For the first time since his release from prison, in November 2015, Jonathan Pollard marked his birthday, without his beloved wife Esther, who passed away in January, this year. But Pollard’s friends and supporters decided to make his 68th birthday a special occasion by sending him a huge bouquet of flowers accompanied by the signatures of a thousand people who had pledged to perform good deeds in his name and that of Esther. Considering that it was just a few days before Tisha Be’av, it was a most appropriate gift.
■ SINCE AUGUST 2, Israel has restricted access on roads leading to Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings in the south of Israel and blocked all movement of people and goods to and from the Gaza Strip. According to Israeli authorities, these measures were taken following a wave of arrests by Israeli forces in the West Bank and for fear of reprisals by armed groups in Gaza. Access via Erez, Gaza’s only pedestrian crossing with Israel and thus the West Bank, has been barred completely, preventing travel even in urgent and humanitarian cases for individuals whose permits had already been approved, including dozens of patients in need of life-saving treatment that is unavailable in the Strip.
Last Tuesday, only four patients were allowed through via back-to-back transfer on ambulances. Hundreds of other humanitarian cases, such as people traveling to attend a wedding or funeral of a first-degree relative in Israel or the West Bank, are being denied access. According to the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee in Gaza, the daily average number of exits via Erez Crossing in recent weeks was 2,000 exits, including some 100-120 exits by patients and their companions per day.
Kerem Shalom Crossing, Gaza’s main commercial crossing, has also been closed completely preventing, among other goods, the entry of fuel for Gaza’s power plant. If this continues, it may lead to a further reduction in the already intermittent electricity supply available to residents. The block on exit of goods compounds the financial losses caused by the closure of the crossings, and this for an economy already devastated by decades of restrictions and the last 15 years of Israeli-imposed closure on the Strip. According to Gaza’s Ministry of Agriculture, the exit of some 15-20 truckloads of produce and entry into Gaza of about 60-65 truckloads of produce was blocked early last week, at immense losses for farmers and traders.
In a letter to Israel’s Minister of Defense, Attorney General and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Gisha (Access) and Physicians for Human Rights emphasized that the nature and extent of the closing of the crossings is illegal and leads to unjustifiable, unreasonable and disproportionate harm and infringement on the rights to life, health, movement, livelihood and family life, as well as obstructing Gaza’s industries and economy as a whole.
Also calling for the opening of the crossings are Israeli legislators Aida Touma-Suleiman, Mossi Raz, Michal Rozin, Ali Salalha and Gaby Lasky, who each wrote separately to the Defense Ministry and COGAT last evening to demand that Erez Crossing be opened immediately to allow for the exit of patients in need of medical treatment.
■ AN ALTERNATIVE Tnuva production plant in Alon Tavor was visited by a delegation from Georgia that included a member of parliament, the chairman of the lobby for Israel-Georgia relations, the governor of Kakheti district and the mayor of Telavi. The purpose of the visit, which was initiated by the Economic Society of the Jezreel Valley Regional Council and led by the Municipality of Afula, was to deepen and promote future cooperation between the city of Afula and Georgians in various food industries.
Among the participating Israelis were Afula Mayor Avi Elkabets, Deputy Mayor Michael Barkan, Director of the Community Department Tamar Degami, CEO of the Jezreel Valley Regional Council’s Economic Development Company Shahar Oren and Sagi Zucker, Operations Manager of the dairy on behalf of Tnuva.
Tnuva’s alternative plant in Alon Tavor, managed by Tomer Zeliger, is one of the most advanced in the world in the field of protein substitutes. Tnuva is the key pioneer of alternative protein in Israel, and produces a wide variety of plant-based products and drinks, which have won many awards for being innovative and ground-breaking. As part of the visit, Zucker gave the Georgian delegation a comprehensive presentation of the innovative production lines at the factory, as well as an overview about Tnuva itself and the development processes in the vegetable protein field.
■ SINGER, SONGWRITER and actress Ninet Tayeb, who following her marriage to musician Yossi Mizrachi, in 2014, relocated from Tel Aviv to Los Angeles in 2016, is back on home turf with their two young daughters Emilia and Luna. Whether this is permanent or temporary remains to be seen. But meanwhile, without any tours planned for the foreseeable future, Tayeb has signed up to be the presenter for a NIS 2 million advertising campaign for ZAGA dining room settings.
Initially, the campaign will be featured on television, with Tayeb in different moods, attire and hairstyles seated at a selection of ZAGA dining tables. The campaign will later be expanded to include radio commercials. The taxation authorities should be very happy. Tayeb will be paid NIS 1,000,000 for promoting the brand and the tax on her earnings will come to a very pretty penny.
■ FOOD SECURITY has become an increasingly important factor not only in Israel, but around the world as crops are affected by conflict and climate change which in turn influence poverty demographics. In Israel, there are several organizations that provide food for the needy. The best known is Leket. In recent weeks another organization known as Food for Babies, has made it its mission to provide baby foods for infants in low-income families especially the families of single mothers.
Concurrently, diplomats, aware of food security problems in their own countries, are increasingly participating in the work of Leket and other food security oriented organizations. On Tuesday of this week, British Ambassador Neil Wigan will be the guest speaker at a Leket indoor volunteering event at Leket Israel’’s Logistics Center in Gan Haim, where fruit and vegetables rescued from the fields will be sorted and packed for distribution to Israelis in need.
■ THE DAN Resort Hotel in Caesarea has entered into a culinary partnership with celebrity chef Yehonatan Sharvit and has opened a new pop-up poolside restaurant Bacchetta, which is open for lunch and dinner, and provides yet another attraction in the city noted for its antiquities, and in recent years as the location of the private residence of opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
■ EDUCATION MINISTRY, Teachers’ Union and Finance Ministry crises notwithstanding, Zoglobek Food Industries have a long-standing policy of providing first graders with school bags. This year, the company once again chose to provide backpacks, filled with all the supplies required in first grade to first graders from the northern development town of Shlomi. At a festive ceremony in which the backpacks were distributed, Zoglobek CEO Ran Ackerman emphasized the importance of education and said that the concept behind the project is to give every first grader, regardless of the socio – economic situation of their family, an equal start at school, so that they can all progress together.
Gaby Na’aman, the head of the Shlomi local council, in voicing appreciation to Zogolobek, said that this was the 17th consecutive year in which the company had given Shlomi first graders a good start.
■ TIME IS very much on the move. Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue, which has long been a magnet for tourists, many of whom chose to stay at the Leonardo Plaza hotel directly across the road when they come to Israel for the High Holy Days, is already advertising the cost of tickets:
Ticket Prices for non-members are:
- NIS 680 for Rosh Hashanah only;
- NIS 680 for Yom Kippur only;
- NIS 980 for both Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur;
- Children under three years of age – free of charge;
- Children between three to ten years – NIS 250; and,
- $1,800 Front row seats in the first rows of section A and E in the men’s section, and first row in section C in the ladies’ section. (Members who pay their annual $1,800 (NIS 6,019) membership fee and generally sit in the first rows, should be aware that the membership covers the cost of the two seats for the High Holy Day services, with no additional charge. Services will be led by Cantor Tzvi Weiss, accompanied by the Jerusalem Great Synagogue choir, conducted by Elli Jaffe.
■ A LIVE interview given by Israeli-American businessman and WeWork founder Adam Neumann at last November’s New York Times DealBook Summit has been nominated for an Emmy award. The nomination, announced by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, is in the category of “Outstanding Live Interview.”
The first interview given by Neumann in a period of two years, it was watched by nearly a million viewers and subsequently passed the one million views line on YouTube. Due to significant interest from Israeli viewers, Hebrew subtitles were added recently.
Neumann was interviewed by Summit host Andrew Ross Sorkin, financial columnist for the New York Times. Sorkin is the founder and editor of Dealbook, a financial news service published by the New York Times, and co-anchor of CNBC’s Squawk Box. Neumann and Sorkin spoke just after WeWork went public, at a value of $9 billion (NIS 3 b.).
“I have had a lot of time to think and there have been multiple lessons,” Neumann told Sorkin and admitted that the rapid rise in WeWork’s valuation – which peaked at $47 b. (NIS 157 b.) – “at some point, it went to my head.” His advice to entrepreneurs is to learn from the mistakes he made. “In life, sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down.” Valuable lessons are learned during the low times, he explained, and “you can apply that lesson and it will be a great part of your journey and will become a good thing, not a tragedy.”
“In life, sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down.”Adam Neumann
Neumann is not the only famous member of his family. His sister Adi Neumann is a highly rated international fashion model. His wife Rebekah is a cousin to actress Gwyneth Paltrow.