Grapevine: Ethnic entrapment?

Jerusalem Venture Partners, is currently involved with media technologies that combine animation and gaming projects.

Eran Margalit and Yuval Rabin 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Eran Margalit and Yuval Rabin 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
POPULAR SINGER, actor, television host and radio current affairs commentator Jerusalem-born Yehoram Gaon, who also served for eight years on the Jerusalem city council, where he held the arts and culture portfolio, raised quite a storm last week when he criticized Mizrahi songs, saying that much of what is recorded is garbage, that the music is too loud and that the lyrics are an abuse of the Hebrew language. He didn’t mention any specific exponent in his negative remarks, but among the exceptions whom he admires he included Shlomo Bar and Avihu Medina.
Gaon made his remarks to Alon Katz, a communications student at the Ariel University Center. His comments were subsequently published in a front-page story in Yediot Aharonot and then taken up by other media. The issue was also raised in the Knesset. Katz, in a radio interview, claimed that Gaon knew he was being recorded and that what he said would be made public. Gaon, in his weekly radio show on Reshet Bet, denied this, saying that he had been led to believe that he was simply helping out a communications student who had dogged him and had begged him for an interview because an interview with a famous personality would earn him more credits.
The outcome is that Gaon will never fall into that trap again. He said as much on radio. But he also said that he would not retract any of his comments. In an angry and emotional tone, Gaon said he was a proud Sephardi and, as such, was allowed to speak about his (cultural) home.
■ IF ISRAEL Museum director James Snyder is looking for a raise, now is the time to ask.
Snyder has been named by the Journal des Arts as one of the 100 most influential people in the art world, ranking in 46th place. Snyder, who has served as director of the Israel Museum since 1997, is eloquent, knowledgeable and personable.
He is also a gifted fund-raiser. Under his direction, the prestige of the Israel Museum has risen enormously. Now he will probably be ducking headhunters who would like him to do for their museums what he has done for the Israel Museum.
■ JERUSALEM-BASED venture capitalist Erel Margalit, who is the founder and managing partner of Jerusalem Venture Partners, is currently involved with media technologies that combine animation and gaming projects. He sits on the boards of several companies in these categories that were launched by JVP, among them Funtactix, which was contracted by Paramount Studios for the animated film Rango.
To celebrate the arrival of the film in Israel and the signing of the contract with Paramount, Margalit invited several of his friends and business colleagues to bring their children to a special screening at Cinema City Glilot. Among his many guests were former MK Dedi Zucker, Yuval Rabin, Moshe Gaon, Ronen Tov and Funtactix CEO Yaron Leifenberg.
■ SUCCESSIVE AMBASSADORS of the Philippines have been working hard to get Yad Vashem to recognize Manuel Luis Quezon, who was the first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, as a Righteous Among the Nations.
Quezon opened the gates of the Philippines to German Jews fleeing the Nazi regime, when most other countries refused to admit them. He also offered them land and housing. The land was from his personal estate. Books and newspaper articles have been written about Quezon’s generosity, and in June 2009 a monument honoring his humane attitude towards European Jews was inaugurated in Rishon Lezion’s Holocaust Memorial Park.
This week, nearly 75 years after the government of the Philippines offered refuge to Jews under Nazi persecution, Boys Town Jerusalem presented Philippines ambassador Petronila P. Garcia with the Jan Zwartendik Award for Humanitarian Ethics and Values in recognition of the humanitarian actions of Quezon and the government and people of the Philippines. The award is named for a courageous Dutch diplomat who saved the lives of some 2,000 people during the Holocaust years.
A Philippine marker was unveiled at the Jan Zwartendik Memorial Garden on the Boys Town campus, and Garcia unveiled a picture of Temple Emil, the first synagogue in Manila.
A human interest aspect of the ceremony was the meeting between Garcia, whose father had been a colonel in the Philippine Army during the 1945 Battle of Manila, and Boys Town English instructor Ya’acov Fuchs, whose father served with the American army forces that liberated Manila.