Grapevine: August 11, 2023: Moving the masses

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 FORMER PRESIDENT Shimon Peres presents Elie Wiesel with the Medal of Distinction.  (photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)
FORMER PRESIDENT Shimon Peres presents Elie Wiesel with the Medal of Distinction.
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)

■ THE OFFICIAL residences of President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the private residence of Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion are all within easy walking distance of each other. Herzog’s and Netanyahu’s neighbors have suffered the noise of constant demonstrations by protesters against judicial reform.

Now it’s the turn of Lion’s neighbors to suffer, and the noise will probably reach the residences of the president and prime minister as well. Many Jerusalemites are upset and angry over the manner in which Lion has changed the architectural character of the city, which in its former incarnation was a major contributor to the capital’s charm. But today, the Jerusalem skyline is dominated by ever increasing and ever higher towers. An organization determined to protect and preserve what is left of the Jerusalem of yesteryear has organized a mass demonstration to be held on Tuesday, August 15, outside Lion’s residence at 38 Ramban Street, Rehavia. The poster advertising the demonstration features a sketch of Lion giving a cry of triumph and stating with apparent pride: “I transformed a holy city into a jungle of towers.”

Demonstration organizers from the Katamon, Talpiot, Kiryat Hayovel, Armon Hanatziv, French Hill, Gilo, Kiryat Moshe, Pisgat Ze’ev, and Neve Yaakov neighborhoods, which have all undergone or are in the process of undergoing radical change, plan to come together to “stop the madness.” But with new rules and regulations related to demonstrations, the police might put a spoke in their wheel.

The demonstration is timed for 5 p.m. which is peak hour traffic time, so if it goes ahead, there’s bound to be a lot of chaos and congestion, just as there was earlier this week when Netanyahu and his wife decided to vacation at Moshav Neve Ativ.

It’s bad enough that Netanyahu’s Jerusalem neighbors have to suffer not only demonstrations but temporary road blocks and closures whenever he’s coming or going, but for people living in a moshav to be more or less incarcerated for a considerable period before his arrival and for the duration of his stay, it is not only undemocratic and totally inconsiderate, but downright chutzpa!

Netanyahu is well aware that he is no longer the flavor of the month, and that his opponents are keeping their fingers on the pulse of his activities in order to harass him. But to make a whole village pay for his comfort and security is beyond belief. It would have been much easier for him and for them had he decided to vacation in Cyprus or on a Greek island.

 TRIUMPHANT DIPLOMATS hold up the bones they extracted from an 18 kg. skewer of osobuku at the launch of the Flame open-fire restaurant at the Carlton Hotel, Tel Aviv. (credit: Yuri Skvirski)
TRIUMPHANT DIPLOMATS hold up the bones they extracted from an 18 kg. skewer of osobuku at the launch of the Flame open-fire restaurant at the Carlton Hotel, Tel Aviv. (credit: Yuri Skvirski)

■ THE BLATANTLY racist attitude of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is nothing new. Back in April 2016, Smotrich caused a stir in the Knesset on both sides of the aisle when he advocated racial segregation in hospital maternity wards. It transpired that his wife had been placed in a room with an Arab woman who was also giving birth, and Mrs S. strongly objected to the presence of her roommate. But hubby took it a step further when he said that he doesn’t want his wife lying next to a woman whose baby would murder his child 20 years along the line. That attitude prevails in his refusal to release promised funds to enable Arab students to attend preparatory courses in Hebrew which will enable them to enroll at Israeli universities. These preparatory courses, conceived by then Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, were inaugurated in 2017 by a Netanyahu-led government. The idea was to ensure that Arab students were sufficiently proficient in Hebrew to be able to hold their own at Israeli institutions of higher education.

Emergency car donated to United Hatzalah in memory of Dee mother and sisters

■ FOLLOWING THE terrorist attack last April, which took the lives of Lucy, Maia, and Rina Dee, Rabbi Leo Dee decided to donate the organs of his wife Lucy in order to save and prolong the lives of others. Unlike her daughters, Lucy Dee did not die immediately, and hovered between life and death in hospital. But that was not the end of the story in terms of perpetuating the memories of Lucy Dee and her daughters.

Avi Tobias, who was greatly moved by the story of the British family which had settled in Israel and which had made meaningful contributions to community life, decided to donate a state-of-the art emergency car to United Hatzalah, and to dedicate it in memory of Lucy, Maia, and Rina Dee.

The dedication ceremony at UH headquarters in Jerusalem was attended by Rabbi Dee Avi Tobias, United Hatzalah CEO Eli Pollack, and vice president of operations Dov Maisel.

After the traditional ribbon cutting, the car was unveiled with a dedication text that reads: “In loving memory of Lucy, Maia, and Rina Dee H”YD. May their life and memory endure as a blessing to their family and all of Am Yisrael. Am Yisrael Chai – Ilana and Avi Tobias.” Beneath the text is a photograph of Lucy, Maia, and Rina, so that not only are their names perpetuated in a life-saving initiative, but also their images. The other side of the vehicle features the three questions Lucy Dee used to emphasize that people should ask themselves at all times: “What have I done for someone else? What has someone else done for me? What has G-d done for me?”

The vehicle is a new concept developed for UH in order to provide a rapid response both in urban and rural areas, particularly in difficult terrain. The vehicle is a specially equipped SUV 4x4 outfitted with advanced lifesaving equipment that will allow the physician who drives it to perform advanced lifesaving treatments in the field prior to the arrival of an ambulance. Included in the vehicle are a built-in ventilator, an ultrasound machine, an advanced Corpuls heart monitor, specialized lighting systems, and two advanced communication systems including a radio-based system that will work even in areas where there is no cellphone reception, as well as other features. The vehicle can seat up to six responders in order to maximize life-saving capabilities in critical situations.

Dr. Yishai Ben Uri, a pediatrician and UH volunteer, will be entrusted with the vehicle. Dr. Ben Uri lost his private vehicle, along with all the advanced medical equipment it contained, in an arson attack in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood in October 2022. This new car will empower him to continue his crucial work, saving lives and providing vital medical assistance to those in need.

IT’S NOT always easy to remember the anniversaries of many historical events. But this week, residents of Georgia remembered the Russian invasion of their territory in August, 2008. To mark the 15th anniversary of that belligerence, Eran Cicurel, the foreign news editor at Reshet Bet, interviewed Georgia’s ambassador to Israel Lasha Zhvania, and attempted to draw similarities between Russia’s invasion of Georgia and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Some of Cicurel’s data was historically off-key, and Zhvania unhesitatingly corrected him. Zhvania is a fluent Hebrew speaker, whose command of the language, would put many veteran immigrants to shame.

■ SAD THAT the country of my birth has reverted to using the term occupied Palestinian territories instead of disputed territories. It’s ironic that Australia of all countries should use that terminology, considering that Australia was in the forefront of the November, 1947 resolution on the partition of Palestine. But even more ironic is the fact, that except for a fraction of the island continent which has been given back to the indigenous population, Australia is occupied territory, and has been for upwards of 200 years. Prior to the arrival of the white man, aboriginal tribes had lived there for millennia. Now, they’re a minority in their own land.

But let’s be grateful for small mercies. The White Australia policy, which was in force for more than half a century, was abolished in March, 1966, after which people from Asia and Africa were permitted to immigrate to Australia.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong was born in Malaysia, two years after the White Australia policy became history. Otherwise, she would not have been allowed into the country, let alone to build a career that took her to the highest echelons of politics. It should be remembered that Malaysia is so anti-Israel that it refused to allow Israelis competing in the Squash world championship to enter the country. Malaysia is equally ill-disposed to non-Israeli Jews.

■ FOLLOWING THE recent opening in Jerusalem of Pitmaster, another exciting, similar yet different restaurant was opened in Tel Aviv in the somewhat more upmarket location of the Carlton Hotel. The restaurant, called Flame, was initiated by local Pitmaster entrepreneurs Alon Aharonovich and Dorian Coupit, who own the wildly popular Japanese Kamakura restaurant. Flame takes its name from its method of cooking, which is over an open flame. There were numerous diplomats amongst the guests, including the head of the delegation of the European Union Ambassador Dimiter Tzantchev; Argentine Charge d’affaires Francisco F. Tropepi; Japanese Ambassador Mizushima Koichi; Kenyan Ambassador Samuel Thuita; French Ambassador Designate Frederic Journes, and Chile’s Deputy Ambassador Claudio Alejandro Rojas.

The diplomats successfully removed the bones from an 18 kg. skewer of osobuku, and joined together in triumphantly holding them aloft.

■ NOT ALL the foods available in Israel are familiar to everyone, and many of those that are available can be purchased in only a few places. Rhubarb, for instance, is a rarity, though quite common in several other countries such as England. British expat Prof. David Newman found rhubarb in a Beersheba supermarket, but had a hard time explaining to the clerk at the check-out counter that it was not a species of red celery, in addition to answering questions about how it should be cooked. On the other hand, it would be interesting to prepare celery as one does rhubarb to discover what it would taste like. Celery is after all one of the ingredients that adds to the flavor of chicken soup, and it’s also sweet when included in Waldorf salad. It may be a much more versatile vegetable than we realize.