Grapevine April 8, 2022: Media musical chairs

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 CHILDREN FROM Ukraine in downtown Jerusalem. (photo credit: OREN BEN HAKUN)
CHILDREN FROM Ukraine in downtown Jerusalem.
(photo credit: OREN BEN HAKUN)

Israel’s media industry is like a game of musical chairs. Regardless of whether someone is being head-hunted or fired, it’s rare for them to be out of work for long. Such is the case with former Israel Hayom editor Boaz Bismuth. The jury is still out on whether he left voluntarily after five years at the helm, and even longer as international editor of the freebie paper, or whether he was dismissed by publisher and owner Miriam Adelson because of his ongoing, over-enthusiastic pro-Netanyahu stance. It was widely believed that Israel Hayom was established as a means of continued promotion of Netanyahu, but the former prime minister and current opposition leader fell out of favor with the Adelsons when his conversations with Yediot Aharonot publisher Noni Moses about clipping the wings of Israel Hayom, became public. The Adelsons were also weary of the alleged demands made by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, and the reported outbreaks of the latter’s temper and her total loss of self-control. They moved their focus from Netanyahu to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and when dedicating a school for medicine at Ariel University, invited Bennett and not Netanyahu. Since her husband’s death, Miriam Adelson has reportedly been very tight with Bennett.

Bismuth has told friends that he had enough of the responsibility of being the editor in chief, and he was simply exhausted. The baton was passed to Omer Lachmanovich, but Bismuth did not remain idle for too long. He is now with Army Radio and on Friday mornings at 8 a.m. will cohost Thoughts Ltd., with Moshe Shlonski. Bismuth replaces the controversial Yaakov Bardugo, who resigned after being demoted. Bardugo was even more pro-Netanyahu than Bismuth who is better equipped in the art of diplomacy having served as Israel’s ambassador to Mauritania from 2004 to 2008.

■ WHILE ON the subject of journalists, KAN 11’s Hadas Greenberg, who with brief respites, spent more than a month in Ukraine and was the first journalist to enter Bucha when other journalists were denied entry, did a superb job of human interest reporting. For the most part, she maintained the objectivity which is supposed to be part and parcel of the profession, but in Bucha, she could no longer control her emotions and what emerged was a powerfully moving report of the cruel atrocities and needless killing of men, women and children by Russian soldiers. Journalists are often bitchy about each other, but Greenberg’s colleagues at KAN 11 consistently praised her work and told her so on air. Some even said they were proud of her.

But, rivals in other media outlets found fault with her pink quilted jacket, her manicured nails, her eye-shadow and her hair, which was always immaculately in place. Actually, she alternated her jackets, and so what if one of them was pink. Secondly, a manicure can last a long time. After all, she wasn’t washing dishes, she was holding a microphone. Thirdly, it takes only seconds to apply eye-shadow. And fourthly, she has long, thick, straight hair, which is always styled the same way, falling down past her shoulders, so despite the situation in a war zone, it would naturally fall into place.

The fact that a war is on, does not necessarily make people forget about their appearance and how they are dressed and groomed in normal times. A woman whom Greenberg interviewed in Bucha after the calamity, was wearing lipstick, and her whole outfit was color coordinated, with the scarf fashionably tied. Sometimes catering to one’s vanity helps to preserve one’s sanity. Greenberg certainly merits the Sokolov Prize, which is Israel’s highest annual award for journalism. Hopefully others will realize that she deserves it.

 SOME OF THE members of the Protea Hills charity committee surrounding either side of United Hatzalah’s representative, Yaacov Kamenetsky.  From left, Judy Nachmais, Channen Sommerfeld, Becky Mevorach and Judy Aronson.  (credit: RONALD ARONSON) SOME OF THE members of the Protea Hills charity committee surrounding either side of United Hatzalah’s representative, Yaacov Kamenetsky. From left, Judy Nachmais, Channen Sommerfeld, Becky Mevorach and Judy Aronson. (credit: RONALD ARONSON)

On Tuesday, she crossed from Ukraine into Romania on her way home to Israel. Interviewed from there by Reshet Bet news anchor Esti Perez-Ben Ami, she said that after Ukraine, it was hard to digest that fact that people were moving freely in the streets and sitting in outdoor coffee shops, while only a few hundred meters away there was so much devastation.

■ DURING THE Second World War, the British seeking to put their hands on secret Nazi documents recruited several convicts who were master safecrackers. Some became double agents and some, though crooks, were fiercely loyal to Britain and became part of Britain’s espionage network. This was certainly a valid reason for releasing them from prison. KAN 11 reported on Monday that President Isaac Herzog had pardoned a Ukrainian prisoner in order to enable him to return to Ukraine and fight for his country.

Herzog acceded to the prisoner’s request after it had been approved by the Justice Ministry on humanitarian grounds. As far as is known this was an unprecedented presidential pardon in Israel, but not really unexpected. When Herzog, a lawyer by profession, first came into office and began reading appeals for clemency and pardons, he was very disturbed by the number of young people who were destined to go through life with a stain on their characters, which in many cases would affect their employment possibilities and their opportunities to advance in life. In consultation with the Justice Ministry, Herzog last November announced a special pardons program to erase the criminal records of IDF soldiers and national service volunteers whose offenses were not serious and who had successfully undergone full rehabilitation during their service.

This latest pardon does not quite come into that category, but it does demonstrate an understanding for an acute human need.

■ A CHRISTIAN ZIONIST group, Friends of Zion Heritage Center in Jerusalem, has launched a global campaign to mobilize support for Ukraine.

The campaign is called “Ukraine Can’t Breathe” and a three-story flag of Ukraine with those words was hung on a building in downtown Jerusalem. “Ukraine Can’t Breathe” is a slogan associated with the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, said Evans explaining the phrase is used against inequality. These were the last words uttered in 2014 by Eric Garner, an unarmed Afro-American who died after being put in a chokehold by a New York City police officer.

The group has made two trips in the las two weeks to deliver 19 tons of food to feed 45,000 people.

The group hosted dozens of children from the Alumim children’s home in Zhitomir, who managed to leave Ukraine and come to Israel after 11 days of war and he will be caring for and supporting their needs. Also present at the event were some families of Holocaust survivors who, with the help of the Friends of Zion and Yad Ezer Lahaver, were rescued from Lvov, Mosul, Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine. Eliyahu Gerinkevitch, a soldier who immigrated from Ukraine seven years ago and serves in the Jerusalem Border Police, thanked the people of Israel and Friends of Zion for helping to rescue his entire family from Kyiv, after he had not seen them for three years.

Members of the public can go to https://ukrainehope.com/ to help a refugee family that is stuck with no country, no home, and no husband, and Ukrainians who are living in hell in Ukraine with no electricity, food or even medicine.

■ THERE ARE many other organizations in Israel and around the world which are trying to sustain the Ukrainian people, but as the war progresses, whatever they do is never enough. Among the organizations that are heavily involved at different levels is United Hatzalah, whose second emergency campaign grant from the Leora M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust will cover the costs of the next phase of Operation Orange Wings. The grant enabled a cargo plane full of medications, medical supplies and equipment, and food for Ukrainian refugees to leave Israel.. Part of the grant will also be used to evacuate sick and injured people from Ukraine to safe locations.

President and Founder of United Hatzalah, Eli Beer, thanked Helmsley for its continuing support. “We have now received two major grants from Helmsley that total $1.124 million, “ he said. “I want to thank Helmsley for giving us everything we requested for this mission – medical equipment, as well as funding for this flight to Slovakia. Helmsley has helped our organization reach a new level of humanitarian aid and assistance for the Ukrainian refugees. Never before has United Hatzalah taken upon itself an operation of this magnitude. Thanks to Helmsley’s support, we have succeeded and surpassed our wildest dreams of how much we can do. It is thanks to them and people and foundations like them, who have shown so much humanity during these dark times and have taught us that where there is a will to help, then there is a way.”

Sandor Frankel, one of Helmsley’s Trustees, said, “Helmsley is grateful to United Hatzalah for immediately mobilizing to assist Ukrainian refugees needing medical care and help them make their way out of Ukraine to safety in Israel and elsewhere. Times like this cry out for immediate philanthropic support, and Helmsley is pleased to have been able to step up.”

United Hatzalah mobilized as soon as the war erupted, sending an initial delegation of 15 medical and psycho-trauma responders to the Moldova-Ukraine borders. Since then, the organization’s volunteers have spread out to other border crossings and refugee centers, and so far, United Hatzalah has provided a multi-faceted humanitarian response to 35,000 refugees, bringing 60 tons of aid to the region and chartering regular rescue flights that brought 2,000 refugees to safety in Israel.

The organization also undertook a series of covert operations that have rescued more than 20 individuals from inside Ukraine. These rescue operations helped newborn surrogate infants, elderly Holocaust survivors, and injured and ill families who could not evacuate the country on their own due to their various ages and medical conditions. Vice president of operations for United Hatzalah Dov Maisel said, “Sending supplies and medical teams into Ukraine is a huge challenge logistically and quite dangerous. Yet, we have successfully carried out a growing number of these life-saving missions.”

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