The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom letter from Jerusalem

17th December, 2009.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Orim Sameach

Today’s letter will be rather long but the information it carries is essential so please bear with me.

Due to an aberration in British Law, intended to protect and sustain the rule of justice, Former Deputy Prime Minister Livni, or for that matter any Israeli Minister or High-ranking army officer, can be arrested for war crimes during Operation Cast Lead if she goes to Britain . British Foreign Minister David Milliband has issued a statement and personally apologised to MK Livni but can do nothing until the law, or the dangerous loophole, is repealed. Ironically this law was introduced post WW2 in order to enable us and the British to prosecute Nazis.

The self-righteous Danes are hosting the world conference on global warming and ecology whereby world leaders came to Denmark to find solutions on Global Warming without even one speech reviling Danish ecological transgressions when they cruelly “cull” dolphins for sport.

Why stop only Jewish building in Yehuda and Shomron and for how long? Yosi Sztrigler asked the highly relevant question why should the IDF be asked to “fight’ with other Israelis, since many of the young men who stand up and defend our nation are totally against the building freeze. I believe that he is absolutely right this should not be the job of the IDF but rather the police. Chief of Staff Ashkenazi agrees.

The Cabinet has approved a list of National Priority Areas which will receive fiscal aid from civil funding toward creating jobs. What does “priority” mean? Some of the areas deemed eligible for inclusion are in the “building hiatus” regions in Yehuda and Shomron. Very confusing!

Sad pre-Christmas news – “Hamas digs up the bodies of Christians from Christian burial sites in the Gaza Strip claiming that they pollute the earth,” said Reverend Majed El Shafie, President of One Free World International . “Every three minutes a Christian is being tortured in the Muslim world, and in 2009 more than 165,000 Christians will have been killed because of their faith, most of them in Muslim countries.” Where are the Human Rights groups when we need them?

Last night the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem held a reception for Rev. El Shafie in the King David Hotel. I spoke to two exceptional people about the situation and how to “get it out there”. Dr Jay Rawlings compared the abhorrent Hamas behaviour toward the dead to the Jewish one. He told me that ZAKA, the first responders who devotedly collect body parts after a terror attack, collect the remains of homicide bombers and return them to the family for burial.

I also spoke to Dr Malcolm Hedding of the ICEJ a former South African who found haven in Israel when he was banned for publicly opposing Apartheid. Malcolm is incensed at a world which compares Israel to Apartheid South Africa believing that it is not only a gross misrepresentation of Israel’s open society but an insult to 80 million black South Africans who suffered real Apartheid. Dr Hedding finds it hard to understand those Jews who accept the media-fed, Arab initiated, idea that Israel is anything but democratic and benevolent.

The Jews who burned the Mosque in Kfar Yassuf disgust me. If we descend to the nadir of human behaviour how can we expect to engender respect either in ourselves or others? Don’t claim that synagogues and churches are regularly burned and blown up in the Islamic world – we must behave according to our mores not imitate lesser standards. Jewish residents of the area brought new Korans to the people of Kfar Yassuf as an expression of their dismay.

President Shimon Peres released a statement harshly condemning the burning of the mosque in Kfar Yasuf. “This grave act of arson stands against all the values of the State of Israel and its obligation to respect all faiths and beliefs. The government, security forces, and enforcement officials must use all means possible to find those guilty and bring them to trail for their grave acts. An extremist group cannot jeopardize Israel’s fundamental respect for the law and tolerance of all faiths.”

British Historian Andrew Roberts believes that the Foreign Office is the reason that Queen Elizabeth has not visited the Holy Land, unlike her husband and eldest son. The Foreign Office is the UK’s equivalent to the State Department, and has similar policies on Israel with a long history of Arabist leanings. Mr. Andrews also believes that the current government in the USA is the least pro-Israel since Eisenhower. Full article

Since I don’t want to test your patience by writing too much today I want to point you in the direct of three exceptional and deeply important articles.

The indomitable Brenda Katten’s article in the Jerusalem Post entitled Zionism – a tarnished word?

Tom Gross’ important article in the Guardian

Finally the erudite Isi Liebler on British Jewry

Israeli wines have advance considerably since the days of sickly sweet sacramental Kiddush wines. The Israel 21C article

Israeli wines are out there on the circuit, garnering great reviews. Just last year, renowned American wine critic Robert Parker reviewed wines from 40 Israeli wineries and awarded high scores of over 90 points to 14 different wines. That’s impressive in the wine world, where a score of over 90 points places a wine in a class of exceptional character and complexity. Moreover, 11 of those wines happened to be kosher, and Parker pointed out that the kosher label was simply not relevant to the quality of the wine. That’s another major statement and one that puts the Carmel Kiddush wine reputation to rest, and for good.

Boris Abramovic Gelfand, Israeli, won the World Chess Championship!! Yet another brilliant infusion from the FSU! Gelfand was born in Minsk, Byeloruss and made Aliya to Israel in 1998. Bravo Boris, we are proud of you.,7340,L-3820150,00.html

With the start of Advent the lights go up on the road to Bethlehem. Border controls are lightened as Israeli Christians head for Bethlehem during the Christmas period. The Jerusalem Municipality is handing out free Christmas trees and between our two wonderful Festivals everyone is smiling.

Chanuka is upon us; Chanukiot are displayed on street corners, highways and windowsills and the Jerusalem Chanukiot are placed outside homes . The air is redolent with the sickly sweet, fried aroma of “sufganiyot” – doughnuts of spectacularly heavy dough, to say nothing of the equally healthy latkes! Rather than dwelling upon the desecration of the Temple we concentrate upon the wonder of an amphora of oil and pieces of cast lead – and food! Zvi’s definition of a Chag is “They tried to kill us, we won, now let’s eat”. We mustn’t forget that this is predominantly a festival of survival – of a very few great heroes (Maccabees) who stood up to a tyrant and succeeded in protecting our faith. On the way to Tel Aviv on road 443 on passes Modiin, Maccabim, Hashmona’im the young Haredi border guard wishes you Chag Orim Sameach (Happy Festival of Lights) and at dusk breaks into his duties and lights a huge chanukia!!

I had a truly amazing time in London with my children and grandchildren. I was washed with love, my daughter-in-law spoiled me rotten and I got to see the historic Temple and Inns where my son spends his days. Amazingly I travelled beside old friends both on my way there and returning on El Al – Jewish geography only works on El Al! Today our eldest grandchild is 5 years old. Yosef Eliyahu has chosen to spend his birthday, the sixth candle of Chanuka, with Safta Sheila and Saba Zvi. I took on the number 99 Jerusalem tourist bus and let him wonder at this amazing city as we do. Then we got down to grandparent business in the toy store.

Diane Steinfink sent me the best Hanuka/New Year wish ever. A wish that sums up all that is important in life- Optimism, joy, humour and health

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Chanukah Sameach, 6th day of Advent and every good thought you wish yourselves and your family.

With love from Jerusalem, as beautiful, spiritual and meaningful as ever.