The view from my veranda

Shabbat Shalom Yuletide Sameach letter from Jerusalem

24th December 2010

Shabbat Shalom and Joyous Yuletide to all

Today we have almost entirely good news which seems appropriate to the date!

One piece of good news raised a huge question in my mind. Police and Secret Services both in the US and UK succeeded in finding and arresting some of those who planned major terror attacks over Christmas in the UK, Germany, France and the USA. The attacks were to take place in major population centres while people were either celebrating or shopping. That is the good news indeed, the bad news is that there is such evil in this world that Islamic fundamentalism chose to kill Christmas. It is clear that this is Islamic terror yet somehow it is non-PC to say so or to engage in ethnic profiling for either investigations or preventive security yet it has become quite PC to be anti-Semitic and anti-Israel despite the fact that we are not to blame for any of this indeed are at the sharp end of both sticks receiving hate from the street and censure from governments who should know better!! What contrary ethics bring our world to such conclusions I cannot even begin to understand.

Wikileaks is about to leak some new American documents relating to Israel, lets hope that the release of these internal documents will allow us to know what the US really thinks about Israel, her only ally in the entire region. Hopefully it will not be detrimental to our relationhsip. Especially after Condi’s document saying Israel blew up the Syrian reactor (and if we did, and I am not saying a word, Kol ha Kavod!)

One beam of light at the end of this tunnel is the wonderful Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman, who is now rightfully one of the most powerful women in the world. Ileana knows Israel well after more visits than she can count, yet remains a fair and honest arbiter. Ileana is a no nonsense, feisty, determinedly honest politician at a time when everyone kow tows either to oil money or to the State Department; she will not tow anybody’s line rather make her own judgements. Ileana Ros Lehtinen, friend, Zvi and I wish you Mazal tov and the strength to continue your path of determination to recognise just who is Americas ally and who her enemy.

About two weeks ago it came to our attention that the bus services of a suburb of Seattle were to carry a highly emotive message condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza. The campaign has been rejected. This decision came following yesterday’s meeting of Jewish community leaders with senior members of the King County Executive’s office and Metro Transit management about the potential threat to the Seattle-area Jewish community, after over 2,000 emails, and after numerous organizations, including StandWithUs, announced plans to run ads either countering this ad and/or promoting the positives of Israel.
The biggest thank you here goes to all of you who responded to the StandWithUs Northwest alerts and flooded the King County government with emails and phone calls. Kol HaKavod!! Great job!
Write to Dow Konstantine, King County Executive to thank him and his council

As always, Barry Shaw captures what we all know in a few punchy words. This week his analogy of neighbours is exactly what I say about Israel and HER neighbours! A short and good read.

Not everything is rosey in Israel. We have some extremists here too although they do not preach terror and destruction, I find the idea that city Rabbis ban their congregants from renting homes to non-Jews abhorrent. That Moslems do so to both Christians and Jews in Arab towns both inside Israel and most certainly in the Arab countries is not an example I would wish to emulate. Equally the attempt at political blackmail by certain parties in the coalition not to recognise IDF conversions brings a sense of despair. It will not help but the attempt is a disgrace.

This week I have been out and about much more. Still not to markets but doing good things. Last night we went to a phenomenal concert at the Jerusalem Theatre, an invited audience to a concert in honour of KKL and played by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in its full glory! The programme was outstanding and the young Conductor, no the “child” conductor Daniel Cohen was impressive. They played Sibelius, Smetana, Mark Lavri and Vivaldis Four Seasons, so appropriate to the KKL’s work. It was truly breathtaking. Persuade your city to invite this orchestra and feel yourself burst with pride.

At first we had amazing seats, middle centre, but of course I still need to stretch my leg out, otherwise it becomes rather uncomfortable so we moved down to the front row, suddenly seeing the expressions of the musicians, Russian faces, Israeli faces, Dutch faces, Italian faces all content with the evenings programme of delightfully melodic pieces. From our new vantage point I noticed shoes in a forest of legs. Obviously black shoes but there were winklepicking pleated ones and squared toed shiny ones; Laced and elastic, slip-on and boots; unpolished crackly ones and high heel fashion ones; unkempt and perfectly maintained; I tried to work out if the fiddlers were neater than the trombonists but it was so mixed there was no rhyme nor reason…..except of course for the patent leather shoes of the conductor jumping and tapping excitedly before my eyes. I felt it a fine lesson in humanity. We do not fit any categories or boxes, we are each different and as with shoes we all have a specific usefulness and comfort levels, some pinchingly “in” style and some just comfortable, but in a diverse fashion all equally pertinent and equally valid.

The days are shorter and the nights longer and Jerusalem’s City council and KKL are handing out free Christmas trees to her Christian community; the government has made it easy for Christians to come to both Jerusalem and Bethlehem from the PA and Gaza easing restrictions and enabling them to come and celebrate this Holy time as they should and where they wish. It is a difficult time for Christians all over the Middle East but at least there is one country where they are free to pray and celebrate, right here in Israel. The road between the Talpiot neighbourhood and Bethlehem (Derech Bet Lehem – Bethlehem Road) is lit up with Christmas decorations to ensure a festive atmosphere for Christians on their way to Manger Square.

My dear friend Yitzchok sent me a note reminding me that there is nothing new under the sun. Each day in his synagogue Kind Davids 83rd Psalm is said – so relevant to our lives today and why we are here.
As fire consumes the forest, as the flame sets the mountains ablaze, Carmel forest tragedyso may you pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your hurricane! Which hit the beaches of Israel

Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek your name, O Lord. Recent wikileaks about Iran

Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them perish in disgrace,

that they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.

We wish you a truly wonderful weekend, however you celebrate and whatever you celebrate. As we reach a new year, twenty eleven, let’s pray for a reawakening of understanding, acceptance and that oh so important word SOVLANUT- tolerance.

Hey, you wouldn’t kill someone for wearing different shoes would you?

Shabbat Shalom and Yuletide Sameach
With much love