Grapevine: Here and there – the advent of Kan

A round-up of news from around the country.

ENGLISH RADIO voices of the past (photo credit: Courtesy)
ENGLISH RADIO voices of the past
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prior to the advent of the countdown for the end of days for the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Channel 1 viewers and Israel Radio listeners were served huge doses of pathos and nostalgia to make them aware of how many people were in danger of losing their jobs, what the public was losing and, in the hope of drumming up sympathy, how many single mothers were going to be left high and dry. Truthfully, it’s very sad when so many people who have given so much of themselves to any enterprise find that it’s slipping away from them and that they have nowhere else to go.
Happily, quite a lot of IBA people went to Kan, which is one of the reasons that its early days on radio and television seemed so familiar, except that some of the people were cast in different roles and assumed new personalities to go with them. Moreover, quite a few reporters are doing double duty, reporting for both radio and television, which doesn’t give them too much breathing space and, if rumor is correct, less money than they were earning at IBA. On its first day, the 5 a.m. review of newspaper headlines was missing, but it was back again on Tuesday and included material from the Web.
Whether the transfer from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba to Modi’in included the former IBA makeup artists, I do not know, but the females appearing on camera looked a lot better in their former setting. Geula Even-Sa’ar in the flesh is very attractive, and came across as such in her previous role; but now, on screen as news presenter, her makeup is unflattering.
Some 20-plus years ago, when Haim Yavin initially left the IBA to try his hand at commercial television and accepted an offer from Channel 2, Even-Sa’ar was considered a natural to succeed him, despite her youth at the time. Though given the chance, it was a short-term honeymoon. Yavin felt uncomfortable at Channel 2, and after 10 months returned to the IBA, where he was welcomed with open arms and a big fat salary. But in 2008, when Yavin stepped down and retired, and Even-Sa’ar was again considered for the role of Mabat presenter, in addition to Yavin’s chair, she also wanted his salary, which the IBA was not prepared to give her.
Now, finally, albeit not in Romema, she has what could be considered Yavin’s job, even though it has been filled by others in the interim. Kan has committed itself to transparency, so it may disclose her salary.
■MEANWHILE, ON Thursday of last week, Linda Epstein hosted a “wake” for former English-language broadcasters on Israel Radio. In many respects it was a reunion more than a wake. Not everyone who had been avidly listened to for years and in years gone by was able to come, and there were some no longer in the land of the living, but among those who were there were several who had also distinguished themselves in the print media, so there were ample reasons for reminiscing.
Even though the English-language broadcasts had diminished over the years, there was some cause for optimism in that there will be an hour of English-language news on Radio Reka every night at 8 p.m. Unfortunately, the same courtesy and logic are not extended to television.
Among the people who gathered at Epstein’s apartment in Jerusalem were David Essing, Zvi Pantanowitz, Arieh O’Sullivan, Alan Ben Ami, Idele Ross, Steve Linde, Alvin Hoffman, Leslie Susser, Hila Marinov (who is now working for Kan), Miriam Herschlag, Jerry Lewis, who specially came from England, Patti Golan, Mark Weiss, Steve Weitzman, Neal Sandler and Yishai Eldar. For some it truly was a blast from the past.
■LAST WEEK, President Reuven Rivlin went to the Israel Radio studios in Romema to be interviewed by Esti Perez, and to thank the people who had contributed to the sound track of the nation and to commiserate with them over losing the place they considered to be their second home. This week, on the day that Kan broadcasts went to air, members of the Kan council and management went to the President’s Residence to raise a toast with Rivlin, who wished them well and emphasized that broadcasts should be fair and balanced. He also spoke of public broadcasting being one of the watchdogs of democracy, adding that without public broadcasting, there is no democracy.
Kan chairman Gil Omer along with CEO Eldad Koblentz gave the president their solemn undertaking that the new public broadcasting entity would be of high quality, pluralistic, efficient and diverse. “We will fulfill this mission in the complete understanding of what we have been entrusted to do,” said Omer.
■FANS OF the highly irreverent satirical show Gav Hauma might have been surprised to see veteran broadcaster Yaakov Ahimeir on Channel 10 last Saturday night, but as program host Lior Schleien explained, “They threw him out of Mabat, so we invited him here.” Ahimeir received a rousing welcome from the audience, and then proceeded to present 10 critical news headlines of the future in the style of the show. Usually very serious on camera, Ahimeir could not keep the grin off his face in his new, albeit very temporary role. He will continue hosting his Saturday night world news roundup Ro’im Olam on Kan 11.
■MOST OF the Israeli media, both print and electronic, came down like a ton of bricks on Prof. David Hahn, who is responsible for liquidating the IBA, for the humiliating, dishonorable and disgusting manner in which he notified the Mabat people that this was their final program, and at the same time gave the radio just a little more notice that its regular programs would not be broadcast.
Nonetheless, he stayed within the letter of the law, if not the spirit.
The stations that were part of Israel Radio continued to broadcast music and news with the regular Israel Radio call sign, with an unusually large roster of news readers, and certain reporters still faithful to their beats. Channel 1 continued to broadcast Educational Television as well as reruns of old interview and feature programs and the documentaries that were produced during its failed struggle to maintain its existence. Even during its final broadcast of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, it showed nostalgia footage of the historic events that it covered and of the people whose faces and voices penetrated living rooms across the country for decades. After Eurovision it screened the end of the last Mabat, in which staff members tearfully sang “Hatikva” and showed a slide that stated: “Our broadcasts have concluded 1968- 2107 – Channel 1.”
The IBA participated in Eurovision for 44 years, and made its farewells when presenting its 12 points to the jury. Ofer Nachshon, speaking on behalf of the Israel jury, was given more time than any of the other countries’ presenters of jury results. “This is IBA Channel 1 calling from Jerusalem. For the past 44 years Israel has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest, winning three times. But tonight is our final night. Tonight IBA will shut down our broadcasting forever. So on behalf of IBA, let me say thank you, Europe, for all the magical moments and beautiful years... and hopefully we shall meet again in the future.”
Although some doubt was cast as to Israel’s participation in this year’s Eurovision or in future Eurovisions, in March, Yoav Ginai, who was in charge of programming at IBA, told The Jerusalem Post that Israel would compete in Eurovision no matter what, and said that the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation, which is the Kan umbrella, had already applied for membership in the European Broadcasting Union.
■IT’S NOT exactly the greeting one gives to a new ambassador, but Meron Reuben, the ever genial and simultaneously efficient chief of protocol at the Foreign Ministry, tweeted on the day of the arrival in Israel of US Ambassador David Friedman: “Ambassador David Friedman and Mrs. Tammy Friedman, welcome to your new post in #Israel, bruchim habaim habayta.” In other words, the message was: “Welcome home!” FRIEDMAN, WHO has been to Israel many times, owns property here, and has many friends here, among them Eli Beer, the founder of Hatzalah, the 3,000-plus volunteer organization of paramedics.
Beer and Friedman have been friends for more than 20 years, and visit with each other together with their families.
Beer frequently travels to the US to raise funds for Hatzalah, and during his most recent visit there, earlier this month, went to Sabbath services at Young Israel of Woodmere. He was staying with the Friedmans at their home in Long Island, and this visit was somewhat different from previous ones, according to his post on Facebook on May 8. He wrote: “This past Shabbat I had one of the most memorable experiences that I have ever had in all my years of traveling back and forth between Israel and the United States. I was hosted by my good friends the new US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and his wife, Tammy, at their home in Long Island. This was not the first time I was hosted by the Friedmans, and it is always a true pleasure to be in the company of such wonderful people. But this time something unique occurred.
“Friday night we had a beautiful dinner by their daughter Aliza and Eli, her husband, and Shabbat morning, the ambassador went to pray at his son Daniel’s synagogue, and I went to pray at the Young Israel synagogue of Rabbi Hershel Billet. They had a special guest speaker during the services, former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who just recently finished his term, and is also a longtime friend of United Hatzalah.
“I made my way over to ambassador Shapiro and to Rabbi Billet and said hello. The person who hosted ambassador Shapiro asked me where I was eating the Shabbat meal that afternoon, and I told them that I was eating by Daniel Friedman, the son of the new ambassador and that his parents, David and Tammy, would be there as well. It turns out that the amazing family that was hosting ambassador Shapiro lived near the Friedman’s son. We both felt it’s appropriate to get the two ambassadors better acquainted with one another.
“A few minutes later and a half a mile away, the two ambassadors met and were very excited to speak with one another. While I cannot relate the details of the conversation that carried on for quite some time... I can say that I was very happy to receive a new ambucycle from the family that was hosting Dan Shapiro.
It was quite the experience to hear the two ambassadors – the new one, elected by President Trump, and the previous by president Obama, who come from very different backgrounds – discuss how much they loved the country and people of Israel.
“For me, this was a truly inspiring weekend. I learned how much people from different backgrounds can have the same goals, especially when it comes to saving lives in Israel and promoting the furthering of the relationship between these two wonderful countries.”
Beer shared the experience with Reshet Bet listeners on Monday when interviewed by Kalman Libeskind, but resisted Libeskind’s probing questions about the Friedman-Shapiro meeting beyond saying that despite their political differences, there was instant chemistry between the two men, and that Friedman was particularly interested in the kashrut arrangements in the official residence.
One of his predecessors, Daniel Kurtzer, also ran a kosher home, not only in Israel but also in Egypt.
■ON FRIDAY of this week, Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev together with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai will attend the Israel Theater Awards at the Einav Center. Last year, Regev had a nasty runin with some of Israel’s theater personalities who object to her censorship, which they believe is laced with an inability to recognize Palestinian cultural rights. It will be interesting to see if sparks will fly on this occasion.
■THE BEST known of photographers who captured scenes from the 1967 Six Day War was David Rubinger, who died earlier this year. His iconic photograph of three soldiers at the Western Wall has become the eternal global symbol of that victory and the reunification of Israel’s capital.
But there is another photographer, who covered the war in detail, who like Rubinger is an Israel Prize laureate, and whose name is well known in many parts of the world. Micha Bar-Am, who is arguably much better known in Tel Aviv than in Jerusalem, has an exhibition of his works that went on view this week at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
The exhibition documents the historical, social and cultural landscape of Israel during 1967. Photographs include rare color images of the Six Day War. The 100 works on display, many on view for the first time, give viewers some concept of Israel at an important juncture in its history, as well as the social and cultural evolution of the country during this monumental year. Arranged chronologically, the photographs are original prints from the photographer’s personal collection, and were commissioned by local and international journals or intended for private use. They the year’s large-scale public demonstrations against unemployment rates, living conditions in underserved communities, and the relationship between religion and state.
They also reveal intimate moments from Bar-Am’s own life, such as the birth of his eldest son, the first local birth to be photographed and published in Israeli media.
Also on display are original magazines in which some of Bar-Am’s most dramatic images were published, as well as his diary from 1967, which provides a rare glimpse into the artistic and editorial choices behind his work. “Micha Bar-Am: 1967” is on view till October 17, 2017.
“Drawing attention to 1967 as a turning point for documentary photography in Israel, the exhibition presents a unique and comprehensive visual record of Israeli society at the time, through the lens of an influential Israeli photographer,” said Noam Gal, Horace and Grace Goldsmith curator of photography in the Noel and Harriette Levine department of photography at the Israel Museum. The bold and powerful photographs on display showcase both familiar and lesser-known national events.
Born in Berlin in 1930, Bar-Am arrived with his family to British Mandate Palestine in 1936. He became active in the pre-state underground and was drafted into the Palmah during the War of Independence in 1948. After the war, Bar-Am began documenting life on Kibbutz Malkiya, which he helped found, as well as archeological digs near Kibbutz Gesher Haziv, where he later moved.
After covering the Six Day War in 1967, he joined the staff of both Magnum and The New York Times, where he worked as the Middle East photographic correspondent for nearly three decades. Bar-Am covered major events in Israeli history, including the Sinai Campaign, the Eichmann trial, the Yom Kippur War and the First Lebanon War.
He co-founded the International Center of Photography and established the department of photography at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which he headed until 1992. In 2000, he was awarded the Israel Prize for Visual Arts.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog that includes all works on display and an essay by the curator in both Hebrew and English.
■MARKETING AN Israeli bank in Switzerland may be an audacious undertaking, but marketing the Swiss branch of an Israeli bank in Israel is a different story altogether. As far as is known, Bank Hapoalim in Switzerland is the only major bank in that country that is owned by an Israeli bank. A gala marketing event aimed at Israelis, new immigrants and affluent European clients whose finances are in excess of $1 million was hosted at Kibbutz Shefayim by Shari Arison, the head of Arison Investments, which has the controlling interest in Bank Hapoalim; bank chairman Oded Eran; CEO Arik Pinto; Dan Koller, chairman of Bank Hapoalim Switzerland, and its CEO, Orit Lerer. Entertainment was provided by beloved Israeli singer Chava Alberstein, who sang a selection of her most popular songs. The occasion was also used to launch the bank’s new website,, which contains constantly updated data.
Pinto described the Swiss branch as an important strategic asset, and Lerer noted that it has been operating for 40 years, which, considering that it is in Switzerland, proves its efficiency and ability to compete.
■WHILE IT is common practice in wartime to treat the wounded of the enemy, it is far from common, when not at war, to bring the wounded enemy from across the border and to give necessary medical treatment to men, women and children.
Israel has been doing this throughout most of the Syrian conflict and has treated more than 4,000 Syrians, regardless of which side they represent.
More than a third of the wounded Syrians have been treated at the Galilee Medical Center, whose director-general, Dr. Masad Barhoum, was presented with the International Human Dignity Award of the American Jewish Committee, at a gala Independence Day luncheon in New York hosted by the AJC Women’s Leadership Board. Luncheon co-chairwoman Hillary Beckman, who presented the award, told Barhoum that he was an inspiration to all people.
The inscription on the award reads: “An innovative pioneer in the provision of medical care, including to refugees from war, you have been a relentless, outspoken champion of the inalienable rights and infinite dignity of all people.”
In response Barhoum said: “Each one is a human being who underwent a tragedy, and each one has a story that breaks our hearts. They come with complex injuries and require stays on average of 23 days and more than 10 operations.”
Concerned about the situation in Syria, AJC has made several humanitarian aid donations to assist Syrian victims of the conflict and refugees. Also attending the luncheon was New York Times journalist Bret Stephens, previously a longtime editor and writer with The Wall Street Journal and before that editor in chief of the Post.
■READERS OF the Post’s sister publication The Jerusalem Report are familiar with the Necessary Stories written by Haim Watzman. Twenty-four of these stories have now been compiled into a book – his third book so far. Over the past nine years, he has published 100 Necessary Stories in the Report. They reflect on Jewish and, in particular, Israeli life, both current and past. They are funny, meditative and sad, set in immigrant camps, the army and in his own neighborhood in south Jerusalem. Over the years Watzman has gained a loyal and enthusiastic readership from among readers of the Report as well as those who read his website.
In an introduction to the book, novelist and essayist Joseph Skibell writes: “A sweetness runs through the collection, binding its disparate parts, and a sense of sadness, too, both of which, I think, come from Watzman’s deep and softly felt understanding that the small lives we all lead, filled with small people and small events, are nevertheless experienced by us as though we were all characters in a Wagnerian opera cycle.”
■THERE’S AN Ivy League Yacht Race coming up at the Seagal Yacht Club, some 10 minutes’ walk from the Herzliya Marina, on June 22. Believe it or not, there are 5,000 Ivy League graduates in Israel, according to Dov Hoch, president of the Penn Club in Israel. In the yacht race, he says, each yacht will have its own professional skipper and plenty of champagne on board. Other than that, no prior experience is required. The event is intended as a fun thing.
Registration closes on June 1, and anyone who wants to participate and qualifies as an Ivy Leaguer should contact his or her university club leaders for details.
University clubs represented in Israel include Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Penn, MIT (of which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a graduate), Oxford, and Cambridge. Failing this, details are also available from Jake Kornblatt,
The event includes a sunset swim off the boats, followed by a beach party.