Thursday, April 23, 2009

I was told that late 1970s were bad

I think I made a good decision coming to Israel....

Britain has another 15 months of a disastrous government

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yom Hashoa and the UN's View

Tonight and tomorrow is Yom Hashoa where in Israel and for Jews around the world, we will be remembering the martyrs of the Holocaust (this date was chosen by Israel to commemorate the start of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising).

However, on the same day the Iranian President who will be the keynote speaker at the UN's Human Rights Conference, publicly denies the existance of the Holocaust and has called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

I have recently written about how I am concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism that over the past five or so years has started to increase in Britain. However, this is not a phenomenon that is just occuring but which is increasing all over the world. In effect we are experiencing the worst period of anti-Semitim since the Holocaust.

Holocaust Days were introduced in order to highlight the result of hatred and racism, so as to never again allow a genocide to happen again. However, despite us having these days to reflect on the result of hatred and racism, we have still allowed genocides to happen in the former Yugoslavia, Rwuanda and currently in Darfur and Zimbabwe.

The United Nations was also established just over 60 years in order to stop hatred and racism, and in 2001 held a Human Rights, Anti-Racism Conference in Durban South Africa. However, rather than try and halt human rights abuses around the world, whether in the forms of sexism, racism or homophopia; the UN as its sole human rights objective, again began a battle with Israel by effectively defining it as a racist state. As a student at the time I immediately noticed an increase in the hatred of Israel and Jewish students at the time, to the result that on campuses around Britain, groups began to try and ban Jewish Societies in the same way as they did in the 1970s. Not only this, Jewish students were both verbally and physically abused.

I therefore believe that it was the UN's 2001 so called 'anti-racism' conference that has led to the worst anti-semitism occuring in the past 60 years.

This week the UN are again holding a Human Rights, Anti-Racism Conference. I hope unlike in 2001, the delegates actually choose to find a way to tackle racism, sexism and homophobia around the world. However, I am not confident and so I back the few countries such as Italy, the USA and Australia who have supported Israel in boycotting the Conference.

The reason I am not confident is because the UN have invited the Iranian President Ahmadinejad to be the key speaker. Mr Ahmadinejad has actively denied and supported others who deny the Holocaust occured and has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, at the same time as developing nuclear weapons. Given this fact and that Iran together with Libya have prepared the conference, I am concerned that the Arabic World and their supporters will again try and target Israel, which will further worsen the level of anti-Semitism around the world. If this does occur I hope Britain and other delegates will walk-out of the conference and show it for the farce that it is.

Only through actively showing that the world does not support anti-Semitism and the destruction of Israel, can the world help to defeat these evils.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hendon's Labour MP will be taking more taxpayers money in 2009/10

British news has recently been dominated by Labour sleaze and MPs wasting taxpayers money. When I was an aspiring Councillor I hoped I could try and help to change this political culture in Britain, however, alas I was unable to and the scinical abuse by many British politicians is not something I will miss when I resign as a Councillor.

Andrew Dismore the Labour MP for Hendon I believe is one of the worst examples of MPs abusing their expenses and taxpayers money. Over 10 years as an MP he has failed to even reach the first ladder of Government, yet consistently has had one of the highest expenses bills in the country. However, this week he has tried to pretend that he will be reducing his expenses when in reality they will be increasing.

Mr Dismore has said he will be claiming less tax payers money in 2009/10, when in fact he will be claiming more.

He has proudly issued a press release announcing that he would no longer be claiming the MP's Second Home Allowance. This he has been claiming for his flat in Burnt Oak (which I don't think he lives in much) while mainly living in Westminster, where he has lived since even before becoming an MP. Mr Dismore announced that he would stop claiming this allowance, which he said in 2008/9 was likely to be £3056.

However, instead he will continue to claim the London Weighting Allowance for his flat in Westminster. In 2009/10 this will increase by £4600 from £2900 to £7500. Therefore because Mr Dismore intends to live in Westminster and not Burnt Oak, next year he will be claiming about £1500 more than he will have claimed in 2008/9.

This is yet another example of Labour MPs taking the taxpayer for a ride.

Friday, April 10, 2009

‘This year we are here – next year, may we be in the Land of Israel.’

I would like to share with you one of the thoughts that I had as we enjoyed our Sedar at our friends Yehuda and Rachel Newman.

On Wednesday night, Sonia and I sat down to our first Sedar together in Israel and as usual began with Ha Lachma Anya, part of which reads; ‘this year we are here – next year, may we be in the Land of Israel.’

For all our lives we have been beginning the Sedar with the hope that we would be able to fulfil this desire to be able to live in the land of Israel, and this year just three weeks after making aliyah, our hopes have been fulfilled. For us this was a relatively easy move, albeit with all the difficulties of any migration.

Our journey to Israel though is a small-microcosm of the history of the Jewish people. As the Rabbi’s write; the lives and stories of our forefathers in the Torah, are a parallel of future events. The whole Pesach story is the story of how G-d helped the Jewish people to escape Egypt and eventually reach Egypt, after the Yaacov and his sons migrated to Egypt because of the famine in Egypt. The line above in the Hagadah refers to the hope that the Jewish people had for 2000 years after they were exiled from Israel by the Roman Empire.

This hope that next year we would be able to live in Israel, is found all through Jewish prayer. One place it is found is in the Sheva Brachot that we say on behalf of new married couples, there we request that we may again here in the cities of Israel and in the streets of Jerusalem, voices of joy and gladness, voices of the groom and bride … and the voices of young people feasting and singing.

This hope that we would one-day be able to live happily in the Land of Israel has been seen over the last hundred years and especially since the founding of the State of Israel almost 61 years ago.

Therefore, as the Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sack says in his Pesach Hagadah, just as at Pesach we remember the historic returns of the Jewish people to Israel, we should also thank G-d for our new return to Israel. This is because;

“Pesach, like a seed frozen in suspended animation, contained the latent energy the led Jews in the twentieth century to create the single most remarkable accomplishment in the modern world, the rebirth of Israel, the land, the state, the nation and the people.”[1]
[1] The Chief Rabbi’s Haggadah, Essays by Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, page 52.

Modiin's main squre full to bursting during Bichat Hachama, Wednesday 8 April, Erev Pesach

On Wednesday morning before our Sedar night, here in Modiin I was able to take part in the celebration of the creation of the world, at the cities communal Birchat Hachama service. Here I saw the voices of joy and gladness as we the Jewish people were able to thank G-d and celebrate here in the land of Israel.
However, just as in the past our future in Israel is not secure. Just in the last few days, since the swearing in of the new Netanyahu Government we have heard many statements which has created questions about what Israel will look like in the future. We have seen Gerry Adams meet with the leader of Hamas in Gaza, we have seen Iran move forward with its Nuclear programme, we have heard President Obama say it is vital to create a two-state solution, and we have heard the new Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman say that it is for the new Israeli Government to set out a process for peace in Israel.

This Pesach I am going to continue enjoy celebrating the history of the Jewish people and our return to Israel, but in the coming weeks I hope to look at what awaits our future here.

Chag Sameach

p.s. I enjoyed being able to write this on 2nd day Pesach (Yom Tov in England).

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Future of my blog -

Given that I will be soon be standing down as one of the Edgware Councillors on Barnet Council. I thought now would be a good time to update you on the future of my blog.

However, firstly I would like to thank the organisations that have helped to make our aliyah to Israel possible. Nefesh B'Nefesh, the Jewish Agency and the Modiin Absorption Centre have so far all helped to make our aliyah smooth and easy.

Being a Councillor has many benefits, including being able to make a difference for your local community. However, being a Councillor also means that I had to accept collective responsibility and so I had to limit my views made in public, whether I agreed or disagreed with a Conservative Policy.

Now that I am relinquishing my responsibilities I will again use this blog to express my opinion on various issues and events. I plan to use this blog to comment on local and national issues both in Israel and England. I hope to make this blog interesting for you the readers, and hopefully to provide new and useful insights.

Chag Pesach Sameach.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Modiin - Our new home

Following my resignation letter of yesterday I thought you might be interested in where Sonia and I are now living.

We have chosen to live in Modiin.

Modiin is a town that is only 12 years old, in central Israel, with a population of about 60,000 people, but which as plans to become the third or fourth largest city in Israel. The town, which is half an hour from both Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, has a very Israeli-Mediterranean feel, with lovely white Jerusalem stone buildings, lots of parks. There is also a large anglo-population with lots of immigrants from England. The website is an excellent information tool and if you are interested provides lots of information on Modiin.

In reporting my resignation yesterday, the Edgware Times picked up on my comment that due to the worrying rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in England, many Jews no longer feel safe. However, I would like to make clear that is not the reason why Sonia and I are making aliyah.

As I wrote yesterday, we believe that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people where it is right that we should live and where we want to live the rest of our lives; in order to help contribute to the successful future of the Jewish people, in the centre of Jewish life. We are therefore being pulled to Israel and not being pushed away from England.

However, I also see the growing levels of anti-Semitism that are occurring across Europe and see the re-emergence of anti-Semitism that has occurred in Europe throughout the past two-thousand years. The difference today though is that for the past 60 years, as a Jewish people we now have Israel as a State to support and defend us. I therefore feel lucky that I am able to settle here in Israel the home of the Jewish people, when I think of how many millions of Jews, over the past two-thousand years could only dream of living here in Israel.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

My Resignation as Councillor

I am writing to let you know that two weeks ago my wife Sonia and I decided to make aliyah (emigrate) to Israel. I have therefore decided to step down as a Councillor for Edgware Ward.

For the past three years I have felt privileged to serve, support, represent and help the people of Edgware both on their individual issues and those relating to Barnet Council. I have also been proud to be part of the Conservative Administration running Barnet Council under the leadership of Councillors Mike Freer and Matthew Offord and hope you have experienced some of the improvements that I have helped to achieve.

These achievements have included amongst others:
- the improvement of Edgware Library and its opening on Sundays;
- improvements to Stonegrove Park and Edgwarebury Park, which recently received a Green Flag;
- continued improvements to local schools,
- the rebuilding of Broadfields Primary;
- the planning permission for Edgware Jewish Primary School;
- improvements to recycling so that plastic and cardboard can now be recycled;
- fighting for better health care;
- good local cohesion; and
- working closely with the local police.

In order to save you the local taxpayers the £10,000 cost of a by-election, my resignation will be timed to coincide with the European elections, scheduled for 4th June. In the meantime you will continue to be represented by my two colleagues:
Cllr Helena Hart - 020 8371 0658
Cllr Joan Scannell - 020 8959 5921

My wife and I have decided to emigrate to Israel, because we believe passionately in Israel as the home of Jewish people and believe it is where all Jews should strive to live. Therefore, at this stage in our lives we believe this is the correct step to make. Whilst, we are moving for positive reasons, we are also concerned about the rising levels of anti-Semitism in England, where Jews no longer always feel comfortable living as Jews and supporting Israel.

Over my life I have learnt to love Israel, and for the past ten years I have been doing my best to show this to others by supporting and representing Israel. However, I also believe that it is time for us to contribute even more to Israel by living our lives here and helping to make it as successful a country as possible.

I hope that during my time as Councillor, you have appreciated what I have done, even if you did not always agree with it. I also apologies to anyone that I upset.

Finally, I hope to see you all in the future, either here in Israel or in London.

Cllr Richard Weider