Grapevine: A time to mourn

This week a delegation from the Kigali Genocide Memorial came to Yad Vashem to participate in a two-day seminar.

July 28, 2016 20:34
Netanyahu Africa

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, visit the remembrance site for the victims of the 1994 Rwanda genocide in Kigali, Rwanda, on July 6. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

During his tour of Africa earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Rwanda, where he began his visit at the Kigali Genocide Memorial and noted the similarities between the murder of 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis in 1994, and the mass murders of Jews during the Holocaust.

“We are deeply moved by the memorial to the victims of one of history’s greatest crimes – and reminded of the haunting similarities to the genocide of our own people. Never again,” wrote Netanyahu in the guest book at the Kigali Memorial site.

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This week a delegation from the Kigali Genocide Memorial came to Yad Vashem to participate in a two-day seminar. Led by the memorial’s manager, Honore Gatera, and deputy archives manager and head of data collection Martin Niwenshuti, the Rwandan delegation came to look, listen and learn.

The seminar, held in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry and Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, aimed to provide the Rwandan delegation with an opportunity to learn how Yad Vashem commemorates, documents, researches and educates on a multitude of Holocaust aspects.

The delegation met with several members of senior Yad Vashem staff, including chairman Avner Shalev, director of the International School for Holocaust Studies Dr.

Eyal Kaminka, the International School’s pedagogical director, Shulamit Imber and director of the Archives Division Dr. Haim Gertner, to discuss the various documentation and educational activities.

They also met with Holocaust survivors and toured Yad Vashem’s Holocaust History Museum as well as other sites throughout Jerusalem.

Contact between Yad Vashem and Rwanda began more a decade ago. In November 2005 Yad Vashem’s International School hosted Rwandan intellectuals, judges, journalists and academics for an educational seminar on Holocaust remembrance and education. Since then, in cooperation with the ministry, scholars from Yad Vashem have traveled to Rwanda, generating fruitful dialogue and offering insights that are relevant to the commemoration of Rwanda’s own national tragedy.

■ NO ONE is sure whether to call him an American Israeli or an Israeli American, but, either way, Moshe Arenstein is regarded by his colleagues as a top-notch journalist and editor.

When Arenstein wandered into the offices of The Jerusalem Post three years ago to apply for a job as night editor, Steve Linde, who was then editor-in-chief, and David Brinn, the paper’s managing editor, looked at each other and knew instinctively that they had found a treasure.

Arenstein exudes the kind of calm that is essential in crisis situations where news items and pages suddenly have to be switched around due to a terrorist attack, the death of a world-renowned personality or a developing political or military upheaval. On such occasions and others, said Lawrence Rifkin, who has multiple editorial responsibilities, he knew that if he was duty editor on any given night and Arenstein was night editor, everything would fall neatly into place and Rifkin’s blood pressure would not go up.

Amiable, polite and easygoing, yet thoroughly professional, Arenstein earned respect and affection from all his colleagues. Editor-in- Chief Yaakov Katz has worked with him for only three months, but there was instant chemistry, and at a farewell party for Arenstein, who is returning to the Big Apple, Katz told him that he would always be welcomed back. Later, Katz wrote on his Facebook: “Moshe is a huge asset. Grab him while he might still be available.”

Arenstein said that he is truly thankful for his time at the Post.

“News happens fast and often in Israel, and it was a privilege to cover it all. There are a lot of remarkable, dedicated, passionate people working here,” he said, thanking Linde, Brinn, Katz, Jerusalem Report Editorin- Chief and former Post news editor Ilan Evyatar and current news editor Noa Amouyal for guiding him through the highs and lows “of this occasionally stressful job,” and for supporting his nightly decisions and judgments.

Night crews composed copy editors, graphic designers and night clerks are the collective engine of every newspaper. Arenstein acknowledged them, saying: “You sometimes do a thankless and underappreciated job. I know how hard you work and credit you for the daily success of the paper. To all reporters out there, you know I loved you unconditionally – as long as you filed on time.”

He also had a special word of thanks for fellow night editor Amy Spiro, whom he referred to as “my office wife” partially because she understood his particular brand of humor. Notwithstanding the major upheavals in the media world, Arenstein emphasized that he truly believes in the importance of good journalism, now more than ever. “Our business is changing fast, evolving, manifesting itself in different ways. You need to tweet, post, pin, snap, scope and gram it to ‘engage’ the readers. But the basics remain the same: Report in an honest, fair, accurate, balanced way.”

It is customary to give anyone leaving the employ of the Post, no matter how long or short a period they have worked for the paper, a Jerusalem Post T-shirt, which is usually accompanied by other goodies.

Because Arenstein is a soccer addict, he was also given a marine blue team shirt emblazoned in white on the back with “Arenstein 1” and embellished with Jerusalem Post and Israel logos on the front so that he won’t forget where the welcome mat will always be waiting for him.

■ ISRAEL’S TRANSPORTATION master plan calls for a light rail network in all of Israel’s cities, and perhaps beyond. While the light rail is convenient in that its only obstacle is a traffic light, it runs at a slower speed than a bus, and in general, unless the road happens to be very wide, wherever there is a light rail, there are no buses, trucks or private cars.

As yet, no one in Israel has come up with a magic formula or more accurate process for constructing a light rail system in a space of months rather than years. The inconvenience, loss of income and other obstacles to a happy life during the construction period are the chief reasons for objections, both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, to a light rail network.

In Jerusalem there’s an added objection by people living in and around the quaint and historic German Colony, because the powers that be in Jerusalem want to run the light rail through Emek Refaim, the narrow main street serving the local population as well as domestic and foreign tourists who like to dine at the various eateries lining both sides of the street.

The light rail, it was pointed out at a rowdy meeting this week at the Ginot Ha’ir Community Center between residents and the Transportation Committee of the Jerusalem Municipality, is basically a transit route for mass public transportation from the south to the north of the city. It will not bring additional business to Emek Refaim merchants.

Three alternate plans were proposed at the meeting. The first was presented by Gideon Remez, a former foreign news editor at Israel Radio and currently a fellow at the Truman Institute. Remez had prepared a very detailed presentation, the delivery of which took more time than Shaike El-Ami, director of the community center, was prepared to allow, but each time El Ami attempted to get Remez to finish, there was a loud protest from the audience, which wanted to hear more.

What people may not have realized is that Remez, in his persona, represented the closing of a circle.

Just around the corner from Emek Refaim is the First Station, which has already taken a lot of business away from Emek Refaim restaurants and coffee shops. The First Station is located in David Remez Street, named for Gideon Remez’s grandfather, who was a signatory to the Declaration of Independence, after which he became Israel’s first minister of transportation. His son, Maj.-Gen. Aharon Remez, who had been an RAF combat pilot during the Second World War, was the second commander-in-chief of the Israel Air Force from July 1948 to December 1950, and later went on to become a director of large business concerns, a diplomat, journalist and artist. His CV in his highly varied career included ambassador to the Court of St James, administrator of the Weizmann Institute of Science, chairman of the Israel Ports and Railways Authority and chairman of the Airports Authority Council. Aharon’s son Gideon is an international prizewinning journalist and author.

During the Q&A period at the meeting, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, who chairs the Transportation Committee of the Jerusalem Municipality, was a shining example of democracy, which in simple terms is government of the people by the people for the people. Although El-Ami tried several times to wind up the questions from the floor, Hassan-Nahoum insisted on giving everyone who wanted to make a statement or to ask a question the opportunity to do so, and she genuinely listened and took note of what they had to say.

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