In celebration of Ruth Dayan’s 98th birthday earlier this month there was a fashion show at the new Maskit in Jaffa. Dayan is not only defense minister Moshe Dayan’s widow and the matriarch of famous children and grandchildren but also a personality in her own right. She is known far and wide as the legendary founder of Maskit, the famed fashion and accessories store that preserved the craft traditions of immigrants from Muslim and Arab lands while simultaneously giving them a means of livelihood. The original Maskit, which become a global phenomenon, closed in 1994 after four decades of operation, but its aura remained as a symbol of original Israeli fashion.
Designer Sharon Tal, who worked with leading fashion houses in London and Paris, returned to Israel in 2011 wanting to create a brand that would not only identify her, but would be recognizably Israeli. The upshot was the revival of Maskit that she did in consultation and cooperation with Dayan.
Last Friday, both Dayan and Tal hosted businesswomen and others from the Israel Friends of Beit Hatfutsot at a morning fashion show on the premises of the reincarnated Maskit Fashion House. The event was organized by the Israel Friends CEO Irit Admoni Perlman. Included among the guests were Hedva Sharon, managing director of Lighthouse Financial Services; Ronit Hershkovitz, honorary consul of Zambia and head of Safari travel agency; artist Miriam Azuri; marketing manager Vivian Rachiv, jewelry designer and CEO of the Tigbur Group, Orit Benvenisti; recruitment and outsourcing executive Miriam Zoglowek as well as Anat Frenkel, Orit Siniver, Edna Merkel and Tal Birenfeld.
The event was held in conjunction with Beit Hatfutsot’s Dream Weavers exhibition featuring leading Jewish fashion designers from around the world. Tal presented a brief commentary on her new collection that was paraded by actress Galit Ankori, and Dayan shared some of her reminiscences.
There was an address by Ronen Levine, a designer who is also a senior lecturer at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design of which Tal was an honors graduate.
■ A SIGNIFICANT element of Independence Day for which rehearsals for the opening ceremony have already begun, is the honoring of 120 outstanding soldiers. The group almost invariably includes at least one lone soldier whose parents are brought to Israel for the occasion. Sometimes the soldier is not told of their arrival until the actual ceremony or the rehearsal the previous day when they miraculously appear out of nowhere. But in view of the importance that Israel attaches to lone soldiers who have and are willing to sacrifice their lives by serving in the IDF, El Al CEO David Maimon in conjunction with Brig.-Gen. Avigdor Kahalani, who heads the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers, are offering a 30 percent discount on fares and hotel accommodations to parents of lone soldiers who want to celebrate Independence Day with their sons and daughters who are serving in the IDF.
■ ONE OF the features of the satirical panel show on Channel 10 Gav Ha’uma, is a segment that includes the participation of a public figure – usually a politician, who gets roasted and sometimes manages to respond in kind. During this past week, the special guest was Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli, who received a gentler ribbing from Einav Galili, Guri Alfi and Orna Banai than is usually the case – possibly because she is the significant other of the show’s creator and moderator Lior Schlein. The grins and smiles between Michaeli and Schlein spoke volumes of their affection for each other, and it was obvious from the occasional wordless exchanges between Michaeli and the team, that they were all good friends. Between the quips Michaeli managed to get a couple of political points across as well.
At one stage, when Schlein tried to interpose after Alfi had fired a question at Michaeli, Alfi said in mock anger, “Let Merav speak for herself,” to which Schlein responded in English: “Be careful of what you wish for.”
■ THE RIVLIN clan is spread out far and wide with branches in almost every stream of Judaism. Among the many relatives of President Reuven Rivlin is MK Meir Porush of United Torah Judaism.
When Porush came to the President’s Residence this week, as a member of the UTJ faction that held talks with Rivlin, the president greeted him by saying, “hello cousin.”
Later during the discussions, when Rivlin gave Porush the nod to speak he called him “son of my family.” Porush however, did not take advantage of familial connections and respectfully addressed Rivlin as “honorable president.”
■ AT HIS meeting with The Joint (Arab) List. Rivlin made a point about the intricacies of the workings of the Knesset that only MK Jamal Zahalka of Balad seemed to grasp.
Zahalka used to give Rivlin quite a few headaches in the days when Rivlin was Knesset speaker.
“Zahalka and I don’t agree on everything” said Rivlin.
Then in chorus, he and Zahalka finished the sentence, “but we understand each other.”
Generally speaking, the media is not permitted to spend more than a few minutes at meetings between the president and the various factions, and is allowed in only at the very beginning to take note of the preliminary niceties. The president’s representative then asks them to leave. But when meeting with The Joint List Rivlin overruled his spokeswoman Naomi Toledano Kendal and invited the media to remain because this was a historic occasion.
Perhaps in deference to the fact that they were in the President’s Residence, the members of the delegation, before entering the reception room in which the meetings were held, spoke among themselves in Hebrew. But when Rivlin greeted them, it was with a hearty “sabaah al-khayr,” which is good morning in Arabic. He exchanged a few more phrases in Arabic before beginning the discussion.
He congratulated the faction for succeeding to merge people with radically different viewpoints “it seems that this can only be done in Israel.”
He told the delegation that he hoped they would continue to stay together.
“We will stick together. This is our mission. Democracy is not only the rights of the majority but also the rights of the minority,” MK Masud Gnaim responded.
■ SPEAKING TO the media following his delegation’s meeting with Rivlin, Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman said that before entering into negotiations about portfolios, there would have to be discussion and agreement on the basic lines of the new government.
Without agreement he said, there was no point in discussing portfolios, and Yisrael Beytenu would go into the opposition.
Asked whether his party would vote for the incoming government if Yisrael Beytenu is not part of the coalition, Liberman said: “In the Knesset there are only two options.
You are either in the coalition or the opposition. There is no middle road.”
■ THE FACT THAT he did not make it into the 20th Knesset has not deterred Dov Lipman, who was No. 17 on the Yesh Atid list, from continuing to work for the party that scored only 11 seats in last week’s election. Lipman was a member of the Yesh Atid delegation that met with Rivlin this week.
Asked why he continues to immerse himself in Yesh Atid’s activities, Lipman replied: “I’m not going anywhere. When you believe in something, you stay with it.”
■ ISRAEL RADIO’S Haim Ador commenting on the anticipated wrangling over the most important portfolios namely Foreign Affairs, Defense and Finance, pondered how wonderful it would be if there were ministerial candidates who asked for the Senior Citizens as well as the Cultural and Sports portfolios to demonstrate that they were genuinely interested in doing something for the people. Ador recalled Limor Livnat, the outgoing culture and sport minister, for deploring the low budget for culture and declaring it an outrage. Ador would like to see a minister who wants to improve the cultural life of people living in peripheral communities. With regards to all the candidates aspiring to high ministerial office, another Israel Radio man, Shmuel Shai, quoted Nathan Alterman, the famed poet, playwright, journalist and translator who in discussing people who were too big for their boots said that the greatest man does not rise higher from the soles of his feet than to the top of his hat.
■ AMONG THE guests who have to come Israel for Italy: Food, Art and Design, that is being conducted this week in Tel Aviv and Holon is Roberto Maroni, who is the president of Lombardy and is in Israel to talk about Expo Milano 2015. He will be speaking Wednesday morning at the opening of Design Week at the Design Museum in Holon, and in the evening he will be speaking in Ramat Gan at the residence of Italian Ambassador Francesco Talo. While in Israel, Maroni will also meet with former president Shimon Peres at the Peres Center for Peace.
■ APROPOS PERES, who was the country’s ninth president, he continues to attract the attention of visiting dignitaries, many of whom beat a path to his door. It can be said that during his years of public service he has met more world leaders than anyone in Israel, and continues to do so. Many of the leaders that he met became his friend among them Singapore’s beloved founding father Lee Kuan Yew who died this week at 91. In eulogizing Singapore’s senior statesman who had served as prime minister for 31 years, Peres said that all too infrequently a country is led by a man of great vision who with courage and determination transforms it into something better. A leader such as Lee appears only once in a generation, said Peres, who lauded Lee as someone who had demonstrated that reality can be changed with hope and hard work.
“As a great leader of a small country, he taught us that real wealth derives from human potential and not from natural resources. This is a philosophy shared by Israel and Singapore.”
Peres said that he had been privileged to work together with Lee, who left a lasting legacy of leadership and vision.
■ ISRAEL’S EIGHTH president Moshe Katsav, who is serving a prison term on charges of rape and other sexual offenses, will celebrate Seder night at his home in Kiryat Malachi in the bosom of his family for the first time since his imprisonment in December 2011. He will be given 48 hours leave from Matisyahu prison. All prisoners who have served more than a quarter of their sentence are entitled to a monthly furlough of 48 hours. Katsav has served almost half of his sentence – which entitles him to spend the first two days of Passover at home.
■ ZIONIST UNION leader Isaac Herzog will take time out from his political activities on March 30 to honor the memory of Israel’s sixth president, his father Chaim Herzog, who passed away 18 years ago. A state memorial ceremony will be held for him on Mount Herzl’s the Cemetery of the Nation’s Great in Jerusalem.
■ ISRAEL’S FIFTH President Yitzhak Navon, celebrated his 94th birthday on Saturday in accordance with the Hebrew calendar, but he still has a few days to go before the Gregorian calendar date on April 9.
■ EILAT WAS flooded with merrymakers who came to participate in the Fattal Rock Festival last weekend.
This was the third consecutive year in which the festival was hosted at Herods Hotel by hotelier David Fattal, whose flourishing hotel empire keeps growing. Some 1,600 people came to rock their cares away. Performers included Mosh Ben-Ari, Marina Maximilian Blumin, Mashina, Muki, Hayehudim, Red Band and Yermi Kaplan. Seen among the rock lovers were Ofer Eitani of Beitili, Moti Sela of Ashtrom, Robert Antokol of Playtika, Yair Levinstein of Altshuler, Dudu Outmezgine, Stella and Eyal Hendler, Saham and Sabina Biran, and Fattal Hotels CEO Reuven Elkes who organized the event.
Fattal mingled happily among the guests pleased to see that everyone was having a good time.
■ AT THE closing dinner of the Allied Powers’ Response to the Holocaust Conference, historian Dariusz Stola, who is the director of Polin: Museum of the History of Polish Jews made such an impact with his impressive presentation about the museum, that Judaic scholar Prof. Xu Xin of Nanjing University in China, rushed up to him afterwards and said that he was coming to Poland to tour the museum.
Jewish visitors from outside of Poland have complained that the plaques detailing the exhibits are only in Polish and English and should also be in Yiddish and/ or Hebrew. When this was put to Stola at the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem where the conference was held, he said that there was no room for additional signs on the walls, but Yiddish and Hebrew would be included in pamphlets and voice recorded guides to the exhibits. Stola stipulated that Polin is not a Holocaust museum, but a museum dedicated to Jewish life in Poland that continues to exist to the present day.
The conference was conceived by 83-year-old Warsaw Ghetto survivor Prof. Alexander J. Groth of the University of California in Davis, and brought to fruition with the cooperation of lawyer Tony Tanke, who teaches at Santa Clara University School of Law, and Dr. Laurence Weinbaum, the director of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, which operates under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress and which co-sponsored the conference. Although Groth has been dreaming of such a conference for years, it might never have taken place were it not for a Starbucks coffee shop where he stopped by on a regular basis as did Tanke. Eventually they got to talking to each other, became firm friends and began exchanging ideas. Groth told Tanke how important such a conference was to him. Soon afterward, they turned to the Council and the conference began to take shape.
One of the conference highlights was the screening of The Karski Report
, a documentary by celebrated French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann of a penetrating interview with Jan Karski, who served as an emissary for the Polish underground during World War II and who delivered one of the first eyewitness accounts of the annihilation of Polish Jewry to Allied officials, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lanzmann, 89, who was described by several conference participants as a very tough cookie traveled from Paris for the event and introduced the film prior to its screening. Karski, a Catholic, was honored by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations and was also conferred with honorary citizenship of Israel.
“The unresolved historical and moral questions surrounding the failure of the Allied powers to rescue European Jewry still resonate strongly,” said Weinbaum, who was a teaching assistant of Karski’s at Georgetown University.
■ NOTWITHSTANDING the controversy over J Street in the American- Jewish community and beyond, there are extremely loyal Israelis who have no qualms about attending a J Street conference.
Standing on the dais at a Washington Convention Center this week to address the fifth annual J Street Conference was Yaakov Peri, former head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and more recently science technology and space minister in the previous government.
Peri told his audience that in the aftermath of the election Israel opens her eyes to a new political reality, the critical issues of sovereignty and the return by the Palestinians to the fore, with “the window of opportunity which is open to us in the Middle East Region being highlighted for all to see.”
The last election, like a number of elections in the last decade, began with clarion calls to tackle social issues, economic issues and other internal matters, said Peri, but in practice the items most hammered on public agenda during the campaigns were those of security and negotiations.
Topics such as the growing dimensions of poverty over the last decade, the deteriorating situation of the elderly, the lack of basic care shown to Holocaust survivors, the deep problems of education, welfare and healthcare did not feature significantly in election campaigns until Yesh Atid, led the change, he said.
In the most recent election, he said, the place of these social welfare issues, has been taken by other issues such as the crisis with America in light of Netanyahu’s visit to the US Congress; the reaching of an agreement with Iran, multiple revelations of corruption in public life and, to a lesser degree, the freeze in the peace process negotiations.
Peri said that it was still too early to determine which political elements would make up the next coalition, but based on the prime minister’s statements and the wide public support he has received “we can assume that there will be a paralysis in the diplomatic process.”
■ BRITAIN’S QUEEN Elizabeth was born in April, but her official birthday is celebrated in Britain and most Commonwealth countries in June. British ambassadors stationed in Israel also tended to host a Queen’s Birthday reception in June, but this year Ambassador Matthew Gould has decided to bring the reception forward to a few days after the queen’s actual 89th birthday. Meanwhile following their European Championship Qualifier in Israel, the Wales National Football Team will play soccer with a group of children from Arab and Jewish communities across northern Israel on Sunday, March 29, at 9.30 a.m. The event has been organized by the British Embassy in Tel Aviv in partnership with major youth football league the Equalizer, which brings together young Jewish and Arab teams to play football, interact and build coexistence and reconciliation between communities.
Gould said in advance of the game: “Football is a great equalizer. We are proud to support this initiative that breaks down barriers between communities through football. I am delighted that the Welsh Football Association is supporting it during their visit to Israel. It sends a strong message.”email@example.com