One has to wonder why the Israeli media is so negatively disposed toward Sara
Netanyahu that even when she’s devoted the day to doing good deeds, they get
buried (if reported at all) in the middle of a story about a woman who hurled
verbal abuse at her when she stopped for a bite to eat in a Petah Tikva
Happily, The Jerusalem Post chose to focus on the positive rather
than the negative and showed the prime minister’s wife in a delightful
photograph with seven-year-old Rachel Attias, the sole survivor of a car crash
last month in which her parents and six siblings were killed.
who is a qualified child psychologist, works at the Jerusalem Municipality
Psychological Services. Last Thursday she took time out to visit with Attias and
to look at some of the child’s family mementos.
Netanyahu also paid a
call on the family of Danny Hayat, one of the firefighters who lost their lives
in the Carmel Forest blaze in December 2010, and also spent time chatting with
child cancer patients at the Sheba Medical center at Tel Hashomer. In other
countries, the media reports on the social welfare activities of the wives of
presidents and prime ministers, but when it comes to Sara Netanyahu, the focus
is almost always on scandal.
The media was also unkind to Leah Rabin and
to Ofira Navon, but wrote positively about Gila Katsav, who used to love reading
to tiny tots.
■ ANOTHER MEMBER of the Netanyahu family was also in the
eye of the camera on Thursday – but much later in the day. Yair Netanyahu, the
PM’s elder son, was spotted at the Madonna concert, hand in hand with his
As for Madonna, she presented her audience with not
just a show, but a piece of political wisdom, the gist of which is that there
will be no peace in the Middle East until people learn to respect each
■ CONTROVERSIAL RABBI Shmuley Boteach, whose syndicated column was
suspended from The Jerusalem Post during his election campaign, is in Israel
this week for a family wedding despite the fact that the New Jersey’s Ninth
District primary was held on Tuesday. Accompanied by three of his nine children
(Mendy, who is a Chabad emissary in Frankfurt, Germany, Chana, who is serving in
the IDF and Sterna, who is a student at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for
Women in New York), Boteach called in at the Post’s editorial offices on Sunday
to discuss his campaign platform and the possibility that he could be the first
rabbi to serve in Congress.
Mendy Boteach, his father said proudly, has
been nominated to West Point military academy by Congressman Steve Rothman.
Although Mendy meets with all the requirements for acceptance, there is one
problem to overcome – his beard. West Point cadets must be clean shaven, and
Mendy, has a beard for religious reasons.
Shmuley Boteach’s campaign is
based on the restoration of family values.
His own parents divorced many
years ago, and the divorce rate in America is constantly rising. In a preventive
measure, Boteach wants to make family counseling tax-deductible. Very few
politicians would fly out of the country just before an election and remain out
of the country on election day.
Boteach explained that if he was
promoting family values in his run for Congress, he had to live by them, and
that was why he was in Jerusalem for a family wedding and not at home in
Englewood, New Jersey.
■ “IT’S A small exhibition of a great story” said
Assia Reuben, the public relations director of Beit Hatfutsot – the Museum of
the Jewish People.
Reuben was the emcee at the ceremony that preceded the
opening of the permanent Mahal (volunteers from abroad) exhibition, which,
though small, serves as a reminder of the foundations of the Israel Defense
Yes, the Hagana, Etzel and Lehi were also part of the nucleus of
the IDF, but most of 4,500-plus Jewish and non- Jewish volunteers from 58
countries who flocked to Israel in 1948 were properly trained veterans of the
allied forces who had fought the Nazis and were now ready to fight for the
survival of the nascent state.
Most of the people who filled the
auditorium were Mahalniks, plus an occasional non-Mahal spouse, some Beit
Hatfutsot and media representatives and a couple of diplomats.
Ambassador Matthew Gould and US Deputy Chief of Mission Thomas Goldberger sat
riveted as 92-year-old World Machal chairman Smoky Simon, who served as a combat
pilot in the South African Air Force and was among the founders of the Israel
Air Force, described the situation at the beginning of the War of Independence
when the world left Israel to face six Arab armies alone and supplied the Arabs
with equipment and ammunition while denying the same to Israel.
volunteers, said Simon, brought their invaluable World War II experience and
skills to fight in all branches of the IDF. In July, 1948, he recalled, enemy
forces occupied 70 percent of what was then Israel. Mahalniks smuggled aircraft,
artillery and other equipment and ammunition from all over the world in what
Simon called “the most noble smuggling operation in history.”
Hatfutsot CEO Avinoam Armoni, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief
Education Officer Eli Shermeister each spoke of what Israel owes to Mahal and of
the eternal legacy of volunteerism that Mahal has bequeathed to Israel.
Shermeister noted that what Mahal started is being continued by young people who
come to Israel every year to serve as lone soldiers in the IDF. Every Mahalnik
made a significant contribution to Israel’s defense and security, and many kept
on contributing throughout the years.
Rivlin was not the only speaker who
cited the late Al Schwimmer as an example.
Another example is David
Teperson, 85, the founder of the Mahal Museum, who became a colonel in the IDF
and as one of the longestserving reservists, fought in a campaign with his son
and served in a unit with his grandson. Teperson, known as “Migdal” (tower)
because of his height, was among the many Mahalniks in
Stanley Medicks, Chairman of UK and Scandinavian Mahal and
one of the movers and shakers in the quest for permanent representation at Beit
Hatfutsot, paid tribute to Hilary Gatoff, who made a documentary film about
Mahal in which she interviewed many of the volunteers.
She sent the film
to Medicks, who was so impressed that he felt the volunteers deserved to be
commemorated in the Museum of the Jewish People. When he discovered that Gatoff
was connected with the museum, it paved the way for what he said was a dramatic
story that should be told.
■ “THIS IS the best Italian ambassador we’ve
ever had, and I’ve known them all,” said Avi Pazner, a former Israeli ambassador
to Italy, as he stood among the hundreds of people who crowded onto the lawn of
the residence of Italian Ambassador Luigi Mattiolo and his wife Stefania at the
Italian National Day reception, which was also their farewell after four
intensive years in Israel.
Thinking for a moment, Pazner said that former
ambassador Giulio Terzi, who is now Italy’s foreign minister, had also been an
excellent ambassador and that it was impossible to decide who was better. “The
Italians always send us their best diplomats,” said Pazner.
Also on the
lawn was walking history in the person of 92-year-old Lea Hertom, whose family
was expelled from Jerusalem to Rome nearly 2,000 years ago. Hertom, who was born
in Ancora, Italy, grew up in Bologna and now lives in Jerusalem’s Beit Hakerem
neighborhood. Though diminutive in size, she is totally independent, straight
backed, with a determined walk, a clear head and a terse yet friendly manner of
speech devoid of hesitancy.
When she first came to Jerusalem many years
ago, she enrolled in university but abandoned her studies after she got married
and spent the next 24 years raising a family.
She gave birth to five
children, four of whom survived.
After the children had all grown, she
worked in a printing establishment until her husband, Rabbi Menachem Emanuel
Hertom, was called to be a rabbi in Venice and then in Turin. Rabbi Hertom
published three volumes of festival prayer books based on the traditions and
customs of all the Jewish communities in Italy. A fourth book was underway when
he died in Jerusalem and his widow completed it as a memorial to her
Addressing the crowd from the balcony of the residence, Mattiolo
first called for a minute’s silence for the victims of the earthquake in
Northern Italy and thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu and the government of Israel
for the instant offer of assistance.
Mattiolo said that bilateral
relations between the countries they were the best they could possibly be and
that he and his wife would always remember their years in Israel.
reiterated Italy’s belief in Israel’s right to exist within secure borders and
condemned “recurring outbreaks of anti-Semitism when they come under the
insidious guise of anti-Zionism.” He also said that Italy had been a
front-runner in European sanctions against Iran and that he was eagerly waiting
for the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians to
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who represented the government,
said that Israel greatly appreciates Italy’s friendship and looks forward to
working with Terzi. He mentioned how the recent visit by Prime Minister Mario
Monti had served to cement the already excellent relationship and added that
economic and security relations between the two countries continue to prosper
He also expressed Israel’s solidarity with the people of
Italy in the face of the earthquake and thanked Mattiolo for the vital role he
played in bringing Italy and Israel closer together. “We know that Israel
touched your heart and that you will always be our friend,” said Sa’ar.
IT WAS a family affair when singer Shlomo Artzi received an honorary doctorate
from the University of Haifa this week. He was capped and gowned by his sister,
playwright and author Nava Semel. Another member of the entertainment industry
who received an honorary doctorate this week was singer, actor, radio and
television host and current affairs commentator Yehoram Gaon, who received his
honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University. Gaon, who returned to his current
affairs program on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet last Friday after a long hiatus,
told of his own eye-witness account of discrimination, not against Eritreans or
Sudanese, but Jew against Jew.
Gaon had been in the Ramat Aviv Mall when
a bearded man wearing the garb of the hassidim was denied entry by the security
guard. When Gaon inquired as to the reason, the security replied that people who
look like him make diners in the coffee shop feel uncomfortable.
as he personally was concerned, the security guard told Gaon, he would allow the
hassid to enter but he was under orders from management to keep hassidim out of
the building. The main reason was that customers did not want to be approached
and asked to don phylacteries.
“But this man doesn’t have any
phylacteries with him,” Gaon pointed out to the guard,” who shrugged and said
that he was merely obeying orders. Gaon recalled in his radio broadcast that the
same thing had been said in relation to Jews in another place and in another
context – and he could not help but compare the two. The Hebrew media was quick
to seize on the story and Monday’s papers already featured illustrated stories
of Chabad hassidim being turfed out of the Ramat Aviv mall. Who was it that said
that anti-Semitism is everywhere?
■ THERE ARE of course exceptions, but the
overwhelming majority of professional basketball players, including NBA hoopster
Omri Casspi, are taller than average.
Thus when members of Israel’s
national basketball team, including Casspi and other players, some of whom who
flew in from Europe, went to Beilinson hospital for a comprehensive medical
checkup, they towered over the staff. The nurse who measured Casspi’s height had
to stand on a stool to do so, and even then it was a challenging feat.
FORMER DIPLOMAT and prime ministerial confidante Ambassador Yehuda Avner, whose
best selling book, The Prime Ministers, is being adapted for both documentary
and feature films, has added another feather to his bow. Avner just returned
from a month in the US with an additional title – no, not a new book, but an
In addition to being addressed as Ambassador, as he is in
the US, he will now also answer to “Dr. Avner” after receiving an honorary
doctorate from Yeshiva University.
Though Avner, who delivered the
keynote address at YU’s 81st commencement ceremony, is no stranger to the US
lecture circuit, he could not quite contain his excitement.
It is natural
for anyone receiving an honor to want to be surrounded by members of his or her
family, so the robing ceremony was an emotional thrill for Avner because his son
Danny flew to New York from Israel to perform it, remaining in the US for barely
YU President Richard Joel described Avner’s book as one of the
most important of our times on the birth and growth of Israel, by one who
personally witnessed it. He also spoke movingly of Avner’s contribution to the
Jewish people and the State of Israel. A religiously observant Jew, Avner
devised an 10 “commandments” for the realities of our times, which he offered to
YU’s graduation class of 2012: 1. When an enemy of our people says he seeks to
destroy us, believe him.
2. Stand tall in the knowledge that every tyrant
in history who has ever sought our destruction has himself been
3. Protect Jewish dignity and honor at all cost. Life is holy,
but there are times when one must risk life for the sake of life
4. Never raise a hand against a fellow Jew, no matter what the
5. Give the enemy no quarter in demolishing his malicious
6. Whenever a threat against a fellow Jew looms, do all in
your power to come to his aid, whatever the sacrifice.
7. Never pause to
wonder what others will think or say.
8. Be forever loyal to the historic
truth that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, and Jerusalem its
9. Love peace, but love freedom more.
which is really number one: V’shinantem l’vanecha. Build Jewish homes not by the
accident of birth but by the conviction of our eternal Torah.
■ IT WASN’T
a Dutch treat in the conventional meaning of the terminology, but it was in
terms of social and international networking. Dutch Ambassador Caspar Veldkamp
last night hosted a welcome reception for Netherlands Minister of Economic
Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation Maxime Verhagen, who is in Israel for the
opening of a gas seminar, the opening of a metropolitan food security seminar, a
ride in an electric BetterPlace car, a visit to MS Technology, meetings with
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau and
Minister of Industry Trade and Labor Shalom Simchon and the viewing of the
Dutch-funded scanner at Allenby Bridge plus the signing of a letter of intent
concerning the Allenby scanner.
Any ambassador has his work cut out when
escorting one minister, but today Veldkamp will also be escorting Netherlands
Minister of Foreign Affairs Uri Rosenthal, who will be coming in from Jordan.
Rosenthal will join Verhagen for part of their visit, but will also have a
separate program of his own.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who had
been scheduled to come to Israel this week cancelled his trip because of the
cabinet’s caretaker status.
Rosenthal will also visit the Palestinian
Authority hopes of influencing a resumption of the peace process.
ALL ambassadors continue with innovations introduced by their
They often come in to their new roles as if the slate had
been wiped clean. Austrian Ambassador Franz Josef Kuglitsch is an exception to
the rule. The Red-White Clubbing events introduced by his predecessor, Michael
Rendi, proved to be an effective means of bringing young Israelis with Austrian
roots into the orbit of the embassy’s activities, to help strengthen the bridge
of Austrian-Israeli relations. Kuglitsch is continuing the clubbing nights at
his residence in Herzliya Pituah, and is hosting the next one on Thursday, June
7. Austria’s Federal Minister of Justice, Beatrice Karl, will be the guest of
■ ONCE UPON a time, no one knew who would be attending a
conference, a seminar or a lecture. Gartner Israel, however, is utilizing modern
technology to feature on its website not only the names but also the portraits
of people who have RSVPed to the morning networking event that will take place
on June 11 at the Daniel Hotel, Herzliya Pituah.
event designed for CEOs, senior marketing professionals and VCs will provide
insights into Gartner programs and initiatives that could assist with companies’
strategic planning and growth. Lectures will be followed by opportunities to
network with speakers and with other attendees.
Speakers include: Shlomit
Harth, country manager, Gartner Israel, Michael Yoo, senior VP, marketing,
hi-tech and Telecom programs, Gartner, and Nancy Shapira-Aronovic, account
executive hi-tech vendors, Gartner Israel. Yoo, who came to Israel for the
occasion, is the guest speaker.
■ IT MIGHT have something to do with all
the negative publicity about the salaries of directors of development and other
high-ranking officials of organizations that are allegedly not for profit, or it
could have something to do with concerns over how money is best spent during a
global economic crisis, but whatever the reason, philanthropists are much more
wary these days about where their money is going and how it will be spent to
Several Israeli philanthropists have established a roof
organization called Midot, in which philanthropists discuss strategies for the
effective spending of their donations. A bunch of them got together this week to
celebrate the fourth anniversary of Midot at the Azorei Chen home of Raya
Strauss Ben- Dror and her husband Shmuel. The guests included Yoram Ariev,
Reuven Agasi, Hanoch Barkat, Nirit and Mike Avner, Yael Almog, Israel Makov,
Nehama Bork, Ronen Barel, Dori Dankner, Tali and Amram Aharoni, Erez Vigodman,
Avi Zeevi, Zvi Ziv, Yehudit Yovel-Recanati, Michael Kogan and his wife Irena
Nevzlin Kogan and Dubi Arbel.
■ BIRDS OF a feather flock together, so it
was small wonder that in welcoming Romanian Foreign Minister Andrei Marga,
Romanian-born Truman Institute chairman Moshe Arad, who is a former Israel
ambassador to the United States, praised the work done in bilateral relations by
Romanian Ambassador Edward Josiper and suggested that he remain in Israel
longer, to which Marga responded that Josiper’s stay would in fact be prolonged.
Josiper expected to go home in August but has not yet been told how long he will
be staying – to the delight of his family, who love living on the shores of the
Marga was very happy to be back at the Hebrew University,
where the Truman Institute is located. A philosophy professor and former rector
of the University of Babes-Bolyai, Marga had just a little over a month earlier
been a visiting scholar at the Hebrew University when he was summoned to
Bucharest to take over the portfolio of foreign