The loss of so many young combatants in Operation Protective Edge affected the nation in many ways, as evidenced in the mega-attendance at army funerals and the outpouring of affection and gifts for fighting and wounded soldiers.
But what seemed to move many people most was the fact that no sign was found of the remains of St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul of the Golani Brigade, listed as having an unknown final resting place.
Poet and lyricist Dudu Barak was so moved by the unknown fate of Shaul – who had been one of the 120 outstanding soldiers honored at this year’s Independence Day ceremony at the President’s Residence – that he wrote a poem dedicated to him.
He gave it to composer Efi Netzer, who set to music and then called singer Arik Sinai to perform it.
Before going public, Barak contacted the Shaul family to ensure he was not trampling on their sensitivities. He was heartened when assured by a family representative that they were extremely touched by what he had written, and had no objections to him going public with the song.
The Shaul family will be the Tzavta club in Tel Aviv this morning, when Sinai performs the song in a concert tribute to the Golani Brigade. Sinai was himself in Golani for several years before transferring to the IDF’s Entertainment Unit.
Shachar Tase, another Golani soldier who fell in action in Gaza, was a relative of Sinai’s wife.
The Tzavta audience, in addition to the Shaul family, will primarily be composed of soldiers and residents of southern communities.
Among the other artists who will be appearing are Ruhama Raz, Liron Lev, Din Din Aviv and Israel Gurion.
Former president Shimon Peres visited the Shaul home on Wednesday to express his condolences.
Peres had presented Oren with his prize in April, and felt the need to voice his personal sorrow to the soldier’s family.
“What a fantastic family, and what an outstanding young man Oron was,” said Peres after emerging from the meeting.
President Reuven Rivlin visited the family last week.
■ COINCIDENTALLY, NETZER also composed the music for “Golani Sheli” (“My Golani”), which was written by Amos Ettinger in tribute to Golani soldiers who fought in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Over the years, Ettinger was asked several times to add one more verse to what he had written, but he steadfastly refused. He was asked again towards the end of last month by author and journalist Emanuel Ben-Sabo, and refused again, but Ben-Sabo persisted and Ettinger finally agreed. The expanded version of the song will be sung on Monday night by Shlomi Shabat at the opening of Jerusalem’s annual Hutsot Hayotzer festival.
■ ALTHOUGH THERE has been very little to smile about in the first two weeks of the Rivlin presidency, the nation’s No. 1 citizen is known among other things for his well-developed sense of humor, which is why it is not the least bit surprising that part of the annual Animix International Animation, Comics and Caricature Festival – which opened on Wednesday night at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque – is devoted to a series of caricatures under the title of “Crossing the Rubycon.”
Just as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is frequently referred to by his nickname of Bibi, Rivlin is referred to by his nickname of Ruby – hence the inspiration for the exhibition title.
On a more sober level, Rivlin has continued visiting wounded soldiers and the families of fallen soldiers, as well as army bases and communities in the Gaza Strip, and the Magen David Adom station in Ashdod. He went to be briefed by MDA director-general Eli Bin, and to thank the paramedics who are constantly on alert and frequently first on the scene in emergencies.
One of his more painful visits was to the home of Sec.-Lt.
Hadar Goldin, where the visit coincided with that of Lt. Eitan of Jerusalem, who had risked his life trying to find Goldin in the terror tunnel, initially thought to have been kidnapped by Hamas.
The young officer, who found some of Goldin’s personal effects, brought them to the Goldin family apartment in Kfar Saba – where he was warmly embraced by each member of the family, as well as by Rivlin.
■ THE STATISTICS of war are horrendous, both in human and economic terms. Sometimes whole families are wiped out, and structures which took years to build are destroyed in minutes, if not in seconds. On August 5, which happened to be Tisha Be’av, the IDF Spokesman’s Office released the following figures: Rockets: • 3,356 rockets fired at Israel • 2,303 hit Israel • 356 intended for IDF units operating in Gaza •116 hit populated areas (3.45 percent) • 578 intercepted by Iron Dome • 475 landed within the StripPrior to the operation, the IDF estimated the Gaza arsenal at approximately 10,000 rockets, one-third of which were fired at Israel, with an additional onethird demolished by the IDF.
Geographic breakdown: • 69.4% fired from the northern Strip • 17.3% fired from the southern Strip •12.9% fired from the central Strip • 597 rockets launched from civilian facilities abused by terrorists (18%) • Approx. 260 launched from educational facilities (schools) • Approx. 160 launched from religious sites • Approx. 127 launched from cemeteries • Approx. 50 launched from hospitals 4,762 terror sites struck across the Strip: • 1,678 rocket-launching capabilities • 977 command and control centers • 237 military-wing government facilities • 191 weapons storage and manufacturing facilities • 144 terrorist/training compounds • 1,535 additional terror sites Eliminating mission - Gaza tunnel network: • 32 terror tunnels neutralized • 14 crossed into Israel • 2 tunnels with shafts located 300-500 meters from Israel 750-1,000 terrorists killed: • At least 253 Hamas operatives • At least 147 Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives • At least 65 operatives of various organizations • At least 603 operatives whose affiliation is unknown In addition, 159 suspected terrorists have been questioned by Israeli security forces, 25 of which are currently imprisoned.
Israeli casualties, with 82,201 IDF reserve personnel involved: • 3 civilians killed • 64 soldiers killed in combat • 463 soldiers wounded • 83 civilians wounded Aid •1,856 trucks of humanitarian aid supplied to Gaza, carrying 40,550 tons • 1,491 trucks with 37,178 tons of foods • 220 trucks with 1,694 tons of humanitarian supplies • 106 trucks with 1,029 tons of medical supplies ■ IN ADDITION, the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers, headed by twice-decorated military hero Brig.-Gen. (res.) Avigdor Kahalani, who was also recently awarded the President’s Medal of Distinction, collected and distributed NIS 16 million.
This included donations from Friends of the IDF in the US and Panama; the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews; the Mexican Association for Soldiers of the IDF; and the UK Association for Soldiers of the IDF, among others. Many Israeli companies also contributed to “Adopt a Battalion.”
■ WHILE IN Amsterdam last week to participate in the Gay Pride Festival, where she sailed on a Jewish boat, Dana International received several threats on her life for her outspoken pro-Jewish and pro-Israel comments, and her defense of Operation Protective Edge. When organizers wanted to give her protection, she declined, saying she could look after herself very well. But when the threats became increasingly menacing, the Gay Pride organizers put their foot down and told the Israeli diva they were assigning a security guard to her – and she had no option but to comply.
While in Amsterdam, the popular singer and former Eurovision winner was feted at a cocktail reception hosted by Israel Ambassador Haim Divon, where she said to those Europeans who have castigated Israel and questioned its legitimacy and right to self-defense: “You have murdered millions throughout history. If we look back 100 years ago, you conquered half of the world, you raped Africa. Now bring back all of Africa’s money.”
Continuing in the same vein, she added :“There’s no nation in Europe that is clean, that can come with a clean heart and say things about Israel.”
■ IN OTHER news from Amsterdam, the World Cinema Festival will open next week with the prize-winning Israeli film Gett – The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, which was scripted by siblings Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz, and features Ronit Elkabetz in the starring role. The film was most favorably received in Cannes and Jerusalem, and has been purchased by distributors in some 30 countries.
Another Elkabetz prize-winning film Invisible, which premiered at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival in 2011 and co-stars Evgenia Dodina, was one of the films screened at the annual Tisha B’Av film and discussion forum hosted by Beit Avi Chai in Jerusalem.
The films chosen for Tisha Be’av deal to a large extent with racism, misogyny and other forms of xenophobia and discrimination.
Invisible, which is not really a good translation of its Hebrew title (Lo Roim Alaich, or “It Doesn’t Show on You”), is about two women who were among 16 rape victims 20 years earlier by someone known as “the polite rapist.”
(Spoiler alert:) The two women, who each work in film production, meet by chance when filming radical Jews attacking Palestinians harvesting olives, and the trauma which had been submerged for two decades rises to the surface and affects their lives anew. Nira, played by Dodina (who was among the discussants after the screening), becomes obsessive about the past and starts tracking down and interviewing the other victims.
She also discovers that the police file containing the evidence she gave has been destroyed.
Eventually, based on the data she has collected, she and Lily, the character played by Elkabetz, decide to make a film to illustrate male chauvinist attitudes towards women who have been defiled. In their research, the two women discover that their rapist, who was originally sentenced to 30 years imprisonment, had his sentence reduced twice and was eventually released after being incarcerated for 10 years. Elkabetz, as Lily, almost goes into shock when she realizes how little time was served for each of the 16 cases. The rapist is out and can rejoin his family after 10 years, but each of the women he attacked has to live with the trauma for the rest of her life.
Elkabetz is noted for producing, directing, scripting and starring in films on women’s issues.
The film, directed by Michal Aviad, though a work of fiction, is based on the true story of a serial rapist who victimized 16 girls and women in Tel Aviv from 1977 to 1978. While society’s attitude toward rape victims has become much more sensitive today, there are still inclinations in some quarters – including the courts – to blame the victim.
■ HAMODIA, THE haredi newspaper published in Hebrew, English and French, is definitely not a Zionist publication – even though its news coverage includes Israeli political, economic and military affairs. But haredim realize that terrorists make no distinctions between any residents of Israel, be they religious or secular Jews, Arabs, Druse or members of any other minority group.
The murder this week in Jerusalem of 29-year-old father of five Rabbi Avraham Wallis of the Toldot Aharon community, who was a construction site supervisor for the Atra Kadisha burial society to ensure there were no bodies buried where a building was to be erected, was indicative of the indiscriminate practices of terrorists. Wallis was the son of Rabbi Shimon Wallis, a wellknown shochet (ritual slaughterer) and kashrut supervisor for the Badatz Eda Haredit.
Several days before Wallis was murdered, Hamodia published lists of the names of wounded soldiers together with the names of their mothers, and asked readers to pray for their recoveries.
■ WITH ALL due respect to Artuz Sheva’s Walter Bingham, who is extraordinarily active for a man of 90, he does not yet hold the record for being Israel’s oldest active journalist. He was introduced as such when interviewed this week on TLV1 Internet Radio, and indeed, he certainly does get around and is worthy of high praise. But The Jerusalem Post’s Alexander Zvielli, whose writings appear regularly in this paper, happens to be 93 and still going strong.
Uri Avnery, who is a few months older than Bingham, continues to be both an active journalist and an energetic peace activist. It would not be surprising to learn that there are a few others in the same age group.
However, Bingham may hold some kind of record for being the oldest man to get a job. He was 80 when he arrived in Israel; he was given a weekly 10-minute spot on Arutz Sheva, which expanded in the course of time and sometimes runs for more than an hour. Bingham continues to go out in the field with his recording equipment, and this week recorded his 500th weekly program. He’s been down to some of the hottest spots in the South.