For some weeks now, preparations have been under way at the President’s Residence for the central celebrations of Israel’s 69th anniversary of independence. The garden at the entrance to the Presidential compound has a huge sculpted section in which white flowers are arranged in a figure 69 with bands of deep blue flowers above and below.
But even before anyone enters the compound, invitees to the various events being hosted by President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, will discover a new entrance which has been under construction for the best part of a year, and is still not entirely completed.
The actual Independence Day festivities come under the title of a Hebrew word play “Kol Yisrael Miyerushalayim,” which in this case does not mean the “voice of Israel from Jerusalem,” but rather “all of Israel from Jerusalem.”
As always, the central event will involve a flyover by the Israel Air Force, followed by a sing-along of Hebrew songs with the emphasis this year on songs about Jerusalem.
The ceremony will also include the individual recognition of 120 outstanding soldiers from all branches of the defense forces, and a video clip in which people from all over the country sing “I gave you my life.”
The chorus includes Rivlin himself, along with professional entertainers Danny Sanderson, Ephraim Shamir, Gidi Gov, and Alon Olearchik.
The clip unites the voices of Israel.
The event will be attended by past and present top brass of the IDF, as well as commanders from all of Israel’s wars, with the possible exception of the War of Independence, although one or two nonagenarians may show up. In the late afternoon, the president and his wife will host a reception for the diplomatic corps.
The morning events will be broadcast on all of Israel’s television channels.
On Thursday of this week, Rivlin met with the 120 soldiers while they were in rehearsal, but couldn’t spend much time with them because he had to rush back inside the building to greet an Israel Bonds delegation from Latin America.
■ If, as is projected, US President Donald Trump will be coming to Jerusalem towards the end of May, his visit will more or less coincide with a Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies conference on May 24, that was planned ahead of the most recent development in Trump’s relations with Israel. The title of the conference is “Trump and Israel: In Jerusalem They’re Going to Miss Obama.”
■ WITH ALL the criticism and police investigations into alleged wrongdoings on the part of the prime minister and his wife, it is a miracle that he can function. Whatever the outcome of the investigations, it behooves fair minded people to stop for a moment to think that with a gross salary in the range of NIS 45,000 per month and a net salary of less than NIS 20,000 per month, he’s on the job 24/7, and has to deal with a plethora of issues in a single day, including delivering addresses on official occasions or meeting with specific individuals and groups of people, and being au fait with whatever subject happens to be on the agenda at any given time. It’s far from easy, and during the week between Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israel Independence Day, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, attended official events, met with visiting dignitaries, and also with two sets of torch lighters, bereaved siblings, youngsters participating in the Bible Quiz and IDF widows and orphans.
On the front page of Thursday’s newspaper was a photograph of the Netanyahus with a young boy, and a similar photo is pictured on this page. The youngster is Noam Israel Moreno, whose father, Lt.-Col. Emmanuel Moreno, was killed in the Second Lebanon War. All of the youngsters had been asked to bring some souvenir of their father, and Noam brought Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan’s (better known as the Hafetz Haim) Guarding the Tongue which his father always carried with him. Netanyahu read some of the passages from the book aloud and commented on what he said was the slander that is being disseminated about Israel and the army, adding “I would give this book to a few people in Israel and beyond.”
Just as they spoke individually to each of the children and their mothers, the Netanyahus spoke individually to the Independence Day torch lighters who include Rabbanit Chana Henkin, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Michael Steinhardt, Eli Amir, Yehoram Gaon, Prof. Amnon Shashua, Uri Malmilian, Ahmed Eid, Yaacov Hetz, Miri Ehrentaal, Eli Mizrahi, Dina Simata, Maj. Yarus Yerushalayim and Lt. Dean Argil. This is the first year in which non-Israelis will be among the torch lighters.
■ MANY JEWS, who refuse to set foot in Germany, are amazed at the number of Israelis, as well as young Jews from elsewhere who have chosen to live there. This amazement is shared by some Germans themselves including Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who at his meeting with President Rivlin remarked that it was amazing to see how Jews are coming to Berlin, which was the seat of the Third Reich. What Gabriel may not understand is that this Jewish presence is part of the triumph against those who sought to eradicate the Jewish People. They are gone, but the Jews are still here.
■ THE INTEREST of the Chinese in Israel’s entrepreneurship and economy is well known. Less known is Chinese promotion of Israel. Famous Chinese actor Liu Ye with his French wife, Anais Martane, a well known photographer, who also happens to be Jewish, and their two children arrived this week for a week long stay at the Dan Tel Aviv Hotel. They were greeted by the Hotel’s guest relations representative Jeremy Dery, and Roy Kriezman, Dan hotel chain manager of the China market, who welcomed them and escorted the family to their royal suite. Liu, who was first in Israel in 2014, at which time he planted a tree in the JNF’s Israel-China Friendship Forest near Lahav, north of Beersheba and was named an Israel Tourism Goodwill Ambassador by then-tourism minister Uzi Landau, came this time on a personal visit with his wife’s family.
He is a great supporter of Israel and loves to promote the country wherever he travels.
■ NO ONE who knows anything about museums can doubt the enormous benefits which James Snyder brought to the Israel Museum during his long tenure as director. But there are some people who believe that Snyder has to let go because while the museum continues to remain under his influence, it cannot function properly. This is the view expressed in a letter signed by Dani Karavan, Yaakov Dorchin, Yair Garbuz and Sigalit Landau to the board of the museum in the light of recent developments – namely that a new director Eran Neuman was appointed and resigned only a few weeks after his appointment had been announced. The resignation has been widely attributed to Snyder’s abiding presence. Snyder, who served as director for 20 years, did not leave the museum but stepped into the newly created role of international president of the Israel Museum. It is only natural that staff who worked with him during all or most of that period, would continue to take orders from him rather than from Neuman, and such an attitude would continue to prevail, for as long as Snyder’s presence in the museum persists. On the other hand, considering what he did to elevate the museum to its present status, it’s very difficult for anyone to ask him to back firstname.lastname@example.org