Grapevine - March 24, 2019: Out of the fast lane

A wrap-up of news from around Israel.

Grapevine (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Generally speaking, a hunger strike is a means of protest by an individual or a group against an edict or an act by an executive branch of federal or local government.
It’s rare for the head of local government to go on a hunger strike, but that’s what Eilat Mayor Yitzhak Meir Halevi did in protest of the imminent closure of Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov Airport, which many people in Eilat believe is tantamount to cutting their lifeline to Tel Aviv.
Halevi’s hunger strike last week did not sit well with President Reuven Rivlin, who telephoned him and said that Purim is a time for joy not for fasting, and urged the mayor to get into the spirit of the holiday. Rivlin promised to meet with Halevi this week to discuss the crisis situation in which Eilat now finds itself  due to the drastic changes in air transportation between the southern resort city and Tel Aviv. Rivlin added that he sends a big Purim hug to the residents of Eilat.
Under the circumstances, Halevi could hardly refuse, and agreed to break his fast. It will be somewhat more difficult for Rivlin to persuade Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai from going ahead with the dismantling of Sde Dov, which sits on a prime piece of real estate in North Tel Aviv and is much more easily accessible than the terminal for domestic flights at Ben-Gurion Airport.
■ “IT’S NO job for a nice Jewish girl” says British comedienne Rachel Creeger, who keeps at it anyway – and quite successfully judging by the reviews she receives from both Jewish and non-Jewish critics
Creeger will be in Israel this week with a series of performances scheduled for Yad Lebanim Ra’anana, AACI Netanya, Einam Hall Modi’in, the Khan Theater in Jerusalem – where she will give both matinée and evening performances – and the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The performances run from March 27 to April 1, inclusive.
Creeger – who is also a script writer, director and public speaker – is the daughter of immigrants to Britain, who came as refuges, but nonetheless always felt British despite their accents and lifestyle. She has always had a foot in two worlds, partially due to a rebellious inclination coupled with a desire to fit in
This has enhanced her perception of what it means to be part of a community. She has lived in Essex, Israel and Belarus. Professionally she has been a dental nurse, a singer and social worker. Now she performs, writes and directs comedy, so it’s hardly surprising that she has no idea of where she truly belongs.
Nonetheless, it would seem that comedy is her real forte. She was the winner of the Best Comedy Award at the Greater Manchester Fringe 2017. The show that she’s bringing to Israel: It’s No Job For A Nice Jewish Girl enjoyed a sell-out debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017, followed in 2018 with a successful UK tour and a triumphant return to the Fringe.
So far, says Creeger, it has been seen by thousands of people of all faiths as well as those who have no faith, with individuals in audiences finding their own connections to the story.
■ ALTHOUGH ISRAEL continues to wage military battles alone, sometimes it’s better to rely on our non-Jewish friends to fight our battles in the court of public opinion. Christian leaders, such as Mike Huckabee, and Evangelists Laurie Cardoza-Moore and John Hagee can often do for us more than we can do for ourselves.
The most obvious case pertains to the controversial headline-grabber and freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar who has been systematically defended by her fellow Democrats when she makes an antisemitic or anti-Israel statement. In such instances, a protest by non-Jews can be more effective than Jews voicing anger.
Cardoza-Moore, president of Proclaiming Justice to The Nations (PJTN), and the host of the award-winning Christian television program Focus On Israel, is determined to oust Omar from Congress, declaring, “It is our mission to stand-up and defend the Jewish people and Israel against the rise of global antisemitism no matter where it comes from.” In her various antisemitic diatribes, Omar has accused American Jews of dual loyalty. Just another case of the pot calling the kettle black.
■ DESPITE DOUBTS expressed in some medical circles over the negative long-range effects of medical cannabis if used on a daily basis, there are those who are convinced of its benefits.
Among them is former prime minister Ehud Barak who is the chairman of Canndoc/InterCure, a holding company of Israeli medical cannabis firms. Barak will deliver the keynote address on the first morning of the CannaTech conference at the Tel Aviv Port taking place on April 1 and 2. The title of his address is “From Government to Cannabis: A Former Prime Minister’s View of the Importance of Medical Cannabis in the Global Political Arena.”
More than 1,000 participants, coming to Tel Aviv from every continent, will hear what he has to say and will also learn about the latest scientific and business developments in the burgeoning cannabis field.
Saul Kaye, founder and CEO of CannaTech and iCAN Israel-Cannabis, said he was thrilled that Barak is speaking at the conference. “His participation is testament to the ever-increasing significance of the cannabis market worldwide and Israel’s key place in the industry,” says Kaye.
■ AMERICAN JEWS, whether they’ve been to Israel or not, have some knowledge of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but are less informed about Haifa. That lacuna will to some extent be remedied by two women who were born and raised in Haifa and who have published books about it – a city that for years has been a model of Jewish-Arab coexistence.
Naomi Harris Rosenblatt, who was born to English-speaking parents, is a renowned psychotherapist and author whose heart-warming coming-of-age story is revealed in Bless The Bitter And The Sweet: A Sabra Girl’s Diary from the Last Days of British Rule and the Rebirth of Israel.
An expert on topics related to women and families in the Bible, her seminars on Capitol Hill engage US senators and guests at the residence of the Israeli ambassador.
In addition, Harris Rosenblatt’s roundtable discussions in Washington and New York have attracted prominent journalists, Wall Street executives, attorneys, and scholars. She is featured on Bill Moyers PBS series Genesis: A Living Conversation. She is the author of Wrestling with Angels: What Genesis Teaches Us About Our About Our Spiritual Identity, Sexuality and Personal Relationships and the bestseller After the Apple: Women in the Bible – Timeless Stories of Love, Lust and Longing.
Nili Gold, who was born to German-speaking parents in 1948, the first year of Israel’s statehood, is professor of modern Hebrew literature in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) at the University of Pennsylvania.
Her book, Haifa: City of Steps published by Brandeis, is by way of homage to her hometown. Written simultaneously in English and Hebrew, it is a hybrid work of urban studies, architecture, literature and memory. Gold, an expert on world-renowned Hebrew poet Yehuda Amichai, dedicated two books to him. The first, Not Like a Cypress, was published in Hebrew by Schocken in 1994. It won Israel’s Science and Culture Ministry’s award for Best First Book in Hebrew Literature. Yehuda Amichai: The Making of Israel’s National Poet was published by Brandeis University Press in 2008 and was recently published in Israel in Hebrew.
Both women are scheduled to address the American Friends of Beit Hatfutsot on Tuesday evening, April 9, at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City.
Unlike so many Israelis living in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, they will not be coming home to vote on April 9. It would be interesting to take a survey among Israelis living abroad as to how many of them would vote if Israel changed its law and permitted expatriates to vote in national elections. It would be even more interesting if they truthfully revealed which party would get their vote and then to compare the collective data to the actual election results.
■ THE WEALTH of eateries that have opened up all over the country testifies to Israel’s preoccupation with food.
One would imagine that with so much competition, few of these establishments would be making much money. But go past them at breakfast lunch and dinner time, and often late into the afternoon or the evening, and most, if not full, are still quite well patronized.
That may account for the decision by Ort Dan Gourmet to include the culinary arts as eligible for bagrut (matriculation) examinations. The first high school culinary semester will be introduced with the new school year, with the idea of encouraging more young people to embark on culinary studies using local products, and eventually improving the already high standards of Israel’s culinary arts.
Leading the course will be celebrity chef Haim Cohen, who is well-known not only for the restaurants he runs, but also for his television programs and cook books. Cohen is one of the pioneers of gourmet cooking in Israel, and it is believed by the school that his presence will give impetus to students who were debating with themselves whether or not to enroll.