Grapevine July 10, 2022: Reuniting with old friends

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 CEO PENTERA Amitai Ratzon with Bahrain Ambassador Khaled al Jalahma. (photo credit: PENTERA)
CEO PENTERA Amitai Ratzon with Bahrain Ambassador Khaled al Jalahma.
(photo credit: PENTERA)

It’s going to be like old home week today for President Isaac Herzog, when he attends the opening plenary session of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors, a year and three days after taking office. Herzog was previously chairman of the Jewish Agency, a position that has now been given to Maj. Gen. (Ret) Doron Almog, whose appointment will be confirmed by a plenary vote, this morning.

The Board of Governors – in fact all major Zionist organizations – are made up of a kind of Jewish United Nations, with representatives from many countries and continents. This is an indication of the centrality of Israel in the lives of people who want to preserve and promote Jewish identity.

Ariel Kahana, the main recipient of the annual B’nai B’rith World Center journalism award, last Wednesday, has travelled widely in the Jewish world, often coming across people who were Jewish in name only, but who knew little or nothing of Jewish history and traditions. In the early stages of the state of Israel, the country desperately required the support of Diaspora Jewry, he said. But today, Israel is self-sufficient, and it’s Diaspora Jewry that needs Israel. He suggested that instead of giving money to Israel, as it has done for decades, Diaspora Jewry should divert its monetary gifts towards Jewish education in their own communities.

■ BECAUSE UNIVERSITIES engage in research in so many different fields, they are a constant source of exploration and fascination to ambassadors, who are forever searching for additional opportunities for enhancing relations between their respective countries and Israel. For ambassadors whose countries have a long and wide-ranging relationship with Israel, the quest is not so intense, but for those whose country’s relationship with Israel is either relatively new or which for some years has been low key, they are visiting not only universities, but medical centers, high tech enterprises, cultural institutions and more. This applies particularly to Abraham Accord countries, whose envoys are trying to absorb as much as possible in as short a time as possible.

They seem to be leaving no stone unturned. For instance, in recent weeks, Bahrain Ambassador Khaled al Jalahma has met with Amir Gross, the CEO of Cardiovalve; Dr. Nirit Ofer, various business leaders of the Israel Chamber of Commerce, Ruben Krupik, chairman of the bard at Bank Hapoalim, Amitai Ratzon of the Unicorn cyber security company Pentera, and Ben Gurion University president Daniel Chaimovitz and his team. And that’s just a short list.

 First Druze Jewish Agency envoy to the US spoke about Israel's fallen soldiers. (credit: MARIANA EDELMAN/JFNA) First Druze Jewish Agency envoy to the US spoke about Israel's fallen soldiers. (credit: MARIANA EDELMAN/JFNA)

■ ANYONE WHO sees how riders of bicycles, motorcycles and electric scooters, ignore traffic regulations and whiz through pedestrian walkways, stop past the edge of the crosswalk on a red light, or ignore the red light altogether, is aware that there is a shortage of law enforcement officers in Israel.

Likewise, there are no police around to stop jaywalkers – in particular those who are wheeling baby carriages and talking on their mobile phones at the same time. There are also insufficient social workers to deal with this problem and to take children away from parents who behave so irresponsibly.

For Hebrew speaking young professionals in Tel Aviv, there is an opportunity to partially amend these situations. They can join the volunteer police force.

Admittedly it’s short notice to bring this to public attention today, but anyone wants to volunteer and speaks, reads and writes fluent Hebrew, has no criminal record and is free today at 6:30 p.m., should show up at Tel Aviv Police Headquarters, 10 Wallenberg Street, Ramat HaChayal, for a nine-session course.

With all the best intentions in the world, not everyone is suitable to be a policeman or policewoman and not everyone will be accepted. The decision of the police instructors is final. People who pass the course and are accepted, will operate in uniform. For those who for whatever reasons did not serve in the Israel Defense Forces but want to make a contribution to Israel’s safety and security, this is an opportunity to do so.

There are volunteer police units elsewhere in the country and people interested in joining them should approach the police headquarters in their city or town. The volunteer police not only handle traffic problems, and volunteers will also learn how to use firearms and how to deal with terrorist incidents.

■ THE TEL AVIV young professionals who usually meet under the auspices of the Tel Aviv International Salon for young professionals in their 20s and 30s, actually get together for an impressive array of projects and activities, but more often than not for lectures and Q&A sessions with well-known political, diplomatic and academic figures.

Coming up on Wednesday, July 20, at 8 p.m. at Hangat 1 on the Tel Aviv Port is a live evening with aggressive and acerbic broadcaster and writer, Los Angeles-born Ben Shapiro is the founding editor-in-chief and editor emeritus of The Daily Wire and host of The Ben Shapiro Show, one of the most popular podcasts in the world. This time the event will not be limited to an audience in a particular age group, but will be open to the general public. The cost for regulars at TAIS events is NIS 50 and NIS 100 for others. Registration is a must. To RSVP, visit: https://BenShapiroTelAviv.eventbrite.com.

■ THERE ARE some media outlets which only focus on the negative and not the positive, based on the premise that good news is no news. Some years ago, someone tried to publish a good news newspaper in Israel, but it got such a poor reception from the public that it folded within a month. That’s one of the reasons that so many people are unaware of the numerous social welfare and business projects in which Israelis and Palestinians are jointly engaged. An organization that encourages and promotes such endeavors is the Institute of International Education (IIE), which annually awards the Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East.

This year, the prize was awarded to two pairs of winners, with each pair comprising a Palestinian and an Israeli. This is the 18th annual year in which the prize has been awarded. Each pair will share in a $20,000 prize.

The winners are peace activists Tariq Nassar and Liel Maghen, co-founders of the Sinsila Center for Urban Sustainability, and Sami Huraini and Sharona Weiss, who joined together to create the Faz3a Campaign of non-violent joint action, mobilizing Palestinians from all over, as well as local Jewish volunteers, to help protect the Palestinian olive harvest from violence by armed Jewish settlers. Sharona Weiss is a Haifa-based human rights activist, as well as a photographer with Activestills, and Sami Huraini, from the West Bank, who is the founder and director of Youth of Sumud.

Nassar and Meghan founded Sinsila out of a mutual desire to address problems of inclusiveness, sustainability and fairer living in Jerusalem’s contested urban environment. Coming from very different backgrounds, they tried different projects across the city to see what works in accordance with their goals.

This month, the Sinsila Center is launching a new campaign, Honey and Hope, a pilot project for the sale of honey produced by Palestinian women. Sinsila helps women who live in an area with 80% unemployment and crowded living conditions to become economically empowered. The project helps them make a living through green roofs and biodynamic beekeeping. Nassar and Maghen hope that this endeavor will encourage other women in eastern Jerusalem to join.

Victor J. Goldberg, who founded the prize in 2005, is a retired IBM executive and a member and former vice chairman of the IIE Board of Trustees.

“The IIE Goldberg Prize is a testament to the vision of what courageous individuals working together can actually achieve,” says IIE CEO Allan E. Goodman, adding that current winners “join a roster of laureates who are making the world a less dangerous place for us all.”

■ THERE ARE certain genocides which remain in collective memory for many generations, and there are those that fade from memory very quickly. There is no logical explanation. That’s just the way things are. For instance, the subject of the Armenian genocide, just over a century ago, is constantly revisited. But do a random check on the Rwanda genocide of 1994 or the Srebrenica genocide of 1995, and most people will have heard of neither.

A memorial event commemorating the Srebrenica genocide, in which some 8,000 Moslem men and boys from the Bosnian town of Srebrenica were murdered by Bosnian Serbians, will be commemorated on Monday morning, July 11, at the Srebrenica Memorial Center in Bosnia. The keynote address on Genocide Denial will be delivered by Menachem Rosensaft, the associate executive vice president and general counsel of the World Jewish Congress.

This will be the first time that a senior official representing a global Jewish organization will be speaking at this annual memorial event, which will be live streamed on the Facebook page of the Srebrenica Memorial Center.

Rosensaft is known to the Bosnian and Herzegovinian public for his repeated condemnations of Srebrenica genocide denial, particularly in The report of the Independent International Commission of Enquiry on the Sufferings of All Peoples in the Srebrenica Region Between 1992 and 1995. The Commission was established in 2019, by the government of the Republika Srpska.

Rosensaft teaches the law of genocide at the law schools of Columbia and Cornell universities, and has published a number of articles on Srebrenica genocide denial and its impact on social development, arguing that there is no place in the international community for those who deny the historical facts of genocide.