Grapevine: The dramas in our lives

A round-up of news from around Israel.

Channel 10 (photo credit: screenshot)
Channel 10
(photo credit: screenshot)
Viewers of Channel 10 are familiar with Zvi Yehezkeli, the reporter and commentator on what goes on in the Arab world.
Journalists often take extraordinary risks in order to come up with a gripping story, and sometimes the story takes priority over family commitments. Yehezkeli, a father of five, has strong Middle Eastern features – which is not surprising considering that his background is both Iraqi and Kurdish.
In order to do as professional a job as possible for a five-part series on the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in Europe and the US, Yehezkeli risked his life to take on the false identity of Sheikh Abu Hamza. Armed with secret microphones and cameras, Yehezkeli was able to penetrate several cells of the Muslim Brotherhood, and lived to tell the tale.
Though not born into a religiously observant family, Yehezkeli today leads a religious lifestyle and occasionally lectures on his transformation. He did so recently at the Kibbutz Lavi Hotel where he told guests that the reason that he had made the decision for such a dramatic change was that through a series of different events he had come to the realization that it was not enough for him to simply be a decent human being. As a Jew he felt he had additional obligations, the first of which was to the Creator of the Universe – and with this in mind, he had to keep the commandments of the Creator.
Yehezkeli was not the only person present to have a life changing experience. Shalom Ashkenazi, the general manager of the hotel, told Yehezkeli afterwards that on his 40th birthday he had donated a kidney to an anonymous recipient and had come to the realization of how much more rewarding it was to give than to receive.
■ APROPOS KIDNEY donations, Matnat Chaim, the kidney transplant organization founded by Rabbi Yeshayahu Haber, will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a gala dinner at the Avenue Conference Center on Sunday, January 13. The event, which will honor both Haber and volunteer kidney donors, will be attended by Chief Rabbi David Lau, senior members of the medical community and kidney donors and recipients. Among the 600 kidney transplants facilitated in Israel over the past decade, there are cases in which more than one member of a family has been a donor. That almost makes altruism genetic.
■ THE SOUTH African Jewish community is well known for its strong sense of Zionism. South African Jews were among the leading Machalniks (volunteers from abroad) during the War of Independence, and to this day continue to come and serve as lone soldiers in the IDF, whether making aliyah or simply as an extension of their commitment to Zionism. The Israel branch of the South African Zionist Federation, which is known as Telfed, is celebrating its 70th anniversary together with that of the state, along with the 175th anniversary of the organized South African Jewish Community. This evening (Sunday) it is set to open its Goldene Medina Exhibition in the Bloomfield Library of the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus.
The diverse speakers at the event will include Ambassador Yossi Gal, the Hebrew University’s Vice president for the advancement of external relations, and HU faculty members Prof. Louise Bethlehem, who has co-edited six volumes of South African literature; historian Prof. Gideon Shimoni, who was active in South African Habonim and the Zionist Youth Council; and Dr. Jonathan Mirvis, who specializes in social entrepreneurship.
Honorees at the event will be South African-born Intel vice president Maxine Fassberg and c2a security founder Michael Dick.

■ IN ADDITION to promoting diplomatic relations, military cooperation and trade, most ambassadors are particularly proud when they can bring the culture of their countries to Israel. That’s one of the reasons that we are inundated with foreign film festivals throughout the year, because various embassies are bringing their film makers and their films to Israel. But they also bring their film stars, their musicians and their exponents of the visual arts to Israel. Canadian Ambassador Deborah Lyons is thrilled that for the first time, CanaDanse will be appearing in Israel in early January. The Canada Embassy has partnered with the Suzanne Dellal theater to bring three Canadian dance companies to Israel, which have never performed here before. Ballet B, Shay Kuebler and Le Carre des Lombes will each perform twice during the week of January 11-17, and Lyons is anticipating a large diplomatic turnout in the dance-lover audiences.

■ ALTHOUGH HE has appeared in a few Yiddishpiel productions, popular actor and comedian Tuvia Tzafir can hardly be considered a Yiddish actor. But because he is so popular with audiences, ranging from small children to very senior citizens, he has been chosen to be the Yiddishpiel presenter for the coming year. The choice was made by Yiddishpiel CEO Zelig Rabinovich on the basis of Tzafir being one of Israel’s most beloved and most versatile entertainment personalities.
Tzafir’s first assignment as a presenter will be to inform the public of the repeat production of the musical satire Menachem Mendel in the Land of Israel that will play in theaters throughout the country, beginning in January. Menachem Mendel, a character created by Sholem Aleichem, became symbol of the nomadic Diaspora Jew, who is featured in the works of other novelists, short story writers and playwrights. In this production he comes to Israel to seek his fortune and to reconnect with his renegade son, who became a pioneer among the returnees to the Jewish homeland.

■ THE FACT that he resigned from his role as defense minister, left the coalition and became part of the opposition does not mean that MK Avigdor Liberman is no longer interested in the IDF.
In fact, he continues to visit army outposts, wounded soldiers and the bereaved families of soldiers who have been killed in action or murdered by terrorists. He also chooses his words very carefully when the subject of current Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes into a conversation that he may be having with an electronic media interviewer.
Unlike Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who keeps trying to upset Netanyahu’s apple cart, Liberman, for the most part, remains respectful and makes few waves. That doesn’t mean that he has nothing to say on security issues. He does and he will when he addresses the Tel Aviv International Salon on Sunday, January 13, at Urban Place in the Shalom Tower, 9 Ahad Ha’am Street, Tel Aviv. Liberman will speak in English about Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and internal Israeli tensions. He is also prepared to answer questions afterwards.

■ IT SEEMS as if most of the heart-warming stories about the innate goodness of human beings are coming out of Jerusalem. There have already been a couple published in this column, and here is another posted last week by Beth Mann, who wrote: “Last Friday, I went to Hadassah Hospital, as a rep of the Lone Soldier Center in memory of Michael Levin, to visit the lone soldier, a border guard, who was recovering post-surgery after being attacked on Thursday in the Old City of Jerusalem. En route, I stopped at the cafe/ bakery at 44 Emek Refaim, Jerusalem, to pick up some treats for her. Of course, I asked advice at the shop, as to what pastries to buy for this beautiful soldier and her friends. As I was ready to pay for several full boxes, the man at the cash register said: ‘It’s on me. Thank her for her service. Refuah Shleima (complete recovery).’ I tried to insist, but he refused to accept payment. So proud of our soldiers and the store owners who support them!”

■ REGULAR LISTENERS to KAN Reshet Bet radio can’t help wondering how they allow interviewers to dominate the microphone to the extent that interviewees barely get a chance to get through more than a couple of sentences before they are rudely interrupted, or simply cut off with the expression Nistapek bazeh, which loosely translates as “that will do.”
The frustrated interviewees, beg to be allowed to explain what they wanted to say, but are either shut off completely, or are told that there’s no time. Increasingly interviewees are heard to say, “Let me finish the sentence.”
The interviewers are touted as journalists, but the role of a journalist is not only to be the conscience of the public, but to look and to listen and to report. In the case of radio journalists, the job involves asking pertinent questions and to give the interviewee the chance to reply – and not to argue the personal viewpoint.
One of the worst offenders is Dov Gilhar, whose voice keeps rising over that over the interviewee. Why bother to waste the time of interviewees if you’re not going to listen to them, and if their presence is essentially a platform for voicing your own opinions?
Gilhar is not the only offender, he’s just the worst. On the other hand, praise is due to true professionals such as Shalom Kital and Eran Zinger who give their interviewees plenty of time to talk without interruption and are very polite as well. Old fashioned courtesy can go a long way.
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