(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
■ THERE WAS a long period in Israel when movie theaters, including those located in shopping malls, were closing down. With VOD and computer downloads of movies, it seemed that the cinema industry in terms of theaters was on the verge of becoming obsolete. But then, suddenly there was a turnaround and companies controlling Cinema City and Yes Planet were not only building new cinema theaters but new cinema banks enabling several movies to be screened simultaneously under the one roof. Coming up in this particular trend is the opening on Sunday, February 7, of YES Planet in Zichron Ya’acov in the presence of local council head Eli Abutbul.
■ IN MAY 2014, then-president Shimon Peres called David Blatt, then-coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv, to congratulate him on the team’s victory against Real Madrid, which enabled Maccabi Tel Aviv to claim its sixth Euroleague title. The first was in 1977, when Tal Brody famously said that Israel is on the map and will stay on the map. A few days after the triumphant win, Blatt and the team brought the trophy to the President’s Residence, to receive congratulations in person, and presented a smaller version of the trophy for Peres to keep for himself. Blatt told Peres that they wanted to bring the trophy home as a farewell gift for Peres toward the completion of his tenure, in appreciation for all that he’d done.
Toward the end of the presentation ceremony, Peres addressed both Blatt and forward David Blu, saying: “Israel is short on Davids now,” as he alluded metaphorically to the David of old, and asked them both to remain in Israel “in the Kingdom of David – Maccabi Tel Aviv.”
He also echoed the words of one of his predecessors, Chaim Herzog, who had told the Maccabi Tel Aviv team in 1977 that they were the best ambassadors that Israel could have.
In reiterating Herzog’s sentiment Peres said: “Not only does Maccabi Tel Aviv act as an ambassador outside of Israel, but also within the country itself. A victory like this unites old and young, men and women, people from all different backgrounds. You elevated our spirits. Israel is not always exceptional when it comes to everyday mundane things – but when it comes to big things, we do them well.”
Much as he was attached to Maccabi Tel Aviv, Blatt wanted to advance his career not only in Israel, where he had played basketball for nine years with various teams before becoming a coach, but also in America, where he was born.
In June 2014 he was appointed head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and although named the best coach in the Cavaliers history, and succeeding in bringing them to the 2015 NBA Finals, Blatt was fired last weekend. The reason cited by Cavaliers general manager David Griffin was “a lack of fit with our personnel and our vision.”
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Blatt has chalked up so many victories in Israel and in Europe that he won’t have a problem in finding another job.
He may even decide to come home, although he has stated that he is keen to coach another NBA team.
■ APROPOS SHIMON Peres, who received a phone call over the weekend from US President Barack Obama, who wished him well, Peres repeated what he said when leaving Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer last week, saying: “I was lucky to be treated by a dedicated medical team that worked around the clock, not only to open and improve my artery but to improve my heart. I left hospital stronger than I entered.”
When he was taking his leave of the medical team that had treated him, Peres said that if anyone falls ill, the best place to go is Sheba. He neglected to add that it helps if you’re a former president and prime minister and if your son-in-law is in the higher echelons of the hospital’s staff. Prof. Rafi Walden, the deputy director at Sheba, is married to Peres’s daughter Tsvia, and accompanies Peres on most of his overseas trips in the capacity of his personal physician.
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