Grapevine: Anything you can do...

A round up of news briefs from around the country.

January 14, 2017 21:14
Deputy CEO of Tempo Yoash Ben Eliezer, CEO of Tempo Jack Bar and celebrity chef Yonatan Roshfeld at

Deputy CEO of Tempo Yoash Ben Eliezer, CEO of Tempo Jack Bar and celebrity chef Yonatan Roshfeld at the launch of Goldstar Slowbrew.. (photo credit: SHUKA COHEN)

Among the enduring songs of the musical Annie Get Your Gun is ‘Anything you can do I can do better – I can do anything better than you.” And so it is with Israel’s great ally, the United States. The Huffington Post and other American publications report that The Office of Congressional Ethics is currently reviewing Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California) over allegations that he siphoned off tens of thousands of dollars of campaign funds for personal use ― including paying for his children’s private school tuition, trips to Disneyland, jewelry, video games and sporting goods.

In addition The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Hunter used campaign funds to pay for $600 in airline fees to fly a pet rabbit!!! All things being relative, expensive cigars and pink champagne are not in the corruption race. Worse still, The Huffington Post reports that Congress has quietly passed a new rule that allows House members to hide records from ethics probes. Under the new regulation, a lawmaker being investigated for misuse of taxpayer funds, or other criminal activities, might now assert the privilege to withhold spending records from law enforcement authorities. Given the huge amount of local media attention to the Bibi-Noni probe, there is no way that Israeli lawmakers would be able to enjoy the same degree of immunity as their American counterparts.

■ THE HEBREW expression for “goodbye” does not have the same note of finality as the English.

Lehitraot means “till we see each other again.” Thus when outgoing Director of the Israel Museum James Snyder leaves his post at the end of this month to become the international president of the museum, it will be lehitraot rather than goodbye, as Snyder will continue to spend about 40 percent of his time in Jerusalem. In his new role which is as much that of roving ambassador as an international president, Snyder will be focusing on the Israel Museum’s work on a worldwide basis, liaising with major museums around the globe, with collectors, and with the ever growing network of International Friends of the Israel Museum. As a child, incoming director Eran Neuman used to visit the museum with his parents. In those days, he probably never dreamed that he would one day be its director. Many art lovers are curious what impact Neuman – who comes from the world of architecture – will have, and whether the museum will go through some major revolution.

Time will tell.

■ HAIFA MAYOR Yona Yahav could not quite believe that 1,500 people, most of them not from his city, had signed up for the inaugural Haifa Leadership Conference, which is designed to be an annual event at which future leaders meet up with current leaders to derive some form of inspiration. Interviews with several of the speakers were conducted by Israel Radio’s Haim A-Dor, who learned from them that you do not necessarily have to be the head of government or of an institution, organization or military unit in order to be a leader.

In talking to educator Dr. Nigist Mengesha, A-Dor learned that the Ethiopians who took their destiny in their hands and decided to walk across the desert to come to Israel were unquestionably leaders.

Yahav’s definition of a leader is someone who has the ability build on their experience, to take on a new ideology for the betterment of the common good. In this respect, he cited Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who despite being born into and being part of a communist regime, was responsible for getting rid of the Iron Curtain. In Israel, said Yahav, David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin had each been engaged in opposing underground movements and had become prime ministers. Yitzhak Rabin, the epitome of the Israeli solder, turned around to stretch out a hand to his enemies, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch, chairman of the Israel Leadership Institute, who was the subject of great controversy in August 2015 when selected by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to succeed police inspector-general Yohanan Danina, was removed from Erdan’s list of candidates a month later, before he even had a chance to prove his abilities. Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Erdan each believed that Hirsch was the best man for the job, as an outside candidate Hirsch had been subjected to criticism and derision by police officers who believed that the job should go to one of their own. His nomination was also opposed by families of soldiers killed in the Second Lebanon War because two reservists under his command were kidnapped and killed by Hezbollah. There were also certain questions related to a security company that he headed.

Hirsch told A-Dor that there was no organization or institution that could inspire and build leadership better than the IDF.

■ WHILE POLITICAL pundits have long been writing obituaries for the left, for Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin – who veered left of Labor and who is credited with beginning the process which resulted in the Oslo Accords – shows no signs of being defeated, nor of being particularly worried about anti-Israel votes in global forums. Speaking last week at the Jerusalem Press Club, Beilin described the recent UN Security Council vote as “insignificant,” and saw the International Peace Conference that is taking place in Paris today as equally insignificant. It’s difficult to have a significant resolution when there are so many foreign ministers who don’t agree with each other, he said. The UN resolution, in Beilin’s view, was nothing more than a point of reference. One of its important lessons was the wide gap between intimate backroom talks with leaders and their official positions. “Enemies may talk to each other on the phone, but then comes the moment of truth,” he said. He also suggested that Israelis should not get too hot under the collar over the French initiative.

“France is not anti-Israel,” said Beilin.

In recent weeks, some 1,200 Israeli citizens signed a petition in support of the French Initiative. The conference aims to provide a broad international base of support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Among the signatories are Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman, 20 Israel Prize laureates, five Israeli ambassadors, former attorney general Michael Ben-Yair, former minister Yair Zaban, and five former Knesset Members. Among the latter are Colette Avital, who is also a former ambassador, Uri Avnery, Naomi Chazan, Roman Bronfman and Yael Dayan. Former ambassadors include Alon Liel and Eli Bar Navi. Other well known personalities who signed the petition are Alice Shalvi, educator and Women’s Rights activist, and Dana Olmert, the daughter of former prime minister Ehud Olmert. Curiously, there are very few signatures of Arab citizens.

■ DESPITE THE request by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman for the public to allow justice to take its course in the case of Elor Azaria, the soldier who shot dead an incapacitated Palestinian terrorist, there’s bound to be another kerfuffle when sentence is passed. In response to the incitement against present incumbent Gadi Eizenkot, six former chiefs of staff have declared their support for him, so much so that former enemies Moshe Yaalon, Shaul Mofaz, Gabi Ashkenazi and Ehud Barak have put their hostilities aside and stand united with Eisenkot, along with two other former chiefs of staff, Benny Gantz and Dan Halutz.

■ ELEVATED TRANSIT which will avoid traffic snarls seems to be in the category science fiction. But then again, let’s not kid ourselves.

Geeks just love sci-fi literature and turning someone else’s fiction into their very real fact. Just think of all the sci-fi classics that were so futuristic in the 19th and 20th centuries, and in some cases are already passé. Elevated transit that looks something like a Sputnik will in the early stages cater only to the affluent, but it will eventually become affordable, operating like a taxi in the sky with no stops along the way. Even though it is being developed in America, in conjunction with NASA, its launch and initial trials will be held in Tel Aviv. SkyTran former chairman and CEO Jerry Sanders told Fox News last week that launch time is not too far into the future. Sanders, a former Navy SEAL, later founded two technology accelerators: San Francisco Science and The Triana Group. In addition, he earned a law degree plus post-graduate qualifications in German Socio-economics from The Goethe Institute in Bonn, and Comparative Constitutional Law from The National Autonomous University in Mexico City, Mexico.

He is a fellow of the New York and California Bar Associations; an associate fellow and faculty member at Oxford University’s Saïd Graduate School of Business; and a professor of The Law of the Sea at the Ruppin Academy. He also has a few other strings to his bow, and is an example of the old adage that busy people always have time to take on something new.

■ RECENT BUSINESS problems notwithstanding, celebrity chef Yonatan Roshfeld remains in high demand, having been commissioned to provide the catering for the launch of Slowbrew, the new beer in the Goldstar range produced by Tempo. The launch at Angelo and Nina in Jaffa attracted numerous beer lovers who were eager to try the new brew. Tempo Chairman and CEO Jack Bar said that he was as excited as he would be at the birth of a baby. For Tempo, he said, Goldstar is like an icon, but there was a feeling that Goldstar fans were thirsty for something new – and now they have it.

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