Grapevine: Queen for a day

Current news, events, trends and stories from around the country.

Gershon Baskin (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Gershon Baskin
 ■ JUST AS when two Jews meet there are three opinions, there’s a plethora of ideas as to how the Holocaust should be commemorated. Some people think it should be sad and solemn with the emphasis on the massive loss of life deriving from an inhumanly cruel political ideology in which there was no room for compassion. Others think it should be a celebration of survival, because with all the tragic losses incurred and the traumas that in some cases impacted permanently on the lives of survivors, the Nazis failed in their ultimate ambition. There are others who think about what people who lived through the Holocaust endured, and want in some way to compensate them for their suffering and deprivation. Yossi Bitton, proprietor of a Tel Aviv beauty parlor, thought of how terrible it was for women in the camps to be robbed of their femininity, and decided to coordination with AMCHA, an organization that works for the mental and physical wellbeing of Holocaust survivors, to give 15 women aged between 80 and 90 a day of pampering and pleasure that included makeup, hairstyling and personal photographs to take home as souvenirs, to show how beautiful they can look. Bitton confessed to being surprised at how “with it” the women were in their range of knowledge about current trends in cosmetics and fashion; but even more than that, he was amazed that after what they had been through that they were able to demonstrate a keen sense of humor and an optimistic outlook on life.
■ PRESIDENT Shimon Peres frequently talks about the potential benefits to the economy if a significant percentage of the trained Arab workforce were to be absorbed into Israel’s hi-tech industries, or alternately set up such industries of their own. To encourage Arabs to put their hi-tech knowledge to use, his son, Chemi Peres, a managing general partner and co-founder of Pitango Venture Capital, along with Jerusalem Venture Partners and Imad Telhami, an entrepreneur from Israel’s Arab community, have joined forces to create an Arabic-language technology incubator for startups geared to attracting local Arab entrepreneurs, to be located in the north. It will provide training and physical facilities and will also fund innovative start-ups. The idea has been simmering for well over a year, and was initially hatched with former venture capitalist Erel Margalit before he became a Knesset member. JVP, the company that he founded, is nonetheless going ahead with the project.
■ TEL AVIV and Jerusalem are competing for the attention of foreign and local media. It’s not just a matter of being featured, but also of providing facilities and services to the media, free of charge. MediaCentral has being doing this in Jerusalem for several years now, in addition to which it hosts lectures free of charge and tours throughout Israel and the Palestinian Authority at a nominal fee. The Jerusalem Press Club hosts free lectures and receptions, the Israel branch of The Israel Project hosts lectures and tours – sometimes in conjunction with the Government Press Office which is located very close to its own offices. Now Tel Aviv is getting in on the act with a media hub in Jaffa in the same building as the Tourist Information Center at 2 Marzuk V’Azar Street. It’s open six days a week and provides free wifi, free coffee, a printer, and somewhere for journalists to sit with their laptops or tablets. The contact person for further information is Mira Marcus, the International press director at the Tel Aviv Municipality. She can be reached at 054-209-3309 or at
■ THERE SEEMS to be a baby boom in Israel, there are more double carriages accommodating twins or siblings born only a year or so apart to be seen around town. Channel 10 this week and last ran specials about babies and now G Mall in Kfar Saba is producing a 72-hour baby festival from February 4 to 6 which includes lectures, workshops, entertainment and advice. There’s also help for women who’ve recently given birth and want to get back into shape, and naturally, there will be stalls and shops selling babywear. Ahead of all that Anat Levin, the CEO of the Shilav baby chain, is hosting a fashion show of what’s in vogue for tiny tots at Kastiel As Is in Tel Aviv on February 2.
■ JERUSALEM POST columnist Gershon Baskin has written in the paper about his involvement in negotiations for the release of Gilad Schalit, who spent five years in captivity after he was kidnapped by Hamas while serving in the IDF. Baskin has since written a book on the subject titled The Negotiator – Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas. The book will be launched at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem on Monday, February 3. Baskin will also use the occasion to discuss whether there is room for dialogue between Israel and Hamas; why prisoners are the political currency of the conflict; lessons to be learned from the freeing of Gilad Schalit; and what the future holds for Palestinian prisoners.