The view from my veranda

Sri Lanka, Passover, Easter, coalition, Yahya

25th April, 2019


It isn’t yet Shabbat Shalom, Easter and Seder night have already passed, but I can wish you a good second days of Pesach!


The tragic, horrific terror attacks in Sri Lanka left us all breathless and furious. At least 359 people slaughtered because they were Christians in churches, at prayer for the Easter services. I couldn’t find the words to express my anger at the reactions of the PC media and politicians to what was a diabolical act of hatred, but Kay Wilson did.


Fact 1:
359 men, women, children and babies massacred in cold blood.

Fact 2:
Political correctness has gagged us all from naming the cause as ISLAMIC terrorism.

Political correctness forbids us to speak out against Islamic terrorism because it is always deemed as hate speech.

Political correctness gags not only us, but also “moderate Muslims” (many of whom are my friends) from speaking out, and taking action against the heinous scourge rampant in their broader religious community.

Political correctness therefore, ensures that peace-loving Muslims will continue to live under understandable suspicion, being thought of as untrustworthy and potential terrorists.

Political correctness deprives us from living in a safer society and protecting western civilization.

Political correctness is the do-gooders, the virtue signallers and all the immoral “Islamophobia” brigade who have done no favors to anyone except disempowering MY Muslim friends from naming Islamic terrorism for what it is, and speaking out from within.

Shame on them all. Every. Single. One.

(P.S I wrote this at the request of a Muslim friend.)


Of course Kay is right. In a world where a California Judge fined a Rabbi $6,000 for reporting a racist attack on his synagogue; in a world where Bernie Sanders calls the Israeli Prime Minister a racist yet curries favour with Mahmoud Abbas; in a world where the New York Times claims that Jesus was a Palestinian; in a world that has Corbyn, Sanders, Omar and Orcasio-Cortez, Warren, Harris and Gillibrand representing the people; in a world where Poland makes Holocaust denial a legal issue; in a world where France suffered no less than 800 terror attacks in 2018;  in a world where it is now Politically Correct to be an Anti-Semite I think it is time for each and every one of us, Jew, Christian and Moslem, to WAKE UP!


NYU angered Judah Pearl, father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, when the University chose to present an award to Students for Justice in Palestine. “By presenting the NYU President’s Award to SJP, not only is our university condoning violence and discrimination against members of the NYU community, but it is declaring that this type of behavior represents the ethos of our university,”


On the other hand Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that a new town will be created on the Golan Heights and will be named for President Trump, after the President’s declaration that the Golan is Israeli. The morning TV programmes here in Israel held competitions to decide what the town’s name may be. Obviously Kfar Trump, but also Admonit (red-head), Kfar Melania, Donatania, Kfar Hadonald………. What ideas do you have?



An essential aspect of the reading of the Haggadah (the story of our escape from slavery in Egypt and our travels to Jerusalem) is that each and every generation should read the story as if they were a slave escaping slavery and oppression, through the trials and tribulations of the 40 year trek, bread from Heaven, Pillars of Fire and smoke, a leader who disappeared up a mountain in search of truth and fellow Children of Israel who refused to follow the rules and ignored the advice of their leader. Today’s trials and tribulations are not so different and we, as a people, are guilty of worshipping the Golden Calf of modernity and complacence rather than accepting the restrictions of our faith.


Our friend Rabbi David Geffen wrote a fascinating article about Passover 1948. Well worth reading.



One of the many similarities between Judaism and Christianity is in the Counting of the Omer which evolved into Lent. During this period, which begins on the second day of Passover, one doesn’t cut hair, buy new clothes, dance, pamper oneself etc. The Jewish understanding of the counting has also evolved. It began in Temple times when each day of the Omer one gave an offering of one omer (measure) of wheat to the Temple for the 49 days until Shevuot, the Festival of Weeks. Both Lent and the counting preclude celebratory activities.


And then there is the Maimuna!! Maimuna is a festival celebrated mostly by Jews of Moroccan origin, especially from the town of Fez, a tradition undoubtedly stemming from the fact that Maimonides’ father passed away on this day in Fez. Today many Israelis join in the chance to eat the traditional foods. Mufletta is a thin pancake eaten with honey, the tables are laden with a diabetic nightmare of exquisite delicacies, pitchers of sweet milk and garlands of flowers. One is not officially invited, one goes from house to house, taste the offerings and wish the homeowners a sweet year, listen to Moroccan music and move on. The next day they hold picnics and there is not a spare piece of park, nature or forest without the wonderful aroma of magical meats on the “mangal” or barbeque.


Vlodomir Zylensky proved once again that in many parts of the world the people are sick and tired of politicians! The closest that this former Ukrainian comedian ever came to politics was in a TV programme, playing the part of a history teacher who fought corruption and wound up becoming President!! Incredibly, in deeply anti-Semitic Ukraine, Zylensky is a Jew.


While the world continues besmirching Israel we developed and created the first 3D human heart from natural tissue and the algorithm to identify those patients prone to colon cancer, and that is just this week!


I have thus far avoided mentioning Israeli politics, but if you think the coalition talks are over, think again. So far the Blue and White party has neither considered nor been considered for a coalition with Likud, which is a shame because then Israel would have a suitably pragmatic government. Blue and White are more than willing to join Likud but not Netanyahu as long as his legal battles are not brought to a viable conclusion. This leaves the PM with parties that are far right of even the most right winged governments of the past. Don’t be confused into believing that these politicians belong to Menachem Begin’s right – remember he forged peace with Egypt – but extreme right-wing parties whose demands for essential ministries are preventing the formation of a viable coalition.


Jerusalem at Pesach/Pascha is a constant party!

After the Seder and our subsequent Shabbat lunch here with Barry, Cristine and James Slawsky, Leor arrived with 3 out of his 4 daughters to sleep over so that Saba Zvi could take them out the next day. They went to the Israel Museum where they painted on the Museum Walls and then learned Eastern music and Debka dancing! Surprisingly the mall was almost empty but Ein Yael nature reserve was full – in fact every nature reserve in Israel was packed especially the “Salad Trail” near the border with Gaza, the white water rafting on the River Jordan and of course the snow on Mount Hermon – sadly no skiing because the snow was fresh from the previous day! Jerusalem is always the heart of the celebrations though with both Easter parades and the Blessing of the Priests (Cohanim) taking place in the heart of both religions.


Zvi and I didn’t go anywhere! We had hot and cold running guests, which we love, including friends from Australia, South Africa, Canada, Britain and of course Israel! On Monday, since I forgot that we had lots of visitors on the previous days, we had invited friends for a dinner party – partly to show them that Passover food goes beyond Matza Brei. The guests turned out to be mostly legal eagles, three women judges, two lawyers and the rest of us! I was especially proud of Michael Goldstein from Sydney who managed to follow the highly complex conversations in Hebrew, good on yer Michael! It was great fun and I think that everyone enjoyed the food. What? You want to know the menu? OK – Antipasti, Celeriac soup, fresh salmon baked in a garlic and sweet chilli, sage and lemon – served with new potatoes and multiple salads. Dessert was provided by Eilata Ziskin, a fantastic Roladin gourmet chocolate cake, fully KFP.


Yesterday Rachel and I decided it was time to move our legs a bit, after 10 days of preparation for Pesach and cooking, cooking, cooking, so we met at the Hebrew University racetrack –no wait a minute, we didn’t run – we walked with the encouragement of Ayala and Yosef. In fact we walked and walked around the track while the gentle sunshine warmed our bones and gave our bodies a chance to recover. The weather really was exceptionally beautiful, which also gave me a chance to plants some extra colour on the verandah. It is such a joy to be outside and appreciate the view. In fact it was so balmy that I sat outside with my newspaper and coffee for breakfast this morning although the wind kept taking the pages of the newspaper and turning it away from the difficult news to the funnies!


So tonight we light the candles on the last day of Pesach. Since the next day is Shabbat we continue with the dishes and food until Shabbat is over but officially it is finished…… I know it’s complicated but that’s life! Tomorrow, Friday evening, we are going to our lovely friends Motti and Rivka Friedman for supper. Rivka always cooks up a storm of wonderful “heimische” food, in addition to being a highly respected judge in the Israeli courts and Motti is a world expert on Theodore Herzl, with a vast collection of Herzl memorabilia. It is always wonderful to spend time with them.


Time for us to hold a Eurovision sing along as Tel Aviv prepares for the big event next month!


Israel’s 2019 Eurovision entry is the complete opposite of the somewhat crazy “Toy” of last year, with the mellifluous voice of Kobi Marimi singing “Home” The more I hear it the more I love it!


“Halleluyah” was another wonderful Israeli Eurovision song with the beautiful Gali Atari heading the bill


Finally, how could I not have Dana International singing Diva? 21 years ago the idea of a transgender singer representing her country in a somewhat staid international competition was revolutionary, although today most countries seem to have transgender singers!


That’s it for today. I wish you a wonderful last day of Pesach, a Good Shabbat and a wonderful week. At the end of this missive I have added the words of my young friend Yahya Mahamid, now a soldier in the IDF. Well worth reading.


With all my love from Jerusalem and of course, the view from our veranda.




Yahya Mahamid, IDF soldier


Sitting with my back to the metal barrier, I take a second to adjust my helmet when all of a sudden I hear a loud bang against the barrier.

It’s started- the Friday riots on the Gaza border.

I adjust my Kevlar vest, take a breath and  stand up to take a look at the other side, all while trying to keep as much of my body under cover.


I’m shocked to see mothers going hand and hand with their kids. Yes, kids, not older than 10-13 coming to the weekly protest as if it were a normal Friday activity.


Our orders are clear.  Respect human life and the purity of our arms, it’s nothing new after all; it’s the IDF code of ethics and that’s how we always operate.


I take my sharpshooter sight and start scanning the crowds looking for anything suspicious (bombs & guns). While looking through my sight, I start smelling the familiar smell of burned tires. I know that tear gas will follow so I put on my gas mask and look at the madness that is assembling in front of my eyes.


The adults, mothers & fathers I assume, sitting on the green grass plane enjoying some cold drinks and snacks, while their kids are running towards the security fence, throwing rocks and anything they can get their hands on, at us.


I take cover after another rock hits the barrier again. I could’ve sworn that these rocks travel almost as fast as my bullet. I adjust my protective glasses and take another peak-we can’t have the security barrier get damaged.


I stand up again to take a look at the crowd that’s growing like a hate tumour on steroids and suddenly I hear an explosion. I look through my sight again, while looking through the black & grey crowd.

I see him. He’s sitting with a large blue hoodie, looking straight at me. I take a look at him through my sight to get a closer look and he is just sitting there, looking straight at me like he’s staring into my soul. He’s not older than 10 years old


I will never forget the look on his face, like he has a million questions on his mind, not reacting to the screams, tear gas, burned tires and the electrified atmosphere filled with anger.


He just sits there, looking at me like he wants to ask me “when this madness will end?” ..

I look at him, wave, and give him the OK sign, hoping to make my first Gazan friend.


Maybe something positive can come out of this ugliness.

He gets up and gives me an innocent smile and waves. I smile back . Another bomb follows immediately after, above us this time and we are told to retract behind cover.


I don’t see him again but I hope the situation will improve for him and me one day.


I call him Little Blue Hood.