Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Liberal Democrat Leadership continues its attack on Israel

Happy Israeli Independence day. It is great to be celebrating 62 years of Israeli independence and everything that our small country has achieved.

Sadly though, according to the UK's Jewish Chronicle, this week the Liberal Democrats are continuing to attack Israel and to even question our motives.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Remembering Israel's Heroes

As we come to the end of the 62nd year of independence for the modern State of Israel, today (Rememberance Day) is a chance for us to remember the 22,682 Israeli heroes who have died fighting to create and defend this wonderful country.

I made aliyah after the age I was required to serve in the IDF and I do not know what it is like to service or to see a friend in action (and I hpe I never will). I have a huge gratitude for every soldier who has served in the Israeli armed forces working to defend our State of Israel. Sadly, this appears to be a duty which will not go away in the near future.

However, defending Israel from enemy attack is not the only action that defenders of Israel currently have to carry out. Sadly we are also living in a world in which the deligitimisation of Israel's right to exist is become an equally important duty to defend. Over the past ten years like thousands of other Jewish people and supporters of Israel around the world, I have strived to defend Israel and this is something that we have to continue to do and to not give up in what is another battle that we must not lose.

Just this week the British Advertising Standards Agency ruled that the Western Wall can not be used in Israeli tourism adverts, as they say this misleads the public about what is in Israel. This is just lunacy. Ask any person around the world about it's number one tourist site and the Western Wall will be virtually everybody's answer. However, the Advertising Standards Agency have fallen into the trap that this part of Israel is on occupied territory, and accept the Arab argument that there is no Jewish historical heritage in Jerusalem. This despite the Western Wall and the Temple which it is a part of, has been part of the Land of Israel for over two thousand years, but was occupied by Jordan for nineteen sad years from 1948 to 1967. This is just the latest fight in the battle to defend and save Israel.

However, within Israel we have also had the shocking news, this past week which shames the memory of our fallen soldiers. It was reported this week that the officials and politicians including the two former Mayors of Jerusalem have allegedly been involved a bribery scandal to approve a planning application for the Holyland development. As someone who was a politician in London who decided on planning applications for developments I understood that when I made decisions I had to make these based on what was best for local people and the local area. The public trust politicians to make the right decisions and when they receive money to support a development they should feel ashamed. I hope as the investigation continues the alleged guilty officials and politicians admit they were wrong and apologise for these disgraceful actions. Our brave soldiers have given their lives for this country and when politicians and government officials brake the law for their own gain, they should hang their heads in shame.

I hope as we enter Israel's 63rd year, we are able to experience the start of the beginning of peace, where Israel just like every country in the world is rightly accepted and that our leaders show the decency that we the public expect of them.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Why Israel is important - an answer to anonymous

This Thursday Foreign Affairs will take centre stage in the British election when the Sky News Leaders Debate gives Cameron, Clegg and Brown the chance to give their views on political affairs.

I am sure in view of this an anonymous commentator asked me the following two questions.

Anonymous said...
I fail to see why "anti-semitic" and "anti-Israel" are concatenated into one criticism of Britain.And who was in Israel before the Jews? Can they have the whole land back, if they want it? (Of course not. And jolly lucky not one claims pre-ownership of England, as far as I know.)
11:53 PM
Anonymous said...
I should have made the last comment in more detail - I was, and am, angry at your question: "Who should Jewish people vote for in Hendon?". You are saying that it is most important (beyond anything else) for the election of a representative of one sovereign nation (Britain) to be purely on the basis of support for another sovereign nation (Israel).
12:12 AM

I have always said that the people of Britain should vote for the Conservative Party and Matthew Offord the Conservative candidate in Hendon because they will bring about the real positive change that Britain needs to improve the failing economy and ensure a Big improved society. However, in a seat like Hendon where there is a large Jewish community, the public should be aware of the canidates views on Israel and domestic Jewish issues, issues which are important to the Jewish community in Britain. On top of all that Israel should be an important ally to Britain in the Middle East, as the only truly democratic and peaceful country in the Middle East. For that reason in my view Israel should be an important (but for many not dissisive) issue in seats such as Hendon.

Sadly, while anti-semitism has been around for thousands of years, in recent years in Britain there has been a sharp rise in critisism of Israel, which is also being used as a new excuse for carrying out anti-semitic attacks. Sadly, these attacks seem to be mainly carried out by left wing supporters who seem to believe that they can attack Jews because they do not accept the actions and even the existence of the State of Israel.

In terms of who lived in Israel before it became a Jewish country, the Bible says it was land occupied by Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The election gets exciting

Two weeks into the election campaign and I can see why most people get put off by elections. Having campaigned locally in all elections since 2001, this has been my first real opportunity to see how campaigns are reported on the news, and I have to say they don't make it look very interesting to the public. That is why I think change was needed with the introduction of debates, so that voters can actually here from the leaders themselves instead of boring news reports.

(I hope this change is also coming in a positive way for Spurs who I am currently watching beat Chelsea. I think my daughter Maayan may be good luck for Spurs, as they have only lost two games in the past two months.)

The debates were interested and clearly show that the British public want a change from a tired, sleazy government led by Gordon Brown who can only offer a negative campaign.
Nick Clegg did do very well making clear that he believes he can offer a difference. However, while they are now clearly doing well in the polls, as the British public look for something different. How will he do when they realise what his policies are such as entering the Euro, letting out prisoners, scrapping Britains nuclear defence and raising taxes.

The Conservatives also offer a change by giving the British public a chance to rule themselves instead of by bureaucrats through a new modern Big Society. My tip to David Cameron is that as he prepares for the next two weeks of campaigning and debates is that he gives up on preparation, he looked too much like he was trying to show he was the leader. Instead he should be more natural and show with his natural debating skills why he will bring a real positive change to Britain.

Anyway lets see what happens.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Holocaust Rememberance Day

Today in Israel is Yom Hashoa, the day when we remember the victims and the heroes of the Holocaust. Last January at the London Borough of Barnet International Holocaust ceremony I was privelaged to be able to speak about my grandfather Herbert Goldsmith. I am pleased to share my speeech here.

Holocaust Day Speech -January 2009

1. Seventy years ago this month in January 1939 my grandfather Herbert Goldsmith escaped from Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport to England.
2. My grandfather was born in 1922 and was named Herbert by his parents Moritz and Wilehmine Goldschmidt.
3. They lived in Delmenhorst a small town, near Bremen in northern Germany, which had a Jewish community of about 200 people.
4. My great-grandparents owned a clothes and linen shop.
5. As a child my grandfather attended a small Jewish school in the local synagogue.
6. My grandfather and the other Jewish children were able to play and be friends with the non-Jewish children.
7. In 1933 when Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power things began to change.
8. This included a law that non-Jews were not allowed to use Jewish shops, including my great-grandparents. Nazi officers stood outside and prevented people from entering.
9. By 1936 Jews were no longer to have non-Jewish friends.
10. By this time my great-grandparents had had to close their shop and move house as their home was surrounded by members of the Nazi Party. Herbert’s mother therefore became the sole earner as a seamstress, with my great-grandfather unable to find work.
11. In 1936 my great-grandparents in 1936 decided to send Herbert to Arlhem Jewish horticultural college.
12. This was so as to make it easier for my grandfather to have a skill which he could easily adopt anywhere in the world.
13. This later came in use, when after the war he settled in Golders Green and opened a nursery.
14. By 1938 the Jews of Germany had practically been removed from all public life.
15. Then came the events of Kristalnagt (the night of Broken Glass) on 9 and 10 November 1938, when the Nazis in Germany destroyed 267 synagogues, killed 100 people and smashed 7,500 Jewish stores.
16. In addition my great-grandfather was one of nearly 30,000 Jewish men incarcerated in concentration camps. My great-grandfather was incarcerated for three weeks.
17. My great-grandparents then realised that there was no future for Jews in Germany and worked to arrange to send Herbert and his brother Charles to England.
18. My great-grandparents had a cousin who lived in Golders Green, who was amongst the Jewish Community here lobbying the Government to allow Jewish refugees into England.
19. Following Kristalnaght the British Government agreed to admit Jewish children up to the age of 17 from Germany.
20. My grandfather Herbert and his brother Charles were therefore able to escape Nazi Germany in January 1939.
21. However, my great-grandparents were not able to escape.
22. My grandfather therefore communicated with them by letter, but shortly after the war began was never able to hear from them again.
23. My grandfather Herbert, as a 16 year old was one of the oldest children of the Kindertransport.
24. In England he was fostered by a cousin of my great-grandparents, who lived on The Vale in Golders Green and had one daughter called Rosalie.
25. Herbert and Rosalie began to develop a relationship, which was to continue with the start of the war.
26. However, with the start of the war, my grandfather as a German refugee was interned to a camp on the south-coast.
27. Despite escaping the persecution of the Nazi’s, the conditions in the interment camp for my grandfather and the other refugees, many of whom were Jewish were very poor.
28. These conditions were worsened when my grandfather was among the German refugees interned in 1940 to Australia by the British on the SS Dunera
29. In 1941 Britain offered the German Jews a chance to stay in Australia or to return to Britain and join the British army.
30. Due to the relationship that he had developed with Rosalie he decided to return to England.
31. Back in England, my grandfather joined the Pioneer Corps in 1943 and later in 1944 he married my grandmother Rosalie in Bradford, where she was serving during the war.
32. Following D-Day my grandfather served in Normandy and Holland.
33. With the end of the war my grandfather served as a translator for the army in Germany, where he was posted back to his home town in northern Germany.
34. My grandfather was always proud to say that he enjoyed punishing the former Nazi commander of his home town, who he had remembered from his time in the 1930s.
35. Following the end of the war my grandparents returned to The Vale in Golders Green, where they lived with Rosalie’s parents.
36. In the year’s following the war my grandfather put much effort into achieving retribution for the Kindertransport refugees, by seeking pensions from the German Government.
37. My grandfather was rewarded for this work in 1999, shortly before he passed away, when the German Government presented my grandfather with the Cross of the German Order of Merit for outstanding contribution to Fostering British German relations and German Jewish reconciliation.
38. My grandparents were able to have three children and I am one of eight grandchildren.
39. One important lesson I learnt from my grandfather is that it is important to put in effort to help others.
40. My grandfather was lucky to escape the worst experiences of the Holocaust and to have children and grandchildren who have contributed to society.
41. However, six million Jewish people, including one million Jewish children were not able to escape the Nazi’s and were murdered solely for being Jewish.
42. Therefore, as we remember the most horrifying genocide in history, when the Nazi’s attempted to destroy an entire people, we should also consider the lost children and grandchildren who were never born.
43. The Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sack’s describes how out of this Valley of Death the Jewish people have recovered and achieved one of its greatest era’s with the rebirth of the State of Israel and many great contributions across the world.
44. However, how much greater could the achievements of the Jewish people have been, if we had not lost the six million, and the tens or even hundreds of millions of children that could not be born.
45. On this Holocaust Day, I therefore ask you to remember what caused the Holocaust, so that we can stop similar occurrences from ever happening again.
46. And to make up for what could not be achieved by both the children who were murdered but also the children who were not born…
47. I ask you to consider how we each can individually help to make our society stronger.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Who should Jewish people vote for in Hendon?

In what I have previously described as an increasingly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel Britain, it is important that the Jewish people and supporters of Israel have an MP that is a vocal supporter in Parliament. Therefore I believe it is vital that the next MP for the Hendon constituency - as well as other MPs - with a large Jewish community be a strong supporter of Jewish and Israeli causes.

In Hendon there are luckily three candidates that will support these causes. However, I feel the Liberal Democrat candidate has an uphill struggle given that Liberal Democrat policy is not to support Israel as a Jewish State. While, I am not a fan of the Labour MP Mr Dismore, he has been a good supporter, which under a Labour Government has been important given that most of the Labour Party seem now to be anti-Israel, especially under the leadership of Gordon Brown.

However, I would like to highlight my friend the Conservative candidate Matthew Offord, who since I have known him as proven that he is a strong supporter of both Jewish causes and of a strong and secure Israel. Both as the Deputy Leader of Barnet Council and as the Conservative Candidate to be an MP. Matthew has shown that he cares about Jewish and Israeli issues and would therefore make an excellent supporter for the Jewish community as an MP for Hendon. Below I highlight some of these issues.

Matthew Offord has visited Israel a number of times and supports a strong and secure Israel

Matthew Offord has called for the banning of the anti-semitic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, something Labour have refused

Matthew Offord has supported Benjamin Pearl's campaign for more Jewish schools in Hendon

Matthew Offord has led the fight against anti-semitism in Hendon

Matthew Offord has been a vocal supporter of the Holocaust Educational Trust and the need to remember the lessons of the Holocaust

Matthew Offord has supported JNet a local Jewish radio station

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A chance for hope and change in Britain

I had some mixed feelings yesterday, watching the beginning of the British election campaign. If I had still been living in London I would have been helping lead the election campaign for Matthew Offord the Conservative candidate for Hendon.

While I am pleased not to be having to take part in the hard slog of delivering leaflets across the constiuency, I am missing not canvassing and thinking what residents real views are (often very different to how the media report it). Interestingly, canvassing and political campaigning does not seem to happen in Israel outside of elections. However, I am sure Matthew Offord's Conservative team in Hendon, will be upping their canvassing on top of what I am sure will be a number of deliveries of leaflets across Edgware, Hendon, Burnt Oak, Colindale and Mill Hill.

Watching yesterday's coverage showed me why the Conservative's will definitely win the election. My first rule of elections is that positive campaign's win elections. Yesterday, it was clear that David Cameron is going to promise the Conservative's will make positive changes to Britain. In contrast the Prime Minister Labour's Gordon Brown, was only warning about the damage of Britain's future from a change. If this pattern continues it will ensurely see David Cameron become the British Prime Minister in a month's time.

On the web at the time of writing, Matthew Offord again seems to be the only candidate happy to be campaigning. In contrast the Labour MP Andrew Dismore, one of the MPs who got in trouble for his expenses, seems to have given up the goast, with his website saying that he his no longer an MP. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats in Hendon don't even seem to have a website. So it appears that on the 2nd day of the campaign, only the Conservative's Matthew Offord is really interesting in campaigning for a better future for the Hendon Consitutency.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Happy Pesach

After a two month break from here I am back. Happy Pesach to everyone reading this, I hope you are having an enjoyable and restful week (I am certainly enjoying it after all the cleaning, which I think destroyed my finger tips).

For those of you that don't know, the main reason that I have taken a break is because on 15 February, Sonia and I were pleased to have a beautiful baby girl called Maayan Hadassah. I never really realised how tiring have a baby is, but it is an amazing feeling. Maayan was born at Tel Hashomer hospital in Ramat Gan (just outside Tel Aviv) and for parents considering where to have the birth I would recommend it for the care that was received, although it is very busy.

The past two months have also seen some other memorable moments.

We have now been living in Israel for over a year . As I wrote last year at Pesach we are able to celebrate living in the land of the Jewish people something which until the past century has not been possible for thousands of years. It has been really amazing to again see the whole country get ready for Pesach, in the place where it is meant to be celebrated. I feel so proud that Maayan will be able to grow up speaking Hebrew and enjoying living an easier Jewish life in Israel.

After living in the city of Modiin for just over a year, at the end of this month we will be moving to Jerusalem (just off Emek Refaiim). Modiin has been a good place to start as we settle in Israel, it has excellent facilities for young families and feels open and green. It is also generally cheaper to buy/rent in then Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. However, Sonia and I are both used to big cities like London, and Modiin is definitely a quiet commuter town and not a city at the moment. We are therefore moving to Jerusalem to have more of a city life and breathe in a few more urban fumes. I hope this offers some advice to anyone making aliyah.

In the news front the past couple of months have also been very busy with the alleged (probable) Mossad killing of a Hamas leader and Dubai and Britain expelling and Israeli diplomat. I believe both countries were right in their actions and had to do what they had to do, something which all countries would do if the opportunity occured.

Sadly though the US President has again become an unfair critic of Israel -who does not seem to fully understand the Middle East situation - just as he was this time last year (after a few months break I hoped he had learnt from his mistakes) in what I believe is his aim to appease the Islamic world. I hope this dangereious situation is reduced and Israel and the USA can again be close allies, which most Israelis and Americans want.

Over the next couple of months I look forward to commenting on the Middle East process and of course the British election. I hope to provide an interesting analysis especially on the British election from the position of a former politician their who can understand and explain it but now from a spectators position.