Mayor Nir Barkat.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
PRIOR TO the formalities at the cocktail reception preceding the Yehoram Gaon concert on the eve of the 15th Jerusalem Conference hosted at the Jerusalem International Convention Center by the Besheva communications group, Mayor Nir Barkat was asked when he last walked along the street bordering the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Barkat said that he’d been there fairly recently.
“And weren’t you ashamed?” queried his interlocutor.
“Of what?” asked the mayor, in what appeared to be genuine surprise.
“The condition of the road. It’s disgusting.”
Barkat said that he didn’t find anything wrong with the road. Apparently, he did not notice the deep cracks, the potholes, the asphalt and tar patchwork. Part of the road has been dug up at least three times in the past eight months, and the workmen never restore the road in a manner that would be considered seamless.
Barkat constantly talks about Jerusalem’s progress and development at all levels, but is fearful that budgetary restrictions on the part of the Finance Ministry will have a detrimental effect on the city and will prevent its growth and development. He has apparently forgotten that growth tends to begin at ground level or even below.
Tourists to Jerusalem are curious to see where the prime minister lives. After all, outside the country he is the most widely known Israeli.
Shouldn’t the street that they see be a model of perfection, to indicate that the Jerusalem Municipality has pride in the fact that the official residence of the prime minister is in the capital? The municipality should therefore do something to make the surrounding environment more attractive rather than leaving it as an eyesore.
But what did Barkat say? He told his interlocutor that if she had a problem with the condition of the street, she should call 106. The attitude was reminiscent of Clark Gable’s famous closing line in the role of Rhett Butler in the classic film Gone with the Wind – “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
IN THE 70th anniversary year of the state, one of the signal themes, at least in various organizations, is immigrant absorption. Israel is by and large a nation of immigrants.
Telfed, the Israel arm of the Zionist Federation of South Africa, which takes care of immigrants from South Africa, Holland and Australia, reaches out to others working in the same field.
Jason Roth and Yisrael Cohn, project directors of immigrants from English-speaking countries at the Jerusalem Municipality, were invited to meet with Telfed personnel, including Daniela Shapira (aliya and absorption adviser), Ariela Siegel (social worker and head of aliya and absorption), Yael Strausz (employment adviser) and Dana Ben Chail (head of events & volunteerism) at Telfed, to exchange information and work out means of cooperation.
Telfed, which also provides scholarships for its younger members to help them fulfill their potential, will this year hold its scholarship awards ceremony at the Knesset, because Telfed, like Israel, is marking its 70th anniversary. The event, on March 4, will be held in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and MK Avraham Neguise, who chairs the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs.
JOURNALISTS OFTEN complain that organizations and institutions desirous of coverage of their events send their invitations only a few days ahead of time to the media, whereas other invitees get theirs up to a month or more earlier. It’s as if the journalists are last-minute thoughts for exploitation by the organizers.
An outstanding exception to the rule is the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, which has already sent out a “save the date” notice for an event taking place on May 4, when the organization will honor the professional staff in its immigrant absorption department – Josie Arbel, Sheila Bauman, Miriam Green, Helen Har-Tal, Carole Kremer and Yanina Musnikow – with a brunch at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel, at which Deputy Minister Michael Oren, a former ambassador to the US and, long before that, an American immigrant himself, will be the keynote speaker.
Oren, who is active in the Lone Soldiers Association, having been a lone soldier himself, is now being courted as a potential chairman of the Jewish Agency, to succeed one of Israel’s most celebrated immigrants, Natan Sharansky.