Grapevine: Broadcast news

A round-up of news from around Israel.

Michael Oren (photo credit: FACEBOOK SCREENSHOT)
Michael Oren
Regular listeners to Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet know that between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., whoever happens to be on microphone roster that morning scans the newspapers and reads out the headlines and bits and pieces from some of the more interesting news items. It’s extremely timesaving for busy people who barely manage to scan the headlines of only one paper while gulping down their morning coffee, and it keeps listeners informed. Those listeners who do have time to read and have had their curiosity piqued by something that was read over the air will look for it either in their own newspaper or will try to find it on the Internet.
On one particular day this week, there was no news. That’s not quite accurate. Actually, there were many interesting news items, but they were not broadcast, because Reshet Bet gave priority to the Oscars at the expense of news. There was quite a large team glued to the television screen to report on what was happening in Hollywood, and there was also Ron Podchlebnik, who regularly reports from Hollywood. Among the members of the local team were Nativ Robinson, Rita Koren, who is the station’s film reviewer, and Yuval Caspin, theater costume designer and gourmet cook, who is now making a reputation as a singer.
Prior to the big night, there was speculation in the American media as to what would happen if the announcers of the winners were handed the wrong envelope. It had happened before – and it did indeed happen again, as has already been widely publicized. The faux pas was followed by tweets galore, including one whose sender wondered whether the American public had been handed the wrong envelope when the results of the presidential election were announced.
■ THERE WAS a lot of speculation by Israeli broadcasters on the extent to which politics influenced the Academy Awards, and presumably we will hear more discussions and in greater depth during the Eurovision Song Contest.
The song “I feel alive,” sung by Imri Ziv and composed by Dolev Ram and Penn Hazut, has its local airing scheduled for Channel 1 on Thursday, March 9, in a special broadcast beginning at 9 p.m. Reactions as always are likely to be both extremely positive and extremely negative, but the real test will be in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 9, 11 and 13.
Interest in Eurovision keeps growing, and more countries are participating.
If Israel wins or is ranked among the 10 best, there will be minimal complaints about political bias. But if Israel ends up anywhere near the bottom, there will be loud outcries about political bias and even antisemitism.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
■ BY THAT time of course, the contest may be relayed on KAN, which is the call sign of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, which is designated to replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority on April 30. The people at KAN say they’re ready.
Meanwhile, acting Communications Minister Tzachi Hanegbi is worrying about the future of veteran IBA employees and has acknowledged the improvement in the IBA’s operations.
He’s equally worried about the people who’ve been taken on board at KAN.
It’s not exactly a win-win situation.
KAN this week announced the appointment of Baruch Shai as chief news editor. Shai previously worked in various editorial positions at Channel 10, including the weekend magazine with Oshrat Kotler. He has also worked for Walla! and in the print media worked as an editor for Maariv and Haaretz. KAN CEO Eldad Koblentz believes that Shai’s experience and vision will prove to be valuable assets to the yet to be launched public broadcasting service.
■ WHILE KAN is still waiting for a final decision about its future, ILTV, Israel’s English television content provider, is about to get a major upgrade.
Beginning March 1, ILTV English-language news and programming will be produced and broadcast from the Tel Aviv studios of Walla!News. The agreement between the two entities also provides for sharing of content and materials. ILTV is a division of J Media Global, a leading advertising and marketing firm in the English-speaking Jewish niche market.
“The strategic partnership with Walla! will raise the level of our production and broadcasts by adding rich local video content shot by local crews around Israel, coupled with Walla!News’s state-of-the-art studios,” says ILTV manager Ronen Lefler.
Walla!News TV Editor-in-Chief Avi Alkalay said that he is looking forward to working together to facilitate the fine English-language programming that has been developed by ILTV.”
The ILTV newscasts, programming and segments are now carried on a range of cable, satellite and Internet media that includes METV, ITN, JBS, IBN, TBN, JLT V, IFCJ, BLAZE, EL Al transatlantic flights,,,, and Jewish-
■ PEOPLE WHO are old enough to remember pre-state Israel are in a much better position to look back and see how far the country has come in the past 69 years, than are latter-day historians, who have to depend on archives rather than memory.
A well-known personality who was a Jerusalem schoolboy when the state was proclaimed is singer actor, television host and current affairs commentator Yehoram Gaon, who in his weekly current affairs programs on Reshet Bet last Friday recalled the terrorist attack that took place in the capital’s Ben-Yehuda Street on February 22, 1948.
The terrorists included British deserters who had no love for the Jews. They arrived in three British Army trucks led by an armored car driven by Arab irregulars. The small convoy exploded, killing 58 civilians and injuring close to 200. Leading the convoy was Jerusalem Arab terrorist ‘Azmi al-Ja’uni, who spoke fluent English and could pass himself off as a British officer. Two British deserters, Eddie Brown, a police captain who claimed that the Irgun had killed his brother, and Peter Madison, an army corporal, had been persuaded to participate in the attack, and had also been promised substantial financial rewards.
There was a great deal of confusion afterward, with blame being apportioned to Arabs, Brits and even Jews.
Those Arabs who approved of the attack – and not all of them did – said it was in retaliation for an Irgun attack against Arabs. Both Jews and Arabs blamed the British, who desperately sought to distance themselves from the carnage. Ben-Gurion blamed Jewish thugs who had provoked the Arabs.
The Irgun, which blamed the British more than it held the Arabs accountable, ordered its fighters to shoot any Englishman who came their way.
There was also a Jewish attack on an Arab village, and some days later the Stern Group blew up a train carrying British soldiers. It was a very dirty war.
Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Herzog, the grandfather of opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who was named for him, said at a mass funeral for most of the victims that the British were responsible for all terrorism and violence that took place in what was then Palestine following the UN resolution on partition.
The British government spokesman initially denied any British responsibility, but this was unacceptable to members of the Stern Group and the Irgun, who announced that they would kill any British soldier found in territory designated for Jews, and indeed several hapless British soldiers lost their lives for no reason other than that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
■ FIERY SINGER Yasmin Levy, who is a very gentle soul offstage, will together with her mother, Kochava Levy, sing a tribute to the late father she never knew. Yitzhak Levy, who was head of the Ladino department at Israel Radio and was a prolific composer, singer and researcher of Sephardi liturgical music as well as the folk music of the Jews of Spain, died when Yasmin was an infant.
Attending the concert at the Pavilion in Jerusalem’s Clal Center on Thursday, March 2, will be Spanish Sen. Joaquin Luis Ramirez Rodriguez.
Kochava Levy was a promising young singer when she met her husband- to-be. After the wedding, he forbade her to sing professionally, nor did he want her to sing as an amateur.
Yasmin, who grew up in Jerusalem, inherited a double dose of talent, and Kochava, once her husband died, returned to the stage and allowed others to hear her beautiful voice. Mother and daughter often sang together at home and sometimes on stage.
Yasmin Levy is a superb exponent of Ladino and Spanish song and is also a prizewinning composer and song writer who has admirers around the globe, and has chalked up many accolades.
■ IN SUNDAY ’S Grapevine we mentioned the lack of coordination that results in conferences catering to similar audiences, being held on the same day and causing frustration to people who want to attend both. In this context, conferences held by the Jewish People Policy Institute and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in conjunction with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung were mentioned.
But there was also at least one more important conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday, a conference on Arab leadership in Israel that was held by the Israel Democracy Institute. Listed among the participants was one of the speakers at the JCPA conference, former defense and foreign minister Moshe Arens.
A former president of engineering at Israel Aircraft Industries and a former associate professor of aeronautical engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Arens, along the line, discovered the elixir of youth, and at 91 looks much younger, is straight-backed and in frequent demand as a speaker, newspaper columnist and panelist in political discussions.
He’s also the chairman of the Board of Governors of Ariel University.
For the past two Fridays, Arens was also featured in the Channel 1 nostalgia program The Way it Was, hosted by Yigal Ravid.
■ IN THE fairly rapid exchange of high-ranking visits between the Indian and Israeli leaderships, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to visit Israel in July accompanied by a massive delegation. At the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, they are already worried that they have to entirely seal off the premises and send other guests to other nearby hotels.
This is problematic at any time, but more so considering that the 20th Maccabiah Games will take place in Jerusalem from July 4 to July 18, with many of the athletes and spectators coming beforehand and staying on afterward, in order to participate in some of the events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
Apropos the Maccabiah Games, while it is fairly common knowledge that Deputy Minister Michael Oren, a former ambassador to the US, spent his first years in Israel as a lone soldier, it is less known that he is a Maccabiah gold medalist. He was a member of the United States team in 1997, and won two gold medals for rowing, so for him the upcoming Maccabiah will mark the 20th anniversary of his rowing prowess.
■ BUT BACK to Modi’s visit: Indian- born Reena Pushkarna, who has done so much to promote Indian cuisine in Israel, will cook with either chef Sanjeev Kapoor or chef Kunal Kapur, each of whom is a celebrity chef in India. Each has also cooked for the president and the prime minister.
Pushkarna is currently in India to learn about the favorite foods of the prime minister. Sheldon Ritz, the director of operations at the King David, hails from Durban in South Africa, where Indian cuisine is readily available and can’t wait for the hotel kitchen to go tandoori.
■ IN AN altogether different aspect of the hotel’s activities, it is the traditional venue for the vin d’honneur held by new ambassadors on the day in which they present their credentials to the president. The reception provides an opportunity for them to meet with colleagues from other embassies, though they do meet some of them before presenting their credentials.
One of the five new ambassadors, Maria Gabriela Troya Rodriguez of Ecuador, gave the hotel chefs her recipe for salmon ceviche the way it is prepared in Ecuador and other parts of Latin America, and it was duly served at the salmon and sushi buffet.
■ USUALLY, PRESENTATION of credential ceremonies are conducted in English, but this time interpreters were brought in for two of the ambassadors, Calixte Batossie Madjoulba of Togo and Berdymurat Redjepov of Turkmenistan. It later turned out at the vin d’honneur that the ambassador of Togo did not require a French interpreter, because he speaks fluent English. The Russian interpreter was not around at the vin d’honneur to help the ambassador of Turkmenistan, who is not terribly au fait with English, but fortunately his vivacious wife is fluent, and she was on hand to act as translator.
■ FEMALES DIPLOMATS are quite common these days but still far fewer in number than male diplomats at nearly all levels. In fact, women were admitted into the diplomatic corps less than a century ago, and it would seem that Soviet Russia was the first to give women this status, and the woman who earned it was Alexandra Kollontai in the 1920s.
Currently, there are several women heading foreign diplomatic missions in Israel and several Israeli female diplomats heading diplomatic missions abroad. In both cases, their presence does not reflect the number of women in their respective populations.
On March 8, which is International Women’s Day, Canadian Ambassador Deborah Lyons will be hosting an event in Tel Aviv along with other female ambassadors in Israel. Both Lyons and Irish Ambassador Alison Kelly will be among the speakers.
Kelly will speak about the role of women in peacemaking in her country, and a representative of the organization Women Wage Peace will speak about what can be done in this part of the world.
The concept behind the event is to introduce an initiative in cooperation with a number of embassies and Women Wage Peace.
Other female ambassadors in Israel represent Slovenia, Finland, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Cyprus, Moldova, Malta, Latvia and of course now Ecuador.
■ IT’S AN interesting coincidence, that Ruth Dayan, who was born before the Balfour Declaration, and who has lived through the history of the state and been active in numerous social causes, will be celebrating her 100th birthday on the eve of International Women’s Day. Dayan was born on March 7, 1917.
The advancement of the status of women was not included in her many social welfare activities because she frankly never suffered discrimination as a woman. She simply went ahead and did her thing. However, her daughter, Yael, has contributed to the advancement of the status of women and, while a member of Knesset, headed the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women.
Remarkably healthy for her age, Ruth Dayan, until four years ago, was still driving. She has very good genes.
Both her parents, Zvi and Rachel Schwartz, lived well into their nineties.
Rachel Schwartz was the first women, in what was then Palestine, to receive a driver’s license.
■ RABBIS AND politicians galore attended the wedding last month of Yael, the daughter of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and his wife, Tzippi, to Hebron Yeshiva student Naftali Adler, originally from London.
Among the female guests was Shula Zaken, who was largely responsible for the conviction of former prime minister Ehud Olmert for whom she had worked as his bureau chief for many years from the time that he was mayor through all his ministerial posts. Thanks to Olmert, Zaken became the most powerful woman in Jerusalem. Zaken spent time in prison before Olmert was incarcerated, and she was not the only person at the wedding with a prison background.
She is a longtime friend of the bride’s maternal grandmother, Rabbanit Hadassah Ralbag, and was among those who attended the chief rabbi’s inauguration at the President’s Residence in August 2013.
In deference to the esteem in which they are held in haredi circles, Lau visited all the great Torah sages, beginning with Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky of Bnei Brak, considered to be the world’s leading halachic authority, and then to other renowned rabbinical scholars, to personally invite them to the wedding.
When the engagement was announced last year, there was a slight problem in that the bride had the same first name as her future motherin- law. The bride was originally called Sarah, as is the mother of the groom.
Lau consulted Kanievsky, who advised him to change his daughter’s name from Sarah to Yael. Lau was hesitant, and when announcing the engagement, listed both names, but subsequently when giving her a blessing at his synagogue, omitted her original name and called her Yael.
In three months’ time, there will be another major celebration in the Lau family, when former Ashkenazi chief rabbi and current Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Yisrael Meir Lau will celebrate his 80th birthday. Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, Lau is one of the most famous of child Holocaust survivors, and makes it his business each year to participate in the March of the Living.
■ IT WAS a great day last Sunday for former NBA all-star, activist Amar’e Stoudemire, who is currently star forward for Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball Club. At a ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Zion Hotel, Stoudemire was the recipient of the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Award, which is a joint project of the State of Israel, the Jewish National Fund-USA and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. An annual award that is part of Black History Month, it is given to individuals whose actions embody the spirit and ideals of Martin Luther King Jr. in their endeavors to promote diversity and tolerance.
The award was presented to Stoudemire by Consul-General in New York Dani Dayan and Russell Robinson, who is the CEO of JNF-USA .
Stoudemire said that it was gratifying to know that the work of the Alexis and Amar’e Stoudemire Foundation has not been overlooked. He added that he had been blessed over the years to be able to give back to the community.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Award was instituted more than 20 years ago to honor and embrace his legacy of peaceful coexistence and equal rights among people of diverse ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. King was known to be supportive of Israel and the Jewish people, and was active in the battle against antisemitism, just as Jews were active in King’s March on Washington more than half a century ago.
Robinson lauded Stoudemire’s work in reaching out and providing education to at-risk youth through his Each One, Teach One foundation, and his passion for providing safe drinking water in impoverished countries.
Such actions are emblematic of the values and virtues promoted by King, said Robinson, adding that by deciding to move to Israel to join the Hapoel Jerusalem team, Stoudemire had again demonstrated by example that sportsmanship supersedes nationality, ethnicity and religious affiliation, and that all are welcome in Israel, a beacon of democracy in an otherwise turbulent part of the world.
Dayan noted that aside from his outstanding basketball career, Stoudemire has spearheaded many initiatives that empower the less fortunate and advance important principles such as tolerance, peace, creativity and healthy living.
Stoudemire recently organized a basketball peace camp, which brought together Jewish, Arab and Ethiopian youngsters who simply want to play ball. He also hosted his annual “In the Paint” series, which combines artistic and sporting talent and inspires young people to explore their creativity through art and basketball.
His foundation, which he established with his wife, Alexis, actively supports at-risk youth around the world, with the aim of helping to eliminate poverty through education.
■ ALRAY , THE Palestinian Media Agency, has been following events leading up to the State Comptroller’s Report on Operation Protective Edge, and yesterday published the following: “A state of intense anticipation has been prevailing in the political and military circles in Israel before the release of the State Comptroller’s Report on Operation Protective Edge.
“It is expected that the investigation, which lasted for two years, will blast Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz for failing to tackle the danger posed by the Hamas tunnels during Operation Protective Edge, despite the security alerts by the Israeli intelligence service.
“Ya’alon has written on Facebook that those who unprecedentedly manipulated in the politics of the cabinet during Protective Edge will keep doing the same thing this week.
“Leader of the Bayit Yehudi Party and Netanyahu’s partner in the coalition government Naftali Bennett said that he and other ministers in the cabinet hadn’t received enough information on threats posed by the Hamas tunnels. Thus, he had been compelled to resort to other resources to get information.
“Former finance minister Yair Lapid... said in press remarks that there was a lack of strategies to seriously deal with the threat of tunnels.”
It’s always interesting to know what the other side thinks and what it regards as important.