The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem- Australia and the Presidents Conference

14th February 2013
Shabbat Shalom dear friends.
I need to begin with a very serious story to honour our many Australian friends who may be distressed and disturbed by the news stories racing around one rather unwise young man who came to live in Israel, was inducted into the Mossad and on visits to Iran, using his Australian passport and identity, changed sides and became a double agent for Iran.
There is a great deal of media discussion over Ben Zigllier/Ben Allen/ Ben Alon, an Australian/Israeli citizen who committed suicide in an Israeli jail. I want you to understand that he was under serious suspicion of endangering Israel’s most basic security; he consulted his lawyers the day before; his grieving parents want no fuss; the Israeli authorities had informed the Australian authorities of his arrest, the reasons and of his demise and while desperately sad it is all above board.
The intention of the media gag order was to prevent the ultimate results, endangering the lives of Israeli agents and informants who may have met with him in enemy countries. The person who leaked the story should have his press card removed. At the very least.
Here is the official statement by the Israeli Ministry of Justice
“The Prison Service detained a prisoner who held both Israeli and foreign citizenship. For security reasons, the prisoner was held under an alias; however, his family was immediately notified of his detention and he was represented, in all proceedings in his regard, by attorneys Roi Belcher, Moshe Mazur and Boaz Ben-Tzur. The prisoner was held in prison pursuant to an arrest warrant that had been issued by the authorized court. Proceedings regarding the prisoner were overseen by the most senior Justice Ministry officials and the prisoner’s individual rights were maintained, according to law.
The prisoner was found dead in his cell approximately two years ago. Subsequently, Hon. Judge Dafna Blatman-Kadrei, President of the Rishon Lezion Magistrates Court, held a coroner’s inquest into the cause of death, in accordance with the 1958 Coroner’s Inquest into Causes of Death Law. An order was issued that the hearing be held behind closed doors. This order is still in force.
n all proceedings conducted on the matter, including the coroner’s inquest into the cause of death, the deceased and his family were represented by the aforementioned attorneys.
Beyond this, additional details about the affair may not be published, for reasons of state security. These security issues were examined by the Central District Court which decided to issue a sweeping gag order on the affair. This order was issued at the request of the security authorities, which was approved by the relevant Justice Ministry officials. “
Methinks that the probable reason for his suicide is the fact that his lawyers told him he would serve the rest of his life in jail.
The Australian journalist who revealed the story and MK’s Tibi and Gal-On ,have misled the public by suggesting conduct unbecoming by the Israeli Government.
President Obama is coming to Israel. More importantly President Obama is coming to Jerusalem, making his intentions clear. He will spend three days in Jerusalem with a quick two hour visit to nearby Ramallah. Before his visit to Amman he will go with Mr Netanyahu to see the Iron Dome installations then return to Jerusalem and say his farewell to the Israeli PM and have dinner with President Peres. To those who disagree with my sentiments, I have always maintained that deriding ones leader is deriding ones country and I for one believe in the Presidents good intentions toward his greatest ally when he comes to our city to meet with our leaders.

Syria becomes less stable and more dangerous by the second. Their vast array of unconventional weapons is now common knowledge, much of it came from Iraq before the Allied troops went in, and since both sides in this conflict are the wrong hands one cannot allow this dangerous situation to continue. Demand clear statements of condemnation to the UN from your country through your local politicians.

This week Zvi and I accepted a most gracious invitation from Dr Malcolm Hoenlein to join the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations in Jerusalem. The conference was fascinating with outstanding speakers on just about every sphere of Israeli politics, policy and security and a truly impressive group of people led by Mort Zuckerman, a real hero who fights our battle with wise words. The participants ran the gamut from Peace Now to Orthodox Union and Ameinu. If I had to choose the most outstanding it would be Dr Tal Becker of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, journalist Khaled Abu Toameh who amazed his audience by telling them the truth. Khaled told them that peace was not a feasible option with most of our neighbours, that Israel must reach a modus vivendi as its best possible option. He also said that in order to make this a more balanced and fairer society, not only Heredim but also Arabs must enlist in the IDF, not necessarily in fighting units, not only because of the equaliser effect of army service but since when anyone applies for a job he is asked what his or her position was in the IDF many Arabs miss out on the chance of employment. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro won my heart, not only by his careful “diplomatic” manner but because of his lapel pin, with American and Israeli flags intertwined, and the fact that at every opportunity he spoke Hebrew with all who could! Another visitor at the diplomatic table, although he didn’t speak, was the French Ambassador Christophe Bigot (pronounced bijot) who has proven to be a wonderful friend of Israel.
Both Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennet spoke well. Their English is impeccable and their message was refreshing. Naftali Bennet proved to be far more flexible than his reputation and he said that 70% of our beliefs are harmonious and only 30% disagreements so let’s concentrate on the 70% and work together to improve the wonderful country that we have. I pray that these two see their way to join the Government and change the old school because it just isn’t working!
El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedi came to tell us all about the new programme whereby flight crews go out to towns, communities and churches as Ambassadors for Israel, after training with Standwithus. What a great idea.
The Conference is always a great success, primarily because of two people, Carolyn Greene who takes care of all the logistics with incredible patience and class and the inimitable Dr Malcolm Hoenlein. Malcolm holds together the disparate American organisations through his incredible diplomatic abilities – abilities that aided his work with all the all the American administrations for many years, garnering huge respect for his views and his abilities, making him a welcome visitor at the White House irrespective of the political leanings of the various Presidents. He is a brilliant proponent of Israel’s position in the USA and too often he stands behind the lay leaders without receiving his due acclamation. Malcolm – you are my hero!!!!
It is nearly Shabbat, although only half the food is prepared. We will have the ever popular Kubeh Soup, although I always do the ethnic switch and add some kneidlach for the grandchildren; This will be followed by marinated chicken pieces in mushroom sauce (it’s easy to make it with coconut milk) on Moroccan rice and to ensure the ethnic mix we will have Israeli chopped salad followed by a very British Apple crumble!!!! As a special treat for the little girls I intend making chocolate cupcakes!
Tomorrow I will see my Jerusalem grandchildren to bathe them and get them beautiful (if it is possible to improve on their natural beauty) for Shabbat. On my way home, as I pass the prophet Samuels Tomb my heart will again stop still for a moment as the incredible panoramic view of Jerusalem opens up before me – the overall sense of beauty and whiteness is overwhelming.
Shabbat will be special as we have three visitors as well as Zvi’s son Leor, his wife Shiri and their three little girls, Liba Lauren Efron is coming from Tel Aviv, Tamara Gutverg is also coming for a free weekend from the army and a really nice gentleman that we met at the Conference who decided to stay over in Jerusalem and visit our veranda! Even now, although not yet Shabbat, the lights are twinkling over the city as night falls – I checked if the moon has risen yet, huge and bright on the horizon but, no not tonight, it is still too early in the month.
I hope that you will share your Shabbat with strangers and family alike – it is so much fun!!!
With much love from Jerusalem, the every beautiful, ever interesting, ever newsworthy city for which we yearned for 2,000 years.