The violence in Arad began after a secular resident hung a poster besmirching the ultra- Orthodox residents of the city..
(photo credit: TWITTER)
■ OF ALL the hassidic movements, it would seem that the Ger Hassidim are the most aggressive. Aside from trying to take over the Musrara neighborhood in Jerusalem, they are also trying to impose their views on largely secular Arad. On Saturday night, they had a violent altercation with some of the secular residents after a secular family felt physically threatened by them. The family had put up a placard in their garden stating that Arad was not for sale. The sign included a photograph of Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman.
On Friday, the sign was torn down by a person or persons unknown but presumed to be Ger Hassidim. The family put up another sign in its stead. On Saturday night, several carloads of hassidim showed up at the house and threw burning tires into the garden. The family was terrified that the house would catch fire and called for help. Angry residents showed up to defend them from the mob.
Among them was Arad Mayor Nissan Ben-Hamo, who is a lawyer by profession. Ben-Hamo declared that the madness had to stop. “It is untenable that a minority should be allowed to dictate to a majority what the city’s agendas should be,” he said. According to several residents of Arad, the Ger Hassidim are trying to take over public buildings and want to put their hands on the city’s finances.
■ IN RECENT months, Israel’s police have received bad press for the manner in which they handle demonstrations by members of the Ethiopian community and by the disabled. Both groups have been subjected to some very rough treatment, with the unfortunate result that reputation of the entire police force has been tarnished by the bullying tactics of a few. But there are always exceptions to the rule, and Police Sgt. Neta Shama of the Zichron Ya’acov division proved that showing a little humanitarian concern can do great things for the police image.
Last week, scores of people with disabilities who have been demonstrating for increased disability pensions blocked access to the prime minister’s holiday residence in Caesarea. Among the police personnel who went to break up the demonstration was Shama. It was lunchtime, and she realized that most of the demonstrators had not had any refreshments for some time, despite the grueling heat. Shama had brought her lunch box with her, but when she saw Iris Haya Zigdon in her wheelchair, she felt sorry for her and offered her the contents of the lunch box. Zigdon thanked her but said she couldn’t accept the offer because her hands were paralyzed. Shama’s reaction was to patiently spoon-feed her in the middle of the road. Passing motorists stopped to applaud her. Zigdon said that she never expected such a kindness from the police.
■ A FEW months back, it looked as if Tel Aviv’s famed Genki Club on Carlebach Street, where celebrity figures such as Shari Arison and Yair Lapid had danced on the tables and Einat Saruf was a popular and regular Wednesday night performer, was about to close. It was one of many Tel Aviv landmark places where the rich, the famous, the bohemians and anonymous hangers-on gathered to sing, to dance, to talk and to indulge in good food and beverages.
Some other famous places that had fallen by the wayside were Café Roval, Abie Nathan’s California night club, Café Tamar and the legendary Café Kassit, which was one of the magnetic attractions of Dizengoff Street for 50 years and a regular watering hole for the likes of Hannah Rovina, Natan Alterman, Haim Hefer, Dahn Ben-Amotz, Ya’acov Orland, Yossl Bergner and Arik Einstein to name but a few of its famous clientele, and it looked as if Genki was headed in the same direction.
Longtime owner Lilach Yaffe Ben-David felt that after 16 years, it was all too much for her and time to close shop. But no, along came a young and eager buyer, 34-year-old businessman Elkana Tzarfati, who was willing to pay NIS 1 million just for renovating the place.
Tzarfati intends to maintain the original Genki concept and to have Einat Saruf as the star performer. Community singing has always been a great Israeli pastime, as evidenced by the many song festivals on television in which the audience sing along with the cream of Israel’s entertainers. Saruf has proven that no matter what one’s station in life is, Israelis at all levels of society just love to sing along.