at home with ann

Archive for the ‘israel’ Category

On the 25th June 2006, Gilad Shalit (aged just 19) was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists in a cross border raid from the Gaza Strip. He has been held hostage by Hamas ever since with almost no contact to the outside world. He is also denied visits from the International Red Cross to ensure his good health.

 

Human Rights Watch in the UK said they have never heard of him.   Amnesty International is not highlighting Gilad’s birthday and the International Committee of the Red Cross is  doing nothing to publicise his case.

gilad shalit on hamas poster

He must not be forgotten – not on his birthday – not any day.

 

This beautiful songs starts at around 1 minute – it has English subtitles

Angels

Posted on: 10 April 2010

The sun is shining, spring has arrived and I’m sorry; I know – it’s been a long time!   Now Pesach is over my houseguests have left.  It seemed uber-hard work this year (I must be feeling my age) still, for all that, the effort is really rewarding and I won’t deny it, I love a full house.   The family stayed with me for ten days and I even had Jon stay a couple a days the week before as he was in London on business.   Now my home is back the way it was – very clean and very quiet – it can never be too clean, but it can be too quiet!

So what’s been going on?  Lots, but for this post I’m focusing on my last trip to Israel which seems so long  ago –  and  I’ll be back there in a couple of weeks taking my ol’ ma to see her great-grandchildren – I’ve booked the flights, just need to sort accommodation!  We’ll probably rent an apartment with a pool in Herzliya so Bridgitte can bring the children over after school, which finishes at 1.30, and Jon can see us after work as his office is there.   We’ll work something out.

 

my numero uno grandson

aaaaaaaah - moriah and nadav

 

Back to the trip – last year we were a small group of nine souls; this time there were nineteen of us!   It was  fast-paced and hectic trying to fit so much into four days.   Much was  familiar to us old regulars although some in this year’s group had never been to Israel before or had only done the sun sea and sand thing and some of the itinerary was new ground even for us Israel frequent flyers.    I won’t repeat it all as much is déjà-vu from last year, particularly the Old City, Rachel’s Tomb,  Hebron and the Caves of Machpelah the burial place of our Patriarchs.  However visiting Sderot, an Israeli town literally across the road from Gaza – a stone’s, no, a rocket’s throw – was a real eye-and mind-opener.   It hit home the enormity of their situation when we saw the racks of ketusha, qassam and grad rockets  fired relentlessly on the town’s residents, when we saw the war room,  when we saw a playground where shelters are disguised as animals so the children can come out of their homes and when we saw streets where no house escaped damage. 

 

ketusha and qassam rockets fired from gaza onto the homes and people of sderot

sderot - a playground disguised shelter

the entrance to the shelter

inside the shelter - to be safe the children must go beyond the orange line

in red it says "colour red" which means when the sirens sound they have just 15 seconds to get to safety

gaza - across the road from where i was standing in sderot - a short distance to fire rockets

 

and this is the response of the Mayor of Sderot – not what you may have expected;   the word peace comes from the lips of Israel, not hate!

From Sderot we went to Independence Hall in Tel Aviv and the Etzel Museum in Jaffe – we met incredible, brave, heroic people who were there when independence was declared; who fought for our right to exist and when you see the first video above, nothing has changed in our fight for survival.     

I hadn’t managed to get to Kibbutz Kfar Etzion before, which was in fact not so far from where Jon lived in the Gush.  The story of this now thriving kibbutz is one of life and death and life again and they have set up a museum to relate its history and its legacy  – it was poignant and moving especially when praying at the bunker.   At Kfar Etzion, one of four kibbutzim in the area, the captured Jews were gathered together by soldiers of the Arab Legion and told they were going to be photographed, instead the soldiers opened fire and murdered scores, according to eyewitness accounts from Jewish survivors.  The wounded from the battle had taken refuge in a cellar bunker.   After the village surrendered, the Arabs blew up the bunker with grenades killing everyone in it.  Only then were any survivors taken to captivity in Jordan.

the bunker at kfar etzion

 

a memorial to the fallen at gush etzion

the lone oak of gush etzion - the settlement Of Alon Shvut means "oak of return" and refers to the return of those Jews expelled from Gush Etzion by the Jordanian Arab Legion in 1948 after the Kfar Etzion Massacre - the women and children had been evacuated to Jerusalem and every man was slaughtered. After the destruction of the Etzion Bloc of Communities, the survivors and their children would gather yearly on the Israeli–Jordanian frontier to glimpse the sole remaining tree, an oak which became known as the 'lone oak' - the town was built next to the tree and even today maintains a central place in the identity of both Alon Shvut and Gush Etzion as a symbol of renewal and continuity. The 'lone oak' is incorporated in the emblem of the Gush Etzion Regional Council

I gathered acorns from around it and brought them home to remember – if the tree can survive, so can we.  

I know I often fly off to Israel for my baby fix, but for me these trips are also as important, illuminating and valuable – I try to spread the word to my friends to go, to listen, to learn, particularly when we visit the victims of terror and hear their terrible stories or work the soup kitchen or pack challot and provisions  with the beautiful Liore for over 400 destitute families who have nothing – poverty in Israel is a major issue.  My synagogue has been raising funds and been supporting these poor people since the start of the intifada and it is humbling also to meet  the wonderful volunteers in Israel who give so much of themselves.    As a community we still raise much needed funds and visit them today as we did seven years ago and they know and appreciate that Chigwell still cares and they know they are not alone.    After initial pain and grief, the scars and trauma last for ever; so must our endeavours.  

This year I met two lovely families, one from Russia, the other from Latvia, whose lives were destroyed through terrorist attack and whose stories of healing I may tell another time, but their progress and rehabilitation could never have happened without the hard graft and sheer dedication of one truly remarkable lady, Delysia Jayson, a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valour…

“a woman of valour… she invests herself with strength… she opens her hand to the poor and reaches out to the needy… she is robed in strength and dignity and she smiles at the future…  give her credit for the fruit of her labour and let her achievements praise her at the gates.” (Proverbs 31: 10-31)  

Delysia sadly died shortly after our visit, on her 67th birthday.   Maybe it sounds odd to say I was lucky, but I was lucky to have had the opportunity to spend precious time with her again, to have walked beside this angel on earth, to have had the honour and privilege to have known her at all.   On our first day in Jerusalem she drove us to visit  families in their homes and the following evening I sat with her at a dinner for more victims, their families and volunteers – always a brilliant evening of shared stories of despair and hope – for example beautiful young men cruelly injured by mines and suicide bombs whose survival hung in the balance and now they were loved and embarking on marriage, something they had never dared to hope for, something that was just a dream.

Delysia was the founder of Keren Klita – her voluntary work started in the early 70’s with a group called the “35’s Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry”.   Reading her tribute brought back memories – I recall playing a small part in those days, just going on rallies and occasionally volunteering in charity shops to raise funds to help get those poor souls out of Russia and to raise public awareness of their plight.      I remember wearing a pendant that bore the words “Let My People Go”  and years later twinning my sons’ Bar Mitzvahs with 13 year old boys in Russia who could not get out, who could not celebrate openly as we could in the land of freedom, who could not live freely as Jews, whose families were imprisoned on false charges because they wanted to leave the Soviet Union.    It was a very big thing then and Delysia courageously made perilous trips to Russia to see for herself and to do what she could.   

When we saw Delysia again in February we knew something was wrong – she was a shadow of her former self, yet she was still working tirelessly for her cause.  I wonder if she realised she had mere weeks to live; she knew she was sick, she told us she had cancer but when questioned she dismissed it as a nuisance, like one would flick a hand at a pesky fly.   Please please read this tribute to her – it chronicles her life and her strength of character and determination and was written by someone who followed in her footsteps to help others, by someone who will miss her like everyone all over the world who got to know and respect and admire and love her.   Her death leaves a void, an enormous loss to her family, her friends, her colleagues, her community and the many many thousands of people she saved.    Future trips will not be the same without her.

 

moriah

boaz and nadav
nadav

 

I’m back on my travels and thankfully there’s no snow this weekend!    Amazingly it’s been eight whole months since I was last in Israel, a long long time for me, although the children did come here in October.    Of course I’m very very very excited.   I won’t actually see my family until Thursday as I am heading straight to Jerusalem to do my thing there.  I am so looking forward to meeting again the most awesome people I had the privilege and honour to meet last year; those who we, from a distance,  support financially and spiritually who have gone through so much hardship and suffering – and of course meeting again with the wonderful people in Israel who give so much of themselves.  

Hopefully I’ll find a little time to catch up with some friends whilst I’m there, but the actual days of the trip are jam-packed and hectic.    One of the places we shall visit again is the excavated Southern Wall of the Temple.   As moving as the Kotel  (the Western Wall) can be the Southern excavations is a trip that anyone who is going to Israel should not miss.   It never ceases to fascinate me – and I have been there a few times – to see how the people lived then – the road, the shops, the mikveh – and for me the most amazing experience is to walk the exact same steps the Priests and the people had walked to enter the Temple all those thousands of years ago. 

Jerusalem - The Southern Wall Excavations

 

Then I’m on to Ra’anana to meet my new grandson, Nadav Philip.   The name Nadav means generous and noble and the name Philip has been passed down through Bridgitte’s father’s family for generations.   I’m hoping to meet some friends there as well and even make new friends – more of that later!

 Also in the meantime, there’s more news about the move, but that will also have to wait till I get back.

See you all in a couple of weeks.

lotsa luv   ann   x0x0x0x

 

Monday I dragged my feet like a reluctant and recalcitrant schoolgirl back to my writing class – a new term, a new class, a new teacher.   I was trying to justify every good reason for a no show – the course had been paid for, the money long gone, but the bottom line was that I simply could not be bothered.   Shopping lists, christmas cards, cheques, sporadic posts here and an odd (in every sense) comment there,  just about sums up the extent of my writing since breaking up last November.   You’d think with the number of vegetative days since the snows began I would have taken the opportunity to knuckle down and be creative – huh – it don’t work like that!   

The fact is I felt I’d lost my mojo and couldn’t face sitting in a class of  talented wannabes, my pen frozen in the air above the snowy white virgin sheet of paper and everyone else keen eager beavers.    Still I did make it ; the new teacher is a darling, it was great to see friends from last term and some newbies.  It was rather amusing seeing their young and enthusiastic faces enter the room – you could tell there was an element of shock when they saw the number of wrinklies and thought they were in the wrong place.  However as for not writing, I was not alone – no one else had and we all felt the same!

You see I blame the weather.   It’s odd how it changes one’s psyche.   We’ve all heard of SAD, seasonal affective disorder –  not that it particularly affects me apart from my usual moan that it goes against nature to get up from a warm cosy bed when it’s still dark out there.   It’s the psychological affect of snow; the feeling of being cut off and isolated that equates with hibernation; the desire to hole up and hide away and basically do nothing.   Now I live a fairly solitary life in any event, but somehow this is different.   

Last Wednesday was horrendous and my plans were scuppered so I chilled indoors, cooked and wrote a post.    By the time I got home from work last night, my road was ice free – the garden still pretty as a winter wonderland and the underlying perils gone.  

Today is another Wednesday – another non-working day – another night of snow and we’re back to square 1! 

As I’m typing, I’m watching it coming down from the warmth of my bed, the sky the same colour as the housetops and the road an ice rink again, but today I will not give in so easily.   Wisdom dictates I don’t do the North Circular, so sorry mother, another day not taking you to Brent X –  it wasn’t so much the getting there, but the getting home.    Still this vegetating has to stop.  Life has to go on.  

Tonight I have a meeting about my next official trip to Israel – driving on icy roads is one thing, doing it at night and I’m a real wimp, but it’s important.   Many of you will remember last year’s trip well I’m doing it again.   I’m looking forward to finding out this year’s itinerary and meeting my fellow travellers.     I should like to revisit Rachel’s Tomb and pray harder this time  –  I’ll leave it at that for now.   I heard we’ll be visiting Sderot, rocket attacks permitting.   I know this time round it will be a larger group, so I expect we shall have an armed escort and travel on a bullet-proof bus and  I know we shall be seeing Liore again – I am very excited.   If you have time, please see the video on her link – Liore shines with inner beauty, she is modest, she is brave, she is an angel.

No trip to Israel goes without seeing my family, so of course I shall be staying on.   Actually most trips are only about seeing them and weddings, talking of which,  Jon and Bridgitte celebrate their 6th anniversary tomorrow, the baby is due very very soon – like around Boaz’s birthday and he’s gonna be 5 next week – I can’t wait to see them all – so many wonderful blessings.    Coincidentally Jamie was due on Jon’s birthday, a long long time ago, except he came early – my husband wanted me to hang in there so he would then be born on his birthday the following day – yeah right!   As it was I  ended up living in a household with three typical Aries men! 

 

chez moi - october 2009

 

Now I really am gonna move myself – the chores and errands won’t go away and they don’t do themselves!

~~~ooOoo~~~

HOT OFF THE PRESS — just heard that probate has been granted on the home jamie and lucy want to buy – guess it looks like I really will be moving – heeeeeeelp!!!!!

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this:  To rise above the little things  ~ John Burroughs

New Year’s Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual ~ Mark Twain

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right  ~ Oprah Winfrey

Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits  ~ Author Unknown

A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other  ~ Author Unknown

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man  ~ Benjamin Franklin
 
I made no resolutions for the New Year.  The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me  ~ Anaïs Nin
 
 

 

I know Christmas is not my festival, but it still ended up a very busy time indeed as my home turned into Hotel Chez Raven – again – bless my darling dearest and nearest – and I love it.   Anyway although it’s not my holiday I want to thank all of you who included me at this time, for your thoughtfulness in sending me beautiful snail mail and email cards and good wishes; all gratefully and graciously appreciated – your friendship means a lot to me – thank you.

 

I’ve not been in the right frame of mind to write – my creative juices are just not flowing – the way I’m feeling right now I could simply regurgitate some of the old stuff – boring boring boring.        Maybe it is all written in the stars and the waning moon and the flow of the tides.   I remember much debate about the effects of a new millenium and boy did my life change then.  

New Years Eve ten years ago, 1999, strolling along Fort Lauderdale promenade, my husband puffing on a cigar having just bought ‘us’ an apartment – little did I know what was in store.    The last ten years saw many losses; my marriage, my home, my job, my father and many friends who passed far too young, but despite the sadness, I am still blessed and for that I am eternally thankful.  I can’t say my cup is brimming over with happiness, but I’m not unhappy either – rather a sense of contentment and fulfilment.  The joy for a mother to see her children happily married to loving, caring and respectful partners and the wonderful gift of a loving family and friends and the highlight of grandchildren cannot be underestimated or adequately measured and as long as they are all well and happy, what more can I ask for?

  

So what’s new for 2010?   It’s probably just as well we don’t know what tomorrow brings, but for me I feel the time is right for a change of scene –  they did it in Israel!   

 

I really do fancy a new start – a blank canvas – gutting out rooms and remodelling, redecorating and refurnishing whilst I still have the energy and strength, but not this house – I do love it now and it has served me well – if I could lift it and move it I would.  It  is so true what they say – location location location is everything and living on an uninspiring characterless development is not where I wish to end my days.   I’ve had my HIP done (no not that kind – a Home Information Pack) and in the new year I shall get the ball rolling.   

As for other resolutions – humbug – nonsense – we don’t need a date to change or reflect or think of what was, what is, what might have been.  We can look into our hearts and souls any day of the year; it’s never too late to change.   As they say, out with the old (and the bad) – in with the new (and the good)!

with every best wish for a blessed 2010 to all my blogging family and friends

TAKEN FROM MY FRONT DOOR

 

Many many many many years ago on a beautiful sunny autumn day I impulsively bought myself a pair of fur lined (well – fluffy) snowboots that lived safe and dry and warm in the boot (trunk) of my car.  They stayed pristine white and virginal for over seven years – they were like my own little insurance policy against that little dirty four letter word.    If anyone is gonna slip and slide and fall on their face, or their tail, it’s sure to be yours truly.   Snow is no friend of mine! Yuck, yuck, yuck!

I was upset yesterday – I couldn’t believe the weather.  I frantically searched my shoe cupboards – I have a lot of them – for my now very mucky stained, well used and abused and trusted and very much loved  boots.   I don’t care what they look like, or how I look.  If there’s one itsy bitsy snowflake on the path, I will not leave the house without them.   

I don’t remember the last time it snowed in London in December and now tonight (Thursday) it’s really coming down.      I’m still recovering from last February.   Actually I’m not sure I ever shared this story with anyone in the blogosphere, but my friends and community dined out on it for months and people stopped me in the street and the supermarket and the butcher and the baker and told me they’d heard what happened.  

Do you remember  ten months ago when this country ground to a halt?   Even I watched the weather channel that day which is quite something seeing I tell certain weather obsessed people (you know who you are) if you want to know what the weather’s like, turn off the tv and put your head out the front door.     I was going to Israel again expecting to be almost snowed-in there like the previous February (2008) when I had to get out the Gush for meetings in Tel Aviv in time for my taxi driver to get me there and for him to get home before he got snowed-out!    

Thankfully on the day of my departure the snow in my area was practically gone so, minus snowboots, we – that is me and Gary (a good friend and my trusty driver)  left the house at 6.00 a.m.    We had barely gone 5 minutes when the traffic report came on to say Luton Airport was closed.    We’d heard the north of the country would be snowbound, but I guess when they talked north they meant north of London.    I tried to call the airport but only got pre-recorded messages so we battled on.    The motorways were chock-a-block and gridlocked because of jack-knifed lorries so Gary assured me he knew another way – huh – a route that had not been gritted.  Not totally unsurprising since the big news was the country had run out of salt and grit!!!     

We got stuck so many times and slid all over the place. Hours later we neared Luton only to be waved down and told not to go on a particular road since nothing had moved in almost two hours.    Grateful for the information, Gary reassured me again that he knew yet another way, so we unstuck ourselves in reverse and miraculously got out of there.   The next road, an alternative route to the airport,  had also not been gritted and was a sheet of ice.    All the cars were sliding all over the place and nothing was making progress.   We looked at each other and I said I felt sick, not bad traveller’s kinda sick, but scary sick and Gary had visibly paled and confessed he felt the same.    He was not his usual chippy chirpy self.  We had no choice – we had to abandon the car and walk the rest of the way.   Gary, bless him, said the arrangement was for him to get me to the airport and so he did. 

It was freezing – the snow was almost up to our knees – okay I exaggerate a little – my knees, his calves!   What a gentleman – my hero – he schlepped my case and 45 minutes and a mile-and-a-half walk later two very wet and bedraggled souls entered the airport.   My first port of call, the ladies, to get out of soaking wet socks, trainers and jeans.     Many airlines had actually cancelled all flights; mine hadn’t and eventually, hours late,  we took off – the atmosphere and camaraderie at the airport and on the flight was fantastic, but please please please, I would not want to experience that again.    I came home two weeks later and everyone knew – Gary, my super-uber-hero had told everyone.   I did reward him well – he was worth it.

So, back to today – that is if I get this posted, since my lights are flickering and I’m watching Grumpy Old Women at Christmas – they are so funny and it’s funny watching Maureen Lipman and Leslie Joseph, two prominent Jewish personalities, moaning about their Christmas preparations.   Sorry, got distracted.     

A good friend’s daughter, Sarah, is getting married this Sunday – oh and Rachel is bridesmaid again – just thought I’d mention it.    Well they have been friends since nursery school.   Rachel and Sarah were Gemma’s bridesmaids.   Sarah and Gemma were Rachel’s.   So Rachel and Gemma are Sarah’s.    Aaaaah!     A lot of Sarah’s family live in Israel and are flying in today and I’m putting two of her cousins and spouses up for Shabbat – that is, if they get here.      The wind is howling and it is snowing – horrid – ghastly – freezing – wet – cold – settling on the ground – my road is an ice rink – that kinda  snow, not the pretty pretend stuff on this page.  

I’m praying they get here safely.   I’m praying everyone gets to the wedding safely – especially the bride and groom.   I’m wondering how my snowboots will look with my evening gown…

… and I’ve just booked to go to Israel again this February – with my snowboots!

 

SNOW IN ISRAEL

******

 

 

 

and let’s all say ‘amen’ to a world

of peace and freedom

 

******

 

 

******

chanukah 2007 - serious do'nut time

 

 

chag chanukah seme’ach

shabbat shalom

lotsa luv   ann   x0x0x0x

It’s odd the moral dilemma I find  myself in when driving to work.  I know it’s just a  silly little thing and hardly requires deep meaning or philosophy, but still it bothers me.   Obviously it’s the rush hour, the roads are horrendously busy, traffic jams, road works, broken lights, accidents, sirens, the usual.    I don’t mind letting people out ‘cos I would like someone to do the same for me – and I try not to block sideroads when stuck in a line that ain’t moving.  The thing is doing this the whole journey means it takes longer and then I could be late for work and I do have an obligation to my boss – he  does pay me to be there.   So, if I don’t let someone out and I’m given the evil eye I feel terrible, and even if I’m not given the eye, I feel terrible – they don’t know I’ve already been “gentleman jim” umpteen times and the clock is nearly clocking on time.     Strangely it makes no difference what time I leave the house, traffic is traffic.   I don’t have this problem going home – I let ’em all out!   Funny, the silly thoughts that go round my head!

Here’s some exciting news – the Israeli branch of my tribe have moved home.   They’ve left the big house in Neve Daniel (where the wind whipped round the hillside, it was cold cold cold, but the views were breathtakingly stunning – and I shall miss all their neighbours who over the years have hosted me many a Shabbat lunch).  They’re now in a much smaller apartment in Raanana, an area I have only  passed through once and that was for a quick falafel and hummus; hopefully I shall visit them real soon,  although not sure there’s enough room at the inn for mother.    It’s funny how things work out.  Jon was made redundant almost a year ago, his old boss got him an interview for another job that he did not get.   That company then recommended him to another company and he got that job then – they poached him back.   Well the new job’s in Herzliya which meant a commute of 2 hrs morn and night, hence the move.   Yeah, think I’ll definitely go online and check those flights for Chanukah and I need some new pics 🙂

I rarely check this bog’s blog’s stats, I don’t need to go there to know I don’t get many visitors – aaaaaah!   Well, the point is I did see my stats and the one post that consistently attracts a steady stream of interest is Privileged to Walk with Angels, the one I wrote after my trip to Israel earlier this year.   The good news is, I’ll be repeating the experience and I’m really excited – it was such an honour to meet such amazing people, heroes and heroines, the victims of terror and the people who help them – and baby No.3 is due around the same time.   Kill two birds with one stone – what a ghastly expression when you think about it – better not think about it!

I haven’t posted any poetry here in a while; I’m now putting it directly on My Poetry Page.  If anyone’s even remotely interested, there’s some new stuff and some old that I’ve played around with and tweaked here and there.    I’m in the process of putting it here too.  

Currently re-reading Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, Michael Chabon’s Final Solution and Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.   Also treated myself to some poetry by real poets which is a joy to dip into when I can’t sleep.  Have now happily got my copy of The Narrows – just need to find time to sit and watch it in peace and quiet – not because anyone else lives here, but because of the  darn phone and don’t suggest I unplug it or switch off my mobile, they’ll then worry and it’s so not worth the aggravation – still it’s nice to know they care.

Other news – I thought I was gonna move.     I walked into my house the other day, looked around and decided it needed a makeover of some sort.  It was redecorated and recarpeted not so long ago, but the curtains and light fittings were already here when I bought the place and they’re pleasant enough but they and my furniture are all looking a tad tired.   It hit me that I’m now ready to move on and out and start over.   Coincidentally Jamie said he’d found a house near him he thought I would like, and I hadn’t even told him my idea.   I said I’d rather move to a flat (apartment) so he said he’d buy the house and I could buy his place, which I love love love, and I was so excited except the house he was gonna buy has fallen through… and there was I  wading my way through the John Lewis catalogue.   Guess it wasn’t meant to be, but watch this space. 

 

 

 

yom kippur

The Jewish people are approaching the conclusion of  the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, known as The Days of Awe a time for reflection and introspection.   For me that’s a constant.   My conscience is very active; I know I say the wrong thing, make bad choices – many regrets.  I search my heart and soul, I want to be a better person and seek answers that are elusive.   We are made in G-d’s image; we are given freewill, the choice to be good or bad.    G-d is all loving and all merciful.   As I heard today, He doesn’t wish to destroy wicked people, He wishes to destroy their wickedness that they have a chance to become good.   

Yom Kippur is the time to ask G-d’s forgiveness for the sins we committed against him; we also try to reconcile differences with each other;  if I have upset or offended anyone, I apologise and ask for your forgiveness.  

I wish those of my faith an easy and meaningful fast and may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

dry bones

~~~oooOooo~~~

I reproduce here Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly two days ago.   I want to spread his words and pray they reach out and make their mark.    The world has to understand that Israel is not alone in its potential destruction, the whole world is in danger and I do not stand alone in being afraid, very afraid.  

~~~oooOooo~~~

Mr. President
Ladies and Gentlemen

Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500 years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland.

I stand here today as the Prime Minister of Israel, the Jewish state, and I speak to you on behalf of my country and my people.

The United Nations was founded after the carnage of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. It was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events. Nothing has undermined that central mission more than the systematic assault on the truth.

Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants. Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

Last month, I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee. There, on January 20, 1942, after a hearty meal, senior Nazi officials met and decided how to exterminate the Jewish people. The detailed minutes of that meeting have been preserved by successive German governments.

Here is a copy of those minutes, in which the Nazis issued precise instructions on how to carry out the extermination of the Jews. Is this a lie?

A day before I was in Wannsee, I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Those plans are signed by Hitler’s deputy, Heinrich Himmler himself. Here is a copy of the plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews were murdered. Is this too a lie?

This June, President Obama visited the Buchenwald concentration camp. Did President Obama pay tribute to a lie? And what of the Auschwitz survivors whose arms still bear the tattooed numbers branded on them by the Nazis? Are those tattoos a lie?

One-third of all Jews perished in the conflagration. Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own. My wife’s grandparents, her father’s two sisters and three brothers, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were all murdered by the Nazis. Is that also a lie?

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?

A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state. What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations!

Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You’re wrong. History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries.

In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times. Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated.

The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization. It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death. The primitivism of the 9th century ought to be no match for the progress of the 21st century. The allure of freedom, the power of technology, the reach of communications should surely win the day.

Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And the future offers all nations magnificent bounties of hope. The pace of progress is growing exponentially. It took us centuries to get from the printing press to the telephone, decades to get from the telephone to the personal computer, and only a few years to get from the personal computer to the internet.

What seemed impossible a few years ago is already outdated, and we can scarcely fathom the changes that are yet to come.

We will crack the genetic code. We will cure the incurable. We will lengthen our lives. We will find a cheap alternative to fossil fuels and clean up the planet.

I am proud that my country Israel is at the forefront of these advances – by leading innovations in science and technology, medicine and biology, agriculture and water, energy and the environment. These innovations the world over offer humanity a sunlit future of unimagined promise.

But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed for a time. And like the belated victory over the Nazis, the forces of progress and freedom will prevail only after a horrific toll of blood and fortune has been exacted from mankind.

That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction, and the most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?

Will it take action against the dictators who stole an election in broad daylight and gunned down Iranian protesters who died in the streets choking in their own blood?

Will the international community thwart the world’s most pernicious sponsors and practitioners of terrorism?

Above all, will the international community stop the terrorist regime of Iran from developing atomic weapons, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world?

The people of Iran are courageously standing up to this regime. People of goodwill around the world stand with them, as do the thousands who have been protesting outside this hall. Will the United Nations stand by their side?

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The jury is still out on the United Nations, and recent signs are not encouraging.

Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here have condemned their victims. That is exactly what a recent UN report on Gaza did, falsely equating the terrorists with those they targeted.

For eight long years, Hamas fired from Gaza thousands of missiles, mortars and rockets on nearby Israeli cities. Year after year, as these missiles were deliberately hurled at our civilians, not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks.

We heard nothing – absolutely nothing – from the UN Human Rights Council, a misnamed institution if there ever was one.

In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza. It dismantled 21 settlements and uprooted over 8,000 Israelis.

We didn’t get peace. Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv. Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare.

You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent.

Finally, after eight years of this unremitting assault, Israel was finally forced to respond. But how should we have responded?

Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country’s civilian population. It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II.

During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. Israel chose to respond differently. Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime of firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians – Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes against the rocket launchers.

That was no easy task because the terrorists were firing missiles from homes and schools, using mosques as weapons depots and ferreting explosives in ambulances.

Israel, by contrast, tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas. We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave.

Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy’s civilian population from harm’s way. Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel.

A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot.

By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals. What a perversion of truth! What a perversion of justice!

Delegates of the United Nations,
Will you accept this farce? Because if you do, the United Nations would revert to its darkest days, when the worst violators of human rights sat in judgment against the law-abiding democracies, when Zionism was equated with racism and when an automatic majority could declare that the earth is flat.

If this body does not reject this report, it would send a message to terrorists everywhere: Terror pays; if you launch your attacks from densely populated areas, you will win immunity.

And in condemning Israel, this body would also deal a mortal blow to peace. Here’s why. When Israel left Gaza, many hoped that the missile attacks would stop. Others believed that at the very least, Israel would have international legitimacy to exercise its right of self-defense.

What legitimacy? What self-defense?

The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us –my people, my country – of war crimes? And for what? For acting responsibly in self-defense. What a travesty!

Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?

We must know the answer to that question now. Now and not later. Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow.

Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
All of Israel wants peace. Any time an Arab leader genuinely wanted peace with us, we made peace. We made peace with Egypt led by Anwar Sadat. We made peace with Jordan led by King Hussein.

And if the Palestinians truly want peace, I and my government, and the people of Israel, will make peace. But we want a genuine peace, a defensible peace, a permanent peace.

In 1947, this body voted to establish two states for two peoples – a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted that resolution. The Arabs rejected it. We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state.

Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people. The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel. This is the land of our forefathers.

Inscribed on the walls outside this building is the great Biblical vision of peace: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. They shall learn war no more.” These words were spoken by the Jewish prophet Isaiah 2,800 years ago as he walked in my country, in my city – in the hills of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem. We are not strangers to this land. It is our homeland.

As deeply connected as we are to this land, we recognize that the Palestinians also live there and want a home of their own. We want to live side by side with them, two free peoples living in peace, prosperity and dignity.

But we must have security. The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel.

That is why a Palestinian state must be effectively demilitarized. We don’t want another Gaza, another Iranian backed terror base abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv.

We want peace

I believe such a peace can be achieved. But only if we roll back the forces of terror, led by Iran, that seek to destroy peace, eliminate Israel and overthrow the world order.

The question facing the international community is whether it is prepared to confront those forces or accommodate them.

Over seventy years ago, Winston Churchill lamented what he called the “confirmed unteachability of mankind,” the unfortunate habit of civilized societies to sleep until danger nearly overtakes them.

Churchill bemoaned what he called the “want of foresight, the unwillingness to act when action will be simple and effective, the lack of clear thinking, the confusion of counsel until emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong.”

I speak here today in the hope that Churchill’s assessment of the “unteachability of mankind” is for once proven wrong.

 

soldier

 
Same aromatic smells, bustling sounds
Foreign taste, our special place
Nothing much changed
Since the last time

We shared a war zone then
Now we meet, the uneasy peace
An awkward kiss
Not like the last time

Blackout curtains, darkness, silence
Save the sirens wail, bombs overhead
Your gun and bullets under the bed
Afraid it was the last time

Precious moments seeking comfort
Not straying from the other’s arms
As one, afraid to sleep alone
Maybe for the last time

Then it happened, your call to serve
And mine, get out, go home  
On my own two thousand miles
That was the last time

I wait for news, no email then
Not knowing if you survived
Years pass, by chance I find you
Here, like the last time

But, I’m not that same young girl
And you, my soldier of principle
Our lives and ideals now worlds apart
Far from the last time

We’ve changed, no going back
We’re not the same
We reminisce, a final kiss
For the last time

 
© 2006 ann raven


the loves of my life

at the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet ~~~ plato

thank you…

... to everyone whose pictures and videos I have borrowed; if anyone would like theirs to be removed, please tell me and I shall be happy to do so

all words here are mine ~ I’ll tell you when they’re not!

from long ago

in case I forget what day of the week it is

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