Leading broadcaster Yaron Dekel, who in addition to anchoring the Friday night news program on KAN 11, is a political commentator, says the attacks on President Reuven Rivlin constitute a case of character assassination. The attacks by Likud ministers and parliamentarians who are fearful that Rivlin may decide to task Yair Lapid or Gideon Sa’ar with forming the next government have accused the president of exceeding his role and meddling in politics, simply because he has suggested unconventional alliances as a means of getting past the ongoing political crisis. Rivlin did not say which parties should join with others. He merely implied that the more parties that get on the bandwagon, the better the better the chances to form a government.
Some of his opponents have even asked him to recuse himself from any decision related to the formation of the next government, including members of the outgoing government and Knesset who are lawyers who certainly know better. Illogical though it may seem, the Basic Law does not stipulate that the president’s first choice should be the leader of the party that gets the most votes. What it states is that the decision should go to the legislator who has the best chance of forming a government, and who agrees to try to do so.
On the face of it, this would seem that the first attempt to do so should be given to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But at this stage of the game, things are like they were after the previous election, when Netanyahu was unable to form a government and would not have done so without Blue and White (which contradicted the promise it made to its voters). After persuading Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to join him, Netanyahu failed to keep the overwhelming number of agreements they had signed.
Gantz has meanwhile been busy trying to persuade heads of other parties not to be tricked as he was, and to refrain from forming an alliance with Netanyahu. Some other parties have also urged that rivals refuse to join Netanyahu. Regardless of who President Rivlin tasks later this week, or who may eventually head the next government, what is essential in avoiding the political crisis of the past two or three years is to amend the Basic Law, so that the leader of the party with the most mandates is automatically the head of the next government. This will save time, money and effort, not to mention vicious rivalries, incitement and character assassination of the president of the state.
■ THE NEED to help is greater than the fear, says Adi Guzi, who was last week chosen to light one of the Israel Independence Day beacons. Guzi, a 33-year-old mother of three, was a neighbor of Shira Isakov, the brave young woman who half-a-year ago would have surely been killed by her now ex-husband but for the courageous intervention by Guzi, who heard Isakov’s cries, saw through her window what was happening, and frantically knocked on the door, shouting at Isakov’s would-be killer to stop. Isakov, who is also 33, was hospitalized in critical condition. The two women who had previously barely known each other became best friends, and Isakov became a national icon of survival in the face of the worst kind of domestic violence. The two women will together light one of the Independence Day beacons.
In November of last year, Guzi was one of two women honored by President Rivlin on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The other was social worker Shiri Mandelbaum, who was working with rape victim Anastasia Klein, who had been raped and abused by her partner. Klein had been hospitalized, and when her partner showed up at the hospital in disguise, Mandelbaum recognized him instantly, became suspicious, and prevented him from once again attacking Klein, who did not have the physical resilience of Isakov, and unfortunately died two weeks later.
Isakov entered the heart of the nation. She was interviewed by Ilana Dayan in her Uvda (“Fact”) program and was the subject of a cover story in LaIsha. She was also written about in other publications, and participated in the opening of Tel Aviv Fashion Week, where she was serenaded by singer Rita, who had just celebrated her 59th birthday, and where she was applauded by a group of women who are prominent figures in their various professions. Isakov, wearing a strapless white gown, which was initially covered by a huge dramatic cape, was excited by her new temporary role as a model.
Guzi was sufficiently overwhelmed when she received her award in November, but even more so at the thought of standing together with Isakov to light the Independence Day beacon, which this year will serve as a symbol of mutual responsibility among Israelis.
In addition, the daily tabloid Yediot Aharonot has mounted a campaign to help save other women from the need to be rescued from violent husbands and partners, and has brought together Isakov with Lily Ben Ami and Shira Vishniak, whose sisters Michal Sela, who was murdered by her husband, and Maya Vishniak, who was murdered by her boyfriend, were less fortunate than Isakov. The two individual sisters have already been extremely active in initiatives aimed at preventing other women from becoming victims.
■ GETTING BACK to Fashion Week in which Isakov participated, it proved that Israeli designers did not remain idle over the past year, but kept their fingers on the pulse of changing trends, which proves yet again that what goes around comes around. Other than students of fashion, very few people are aware of what was worn in the 1930s, but it appears that this was the era which has largely inspired current fashion concepts that run the gamut from classic sophistication, through super-sexy to whimsical and mismatched art deco prints. Puffed sleeves, sleek silhouettes framed by dramatic overskirts, lots of drape, long skirts split to the thigh, culottes and other wide legged trousers, and low necklines are the main features.
Ultra-Orthodox designers are also coming up with very fashionable but modest creations for haredi women that meet all the criteria of high fashion without compromising the modesty practices of high necklines, long sleeves and below-the-knee skirt lengths. Prominent in this respect is Hanna Ben Simon, whose company CB Fashion participated in Fashion Week and received very favorable reviews. Her designs are not limited to haredi women alone. There are many women who prefer not to wear revealing creations, and who don’t believe in the less-is-more concept. They prefer to be covered up as much as possible, and often go shopping in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, where until recently much of the fashion was imported from haredi apparel companies abroad. The tables may turn as more creative haredi women in Israel turn their hands to fashion and begin exporting.
■ AMONG THE many traditional events that were not held last year due to coronavirus restrictions was the Independence Day reception hosted by President Rivlin, within the grounds of the President’s Residence filled with the parents, grandparents and siblings of 120 soldiers, who in addition to watching each of the soldiers being honored, also enjoyed entertainment provided by leading singers, musicians and army entertainers.
There was no way Rivlin would miss out on Independence Day this year, only three months before leaving office. It won’t be quite like his first five Independence Day ceremonies in his first five years as president, but a combination of live and broadcast events. This year’s events will include the outstanding soldiers, unlike those who missed out on the traditional ceremony last year, plus an address by Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who last month accompanied Rivlin to Germany, Austria and France.
In a conversation with comedienne Rotem Abuhab, Rivlin will review the seven years of his presidency, with particular emphasis on the past year and the effect of COVID-19 on the nation. In this context, Rivlin will pay tribute to volunteers, doctors and nurses who worked above and beyond the call of duty in providing aid and medical treatment to victims of the virus and their families. The program will include a special tribute by singers Ester Rada and Eliad Nachum to composer, arranger and singer Avihu Medina, who was born in the same year as the state, in August 1948. There will also be well-known comedians from all over the country. The above section of the program will be pre-recorded, while the parade of outstanding soldiers will be featured live.
■ POLITICS AMONG Palestinians are no less exciting than those of Israelis, and in some respects have certain similarities. For instance, just as opponents to Prime Minister Netanyahu believe that aside from his indictments, he has spent too long in power, many Palestinians believe the same about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.