The view from my veranda

People, Politics and A Capella

21st June 2024

Shabbat Shalom, Happy Midsummer’s Day

“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” Selwyn Duke

Just wondering

How would the USA, UK, France, indeed any country you wish to quote, react, if over a thousand rockets and missiles were launched at civilian sites, by an enemy sworn to its destruction, over a period of a week? Any other country would receive full support for wiping out the enemy without compassion. The question is rhetorical, we all know the answer.

Nasralla, leader of Hezb-Allah and powerful proxy of Iran, is holding us on the brink of war, manipulating the world into thinking that he really doesn’t want war yet speaking of wiping out this little country Those beautiful towns and kibbutzim that you visited are nothing but rubble, their residents were removed to hotels around the country 8 months ago, yet none of the news outlets in the West both to mention it, a cruel and mendacious, perfidious media is influenced by the very regime they purport to hate. Rare is the journalist who dares to tell the truth. Our roll of honour, the young lives taken by this war is growing daily and we mourn. We mourn every single one, their names are shown on every news broadcast and thousands go to every funeral, to support the families but the undercurrent of discontent with this government is all consuming. Every day we discover that this war, October 7th, could have been avoided; they knew, they knew! I believe that the simple fact that this government knew about the plans, about the intention to send killers and rapist on a rampage of hate, the place of entry and the determination to take hostages, alive and dead. They knew and yet right up to the beginning of October they paid hush money to Hamas.

In a recent report, military expert and television journalist Alon Ben-David, took us down some of the remaining tunnels in Gaza. He said that not a single house was tunnel-free, that is the network, deadly spiders web of tunnels ran under or began in virtually every single home in Gaza. As he went down into the darkness, he found a tunnel that was five stories deep, with all mod cons! The biggest surprise is that when this ghastly war began even one explosion didn’t cause Gaza to implode, to sink into the tunnels built. All the aid that we, the Israelis, sent to them; the international pressure to give them the wherewithal to build houses (after they claimed destruction of homes) resulted in a highly sophisticated underground city, with cells and prisons ready for when they kidnapped and killed Israelis. It is irrelevant what type of Israelis by the way.  The soldiers killed, the families decimated, the homes destroyed are predominantly Jewish but also Moslem, Druze, Circassian and Christian, there is no compassion, not for us and not for their own people.

Hamas cannot be eliminated. After 30 years of disinformation and incitement to hatred from the age of kindergartens, through the schools and continuing to the Mosques, change cannot be won through war. We can kill the leaders, the perpetrators, the manipulators, but hatred must be un-taught. Only through a change in education, an introduction to reality, can change be brought about. Each week I tell you about Impact-se, and I truly believe that re-education is the only answer. 25 years ago, two brilliant Middle Eastern experts, Professors at the Hebrew University, understood the need for change. Prof. Yochanan Manor and Dr Jean-Claude Nidam (Z”L) began the research as an academic project and it grew into a small but highly effective research institute that has changed the face of the education in the MENA region, everywhere except the PA/UNWRA curriculum, from hate to tolerance.

Shmuley Boteach, Rabbi and personality, was my son Daniel’s Chabad Rabbi in Oxford University. Little did we know then that many years later, Shmuley would have children in the IDF, fighting in a diabolical guerrilla war. Here he writes about the pride of what our children become alongside the deep all encompassing fear of the telephone call – that telephone call

Perhaps this is the moment to talk about the law that should, and hopefully will pull this government apart; the Conscription Law. The weight of fighting in this war against terror has brought all emotions to a head and the need for all sectors in the population to pull their weight. If you are the recipient of protection from a fierce enemy then you must be part of those who protect. No-one expects wither Haredim or Moslem to suddenly volunteer to be part of the fighting force but there are so many other essential areas, be it serving the people (Sherut Leumi) or ne of the many IDF office jobs thus freeing up those who have trained for those positions. An entire sector cannot expect to receive all the services of a socialised medicine, pensions etc without supporting the mother country. We want to recreate the most important aspect of the IDF, the social leveller. Rabbi Jeremy Rosen looks at the Halachic (through Jewish Law) aspect of conscription and you may well be surprised by his conclusions – I’m not!!  

Now to the everyday life of an Israeli woman.

Last night I sat in pure admiration as the Acapela choir, with the best bass-baritone in the business, sang in a concert in the Scottish Church. They sang excerpts from operas with phenomenal precision, it was such a joy, apart from the extreme heat of the nave. Before each excerpt their young conductor explained the story behind the opera. I always say that Israel is a country were everyone knows everyone and when Zvi spoke to the conductor about the magical night we saw Nabucco in Massada and how the conductor turned to let the audience join in the Song of the Hebrew Slaves the conductor told him that he had been in the choir on stage that night!  Anyway, I digress.

Friends came to the concert from Nes Ziona (which means the flag of Zion) and Herzliya (named for Theodore Herzl) as well as local friends, including Mickey and Shlomit Keren, who stayed over in the Scottish Church Hostel. After the performance and hugs all around, we decided to go to the First Station, intending to have a coffee and “something” and we found the entire area filled with crowds of happy families – it was Book Week! Stalls laden with books from all the publishers. They call us the People of the Book, and last night I understood that it is still true. Adults and children alike swarmed the stands, fascinated by the variety of books on sale, from children’s cartoons to historical tomes. Walking through put a smile on our faces, but not a seat was to be found at the myriad of coffee shops and restaurants! In the end we all broke our diets and went to the Vaniglia Ice Cream kiosk and ordered highly indulgent milk shakes – whipped cream and all! It was fascinating and great fun to hear Zvi and Mickey talk about their mutual old friends while Shlomit and I looked around us at the gamut of Israeli society passing by. Yes, I know what your students, in fact your media, believe, but they didn’t sit at our table last night and see the families strolling by; the different headwear; headscarves, simple and intricate constructions beside hijabs; black kippot beside girls in shorts; old, young, all enjoying the balmy Jerusalem evening after the searing heat of the day. Israel is the only country in the entire region where everyone can enjoy an evening out on the town with the children.

All eyes are on the football championships but the European Aquatic Championships took place in Belgrade and an Israeli won a Gold Medal! Anastasia Gorbenko won medals in the women’s individual 400 metres and both the mixed and women’s relay! Well done Anastasia, mazal tov. The old saw that Jews are rotten sportsmen has been broken a thousand times!!

It was a very busy week, with no specific reason! On one hand we are all obsessed with the news but on the other hand we all do our very best to enjoy friends and family and conduct as normal a life as possible. We in the central region are the lucky ones; we are in our own homes and the news is something we see on the television, not experiencing it for real. It is surreal to go about our everyday business, hold meetings, meet friends for coffee, go to courses in “Mind and Body Wellness” and Creative work, to entertain the huge number of friends who come to visit, surprised to discover that they are not afraid. They come from as far afield as Australia and Argentina, Miami and Manchester, to volunteer in whatever organisation they can find a place, most volunteer organisations are full of Israelis and visitors who keep this country going. They all want to go to demonstrations, either the big ones or the small. Friends indeed.

Talking of friends, I mean real, phenomenal, supportive friends, one stands out over the years and he is arriving tomorrow. Actually the team, the couple the Lindenfelds, Helene and Martin, but it is Martin who arrives tomorrow and will actually stay with us. We are beyond excited with great plans for every moment of his stay. Obviously we will visit Kalman Samuels and Shalva, Martin used to visit Daniel z”l each time he was in Manhattan, and was very much part of the creation of Dr Dan’s Room in Shalva. Zvi will take him to Soroka Hospital, to visit the amazing medical team that has been on the front line since October 7th, the hospital is a special project of theirs thanks to their wonderful sister-in-law, Rachel Heisler who is the force behind fundraising for the hospital. He will visit the site of the Nova Festival and we will take him to all our favourite restaurants and lots of time just being together! Actually I’m going to slip in an incredible clip of the journey of the Shalva Band to international fame….. it makes me cry!!

My granddaughter Talia graduated with honour from high school yesterday and when I saw the photo of her class and Talia the happiest as she tossed her cap in the air, I thought about the tiny baby who fit in Zvi’s hand when she was born! I love that the tiny children grown into such amazing adults.

Time to get my self organised so that I can go to visit Rachel and the children, hopefully my fresh bulke (bread roll) will be waiting beside a good cup of tea and hugs galore from the children who aren’t children any more, they are confident, funny, bright, argumentative adults!

And so to music.

Arik Einstein is an Israeli legend. This song says it all – it’s up to us and our children and grandchildren now. Ani v’Ata – You and I will change the world

Since I wrote about the Shalva Band and of our dreams of a leader/leaders who will bring us a Bridge Over Troubled Water this seems to be the only possible song to bring us hope.

I know that this isn’t the first time that you hear Yonina and Ain li Eretz Aheret, I have no other country, but the lyrics and melody are etched into my heart and my soul.

I wish you a Gut Shabbes, a Shabbat Shalom and a peaceful week to follow. Please remember that we have overcome greater evil, it is, as they say, a generational evil but just as in the prayer “Vehi Sheamda” we will stand up to this too.

With love from our home to yours, from Jerusalem to the world. We wish you peace, strength and safety over that which we cannot control and the ability to rise above it.

Shabbat Shalom