The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – Gaza conflict, what it is like in Israel

30th July 2014
Shalom dear Friends.
I am sorry that you didn’t get an update last Friday, that I didn’t wish you Shabbat Shalom, but know you were on our minds. Zvi and I took the difficult decision to go with the choir to Romania. It was both wonderful and terrifying to be away from home when our loved ones and country were under such extreme threat, but I think, no I know, Hakol Yechassi represented Israel with pride.
Each “peepee stop” that had wifi was filled with the beeps and rings of incoming messages from family and media so that we could all stay in touch with the situation. We were surprised and pleased to find Israeli flags all over and in the centre of Brasov was a big park in the name of Yitzchak Rabin. A beautiful country, blessed with mountains, forests, lots of rain and sunshine, they welcomed us and encouraged us but it just wasn’t home.
Meanwhile back home – soldiers in Gaza responded to the cries of an eight year old child who begged for their assistance. The soldiers went to help him and as they entered his home a bomb exploded – it was a booby trap……… using an eight year old as a booby trap is beyond our thinking. We do not yet know the toll to Israel but I am sure that child was not spared in the name of Allah.
A few facts and information for you. 
When the media claims we are starving the Gazans just see what we give them during wartime let alone peacetime . COGATs daily report
Foreign journalist received death threats for any anti-Hamas tweets which accuse Hamas of using human shields. Do they report on it? No, they remove the tweets!!!
Two articles sum up the fact that Israel is the free worlds front line, we take the flak, the hatred and the racism so that you can live in freedom.
Richard Littlejohn, fearless British journalist, asks the question, What if Hamas rocket hit a BA plane? 
Wolf Blitzer goes into a Hamas Tunnel, amazed and fearful when he sees the size, expertise and Israeli cement used
Melkamo is an Israeli Officer and a student in the Herzlia Interdisciplinary Centre (University). Melkalmo is an outstanding Ambassador for Israel through Standwithus. Thank you Melkamo you make me proud.  Friends – this needs to go viral. Send it to your media and politicians
Perhaps the most important difference between this and previous “operations” is our Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz. He has given his soldiers, his officers, a clear and simple target, not destroying Hamas unlike Lebanon, the target is clear. We go in, we destroy all the tunnels and we come out with the least possible human injury, both to civilians in Gaza and to our soldiers. The rockets are not necessarily aimed at people – they are part of the war of attrition but the tunnels are specifically built to come out inside Israel to enable the mass slaughter – the ethnic cleansing – of Jews. Lt-General Benjamin Gantz, Israeli Chief of Staff, a fine soldier and a wonderful man.
I am sure that most of you want to know the mood of our little country. We are all horrified by the tunnels system and its deadly purpose. Digging under Israel in order to kill and maim as many Jews as possible in one organised raid on Rosh hashana? Anyone who thinks this isn’t horrifically reminiscent of the Nazis is in dreamland.
Sadly, the two countries that Secretary Kerry wants to bring in as arbitrators in this terrible situation, Turkey and Qatar, are both funding Hamas and have suspended diplomatic relations with Israel! Aw c’mon, it is as if Roosevelt wanted Austria and Egypt to broker peace between the UK, Allies and Nazi Germany!!!!!
 The announcement of each soldiers death brings us to a standstill – Is it someone we know? This is a tiny country and everyone knows someone who knows someone. Indeed a young lone soldier was injured and when the news got out that he was in Shaare Zedek hospital the hospital was inundated with thousands of people wanting to bring him food and flowers – and love.
Until today 56 beautiful boys gave their lives so that we can be free, a small number in terms of war, a huge number for Israel. Here are just some of their wonderful faces  יהי זכרם ברוך
Religious Jews, yes I know, it drives me nuts that they don’t serve in the IDF but they have organised food gathering for the troops; in Jerusalem many religious neighborhoods are preparing for “hafrashat challah” ( by huge groups of religious women who will then make little individual challot to be sent down to the troops. I hear you asking why they don’t serve but today we have to unite against a common enemy who does not care if you wear a bikini or  humble dresses, we will worry tomorrow about who is in uniform and who believes that by praying for every soldier one can win a war. Indeed today there is a gathering of challot at the Shtibelech ( a 24 hour a day minyan) in Katamon, Jerusalem so that they can be sent down to the soldiers for Shabbat.
Many, many tourists have cancelled their visit to Israel. I understand. If all you hear is the news media, especially if you read the NY Times, Guardian or LA Times, then your choice is obvious. However, if you consider the truth here on the ground, you are still safer on the streets of Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem than you are in your city!!! In Israel we spent a great deal of money on defending our citizens, and life goes on. Beaches are open, markets are busy, shops are selling, clubs are making just as much noisy music, people are out and enjoying themselves until the early hours, maybe more and more in each others homes but we are relatively safe her. The difference is – we know our enemy. Our enemies are not drug crazed attackers on city streets nor are there violent felons looking for the weak to mug. If you cancel you are giving in to terror, if you cancel you tell Hamas that they are succeeding. Every empty hotel room is a victory for Hamas.
 By the way, Joan Rivers is way too coarse for my liking but when the woman is right she is right. She gave this interviewer a run for her money!!!
And so to Shabbat. Shabbat is Shabbat for the soldiers who are in Gaza and those waiting for their orders. Another Shabbat without their families but Israelis do their best to ensure that the Hamin or Cholent arrives anyway. From huge chain stores and supermarkets to individuals who have enough difficulty putting food on the family table, everyone does their bit for our boys and girls. One friend is in touch with the farmers of Zikin on the Gaza border and right now our order for 100 shekels worth of mixed vegetables is on its way to us. Meirav Malha – 052 8797508 and she will make the contact. Brava Meirav all the towns and villages on the border need our help.
Sorry I once again diverged from the path of this Shabbat Shalom. I wanted to leave you with something sweet, difficult when the world is doing its three wise monkey act.
Something beautiful happened this week. I can’t give you full details but Zvi’s son Leor found that his soldiers were struggling with cumbersome old tools to care for their tanks. He jsut mentioned the name Leatherman Tools and the need for them to me and I knew exactly who to turn to – Martin and Helene and David Greenberg, Rabbi of Shaarey Tefillah Temple in Bedford NY. Hardly had my fingers stopped typing when their  positive response came in return. Thanks to their wonderful generosity a very happy group of tank officers sent a thank-you photo, bearing their new tools and grinning from ear to ear with big thank you signs hurriedly written in English. Beautiful boys, beautiful hearts – thank you so much to those of you who know who you are. You are true friends of Israel.
I wasn’t sure whether to put the latest LATMA song on todays letter – there are aspects I disagree with. I do not for one second believe that those who signed the Oslo agreements on behalf of Israel thought for one second of anything but Israel and peace – so here it is
Smadar Hot Elishai is a good woman among many. She lives in Kibbutz Be’eri on the border with Gaza and opened her home to soldiers as they leave Gaza. She makes them coffee, washes their dirty clothes and very important they all phone home and then shower. One young soldier, a reservist, showered and as he came out Smadar smelled the scent of Johnsons baby shampoo. When she asked him why he chose that of all the shampoos she left for the soldiers he broke down and said he missed his baby so much and at least he needed the scent of baby shampoo.
And so to Shabbat again. This Shabbat we have guests, honoured guests – Roselyne and Michael Freedman from Miami. Since you already know that I will be cooking my heart out today with all the special Israeli salads and  – well, I cannot divulge the full menu or they won’t be surprised!  I can tell you that the Aubergine salad, Roasted aubergine with tehina, Moroccan mushroom salad, green tehina, houmous and courgette salads are ready, the  fried fish balls in the mixing bowl, “orange” soup ready and the main course…………….. that will be a surprise to me too!!!!!!
Singing is so important for Jews, We sing our pain, our joy and our confusion. Fiddler on the Roof showed it perfectly. Right now our singing is closer to prayer – prayer for peace, prayer for rahmanut – rachmunes – sympathy/empathy from a cruel and unsympathetic world. In truth I don’t care what they think but it hurts anyway. So………. first is my favourite, you already know it but I never tire of it. Shalom Aleichem – Shalom to you
The 23rd psalm, so familiar to all of us in any language, was written right here in Jerusalem. The words, whatever the language, are a prayer for peace to a loving G-d.
The Lord is my shepherd;​ I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures:​  He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: He leads me in the paths of righteous​ness for his name’s sake.
Thoug​h I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Never forget that Egypt, Greece, Rome, Turkey all tried (among others) to kill us off and we are still here. This too will pass. May our prayers be answered Lu Yehi – Let it be
With love from Jerusalem.

If the media does not inform us we must inform the media

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