Grapevine: Blame game

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 THE WALDORF Astoria Jerusalem, built on the foundations of the Palace Hotel (photo credit: FLASH90)
THE WALDORF Astoria Jerusalem, built on the foundations of the Palace Hotel
(photo credit: FLASH90)

Fake news items disseminated on social media platforms and sometimes repeated in traditional media outlets become accepted as truths, simply by virtue of frequent repetition. Public figures are, of course, the key victims.

Regardless of what one may think of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it is a fact that he is unjustly blamed for many things that are not his fault.

Security surrounding the prime minister is a very sensitive issue that is not always understood by ordinary citizens. Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency, ISA) sometimes goes to extraordinary lengths to protect the prime minister. Security measures were intensified many times over following the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and continued to increase during waves of terrorist attacks or demonstrations. 

Although demonstration organizers do their utmost to ensure that such events are held peacefully, there are unfortunately hotheads in the crowds, who try to stir up emotions to a frenzy. Such people are dangerous, even when ignored, because if they can’t whip up the crowd, they decide to undertake some extreme action of their own.

But when such people are arrested or given a warning by police, the media and a large representation of the public cast the blame on Netanyahu.

 The Waldorf Astoria offers fine dining in elegant surroundings. (credit: WALDORF ASTORIA)
The Waldorf Astoria offers fine dining in elegant surroundings. (credit: WALDORF ASTORIA)

The same goes for improvements to his home in Jerusalem. Anyone walking or driving along Gaza Road can see that the area around Netanyahu’s home looks like a construction site. There is no way, under the circumstances, that a person who has to move around as much as he does, could be confined indoors for the duration.

During the roadwork and improvements to their home, the Netanyahus are staying at the Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria at the expense of the public. The decision was probably not theirs but that of their security detail.

Likewise, when they return home, and traffic in Gaza Road has to stop whenever the prime minister is coming or going, it isn’t his decision to prevent cars or pedestrians from continuing on their way. It’s the decision of the ISA.

But Netanyahu usually gets blamed.

The Knesset should really establish a fact-finding subcommittee that is composed equally of coalition and opposition members, who will publish corrections to inaccurate allegations against the nation’s ministers, legislators, and civil servants.

What happens to Balfour?

■ MORE THAN two years have passed since the Netanyahus moved out of what was the official residence of the prime minister on the corner of Smolenskin Street and Balfour Road, on the seam of Rehavia-Talbiyeh. 

Neither prime ministers Naftali Bennett nor Yair Lapid ever moved in there. The house was in urgent need of renovation, and for some time work of this nature was carried out. Then it suddenly ceased and was not resumed. Because it is a historic building, it is unlikely that it will be demolished to make way for a high-rise residential building. 

Other than its proximity to the President’s Residence, it was never convenient for its occupants, so it is unlikely that any future prime minister will live there. But the security booths, large shelters directly outside the house, tall metal gates, and barriers to motorized traffic remain. 

What has changed is that parking on both streets was, for years, limited to residents only, with very short-term parking permitted for delivery trucks bringing new furniture to a household, or vehicles of electricians and plumbers, etc. 

In such cases, residents had to call the ISA to get permission for the delivery truck or the repairman to enter and park. Sometimes, residents had to do the same for relatives and friends who came to visit.

Now every Tom, Dick, and Harry parks on both sides of the street, often taking up spaces that rightfully belong to the residents, who then have to look for a parking spot on a nearby street. There is a commercial parking lot on Ahad Ha’am, but no one who lives in the neighborhood should have to pay for parking their car.

Two of the security booths, both in Balfour Road – with one leading to Gaza Road – are still manned, but not all the time.

 On Gaza Road, Netanyahu’s neighbors complain about the number of security cars parked in the street. 

The former official residence is next door to what used to be the Schocken House, then it became a music academy, then a school for children from the former Soviet Union. It has been abandoned for quite some time. 

At one stage, the Jerusalem Municipality built a garden at the front of the building. This was easy to do because the building is set back from the street. The garden had fruit trees and different kinds of vegetation. Since the departure of the prime minister, the garden has been neglected and has grown wild and unattractive. That part of the street is beginning to look like a slum. Who is responsible is anyone’s guess.

Remembering Anglos who died in Israel

■ MORE THAN 360 individuals from English-speaking countries have died in service to Israel or as victims of terror, according to the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI). Over the years, AACI has collected information about these people, and has now committed their biographies and the circumstances of their deaths to a memorial site that will enshrine their names and their stories in perpetuity. 

The AACI Remembers website is accessible to a global audience and will hopefully be of comfort to relatives living in the countries which the soldiers or victims of terror left behind.

The Rosh Hodesh club meets before Rosh Hodesh

■ MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 is the date for the next meeting of the Anglo Women’s Rosh Hodesh Club, which is a few days before the beginning of the month of Tishrei; but since the first day of Tishrei happens to be Rosh Hashanah, it would be impossible to follow the regular practice of having the event on the actual date.

The venue is Kehillat Mevakshei Derech, 22 Sderot Shai Agnon in San Simon, at 12:45 pm.

The entrance fee of NIS 50 is payable by cash only and includes a light lunch.

Attendance must be registered by Thursday, September 7, at Prior registration is mandatory in order to ensure that catering arrangements are adequate.

Hannah's Prayer comes to Shiloh

■ ALSO IN September, but in the evening, there will be a unique event in Shiloh for childless women who want to conceive or women who want more children.

Called Hannah’s Prayer, the event commemorates the biblical childless Hannah who went to Shiloh to pray for a son, then went home to her husband, Elkanah, and conceived Samuel. When he was old enough, she sent him to Shiloh to be of service to the Lord.

There will be a twilight tour of the Shiloh antiquities, followed by the singing of psalms with Ruhama Ben Yosef and Din Din Aviv; penitential prayers with Maureen Nehedar, a special meal with singer Shiri Maimon; and a prayer from the heart enunciated by Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi.