The view from my veranda

I think that this weeks Shabbat Shalom will give you much to think about -We are going away for a week then staying home for MONTHS!!!


17th August, 2018

Good Shabbes, Shabbat Shalom, we wish you a great weekend wherever you are.

Shabbat, a day of rest and contemplation which recharges ones batteries and gives us time with family, probably the greatest gift given by Judaism to the world. Sadly the importance of rest, contemplation and family have been eroded by the demand for “instant” satisfaction and too little time or importance is given to those principles. As a child in Wales there were no shops open on a Sunday, even pubs opened just at lunch time so that families could stop by after chapel and before their huge Sunday lunch. In our determination for instant satisfaction perhaps we have lost too much, Sabbath, whichever day you celebrate it, is slowly disappearing………. Or maybe not!

I try to keep away from the politics of other countries but I am breaking my rule this week. Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy Corbyn and his cronies have taken a political party which was founded as a vessel to air and fulfil the needs of the working class, was taken over by an awful lot of “good souls” from the aristocracy in the 60’s and 70’s and settled into a cross-social expression of distaste with the nastier side of capitalism. It was but now it isn’t. Gone are the days when Prime Minister Harold Wilson wrote The Chariot of Israel; gone are the days of Tony Blair; the Labour Party has become a mouthpiece for BDS culminating in the laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party and potential candidate for Prime Minister of Great Britain, at a memorial to the perpetrators of the Munich Massacre. This preamble is to beg my British family and friends not to vote for Labour, no matter how uncharismatic Prime Minister Theresa May may be. Survival first, things will only get much worse if Corbyn gets in.

If we are talking leaders I want to weigh in on President Trump. Totally inappropriate like LBJ on speed – but the man has done just about everything he promised, for better or for worse! The USA is talking to her enemies, even her sworn enemies, through meetings and rhetoric in equal portions. One does not negotiate peace with friends, one negotiates peace with enemies so his “off the record” moments with the likes of Putin and Kim are of utmost importance. I was terribly disturbed by one friend who proudly announced “He is not my President” – he is – Donald Trump is the President of the United States. Like it or not that is how democracy works.

Prime Minister Netanyahu had a secret meeting with President Al Sisi of Egypt – a leader with whom Israel has more in common than one would think. Please understand that Egypt is the fulcrum around which the Middle East turns. Sadly it was misunderstood by the last administration when they helped depose Mubarak. Mubarak was a tyrant for sure, but he was conceivably the most important leader in the area and kept the Moslem Brotherhood and all the others in check – especially in Sinai. Sinai is of ultimate importance because with the fall of another leader, Muammar Khadaffi, and the disintegration of Libya into 700 warring tribes, the vast Libyan arsenal was transferred to Sinai. Al Sisi is following in many of Mubarak’s footsteps and is a determined fighter to keep his country from descending into the depths of fanatical Islam. I didn’t vote for Netanyahu, and almost certainly never would, but one must recognise the positive not just the negative and as I said – one doesn’t make peace agreements with ones friends.

Recep Tayeb Erdogan is the leader of Turkey. Turkey’s history is rich and terrible – from the Ottoman Empire which ruled most of the Middle East and large tracts of Europe – until the diabolical Armenian Genocide which resulted in Attaturks banning of most expressions of Islam, until today. The recent history is thus – Erdogan tried to take Turkey into Europe but was rejected by the EEC; disappointed he then chose President Assad of Syria as his ally, but that didn’t work too well for him so he chose more powerful allies – Russia and Iran. Russia was uncomfortable with the Iranian alliance which left a very angry and increasingly religious Erdogan backed into a corner and like all rats he chose to go for the carotid of the West, Israel. His oppressive regime has killed and imprisoned all voices of dissent, including almost all the Turkish journalists – to the apparent unconcern of the Western media!!

There is only one conclusion to be made from all of the above……

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time“.…’Winston S Churchill, 11 November 1947

Qatar has offered to pay for the rebuilding of Gaza. Of course there is much argument as to the wisdom of allowing them control of that tiny area so close to Israel but Hamas rejected the excellent offer of Egypt to enlarge the area of Gaza and help with the rebuilding. Why? Because poverty plays into the hands of Hamas/ISIS/ISIL etc – they can feed the families and so control the minds of their children. In the same manner, Hamas had fallen off the media map for a long period so they decided it was time to launch missiles of various types at Israel to ensure their place on the front page however – we barely responded and thanks to the intervention of Al Sisi, their wish was short-lived. I loved this video “If only Israel would”

As you know I feel very strongly about the Nation Law in Israel – not because it is wrong in principle to create a Nation Law but rather its content and omissions. As I said last week we have a wonderful Declaration of Independence which should have been used and not changed. I have no problem calling this a Jewish State. In Mexico only a Catholic can take high office; in Britain is Anglican; the USA despite all protestations is Christian; Italy is Catholic…..however………… I am desperately disturbed by the choice of many American Jews to use the law as another excuse to distance themselves from Israel. In truth it has nothing to do with anyone else, it is an Israeli decision and mistake. Why? Now when we need to unite against the ever increasing anti-Semitism, and make no mistake anti-Israel is anti-Semitic, why would anyone choose to create factions of dissent? Don’t distance yourselves, if you disagree then learn the facts, become part of the solution not part of the problem.

Not everything this week was doom and gloom – there were many glimmers of light.

Standing out from other Scandinavian countries Norway refused to allow the donation of Saudi Arabia toward the building of mosques in Norway stating that they will not allow the building of mosques in Norway until Saudi Arabia allows the building of churches. Wow!

We started the week in Tel Aviv, having a delightful supper with Jyl Bell and Phil Levy, dear friends of the lovely Hammermans of Sydney, Australia all of whom met Zvi when he established Young Leadership for Keren Hayesod in that wonderful country. For me they were new friends and as you know I love meeting new people especially when they become new friends!! That night and the next day were spent with Amiad and Noga’s children, Yonatan (4) and Ella (5). I think we succeeded in entertaining them, they are such amazing children and really good but yet again we realised that there is good reason why people do not have young children when they are over 70!!! We came back from Tel Aviv through Shoresh for the wedding of Liron Mussachi, daughter of our dear friend and choir member Itzik – what a joyous affair it was

On Tuesday we celebrated the 28th (or according to Zvi 29th) anniversary of our first date by having supper in “HaKatzavim” (the Butchers) restaurant next to Shouk Mahane Yehuda. The meal was amazing but enormous!! Quite apart from the vast selection of salads (and piping hot chips) we were presented with a pair of steaks, a pair of kebabs, a pair of chicken shishliks and chicken livers – in other words a heart attack waiting to happen!! We cleaned the meat platter but couldn’t manage the salads. As we were munching away we heard an American couple at a nearby table asking something of the waitress, of course we weighed in and they invited us to join their table where, in response to their questions, Zvi gave them a potted history of Turkey and Jerusalem and I introduced them to “Mayim im Nana” a tisane of hot water and mint which they loved. Marcie Abramson and Jeff (I’m sorry Jeff I cannot recall your family name but I do recall that you are taller than Zvi!) from Boston were on a trip with their Temple having a wonderful time. It was Jeff’s first ever visit to Israel and I have a feeling that we have new BFF’s who will be back!

Lord Stone of Blackheath knew me before I was born. He was my brother Ronnie’s friend and later in life became my “Madrich” – leader – in the Habonim Youth Movement, and the first one of our friends to come to Israel. Andrew is a fine advocate for Israel in the House of Lords and in the Labour Party – a great supporter of Joan Ryan and the Labour Friends of Israel. If you doubt there is opposition to Corbyn just read here

Anyway, Andrew is a dear friend and stood by me through thick and very thin times and it was such a joy, as always, to meet him in the Jerusalem Botanical Garden Caffit for lunch. Even better Zvi joined us. Andrew has worked unremittingly to find a solution to the Israel/Palestinian problem, risking his life on occasion, talking to the leaders of our neighbouring states, never giving up on finding a way to give Israel peace and recognition simultaneously trying to find economic solutions that will give the Palestinians a normal life. We don’t always talk politics when we are together we try to find our own solution for unity among the diverse and argumentative Jewish people and achieve world peace and inner contentment. In other words – I love Andrew Stone!

Aretha Franklin was a giant personality with the voice of an angel that sang of our woes and our needs with emotion and strength. Respect, arguably her greatest song, was my mantra during my lowest period. Car windows wide open and the tape blaring RESPECT, which was all I had ever wanted or needed, Rachel and I would hare up the M1 Motorway singing our heads off!!! Ms. Franklin – thank you for the joy and respect you’re music brought to so many. May your sweet soul rest in peace. The song I chose is not Respect – but rather I Dreamed a Dream –for it is not just a dream -breathtaking

Jews come in all sizes and shapes…and colours, just like everyone else. The difference is that when our people are repressed and oppressed we bring them home. Nearly 900,000 from Arab countries, over 1,000,000 from Russia – and some 140,000 from Ethiopia

Finally – to wish you a real Good Shabbes – Shalom Aleichem – May peace be upon you angels of peace – a traditional song for the eve of Shabbat. Interestingly peace is the word most used in every Israeli song – a prayer, a greeting, an invocation, a plea……..

Next week we are travelling again, yes again, this time to the Isle of Kos with Zvi’s boys and families – for a rest this time!! Don’t worry my orange, pomegranate, kumquat and lemon trees will be watered as will all the herbs and flowers. I wouldn’t dare allow anything to die off – Stanley Roth would never forgive me!!!

Shabbat Shalom, Shalom Aleichem, Salaam Aleikem, Pax, baris seninle olsun, mir se vani, la paz sea con vostros, que la pais soit avec toi….. to each and every one of you from the view from our verandah,  Jerusalem, the most beautiful city in the world laying before us.