Grapevine December 23, 2022: Equality is not a one-way street

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 PRESIDENT ISAAC Herzog lights Hanukkah candles in the Moroccan synagogue named for his grandfather, the late Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog, in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
PRESIDENT ISAAC Herzog lights Hanukkah candles in the Moroccan synagogue named for his grandfather, the late Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog, in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

■ FOR DECADES, women’s movements have been advocating for equal opportunities, equal pay for equal work and equal respect when they hold the same high rank as a man. In some countries, women have to a large extent succeeded in what they set out to achieve.

In Israel, women have held positions as prime minister, foreign minister, justice minister, Speaker of the Knesset, State Comptroller, Governor of the Bank of Israel, President of the Supreme Court, President of the National Labor Court, Attorney General, IDF Chief Prosecutor, head of of the Israel Antitrust Authority and more. Women have both founded and been elected as leaders of political parties. Women have headed local authorities, banks, public relations agencies, executive boards of commercial enterprises and departments in hospitals and other medical centers. They are and have been prominent in academia and in professions such as national security, law, science, journalism and tourism. They have also done well in other fields.

All this would suggest that women have indeed achieved equality but the truth is that most of the above-mentioned triumphs were isolated cases. Where women truly triumph over men is in matters of domestic violence. In a long feature article that was published in Israel Hayom last week, several battered husbands who had been married to aggressive women with violent tempers, physical strength and murderous intent, spoke to reporters Bat Chen Epstein Elias and Eyal Levy about what they had endured and how their complaints had never been taken seriously by police until they were able to provide evidence.

One man who had been stabbed in the neck by his former wife when they were still married, had the presence of mind to activate the video camera in his phone when his wife began screaming at him before she took a knife and stabbed him. He was then able to show the video to the police and his wife was duly arrested.

All of the men interviewed complained that when a woman is attacked by her husband and complains to the police, they take immediate action, but when a man complains, they usually laugh and send him home. Quite often, when a man complains, his wife will lodge a counter-complaint and unless he can prove his side of the story, legal steps are taken to separate him from his home and family.

 (L-R) GEORGE KARRA, President Herzog and Tel Aviv-Jaffa mayor Ron Huldai in front of the Christmas tree at St George’s Church.  (credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM/GPO) (L-R) GEORGE KARRA, President Herzog and Tel Aviv-Jaffa mayor Ron Huldai in front of the Christmas tree at St George’s Church. (credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM/GPO)

When the situation leads to divorce, he seldom gets custody of the children and is often denied visiting rights, or alternately, any contact with his children is under supervision. Sometimes, his ex-wife moves to another town or city that is so far from his home and place of work that he simply cannot make time to see his children and they become estranged. To add insult to injury, even when his ex-wife earns more than he does, he is still required to pay her alimony, as well as child support. That does not exactly come within the definition of equality.

The man who had been stabbed in the neck described his situation as very similar to that of Shira Izakov, who was stabbed repeatedly by her husband who sought to kill her just over two years ago. Miraculously she survived and has become a symbol and spokesperson in campaigns calling for an end to domestic violence. It should be remembered, however, that women are not always the victims. Sometimes, it’s the man in the house.

Joe Biden is Hanukkah-conscious

■ US PRESIDENT Joe Biden, who has repeatedly said that one doesn’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist and categorizes himself as a Zionist despite some of the political company he keeps, is very Hanukka conscious. Biden invoked the historical background to the festival during his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by drawing an analogy between Ukraine and the Maccabees and referring to Zelensky’s Jewish origins.

Roman Abramovich in Jerusalem

■ RUSSIAN OLIGARCH Roman Abramovich like so many of his affluent Russian colleagues is currently persona non grata in Britain, despite his vast holdings there and will continue to be treated as undesirable until the war between Russia and Ukraine comes to a stop. But in Israel, where he also has citizenship and significant assets, he is always welcome. Although he does spend a lot of time outside of Israel, he was in the country this week to attend the bar mitzvah of his son Aaron Alexander Abramovich, which was held at the Western Wall.

IPO goes to UAE

■ IN ALL the hype about the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s historic concert in Abu Dhabi, a city recognized by UNESCO as the City of Music, conductor Lahav Shani, in a brief address to the 700-member audience which included Foreign Minister and Minister for International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Culture Minister Noura Al Kaabi and Michal Herzog, the wife of the president of Israel mentioned that the orchestra had last performed in an Arab country in 1945.

At that time, it was known as the Palestine Orchestra, which may have made it more acceptable in Cairo than it would be today as the Israel Philharmonic. What was no less historic than the IPO performing in the UAE was the date of the performance, which was only a few days short of the anniversary of the orchestra’s inaugural concert on December 26, 1936, under the baton of Arturo Toscanini. Equally historic was the fact that the day prior to the performance in the UAE was the date of the 140th anniversary of the birth of the IPO’s founder, violin virtuoso Bronislaw Huberman, who was born in Czestochowa, Poland, on December 19, 1882.

Christmas and Hanukkah

■ IN AMERICA, it’s not uncommon to light Hanukkah candles in front of a Christmas tree. Many Christians put up and decorate a tree two or three weeks ahead of Christmas and in religiously mixed families, the Christmas tree is sometimes referred to as a Hanukkah bush.

A new Hebrew word, “Hana-Christmas”, combining Hanukka and Christmas was broadcast in radio commercials for a jewelry company this year and may catch on as more Israelis traveling abroad join in Christmas celebrations, as for instance singer Aviv Gefen is doing in Canada where he is vacationing with his mother and sons Dylan and Elliot.

Because Christmas falls towards the end of Hanukkah, there is an ecumenical ambiance in the air in Israel. Certainly, President Isaac Herzog, who like all his predecessors has been Hanukkah-hopping to candle lighting ceremonies this week, must have felt it on Wednesday evening when he initially went to the Moroccan synagogue in Tel Aviv named in memory of his late grandfather, Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog.

Following the afternoon and evening prayers, he continued on to St George’s Greek Orthodox Church in Jaffa to meet with church heads of the various Christian denominations, as well as members of the lay leadership and to join in lighting up the Christmas tree. He was accompanied by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and retired supreme court justice George Karra who was born and raised in Jaffa.

Last year, Herzog and his wife went to Nazareth to meet the Christian leadership and to visit the famous Christmas tree of the Orthodox Church, which is believed to be the largest Christmas tree in the Middle East.

Resnicks out-donate Sir Frank Lowy

■ IN LAST Friday’s Grapevine, mention was made of an $18 million (NIS 6.24 m.) gift to Tel Aviv University by Australian-Israeli billionaire Sir Frank Lowy. A considerably larger gift has been promised to the Technion Institute of Technology by American mega philanthropists Lynda and Stewart Resnick, co-owners of the California-based The Wonderful Company.

To date, the Resnicks through their foundation and The Wonderful Company have invested more than $2.3 billion (NIS 7.97 b.) in philanthropy, with more than $1.3 b. (NIS 4.5 b.) invested in environmental sustainability.

Their pledge to the Technion is $50 m. (NIS 173 m.) for the establishment of the Stewart and Lynda Resnick Sustainability Center for Catalysis, designed to empower faculty and students to find new ways to maintain global growth while protecting the planet for future generations.

The pledge is the latest in a series of gifts by the Resnicks to improve the quality of life of future generations by protecting the ecosystem and preserving natural resources.

The Wonderful Company is one of the largest privately owned companies in the US and the world’s leading grower of tree nuts, America’s largest citrus grower and the world’s biggest flower delivery service within the Teleflora network of florists

Ruth Hotel in Safed

■ COMFORT, SERVICE, amenities, cuisine and nearby tourist attractions have long been the marketing staples of hotels but all over Israel hotels are increasingly adding weekend events to stimulate both the soul and the mind. Lectures and panel discussions, as well as musical entertainment, have become major drawcards.

At the Ruth Hotel in Safed, general manager Shimon Kipnis, mindful of concerns by certain sectors of the public about reforms to be introduced by the incoming government, invited Channel 12 news reporter Ohad Hamo and Channel 13 news reporter Or Heler to analyze the political situation and to try to forecast Israel’s political future. Musical entertainment was provided by the Chilla Acapella group and sommelier Anat Barkat presented guests with a variety of wines, explaining the composition of the different flavors.

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