. After the various Peace Accords with Jordan and Egypt our curiosity took us to the great archaeological sites in those countries. The latest destination for Israelis is Dubai, and the wonders of the modern world. Sadly, Israelis also flew to just about every available destination taking advantage of ridiculously cheap airline tickets. As a result we are slowly but surely going into round 5 of Covid-19 and it’s multiple variants. Oy vey! Most Israelis feel that without a weekend or week in “chutz l’aretz”, a visit to Duty Free and a shopping spree at the outlets of Europe the USA and the Emirates, their life is not complete. So, my friends, it looks like we won’t be seeing each other in the near or distant future!!

Another side of Israelis is that most weekends we go in search of picnic sites, of exquisite nature trails and tours of cities we thought had no history and discover their beauty and past glory. Every trail and climb has wooden picnic tables and you really have to be the early bird to catch one sufficiently large for a family! Of course there are those that come with a car filled with the essential barbeque, meats and Israeli salads, so that the delicious aroma of Middle Eastern cooking pervades the surrounding area inviting one back to the picnic site. We tend to take easy finger food, each member of the family bringing their own “specialite de la maison” and I promise that after a brisk walk nothing is ever left. Of course we have stopped taking disposable plates etc, unless they are biodegradable and we take our rubbish home.

By the way

Hadassah Hospital will open a hospital in Mexico! Hadassah Bosque Real Another incredible achievement.

Israel just donated over 2 million Covid vaccines to African countries and unlike the Palestinians they accepted with gratitude.

The Ukraine not only recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city but intends opening a diplomatic mission here. After all they know all about being overpowered.

The vaccination of children in Israel is slower than we wanted although increasing nicely. Numbers can deceive since many already had Covid-19 whether they knew it or not.

Israeli invention and development of the Sonovia Masks have proven that they protect against all variants of the Covid virus and also an unexpected, added bonus, against acne!

Did you know that the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus has been voted the premier university for the Humanities and Education? I was there this week, with Marcus Sheff, to see the Impact-se collection of educational reports gathered over the last 25 years, to be called the Dr. Daniel Cammerman Collection, and since the entire campus is a warren of passages and food halls and hallways Marcus and I walked 2 kilometres just finding our destination in the Education Department. Of course we passed the Liwerant Center and the Bloomfield Library, so proud of their interaction with the University, and we noticed something so obvious that only the blind could not see. At least 60% of the students at the best university in the world for their studies were Arab, to be more precise Arab Moslem, from all over Israel. How on earth can anyone claim this is an apartheid country unless they are so biased they cannot accept the truth. Studies are in Hebrew and give the students an outstanding opportunity to blend in to the highest levels of the workforce – if they choose.

If you choose to read this week Torah reading you will discover the wisdom of good parenting by Jacob, the lesson he learned after the disaster of favouritism, and the generosity of Joseph who overcame his brother’s jealousy.

This week’s letter is longer than usual, maybe because it’s raining outside which puts me in a good mood. Rain, life-giving rain, washing away the horrible dust of last week, cleaning, feeding, creating new life…..I can’t wait for the wonderful eruption of brightly coloured flowers in the Negev Desert!  Apparently it will rain much more heavily next week which is when Jerusalem really comes into her own because Tel Aviv and all the cities along the shoreline will be flooded. It happens every year!!

Perhaps it is time to give you some music to lighten your mood

On Sunday Talia and I are going to the huge spectacular for Shalva and, among others, Shiri Maimon will be appearing. I love her voice and she is a wonderful representative of Israel.

A Song For Peace – Shir l’Shalom. If you don’t get the English subtitles just click on CC and it will tell you how.

Gad Elbaz sings of togetherness under siege – standing together. I loved this song

The next song has no subtitles but proves that prayer does not have to be a serious, miserable reaching out to the Almighty! Here Yaacov Shwekey and a group of Jerusalemites manage to “Praise His Name” while having fun!

So that’s about it this week.

We have a few wonderful events in the family this week. Stephanie and Gideon, my incredible London family, celebrate 21 years of marriage. It seems impossible because in my mind Gideon, despite all his achievements, the greatest of which is choosing Stephanie, he is still my amazing little boy. Is that ridiculous considering the fact that he will be 50 on his next birthday! Actually all my girlfriends say the same so perhaps it is natural.

Another event is that my lovely sister Eddie and her husband Raymond have moved into a fantastic new home, with all amenities, in Toronto. I wish them many years of joy and friends there. Just in time for Eddies birthday!!

Actually there is another cause for congratulations but hopefully I can tell you about that one next week!

May everyone who is under the weather feel better soon.

Shabbat Shalom to one and all. May this Shabbat bring you a warm glow in the cold winter.

With love from Motza Illit and our view of Jerusalem from the veranda.