One of the hot subjects being debated in Arab as well as Jewish circles these days is the disturbing finding in the Pew Report on Israeli society, in which it appears that 48 percent of the Jewish population favors the transfer of Arabs out of the country. The current report follows the controversy over a previous Pew report on Jews and Judaism in America.
Surveys such as these are quite costly, especially when thousands of people are being interviewed, as was the case in Israel.
One of the key funders is the Neubauer Family Foundation, which is headed by Joseph and Jeanette Neubauer. Before retiring from business in 2015, Neubauer was the longtime chairman of Aramark, the Philadelphia-based global hospitality company. At the same time, he occupied high-ranking positions in other business enterprises and on the boards of academic institutions.
Born in British Mandate Palestine to parents who fled Nazi Germany, he was sent at age 14 to live with relatives in America, where his parents thought that he could get a better education than in the young and troubled State of Israel. He arrived in the US with practically no English, but less than a decade later he graduated from Tufts University.
A generous philanthropist to numerous causes, he has received many honors, but he’s not yet content to rest on his laurels.
His foundation’s involvement with the Pew Center started in 2012 with a study about Jewish Americans. At the time there was a lot of conversation about Jewish identity, but it was mostly anecdotal and not a basis for policy, he stated this week when the results of the Israeli survey were presented to President Reuven Rivlin.
Pew research provided data on measuring the attitude of US Jews to Judaism and provided Jewish organizations with a baseline from which to measure the effectiveness of their programs, he said.
The Pew survey went beyond all expectations, generated worldwide attention and triggered ongoing media interest, Neubauer continued.
Because 80 percent of the world Jewish population lives in either the US or in Israel, he thought it would be useful to compare the two with regard to Jewish practice and identity.
Some 5,600 Israeli adults from every sector of society, including Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druse, were interviewed in face-to-face encounters of approximately 40 minutes each.
People are always trying to find some ulterior motive for Neubauer’s intense interest in funding these surveys. There is no ulterior motive, he said. “Our reason is to perpetuate Jewish continuity in Israel and the US.”
It’s interesting how many people who were born and raised in Israel, or spent their youth in Israel and who now live in other parts of the world, invest in Israel’s economy and contribute to Israeli philanthropic causes with extraordinary generosity. Some of the names that come to mind are motion picture producer Arnon Milchan, physician and businesswoman Miriam Adelson, media magnate Haim Saban, fashion and real estate tycoons the Nakash brothers, conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim and violinist Itzhak Perlman.
■ FORMER NEW YORK City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who was a candidate in the 2008 presidential race, but withdrew and gave his support to Sen. John McCain, will be given the red-carpet treatment next week in Israel.
Giuliani, who is now head of Greenberg Traurig Cybersecurity and Crisis Management Practice, will be the guest of honor this coming Sunday night at a dinner hosted by the World Jewish Congress at the King David Hotel.
On Tuesday of next week, he will spend a good part of the day at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He specifically requested a visit to Beersheba to see the burgeoning cybersecurity hub and to talk to students, researchers and start-up entrepreneurs.
While at BGU he will deliver a lecture to start-up entrepreneurs.
Before withdrawing from the presidential race, Giuliani told supporters that he was running because he understands terrorism better than any of the other candidates.
Just before announcing his candidacy, Giuliani was the guest speaker in March 2007 at a fund-raiser at the home of internationally syndicated columnist Shmuley Boteach, whose column also appears in The Jerusalem Post. At that time Giuliani said: “Hamas or Abbas, it makes no difference.
The ball is in their court, and we just have to show patience and not push any peace process until they do what they have to do.” What they have to do, he said, is, “at the very minimum, to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to renounce terrorism.
“Then, Israel and the US should sit back and see if they mean it. They don’t just have to say the words. Anyone can say the words. They have to show that they are ending terrorism; they have to show that they are doing what they have to do to end terrorism. If all that happens, then it will lead naturally to a peace process, but we have to wait patiently until they are ready to make it happen. And no one should make any concessions to the Palestinians until they take those steps.”
■ WHEN ASKED to make her home available for an International Women’s Day reception honoring female heads of foreign missions in Israel, international artist, social activist and businesswoman Rachel Weitzman instantly agreed, so much so that she thought it was an honor to have been asked.
Attendance at the event included several members of the International Women’s Club, of which most female diplomats and wives of diplomats are members. The reception and the guest list were organized by IWC member Naomi Cherpak on behalf of the Ambassadors Club of Israel, which is headed by Yitzhak Eldan, a former chief of protocol at the Foreign Ministry.
This was not the first time that Weitzman had hosted the Ambassador’s Club in her elegant and spacious 43rd-floor apartment in Tel Aviv. Several of her guests preferred to spend time on her balcony looking out at the magnificent panorama of the city. One guest, Vered Swid, the outgoing director of the Prime Minister’s Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women, suffers from claustrophobia to the extent that she cannot ride in elevators. So she walked up the whole 43 flights and timed herself to see how long it would take. She clocked 12 minutes.
In a relatively short space of time, Weitzman had gone from one extreme to another, having just returned from Lesbos to help some of the unfortunate women fleeing countries of conflict in the region.
It has been previously mentioned in this column that men always seem to be present at women’s events, but the reverse is a rarity. There were several men among the women who were enjoying Weitzman’s hospitality. Aside from Eldan, there was composer, conductor and pianist Gil Shohat, mentalist and magician Dudi Shemer, dean of the diplomatic corps Henri Etoundi Essomba, who is the ambassador of Cameroon, and there were a handful of other males floating around.
Eldan proudly introduced Shohat, who he said had several years ago played at his home in France when Eldan was deputy chief of mission at the Israel Embassy in Paris, and Shohat had not yet received international celebrity status.
Shohat, who is the most friendly and unpretentious of celebrities, said that when Weitzman invited him as a guest, he asked if she was sure that he was just a guest, because what usually happens when he’s invited is that a grand piano suddenly materializes in a corner and he is asked to play Chopin between the main course and the dessert. He decided to preempt the request in this case and offered to play before he was asked. He chose “Fantaisie-Impromptu,” which Chopin had dedicated to his lover the prolific novelist Amantine-Lucile- Aurore Dupin, better known to the world by her pseudonym, George Sand.
Shohat called her “the first feminist.”
Also on hand to entertain the guests was clarinetist Michal Beit Halachmi, who played one of the tunes from Yentl and concluded the event with a rendition of “I have no regrets,” the signature song of Édith Piaf, better known by its French title, “Non, je ne regrette rien.”
Eldan presented Women of Valor certificates to the women ambassadors and charge d’affaires. Recipients included Canada’s Vivian Bercovici; Panama’s Adis Arlene Urieta Vega; Estonia’s Malle Talvet-Mustonen; Ireland’s Alison Kelly; Thailand’s Angsana Sihapitak, Moldova’s Gabriela Moraru; Slovenia’s Barbara Susnik; Bosnia Herzegovina’s Jelena Rajakovic; Malta’s Cecilia Attard-Pirotta; and Nigeria’s charge d’affaires , Frankie Obianagha.
Women of Valor certificates were also prepared for Cyprus Ambassador Thessalia Salina Shambos, who is a very busy envoy and was unable to attend; Romanian Ambassador Andreea Pastarnac, who was otherwise engaged with the state visit by her country’s president, Klaus Iohannis; Finland’s Ambassador Leena-Kaisa Mikkola, whose absence was not explained; and Dr. Anju Kuman, the Indian charge d’affaires who had gone to the airport to meet India’s ambassador designate Pavan Kapoor. Even though they were not all present, it was interesting to see the collective distaff side of diplomacy.
■ THE END of March marks the 80th anniversary of public broadcasting in Israel. It also marks the targeted demise of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, which legally cannot be closed down without its successor, the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, becoming operational.
There are no indications at this time that the IBC is anywhere near ready to assume its role, but no final decision has been made as to whether all the plugs will be pulled on the IBA on March 31.
Veteran broadcaster Aryeh Golan, who anchors Reshet Bet’s early morning actuality program, always signs off with a countdown to the final dismantling of Israel Radio, which will take on a new identity within the framework of the IBC.
Meanwhile both Israel Radio and Channel 1 are carrying on as if nothing is amiss, and even at this stage are introducing new programs.
Israel Radio is also celebrating the 80th anniversary of public broadcasting with an audiovisual exhibition at the Sarona Art Gallery in Tel Aviv, which opens on Friday, March 11, at 10 a.m. and will remain on view (except on Saturdays) till March 31. Israel Radio has billed itself as the soundtrack of the nation and in this capacity has incorporated historic photographs and recordings into the exhibition, including the first-ever broadcast made by what was then the Palestine Broadcasting Service which was established by the British Mandate authorities and modeled on the BBC.
Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to hear songs that were popular in bygone days and sung by once-famous performers whose names have faded into obscurity.
Every broadcaster has a career-defining moment and the exhibition will also give expression to these, with wellknown broadcasters talking about the most important broadcasts in which they were in front of the microphone.
The exhibition was initiated by Yoav Ginai, the head of programming on Channel 1 who also anchors both radio and television programs of his own. Ginai, who likes to dabble in broadcasting history, was also a central figure in the 70th anniversary celebrations of public broadcasting.
■ THOSE ISRAELIS who have unfairly accused the foreign press of bias in reporting events from Israel, particularly with reference to their descriptions of terrorist attacks in which the perpetrators have allegedly been characterized as victims, should be aware that many reports in the international media described the violent events that rocked the country on Tuesday as murder by Palestinian terrorists. Among those who did not hesitate to tell it as it was were reporters for Fox News, CNN, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Times of India and even The Guardian. The death of US university student Taylor Force and the repeated condemnation of terrorism by US Vice President Joe Biden may have prompted the sober realization that no one is immune and everyone is vulnerable, and so copy editors desisted from distorting the accuracy of stories filed by reporters stationed in Israel.
■ ALTHOUGH RIVLIN has postponed his visit to Australia, Israel will be well represented there by articulate speaker and former MK Dr. Einat Wilf, who will be one of the keynote speakers later this month at a series of events that are central to the United Israel Appeal Women’s Campaign.
Wilf travels the world to fight against the delegitimization of Israel.
A former foreign policy adviser to Shimon Peres and intelligence officer in the IDF, she has held a number of international consultancy positions, including as a senior fellow with the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. Her most recent compilation of essays on Israel and Zionism, Winning the War of Words, has been widely acclaimed.
■ JUST AS the era of Holocaust survivors is in its twilight time, so too is the era of those who fought in Israel’s War of Independence.
Inasmuch as Holocaust survivors who came from the camps were eager to be able to fight for a Jewish homeland and were prepared, after all they had endured, to lay down their lives for such a cause, that eagerness was perhaps surpassed by German, Austrian and Italian Jews who had somehow managed to get out of their home countries at the onset of the Second World War and make their way to England.
However, in England, the haven that they hoped to find eluded them. They were treated as enemy aliens and deported to Australia for internment.
Some 2,000 Jews aged from 16 to 60 were crammed into the HMT Dunera, along with approximately 250 genuine prisons of war who were either Italian fascists or German Nazis. The ship’s capacity was 1,600 passengers, including the crew. The 57-day journey was worse than being in a cattle car. The ship, which left Liverpool on July 10, 1940, had to sail through dangerous waters. It was buffeted by the sea and it was also torpedoed by the Germans. Conditions onboard were primitive, but eventually the Dunera reached Australia. Its Jewish passengers called themselves the Dunera Boys, and not all of them remained in Australia for long.
Between January 1941 and July 1943, some 120 of the Dunera internees left Australia and made their way to Palestine – a truly risky undertaking, but all of them arrived safely. Several of them stayed on and fought in the War of Independence and subsequent wars.
Three such people were Alfred Brunner, who became Aaron Bar-Nir, and served in the Palmah, Hagana and in the transport division of the Israel Defense Forces; Paul Gelbein, who became Paul Gilboa and served with the British forces in Egypt during World War II and later in the Israel Air Force; and Kurt Reichmann, who became Moshe Riman and participated in the defense of Kibbutz Ein Gev and Mount Sussita in the War of Independence and was later sent on overseas missions.
Two ships carrying Dunera internees back to England were torpedoed and there was considerable loss of life.
If there are Dunera Boys still living who fought in the War of Independence, the Australian Jewish Historical Society would be glad to know about them.[email protected]