The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


4th November 2011

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. I hope this letter finds you well.

I am so excited this Friday morning since I awoke to the sound of rain, heavy rain, glorious, life giving rain! Admittedly I am equally thrilled that it didn’t rain yesterday or the day before which gave me the opportunity to sit in the crisp autumnal sunshine of Jerusalem with my lovely cousin Debbie and with Nancy and Harry – but more about that later!

Have you noticed that Western diplomats involved with Israel and her neighbours are critical of Israel when in power and suddenly when they leave their positions they write books and the truth comes out…….. Israel has been flexible and agreeable whereas the Palestinians have been rigid and against any solution however equable? Dennis Ross did it, Tony Blair did it and now Condoleeza Rice is doing it in her new book. She quotes Ehud Olmert’s offer to the PA as the most generous ever and Abbas did not consider it a starting point for negotiations. By the same token how can the USA, UK, and most of Europe play the outraged idealists concerning a few homes being built in Jerusalem, when they know full well that the Palestinians are building as if there is no tomorrow within Jerusalem city limits!!!

Judge Richard Goldstone wrote a truly surprising and accurate article in the NY Times refuting any claims that Israeli society resembles the South African Apartheid regime in any way or form. Professor Gerald Steinberg writes “Confronting former allies after an honest change of heart is tough; Richard Goldstone deserves to be embraced and congratulated.”

UNESCO voted to accept the Palestinian Authority into its once august midst. UNESCO UN-Educated UN-Scientific UN-Cultured and UN-Organised The Palestinian educational system does not in any way or form meet UNESCO’s criteria, their books deride the Infidel (that’s Jews and Christians) and deny the existence of Israel. Please read the academic report of IMPACT-SE presented to UNESCO on the lack of tolerance in PA. schooling

This isn’t a first for UNESCO however. Thanks to Barbara Ledeen for this wonderful quote.
When Golda Meir visited Princeton – when no longer Prime Minister in 1978 – , at a question and answer section in the main auditorium of the university, one of the students asked her: “Why was it that UNESCO had rejected Israel and accepted the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for membership/associate membership.
Golda replied that that was a question that should be addressed to UNESCO, not to her.
The student responded: That is of course correct but it would be interesting to know your opinion, why UNESCO made these decisions.
Golda replied: As you know, UNESCO stands for the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization. We must assume that these gentlemen, after due consideration, came to the conclusion that the PLO has more to contribute to education, science, and culture than Israel does.
The audience roared with laughter and applauded.

The USA, Canada and Israel rescinded their payments to UNESCO, as they should, but more surprisingly Ban Ki Moon came out with a statement to the PA that he did not support their method of entering the UN through all the subcommittees – a rare statement of great substance.

The South of Israel is still subject to rocket attacks. Egypt warned Islamic Jihad that if they don’t stop launching missiles then they will pay the consequences and Western leaders have intimated that Israel must not respond. Maybe we are too polite or just too attentive to world opinion?

Pat Condell is a very clever and totally anti-establishment Brit whose irreverent, but highly relevant videos say what we think. Mr Condell is not PC and is prepared to take the flak “Is it racist to say that the Palestinians are the most tiresome cry-babies whose problems are all self inflicted? It probably is”

Since we last spoke we said goodbye to Kim, Robert and Deanna after their frantic week of filming for a documentary on Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular. As soon as I have a link I promise to send it to you and you will find it on the Children of Israel Foundation website.

On Wednesday I met my dear cousin Debbie Gelbard at the Jerusalem YMCA for a wonderful glass of mint tisane and some naughty desserts! The Jerusalem YMCA is conceivably the most beautiful building in Jerusalem. It was so delightful to spend time with Debbie and catch up on our family news, sitting in the last rays of sunshine. As we sat enjoying one another I noticed a young man on the grass who took out his prayer mat, bent his knees bowed down towards Mecca, prayed and then got up and went on his way. So very Jerusalem; sitting in a Christian garden, overlooking the famous King David Hotel, watching the open prayer of a Moslem in a public place. If only Jews and Christians could openly pray in Moslem countries.

Yesterday we met up with Nancy and Harry Bloomfield of Montreal, Canada and Jerusalem. Nancy and Harry have two sons studying in Israel and they simply love Jerusalem! They chose our lunchtime venue and I applaud their taste! The Anna Ticho Artists House is situated right in the centre of town, next to both the original Hadassah Hospital and Rav Kook’s House. The Anna Ticho House sits in its own beautiful gardens, inside is a gallery of her works and a restaurant and outside is a large tree lined terrace with tables set with placemats showing her exquisite etchings. The meal was a delight, the company outstanding and my goodness do I enjoy every time Nancy exudes love. She made me laugh when she told me that after arriving exhausted from the long journey from Montreal she immediately went to Shouk mahane Yehuda. A friend called her from Canada to check is she had arrived safely and when the friend asked where she was she said in the Shouk. “Why on earth would you go straight to the Shouk?” asked the friend “Because I wanted a Sheila moment” said Nancy!!!! Apparently you love my stories about the shouk, its sounds aromas, colours, people and atmosphere. I will have to go again next week to absorb some new senses!!

Talking of Canada, Canadian Prime Minister Harper isn’t afraid of the Arabs – not only because he has incredible natural resources and enough oil in Alberta to ignore their wealth but because he is a principled man who is not afraid to speak his mind. Now THAT is a leader.

Since I am always persuading you to come to Jerusalem and experience the joys thereof I thought this article essential to your travels. The top 10 public toilets in Jerusalem!!!!

Today began early. Zvi and I met with our dearest friend Bernardo Romanowsky for breakfast at Angel’s Coffee shop in the gas station of Nayot! It was delicious. You guys don’t understand that an Israeli breakfast is so vast and so healthy……….. let me explain. One example of many is the “Israeli breakfast” which means an omelette of any combination (I love the herb one), a freshly cut chopped salad in a bowl, an assortment of avocado, tuna and aubergine salads in tiny presentation dishes, three types of white cheese, a freshly squeezed fruit juice and – of course – Cafe hafuch!!!! There are other assorted breakfasts but this is almost a foregone conclusion for most diners! The tiny table was groaning as beside us the first Parliament sitting took place – thank heaven smaller and less vociferous than Zvi’s Parliament- and the waitresses all come to say hello, kiss the regulars and even the chef comes to greet everyone at this simple diner. Having spent delightful time with Bernardo, talking about everything from family to baking, to health I came home to write to you!!! Zvi will be back soon and I will drop him at his Parliament and escape to my daughters home to be with the grandchildren, read stories, play games and just cuddle them ensuring they know just how much Safta loves them. Yosef says I love him to the sky and back; Talia says I love her trimillion and baby Aylah just stands akimbo with her arms wide as she can get! I love that my daughters home is filled with the aromas of Shabbat, especially her amazing home baked Challot (she got it from me you know!) My drive back home will thrill me and fill my heart as I pass Samuels Tomb to the sight of Jerusalem set out in her glorious entirety, fresh and glisteningly clean from the blessed rainfall.

Finally, use your last chance to vote for the Dead Sea as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World since the voting ends on 11.11.11

Shabbat Shalom dear friends, Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem, the most beautiful city in the world, centre of our hearts, hopes and prayers.