Grapevine: Of service and disservice

As Shimon Peres was expressing pride in a group of haredi men serve in the IDF, another haredi soldier became the sixth IDF victim.

soldier praying at Western Wall 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
soldier praying at Western Wall 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
IT WAS one of those strange coincidences in which the dark and light side of the moon could be seen simultaneously. In Jerusalem on Sunday, just as President Shimon Peres was expressing his pride in a group of haredi young men who are serving in the IDF, across town, another haredi soldier became the sixth IDF victim of extremist haredi violence in the capital over a period of less than a week. Peres called on the leaders of the haredi communities in Israel to stop condemning those of their young men who want to serve the country, and to instead take pride in their willingness to serve.
“It is a mitzva to defend our people,” he said. “No one else will do that instead of us.” The president urged the haredi leadership to condemn all forms of violence, because violence goes against the grain of the Ten Commandments, he said. Peres told the soldiers that he was aware it had taken tremendous personal courage to join the IDF, and said that the nation was proud of them.
Although the word “haredi” is usually translated as pious or ultra- Orthodox, in actual fact what it means is anxious, apprehensive, fearful or awed. Peres told the haredi soldiers that they had displayed another form of being haredi, in that they were anxious about the security of the nation – and it was this that had prompted them to share in the burden of responsibility.
Immediately after his meeting with the soldiers, Peres set out for Jaffa to the home of French Ambassador Christophe Bigot, where the annual Bastille Day celebrations were being held under the traditional banner of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
JERUSALEM BUSINESSMAN Rami Levy continues to spread his wings, not only by adding links to his chain of supermarkets, which he founded in 1976 and now numbers more than 20 stores around the country. He has also branched out into real-estate development and cellular communications, and his most recent outgrowth is in the sale of espresso coffee machines for home use under the Café Café brand name. Levy is a close friend of Ronen Nimni, the owner of the Café Café chain of coffee shops. Nimni is doing a trial run of the espresso machines via Levy’s supermarket stores and, if it proves successful, will begin selling the coffee machines through his own chain.
Meanwhile, another well-known Jerusalemite, former venture capitalist and current Labor MK Erel Margalit, who dropped out of the race for Labor Party leadership 10 days before the primaries and threw his weight behind Isaac Herzog, is considering the possibility of running again. Margalit has been a vociferous opponent of Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, blaming her for the nation’s economic predicament – in that she refused to join the coalition and possibly secure the Finance Ministry portfolio for Labor. He may run with the aim of removing Yacimovich from her power base.
Other than prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was a native son of Jerusalem but didn’t actually live in the city except when in office, the Labor Party has never had a Jerusalemite as its leader. Margalit is actually a native of Kibbutz Na’an, but has lived in the capital since the age of 10.
ATHLETES AND would-be spectators from countries whose citizens are required to obtain visas to enter Israel for the Maccabiah Games, which opened last night, were unable to receive them due to the sanctions imposed by Foreign Ministry staff in their labor dispute – with Israeli consuls around the world ordered to refrain from issuing visas.
Dancers wanting to participate in the Karmiel Dance Festival that opens on July 23 are facing a similar problem. Likewise, businesspeople from countries requiring entry visas to Israel have not been able to secure them, and countless deals have been put on hold or canceled.
In an effort to overcome these difficulties, Peres met last week with Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin to get an update on the situation. Peres told Elkin that as president, former prime minister and former foreign minister, he had learned to appreciate the significance of the work carried out by Foreign Ministry employees under the most difficult of circumstances, often standing at the nation’s diplomatic front lines. Peres, who was obviously on the side of the workers, said that a solution that would satisfy them must be found as soon as possible.