Grapevine: O for a blessing... o for a miracle

Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde asked President Shimon Peres what advice he had to give to a new editor of a daily newspaper.

Peres and Linde 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Peres and Linde 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
SOME PEOPLE go to a kabbalist or some other prominent rabbi when seeking a blessing to ward off an illness.
Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, who is heading the committee that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has appointed to come up with feasible solutions to the demands being made by leaders of the protest movement, chose instead to go to the country’s No. 1 citizen, President Shimon Peres, to get a blessing to cure the ills of Israeli society.

It may have been because Peres has also been both finance minister and prime minister, or it may have been because the president had already engaged with leaders of the protest movement. Whatever the reason, Trajtenberg came away with strict instructions not to disappoint the protesters.
Just as he often talks about the need for dialogue with the Palestinians, Peres insisted on the need to hold discussions with the people at the forefront of the protests sweeping the country. The public expects action, he said, but without discussion, there cannot be a real change in priorities.
Trajtenberg needed no convincing on this score. He explained that the committee had a twofold task – the first being to listen to the people’s concerns, and the second to transform those concerns into action.
Peres said he appreciated Trajtenberg’s seriousness and his comprehension of the issues. He was also glad, he said, to see that some members of the committee represented a younger generation. The panel has a comprehensive and limitless responsibility, said Peres, because its mandate is to introduce a substantial change in society, the economy and the unity of the population.
Trajtenberg hasn’t wasted any time since then, and this week went to speak to tent-dwellers and listen to their grievances.
■ FOUR TALENTED young Israelis who may soon be leaders in academic, civil and political institutions have been selected by the British Embassy and the British Council to receive the prestigious Chevening scholarships that will fund their postgraduate studies and research in the UK.
Every year, over 2,000 Chevening scholarships are awarded to potential leaders all over the world to study subjects including politics, business, the media, civil society, religion and education.
This year’s award recipients are journalist and blogger Dimi Reider, cofounder of +972 Magazine; Lianne Pollak, who, after completing three years in the Prime Minister’s Office, worked on the negotiation team with the Palestinians during the Annapolis process; Emad Naseraldin, a student of diplomacy and security from Daliyat al- Carmel who is interested in policy-making in the fields of education, socioeconomic issues and foreign affairs; and Eden Sarid, a human rights activist from Jerusalem who volunteered in the Jerusalem Open House (LGBT organization) and who has a particular interest in promoting transitional justice mechanisms in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The four will be studying topics ranging from law and human rights to Middle Eastern politics to international public policy. Last week, the British Council hosted an afternoon tea with the outgoing and former scholars, who met with British Ambassador Matthew Gould and British Council director Simon Kay. Gould told the departing scholars that he was hugely proud that his government, through this scheme, continued to build a legacy of talented young leaders around the world.
“It is important to us that young Israeli students, who have the choice to study anywhere in the world, choose Britain. We have world-class universities which welcome talented scholars. We know that on return you will become inspiring leaders contributing to the creativity and wealth of this country, while at the same time, we trust, treasuring and nurturing a life-long connection with the UK,” he said.
Well-known Israelis who have received Chevening scholarships in the past include journalists Amit Segal, Nadav Eyal, Ariel Margalith, Dov Gil Har, Yaron Dekel and Ronen Bergman, as well as Hadash MK Dov Henin.
■ HAIFA’S RAMBAM Medical Center, along with the American Friends of the Rambam Medical Center, was delighted last week to make the announcement that prominent philanthropists Joan and Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation have made a commitment of $10 million to support and name the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Pediatric Hematology- Oncology Department within the Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital at Rambam, and the Joan and Sanford I.
Weill Israeli-Palestinian Friendship Center there.
“The Weills’ extraordinary generosity, vision and support will greatly strengthen our medical center’s ability to provide pediatric hematology and oncology services for all the children of our region,” said a profoundly grateful Prof.
Rafael Beyar, Rambam’s director and CEO. “The support and involvement of the Weills, with their deep connections to medical philanthropy in the United States and in the Middle East, will help Rambam make a quantum leap toward realizing our goal.”
Weill characterized Rambam as “a unique institution comprising physicians, nurses and staff that excel in their diversity, their achievements in the field of medical science and innovation, and their sensitive delivery of patient care.” Explaining their ongoing philanthropy, Weill said that he and his wife had never been satisfied with what had already been accomplished and were keen to contribute to making Israel and the region “a happier, more productive place than it is right now.” He also noted that he and his wife were “firm believers that education and healthcare are ways to help bridge cultural divides.”
The Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Department will be directed by Prof. Myriam Weyl Ben-Arush, who is known in Israel and internationally for contributing an exceptionally insightful and empathic voice to professional discussions of the ethical, psychosocial and quality-of-life aspects of pediatric cancer care.
“Thirty percent of Rambam’s pediatric patients are treated for chronic conditions such as leukemia, brain tumors and lymphoma,” she said. “The good news is that over 80% of these children are curable.”
Of the nearly 300 Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank annually diagnosed at Rambam with cancer, Ben- Arush’s department was previously able to treat no more than 50 per year. “The Weills’ extraordinary generosity will make a tremendous change for the better,” she stated.
Joan Weill enthused that the Israeli- Palestinian Friendship Center would help meet the pressing humanitarian needs of Palestinian pediatric and adult patients, and at a time when bridges between the peoples are desperately needed, she was optimistic that it would help promote the cause of peace.
“An Israeli child and a Palestinian child undergoing a blood transfusion or chemotherapy are no different,” she continued. “Sandy and I have witnessed the extraordinary healing that Rambam offers on an individual level, and we are excited that our involvement will help promote that healing on a regional level in the Middle East as well.”
■ OVER THE past couple of weeks, Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde has been meeting with leading figures in different fields to sound them out about their specific areas of expertise, what they like or dislike about The Jerusalem Post and what they would like to see in the paper other than what currently receives coverage.
On Thursday, in the course of a meeting with President Shimon Peres, Linde – wishing to benefit from the wisdom and experience of the 88-year-old president – asked him what advice he had to give to a new editor of a daily newspaper.
Peres unhesitatingly replied that the most important thing was to ensure that every story had balance, that all sides of a story were covered, and that the paper had “credibility.”
“Let the reader make the decision,” he said. “Don’t make the decision for him.”
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