Grapevine: Where Barkat was

The low-down on Jerusalem.

By
August 6, 2015 16:29
3 minute read.
Gay Pride Parade stabbings

Protesters gather in Jerusalem on Saturday night after the Gay Pride Parade stabbings.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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THE REASON  that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was absent from the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance toward the end of last week is that he was in the US on a fund-raising mission for various important projects in the capital, not the least of which is Shalva, the new National Children’s Center for children with developmental disabilities, which is in the final stages of construction.

Also in America was Shalva founder Kalman Samuel, who introduced Barkat to the lay leadership of the American Friends of Shalva at the New York City office of Norman Alpert, the chairman of American Friends and the managing director of Vestar Capital. Barkat shared his vision for Jerusalem, highlighting the salient points of his Jerusalem 2020 Plan, and commented on how he sees the evolution of volatile events in Israel, the rest of the Middle East and beyond.

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In speaking of the Jerusalem 2020 Plan, Barkat credited leading world experts in city planning, including Prof. Michael Porter and Prof. Richard Florida, as well as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who helped formulate a five-year development plan for Jerusalem that would enable it to stand in the forefront of intellectual, technological, scientific, cultural, educational and social affluence.

In this context he remarked that over the past 25 years, Shalva has become a model in the field of disability education and family wellness and a beacon to Israel and the world at large.

IT’S NOT only the LGBT community that is being ostracized in certain quarters but also the members of Combatants for Peace, which in some circles are regarded as traitors. Following the arson attack in Duma and mindful of its catastrophic results, Combatants for Peace were among the first people to go to Duma to join with Palestinian peace activists in their movement in expressing their sorrow to the residents of the village and their condemnation of the act of terrorism that claimed the life of toddler Ali Dawabsha and seriously injured his parents and his four-year-old brother, Ahmed.

Maytal Lochoff, an Israeli member of Combatants for Peace, told relatives of the Dawabsha family and other residents of the village: “We thank you for allowing us the opportunity to come here and express our shame at these actions of terrorism and of these people that were generated by our society. We will continue to work together to bring the occupation to end.”

Palestinian member Jamiel Qassas told the gathering: “We are here today not just to utter words but to engage in real work to stop the radical settlers from continuing their terrorist attacks. This tragedy pushes us further to do more work to end the Israeli occupation and establish the independent Palestinian state.”

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Combatants for Peace was established by a group of Israelis and Palestinians who had taken an active part in the cycle of violence in the region and are now working nonviolently for peace and coexistence.

They are opposed to any form of violence and call for both sides in the conflict to recognize each other in mutual respect and to engage in dialogue. In recent years they have conducted hundreds of joint activities, which include tours, demonstrations, in-house meetings and lectures, in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority.

A READER of In Jerusalem who neglected to sign his surname to his email sent a complaint to the paper’s editor with an accusation of plagiarism regarding the obituary of the late Aharon Kaplan, which appeared in last week’s Grapevine. I was aware of the details prior to receiving the notice that went out from the synagogue, and felt it appropriate to include some of the material in the column in order to do honor to a childless Holocaust survivor. Facts are facts, and there is no point in trying to disguise them; so some of the facts that were in the synagogue notice written by Oren Mass and Hadassah Ben- Harosh were incorporated.

Several synagogue members expressed appreciation to me at the kiddush last Saturday, and no one said anything about plagiarism, other than myself, when speaking to the person who sends out synagogue notices, who was likewise effusive in his appreciation.

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