Grapevine: Fighting terror

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 PRESIDENT ISAAC HERZOG with philanthropist Shari Arison on Good Deeds Day. (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
PRESIDENT ISAAC HERZOG with philanthropist Shari Arison on Good Deeds Day.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

FORMER MAYOR Nir Barkat advocates that the best way to fight terrorism is to permit all reserve personnel in the army who have actually engaged in warfare and know how to shoot, to carry guns.

In an interview with Reshet Bet’s Arieh Golan, Barkat said that from his own experience as mayor, he knew that it was imperative for trained marksmen (and women) to be able to neutralize terrorist action instantly. Though he has great admiration for the Border Police, they are not always immediately on hand, whereas there are reserve soldiers in every neighborhood.

Meanwhile, precautions against anticipated violence during Ramadan are being taken by police, who will turn back buses from outside Jerusalem that are carrying known inciters, troublemakers and people with criminal records. If necessary, the police will also put up barriers at sensitive areas such as Damascus Gate and the area leading to Al Aqsa Mosque.

Last April there were violent clashes between Palestinians and ultra-nationalist Jews in which some 50 people were arrested and more than 100 injured.

The tinder-box situation may be exacerbated by MK Itamar Ben Gvir, who has stated that he will bring forces to defend Jews living in the contentious Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and throughout the Old City.

 ITAMAR BEN-GVIR speaks to the media in Sheikh Jarrah last month. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) ITAMAR BEN-GVIR speaks to the media in Sheikh Jarrah last month. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

■ MEANWHILE, the Palestinian dream of making the capital of their future state in the Old City was shattered this week when the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva and organization finally took possession of the Petra Hotel near the Jaffa Gate, which had previously been part of the extensive property of the Greek Patriarchate. Former Greek Patriarch Irenaios lost his position because it was claimed that he had sold this and two other important properties to three different agents. Irenaios denied selling the properties. Later he claimed that he had been tricked into signing documents, and later still it was claimed that sales had been made by the Patriarchate’s director of finances who had not been authorized to do so.

It was widely speculated that Ateret Cohanim, which seeks to redeem all property in the Holy Land, especially in Jerusalem, had been behind the purchase of these properties.

When Theophilos III assumed office, he tried to have the sales annulled – but in an 18-year-long legal battle, the Greek Patriarchate could not prove its case to the satisfaction of the court, and in June 2019, Judge Gila Kanfi Steinmetz, deputy head of the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the three sales were legal and that the properties now belong to Ateret Cohanim. Steinmetz was recently appointed to the Supreme Court.

■ IN ANOTHER legal case this week, Advocate Shlomo Deri, brother of Shas leader MK Arye Deri, was charged with tax evasion in the Jerusalem Magistrates Court. The charge was made in relation to real estate transactions involving the two brothers as part of the MK’s plea bargain.

■ ON THE eve of the annual Good Deeds Day this week, President Isaac Herzog thought that he should set an example, and together with some of the members of his staff, he visited the Idan Hazahav (Golden Era) retirement home for people of the Third Age in the Gonen neighborhood. Though not exactly dressed for the occasion, the president doffed his suit jacket – but not his tie – and together with his staff painted benches, repaired furniture, weeded the garden and engaged in other odd jobs to the delight of the residents.

Although Good Deeds Day – which is within the framework of activities of the Good Spirit of Israel – was on March 29, Herzog said that everyone should endeavor to do at least one good deed every day.

Good Deeds Day was initiated by philanthropist Shari Arison some 16 years ago, and inspired a national surge of voluntary activities. The first president to join her good deeds campaign was Shimon Peres, who painted fences, and came properly dressed for the job. This week, Arison, who joined Herzog in Gonen, said that since its inception, the whole purpose of Good Deeds Day was simply to do good for others, and to link all these deeds to making the world a better place. 

Former MK Rafi Elul, who chairs the Good Spirit Association, part of the Arison Group, noted that Good Deeds Day today involves every sector of the population more than ever before. It was emotionally moving to see how much light is being shed by people caring and giving of themselves on behalf of others, he said.

Eyal Shviki, director-general of the President’s Office said that it was a privilege to participate in renovating Idan Hazahav in Jerusalem, because it served as a reminder that we do not exist for ourselves alone, and that we should be doing good for others not only on Good Deeds Day, but every day.

■ “FOREWARNED IS forearmed” goes the old saying, and indeed at this time of the year when families are busy cleaning for Passover, it is a particularly relevant motto in homes where there are very young children. Every year in the period just before Pesach, there are incidents of tiny tots getting very ill and even dying because they were curious about the contents of different bottles and drank from them. 

All detergents and other cleaning agents should be put out of the reach of children, as should large buckets of water. It is all too easy for tiny tots to poke their heads into buckets full of water and drown. Just this week, a toddler drowned in an open bucket of paint in Netivot.

A similar warning goes for later in the year when the weather is hot and parents set up makeshift pools for their children. Every summer, there are tragic cases of children drowning at home or in hotel pools because they were left unsupervised. 

Wherever there is a pool and there are children, parents should make sure that doors and windows are locked at night, so that a tiny tot who wakes up early will not wander outside. In the day time, if necessary, tiny tots should be put on a long leash attached to a parent’s wrist, so that the little ones can wander around freely, but if they fall, especially into the water, the parent will feel the tug, and will be able to react immediately.

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