Grapevine July 7, 2019: A terminal success

A roundup of news from around Israel.

July 6, 2019 22:19
Grapevine July 7, 2019: A terminal success

Jewish people unable to enter the Izaak Synagogue in Krakow. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Not content with owning the largest hotel chain in Israel and managing hotels that belong to other owners, David Fattal, the principal shareholder in the Fattal Group, now has a private terminal at Ben-Gurion Airport. As far as is known, this is the first private terminal in Israel, and was constructed at an investment of close to NIS 20 million. It replaces the legendary Masada VIP Lounge where so many dignitaries and well-heeled passengers have stopped off on arrival or departure.

The terminal will serve passengers who are using private planes, and includes a fully equipped conference room, private rest rooms, bathrooms and showers, large TV screens and more. Fattal invited many airline executives and personnel, representatives of the tourist industry and the business community to join him at the official opening of the Fattal private terminal. He said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony that it was an extremely emotional moment for him. The terminal opened officially after a month-long running-in period. A survey of incoming and outgoing passengers indicated that the vast majority considered the terminal to be a positive addition to their travel experience.
Fattal expressed the hope that for first-time arrivals, his terminal would succeed in making them feel welcome and give them a good first impression of the country. Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Moshe Amar, was on hand to affix the mezuzah. He revealed to all those attending that Fattal is not only a good businessman, but has a good heart, and gives substantially to charitable causes, most recently to the pediatric division of the Rambam Medical Center.

Michal Levy Elhalal and Sonia Cohen who are the proprietors of Duet Catering, which won the tender for the Fattal terminal, went out of their way to prove that it was a well-deserved choice.

Among those present who sampled Duet’s delicacies were Nechama Ronen, Moshe Edery, Yoram Shapira, Shani Shiferman, Chen Lamdan, Roni Yitzhaki, Roni Greenbaum, and many other well-known personalities.

■ SAY FOURTH of July to most people, and if it signifies anything at all, it’s American Independence Day, which this year was celebrated by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on July 2.

To borrow from Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities: July 4, depending on the year and the place, signified “the best of times and the worst of times.” On the 4th of July, 1776, in a proclamation adopted by the Second Continental Congress, America gained its independence from Britain.

On that date in 1779, children born to slaves in New York were freed.

The official opening of the prestigious US Military Academy at West Point took place on the 4th of July, 1802.

There were quite a few famous people born on the 4th of July. Italian general, politician and nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1807; US President Calvin Coolidge in 1872; Meyer Lansky, the bagman of the US National Crime Syndicate who was instrumental in getting Mafia money and arms to help Israel during the War of Independence, was born on the 4th July, 1902; and playwright, screenwriter and Oscar winner Neil Simon in 1927.

Of course, there were many others, in addition to which there were a number of historical events in which joy was marred by tragedy.

The war was over in Europe. Jews liberated from the camps or coming out of hiding made their way back to their home towns, hoping to find relatives who had survived. Instead, in many cases, they encountered virulent antisemitism such as the Kielce Pogrom of July 4, 1946. Last Thursday, Alon Goldman, the vice president of the World Society of Czestochowa Jews and their descendants, recalled two of the victims of the Kielce Pogrom, David Yosef Gruszka and Shmuel Rembak, who had survived the Holocaust and planned to return to Kielce. Gruszka knew that he had a brother waiting for him. But on the train, the two survivors were recognized as Jews and thrown to their deaths. Gruszka’s brother Avraham walked alongside the railroad tracks between Czestochowa and Kielce until he came across the bodies, which were taken to the Jewish cemetery in Czestochowa for burial. Over the years, the tombstone over their graves was destroyed. It was restored in February 2018 by Avraham’s son Aryeh Gruszka.

On the day of America’s bicentennial, Israel successfully conducted its audacious Entebbe rescue operation, to bring home Israeli hostages who had been passengers on an Air France plane hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. Unfortunately, one of the commandos leading the operation, Yoni Netanyahu, the elder brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was killed.

There are many other historical events that took place on the Fourth of July, but for some reason, the proclamation of America’s independence seems to supersede them all.

■ SOUTH KOREAN Ambassador Choi Yonghwan and Herzliya Mayor Moshe Fadlon have joined forces to host a unique performance of the Animation Crew Street Dancers from Korea who will dance along with the Israeli dance crew, Urban Project, on Monday, July 8, at Heichal Ba’ir in Herzliya. The impressive Korean Embassy is located in the Herzliya Industrial Zone, and is one of the very few embassies which is not located in Tel Aviv, so it’s quite understandable the there is a lot of cooperation between the embassy and Herzliya City Hall.

Formed in 2004, Animation Crew is a performance team with a poppin’ dance style. The team has enjoyed successful appearances on stage and screen, appearing both on television and in movies. Their signature robotic dance has proved to be an endless source of fascination to audiences at home and on their tours to the US, Canada, UK, China, Dubai, Malaysia, Singapore and elsewhere.

Israel’s Urban Project won the Breakdance Battle of Israel in 2015, and since 2008, has been teaching street dancing such as hip hop and break dancing to aspiring performers. Believing that everyone can be taught to dance if they start early enough, Urban Project accepts child students at a very young age.

■ EVEN THOUGH he has welcomed numerous dignitaries and celebrities over the years, Shalom Ashkenazi, CEO of the Kibbutz Lavi Hotel, never anticipated that he would one day be welcoming a king. But that’s what happened after he received a surprise phone call from Israel’s Foreign Ministry informing him that a delegation from the ministry would arrive with King Mthimkhulu, the ruler of the Hlubi Kingdom, who was interested in learning about the kibbutz and kibbutz life.

The hotel’s employees went out of their way to make all the necessary arrangements for the arrival of the royal visitor. Sheila Kritzler, one of the kibbutz members, was chosen to tell the king about the history of the kibbutz, the kibbutz life style and the difference between religious and secular kibbutzim. The king was quite impressed and commented afterward that his visit to Lavi had been the most memorable experience throughout the whole of his stay in Israel.

■ BRITISH AMBASSADOR Neil Wigan, who is due to present his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin in August, has been in the country for just over a month, and immediately got to work. Last week, he visited Ben-Gurion University of the Negev for a series of discussions about expanding collaboration between BGU researchers and universities in the United Kingdom. Wigan met with vice president for global engagement Prof. Limor Aharonson Daniel, and Dr. Osnat Ohne of the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev. He concluded the visit with a tour of the Marcus Family Campus and a meeting with BGU president Prof. Daniel Chamovitz.

Wigan, who has succeeded David Quarrey, said that he had chosen BGU as the first university to visit in order to see its “extraordinary transformation” and emergence as a global center of science and technology research. He explained that he had been to the university during his previous stint in Israel from 2002-2005, and found that the development since then has been stunning. “From cyber-research to life sciences, the research happening at BGU and around the city of Beersheba is having an impact around the world,” said Wigan. “We really want to build thicker links between Ben-Gurion University and British universities through joint collaboration programs in so many fields: digital, cyber, digital health and more. Environmental technology (we call it ‘clean growth’ in England) is a big focus of our industrial strategy,” he said, adding, “British universities really want to work much more closely with Israeli universities. They see Israeli universities as cutting edge. They want to do really good science and Israel is a terrific place to come and do it. So it’s an excellent match for us.”

Chamovitz, speaking from the other side of the coin, told Wigan that strengthening ties with British academia is an important part of BGU’s strategic plan for internationalization. He explained that Beersheba was recently chosen to host Israel’s first Innovation District, to be centered on BGU, and added that the District would facilitate “synergistic connections” between BGU and universities in the United Kingdom and farther afield.

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