■ ASKING ISRAEL to negotiate with a government backed by Hamas is like asking the United States to negotiate with a government backed by al-Qaida, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett told members of the Foreign Press Association at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel on Sunday.
It was the first time that Bennett had met with the FPA in his present capacity, though he had met with its members previously when he was directorgeneral of the Yesha Council.
In introducing Bennett, outgoing FPA chairman and Reuters bureau chief Crispian Balmer said that Bennett has the happy knack of riling the prime minister, and is one of the ministers that the Foreign Press likes to quote.
Bennett has a gift for colorfully descriptive expressions, and Balmer cited Bennett’s “shrapnel in the butt” take on the Palestinian problem as an example of this.
Sporting a big grin, Bennett for his part thanked members of the FPA for depicting him as a radical extremist who wakes up every morning and asks himself, “Who are we going to bite today?” Before Bennett arrived, Balmer told the gathering about the rising violence by Israeli security personnel against journalists who have been shot at and physically assaulted. As the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel should be doing more to protect the freedom and safety of journalists who are simply doing their jobs, he said.
Among those attending the meeting was one of the FPA’s most veteran members who helped found it 57 years ago, eminent photographer David Rubinger, who will celebrate his 90th birthday on June 29. There is nothing in Rubinger’s bearing, his walk, his facial features or his mental faculties that betrays his age.
■ FOR THE fifth consecutive year, Itai Tzur and Yonatan Dahar hosted an alternative Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration under the title “Remembering and Singing” at the Gerard Behar Center. What initially began as a small gathering over the years attracted so many people of all ages – but mostly young people – that organizers had to put up a video screen outside to enable the participation of the huge overflow. Dahar told the audience that the seats they were sitting on were initially occupied by Holocaust survivors who more than 50 years ago had come to attend the trial of notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann, who had been captured by Mossad in Argentina. The auditorium had been specially built to hold the large number of people attending the trial. As is usually the case at Holocaust commemorations, the audience did not applaud the songs, many of which were post-Holocaust but reflecting both hope and sadness as well as love for children.
Journalist Ran Binyamini read excerpts from the diaries of young children. While still a teenager, he said, he had gone to Yad Vashem and had discovered that although Anne Frank’s diary was the most famous, many anonymous children had written their impressions of life in the ghettos in which they lived and through them researchers were able to glean important information about conditions in the ghettos, the dreams of small children in a time of war and the things that made them happy even while suffering deprivation and being under constant threat. Binyamini read from four diaries. Three of the four authors survived the war.
Two came to live in Israel. One settled in the US, but the fourth was sent to Treblinka, where he was murdered.
The only person who received applause on the night was controversial historian Prof. Hanna Jablonka, whose mother, who will celebrate her 98th birthday in two weeks, is one of the oldest female Holocaust survivors. Her mother returned to a university in Bratislava after the war and completed her medical studies.
She then came to Israel and initiated health services for Beduin in the Negev. During the Holocaust years the words “Juden raus” (Jews out) had frequently been hurled at her mother and her contemporaries. Now in Israel, where greater empathy should be shown to minorities, there were elements who were shouting “Aravim hahutza” (Arabs out). Israel is the last place in the world where any form of racism should be expressed, said Jablonka to loud applause of approval.
As far as anyone knows, Israel’s oldest Holocaust survivor is Yisrael Kristal, who is 110 years old and who lived through both world wars. Like many survivors, Krysztal, who was deported from the Lodz Ghetto to Auschwitz, rebuilt his life and started a family. This was his triumph over the Nazis. Krysztal, who still lives a relatively independent lifestyle in his own apartment in Haifa’s Ahuza neighborhood, has two children, nine grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
Fellow Auschwitz survivor Michael Goldman-Gilad, 88, who was born in Katowice and was left alone in the world after the Nazis murdered his parents, brother and sister, was in his late teens when he succeeded in fleeing from the Auschwitz Death March. He and two companions would have starved to death had they not been fed daily by a young blonde Polish girl, who found them hiding in the thatch of the roof of her parents’ home. After the war, Goldman-Gilad came to Israel where he joined the police force and had a distinguished career.
He was one of Eichmann’s key interrogators. This week, he returned to Auschwitz-Birkenau with the Israel Police delegation that was there for March of the Living, and was reunited with his “angel,” Stefa Rezner, now aged 85, who had been the young girl who brought him food. “I wanted to see you at least one more time before I died,” he told her.
■ THERE’S A popular myth that people past a certain age no longer engage in sexual activity.
Then again, 70 is the new 50 or in some cases the new 40. People in their 70s and 80s are buying very similar clothes to people in their 20s. If they’re looking younger and acting younger, it stands to reason that other things that younger people do are not passé. The members of the Tamar Chapter of Hadassah hosts a lecture evening titled Sexual Intimacy to 120. Dr. Anna C. Kienski Woloski- Wruble, a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine and American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists counselor on Sexual Health and Intimacy at the Henrietta Szold Hadassah Hebrew University School of Nursing in the Faculty of Medicine in Jerusalem, will be giving her expert advice at Beit Ha’aracha, 7 Hapisga Street in Bayit Vegan on Tuesday evening, May 13. There’s just one catch.
It’s for women only.