The view from my veranda

From Yarmouk to Rafah

15th February, 2024

October the 132nd

Shabbat Shalom!

This week was Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten period. My childhood memories of Shrove Tuesday was of ladies dressed in frilly aprons racing each other down the streets of the city while tossing pancakes! Not thick fluffy pancakes but something more reminiscent of crepes.

Last Shabbat Zvi and I went for a long walk along the path which leads through the nature reserve with glorious views over the now full reservoir. The spring flowers were abundant and the view simply breathtaking. After a newspaper article describing it as the most beautiful view in Israel, we were no longer alone with our view, as many people discovered it, even if they took their cars on the stony path rather than walk it! I look around me as I drive down the road and I see the puff balls of pink and white almond blossom (shkediot), the pink of the wild cyclamen (rakefot) , the bright red of the anemones (calaniot) against the rich green foliage after the rains. The reservoir is full, reflecting the new foliage of the bushes and trees that surround it, the air is fresh and crisp, and we are at war. Young lives are lost before they are lived, children will grow up without a father and young women have to be mother and father to their children. Add to that the vile anti-Semitism that, like a boa constrictor, is strangling freedom in just about every corner of the globe from Stockholm to Sydney and from New York to Melbourne. Both the beauty and the evil are real, one diametrically opposed to the other, yet walking side by side. 

We are all aware of the outrage in the world for Israel’s oppression of the Gazans in our war against Hamas. I’m just curious, have you ever heard of Yarmouk? On Dec 16, 2012, the Syrian air force, on the orders of Assad, bombed Yarmouk killing many civilians (the real number may never be known). Tens of thousands of Palestinians fled Yarmouk & were displaced without anywhere to go & without knowing if/when they may ever return. Over the next 6 years, in the largest Palestinian city in Syria, Palestinian civilians were indiscriminately slaughtered, tens of thousands fled, and then Assad laid total siege to the remaining tens of thousands of Palestinians during which men, women, children, the elderly, the infirm, & babies were all forced to stay in Yarmouk without electricity, without water, with minimal access to food, and with little to no access to any medication or first aid of any kind. Of course you weren’t aware of Yarmouk, because no-one cared because it was a cruel dictator not Israel trying to survive.

Another question. Remember last week I wrote about the apparently disappearing medication that poured into Gaza? Well, the two wonderful men who were released from captivity in Rafah by our special IDF troops, said that they never received any medication!!

The highly sophisticated missiles have been launched with greater frequency on the north of Israel, all the beautiful towns and villages that you loved to visit have been systematically destroyed. Yesterday they targetted Sfat or Safed, the exquisite ancient spiritual town, knowing full well that the HQ of the IDF operations in the North were close by. Tragically a young soldier was killed and others injured. It’s an awful thing to say but we are used to the daily recitation of names of beautiful young people who have lost their lives defending ours.

The photograph which needed no explanation, indeed is the epitome of hope in this ghastly war, was that of Fernando Marman and Luis Har as they arrived at Sheba Hospital and were reunited with their families. After 4 months of near starvation, they lost huge amounts of weight, barely subsisting on the meagre rations that Hamas grudgingly gave them, but as they clung together with their loved ones, we understood that they were home.

134 hostages are still in Gaza and their families are in a living hell, not knowing who is alive and who died in captivity. Since it is high time that Israel preempted rather than defended in the Hague, tired of waiting for our government to do something, anything, around 100 representatives of family members of the kidnapped flew to the Netherlands on Wednesday to file an official complaint against Hamas and its leadership at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, according to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum.  Simultaneously and without consultation with the War Cabinet, the Prime Minister brought the Israeli representatives back from the Beirut Conference on the release of hostages.

Bedouins were among the hostages, the dead and many bravely risked their lives, going back time and again to take young people to safety, their one aim to save others from the horrors of October 7th. This week a ceremony was held in the FOZ (Friends of Zion) Museum in Jerusalem to honour the Bedouin heroes of October 7th.

Eylon Levy, spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, became famous for his raised eyebrows when interviewed on CNN at the beginning of the war. This week he interviewed Marcus Sheff, CEO of Impact-se ( ) about UNWRA’s part in the October 7th terror attack and the conditioning of Palestinian children to be martyrs, kill and be killed, Jihad, which led to the October 7th massacre of Israelis.

The final proof that UNWRA was complicit in all of Hamas activities came this week. Beneath UNRWA’s Gaza HQ, the IDF uncovered one of Hamas’s most significant and top secret assets; a subterranean data center used by the terror group for intelligence and communications. The terror group built the server farm, complete with an electrical room and living quarters for the Hamas IT staff, directly below the UN agency’s complex in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood, to ensure Israel would never target it.

It was a busy week but for me the highlight was definitely my visit to the Impact-se office as Chair of the Board. Such a brilliant group of young people, specialists in Arabic and the Middle East, they are responsible for the translation and reports on the school books of many nations, experts in both Sunni and Shiite teaching. It gives me great pleasure to be in the company of great enthusiasm, efficiency, determination to make this a kinder, better world where the child abuse of hate education will become a thing of the past.

While most of the Western Media has turned on Israel, Sky Australia has been even handed, in fact supportive of Israel in their reporting of the Gaza War. Chris Kenny, on his opinion show, tells it like it is, no holds barred. He criticises his own government and the “weak trio” – well worth a listen–B9c

Each morning I wake up, check my emails, bring the newspaper in from beside the door, make my coffee and crackers and take it all outside to our veranda. I sit and read the paper but all the time listening to the tell-tale high tweet of the sunbirds. Their tiny, iridescent black bodies, flit from flower to flower, drinking their sweetness from the bottom of the flower, darting and playing with each other at what seems like the speed of light. Somehow the news in the paper is less depressing as I watch them. They make me smile, indeed I am still smiling as I go on to Wordle and Spelling Bee. The sunbirds (Tsufiot) hover over the citrus trees, as if chattering to each other admiring the abundance of limes, lemons and kumquats, of course I agree with them.

The weather has been rather cool, I dare not say cold because most of you have been suffering in the ice and snow, but there is a definite nip in the air. I should point out that our table and chairs outside are under cover so I don’t get wet in the fairly constant rain. I can’t complain about the rain since the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) is full, the waterfalls of the north are crashing down the hillsides and Mount Hermon’s pistes are covered in fresh white snow. The shame is that all of the latter are unreachable because of the danger from Hezb-Allah.

Tomorrow morning we will go to Tel Aviv to celebrate the bat Mitzva of Ori, Leor and Shiri’s third daughter. Her birthday was some time ago and the Bat Mitzvah party date has been changed four times poor girl. At first because there were missiles raining down on Nes Ziona, then because too many were on Miluim but now….it will happen tomorrow. Admittedly much smaller than intended, but with loads of love!

A group of Malawan A Capella singers and the song Home, about the prayer for the return of the Israeli hostages in Gaza. They sing in Hebrew. Apparently, the people of Malawi understand the situation infinitely better than some Western leaders  

In today’s turmoil one tends to forget the good things, the beautiful relationships that exist despite, which is why I love this song, and the version. What a wonderful World

Lecha Dodi – Come My Beloved – is sung on a Friday night to welcome the bride of Shabbat. Why bride? Pure and beautiful, just as Shabbat. I love this rendition by the wonderfully eccentric, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

My prayer does not change from week to week. I pray to see the hostages home, safe if not sound. I want the families of those who fell at the hands of Hamas buried here in Israel to find relief of the awful unknown of whether they are alive or not. I want this war to end, although I know it cannot yet. I want, I pray that Hamas will really fall and that the utterly corrupt United nations, be it UNWRA or the so-called Security Council disbanded and a logical, fair, honest organisation take its place. I want so many things, especially that Tal’s husband will come home safely from months of Miluim in the South. Who’s Tal? My lovely young neighbour who is coping with three small children alone while her husband fights for our security. I want a fair world where my friends in the Diaspora do not feel under threat.

I wish you a beautiful Shabbat or Sabbath Day. With love from Jerusalem, our Jerusalem. May God keep you and bless you.