The view from my veranda

True Friendship

23 of August 2019


Shabbat Shalom. I hope you are well


I am terribly disturbed and beyond piqued. The reason is obvious but I will just write a few words about why I am so upset.


It isn’t because so many are angry with Israel for refusing entry to two women because they are American Congresswomen; nor is it because they ignored the fact that those same women are backed by an organisation run by Hanan Ashrawi whose specific purpose is to place Israel in impossible diplomatic situations; it is the fact that so many place a United States politician’s rights above the right of Israel to refuse entry to whomsoever she deems a danger! Not one voice was raised against the fact that Carrie Symonds, the partner of the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was refused an entry visa to the USA this week, yet we feel that the Jewish community of the USA has risen against Israel for the perceived insult of not allowing two deeply anti-Semitic women entry through Israel straight to the PA. They refused to meet even one Israeli politician or representative and part of their programme was to attend a demonstration on the Temple Mount denying Jewish rights thereof.


In 2012, Joe Biden, as a member of the Obama Administration banned an Israeli Knesset member and refused an entry visa to the then Israeli Minister of Defence Shaul Mofaz. National Security Advisor Uzi Arad and Head of the Shin Bet Yuval Diskin were also refused entry visas to the USA. Get over it!! These two women shouldn’t be seen as Representatives of the United States of America no matter how often they cry for the camera; they endanger Israel’s security by supporting BDS and the enemies of Israel. They have successfully turned the tables to make Israel the enemy and most Americans have fallen for their ploy. Israelis feel as if our best friend has taken the calumny of our enemy over the truth of a friend.


Oh, and Israel doesn’t receive aid – Israel has the right to “buy” American made aeroplanes and armaments whereas every other country receives actual financial aid. We also have an agreement that any Israeli defence innovations are deemed shared property with the USA. It works very well for both countries – I’m not complaining just putting the story right.


Had I seen Kevin before I wrote the above I wouldn’t have needed to work so hard!


That’s it, over and out.


Did you know that Linoy Ashram won 4 medals at the European Gymnastic Meet in Minsk? We long ago proved that the old saw about Jews being terrible athletes to be just that – an old saw. (Remember the joke about the Yeshiva boys rowing team) In fact we have proven ourselves to be great athletes – this generation has broken all the old visions of what Jews can do


Did you know that the Israeli Women’s Lacrosse Team was playing in Ontario, Canada, when they noticed that the Kenyan team was playing without cleats on their boots, slipping on the wet field. Our team coach contacted the Kenyan team coach, got the girls shoe sizes and bought cleated shoes from a local store, presenting them to the Kenyan girls. The Kenyan team went on to beat both Belgium and Israel wearing their new shoes!!


Did you know that Israeli youngsters collected soccer equipment for children in Kenya, Serbia, Gambia, Cameroon and Swaziland in a programme called Equalizer which through sport encourages academic prowess?


Did you know that for 53 years Israel has provided invitation scholarships and programmes at University level to improve economy, medical facilities, government, agriculture and so much more in underdeveloped countries while sending experts to those countries to teach agronomy and civics? Well we have.


Did you know that when the United States suffered devastation from hurricanes and natural disasters, tiny, insignificant Israel was the only country that sent medical, psychological and construction aid? Remember Superstorm Sandy when lots of you joined the Israaid teams in clearing out homes and giving succour to the residents? Israel came to the aid of Oklahoma, Puerto Rico and Colorado and provided water desalination plants for thirsty California.


Did you know that the borders between the PA and Jordan and between Gaza and Egypt are hermetically sealed? Any movement between the PA and Jordan is through Israel. In fact the only neighbour of the PA that allows almost free passage is Israel. Of course we are careful! Of course we have border patrols and checkpoints, but without Israeli employers the financial situation would be 10 times worse.


Did you know that Israel is the only country in the entire region that allows freedom of prayer and faith? Which includes Jewish prayer – in our area we have a Mizrachi Synagogue, a Reform Synagogue, A Habad Synagogue and a Masorti Synagogue. The nearby muezzin calls Moslems to prayer and down in Ein Kerem the church bells ring out.


Did you know that when the PA banned all LGBTQ events and threatened to arrest them Israel invited any LGBTQ people who want to celebrate to come to Israel?


Did you know that according to the World Bank Rashida Tlaib’s family village, Beit-Ur el Fuaqa, is the wealthiest in the region!!!


OK now to what I wanted to tell before this week’s shenanigans!!!


I came on Aliya nearly 29 years ago and one year later a delightful young couple who Zvi met in Moscow came on Aliya too! Of course we adopted them into the family and not just because their family name is Silver!! Ira and Valeri found work in Keren Hayesod and in the Jewish Agency, interestingly enough Valeri worked in the Aliya of Jews from the FSU since his Mother was Israeli and Valeri grew up speaking Ivrit his whole life. In time and over the passage of many a Passover Seder and festival meal together, Tomer then Shelly were born. I still remember Tomer standing on his chair saying “Ma Nishtana” when he was about 3 years old. Well they grew up! Tomer is already in the IDF and Shelly will go for basic training next week. We are incredibly proud of them; they have become such responsible young people – having served one year of public service before their enlistment. Young Israelis are responsible, they know that they don’t leave school then just leap into the “me generation” life. They serve their country, they take on huge responsibilities to their families, their country and their fellow soldiers; they spend their service meeting people from every walk of life, not just their own social background. From the minute they get on the bus at the collection points, proudly wearing their uniform for the first time, give their parents a hug and step from childhood into adulthood. We are so proud of Tomer and Shelley and of course of Ira and Valeri. Shelley – we love you and remember to be everything we already know you to be!


Other news

  • Sarah Netanyahu dropped her offering of traditional Ukrainian greeting bread and creating a diplomatic gaffe before it hit the ground!!
  • We are still waiting for one of the political parties to present a paper of intent.
  • Ayman Odeh of the Arab joint list has offered to join the centre left party on three conditions – stop the nation state law, end the “occupation” and deal with the high crime rate in Arab areas of Israel. Other than that he has no demands!
  • The US Air Force has been testing the Smash 2000, Israeli fire control system in California
  • A man who refused to give his wife a “get” (divorce) despite remarrying himself, was forced into relenting when the Chief Rabbi David Lau of Israel refused to bury his mother until he gave the get.
  • Amazon is opening in Israel
  • Israel’s Shayetet 13 Commando Unit and US Special Forces held joint exercises


This has been a week of wonderful recollections and meeting Welsh friends! The week began with my lovely friend Andrew Stone who always tells people he knew me before I was born!! As we sat in the coffee shop, reminiscing and catching up, a young woman came up to us because she recognised Andrew and of course she was also Welsh, from Cardiff and we knew her parents!!


On Tuesday Zvi and I went to Tel Aviv where I met with Irit Lev to give her a hug before she goes to see her Mum in Seattle then we met with the lovely Samuel Bettsak before heading home to Jerusalem. Wednesday was also a Cardiff day – with wonderful old friends – and real giggles as one can giggle with people you have known all your life.


It never fails to amaze me how little people know about the Welsh Jewish community. We were perhaps 3-4,000 strong as I grew up but nearly 500 came to Israel on Aliya and many headed off to London and around the world, making a surprising mark in many fields. Just one thing…… don’t tell us we are English and never suggest that Wales isn’t the best Rugby team in the world!!


I want to talk about Jerusalem, the misconceptions and the joy of living here. The sheer beauty of the architecture takes my breath away and unlike San Francisco’s 7 hills we have another hill around every corner! During the summer months there are so many activities, from craft fairs to free concerts; from open houses to Shakespeare in the park; from the Old City views to the sound and light show in the David’s Tower; from incredible museums to treasures in the National Library. Of course one cannot talk about Jerusalem without mentioning the diversity of the citizens which makes a free “people watching” show all on its own!! Tel Aviv apologists often talk of the lies, their unfounded convictions about our capital city. “Why don’t we give it back then we can live in peace” Give it back to whom? The Umayyads?  “Jerusalem is totally Haredi”  Oh yes? What about the Moslem, Christian and Secular community? Simply ignorant.


Shabbat is nearing, my dear friend Jill arrived at Ben Gurion Airport and her excitement was tangible as she walked through the sliding doors of the greeting hall. The crowd tends to be rather well behaved behind the circular waterfall until each door opening and there’s a Mexican Wave of curiosity to see if loved ones emerge! Children race in with balloons of every nature to meet Mums, Dads and grandparents; I tend to cry along with each and every one! I waited for her in the car but Rachel took our traditional photo as Talia and Ayala rushed to greet her.


The drive up to Jerusalem was spectacular on a clear night, the expectation rising as Jerusalem gets nearer. I already knew what Jill’s first move would be – to leave her suitcase at the front door and go straight to our veranda, our mirpesset, and breathe in the sweet, balmy, Jerusalem air and soak in the view, the incredible view from our veranda.


Jill loves Shlomo Artzi, so perhaps that’s where I should start. I know it isn’t the first time that you hear it, but it is so appropriate and it’s her favourite!! Under Mediterranean Skies as the subtitles will tell you, it is known as “What will it cost us”


This week’s Torah reading (Parsha) is Eikev when Moses talks to the Children of Israel about their refusal to accept his leadership and the laws he brought down from Sinai. He tells them about the Shema, probably the most “Jewish” prayer in the Jewish religion. Here Yaakov Shwekey tells how it became a the prayer of identity for Jews after the Shoah


Remember that like love and marriage we all need each other, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. United we stand and divided we fall. As Bob Marley said “One love, one heart . . .Let’s get together and feel all right” Bob Marley and his son Ziggy understood the importance of Israel, their love for Jerusalem – so let’s heed their words and reach out to each other instead of allowing anyone to drive a wedge between us.


Gosh this has been a long letter, but then we had so much to talk about! I hope I have explained myself and represented Israel well in the current situation. I have presented our case as well as I could and hope your verdict is fair.


With much love from Zvi, Jill and I. Think of us as we light the candles, pour the Kiddush wine, place the Challot on the Shabbat table and prepare to chant the age old prayers. Remember that those prayers unite us, don’t allow anyone or anything to tear us apart.


Shabbat Shalom to each and every one of you.



As I write there has been a terrible attack on some hikers near Modiin. An explosive device was used and a father and his two children were hurt. The father is in moderate condition, the son (16) has injuries to his limbs and stomach and the young daughter is in critical condition. Welcome to the truth of our situation.