Hasmo Legends XXVIII: AHB Unplugged

I could have been forgiven for feeling somewhat less than enthused upon receipt of that WhatsApp message, some three years ago.

Yes, it informed me that there was in existence an audio recording of a Cyril lesson. But the message was from Grant Morgan – a boy of such Hasmo-honed piss-taking pedigree that I hadn’t even believed him when he told me, around the same time, that an ex-classmate had died (I am still not convinced: Sam Michaels, if you are reading this . . . ) – and the tape was supposedly in the possession of none other than Eric Elbaz, the undisputed lout of our Class of ’78.

I did not, however, heed my inner skeptic. How could I? If there were indeed extant a Room 1 recording of the Great Swansean, it would be a coup for Hasmo Legends of Dead Sea Scrolls proportions. So, for the past three years, I have been nagging and attempting to cajole Morgan to get the tape off Elbaz, and, from time to time, even called the Moroccan myself (putting his failure to ever pick up down to some unsettled debt).

I was even more persistent, however, on a recent visit to London; and, last week, I received my holy grail (converted by Morgan to MP3 format).

Considering that it was made by Elbaz – with a concealed Aiwa walkman from his single desk at the front left of Room 1 – in November 1983 (over 32 years ago), the 31:25 minute recording has stood the test of time remarkably well. No forensic examination is required to verify its authenticity – this Legend was truly inimitable – and what a joy it has been to once again hear those dulcet Welsh tones . . . even (especially?) when uttering niceties such as “Oh, what an idiot!”

The opening seven or so minutes of the fifth year class give a somewhat muffled, though still entertaining, taste of the much acclaimed Cyril & Elbaz Show that ran – with a one-year hiatus that enabled Elbaz to terrorise Marion Rosenberg as well – between 1978 and 1984. (For those who never had the pleasure, Elbaz – or “Ell-baz”, as Cyril would call him – is the creature beseeching “Can you shut that door . . . it’s getting rather drafty in here!” and who has lost, or pretends to have, his “expensive” Parker pen.) And the general hubbub of those opening minutes exemplifies the complete lack of both pupil derech eretz and teacher authority so typical – in those days at least – of Holders Hill Road.

The sound quality is even better from the start of the lesson ‘proper’ – at around 7:20 – in which Cyril reviews an English-to-French translation assignment, An Honest Woman (Une Femme Honnête), from the previous week.

The recording – discovered when Elbaz’s mother moved home three years ago – exhibits lots of lovely (and less than lovely) Cyrilisms, which I hope the reader/listener will enjoy as much as I have . . .

Your observations, as always, are welcomed as comments below (rather than on YouTube, please).

Chag sameach!

[As well as to the wretches Elbaz and Morgan, my gratitude and thanks to Daniel Greenspan, and especially to Alan Rubin for uploading and arranging the audio and accompanying slideshow.]

Next on Hasmo Legends, Part XXIX: Eric Elbaz

Careful what you wish for, Israel

In the civilized Kingdom from whence I came (up, I was always told), one’s voting preferences were very much a private matter. Indeed, any inquiry as to the identity of the political party for which even a close friend or relative intended to exercise his or her democratic right would have been as welcome as asking them whether their style was more missionary or doggy (currently, I’d take either).

Not so, however, in the jungle I now inhabit. On a par with every Israeli’s entitlement to know how much you forked out or received for your home is his right to be informed as to whether you will be assisting to put in place his government of choice. And not possessing the Briton’s finesse for small talk – NW4’s and 11’s “Who are you eating/davening byyy?”, for familiar instance – the native has no inhibition accosting even a virtual stranger with “Who are you voting for?”

My stock four-letter response these past months, “Bibi”, has raised quite a few eyebrows in my midweek Tel Aviv stomping grounds (though rather fewer in those of the Jerusalem of my long weekends).

Polling day for the 20th Knesset is this Tuesday, but I have taken little or no interest in the campaign . . . a sign, I am sure, of my (still) having one foot out the door, but also of having been relaxed in the knowledge that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would still be in Residence at the top of Rechov Aza when I return, at the start of May (coalition building in the jungle can take a good month and a half), from watching England lose its Test series in the Caribbean.

Yonit LeviBut, getting my thrice-weekly Yonit (right) fix a few evenings ago, I was rudely interrupted by her lead item: it seems that my having taken for granted a Likud victory has been more than a little misplaced, with the centre-left Zionist Union alliance now two or three seats ahead in the polls . . .

Well, I almost spilt my box of Kleenex! The thought of that spineless runt Isaac Herzog – co-leader of the alliance, but who has only been in charge of Labour for 15 months and possesses all the charisma of a lentil seed – running the country is a terrifying one, and a sure sign (if the polls are correct) that many of the natives are losing all reason. Although our late fathers were friends, the sole encounter between their sons left this one somewhat less than enamoured: see Curbing My (Irish) Enthusiasm – in just a few seconds, I had seen the ‘man’ (and my instincts in such matters are generally reliable).

In the interests of even-handedness, the following is the most flattering English-language interview with Herzog I could find . . .

“You wanna know something . . .” Dear, oh dear! Just the drone of those adenoids is enough to make one lose the will to hear. Should Herzog, heaven forfend, become Prime Minister, the ch’nun (nerd) will be exposed to non-stop media scrutiny (and bias), with every non-hearing-impaired person who cares about this country begging for their Bibi back.

Netanyahu is running for his fourth term (third consecutive). It is not difficult to see how familiarity has bred contempt (or merely boredom). And it has become über-trendy to bash him. Of course he could have done some things better. But, if you believe Israel to be “broke” merely because many of its citizens cannot afford to buy apartments in its financial and cultural capital, or that the way to go is to be more conciliatory to the Arabs, then perhaps – like the “idiots” and “lunatics” proscribed by UK legislation – you should not be allowed to vote at all.

So, come Tuesday, I will be voting along “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” lines. Bibi has steered a remarkably steady ship through extremely turbulent waters and years, during which for much of the world – cowed by and cowering before Islamofascism, or influenced by its all-pervading disdain for the Jew – Israel could do no right.

With Islamic State now on our borders and – thanks to that jug-eared nob in the White House – a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran, the security situation will get a whole lot worse before it gets any better. And, if Herzog becomes Prime Minister, Hamas and Hizbollah will be laughing all the way to their tunnels. It is not difficult to imagine the next war in Gaza. It is, however, to imagine Isaac Herzog leading us through it.

Changes, as Dovid Bowie once proclaimed (“I still don’t know what I was waiting for . . . and every time I thought I’d got it made, it seemed the taste was not so sweet”), are not always for the better. And those now pining for Bibi’s demise may, with a limp dick like Herzog in his place, have plenty of time to repent their naivety in having fussed over who owns what in and around Rothschild Boulevard. Bibi and Buji (November 2013)

Heidis, Milkies and Amalekites

It is no secret. I am not settled here. I need a change. I was originally thinking Cork (I bottled it). Now on the radar is Berlin.

MilkyAnd the brouhaha stirred up last week by an Israeli in the German capital encouraging others to join him is about far more than the price of chocolate pudding with a splurge of whipped cream (Times of Israel).

I can’t put my finger on what exactly has made me so unsettled here. The illness and passing, last year, of my lovely mum – I have now lost all three members of my immediate family (it is not quite as dramatic as it sounds) – won’t have helped, though my feet were already itching about a year or so beforehand. My aunt is convinced it is my still being single. But, while a wife and kids would not have left as much time for indulgent introspection, I don’t share her conviction that being tied to this country would have made me any more contented in it. Perhaps I am just experiencing some kind of mild, mid-life malaise.

Like “Pudding Man”, I still consider myself a Zionist. What I need, however, is some time (to draw on the Hebrew idiom) out of the Land. I look back at some of my more fervent postings here and wonder if it was really me who authored them. I recently deleted, as unrepresentative of it, “this miraculous little country” (though it is undoubtedly that) from the bullets under About This Blog. The locals now irritate me even more than they always have. The charedim appear more preposterous, the Tel Avivis more arrogant, and the working classes (I had better not get any more specific) more primitive. Tel Aviv feels ever more superficial, and while Jerusalem is more like home, it is also suffocatingly parochial. And there is little escape. The north disappoints (especially knowing the Lakes and Highlands as I do), and the south holds no appeal at all.

Soon into my Tour Guides’ course (which I was anyway forced to abandon in order to care for my mother), it became very apparent that my love for this place was on the wane. The sandstone was of as little interest as the lime, and the myths had lost all their meaning. On a Succot outing last week, our (excellent) guide’s enthusiasm just left me cold. And I have long stopped reading the Israeli press.

My reasons for wanting a break are not typical. They are neither economic nor security-related (though I thank the dear lady who, on the steps of Raleigh Close on Rosh Hashana, and with a grave wink hinting at the unspeakable, assured me that there would always be a spare bedroom for me in NW4 . . . should I “need it”). Unlike the Milky protesters – and there is genuine discontent amongst many Israeli twenty and thirty-somethings – I thankfully need neither cheaper housing nor grocery bills. The missiles, too, don’t faze me. It is more the arseholes who never let you into traffic, drive with a finger on the horn, jump red lights, and don’t stop at pedestrian crossings.

On Thursday evening, a delightful Jerusalem police officer chose to curse my mother in Arabic after spotting me raise my eyebrows as he overran the red light and stopped his marked 4×4 on the crossing. And, more upsettingly (who expects anything from Israeli police?), I recently witnessed the owner of the café where I drink my morning juice eject a frail gentleman in his seventies, who could only shake his head in disbelief, because he was deemed to have been sitting with his newspaper for too long following his last sip of hafuch.

I am sometimes assured, by those attempting to assuage the recent black moods, that such experiences are one-offs, exceptions and not rules. If only. I witness similar things here nearly every day. And they are signs of a society lacking class, boundaries and respect.

I am not comfortable about publishing much of the above, and apologise to anyone it offends (or depresses). But I have always endeavoured in these pages to tell it as I feel it (what otherwise is the point?) And if Yair Lapid wishes to label me an anti-Zionist, or even a traitor, I can live with that. But there is a great big world out there, and just because we have been hounded wherever we have gone in it, it doesn’t follow that we shouldn’t wish to experience it for longer than an Israir Special.

All in all, then, fresh surroundings and challenges clearly can’t come too soon.

Berlin is a wonderful city. Resonant with history, stylish, cosmopolitan, tolerant, and, yes, affordable. It is, I imagine, somewhat similar to the city of my birth . . . before it lost its identity and soul (just sit and observe, as I did a few weeks ago, from the top deck of an Ealing to Golders Green 83). And its main downside is not that history, but the very folk I need a break from: “You got rid of the very cream of world Jewry,” I always remind Oliver, my German lawyer, “and have ended up with tens of thousands of Israelis . . . serves you right!”

Resonant with history: the Neue Synagoge at dusk

Resonant with history: Berlin’s Neue Synagoge at dusk

Even though Angela Merkel’s Germany is arguably Israel’s most loyal and trusted ally (at a time when we don’t have many), on hearing “Berlin”, many of the reactions to my proposed move fall between shock and horror, often accompanied with the expression of someone biting on a pickle that has turned.

But why are we so insistent on clinging to our former enemies? Because of the shortage of current ones? Say I have a short memory, but even if the Germans are (as I was recently informed) the descendants of Amalek, Hamas, IS and Iran all cause me rather more sleep loss than the Amalekites (whom, incidentally, I would take over the Palestinians quicker than you can shriek “Allahu Akbar” and detonate your suicide vest).

Some of the double standards I have encountered have been hilarious, from friends and family whose kitchens could moonlight as AEG/Bosch/Miele/Neff/Siemens showrooms to the elderly relative who I discovered, soon after learning that he was Berlin-broyges with me, had been nailing a local fräulein while serving King and country in Allied-occupied Austria!

Perish the thought . . .

Perish the thought . . .

Indeed, folks’ greatest dread on hearing that I might move to Berlin is, of course, that I could end up in some kind of unseemly liaison with an athletic, fair-haired female with bone structure out of a human biology textbook. I don’t even want to think about that. Much. But anyway, at 47, should I still be placing national survivalism before personal happiness? (And even if Heidi has midos like the pair nearest the camera?)

Some of the ‘caring’ souls who have provided unsolicited opinions as to why I “can’t” move to Berlin are, curiously, the very same who went entirely AWOL during my mother’s illness and the second that I got up from shiva. My oldest friend, Shuli, though, is certainly an exception to that. And, while I am loath to compliment him, I do know that he genuinely cares. After I had successfully repelled his latest attempt, last week, to persuade me to pursue a future with a couple (though separately) of completely unsuitable women – his former search criteria for me long having been reduced to a criterion (i.e., Jewish) – he threw his hands up in the air and exclaimed “Don’t tell me you are happy when you are sitting alone at home with Stuey and Dexxy!” The hard truth is, though, that most dates leave me longing to get back to them.

As for Deutschland, I have a few rather loose ends to tie up here first, but am already looking forward to the new challenge. I have some exciting business ideas and the feeling that my “fascination for the [former] abomination” (to quote Joseph Conrad) could be the impetus for a renewed vigour for writing (both blogging and even something more tangible). Who knows, it might even recharge my flagging Zionism.

And, to all you young Israelis who feel the need for a change, go for it I say! The experiences, culture and Weltanschauung that many of you will eventually bring home will serve this ‘island’ far better than the arrogance and hypocrisy of those who criticise and condescend from their villas in Caesarea and Ramat Aviv.

To all my readers, a very happy, healthy and gevaldig 5775!

Looking ahead (with Vladimir Ilyich, Prenzlauer Berg)

Looking ahead: with Vladimir Ilyich, Prenzlauer Berg

An open letter to Andy Kershaw (and other useful idiots)

Dear Mr. Kershaw,

My attention was recently drawn to your 12 July posting to your Facebook page [click here or search FB for “Andy Kershaw Todmorden”]. And I must admit to having been somewhat taken aback that a former Radio 1 DJ whose show I very much enjoyed in my student days – you see, you never knew you had “Zionist” listeners! – would want to label my home of 18 years “a backward, infantile, thuggish, thieving, racist, terrorist state.” Don’t hold back now, Andy.

As with most others who have had the temerity to crash the Kershaw Self-Promotional Circus, and to dare challenge its strutting ringmaster, you quickly barred me from further entry. But, having borrowed a friend’s Facebook identity, it soon became very apparent that said posting was no mere one-off, a response to the latest flare-up in Gaza. I spent Monday evening wading through your postings since 2012, and – aside from a couple of mentions of Vladimir Putin, a single one of Syria (though none of the 170,000 civilians killed there in the past three years), and another of South Sudan – it became very clear that you are obsessed with Israel to the exclusion of all else.

I am not, I promise, a member of any of “the organised Zionist Facebook squadrons”, as you imagine and call them (without any mention, conveniently, of the scores of mindless drones who “Follow” your every Facebook word). I am also, you may be surprised to hear, in favour of a Palestinian state, existing peacefully, side by side, with ours.

Andy KershawYou are clearly well-educated and highly intelligent, which makes your willful ignorance of the history and realities of this painful conflict all the more puzzling. I emigrated to Israel in January 1996, a mere two years after the high hopes of Oslo and that memorable handshake on the White House lawn, amid a spate of Hamas “suicide” – they were more homicide – attacks which blew up scores of Israelis on buses and in cafés and were aimed solely at torpedoing any hopes of peace (here is a list of them). So for you to keep trotting out the same shite about sieges and settlements is an insult both to your intelligence and to ours (if not to that of your Facebook-following fuckwits). Hamas is not interested in a two-state solution. Only in a Final one.

Today you posted: “Israel – You are an offence to civilization, a violation of humanity, and a moral disgrace.” Apart from sounding like you never really left the University of Leeds Student Union, where, for instance, is your outrage at the treatment by Hamas (and by all Islamofascist regimes) of women and gays? Oh . . . but I forgot, “[Hamas] do not rule by fear” (another one of your gems, from Monday).

Your obsession with this country is often disturbing. On 24 November 2013, you labelled Benjamin Netanyahu “a cheap thug” and “an ungracious fat wanker”. And why? Because he didn’t attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service! To your expertise on World Music must surely now be added Studies in the Overseas Visiting Habits of World Leaders. And, on 11 January this year, with real class, you headlined the passing of Ariel Sharon with “Fat Thug Dies”, later once again adding the adjective “cheap”. Interesting.

Your complete detachment from Middle East reality, however, is most amusingly highlighted by an 18 November 2012 posting in which you preface a link to Gerald Kaufman by describing the odious tosser as someone “considered to be a friend of Israel.” Perhaps like Jimmy Savile was of young girls.

You must be sorely missing the limelight since your ignoble fall from grace, being sent to prison for harassing your former partner. But how ironic that a drunken bully and cheat, who has never taken one ounce of true responsibility for terrorizing his own family, repeatedly accuses others of “playing the victim card” (here is your side of the story . . . though the subsequent comments of “Laura” and “Family friend”, I suspect, paint a rather truer picture).

Now I really do want to believe your repeated protests that you are not an anti-Semite. But your “Lik[ing]” of comments such as the following – from an Ian Dixon, on Sunday, regarding Facebook’s (alleged) removal of a Jon Snow piece on Gaza – do not exactly enhance your claims:

“And of course it being removed all the time has nothing to do with the owner of FB being Jewish! . . . I have never seen a religion or people hold so much power over free speech as I have this country, its people and religion.”

I can just see Mark Zuckerberg fretting over his Honey Nut Cheerios because of some anti-Semite (with zero credibility) on Channel 4 News. Then, yesterday, you actually “agreed” with a delightful-sounding character named Harry Reed, who wrote (amongst other assorted bilge and filth):

“The people of Palestine will recover their land and cleanse it of the stench of thieves, robbers, rapists and child-killers. They will recover their stolen books and art, throwing the parasites into the streets. The Palestinians will have their day. Already, over 100 racist thugs from your SS have been eliminated . . . fuck off back to Brooklyn with your racist philosophy, your race-myths and the rest of your pseudo-Nazi yarn about your supposed homeland . . . The resistance should refuse – you can’t sit at a table with Nazis. The Palestinians have eliminated over 100 members of Israel’s SS so far and they should finish the job.”

Nice.

So what are we supposed to believe about Andy Kershaw the man (not, I am sure, that you care)? To my annoyance, I actually found myself quite drawn to other aspects of your page – we both have schnauzers (though Stuey is rather more bastardized than Buster) and are passionate about lots of the same things (Dylan, Neil Young, even Wasdale) – but your postings on the situation here smack of unbelievable crassness and ignorance (though I still hope nothing more).

I am continually fascinated by people like you . . . about whether their Israel-only bashing is derived from: parents (or, in your case, I understand, grandparents), an unpleasant experience at school or university, or merely bad character. History shows us that scarred types – and you don’t deny being that – are more likely to develop an obsession with all things Jewish (and you would be in the ‘good’ company of lots of other rubbish, the latest scrap being footballer Joey Barton).

At a time of the worst anti-Semitism that many of us have known, you have a responsibility as a celebrity (however faded) not to continue in this vein. Otherwise, you will go down (no jail pun intended) as little more than someone who encouraged and facilitated, through willful disinformation, the hatred of Israel and, thereby, the large majority of Jews.

I invite anyone with the time and inclination to visit your sewer of hate – I haven’t covered even one percent of it – and also invite you to respond below if you feel that anything I have written is unfair or misrepresents you (though spare us, please, the vacuous cut-and-paste Facebook soundbites).

Yours sincerely,

melchett mike

[I trust that more than one of my readers will post a link to this blog on Mr. Kershaw’s Facebook page.]

Update (1 August): Andy Kershaw, brave man and champion of free speech that he is, is deleting all comments linking to this post, and blocking the poster, from his Facebook page. He clearly hasn’t yet discovered that, due to the huge number of “hits” on this post (4,000 in a day and a half), melchett mike is coming up first on most related searches of him! So, if you haven’t yet done so, please take a minute to cut-and-paste this URL after as many of his hateful postings as you can.

F*ck you, too

I have never as yet “reblog[ged],” but this post – penned five and a half years ago at the height of Operation Cast Lead – is, with all the disgraceful hypocrisy and thinly-veiled anti-Semitism that we are witnessing in these dark days, well worth (I would modestly suggest!) a revisit . . .

melchett mike

[melchett mike, talking to his reflection in his laptop screen, after suffering a fortnight of “F*ck Israel” and “F*ck Jews” . . . ]

Well, f*ck you, too. F*ck you and this whole Jew-hating world. F*ck all the  protesters who, it seems, don’t believe Jews have a right to defend themselves. Where have you been these past eight years, while missiles have been landing on our women and children every day? And what would you have done if they were landing on yours, you self-righteous hypocrites? F*ck Bianca Jagger and Annie Lennox, and all the other has-beens, who have been trying to revive their flagging careers aboard the human rights bus (the one which doesn’t stop in Israel). F*ck Roseanne Barr and Alexei Sayle, and all the other “rent a Jews”. You are a f*cking disgrace. F*ck George “Hezbollah has never been a terrorist organisation” Galloway, the…

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As Good As It Gets?

Welcome to Jewish reality, 2014.

I am not sure who has irritated me more this past week: the English oleh showing off to friends back in Blighty with continual “Look at me! Look at me! I am living under missile fire!” Facebook updates (perhaps the silly sod will now spare a thought for the poor, all year round, buggers in Sderot); the one who, two days ago, posted “Siren in Ra’anana”, as if Hamas had finally gone too far; or the booked summer holidayers asking “Should I come?”

“What about the missiles?” enquired one such, yesterday, to which I could only reply “What about them?” For me, their most chilling effect is forcing me into a confined space with my new south Tel Aviv neighbours (they are working class, you know).

Another messaged me “How’s it going out there?? Do I need to cancel my trip?” This seemed somewhat akin to concluding a comfort telephone call to an ailing friend by announcing that you are too shit-scared to visit them. What the bloody hell ever happened to solidarity?

As for the endless PR efforts on blogs and Facebook, I can’t help but think that they are preaching to the converted. The thing must be to get accurate reporting and analysis into the international press. And, even then, those who don’t like Jews – usually hiding behind the ‘respectable’ veneer of ‘mere’ anti-Zionism – are almost certainly irredeemable. It is in their blood.

Operation Protective Edge is the third such that I have blogged about since December 2008 (see my War in Gaza category). And this is now our reality: every couple of years or so, we will have to give the naughty . . . rather, wicked schoolboy – who, in spite of every inducement, won’t change his ways – a smacked bottom (if I may be forgiven for quoting my own Facebook update of last week: “Can’t help thinking of the Palestinian as the incorrigible class halfwit, who gets beating after justified beating . . . but still comes back for more.”) Thankfully unlike the pond life we are up against, we are both too moral to kill civilians living above (demonically positioned) enemy weapons’ stores and too life-valuing to risk our boys in a ground operation.

During these very months exactly seventy years ago, 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported, mainly to Auschwitz, and the majority gassed on arrival. I think, too, of the unspeakable horrors my antecedents must have suffered at the turn of the last century, in Lithuania and Poland, to force them to gamble on the entirely unknown (even we Litvaks didn’t yet have the Internet).

It has always been thus for us. So, while concerned about the current situation, I am trying to see the (relative) positives in the bigger Jewish picture (who said a degree in Philosophy was a waste of time?)

And now with our own state, IDF, and even “second strike” nuclear submarines – no one can f*ck with the Jews like they used to – this may well be as good as it gets.

Unfriending the Cousins

I “unfriend[ed]” my Arab Facebook friends, this week.

I had met all half-dozen of them on my half-Jewish, half-Arab tour guides course (which I could not complete). But despite sitting with “the lads” – all Arab, more fun than the nerdy new immigrants – at the back of the coach on every field trip, we have not, other than on Facebook, stayed in touch. And I have become increasingly self-conscious that some of my more un-PC “status updates” might, perhaps, offend their sensibilities. Following the abduction of the three Jewish teenagers in Gush Etzion, a fortnight ago, I felt that being able to be myself, even in a medium as ‘trivial’ as Facebook, was more important than perpetuating these ostensibly futile ‘friendships’.

And the “unfriend[ing]” was also, I think, a gesture. A statement. To myself even. A result, after a decade and a half of life here, of having become totally disillusioned with our Biblical cousins.

No one should have been surprised, however, by the news from the Gush. Following the ‘success’ of the Gilad Shalit kidnapping, it was clear that Hamas would attempt others (see Why Gilad must not be freed “at any price”). Our (continuing) mistake is to judge the Arabs by our own western values (which tell us, in this case, that abducting teenagers is just plain wrong). And we should not be surprised, either, at images of ordinary Palestinians delighting in their ‘victory’. Because to them, that is what it is. And this is a war.

I don’t believe I am a racist. I take as I find. I still go out of my way to find work for Kamel and Rayed, the East Jerusalem Arabs who renovated my apartment, because I like and appreciate them (certainly a great deal more than their dodgy Persian then boss, who, I found out much later, had diddled almost all of my suppliers). And I am in favour, in principle at least, of a “two-state solution”.

But make no mistake: none but an inconsequential number of Palestinians recognise any Jewish claim to this land. They want us out of here. And they won’t rest until we are. The sooner we accept that reality, the safer we will be. And I feel sure that Bibi, oft criticised for political inertia, merely realises that the current state of affairs – total impasse, but (with the Security Wall) without the terror we once knew – is, with neighbours like ours, the best that we can hope for.

On a shiva visit last week, I struck up a conversation with Itamar Marcus, the Director of Palestinian Media Watch, a non-partisan organisation which studies Palestinian society through the monitoring of its media and schoolbooks. Having this piece already in mind, I enquired as to whether there might nonetheless be some potential “partners for peace” on the other side. Marcus’s knowing smile said it all. “Put it this way,” he said, “that is the shortest chapter in our book.”

And joking with a Jewish contractor in my Tel Aviv apartment, last week, that we should lock his Arab worker inside until the teenagers are freed, he replied “The problem is no one there would even care!” And that about summed up the difference between our peoples. The individual is paramount to Jews. The Arabs, on the other hand, use their own children as weapons and shields. We are in a seemingly permanent state of war against a cruel and primitive enemy, a fact now recognised and admitted by increasing numbers on the Israeli Left (aside, of course, from the Anshel Pfeffers of this world – see his latest sell-out here – a conceited so and so no less opportunist or extreme than those he decries on the Right, and yet another reason why I will never resubscribe to Haaretz).

Not many aspects of the Bible “talk” to me, but references to “Good” peoples and “Evil” peoples – which, as a schoolboy, always struck me as Osher Baddiel nonsense – have, in recent years, at least in the collective sense, taken on a certain resonance.

As for my former Facebook friends, I was sorry to hear (I am still on the course e-mail list) that some of them were said to have behaved inappropriately during a recent visit to Yad Vashem . . . though, again, if true, it didn’t really surprise me: even the concept of mutual respect, never mind peace, now seems a pipe dream. There is, perhaps, just too much history.

Shabbat shalom in the meantime . . . and God bless our boys.

Abducted Teenagers