Grapevine, November 7: Sunday, Monday

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

A view of the house of the Israeli Prime Minister in Jerusalem. June 07, 2002. (photo credit: NATI SHOCHAT/FLASH 90)
A view of the house of the Israeli Prime Minister in Jerusalem. June 07, 2002.
(photo credit: NATI SHOCHAT/FLASH 90)

The house on the corner is undergoing a massive renovation.

On Sunday morning the heavy metal garage door was open and the junk that had been dismantled and thrown out was visible to passer-sby.

On Monday morning, three large green dumpsters near the house were filled to overflowing.

There was also a caramel-colored sofa and a huge cardboard box that contained whatever could not fit into the dumpsters.

By noon on Monday, it had all disappeared, including the dumpsters.

Street sign for the road on which the prime minister's residence lies. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)Street sign for the road on which the prime minister's residence lies. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

But the disgusting mess on the pathway between the house and the adjacent property is still there.

The house in question is the prime minister’s official residence, which has been unoccupied by any prime minister for some 17 months

If Benjamin Netanyahu and his family, who occupied the house on the corner for a longer period than any other prime minister, move back, they may be pleasantly surprised or they may hate what they see.

Other contenders for residence have been Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz.

But President Isaac Herzog has not yet held his consultations with delegations representing Knesset parties, so the final outcome remains a mystery, and there is no guarantee that he will confer the task of forming a government on any of the three main contenders.

Meanwhile, renovations on a somewhat smaller scale are taking place at the President’s Residence, so the meetings with party delegations will take place in a structure at the far end of the presidential compound instead of inside the main building, unless the work is completed earlier than anticipated.

Hadassah does the Jerusalem hotel circuit for events

■ AT ITS convention in Jerusalem in mid-November, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, will be moving from hotel to hotel, including the Inbal, the Waldorf and the David Citadel – and possibly others – for major events. The opening gala dinner will be at the Inbal Hotel. The Waldorf will be the site of a special award event in which the recipients will be former national president of Hadassah the effervescent Marlene Post and Michal Herzog, the wife of the president of the state, who is a personality in her own right. The David Citadel Hotel has been selected for a tribute to Audrey Shimron, the longtime executive director of Hadassah, who after a total of 40 years of involvement with Hadassah is stepping down.

Meanwhile, work is progressing rapidly on the construction of the Intercontinental Hotel across the road from the Jewish Agency, and on Le Grande Hotel on Jaffa Road, along with the other smaller hotels. True, tourism is definitely growing in the post-COVID era, but will it grow sufficiently to keep all these hotels in business?

The ongoing saga of the American Colony Hotel

■ THE LEGENDARY American Colony Hotel in east Jerusalem has indirectly been the subject of reports in several British newspapers. Although some of the hotel’s famous guests have been mentioned, the writers have not referred to the American Colony as a popular watering hole for foreign journalists and foreign diplomats. Nor is there reference to the unique ambience or the fact that conferences held there are attended by both Israelis and Palestinians without them snarling at each other or engaging in acts of aggression.

The story is about sisters-in-law Judith Andersson and Diane Ward, who are part owners of the hotel, and who for almost 30 years have been fighting over a purple suitcase full of old photo albums that belonged to Andersson’s mother, who wanted the albums and their contents to remain in the family.

According to the reports, the documents and the photographs in the suitcase have no financial value. Their only value is sentimental.

Copies of valuable documents and photographs are on permanent display in the hotel.

Diane Ward was married to Andersson’s brother Tim, who is no longer living. As his widow, Ward is his heir and believes that whatever was his is now rightfully hers. But Andersson says that what belonged to her mother, Frieda Ward, who died in London in 1993, is rightfully hers because a daughter, who is a direct blood relation, has a stronger claim than a daughter-in-law, even though the suitcase had initially been taken over by Tim Ward.

The documents in the suitcase apparently include a detailed account of the family’s history, which pertains more to Andersson than to Ward.

The court was inclined to agree. Andersson sued Ward in the Central London County Court, which ordered Ward to pay costs of £70,000 and to give the suitcase and its contents to Andersson.

The Yitzhak Rabin memorial rally in Jerusalem's Zion Square

■ IT WAS very difficult to judge how many people attended the Rabin memorial rally in Zion Square that was organized last Saturday night by the Labor Party. Inasmuch as it was a tribute to Rabin and the values that he held dear, it was also an important rally in response to the vicious right-wing rally that had been held on the same site a month before his assassination, in which he had been grossly maligned.

The long-ago rally, which generated so much hatred and incitement, was held before the advent of the light rail, and anti-Rabin demonstrators spilled out all over Jaffa Road. This time, they could not do so, and barriers had been put up to limit the crowd so that it would assemble only in the Ben Yehuda mall and its side streets. It was therefore no easy task to assess how many people were there. Suffice it to say, not counting those congregated in the side streets, the crowd stretched more than half the length of the mall, which makes for a lot of people.

Speakers, such as Merav Michaeli, Tzipi Livni and Amos Yadlin spouted all the usual platitudes, spoke against incitement and urged people to vote.

But the most impressive speaker was Michal Froman of Tekoa, who, while pregnant in 2016, had been stabbed by a Palestinian. But Froman did not allow herself to hate. Following the example of her late father-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Froman, who made a point of reaching out to Palestinians and befriending them, she founded a good neighbor organization in which she and others also reach out to their Palestinian neighbors, and is also an active member of Women Wage Peace.

Words can hurt, but words can also heal, she pointed out, and cited a recent mini-demonstration she had organized at a crossroads between Tekoa and Palestinian villages. She and other women stood there with placards on which they had written in Arabic, “All human beings are created in the image of God.” The Palestinians who passed by and read the message smiled appreciatively because it was not a message of protest or of pride, but simply one of inclusiveness in the extended family of humanity.

Correction: The Emunah clothing sale will take place on Tuesday, November 8, and not on the date previously published.

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