Grapevine: Sweet revenge

This week's social news.

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March 13, 2018 21:00
A creation by up-and-coming designer Idan Laros at Tel Aviv Fashion Week

A creation by up-and-coming designer Idan Laros at Tel Aviv Fashion Week. (photo credit: AVI WALDMAN)

Highly irreverent satirist Lior Schleien, whose long-running show of panelists make fun primarily of political figures, had the last laugh on state’s witness Nir Hefetz, a former media adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who tried to prevent Schleien’s show from being aired on Channel 10.

Previously produced by Reshet and aired on Channel 2 for five years under the name of Matzav Ha’uma (State of the Nation), it was dropped in January 2015. When it moved to Channel 10, it underwent a name change to Gav Ha’uma (Back of the Nation).

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Apparently, because Schleien had been severely critical of the prime minister, Hefetz tried to persuade Channel 10 CEO Yossi Warshavsky to refrain from taking on the show.

Warshavsky ignored the request, and Schleien, referring to extensive media reports on the subject, said on his show last Saturday night in relation to Hefetz: “Look where he is and look where I am.”

Although Schleien spoofed Netanyahu on Saturday, he was much tougher on Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, whom he has known since childhood, and whose contradictory on-camera remarks he collects to demonstrate how Lapid says one thing one day and the opposite the next, and how he frequently errs on issues of fact in the anecdotes he tells.

■ THERE’S A déjà vu quality to many of the creations seen in recent days at Tel Aviv Fashion Week. That’s perfectly understandable, given that current trends come under the sobriquet of retro or vintage when in fact they’re new designs for the generation for which they are intended.

Fashion is, after all, a recycling of what was once in vogue, disappeared from memory and was resurrected with updated elements, such as drip-dry fabrics that don’t require ironing.

Pure wools, silks and cottons, which were fashion status symbols of yesteryear, have all but disappeared, but the classy look has come back in all its former glory.

It’s kind of sad that Fashion Week has been revived during a period in which Israel’s fashion industry is falling asunder. Honigman, once a big name, is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Other large fashion houses are barely holding their own, for two main reasons.

One is the inability to compete with the prices of imports from cheap labor countries such as China, which manufactures for top international brand names and then copies the designs, which sell for ridiculously low prices on world markets.

The other is the curse of modern technology. Window shopping is, according to numerous media outlets, soon going to be passé, and clothes shoppers will no longer be wasting time going from store to store. They’ll be buying all their apparel online.

The latest temptation in this respect is posting a figure-conscious photograph to an online fashion outlet.

The computer then helps to “dress” the figure in items from the collection, and even provides an instant choice of skirt lengths. This enables the purchaser sitting at home, or even in a restaurant or airplane, to see how he or she would look in any number of garments, and then make their purchases accordingly. It’s actually a very boring means of shopping, and while it may work very well for a couple of years, it’s unlikely to last, because it’s antisocial and not good for the overall economy.

But getting back to Fashion Week, one of the important aspects is the open door it provides for up-and-coming designers, one of whom is Idan Laros, 30, who has a studio in Tel Aviv’s Hamasger Street. Laros was previously a stylist, and earned a well-deserved reputation for good taste. But after six years of helping entertainment stars, other celebrities and socialites to stock their closets, he decided to try his hand as a designer.

His creations are feminine and flattering, with prices ranging from NIS 1,200 to NIS 4,500. Although the collection is primarily a mix of black and white, for the gala opening that was sponsored by Pandora jewelry, he showed a stunning gold outfit, as Pandora had asked all the designers to produce creations in silver or gold.

■ THE NUMBER of cars that clog our highways might lead to the assumption that everyone has a car – but that’s far from true. An early morning or late afternoon bus ride in which passengers are packed like sardines can confirm that. On some routes, it’s like that all day.

But what happens when the bus doesn’t come? Believe it or not, you can sue Egged or any other bus company that fails to deliver.

David Bedein, who is on a frequent commute between Jerusalem and his home in Efrat, and who also takes buses to other parts of the country, is one of those people who keep public transport in business. He can testify that as frustrating as it is to wait for a bus that doesn’t come, it’s not quite a total loss.

On August 30, 2017, bus No. 409 from Beit Shemesh to Efrat simply did not arrive. Bedein took a taxi, for which the fare came to NIS 160. He sent the receipt with the complaint to Egged and was reimbursed within one month.

On August 31, 2017, bus No. 267 from Jerusalem to Efrat simply did not arrive – not at 1 a.m., 2 a.m. or even 3 a.m. As a last resort, Bedein took the bus to Kiryat Arba, got off at the Gush Etzion junction, where he knew there would be proper lighting, and waited until 4:20 a.m. for a ride.

This time, he decided to sue Egged and paid NIS 300 in Small Claims Court for the case to be heard.

Last week, the case against Egged was on the agenda, and on Monday morning of this week a registered letter was delivered to Bedein’s door in Efrat. Small Claims Court had awarded him a NIS 2,000 settlement from Egged. By the way, he still travels in Egged buses. He doesn’t really have much option.

■ LIFE ACHIEVEMENT awards are usually given to people who have reached an advanced age, but apparently the people who decided on the television awards that were announced at a ceremony at The Avenue banquet halls in Airport City last Friday decided that 53 is not too young an age for life achievement, especially for someone who has packed as much into her life as investigative journalist Ilana Dayan, who already made her mark during her compulsory military service at Army Radio. In fact, she was so good a journalist even then that certain Knesset members objected to having such a young person ask such penetrating questions.

These days, she is best known for her Channel 2 program Uvda (Fact), which she has been hosting for 25 years. She also presents a morning current affairs program on Army Radio. She is one of the journalists who have been personally lambasted by Netanyahu. Dayan, who is also a lawyer, and who has taught constitutional law at Tel Aviv University, dedicated her prize to the late Moshe Negbi, the KAN and, before that, longtime Israel Broadcasting Authority legal commentator, who died of cancer in January. Negbi was totally uncompromising on matters related to the rule of law.

■ INCREASING NUMBERS of hotels are wooing guests for the weekend by introducing cultural and musical attractions. Last weekend, members of the E-Dan club who were guests at the Dan Panorama Tel Aviv were given a musical treat in the person of Yehoram Gaon, who was hosted by Dan Hotels CEO Ronen Nissenbaum and Dan Panorama general manager Lior Haimovich at a weekend of culture and music that was co-sponsored by American Express.

The weekend break included a live performance by Gaon, a tour of Neveh Zedek and surrounds, a fascinating lecture by legendary police reporter Buki Na’eh, plus an equally fascinating lecture by crime author Yoram Landsberger and a meeting with film critic Ron Fogel, who spoke about the White City as a backdrop for movies. Guests were also treated to gourmet meals, and Gaon was installed in the hotel’s presidential suite, which, he said afterward, he thoroughly enjoyed. Nissenbaum, who’s been a fan of Gaon’s for years, was delighted to have the opportunity to host him.

Incidentally, Michael “Mikey” Federmann, who heads the Dan Hotels chain and is also at the helm of Elbit Systems, is reportedly to become the second-largest player among Israel’s producers of defense equipment, with the purchase of IMI Systems, formerly known as Israel Military Industries. The acquisition would boost Elbit’s value to NIS 21.5 billion.

■ LED BY co-chairs of Australian Jewish Funders directors Belinda Bardas and Simone Szalmuk-Singer, a delegation of Australian female entrepreneurs and philanthropists visited Idan HaNegev, the Negev’s pioneering Jewish-Beduin cooperative industrial park, on Friday.

The group, which included Debbie Dadon, Liora Miller, Ricci Swart, Sarah Davies, Suzan Beecher and Tracie Olcha, was hosted by representatives of the Triguboff Institute, which is significantly engaged in the project’s development. The visit was co-organized by Philanthropy Australia and was part of a five-day experiential trip to Israel, focusing on impactful investment, strategic philanthropy and the ambitious ways in which Israel uses business strategies to accelerate social change and to cultivate environmental well-being.

Harry Triguboff, a billionaire real estate developer and one of the richest people in Australia, has underwritten several social change projects in Israel, and the women were mightily impressed by what he is doing on behalf of the Beduin community in the Negev. “The Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce, which helped to coordinate the visit, is very proud of the Australian connection to the Idan HaNegev Industrial Park.

The Triguboff Institute’s work in assisting the local Beduin community integrate in the business enterprises there is inspirational and is making a profound contribution to Israel’s vitality as a world-leading multicultural society based on Jewish values like tikun olam (mending the world),” said Paul Israel, executive director of the chamber.

The visit included a tour of the 445-hectare (1,100-acre) industrial park led by Moshe Paul, CEO of Idan HaNegev. The group also visited SodaStream, a company devoted to national, ethnic and cultural equality.

SodaStream employs Jews, Palestinians and Beduin with equal salaries, benefits and opportunities. The company’s CEO, Daniel Birenbaum, who is the son of Holocaust survivors, two years ago offered to give jobs to Syrian refugees, if the government allowed them to take refuge in Israel.

The environmentally conscious, DIY carbonated beverage company made headlines in 2016, when its presenter Scarlett Johansson was criticized and the company targeted by the BDS movement.

Idan HaNegev’s goal is to develop industry and encourage cooperation among the authorities of Rahat, Bnei Shimon and Lahavim in the northern Negev region. The Triguboff Institute works to develop and empower the Beduin community, which accounts for 35% of Negev inhabitants, by promoting employment opportunities and improving socioeconomic status, which in turn helps to reduce crime. It also aspires to be a bridge between the Israeli and Beduin communities in the area. The park will eventually supply 10,000 jobs.

The status of women in the community is an area of focused investment for the Triguboff Institute at Idan HaNegev. Vocational training, apprenticeships and a center of holistic support for the advancement of women, with services for women’s health and welfare for those employed at the park’s various companies, are all available to the Beduin women.

The delegation, whose participants are members of Philanthropy Australia and Australian Jewish Funders, comprised high net-worth Australian businesspeople and philanthropists as well as trustees and CEOs of charitable wills, trusts and private, corporate and family foundations.

■ CHANCES ARE high that the good quality meats on many Israeli Seder tables this year will come from Uruguay, whose Ambassador Bernardo Greiver will next week host a Uruguay meat festival at his residence in Herzliya Pituah.

■ IN THE course of a regional visit to Jerusalem, Ramallah, Amman and Beirut, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, the Indian-born president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, met on Sunday with President Reuven Rivlin. EBRD, which is owned by 65 countries, invests in changing lives. The principal shareholders are the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, while the State of Israel was among the bank’s founding countries.

Through its financial investments, business services and involvement in policy reform, EBRD promotes entrepreneurship, inclusive, sustainable growth and green energy.

“When we met around three years ago, you encouraged us to expand our operations in the region, and I think that we have been most successful in taking your advice. We have expanded more and more the areas in which we are working together with Israeli investment,” Chakrabarti told Rivlin.

Extolling the great potential in the region, Rivlin said: “Creative ways must be found to couple the experience the bank has gained in the region with Israeli technology.”

■ ISRAEL’S FIRST woman president of a research university, Ben-Gurion University’s Prof. Rivka Carmi, who was also the first woman dean of a faculty of health sciences in Israel, recently gave her first-ever TEDx talk at an event at BGU.

Her speech, published here verbatim, was one of many events related to International Women’s Day.

“‘Your daughter could study either science or humanities, but I advise her to take humanities, since it will be much easier on her,’ said my high school teacher to my mother in front of me.

“Easier! That was all I needed to hear in order to decide right then and there that I would take science.

“The science class was small: about 22 students, of whom just two were girls: Margalit, whose mother was a chemistry teacher, and myself, the daughter of a social worker.

“Were we the only two girls who could have taken science? Of course not, but other girls didn’t have a role model-mother like Margalit’s, and they didn’t have my rebellious, ambitious genes.

“At 14, I knew that I would be a genetics researcher. I was fascinated by the human cell in which, during cell division, pairs of chromosomes exchange parts with each other in order, so said my biology teacher, to increase variability in the world. I was determined to discover the secret behind this amazing explanation.

“When, at the end of my first year studying biology at the university, I decided to switch to medicine, my mother was not happy at all. She maintained that medicine is a very tough profession for a woman raising a family, while biology teachers get vacations that cater to the needs of mothers.

“Hearing her, I knew that I had made the right decision.

“Still, how many young women continue to make career choices influenced by society’s expectations that give precedence to their ‘natural’ role as wives and mothers? “I didn’t realize that I was a feminist until later on. In fact, at the time, I didn’t even know what feminism was all about. I made my own choices, did what I felt was right for me, and was very involved in teaching, researching and medical academics.

“But then, when I was a pediatric resident, I first recognized gender discrimination.

“A colleague, more than 10 years older than me, a senior gynecologist and the only woman in her department, shared with me her frustration over not being academically promoted.

While much younger and less academically accomplished men were being granted professorships, she was denied again and again with the excuse that her CV was not yet ‘ripe’ for promotion to associate professor.

“Just one glance at her CV convinced me that it was more than ‘ripe’ for a full professorship.

“I was furious. So I invited myself to a meeting with the chairman of the academic promotion committee, a distinguished professor at the medical school, and presented him with the CV. He promised to take care of it.

And nothing happened....

“After a month I called him and told him that this was gender discrimination and that I was not going to let the issue go. He warned me: ‘You are a promising young faculty member, don’t let feminism ruin your career.’ “This particular story had a happy ending, with my friend being granted professorship in a record time, and with my realization that I was a feminist.

“I was the same person striving for equality – equal opportunity, equal rights – but I learned that apparently when you ask for those rights to be given to the half of humanity that are women, you are a feminist.

“If being a feminist means becoming acutely aware of the numerous obstacles, physical and emotional, that women encounter throughout their careers, then indeed, I have become a passionate feminist. Not the kind that burn bras, but nevertheless, one that is committed to equality of women wherever they are and especially in academia and in medicine.

“So I was a pediatrician, a neonatologist and a medical geneticist with a genetic syndrome to her name, a full professor, but when I dared run for the deanship of the faculty of medicine against three male candidates, I was first of all a woman, whose skirts, said one very senior professor, were too short, hinting that I was not fit for the job. And yes, believe it or not, he said that I had slept my way through the right beds in order to get to where I was.

“I’ll bet that more than just a few of you have heard this saying about successful women.

“I made it to the deanship after a fierce campaign, where, against colleagues’ advice, I put women’s promotion on my 10 items vision document for the position.

“Because if you are a woman who has made it to the top, you have to be totally committed to the cause of women’s equality, and you must, on top of all the obligations and worries that come with the job, constantly work to pave the way, by any means possible, for your fellow women.

“You should provide a role model but also work extra hard to make sure that women get equal opportunities and experience a women-friendly environment that acknowledges the obstacles they face and the needs they present, on their way to fully realizing their potential.

“Because this still cannot be taken for granted: In the male-dominated world, and especially in academia and medicine, women who have ‘made it’ need to take the lead and change the rules.

“A year into my time as university president, I met with the head of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council of Higher Education. I asked him to address the issue of the small percentage of women faculty in academia, especially in the higher academic ranks, in face of their equal representation in the undergraduate and graduate student body.

“He asked me in return whether I thought that we had already solved all the pressing issues of higher education in Israel. I said no, but that this was certainly one of them. His smile was a mixture of empathy and pity.

“So, I waited till it was my turn to head the committee of university presidents in Israel. In that capacity, I could no longer be ignored. The issue of women’s promotion in higher education was set as a long-term goal of the Council for Higher Education, with various programs to be implemented and goals to be achieved and, what is even more important, an item on every university’s operating budget, making this a legitimate subject to address and act upon.

“With all that had been achieved in the modern world – landing on the moon, cracking the genetic code, the computer, the cellphone, AI, you name it – women’s inequality remains the unintentional reality.

“It has been calculated that it would take another 38 years to reach gender equality in an evolutionary fashion.

“Can we allow the world to deprive itself for that long from enjoying the immense contribution of women’s talents to every field and aspect of life? “The answer, from both women and men, should be an unequivocal no, but the Sisyphean task of always keeping the subject on the agenda is the special responsibility of women who have made it to the top.”

greerfc@gmail.com


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