Grapevine: Antisemitism then and now

Numbers in the IDF are rising considerably, especially as the army goes to great pains to ensure that religiously observant soldiers can maintain their religious practices.

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December 30, 2017 21:20
From left to right: Governor of the Swiss Bank Thomas J. Jordan, Gideon Hamburger and Swiss Ambassad

From left to right: Governor of the Swiss Bank Thomas J. Jordan, Gideon Hamburger and Swiss Ambassador to Israel Jean-Daniel Ruch. (photo credit: PHOTO: PR)

 
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Rising antisemitisism in Europe, coupled with the political gains of far-right movements, including in Austria, make films and literature about resistance against National Socialism extremely relevant. Present Pasts, Jo Schmeiser’s documentary film – which pits such resistance in the past against present-day events with the aim of creating a society free of discrimination and exclusion – will be shown at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Humanities, Room 620, on Monday, January 1, 2018, at 4:30 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. The film is being screened within the framework of the Cardinal Franz Konig lectures of the Center for Austrian Studies at the university. Schmeiser will be present to discuss its subject matter with the audience. The filmmaker is a Vienna-based graphic designer, author and publisher whose main focus is on social criticism and activism, anti-racist image politics and public resistance to racism and sexism. She is particularly interested in the aftermath of National Socialism and present-day antisemitism. Another of her films, Love History, which she made with Simone Bader, will be screened at 6:30 p.m. Schmeiser will also conduct a discussion at this screening and will talk about gender resistance, memory and political struggles and what prompts the nature of her work.

■ THE EVER-extending human lifespan has influenced many real estate developers to turn their attention to creating what amounts to third-age country clubs. Advertisements attempt to attract retirees to such facilities with promises of larger apartments, many cultural and social activities, swimming pools, tours and more. Some have even gone so far as to offer trial-based, cost-free stays. Others say that a potential resident can rent out his or her existing home and use the rent money to cover the expense of living in the retirement home, while keeping open the option of returning to their own residence with relative ease if they later decide to do so. These facilities are no longer like old-fashioned boarding houses in which occupants lived in a single room with a bathroom down the hall. They are now built like apartment complexes, often with extra bedrooms to provide for a live-in caregiver, visiting grandchildren, or other relatives or friends to stay overnight. One of the early pioneers of this form of gracious living for older people is the Seven Stars Residence in Herzliya Pituah, which is part of the Golden House Group and offers retirement in comfort and luxury. Regular activities include a weekly lecture series at 10.30 a.m. on Thursdays, which are open to anyone, including non-residents. Residents get in for free and visitors are charged NIS 40, which includes refreshments. On January 4, former MK and passionate orator, author, broadcaster and lecturer Dr. Einat Wilf will give a talk titled “The Successful Disengagement.” That will be followed on January 11 by travelogue lecturer David Nissan who will speak on “The Jews and the Jewels of Iran.” To prove just how diverse these lectures are in catering to all tastes, on January 18, pianist and lecturer Roy Aloni will introduce his audience to some of the finer points of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, the Pastoral. The last lecture of the month will be on January 25, when Holocaust survivor and accomplished speaker Marty Dotan will share her memories of being a passenger on the ill-fated illegal immigrant ship Exodus. Dotan will be speaking two days prior to International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as set down by the United Nations. The date was chosen to commemorate the liberation by the Red Army on January 27, 1945, of Auschwitz- Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death and concentration camps.

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■ ALTHOUGH SHE is not the minister for social equality, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, speaking at the national convention of Emunah, the religious women’s organization, called for equal pay for equal work and an end to gender discrimination. She also spoke about army service for religious girls, whose numbers in the IDF are rising considerably, especially as the army goes to great pains to ensure that religiously observant soldiers can maintain their religious practices. Shaked was particularly pleased that the IDF has opened the door for such women to serve in the most elite units and to reach high ranks. While doing her own army service in the Golani Brigade, Shaked said she met many religious Zionists, and it was those friendships that enabled her to feel at home in Bayit Yehudi, a political party of religious Zionists.

■ EVEN IN an age when children know how to operate complex technology before they can walk or talk, kids still have old-fashioned desires such as wanting to be a cowboy or fireman when they grow up. One such child is four-year-old Oshri from northern Israel, who suffers from a life-threatening illness. Nonetheless, he’s a happy little boy, who for as long as his family can remember, has treasured the idea of having a fire engine in the yard of his home. Together with Make-A-Wish-Israel, Mimun Yashir employees helped him to realize his dream way beyond anything he imagined. A fire engine arrived from the fire station in Hadera, and a number of firefighters told Oshri and other children who were present what it means to be a firefighter. Also present were Lior Kalfon, a member of the board of directors of Make-A-Wish Israel, along with Mimun Yashir personnel and Avi Bar- Aharon, founder of Make-A-Wish Israel, which enables dreams to come true for children with life-threatening illnesses.

■ ARMY RADIO broadcaster Irit Linor is well known for her iconoclastic opinions, but she went a step too far last week when she attacked President Reuven Rivlin and referred to him in the most impolite and disrespectful terms. While freedom of speech gives her the right to disagree and even to criticize the president, it doesn’t give her the right to use an offensive style of speech in which she offended not only the man, but the office of the presidency. In her program The Last Word, Linor made mincemeat of Rivlin’s approval of public demonstrations against corruption. What he said at the Lautman Education conference last week was widely misinterpreted by the media, and Rivlin subsequently had to clarify that he was not calling for the public to demonstrate against any particular person, but against corruption in general. Army Radio chief Shimon Alkabetz suspended Linor for a week, and in doing so spelled out the difference between valid criticism and impertinence. A week’s suspension is merely a slap on the wrist, and while Linor is hardly an example for anyone to follow, it’s unlikely that Alkabetz will take more stringent action where she is concerned, despite the maxim that speech is silver but silence is golden.

■ APROPOS RIVLIN, he isn’t being given sufficient credit in a possible summit meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom Rivlin chats from time to time. The meeting, if it comes to fruition, is being arranged by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kano, to whom Rivlin said when they met last week that Japan can play an important role in helping to facilitate understanding and confidence- building between Israel and the Palestinians, because Japan is an objective friend of both and has done much to boost Palestinian prosperity.

■ A FESTIVE business and pleasure evening at the Dan hotel, Tel Aviv was hosted by Gideon Hamburger, the president of the Israel Switzerland Lichtenstein Chamber of Commerce and Harel Insurance and Finances. Among the guests were Thomas J. Jordan, chairman of the governing board of the Swiss National Bank; Swiss Ambassador Jean Daniel Ruch; Dorit Selinger, the Finance Ministry’s supervisor of capital markets; Rakefet Rusak Aminoach, the CEO of Bank Leumi; Yair Hamburger, the chairman of Harel; Dan Propper, chairman of the Osem Group; Yossi Ciechanover, a financial manager and consultant; Udi Dahan, CEO of UBS Israel; Avi Weinberger, CEO of Union Bancaire Privee Israel; Amnon Zaidenberg, CEO of Dreyfus Bank Israel; and many others from the world of high finance. The gathering was designed to strengthen connections between Israel and Switzerland and the Israelis listened eagerly as Jordan spoke about Swiss monetary policy in the context of international spillovers.

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■ TECH GEEKS know that it’s a new year when they receive an invitation from Israel’s pied piper of tech, Yossi Vardi, to attend the annual Cybertech event at the Tel Aviv Convention Center. According to Vardi, this is the largest cyber-solutions event outside of the United States. The previous event drew more than 1,000 participants from around the world, and even more are expected during the January 29-31 gathering. Participants will be able to meet with colleagues from around the world. No less important, they will be able to learn from internationally renowned experts about the latest cyber innovations and solutions. Special sessions will also be dedicated to smart mobility and connected vehicles.

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