Just came back from an interview with Mike Shaft of BBC's Radio Manchester
It was his last day there, so the atmosphere was somewhat poignant.
I remember meeting him about a year and a half ago. It was the day after Simchat Torah and I hadn't yet heard the news that the Iranian leadership had announced loud and clear that it wanted our utter and total destruction. I felt that Mike had been quite hard on me then, but we both persevered and after a fair few interviews with him, I now regard him as a true friend.
The intern who took me down seemed over-awed at the fact that I was living in Haifa, and I realised that I was now a bit of a foreigner, like the Archbishop of the West Indies
who was leaving the studio as I arrived. He had been talking about the effect of slavery on the communities in his own part of the world.
It is interesting that all the forms of slavery undergone by the Jewish people have only made us more determined to do better and to succeeed despite the odds. And I do feel that this attitude wins out in the end.
However, this is not a view espoused by much of the world. And maybe this is why Israel is so misunderstood.
To his credit, Mike left me lots of leeway to depict Haifa in the way I really see it - as an oasis of co-existence
especially at the university which is under renewed threat of a ban by the British university union
And it was Mike himself who made the point that among the victims of the summer war in the north had been quite a few Arab members of the Haifa community.
I also tried to explain that Israel was a disparate country, with many political and religious views flourishing, some of them in the same synagogue, for instance. And that people on all sides of the political and religious spectrum could still be friends.
And just as well that I had bought the Jewish Chronicle
in order to read Melanie Phillips' take on the Leeds University censorship debacle
because Mike also asked about the meaning of slavery for Jews round Pesach
and I was able to quote the suggestions of the Make Poverty History Jewish Coalition
eating a larger portion of bitter herbs, including an additional, fourth matzah on the table and asking the question: How can we celebrate our freedom while others are still enslaved'?
I did invite Mike to stay in touch, which I really do hope he will. And who knows, maybe he will visit Haifa one of these days, especially if his team were playing Maccabi!
Come to think of it, he never even asked me what I had thought of Saturday's match between Israel and England.
Maybe just as well it was a draw!!
Good luck, Mike, in your new job, whatever it is.