GRAPEVINE: An era of change

Unless Clinton wins the election, America has yet to catch up with more than 60 countries which have had women as governors-general, presidents or prime ministers.

MORRIS KAHN (second left) receives the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award from its chairwoman, Ofra Strauss, flanked by US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro (left) and AICC CEO Oded Rose. (photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)
MORRIS KAHN (second left) receives the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award from its chairwoman, Ofra Strauss, flanked by US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro (left) and AICC CEO Oded Rose.
(photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)
At this writing, the results of the American presidential election have yet to be finalized. Exit polls notwithstanding, no one knows for sure whether Hillary Clinton will be the first female president of the United States. It is truly absurd that a country as progressive as the US, which over the past 19 years has had five secretaries of state of whom three are women – Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Clinton – had not voted in a woman as president.
Unless Clinton wins the election, America has yet to catch up with more than 60 countries which have had women as governors-general, presidents or prime ministers. Several countries have simultaneously had women in two of those roles.
The world’s first woman to carry the title of president of her country was Isabel Martínez de Perón of Argentina. She was the president of Argentina from 1974 to 1976. After her husband president Juan Peron died in office, Isabel served as president from July 1, 1974, to March 24, 1976. The first elected woman prime minister was Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the longtime leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, who was first elected in 1960 when her country was still called Ceylon.
She served for five years, and was elected again in 1970 and served for seven years, and yet again in 1994 when she served for six years. Golda Meir became Israel’s prime minister in 1959, the third female prime minister in the world after Bandaranaike and India’s Indira Gandhi.
■ TODAY, IN almost every country of the world, women have shattered glass ceilings but have not necessarily succeeded in getting rid of gender discrimination on issues such as equal pay for equal work. Although the Internet is a very good source for information of this kind, the good memories of people no longer young are equally important.
A case in point was illustrated this past Monday by Yediot Aharonot, when it ran a photograph of Donald Trump standing with world-famous sexologist and television personality Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who was carrying an Israeli flag. The caption read: “Trump with an elderly Jewish citizen.” The graphic artist was presumably a young person to whom the face of the 88-year-old Dr. Ruth was not familiar. Someone considerably senior would in all probability have recognized the woman known to millions around the world.
■ THE GOLDEN handshake used to be the gold watch that was given to employees at retirement age, and in those days people often worked for the same employer or the family of their first employer for all or nearly all of their working lives. But Mabat anchorman Yaakov Eilon, who came to Channel 1 in January 2015 and intends to leave on November 15, 2016, has given a whole new meaning to the golden handshake.
As a farewell gift, he was sent to New York to oversee the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s coverage of the presidential election. He didn’t tell us anything we wouldn’t known by tuning into Fox News or CNN or by exploring the websites of various American media, yet the IBA scattered its stars in different camps and in different states, with Eilon as the kingpin. When he comes home, he’ll probably be given a farewell party, too.
Oren Nahari, who has been at the IBA for 30 years and who has also resigned, was likewise sent to America to cover the election, but in his case the last hurrah is well deserved as a token of appreciation for his broad-ranging knowledge on a multitude of subjects and his work in radio and television. With all the comings and goings in public broadcasting, when Nahari broadcast from America on Monday morning on Keren Neubach’s Agenda program, she wasn’t quite certain in what capacity, and queried, “You are still with us, aren’t you?” ■ AT A time when retirement age is one of the hot subjects on the national agenda, Army Radio decided to dispense with the services of veteran sportscaster Eli Israeli, 67, in favor of former soccer star and manager of Israel’s under-19 team Eli Ohana, 52. The question regarding Israeli is: Did he jump or was he pushed? According to a statement released by Army Radio, from which he broadcast for 42 years, he retired, but Israeli has told reporters that he didn’t retire, he was bumped – or should it be “dumped”? ■ WITH SO much confusion in Israel’s current media environment, false reports and the growing acrimony between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and various media outlets and personalities, the Israel Press Council, headed by former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, will certainly have its work cut out.
With this in mind it has appointed Amir Rozenblit, the longtime spokesman for Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, as its spokesman.
In a letter confirming the appointment, IPC secretary-general Moti Rosenblum emphasized the need to create greater public awareness of journalistic freedom, the right of the public to know, the determination and safeguarding of journalistic ethics and the raising of the quality of journalism in Israel.
■ IT WOULD seem that Rozenblit will have to do a lot of work on behalf of the IPC in upholding the professional integrity of prizewinning journalist Ilana Dayan, who annoyed politicians in her youth when she was a soldier assigned to Army Radio.
Her investigative program Fact, on Channel 2, has riled many more politicians, including the prime minister, but never more so than this week when Dayan investigated the decision-making process that goes on behind closed doors in the Prime Minister’s Office and how much influence the prime minister’s wife wields in such decisions.
People who once worked in the Prime Minister’s Office were interviewed by the program’s researchers, who subsequently helped to formulate a long list of questions that were sent to the Prime Minister’s office for a response. It came a little later than requested, in the form of a letter from Netanyahu’s bureau. Dayan was asked in the response to read it out in full.
It was not easy, not just because its length took up five minutes and 47 seconds of airtime, but also because of its content, which was perceived in several media and political circles as hateful incitement. It started out querying whether Dayan, who purports to be a champion of freedom of expression, would read the response in its entirety or censor it.
Dayan took up the gauntlet and read it all, including the introductory paragraph which stated: “The time has come to remove the mask from the face of Ilana Dayan, who has proved yet again that she does not have an iota of professional integrity.”
The letter went on to accuse Dayan of being in the forefront of those who decry Netanyahu and are dedicated to bringing down a rightwing administration and replacing it with a left-wing government. It then listed examples to support this argument.
While journalists at the IBA – which Netanyahu, as communications minister, now wants to rehabilitate – commended Dayan for her courage, some noted that neither Channel 2 nor Channel 10 ever conduct investigative programs into the business ethics or integrity of the shareholders of those channels, meaning that they do not spit into the wells from which they drink.
■ SOMETIMES IT’S difficult for journalists and others to discern the source of a statement when there are two organizations with similar names and membership but with vastly differing policies. Thus, because there happen to be several journalists’ associations in Israel, journalists themselves get them mixed up when they write about them.
The Jerusalem Journalists’ Association was quick to dissociate itself from a report in Yediot Aharonot’s finance supplement in which it was stated that the journalists association had approached Attorney-General Avichai Mendelblit to instruct Netanyahu to give the green light to the Israel Broadcasting Corporation to operate the public broadcasting service. The JJA issued a statement saying that it never met with the attorney-general, and remains committed to the continuation of the IBA with the integration of employees of the IBC.
■ YOU CAN take the man out of South Africa, but you can’t take South Africa out of the man. Thus, at the annual awards ceremony of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce (IACC) at Cinema City Glilot – where at the reception prior to the ceremony, English was heard no less than Hebrew – there were quite a few South African accents, and not necessarily because so many of the South African expats had come to cheer for entrepreneur extraordinaire and multi-cause philanthropist Morris Kahn, who received the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement Award, but because so many former South Africans who’ve done well in Israel are former Mahalniks who volunteered in the War of Independence and either stayed afterward or returned to South Africa to complete their studies or to make some money before settling permanently in Israel.
Among those who returned and came back is the legendary Smoky Simon, who was at the chamber event with his wife, Myra, and was only too delighted to congratulate Kahn.
Kahn’s contribution to Israel’s economy through his co-production of the Yellow Pages telephone directory, founding of Amdocs, Golden Channels, AIG Insurance, Coral World Underwater Observatory and more provided thousands of jobs. His philanthropic endeavors in health, medicine, science, the environment, culture, youth leadership, et al., as well as quiet support of individuals in need, have been true examples of tikun olam, fixing the world. Kahn said that he’d actually had more failures than successes, but that the successes were so great that they had enabled him to do the things he wanted to do.
Ofra Strauss, who chairs the IACC, in speaking about the Americans who do business in Israel, and the Israelis who do business in America, said that together they create thousands of jobs in each country and are collectively a force for change.
US Ambassador Dan Shapiro spoke of the great economic relationship between the two countries, noting that “since the signing of the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement, our economic linkages have evolved, growing fivefold in the last 31 years to reach $49 billion a year in trade, with shared economic benefits for both countries.”
Strongly aware that the event was taking place on the eve of the US presidential election, President Reuven Rivlin, while not ignoring the economic aspects of the bilateral relationship, declared: “This evening is not just a chance to celebrate the cooperation, friendship, and the bond between Israel and our greatest, most important ally. Tonight is a chance to congratulate all the citizens of the United States on the occasion of the election.... However harsh the arguments, however severe the disagreements,” said Rivlin, “America is the world’s greatest democracy, and whoever wins the election, the real winner is the people, whose voice is heard, and who play a part in shaping their futures.”
■ SHAPIRO IS a glutton for punishment.
After the IACC Awards night on Monday, and an election party on Tuesday night, he is scheduled to be at the Institute for National Security Studies at around dawn on Wednesday to be the final speaker at a post-election briefing co-hosted by Jerusalem-based Media Central and Tel Aviv-based INSS. Speakers will try to analyze voting results and their ramifications.
In addition to Shapiro, the by-invitation- only event will be addressed by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, INSS director; Dr. Oded Eran, senior researcher; former ambassador to the US Prof. Itamar Rabinovich, who will present “Israel’s View of the Next President’s Middle East Policy”; former US congressman Larry Smith, who will forecast relations between Israel and the new US Congress; and former ambassador to the US Salai Meridor, who will give his take on “Israel and the New President.” In addition there will be Skype interviews with former US senator Joe Lieberman and former US ambassador to Egypt and Israel Dan Kurtzer, who will discuss “The New President’s Middle East Policy.”
■ AFTER SEVERAL Hebrew papers on Friday of last week ran yet another unflattering report about Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister on Saturday posted a semi-romantic photograph of the two of them and congratulated “my beloved wife” on her 58th birthday. When it was his birthday toward the end of last month, the prime minister posted a happy family photo.
■ IF 2016 was somewhat of a convoluted year, 2017, filled with milestone anniversaries for Israel, the Jewish world and various countries with which Israel has diplomatic relations, will be even more so. A short list for the moment, and without adhering to chronological order, includes the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War; the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress; the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration; the 70th anniversary of the United Nations resolution on the partition of Palestine; the 40th anniversary of the historic visit to Jerusalem by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat; the 30th anniversary of the first intifada; the 100th anniversary of the Ottoman retreat from Jerusalem and the entry of Gen. Edmund Allenby, who dismounted from his horse and entered on foot; the 100th birthday of Ruth Dayan; and the 100th anniversary of the births of assassinated US president John F. Kennedy, assassinated Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi, as well as Caspar Weinberger a US secretary of defense who was largely responsible for the fact that Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of espionage, spent such an overlong period in prison.
■ SO FAR no sitting Israeli prime minister has been to Australia, and only one Israeli president has ventured down under. Netanyahu was scheduled to visit on at least two occasions, and changed his plans at the last minute, and Rivlin was scheduled to visit this year and went to Russia instead.
Netanyahu has yet again scheduled a visit to the Antipodes for early next year, and in recent months assured Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and Mark Leibler, national chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council that he is definitely going to visit some time within the first few months of 2017. Rivlin is also contemplating a visit, and Cosgrove, who came for the funeral of Shimon Peres, plans to be back for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba. But if Netanyahu or Rivlin back out yet again, Cosgrove may decide that there’s no point in him making such a long journey when Israel isn’t playing ball.
■ RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER Dmitry Medvedev, who is due to check into Jerusalem’s King David Hotel late Wednesday afternoon, was initially scheduled to come to Israel in January 2011, when he was still president of Russia. The visit was canceled due to sanctions imposed by the staff of the Foreign Ministry, so he’s arriving in his present capacity as prime minister. He will meet Rivlin and Netanyahu with whom he has previously met in Russia. The visit is seen in Israel as yet another sign of Russia’s interest in boosting bilateral ties.
■ LAST FRIDAY morning on the Gregorian calendar anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, relatives and close friends, including his sister Rachel Yaakov, his daughter, Dalia, and his son, Yuval, along with former Labor Party ministers, past and present, Knesset members, and friends who accompanied Rabin through his military, diplomatic and political careers, gathered at his grave on Mount Herzl to mark the 21st anniversary of his death.
Dalia Rabin said that the kind of incitement that led to her father’s assassination still exists 21 years after his murder, and some people are still making excuses to justify it.
On the other hand, later in the day, Israel Radio’s Yaron Enosh spoke of his family watching the dramatic announcement on television, after which he left to go to the radio studio.
En route he passed the Prime Minister’s Office, which was in darkness, and the street was totally bereft of people except for one man, an ardent right-winger, who had spent many long days and nights carrying a placard and mounting a solo protest demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Office. Enosh drew level with the man and saw him weeping. He asked why and the reply was: “I didn’t agree with Rabin on any political issue, but I can never forget that on a blistering hot day, he stopped the car in which he was being driven, got out, gave me a bottle of cold water, discussed my views and instructed the security people at the entrance to give me water, shelter from the sun and anything else I wanted. He was a true leader.”
■ LAST WEEK Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat got a dose of his own medicine when residents of Pisgat Ze’ev and surrounds showed up at dawn outside his house in Hameyasdim Street in the Beit Hakerem neighborhood and played a recording of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. The recording was played at full volume, disturbing not only the Barkat household but the households of the whole street. This is what the residents of Pisgat Ze’ev have to endure on a daily basis. They have been complaining to city hall for quite a long time – but to no avail.
Similarly, in the summer months, there are concerts in Ben-Yehuda and King George Streets which can be heard in all the surrounding neighborhoods, not to mention the apartments of people living in the center of town. Requests to turn down the volume have fallen on deaf ears GRAPEVINE • By GREER FAY CASHMAN MORRIS KAHN (second left) receives the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award from its chairwoman, Ofra Strauss, flanked by US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro (left) and AICC CEO Oded Rose. (Sivan Farag) FROM LEFT: Robert De Niro, Larry King and Haim Saban. (Peter Halmagy) PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in a moment of intimacy. (Facebook) DONALD TRUMP with Dr. Ruth Westheimer (second right). (Facebook) because the mayor wants the center of town to become a cultural and social hub.
The difference is that the demonstrators outside his house were dispersed by the police, whereas the bands that play full blast downtown and make the lives of residents miserable have carte blanche from the mayor.
■ FORMER US secretary of state and 1973 Nobel Prize laureate Henry A.
Kissinger will receive the Partners for Democracy award of the America- Israel Friendship League at the annual AIFL gala at the Plaza Hotel in New York City two days after the American election, which means that the time will be ripe for commentary.
The award is in recognition of Kissinger’s lifelong career in public service. Kissinger served as national security adviser and later concurrently as the secretary of state in the administrations of presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
It is not certain that he will discuss the upcoming new incumbent at the White House, but he will engage in a nostalgic discussion with Washington Post Senior Associate Editor Lally Weymouth and Israel’s 13th permanent representative to the United Nations and AFIL Israel chairman Dan Gillerman. The conversation will focus on the history of the American-Israel relationship, its turbulent times in recent years and what the world can expect going forward.
■ THERE IS no doubt as to where prizewinning actor Robert De Niro stands on voting in the US presidential election. At the reception for the annual Friends of the Israel Defense Forces fund-raiser at the Beverly Hilton last week, De Niro told fellow actor and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger that if he supports Republican candidate Donald Trump, he wants nothing to do with him, and refused to pose for photos with him, though photographers who were present at the event hosted by Haim and Cheryl Saban managed to snap a couple of candids of the two together.
“If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem,” declared De Niro. Larry King, one of the 1,200 guests at the celebrity-studded event, concurred and urged everyone to vote for one candidate or the other.
King, 82, has been voting in presidential elections since 1952, but pronounced the Clinton-Trump contest as “the worst.” Regardless of whether their politics ran Democrat or Republican, guests were united in their support for the IDF, contributing a record-breaking $38 million. King said that he’d always been a supporter of Israel and that he’d interviewed every prime minister other than Ben-Gurion. He named Yitzhak Rabin as his favorite. Schwarzenegger recalled that when he was governor, his first overseas visit had been to Israel.