Grapevine: The groom wore burgundy

Among the 1,500 guests who flocked to the Dorya Event Center near Ashkelon were legislators from both the coalition and the opposition, and a happy Hazan.

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February 14, 2017 21:08
OREN HAZAN and Rinat Kotkovsky under the ‘huppa'

OREN HAZAN and Rinat Kotkovsky under the ‘huppa'. (photo credit: DORYA EVENT CENTER)

Guests attending the wedding on Sunday of Likud MK Oren Hazan, the “bad boy” of the Knesset, expected him to do something outrageous, and in a sense he did. Instead of the traditional dark suit that is customary at formal weddings, the groom wore burgundy. Hazan is known for making a splash, and he certainly wasn’t your everyday groom when he chose a burgundy- colored suit in which to promise Rinat Kotkovsky that he had no intention of getting married more than once. In other words, as far as he was concerned, this union was for keeps.

Among the 1,500 guests who flocked to the Dorya Event Center near Ashkelon were legislators from both the coalition and the opposition, and a happy Hazan, who had doffed his jacket, was busy posing for photos with as many guests as possible. Missing from among the well-wishers was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was busy preparing for his trip to Washington.

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■ THE SIXTH anniversary of the death of Sonia Peres, who refused to join her husband in the President’s Residence, was marked last month. Veteran broadcaster Shmuel Shai, who was a neighbor of the Peres family in the apartment block in which they lived in Ramat Aviv, recalled last week that sometimes when he used to go down into the garden, he would see her playing with a child – a different child each time. On one such occasion he remarked to her that she must have a lot of grandchildren, to which she responded that these were not her grandchildren, but the children of IDF widows, who could not necessarily afford the time or the money to take them on outings, so this was something she decided to do for them. Shai, who was impressed by the gesture, said that he would like to feature her good-heartedness on his radio show. “If you do that,” she said, “I will never speak to you again.”

Shai honored her request for anonymity while she was still alive, but saw no reason not to talk about her many kindnesses now that she could no longer protest. Every month, she went through a list of poor people, to whom she sent a bank check. The bank manager on more than one occasion said that it would be so much easier to transfer money from her account to the accounts of the recipients. She refused, explaining that if she allowed him to do that, the recipients would know the source of the money, would be embarrassed and ashamed to accept it. If it came from an anonymous source, they wouldn’t be able to return it.

Something that Shai didn’t mention took place during the period in which Shimon Peres was prime minister. In those days demonstrators were permitted to stage protests close to the prime minister’s residence, instead of around the corner, as is currently the case.

When members of the Jewish Underground, comprising vigilantes from Gush Emunim who had mounted a series of attacks against Palestinians, and who in April 1984 affixed explosives to Arab buses, intended to blow up the Dome of the Rock and create other havoc that would impede the peace process, were arrested, their wives and children staged a sitdown protest demonstration near the Balfour Road/Aza Street intersection. They were there for days on end, and Sonia Peres constantly fed and bathed the children, and played chauffeur to the wives.

■ HIS RELAT IVES and some of the people with whom he went to school in New York will be thrilled to watch Calev Ben-David, former political correspondent for IBA English News, former Israel bureau chief of Bloomberg News and a former managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, appearing in his latest guise as program host of his new i24 show The Rundown, which made its stateside debut on Monday at 1 p.m. EST on Optimum cable TV systems (Channel 102) in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area.



It’s one of several i24 programs emanating from Israel that began broadcasting in America this week. A brisk one-hour review of the top news story of the day in Israel, the Middle East and around the globe, it will include live reports and interviews that will bring Americans up to date with what is happening on Planet Earth. Israelis can catch up with The Rundown at http://www.i24news.tv/en/.

■ MEANWHILE, ON the home front, there is increased speculation as to whether the prime minister will yield the Communications portfolio to another Likud minister before he is challenged in court by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel and the Zionist Union, which have each petitioned the High Court of Justice. The Zionist Union’s Eitan Cabel is particularly vocal on the issue, especially after Netanyahu again introduced delaying tactics to prevent Kan, as the still embryonic Israel Broadcasting Corporation is known, from becoming a reality.

Kan is supposed to become a legitimate public broadcasting entity on April 30, but people in the Prime Minister’s Office are seeking ways to once again prevent it from meeting its deadline, with the aim of eventually scuttling it altogether. At the Jerusalem Conference this week, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon was adamant that Kan would go to air in time, and warned that if it doesn’t, it will pay a hefty fine.

Kan announced on Sunday that Asaf Liberman, the presenter of “Good Morning Israel” on Army Radio, will present a program with Kalman Libeskind, who was signed on last year and currently broadcasts on Galei Israel.

Liberman, 32, joined Army Radio in 2003, did his mandatory army service there, and stayed.

He was suspended toward the end of last year after doing a pilot program with Libeskind.

Army Radio chief Yaron Dekel made it clear that he could not condone dual loyalties, and gave Liberman the option of choosing to stay at Army Radio or move on to Kan. While working for Army Radio, Liberman worked with Guri Alfi on his program Today at Night which is aired on Channel 2.

■ ‘JERUSALEM POST ’ Senior Contributing Editor and columnist Caroline Glick is running out of room for all the accolades that she receives. An extremely popular writer and public speaker, her writings have appeared in many national and international publications, including Makor Rishon, Maariv, the Post’s sister publication in which she writes regularly, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Washington Times, National Review and Moment. When she speaks at Jerusalem Post conferences in Jerusalem or in New York, she fills the hall, and in New York there are people who say that they came to the conference specifically to listen to her. A native of Chicago, she is well known in the United States, having appeared on Fox News and other networks.

Sooner or later, she’s going to run out of wall space for all the citations and awards that she has accumulated. In 2003, before it became part of the Jerusalem Post Group, Maariv named her the most prominent woman in Israel. In 2005, she was the recipient of the Zionist Organization of America’s Ben Hecht Award for Outstanding Journalism. She was also the recipient of the Israel Media Watch’s Abramowitz Prize for Media Criticism. In 2009, Glick received the Ingeborg Rennert Center’s Guardian of Zion Award, and last year she was awarded the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism. This week another accolade came her way, when she was awarded The Jerusalem Prize at the annual Jerusalem Conference, hosted by the right-wing newspaper B’Sheva.

Glick will be among the speakers at the Jerusalem Post Conference taking place at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City on May 7.

■ WHILE MEMBERS of his coalition were busy trying to convince Netanyahu not to raise the issue of the two-state solution in his talks with US President Donald Trump, Yehoram Gaon, in his weekly current affairs program on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet last Friday, pondered what problems Israel might have avoided had there not been a war in 1967. For instance, all the problems related to settlers, territory and the building of housing units would not exist.

■ ALTHOU GH, TECHNICALLY , Tu Bishvat is a one-day festival that falls in the middle of the Hebrew calendar month of Shvat, in Israel, as with several other festivals, it gets dragged out at both ends – and it often involves a lot more than the traditional tree-planting ceremonies.

Chef Eyal Lavi, who is a member of the Israeli SOS Children’s Villages Association, which looks after children who have lost parental care through death, distress or neglect, decided to call on some kitchen colleagues to join him in helping children in one of the SOS Youth Villages to have a really great time on Tu Bishvat. The chefs brought some mouthwatering Tu Bishvat delicacies with them, and prepared some more with the help of the youngsters, who were pleased to be involved.

Lawyer Daniela Kehat, who is a member of the SOS executive, lauded Lavi’s initiative and said that she was not surprised, because as a longtime member of the association, he has dedicated himself many times to working hand in glove with the youngsters and has frequently recruited outside resources to help him in this worthwhile endeavor. The chefs who worked with him included Vered Levy, Ben Doron and Yael and Keith Manor.

■ THE INVITAT ION for the Day of the Restoration of the State of Lithuania was for 6:30 p.m., with a concert preceding the regular reception. The government was to be represented by Religious Services Minister David Azoulay. The theater in the new wing of the Tel Aviv Museum was packed to capacity by 6:45 p.m. People waited, looked impatiently at their watches, but there was no sign of the minister. Eventually, master of ceremonies Martynas Jurgis Bagdonas came on stage, apologized and said the minister was on the way. In fact, he did not arrive till 7:20 p.m., which made a lot of people very angry.

However Nitza Raz, who heads the Protocol Department at the Foreign Ministry, explained afterward that Azoulay had been asked to arrive at 7 p.m. because even though there was no regular reception before the concert, Lithuanian Ambassador Edminas Bagdonas, his wife and senior embassy staff would be in the lobby to welcome guests as they arrived.

Most ministers decline to take on the task of representing the government at official receptions hosted by ambassadors when the Knesset is in session, and will do so only when they can find someone from the opposition who is willing to absent themselves from the session, so as not to upset the balance if there happens to be a vote.

Azoulay couldn’t find anyone from the opposition to help him out, and had notified the ministry that under the circumstances, he could not fulfill his obligation.

The matter was put to Netanyahu, who is also the foreign minister, and he gave him an exemption that enabled him to attend.

Azoulay was late because of urgent business in the Knesset, but in the final analysis, it proved to be better late than never.

Both Ambassador Bagdonas and Azoulay referred to the joint statement issued in January by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and President Reuven Rivlin on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between their two countries. The statement referred to centuries of shared history and the thriving of Jewish life in Lithuania – despite various religious tensions – especially in Vilnius, which Azoulay said had been one of the most significant Jewish cities in the world, in which Yiddish and Hebrew culture thrived, until brought to a tragic end during the Holocaust.

Both Bagdonas and Azoulay referred to the Holocaust and the need to commemorate the past by honoring the memories of the victims.

Bagdonas said that, today, there is strong cooperation between Lithuania and Israel “in every imaginable field.”

Azoulay commended Bagdonas for the sterling efforts he has made toward this cooperation and to bringing the two countries closer together.

At the beginning of his address, Bagdonas mentioned several Lithuanian Jews who had been parliamentarians and one in particular, Simon Rosenbaum, who had been a vice minister of foreign affairs in the first independent republic of Lithuania, and who 100 years ago fought for Lithuania’s independence at the Paris Peace Conference. Rosenbaum is buried in the Trumpeldor Cemetery in Tel Aviv.

Bagdonas visited his grave in appreciation of what he had done for Lithuania and, in accordance with Jewish tradition, placed a stone on Rosenbaum’s tomb.

The concert included four classical Lithuanian compositions played by three young Lithuanian musicians: violinist Dalia Dedinskaite, cellist Gleb Pysniak and pianist Robertas Lozinskis, who live and perform outside Lithuania. They have played in some of the world’s greatest concert halls.

One of the works, “A chant and a dance,” was by Jewish composer Anatolijus Senderovas, one of Lithuania’s best-known composers and the recipient of many awards, who specially came to Israel for the occasion and was thrilled with the performance.

■ NOW IT’S official. Moshe Lion, who lost out to Nir Barkat in the last mayoral election, is definitely aiming to become the next mayor of Jerusalem, and announced his candidacy this week. He plans on putting so much of his heart and soul into the race that he resigned from his partnership in the highly successful accounting firm Lion, Orlitzky & Co., which he co-founded some 25 years ago.

A former director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Lion, 55, was regarded with some degree of suspicion when he first ran for mayor, because he was not a resident of Jerusalem. During the campaign, he rented an apartment in the capital, and there was wide speculation after he lost that he would move back to his home in Givatayim, but Lion gave assurances that he intended to live in Jerusalem permanently and kept his word.

He is currently a member of the Jerusalem City Council, in charge of the administration of community centers.

Lion is very close to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who backed him the first time around, and is likely to support him in his current campaign.

■ DOCTORAL CANDIDATES who were each awarded NIS 150,000 by the president, in order to have sufficient funds with which to continue their research, came to the President’s Residence on Monday accompanied by teachers, mentors and three generations of their families. Some brought infants and even tiny babies, and it was nice to hear the recipients acknowledging their parents, spouses and children. One even stated that her parents had received very little learning themselves, and perhaps for this reason set great store by education and made sure that she would go at least as far as a doctorate, if not further.

The theme of the awards ceremony, and to some extent in the research, was equal opportunity, freedom and fraternity. One tiny tot cried and screamed so much in the middle of Rivlin’s speech that he almost drowned out the words of the president. Rivlin put up with it for a while, then looked up and asked: “What hurts, equality or democracy?” ■ ISRAELI ARTIST Orna Ben-Ami will have a solo exhibition at the United Nations in New York, from February 27 to March 10. The exhibition, under the title of “Entire Life in a Package,” was created from welded iron. Ben- Ami was inspired by the contents of a family suitcase full of postcards, letters, photographs and other mementos covering a life span, yet kept in so compact an environment.

Ben-Ami, who is the wife of Channel 2 newsman Oded Ben-Ami, met him when she herself was a journalist. In fact, she was the first female military correspondent for Army Radio. After completing her military service, she worked as a reporter and news editor for Israel Radio, then worked in the hotel industry, where she specialized in advertising and public relations.

A little under 20 years ago, she took a gold and silversmith’s course and discovered that she had a talent of which she had not been previously aware. From silver and gold, she graduated to iron. In addition to exhibitions in Israel, she has exhibited in solo exhibitions in Mexico, in several galleries across America, in Italy, and in group exhibitions in Israel, Slovenia, the US, Taiwan and Switzerland.

■ WHEN RADIO awards are decided, someone should spare a thought for Israel Radio’s overseas correspondents, who work hard to provide global news for Israeli listeners, but are often cut off in mid-sentence because the program host has been instructed by the editor to move on to the next subject, or because it’s time for a commercial. It’s bad enough when listeners get a chance to at least hear part of the report, but annoying and frustrating when the local anchor keeps butting in and overriding the voice of the reporter.

The most constant victim of this professional persecution is Ron Podchlebnik, who is an expert on America’s entertainment industry. In his much younger days, he worked for the Post and was no less familiar with Israel’s entertainment and communications industries than he is now with those of the US.

Happily, Podchlebnik, who is a seasoned journalist who has hosted radio and television shows, and who is currently managing director of the Jewish Broadcasting Service, has other areas of reporting where he isn’t cut off in mid-sentence.

■ WHAT DO former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak; violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman; Abigail Posner, head of strategies at Google Creative Think Tank; CNN’s lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer; journalist Dan Raviv; US policy in the Middle East expert and former Post editor-in-chief David Makovsky; distinguished fellow of the Shalem Center Daniel Gordis; founding editor of The Times of Israel and former editorin- chief of the Post David Horovitz; former US ambassador to Egypt and Israel Daniel Kurtzer; former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk; father of the Iron Dome Daniel Gold; Israel director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Efraim Zuroff; former Israel ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman; former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon; best-selling author Daniel Goldhagen; and former UN secretary-general and Nobel Prize laureate Kofi Annan have in common? They are all signed up with the veteran Harry Walker Agency, which is one of the most veteran speakers bureaus in New York and possibly the whole of the United States.

The other thing they have in common is that they all have Israel listed as one of their areas of expertise.

Recent newcomers to sign up with the agency include Michelle and Barack Obama. He certainly can list Israel as one of his areas of expertise, and at a pinch, she probably could, too.

greerfc@gmail.com


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