The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem


16th March, 2012

Shabbat Shalom dear friends

Unfortunately despite protestations from both Hamas and Islamic Jihad that they are doing everything in their power to stop the launching of missiles from Gaza onto Israeli towns and cities but they are failing. The terrifying conclusion that must be drawn from their failure is that Hamas and the more extreme Islamic Jihad are now considered too Western, too liberal, not extreme enough. While the barrage on Sderot, Beersheba, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gan Yavne and all in between has lessened but still continues. It seems odd that here in Jerusalem we blissfully go about our normal business while those in the South suffer dread and trauma with each boom, each Red Alert, even each successful deterrent missile from Iron Dome wreaks emotional havoc by its resultant explosion in the sky.

I half expected public outcry that Israel’s amazing defensive innovation, Iron Dome denied the human rights of the Palestinians to bomb Israeli cities, but it didn’t happen – to my amazement!!! Iron Dome is a game changer. When 90% of the missiles are taken out by this amazing defensive weapon the fear of death among the population is drastically reduced. Necessity is truly the mother of invention.

The Israeli Government has written a letter to Ban Ki Moon, complaining about the incessant missile attacks on Southern Israeli citizens . The United nations will undoubtedly ignore the missive as they ignore the missiles. How can one trust an organisation that insists Syria remain on the Human Rights Council?

As the Gazan missiles rain on the South Israel does not stop reaching out to help the world. One year after the catastrophic Japanese earthquake IsraAid is still there helping the Japanese people in the earthquake area deal with PTSD.

Nicky Larkin: Israel is a refuge, but a refuge under siege. Through making a film about the Israeli-Arab conflict, artist Nicky Larkin found his allegiances swaying. I used to hate Israel. I used to think the Left was always right. Not any more. Now I loathe Palestinian terrorists. Now I see why Israel has to be hard. Now I see the Left can be Right — as in right-wing. So why did I change my mind so completely?

I am fascinated by the similarity between India and Israel. Not only did India have a woman Prime Minister in Indira Gandhi; twos Prime Minister were assassinated by radicals, Indira and her son Rajiv. India was a Hindu country with a large Moslem minority. After horrific fighting between Moslems and Hindus it was decided that the only way for peace in India was a 2 State solution – partition. Thus India was declared for the Hindus with a smaller Moslem minority and Moslems would gain their own state, or states in East and West Pakistan. The ensuing violence was overwhelming and continues to this day, the internal minority of Moslems within Hindu India growing and becoming more and more radical. Yes, the similarities are overwhelming.

Barry Shaw, like me an Ex-Pat British Israeli, went to South Africa to speak before groups. Barry wrote a response to BDS which we should use Barry spoke before the South African Council of Churches and his words are well worth listening to

A very important precedent was set in Israeli courts this week and went almost unnoticed. It is of ultimate importance and a legal precedent for women in divorce. The judges decision was that financial abuse (withdrawal of finances during the divorce process leaving a woman in dire financial straits) is equal to physical abuse. He said that any husband who uses financial blackmail to achieve his ends in a divorce is guilty of physical abuse. About time, too late for many but about time.

Last Shabbat We had visitors – yes I know you aren’t surprised! Our dearest friends Irit and Itzik Lev wanted to bring a friend of theirs to talk to us. Susan is a dentist from upstate New York and she wants to come to Israel for several months to volunteer. The volunteer programme serves families who cannot afford dental treatment especially for their children. Well done Susan!!!

On Sunday Shirlee Finn came to Jerusalem. Shirlee, and Ex-Pat Brit, lives in Sydney, Australia and despite devoting her life to Israel and the Jewish community, she had never been to Israel. Her enthusiasm at all she saw, from Gilo to the phenomenal view from the Talpiot Tayelet (promenade), from Jerusalems centre to the Botanical Gardens. I loved watching her excitement, remembering Zvi’s Mother’s words “I am always jealous of people who have never been to Israel before.” When asked why she said “Because that sense of wonder is inexplicable and irretrievable”. Let me explain. Standing with Shirlee on the Sherover Promenade in Talpiot there were several groups there to soak in the view. One group was local, young Arab Moslem Israeli teenages with whom we had a fun time and then a group from Birthright USA. We spoke to their Israeli leaders, two young women from the USA themselves new immigrants. The enthusiasm of these youngsters was tangible – they were truly home. From the Promenade one has a phenomenal view of Jerusalem, Old City, new city and surrounding areas; down to the Arab neighbourhood of Abu Dis – thousands of houses on an area devoid of buildings until about 80 years ago – except for 3 Jewish three houses. The biggest difference between the new Jewish areas and the new Arab areas is trees. We plant trees everywhere. No new neighbourhood is created without parks and trees. One sees the King David, the YMCA, the Municipality and of course the walls of the Old City are central and- take a look yourselves!

I love collecting my grandchildren from school. It isn’t just the look of delight on their gorgeous faces when they see it’s me (they know that a treat is around the corner!), not only hearing all about their day in school, not only seeing them with their friends or the short drive to their home in Givat Zeev. Passing the Tomb of Samuel the Prophet and arriving in the thriving neighbourhood of Givat Zeev – it is knowing they are nearby. After hugging my daughter and playing with the children or going for a walk I find my excitement mounting as I drive to the top of the hill opposite Samuel’s Tomb for the most breathtaking view of all. Jerusalem in its entirety. I often talk about the wonder of this particular panorama, but now, in spring it is even more glorious – the spring flowers are out! The panorama is framed with pinky white clouds of almond blossom, darker pink cherry blossom and of course the fields of poppies, bright red poppies and although the sight is fleeting as I wend my satisfied but weary way home, it fills me with joy.
As Israel again absorbs the might and fury of her neighbours while an uncaring world looks on, I find solace in the words of the Dalai Lama.
Although violence and the use of force may appear powerful and decisive, their benefits are short-lived. Violence can never bring a lasting and long term resolution to any problem, because it is unpredictable and for every problem it seems to solve, others are created. On the other hand, truth remains constant and will ultimately prevail.
I wish you a beautiful Shabbat for a still rainy Jerusalem. Next week my wonderful husband has a birthday, my daughter has her wedding anniversary and Arlene is coming to Israel. Sadly she only has one day in Jerusalem but this time I will put my foot down very firmly – and demand that next time she spends at least 4 days with me and Fegie will have to manage!

Shabbat Shalom wonderful people. I leave you with a truly Israeli version of the song Lecha Dodi – welcoming the bride of Shabbat.

With love