The view from my veranda

Good news, very good news and songs

14th August 2020


Shabbat Shalom, Holy Feast of Assumption and Mabruk for the Islamic New Year


I’m going to shock you! This week is going to be the most positive newsletter for months!! In fact a newsletter full of good news from Covid to diplomacy, from research to successes. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin (an expression known to all Brits of the radio age)


Love them or hate them, sometimes our leaders get it absolutely right. Yesterday brought the outstanding news of an alliance, nay, a peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Suddenly Netanyahu’s annoying repetition of “ANNEXATION, ANNEXATION, ANNEXATION” bringing the wrath of an unsuspecting world on our heads, turned out to be a brilliant, even devious, stratagem, giving both Israel and the UAE a hook to hang the peace treaty on. “Israel relinquishes her demand for annexation” in order to “legalise” the already warm relationship with the UAE. The UAE leader Mohammed Bin Zayyed, already in secret negotiations with Netanyahu (and President Trump as umpire) for a long time, led the UAE to become the third Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel.


The relationship has been warm but without the essential official diplomatic stamp. We will now exchange Ambassadors and the doors of trade, medical and scientific research have opened. Understand, it isn’t that the UAE loves Israel, it is just that they hate Iran. The Al Nahayan and Al Maktoum ruling families adhere to Sunni Islam of Maliki school of jurisprudence and Iran is, of course Shi’ite.  The clear losers in this new alliance are Iran and the Palestinian Authority – the clear winners? Netanyahu, the master conductor of the political and diplomatic orchestra – a Maestro indeed.


I cannot condone his personal behaviour but Prime Minister Netanyahu did well.


Good news and almost better news!! A study was commissioned by the European Union and the UK in April 2019, following a report by the Jerusalem-based NGO Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), which reviewed a selection of Palestinian educational materials and found that the curriculum taught to Palestinian children was growing increasingly radicalized. Since they fund the PA curriculum the EU commissioned the Georg Ekert Institute for International Textbook Research (known for its anti-Israel sentiment) to carry out a report. The EU then refused to publish the results of the said report whereas the UK fought to publish. The UK then leaked the report which was found to have a large number of serious errors and false results. Fantastic work on the part of our CEO Marcus Sheff and his team and thanks to the Labour Friends of Israel and many other British parliamentarians from the Tory Party who pushed the publication. What was their primary error – you won’t believe it! They researched the East Jerusalem curriculum which Impact-se played a major part in changing instead of researching the PA textbooks, then lauded the improvement!!!


Passive immunization means inoculating with antibodies acquired by patients who had already suffered the disease. A large number of people from the Haredi community who had already been through COVID-19 donated plasma and the first three patients treated with a new COVID-19 “passive vaccine,” which was developed by Hadassah Medical Center and the Israeli biopharmaceutical firm Kamada, demonstrated rapid, clinical benefit and have already been released from the hospital to their homes. Professor Ze’ev Rothstein, the Director of Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem is an innovator, not a follower, and despite instruction from the Ministry of Health, he decided to go ahead with the trial – Kol ha Kavod Prof. Rothstein!!


It isn’t easy to remain objective about Israel in the Democratic Party these day, just as many pro-Israel members had difficulty with Corbyn’s Labour Party, but Presidential Candidate Joe Biden has chosen his running mate and we can only pray that they will form a new/old return to the Democrat’s relationship with Israel. Kamala Harris was a brilliant choice. Obviously I look at every candidate’s history on Israel, but most of all I want to know that any candidate, for whatever position, is good for the USA and I believe that she is found deserving.


I know I promised good news but, and there are many “buts” one aspect of the horrific explosions in Beirut is that the dangers elsewhere in the world have come to light


This week, Miriam Peretz, recipient of the Israel Prize, was heart-broken and relieved in one breath. After 10 years the killer of her son Eliraz was caught as he crossed from Gaza into Israel. The IDF may work slowly but we never give up.


Wearing a mask is very annoying but essential to protecting ourselves from COVID-19, the Corona Virus. Jerusalem Jewellers Orna and Isaac Levy, the owners of Yvel Jewellers (I was introduced to them by my ever wonderful, beloved friend Arlene Wittels) are wonderful artistic innovators and have come up with a diamond encrusted gold mask!!! I love the idea – after all diamonds are a girl’s best friend!!!


For those of us who live far from our birthplace, especially since the Covid pandemic, the Jewish tradition of visiting the graves of our loved ones before the High Holy Days has become an impossibility. However, thanks to the hard work of people like Tony Blasebalk of the Cardiff, South Wales Community, cemeteries are being put on line so that we can visit our loved ones graves while far away.  For my many old friends from South Wales


Zvi is racing around today, meetings hither and thither, including his parliament – so I don’t have “the good car” and am not going to see Rachel and the children, so I went last night instead. Actually there was something special about going at night – I get to taste all of Rachie’s fabulous delicacies for Shabbat!!! Ayala was busy deskinning the roasted red peppers for a scrummy salad and Rachel made about four cakes and was preparing the parsley for all her other salads, about 10 thus far. She doesn’t let me move, insisting that I take the chance to rest!! Apparently, after I left, all three children helped make a ton of salads etc so that they could take them to Rachel’s mother-in-law who is currently sitting Shiva. Today we will take advantage of Shabbat coming in late and go to the beach to meet up with Leor, Shiri and their four girls for a picnic before coming home for dinner. In fact we had the 3 older girls to stay this week, the first time anyone has stayed in our apartment for months…… other than Rachel and family…… and I must say they were absolutely amazing. They stuck to all the rules, stayed masked, hands washed and bathroom sprayed….all my fears were unfounded.


The wonderful part of going to Givat Ze’ev at night is that I came over Samuel’s Tomb to a totally different sight – sparkling lights, as far as the eye could see, the street lights outlining the rolling hills, it was very special. In fact the fabulous clear nights and balmy breezes have allowed us to spend a lot of time out on our veranda absorbing the lights of Jerusalem from the comfort of an easy chair! The colours of the foreground, of my “garden” set the scene, the bright crimson geraniums, the pink and burgundy pelargonium, pink and orange hibiscus and the deep green of the little orange, kumquat and lemon trees

The herbs are suffering from the heat but if one touches them as you pass the scents are incredible – especially the mint! Then, we look up and absorb the busy social life of Jerusalem as families hold barbeques almost every night, families laughing together, the restaurant opposite has set tables outside and it is funny watching groups tackling the idea of removing their masks to eat!! As the distance glitters in the moonlight I try to see the different neighborhoods and distinguish friend’s homes – but the only one I can identify is that of Norman and Lola Cohen atop the next hill….. well, truthfully, I can’t tell which is theirs but I try to imagine it!!!


Today, 30 years ago, Zvi and I went on our first date. Well, I don’t know if it could be called a date because Zvi (my boss in Keren Hayesod) had to go up north, to an IDF base on the Golan Heights, to give a lecture on Israeli history. We drove up north, Zvi giving me a history lesson as we passed sites of interest, and then we reached the base to find it was closed, gated and apparently, they weren’t expecting us!!! As we stood waiting for the Officer in Charge, the cool breezes of the Golan began to make me shiver and Zvi put a protective arm around my shoulders…………….that was it! As time went on I heard many of his lectures, even learned how to give my own, and we support each other in every way – not just our combined families but in our teaching, writings and volunteering for the one and only Jewish State; ensuring that our Jewish traditions are upheld within our families and all who visit our home can enjoy Shabbat. In fact I promised Deidre and Keith Beville of Australia, that I would record the now famous “Zvi Kiddush” and put it on this newsletter. The minute I learn how I promise it will happen.  In fact the secret of our success through really difficult times is that we hold the same family, moral and ethical standards and our love is absolute.


And so to music.

Roy Salomon and the lovely Binnie sent us a gorgeous clip of the Johannesburg Male Voice Choir singing Adon Olam – Lord of the Universe – in many of its variations with more than a little help from their audience!  Love it!


The title of this one is The Evolution of Jewish Music and that’s what it certainly is – with a wonderful sense of humour!!


Moty Hova and Eden Alene sing John Lennon’s Imagine for the Friends of the IDF. Eden went on to represent Israel in the Eurovision that wasn’t – here she proves her strength as a performer.


So dear friends, it’s time to get myself ready for Shabbat! I love chatting to you but if I don’t begin to cook a bit we will be hungry and unable to provide our share of the picnic food.


I wish you a Shabbat Shalom, a blessed day whatever your faith and a week of good news whatever its source.


With love from Jerusalem