Grapevine: Hapoalim CEO parties all the way to the bank

Zion Keinan raises funds for NPOs, Lev Leviav expands his diamond business to Singapore and Holon celebrates Diana Golby’s victory.

■ ONE WONDERS when Bank Hapoalim CEO Zion Keinan has time to actually attend to bank business.
He’s engaged in numerous hands-on philanthropic activities that are supported by the bank. A couple of weeks back, he and his wife Mira hosted heads of the business, banking and legal communities at the wedding at the Ronit Farm of their son Itai to Keren Ze’evi- Farkash, the daughter of the former head of Military Intelligence.
A few days later, many of the guests at the wedding came to the Daniel Center to join Keinan in toasting the new year, and last Friday they showed up at Bank Hapoalim’s executive offices which hosted an arts and crafts fund-raiser for 33 nonprofit organizations.
Among the faces in the crowd at least once, if not two or three times, were those of Shari Arison, the key shareholder of the bank, Yitzhak Tshuva, Nochi Dankner, Idan Ofer, Tzadik Bino, Haim Katzman, Michael Strauss, Udi Angel, Alfred Akirov, Eitan Raf, Meir Shamir, Eli Yonas, Eli Papushado, Danny Gillerman, Lev Leviev, Galia Maor, Jacob Perry, Ram Caspi and Mickey Zellermeier.
■ IN WHAT seems to be a game of musical chairs, many of the same people who responded to Keinan’s invitations also showed up at the home of Yitzhak Tshuva in Ramat Poleg last Wednesday to raise a glass to the new year. Keinan was among them.
■ ALTHOUGH HE has suffered a series of serious financial losses since moving to England two years ago, fortune seems to be smiling once more on Lev Leviev, at least as far as his diamond business is concerned. He is expanding his diamond interests to include Asia and will open a flagship jewelry boutique in the lobby of Singapore’s new prestigious Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Resort. He already has luxury stores in London, New York, Dubai and Moscow.
■ AFTER ALL the hullaballoo about the artistic boycott of the Ariel cultural center that is due to officially open on November 8, it would seem that there are more performers and other theatrical people who refuse to allow politics to interfere with cultural expression.
Many members of the entertainment industry have publicly dissociated themselves from the open letter that was published in the Hebrew press, so much so that a singer has offered to do a gratis performance for the opening, and to dedicate it to the residents of Ariel.
Singer, actor and current affairs commentator Yehoram Gaon, on his program on Israel Radio last Friday, said that he had never refused to appear anywhere for political reasons. If he wanted to make a political statement, he said, he would voice it from an appropriate platform, such as the radio microphone. Of all those actors who refuse to appear in Ariel, he noted, he had never seen them walk off stage in Tel Aviv when people from Ariel or elsewhere in the territories came to their performances – “and they do come in droves.” The situation will die down and anyone who’s in a production that is supposed to play in Ariel will perform, he predicted, adding that “the whole protest is a quest for a platform.”
■ ALTHOUGH IT has been announced that former British prime minister Tony Blair would not write personal inscriptions for buyers at the various launches of his controversially candid new book A Journey, it’s a safe bet to say that at least one person, will be an exception to the rule. Paulo Fetz, the general manager of the American Colony Hotel which is Blair’s home away from home where he gives interviews and receives guests in his capacity as Quartet envoy, will in all likelihood get a copy which has more than a mere autograph on the flyleaf.
■ WHEN WORLD Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder presented noted writer, human rights activist and Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel with the WJC’s newly inaugurated Guardian of Jerusalem award that comprised a certificate and a very weighty Haggada, he quipped that Wiesel would have to pay overweight on his return flight to New York. When it was Wiesel’s turn to speak he said: “Ron didn’t tell you that in order to carry the Haggada, he would give me his private plane.”
Still in a spirit of jest, Wiesel recalled that he had also been the recipient of the first Guardian of Zion award “which was accompanied by a very nice check.”
■ RETIRED JOURNALISTS, many of them household names in their respective heydays, gathered last week at Beit Sokolov, the headquarters of the Tel Aviv Journalists’ Association, to reminisce about the good old days, swap anecdotes, take the wraps off what were once classified stories and update each other on what they’re doing. One of the most popular pastimes is writing memoirs, a project spurred by the success enjoyed by Haim Yavin, who used to be known as Mr.
Television and who this week celebrates his 78th birthday.
Yavin, who didn’t attend, received a lot of publicity with the recent launching of his book. Writing is not his only occupation these days. He continues to make documentaries.
Elimelech Ram, who like Yavin started with Israel Radio and then moved to Israel Television, where he eventually headed the news department, is also making documentaries and writing his memoirs. He’s driving his publisher mad, because he keeps on remembering episodes that he did not include in what was supposed to be the final text and calls again and again to add material. But he’s not sure whether it’s worth the effort.
“Who’s going to part with NIS 80 to buy my book?” he asked his former colleagues.
For those former journalists who have not remained in touch with each other, the reunion was a real treat.
Diana Lerner, who used to write for almost every daily paper here, had a wonderful time catching up with old friends, especially those from publications which are now defunct. Among the faces in the crowd were Arye Avneri, who still writes a newspaper column and chairs the Ometz watchdog, anti-corruption organization, Bella Almog, Liora Eini, Tzivia Cohen, Yehudit Hanoch, Amikam Gurevich and many others who lamented that Beit Sokolov is no longer what it used to be.
The large popular restaurant, where politics of the day were an eternal source of discussion and where people like the late Tommy Lapid enjoyed a game of chess, no longer exists. When it did, it was patronized from morning till night, especially at lunch time, by working journalists and retirees who regarded it as part home, part office Avneri recalled that many years ago, when working on a story about corruption, he made an appointment to meet at Tel Aviv’s legendary Café Tamar with Asher Yadlin and two other important Labor Party figures.
Yadlin was on the verge of being appointed governor of the Bank of Israel and Avneri thought that he would be a good person to talk to about corruption. After the meeting, someone who had seen Avneri in Café Tamar asked him what he was doing sitting with three crooks. Yadlin was subsequently arrested and convicted for accepting bribes. His two table companions at Tamar, one a banker and the other a government minister, each committed suicide rather than face corruption charges.
Shmuel Shai, who still has a weekly program on Israel Radio where he relates strange and often titillating stories that he has picked up from newspapers around the world, decided to tell a school-related story at the get-together. Born in Lodz, Poland, Shai came to Palestine as a small boy. At some stage, his parents took him back to Poland to see the family. Toward the end of the summer, his mother said that they had to be home before the beginning of September, so that she could register him in school. His grandfather protested, saying that with so many Jewish holidays taking place almost immediately after the start of the school year, it wouldn’t hurt him to remain a little longer. But Shai’s mother explained that if she didn’t register him in time, he wouldn’t get a good seat in class. When his grandfather sought clarification, she said that he wouldn’t be sitting next to another Ashkenazi child. Some prejudices don’t change.
■ TELEVISION PERSONALITY Oded Menashe was the master of ceremonies at Beit Hanassi at the function for first graders on the day prior to the commencement of the new school year. “They invited me to come along because I work with children, but after observing the president, I can see there was no need for me to be here,” said Menashe in admiration of the natural rapport that Peres has with the younger generation.
“There’s a lot I can learn from him about how to communicate with children”.
■ BASKETBALL STAR Omri Casspi is the new presenter for El Al, and did his first photo shoot for the company last Sunday. Of course if all the airline’s passengers were the same height as Casspi, there would be a need to reduce the number of seats, because there’s no way that someone that tall could find leg room under the present arrangement.
■ CURRENTLY IN Australia for the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Dunera, a ship carrying more than 2,000 British prisoners, mainly Jews from Germany and Austria who had fled from Nazi occupation in the hope of finding refuge in the UK, is former honorary consul for Papua New Guinea Mary Clare Adam, whose father Leonhard Adam had been among the prisoners on the ship. Together with other refugees, he was arrested in June 1940, following the fall of Dunkirk.
Ignoring the fact that these people had come to Britain to seek a haven, the British initially interned them on the Isle of Man. Some were sent to Canada on board the ill-fated Arandora Star which was torpedoed and sunk with considerable loss of life. Those who were saved were taken back to the Isle of Man and put on the Dunera. They endured a horrendous, almost inhuman voyage to Australia, spending most of the time in the hold while German prisoners of war who were in the Nazi army were given cabins.
When the ship docked at Port Melbourne, some of the prisoners, including Leonhard Adam were put on trains and sent to another internment camp. The majority were taken off the ship in Sydney and sent to an internment camp in Hay. Of the sum total of prisoners, 80 are still living, one of them, Dr. Alfred Wachs, 96, in Haifa. Wachs was one of the founders of the Israeli Navy. The British treated the prisoners very cruelly and deprived them of the most basic human rights. By contrast, the Australians treated them decently and gave them nourishing food. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Australians reclassified the prisoners as “friendly aliens” and released them. Hundreds were recruited into the Australian army and about a thousand stayed when offered the chance after the war was over.
Most of the others returned to Britain.
Commemorative events have been held in Melbourne and Sydney over the past week with a special ceremony on Tuesday at the Dunera Museum, Pyrmont Dock, Sydney Harbor. The interment camp at Hay no longer exists, though a street in Hay is named Duneera, and there is a memorial stone that was put for the 50th anniversary acknowledging the arrival (in Hay) from England of 1,984 refugees from Nazi oppression mistakenly shipped out on HMT Dunera.
■ IT WAS a great weekend for Holon last Saturday when two of the city’s residents distinguished themselves in different fields. Early in the evening Irina Risenson, won a bronze medal in the 2010 Rhythmic Gymnastics International Grand Prix that was held in Holon, while late in the evening Diana Golby was proclaimed the winner of the eighth season of A Star Is Born, the finals of which were held in Jerusalem. Both Risenson and Golby were born in the Commonwealth of Independent States that were formerly part of the Soviet Union.