The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem – Syria, Sigd, Druze and Bedouin Officers, Hasbara

1st November 2013
Shabbat Shalom dear friends. Thank you so much for your good wishes and prayers for my daughter. She is slowly doing much better thank you. Thank- G-d a million times she is a strong woman surrounded by love. Her friends are amazing and her religious community has rallied to her side with help and hugs.
The Ethiopian Aliya was both the most miraculous and the most complex. Bringing a people whose entire history was based on ancient Judaism, Jerusalem and oral traditions to a 21st century society brought its own challenges but one generation later it has proven its worth. I still remember standing on Givat haMatos in Jerusalem, first stop for many Ethiopian families, and hearing from our wonderful friend Dr Kim Taylor, the story of an Ethiopian woman who was rushed to hospital after complaining that her heart was hurting. Only when a translator was brought in did they discover that in fact she was trying to say that she was sad. It prompted Dr Taylor’s Children of Israel Foundation to fund a clinic with Amharic speaking nurses.
A truly pure form of Judaism and a beautiful and dignified people celebrated the Sigd Festival on Thursday on the Haas Promenade overlooking the glorious city they prayed for so many years of exile.
Their journey is celebrated in this wonderful song by Shlomo Gronich with the Sheba Choir I dare you not to cry. One aspect of Aliya from countries of oppression is that every single person has a price on their head. Whether it is Russia (FSU), Ethiopia, Syria or anywhere the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel pays the price per capita to bring our people home.
The biggest story this week in Israel is the controversial completion of the prisoner exchange. 26 terrorists with blood on their hands were freed to Gaza and the West Bank. During their incarceration they changed from ignorant, isolated thugs to educated (up to PhD), sophisticated people who have had every opportunity to meet and plan with others of the same ilk. I don’t understand the exchange of terrorists for “permission “ to build homes but I surely hope that our leaders do. I also hope that our leaders do not buckle under the impossible pressure placed upon them by the current world leadership. Now back to the prisoner situation. Compare the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israel described above to the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in their own jails.

88% of prisoners in the PA remain incarcerated without trial As Palestinian criminals cry about conditions in Israeli jails where they receive medical attention, education to doctorate level, conjugal visits, Red Cross visits etc etc etc it is worth recognising the simple fact that 88% of prisoners in Palestinian jails are held without trial or rights

Another story which hit the headlines yesterday is that Israeli fighters flew over Syria and bombed an arms depot of highly sophisticated rockets and other arms intended for Hezb-Allah. While the world is talk talk talking – Israel is walk walk walking.,7340,L-4444576,00.html

The IDF is oft described as the great social leveller. After 18 years of insular family living soldiers find themselves thrown together with people they would never normally have contact with; not just meeting but living together and most importantly depending upon each other for ones life. Origin becomes irrelevant when one has a common enemy and create common allies. This week the IDF again proved its fair and honest approach to quality soldiers as they proudly announced the First Bedouin tank commander  and even more impressive a wonderful, brave Druze is to take over command of the elite Golani unit of the IDF

Israel’s hasbara (dissemination of information or PR) is oft described as abominable even though there are many of us outside the political or diplomatic sphere who do our best and official sources do nt have a willing audience. In a young world of apps, vybers, wotsapp, bytes and info we need the youngsters of Standwithus to show us how to reach vast numbers of people in an instant – or in an instagram!!! Watch this report from Israel’s Channel 10 news. (English)
Talking of information, it is quite popular to spread the lie that the UK stopped Holocaust education. This video horrified me that apparently the States never started it as these American students show they don’t know what the Holocaust was, when it happened and from whence it emanated
Equally distressing was the fact that Arabic is mandatory at a New York Public School!!!
Hisham is a Saudi comedian. This video he made about the idiotic laws concerning women driving is a must. Based on the Bob Marley tune he calls it “No Woman – No Drive”

More and more stars are coming to Israel, both to perform and to visit. Last week Tom Jones blew the lid of Tel Aviv as he sang his old songs and new in that amazing Welsh voice. So great was demand that he is doing a second concert! and

A week after her television rival Simon Cowell made a large donation to the Friends of the IDFPaula Abdul came to Israel. She never shouted of her Jewish background but she finally came on a visit to Israel, and fell in love with the country and President Shimon Peres who she described as “sababa” or cool. President Peres told her he was sure that “wherever you go you will feel the warmth and love of the people of Israel, you will feel at home here.”

and so to Shabbat…………………..……….

This week Zvi’s son Leor is coming with his beautiful family for Shabbat Dinner and we will be joined by our dear friend Debby Bettsak. Both Zvi’s and my families had fish for Friday night supper (no we weren’t Catholic) but todays youngsters want meat, meat and more meat! I couldn’t decide upon the menu but finally came to the conclusion that a child-friendly filling warming meal was in order for the cool autumnal evenings in Jerusalem. We will start with red soup – my daughters wonderful creation of onions, tomatoes, red peppers, red lentils and coriander whizzed to perfection – enough to warm the cockles of any heart. For the main course we will have good old fashioned British cottage pie and lovely fresh spring chicken fillets served with all the usual salads and rice with beans. My daughter gave me one of the amazing “Chatzil baladi” or wild aubergine (egg-plant) which is huge, purple and bulbous, so unlike the usual uniform shapes one is used to, roasted over a flame until blackened, peeled and served with home made tehina and red pepper sauce. I always tell you that Israeli salads are multitudinous and their variety phenomenal and they don’t have any soggy lettuce – not in even one!! Well………… open this link and see that I was not exaggerating even if I wax lyrical about the veritable cornucopia of delights!!!!!

My veranda has reverted from the wild and spectacular colour of summer to the gentle greens of autumn broken by the fabulous peach colours of the hibiscus bushes, the red and purple of the fuchsia, the deep deep purpley red of the pomegranates, ready to burst their skins and reveal the rich and juicy red seeds within, the oranges on the tiny tree and the kumquats in various stages of ripeness. The lemons are still green, the herbs starting to die back, telling me it is time to pick nd dry them for the winter season.

I did my usual drive from Givat Zeev to Jerusalem yesterday and although the panorama was no less breathtaking I began to think about Givat Zeev and its surrounding villages. The wonderful plant nursery at the entrance to Givat Zeev, and the car-wash beside it are owned by Palestinians who live in the next village and do very nicely; the businesses next to Givat Zeev, owned and run by Palestinians, thrive and many Palestinians work and earn in Givat Zeev. According to the American and European viewpoint – especially the Beeb and CNN – Givat Zeev is full of wild-eyed settlers and the poor Palestinians suffer from their very existence. Humbug! Rubbish! Lies!

Jerusalem, beautiful Jerusalem. City of dreams and hope, of history, spirituality and exciting, bustling streets; Jerusalem – her very name is a paradox because she is the centre of warmth and godliness yet the most violently fought over city in the world. It is a privilege to live here – a privilege to welcome others to see the sheer wonder of its incredible rainbow of humanity and its breathtakingly beautiful sites and sights. Here you walk the Bible – whether Old or New, it is here that it all started.

On that thought I bid you farewell with some utterly diverse songs about Jerusalem for Shabbat.

First is Mattisyahu in a reggae version

Then the funky

The very Anglo

and finally the spiritual Lecha Dodi welcoming the bride of Shabbat. Western style and a wonderful version from Africa.

As you see I am pretty much back on form and life is slowly returning to normal.

Wishing you a beautiful Shabbat and a boring week with only good surprises – me too!!!

With love from Jerusalem