The view from my veranda

Elections, Amona, Gabbai, Brazil and Lies


3rd January 2019

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, I hope this missive finds you well and if not I wish you Refuah Shlema – a full recovery.

It may be a new year but the old lies abound. The claim that Israeli volunteers go to the rescue of disaster struck countries just so that they can steal the organs of the dead (that started in Haiti about 5 years ago) continues to the rescues of today – clearly the voice of those that cannot understand the pure altruism of the Israeli rescue missions. Top that off with the idiotic claims of shooting innocent Palestinians who then miraculously move under their white sheets or when they think the camera is turned off, remove the shroud, get up and walk away. Finally a doctor, of Palestinian birth, in a Cleveland hospital said that if Jews came to her she would give them the wrong medication to poison them!

The big question of this year should be “Why does the world choose to believe lies rather than truth”? How come the old rhetoric of all our persecutors still works?

The result of a poll taken today states that if the Prime Minister is indicted the populace wouldn’t vote for him. Is that the dumbest poll ever taken? Of course we won’t because he won’t run! Actually this week has seen insane behaviour all around, in almost every party, but the most incredible was when Avi Gabbai Head of the Zionist Union (Labour) Party, stood at the microphone during a press conference with Zippi Livni, Leader of the Opposition for the same Party and told her that he didn’t want her around any more and wished her luck wherever she may go!  She was stunned at the humiliation and failed to respond. The resulting furor has probably put the final nail in the coffin of the Labour Party.

In addition, all sorts of new coalitions and new parties are popping up all over the place! Two former Chiefs of Staff are vying for who will join whose party – Benny Gantz and Boogie Yaalon; two of the religious parties are joining forces to form one North African Jewish Party (no Ashkenazim); in short the decisions for the electorate are becoming too difficult to contemplate and I have a feeling many will not vote at all. The only people thrilled by the confusion are the political commentators who will be able to buy a new car or even a new house by the time elections come around.

Thered were two incidents involving the far right in Israel this week. The illegal outpost of Amona was dismantled on Wednesday night and a group of young “idealists” attacked the Border Policemen who came to remove them and many were injured. Not the first time Amona has been dismantled but they keep rebuilding. The second incident involves the arrest of young religious men/boys (16 years old) who attacked Arabs, be it their property or their person. They are being held by the Secret Service (Shabak) and much has been made of the lack of due process. They have not yet seen a lawyer or their parents which may seem harsh but they have been trained to remain silent if questioned. Personally I do not and will not countenance terrorism be it from a Palestinian or an Israeli, in fact, particularly not from a Jew because it besmirches the entire moral code of our teachings.

If one were to listen to the international media one would believe that the Israel/Palestinian “situation” is the only territorial dispute in the world. Well think again! In all probability YOUR country is in a territorial dispute too! Occupiers all. All the countries involved in disputes over territory are marked clearly in RED on this map

Amos Oz z”l, conceivably Israel’s finest writer since Shay Agnon, passed away and as Israel mourned we began to learn what an incredible person he was. He loved Israel deeply, defended her honestly and openly and apparently was a truly gentle and kind human being. In 2014, during a war with Hamas, Amos Oz was interviewed in Germany. He pre-empted the attacks by asking: “What would you do if your neighbour across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap, and starts shooting machine-gun fire into your nursery? What would you do if your neighbour across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?”  In these questions, he showed that he was not as naive as he might have sounded. “Now you can begin the interview” He was a good man and a primary school student of Zvi’s parents during his Jerusalem childhood. Professor Gerald Steinberg writes

The Prime Minister has been on an official visit to Brazil to meet with the new President Bolsonaro. Quite apart from his official duties the PM played football on the beach of the Copa Cabana and ate at the famous meat restaurants of Rio. Brazil has a huge Evangelical community who welcomed Israel’s PM with great fervour. So popular is Netanyahu in Brazil that they produced a new stamp with his image!!

The four millionth tourist this year arrived in Israel this week! Looking rather surprised to be met by the Tourism Minister at Ben Gurion Airport she enjoyed a royal tour of Jerusalem and lots of publicity! Not bad for a country that is touted as a place to avoid!!

This has been a week of sunshine and lots of glorious rain. Our attitude to rain is different to most of yours, we welcome it with open arms and pray it falls in the right places! Mount Hermon, for instance, has opened for skiing, the rain turns to snow as it reaches heights; we know that in the spring that snow will melt and flow down into the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee, helping to replenish the waters we share with the Jordanians. In Jerusalem the rains that fall to the east of King George Street will flow to the Dead Sea making the Negev bloom, to the west will flow to the sea. This week as the first almond blossoms greeted the new year.

It was quite a busy week, starting on Sunday with a meeting of the support team of Ofer Berkovitch and Hitorerut, the amazing team of young people who succeeded in getting the highest number of seats on the Municipal Council but not the position of Mayor. As always it was a pleasure hearing Ofer’s assessment of the elections and the future. His description of parlour meetings in both the Haredi and Arab neighbourhoods of the City impressed me enormously, both sectors embracing his views, but sadly he missed by just 5,000 votes and it wasn’t those two sectors that didn’t bother to vote!


Monday was Shouk Ramle, the weekly shmatteh market that takes place once a week at the Malha Train Station. The costermongers shouting their wares have the voice power of opera singers without the music!! I then met Dana and Betty for lunch at the Israel Museum, two women I love in a place that I love! In the evening we met Ruth and Jozec at Cinema City for supper and a movie – you see I am pretty much back to normal!

On Tuesday Zvi and I drove to Tel Aviv to see Ehud Olmert and get a hug from Rachael Risby-Raz. Old friends, we spoke the strange situation of Avi Gabbai’s speech in which he totally humiliated Zippi Livni (who incidentally did something similar to Ehud) and who is doing what to whom in the elections, who stands a chance of being elected and who is too green in politics.  Of course we spoke of our children, grandchildren and their progress as one does with old friends. Yet again I was impressed by the power and warmth of the man that should have led us to peace.

From there I met my wonderful friend Rochele in a restaurant and Zvi met Yitzik Lev nearby – then we joined forces to chat and see all the other friends dining there. Israel of that generation is a small town – everybody knows everyone else and many got their first speaking engagements through Zvi or were sent overseas by Zvi!

This morning we both had meetings in the city so Zvi and I parked on Mount Herzl and rode there on the amazing light rail – 10 minutes in comfort and no need to park! As we rode I thought back to the time Ehud Olmert was Mayor and gave us the Light Rail, the Calatrava Bridge and Begin Boulevard, quite apart from international recognition, and it brought me back to how little subsequent Mayors produced!

I will meet lovely Judith Hallside for lunch in the beautiful Baka neighbourhood, to catch up on the last year which she has spent in Oxford, and then in the evening we have friends coming for Friday Night Shabbat Dinner. We will begin with Antipasti and the inevitable salads, then celery soup followed by Rachel’s recipe beef, roast chicken, roasted root veggies, cauliflower and broccoli ending up with compote and Laura’s Apple Surprise. Of course the food is nothing compared with Zvi’s glorious Kiddush – and perhaps this week he will even chant Eshet Hayil, the Shabbat blessing for the woman of the house praising her for being a Woman of Valour.

My veranda is looking sad. The flowers are beaten back by the rain so that the scarlet geraniums look sad and the trees are losing their leaves, but it is all to gather strength for a glorious showing in the spring! The view is just as breathtaking as ever. Each morning I wake, open the blinds and catch my breath. The sky is a different hue each day, the clouds scudding across the sky catching the red glow of morning and as I watch the sun climbs over the horizon, creating a cameo outline and then slowly revealing the city as it lay white and pink before me. Wearel so privileged to live here and wish we could share it with you.

I’m not going to Rachel today, so I went to kiss the children (and her) last night. Since I usually go during the day I had forgotten how incredible that vista from Samuel’s Tomb is in darkness. Flickering lights and clearly defined hills make it even more magical as the ever growing number of tall buildings define the horizon. Of course, the downside is that I won’t have Rachel’s amazing Challot for tonight and I have become more than lazy about making my own. Oh well, we will have bought ones from Shouk Mahane Yehuda instead!

In a world becoming ever more hostile toward us, as a people and as a country, I find it more and more difficult to find happy songs, but there is always hope that the lies will be revealed as calumny and our contribution to mankind, both ancient and modern, will be recognised.

Agree or disagree with the sentiment this song speaks of our hope for the future. David Broza “In my heart”

Somewhere Over the Rainbow was written as a dream for a safe place for Jews but now it isn’t just a hope because as Herzl said “If you will it is no dream”

Finally, an ancient Kabbalistic song of deep meaning and importance. It is said that if you sing this song or say these words often it will bring peace to the world. Ana Be’Koach

I wish you peace, shalom, a sense of meaning and the ability to change this world with your words, kindness, determination and smile, just a little change but one of great importance. Please, please remember, not everything you hear is true and when it comes to the anti-Israel lobby – nothing is true!

With much love from our veranda, our home, our hearts.

Shabbat Shalom


If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

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Involvement The Yuri Shtern Holistic Center