Dear friends and family,
Here I am, in French Hill, a new suburb of New Jerusalem, thinking what news from Israel to tell you.
Unfortunately I don't have any news. I only have "No News".
What's going on in Jerusalem isn't news because, generally, it's the same as what goes on in any city in the world.
News is something different. It's something unique. For example if it's nice and peacefull in your nich of the world and war is going on here. That's news.
A bomb blast isn't news if bombs are blowing up all over. A road accident isn't news if accidents are happening everywhere. This is why I call my new letter "No News".
I hope to be bringing you up to the minute "No News"from all over Israel, but, of course, especially from Jerusalem and especially, especially from the Old City.
Mysteriously, Jerusalem is the centre of attention for a very great proportion of people in the world, being connected, with one of the three religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Even His Holiness, the Dalai Lama will be visiting Jerusalem next week. Perhaps the Buddhists feel they're missing something by not having a foothold in Jerusalem. Israelis have great sympathy for the Tibetan People. We cooperate with them in agriculture and developing a museum of Tibetan culture.
Every visitor to Jerusalem is just as important and welcome as the Dalai Lama. As a tour guide I give them all VIP treatment.
I spent Wednesday guiding one such VIP from the USA, a devout Lutheran Christian. After visiting all the holy highlights, the Wailing Wall, Via Dolorosa, Mt. Zion etc. we stopped at a great Arab Humus restaurant in the heart of the Old City. This place isn't only the centre in a physical sense, it's the place where you can feel the life of Old City throbbing around you, colorful scarves, lights and sounds of bargaining in the market. Arabs and Jews all mixed together enjoying the sights and the shopping. Wherever you go you hear "Shalom" or "Ahalan Wa Saalan".
It was freezing cold in Jerusalem. Everybody expected snow but Jerusalem is notorious for surprising us and snowing when we least expect it. Yesterday morning I took a walk, with a group of girl seminary students in the neighborhood of Katamon. They were participating in a programme to clean up the city and at the same time learn about the history of Jerusalem's different neighborhoods. I think it's a great way to show love for the city when you do things like cleaning it up and taking care of its environment.
Every day the newspapers publish the election forecasts and it looks like Olmert and the Kadimah party are still gaining strength. The latest forecast according to number of seats in the Knesset is: 43 Kadimah 20 Labour 11 Likud. The rest are about 10 small parties like the Religious zionists (Mafdal) Sephardi Jews (Shas), Arab parties, Russian Jews party etc.
Like many people in Israel I've joined Kadimah. I've never been politically active but now I feel the need. This is because I'm shocked at Jews trying to determine policy by the use of force instead of democratic means.
I'm worried about the tendency not to accept decisions passed by the Supreme Court.
I'm all in favour of criticism of the government.
I would also be in favor of uprising against a despotic, cruel regime.
I'm not even sure that I support the government's decision to dismantle settlements.
All I know that it's a democratic decision.
But more important is that it's a genuinely sincere attempt to solve the Arab - Israeli conflict and to give both the Jews and the Arabs a fair deal.
It's not a cruel, corrupt decision which I would oppose.
On the contrary, it's the settlers who are trying to force the govenment to make some really unfair policies in trying to compare the removal of illegally built homes in the West Bank with illegally built homes in poor Beduin areas like the Negev desert.
They're trying to force the government to go out to those overcrowded Beduin towns in the desert and to destroy badly needed homes that were built illegally.
They are not showing traditional Jewish kindness by doing that.
While it's true that the government really is neglecting the illegality of the Beduins, they are certainly not doing it as a matter of policy. There's simply a great backlog in granting building permits in the Negev.
This doesn't make it right but it would be pitiful to see those people's homes being destroyed simply because of a technicality.
The illegal building by the settlers goes counter to government policy and was done deliberately to force the government to adopt a non democratic and non productive policy regarding the West Bank.
Today's Shabbat, nothing new about that, but Shabbat is always a great day. Although I'm not observant I'm happy to see my kids and their families who aren't working today. This is the way it is with most people in Israel and so we wish each other Shabbat Shalom, And that's what I wish you.
Wishing you a great no news day