Grapevine March 26, 2023: Behind the scenes

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

(photo credit: MUKI SCHWARTZ)

There are many civil servants behind the scenes in government who remain more or less anonymous throughout their careers, but without whose input, few things would ever get done.

One such person is Tzipi Giladi, who worked in the Knesset for 47 years, mostly in the Aliyah committee, which last week held a special session in her honor to wish her well as she retired. Among the invitees to the session were former committee chairs Uzi Baram, Naomi Blumenthal and Michael Kleinerman, and current MKs Danny Danon, David Biton and Sharren Haskel.

Also present was Dov Lipman, who was an active member of the committee while serving as an MK, and continues to be involved with new immigrants. He now serves as CEO of Yad L’Olim.

He praised Giladi for always being helpful to everyone on the committee and for her dedication and service to aliyah and new immigrants.

 “Giladi wrote letters on many subjects, and was a witness to major historical events. She wrote letters regarding legislation to prime minister Menachem Begin; was present when Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addressed the Knesset, worked intensively on Israel’s efforts to absorb close to a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union, as well as Ethiopian immigrants who arrived on Operation Moses and Operation Solomon,” he said. She was involved in many other issues, and if she decides to write her autobiography, it will in all probability contain previously unpublished nuggets of information.

 TZIPI GILADI with Dov Lipman.  (credit: COURTESY YAD L'OLIM) TZIPI GILADI with Dov Lipman. (credit: COURTESY YAD L'OLIM)

Differentiating between politics and love of Israel 

■ WHILE ISRAEL is facing intense criticism from Jews and non-Jews alike around the world, there are those who differentiate between their love for and loyalty to Israel and their disagreement with government policies. In various groups and organizations, there are those who support judicial reform, those who are against it in its present format, and those who oppose it altogether. The French-Jewish community is no exception, and no doubt there were differences of opinion among the 240 Jewish community leaders from France, including 70 French politicians and mayors who came to demonstrate their support for Israel by holding the national conference of the Jewish community umbrella organization Consistoire in Israel. This was done in celebration of the state’s 75th-anniversary celebration.

Members of the organization’s Constituent Assembly arrived in the country through the good offices of Israel Experience, in cooperation with Pseral-Gesharim, KKL-JNF, the Zionist Federation and Keren Hayesod.

Speaking of the significance of the visit, Jérémy Redler, a Paris councilor, said: “It is important to expose Israel to elected officials in France.” He had the feeling, he said, that everyone who comes to Israel and sees what can be found here, becomes an ambassador for Israel, and defends Israel in the diplomatic arena.

Members of the delegation met with Chief Rabbi David Lau, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli and Aliya and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer, as well as MKs Boaz Bismuth, Pnina Tamano-Shata, Dan Illouz, Yossi Taieb and others. During his career as a journalist, Bismuth spent several years in Paris.

Amos Hermon, CEO of Israel Experience, which is a subsidiary of the Jewish Agency, voiced pride in the company’s participation in organizing such a significant event.

Wadia Abunasser to address Ljubljana

■ PUBLIC SPEAKERS do not always say abroad what they say at home and don’t always speak the same language abroad as they do at home.

 Thus, anyone who happens to be in Slovenia’s capital of Ljubljana on Monday, April 27, might care to listen to an address in English by Wadia Abunasser, a Haifa-based Christian-Arab who is the founder and director of the International Center for Consultations.

A familiar figure on the diplomatic circuit, he also serves as consultant to various church leaders and is frequently interviewed on Israeli, Palestinian and numerous foreign media outlets. He is fluent in Arabic, Hebrew and English, and also writes for foreign and Israeli publications. He has been invited to Slovenia by the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies to speak on the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Challenges and Opportunities” and on the transformation of the judiciary in Israel. His lecture will take place at the Iris Hotel (formerly the Grand Hotel) at 4 p.m. Admission is free of charge.

The lecture will be followed by a discussion moderated by Associate Prof. Dr. Zijad Becirovic and Bakhtyar Aljaf, who are both directors of IFIMES.

The lecture will be broadcast live on 

Efrat's Mayor fighting for a referndum

■ ON THE home front, Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi is garnering support from both the Left and the Right to solve the national crisis by holding a referendum. While acknowledging that the coalition won the Knesset elections, he is not sure that everyone knew what they were voting for, nor are all the people who voted for the coalition parties particularly happy with the choice of ministers who many believe are doing more harm than good.

Revivi suggests that both the coalition and the opposition set out their proposals for judicial reform in clear, concise language. So far, only the coalition has come up with its intentions, but the opposition has not put forward an alternative, he says. When the voting public has the opportunity to study both and to fully comprehend what they mean for the future of the nation, only a referendum will take Israel out of its present morass, he opines. As things are, there have been negative effects on the economy, on national security and on Israel’s standing in the world, he notes, emphasizing that there can only be progress if the public knows what the issues are, and such progress would be the outcome of a referendum.

Meanwhile, there have been diplomatic rumbles in Arab countries with which Israel has relations, with Jordan leading the field.

What a travesty it would be if all the good work done since the period of the Begin administration was to unravel. Surely Benjamin Netanyahu does not want to see some of his own diplomatic achievements go down the drain.

Israel's flag comes to symbolize fragmentation

■ ONE OF the tragedies of the status quo is that the national flag, which should be a symbol of national unity, has become a symbol of fragmentation. In the days when Shari Arison had the controlling interest in Bank Hapoalim, she introduced the inclusion of national flags in daily newspapers on the eve of Independence Day. But anyone who flies a national flag these days is considered to be against the judicial reforms proposed by the coalition. A lot of people are wondering just how much worse the situation can get.

National Library controversy

■ TELEVISION COVERAGE of the controversy over the continued independence of the National Library focused on construction workers who are in the final stages of completing the magnificent building. Last week, the workers, suppliers and service providers – large and small, were honored at a special closed event that was exclusively geared to people involved in the physical construction of the new building. They were treated to a lively, multicultural performance by the Jerusalem East West Orchestra. The event was the brainchild of Alice Gottesman, daughter of Ruth and the late David (Sandy) Gottesman, the lead donors for the library’s new home.

Alice Gottesman, who specially came to Israel for this meaningful occasion, drew a comparison between the role of each worker and letters of the alphabet, saying “You are all letters in this story.”

NLI Chairman Sallai Meridor, in expressing appreciation, told the gathering that they could all take pride in telling their children and grandchildren that they were part of this enterprise and its spirit.

Max Beckenbauer of the architecture firm Herzog and de Meuron noted: “This building, at the end of the day, is greater than the sum of its parts. To work on it has been our privilege, and our pleasure.”

Miki Sofer, representing contractor Electra Construction, mused, “Would I do this project again? Yes, but I would make sure to be back to work as usual the next day.”

Eran Pollak of the project management firm Poran Shrem read a comprehensive list of thanks to all project stakeholders with special thanks to Alice Gottesman for recognizing the importance of all who worked on it from start to finish.

The question remains as to whether the same people will be invited to the official opening of the library, which is scheduled to be in the fall of this year.