The view from my veranda

Haniya, Hope and the Middle East

28th May, 2021

Hello! How are you? Did you have a good day or is your day just beginning?  Am I in time to wish you a Shabbat shalom?

So this week we were reminded that we live in the Middle East where logic is not the order of the day yet it rules the opinion of the world; a world that doesn’t are about 500,000 dead Syrians but creates a tsunami of Jew hatred over self defence.

The perfect example of Middle Eastern, or rather Israeli oddities is the case of Ismael Haniya, vitriolic leader of Hamas in Gaza whose rocket launchers have barely had time to cool down, Haniya’s niece was ill and is now being tended in Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv as were his sister and grand-daughter; Abbas’s wife, brother, brother-in-law and daughter all treated in Israel and so the list goes on. Why do we do it? Because we are a compassionate people.

The disappointing side of being in the Middle East is that we are misjudged. The media doesn’t give a darn about 500,000 dead Syrians, indeed refused to listen when we told them that Assad used chemical weapons on his own people; that 3.370 people died in internal conflicts in Mexico; that a cruel war rages between Ethiopia and the Cameroons; ethnic cleansing is taking place in so many places yet the LA Times, NY Times and Al Jazeera claim that Israel is guilty of ethnic cleansing, which is difficult to prove since the Israeli Moslem and Palestinian populations have flourished and one of Gaza’s claims is ever growing density of population!!

The current director of UNWRA in Gaza has a rather big mouth, which created a very embarrassing situation for the UN.  In an interview with Israeli TV he stated that there is no shortage of water or food because Israel kept the Kerem Shalom crossing open even as it was being rocketed by Hamas and that Israeli strikes were precise. UNRWA’s Gaza director Matthias Schmale has apologised for comments he made to Israel’s Channel 12, saying that the Israeli Army struck targets with “sophistication” and “precision.” Poor man has been vilified for telling the truth.

Perhaps the best explanation comes from my friend Kasim Hafeez, aka Kaz, a former Brit, a former …….wait I’ll let him speak for himself. Today Kaz is one of Israel’s most effective proponents.

Education is the future of children the world over. From their schoolbooks children learn about other cultures, other parts of the world and most importantly about each other. That’s the ideal, sadly a rare commodity. Impact-se has just put out some new reports, world changing reports and reading about the lack of tolerance in so many countries schools I understood how lucky our children are. Just read through . As “Chairman of the Board” like Sinatra even I am still amazed not only of the thoroughness of the research but the importance of the changes toward tolerance made in what children in East Jerusalem, Morocco, the Emirates, even to an extent Qatar and Saudi Arabia, yes even Saudi Arabia, are beginning to understand the effect of hate-education on their children.

I believe that I said last week that we are a resilient people and straight after the incessant missile attacks of last week the big news in the Israeli media is that the cinemas have opened again after a year and a half of closure during Covid-19. Which is the movie everyone wants to see? Wonderwoman, basically anything with Gal Gadot! Of course the other subject for discussion is the fact that Yair Lapid is “this close” but not quite close enough to form a government without Likud. Who knows, maybe by the time I write the next newsletter he will have succeeded in getting a truly representative, cross party coalition together. The strangest aspect of the last year is that despite the fact that Israelis on the border with Gaza, indeed in the South of Israel, if faced with another election would still vote in Netanyahu despite his failure to protect them!

Just a few days ago a tragedy took place in a skiing paradise near Lake Maggiore in the Dolomites, in the resort of Cavalese, Italy. 14 people lost their lives through a determination to save money on repairs to the cable car, 5 of them Israelis. The only survivor is little Eitan aged 5 who has just been told that his parents, his little brother and his grandparents all died in the accident. Not only Israelis mourn the family, Italians collected money to help and hold vigil in the hospital in Turin, praying for the recovery of little Eitan.

I love, but absolutely adore Maureen Lipman! If you’ve never heard of her then you can’t be British!  Maureen Lipman is a brilliant actress, a very funny lady, raconteur and most of all a proud Jewess. Many years ago she had a column in the fashionable magazine She, in which she often wrote about her Shabbat or her sons Bar Mitzvah preparations, always with great humour. Anyway, this week Maureen Lipman had enough; she resigned her 54 year old membership of the actor’s union British Variety, over their anti-Israel,”Corbynist” campaign, and an online petition calling Israel to order. She said “I didn’t join a political union. I joined a union to protect its members. You don’t dictate to artists what they believe in, and don’t incite them to join a mob.”

This week has been a “getting to know your neighbours week”. We invited 3 out of the 6 apartments to a getting to know you evening and next week we will invite the other 2 apartments and those who call out “Boker Tov” (Good morning) to me from the adjacent building. I must hold back on the heaving table next time because apparently it frightens others from hosting us!

We have come to a definite hiatus in our “de-cartoning” process. Unpacking the obvious was relatively easy but now we have come to the decision making process of what souvenirs are worthy of a place in our over loaded cupboards! The souvenirs from travels are less difficult but the souvenirs from our visits to the Jordanian Royal Palaces, or the awards that Zvi received for his works, or……. I’m inclined to prioritise family effects but on the other hand so many of the “things” are of historic value, decisions will have to be made otherwise the children will not know the difference and will throw everything in frustration! Letters between my parents before their marriage; Zvi’s Mother Alla’s letters to her parents in Poland as she discovered the Promised Land, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1934. From prayer books of the Cardiff community for the Jews of Germany from as early as 1938 to the booklet of what to do and where to run when the Germans dropped bombs on you! I also have a complete collection of Beatles LP’s, including the White Album!

I wish such problems on everyone!

We are about to leave for the Herzliya Marina and our grand-daughter Gili’s Bat Mitzvah party! We are going on a cruise around the shorelines on Israel and it’s going to be great fun!! The last time I was involved in a cruise for a celebration was my son Gideon’s Bar Mitzva cruise, but that was on the River Thames, on the “Caversham Lady” as a farewell to Camelot, aka Caversham on Thames, before moving away. I hope that Gili will love her cruise as much as Gideon loved his! The big difference is that I cooked lunch for the 100+ guests and this time it will be catered!

If you still insist that there isn’t rabid anti-Semitism where you are, try wearing a kippa or skullcap for a day and see what happens. I have a sad feeling that you will understand the very real and dangerous situation. You don’t have to be Jewish to do it.  Sadly it will prove that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their ilk have won the disinformation war hands down convincing a ready audience that Israel, ie Jews, is the enemy. It really doesn’t help you to do a “Sanders”, you are judged in the same tone.

On that happy note………… let’s head to music!

Some believe that Hatikva, the Israeli National Anthem, is sacred and one must stand to attention and sing very loudly….well not always. Here the IDF sing

Omer Adam and Noa Kirel are very popular singers in Israel who decided to recreate Hatikva to make it relevant for young people. You either love it or hate it…do tell me what you think!

The last song is one I love. It poses the question “Why do I love Israel” and then answers it!! “Here it’s home, here it’s heart. Here it is our parents dream and we are the flowers of their dream” Shevet Achim v’Achiot” a Tribe of Brothers and Sisters.

That’s it! Time to get ready to set off to Herzliya Marina for Gili’s Bat Mitzva. Gili is number 2 in Leor and Shiri’s family, girl number 2 out of 4 wonderful girls. We are honoured to be invited, just a few family members and the rest are all 12 year olds! It’s going to be fun! Then back on land, home and Shabbat. In each of the apartments in our project one can see the Shabbat candles through the windows, each lighting in their own fashion, each with their own traditions brought with them from the lands of their dispersion. – the same prayers with a different melody, but then, surely that’s the story of humanity. Unlike our last apartment I can’t smell the wonderful aromas of traditional dishes but they are already in the pots in shiny new modern kitchens – grandma’s recipes translate to bright colours and induction hobs!!

I wish you a good shabbes, a Shabbat Shalom and please please remember the power of one. If each and every one of us wrote, spoke, responded and initiated we could change the world to a much kinder place.

With love, still overlooking Jerusalem