Grapevine: Power corrupts

News briefs from around the country.

EASY ACCESS. Artworks by Yitzhak Ben Yehuda are featured in an online auction to benefit a Judaic heritage program for the deaf. (photo credit: Courtesy)
EASY ACCESS. Artworks by Yitzhak Ben Yehuda are featured in an online auction to benefit a Judaic heritage program for the deaf.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg-Ikar is the most recent in a long list of mayors who have faced corruption and abuse of power allegations. Most have also been charged and convicted.
According to former high-ranking police officer Moshe Mizrahi, who is almost invariably interviewed on radio in cases involving public figures, Feirberg-Ikar was already under suspicion during her first term in office, but managed to evade conviction. The irony of it all is that Feirberg-Ikar was awarded a prize for efficient management by the Union of Local Authorities.
Obviously, she wasn’t sufficiently efficient to evade police attention.
Over the past few days Mizrahi and various lawyers and retired public figures were asked by various broadcasters on radio and television how come so many mayors who, by and large, had clean records before taking on high office fell victim to corruption. The general response was that it’s the old story that power corrupts. Apparently, mayors have even more power and are subjected to less scrutiny than the prime minister. There is very little uniformity in local government.
Each municipality makes its own rules, and even though there are comptrollers, there is so little transparency that corruption becomes the norm rather than the exception.
■ JERUSALEM IS becoming saturated with hotels. Despite a massive housing shortage and an ever-growing population in Jerusalem, both Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Mayor Nir Barkat are gung ho about building more hotels in the capital, notwithstanding the downturn in incoming tourism.
Both believe that stronger competition among hotels will force down prices and will make Jerusalem more attractive to tourists.
In recent years, numerous boutique hotels have sprung up in various parts of the city, though mainly in the downtown area. Now there is a move afoot to provide hotel accommodation in the area in and around the German Colony and Armon Hanatziv.
Six hotels are scheduled to be built in a specially zoned compound opposite the Sherover Promenade.
The first two tenders were won by Hasid Brothers Contractors and Construction Ltd. and Klir Chemicals. Between them, the two companies will build hotels with a total of 580 rooms.
Meanwhile, Isrotel is in the final stages of construction of a 250- room hotel in the German Colony.
Local residents, who lost their struggle against the construction of the hotel, fearing that it would radically change the character of their neighborhood, are now immersed in a battle with city hall to prevent the construction of a light rail transportation service in Emek Refaim, which will definitely change the character of the neighborhood, unless someone comes up with a mutually acceptable alternate plan.
Meanwhile the face of downtown Jerusalem, especially in the Mahaneh Yehuda area, is changing rapidly and will soon have very little left to remind locals and visitors of the quaintness of yesteryear.
■ ROSH HASHANA always carries a message of newness – and not only in the spiritual sense. It’s a time when women like to get new outfits for themselves and their children.
They’re somewhat less concerned about their spouses, if the latter have a decent suit and a presentable shirt.
In recent years, one of the signs that the High Holy Days are approaching has been the large designers’ fairs, Hod Vehadar, that take place around the country in the weeks before the holidays, with particular emphasis on styles that are suitable for Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox women who are seeking something that is fashionable but that conforms with the rules of modesty.
The fairs, with the participation of close to 100 designers, also include accessories. The fairs are essentially head-to-toe events under one roof.
The first fair this year was launched on Friday at the Jerusalem International Convention Center and will continue on Sunday and Monday.
On September 14-16, the venue moves to 59 Jabotinsky Street, Givat Shmuel, then on September 18 and 19 to 2 Hapalmah Street, Ra’anana, and lastly to Haifa’s Castra Mall on September 25 and 26.
The fair is open only for women, so that they will feel comfortable trying on garments in places where dressing rooms may be scarce, and where circumstances will enable them to do so without a dressing room, since there will be no males in the vicinity.
This year’s fair organizers have reached an agreement with Elie Lederman and Guy Avihod, the founders of Haboidem, a social initiative store in Jerusalem that enables people with disabilities to get back into the employment field by working as sales personnel in the Haboidem store and at the fair. The Haboidem staff are experienced in sorting, displaying and selling. In addition, Lederman and Avihod have teamed up with leading fashion designer Amira Bronner, of Ra’anana, who has donated brand new end-of-season clothes which the Haboidem people will be delighted to offer to buyers, especially to those with a keen eye for fashion.
Entry tickets to the fair are NIS 15, reduced to NIS 10 for soldiers, National Service volunteers and teachers: with a certificate.
■ AT THIS time of the year, not everyone has time for shopping that is not considered to be urgent.
Nonetheless, many art galleries are opening exhibitions. However, the Jewish Jerusalem Fine Arts Store is making it easy for art lovers who favor works with a Jewish theme.
Anyone with access to a computer can participate in the store’s online auction to benefit the Israel branch of the International Young Israel Movement’s Judaic heritage program for the deaf.
The auction continues until September 21 and features numerous works by Cairo-born Yitzhak Ben Yehuda, who is internationally known for his biblical themes, Israeli landscapes and illustrated ketubot (marriage contracts); and by Geula Twersky, who finds inspiration in the multicultural fabric of Jewish life and the unique features of Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Yemenite, Bukharan and Ethiopian traditions. Her vibrant paintings are sold around the world.
■ THE INTERNET also saves people the trouble of traveling long distances to conferences. The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s annual conference, which opens Sunday, will be streaming many of the speeches live, and others will be available later on IDC’s YouTube.
Among the many distinguished speakers are Raheel Raza, the president of the Canadian Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow; Nicholas J. Rasmussen, director of the US government’s National Counterterrorism Center; Katherine Bauer, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; and many other international experts on counterterrorism.
■ FOR MOTOR car buffs, it’s one thing to see an illustration of a new model, and quite another to see the real thing. Thus when Danny Italiano, the Israel representative for Ferrari and Maserati invited people to come to see the new Maserati Levante, invitees all but came running to look at the Italian masterpiece, including Christina Caputo, the economic and trade attaché at the Italian Embassy, who was keen to see her country’s much-vaunted creativity on wheels. Also present were Simona Nikstro, Maserati’s marketing manager for Eastern Europe, Avishay Levy, CEO of Avis and chairman of Auto Italia, David Eini, the CEO of Universal Motors Israel, and his daughter Galit Eini, who is deputy CEO for marketing at UMI, Ferrari Club president and racing driver Josh Cartu, who happens to own eight Ferraris, Estee Lauder CEO Oren Revach and many other car aficionados.
■ IN HONOR of the 50th anniversary of the Jerusalem Foundation, the German branch of the foundation, which over the years has contributed handsomely to JF projects, is launching another in conjunction with Mishkenot Sha’ananim Cultural Center, which is also a JF project, and is hosting an exhibition by Herlinde Koelbl, one of Germany’s most renowned photographers, whose solo exhibition Faces of Jerusalem explores the subject of overcoming barriers and prejudice by promoting dialogue and mutual understanding.
Usually, exhibitions of this kind are the fruits of long periods of photography over a span of years, but in this case all the photographs are very recent and were taken in the spring of 2016.
The exhibition opens on Sunday, September 18, at 7 p.m., where else but in the Konrad Adenauer Center, which is one of the most visible of German gifts to Israel, and in constant use for a variety of purposes.
The opening will be attended by German ambassador Dr. Clemens von Goetze and the mayor of Erlangen, Dr. Elizabeth Preuss, who is a member of the German branch of the Jerusalem Foundation.
Speakers will include Koelbl, who will explain her approach to photography, and Said Abu Shakra, the founder and director of the Umm el-Fahm Gallery and an artist in his own right, who will speak on “Art as a catalyst for social change.”