Grape Vine: 'This is your Haim'

Mr. TV finally steps down, Szewach Weiss time-travels and Uri Avnery defies the passing years.

ALTHOUGH THE promos for the new Mabat News team, Merav Miller and Yinon Magal, leave no doubt that their debut as a couple will be on February 8, many Channel One viewers might be forgiven for thinking that that Haim Yavin is vacating his seat this week. After all, it is the last week in January, and people usually quit at the end of the month and not at the beginning. However Yavin's final Mabat broadcast - barring any unseen development - will be on February 5, followed by a Channel One special along the lines of This is Your Life, which in Hebrew becomes a word play in his case: The program by that name, once run by Amos Ettinger, was called Haim sheka'eileh, which literally translated means Such a Life or, in the case of Yavin, such a Haim. Yavin's family, friends and colleagues, including people no longer working for the IBA, have been invited to the studio, where in addition to several clips of archive footage, there will be spontaneous reminiscences by people who worked with him over the years. The special is being produced by the Channel One News Department. * IN 1873, when he wrote Around the World in Eighty Days, Jules Verne, despite his fertile imagination and his prescience, could not have imagined that someone could be in Poland in the morning and in Israel in the late afternoon. But that's what happened with Szewach Weiss, whose former titles include Knesset speaker, chairman of the Yad Vashem Council and ambassador to Poland. Weiss, along with deputy Knesset speaker MK Colette Avital, a Knesset delegation, Polish President Lech Kaczynski, former Polish president Lech Walesa and a host of dignitaries from several countries, participated in a memorial ceremony at Auschwitz to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. He returned to Israel in time to participate in a memorial program on Channel One which included news footage of him at Auschwitz. Anchorman Daniel Pe'er also screened an archive interview that Polish-born Weiss, a child Holocaust survivor, had given in Polish soon after returning to his native land as Israel's ambassador. Weiss winced and said that he had to apologize to the Polish people for having made so many grammatical mistakes, but at the time, he hadn't spoken Polish in a long while. Today his Polish is near perfect and he teaches Israeli Politics at Warsaw University. * DEPENDING ON the fallout from the Winograd report, at least one of the works of art to be featured in the ninth annual Bank Hapoalim exhibition and sale that opens this coming Friday morning, may suddenly escalate in value. Proceeds from the exhibition are designated for the battle against AIDS. Among the scores of artists whose works will be displayed is Aliza Olmert, the wife of the prime minister. The exhibition is on view at the bank's executive branch, 63 Yehuda Halevi Street, Tel Aviv, from 9.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. The exhibition and its purpose have evolved into a tradition among the leaders of Israel's business community, many of whom are ardent collectors. But even those who are not feel obligated to buy, and in the final analysis, a lot of money finds its way to a very important cause. * ANYONE WHO has come up against Israeli bureaucracy knows what an uphill battle it is to get past it. Nurit Grossman, a founder of Anashim B'Adom, one of several organizations devoted to reducing carnage on the roads, has been knocking at the doors of bureaucracy for years for the implementation of a law that was passed several years ago, but like some many other laws, ended up in a filing cabinet or a bottom drawer. Speaking this week to Nechama, an organization that counsels trauma victims and the bereaved, Grossman said that she was trying to get some progress on the installation of secret cameras. The soft-spoken ex-Londoner, who more than a decade ago lost her 25 year old son Gal in a motor accident when an IDF semi-trailer drove into his jeep on a narrow Hebron road, wants to spare other families the anguish that her family suffered when Gal was killed. Research has shown that when secret cameras are installed on major highways, motorists tend to stay within the speed limits because they don't know exactly where the cameras are, and they're afraid that if they drive too fast they may have their licenses suspended. Grossman and other members of Anashim B'Adom have lobbied Knesset members and decision makers at the Transportation Ministry as well as other people of influence, but to no avail. Another area in which they've so far been unsuccessful is in making the punishment fit the crime. When drunk or reckless drivers cause death, they have to be severely punished, said Grossman, adding that they should be spending much longer terms in prison than the terms to which they are sentenced. In fact, she said, some of the people who have done jail time for having killed someone on the road, have thought long and hard about the consequences of their recklessness. The upshot is that when they get out of prison, they became active with Anashim B'Adom or one of the other road safety organizations such as Or Yarok or Metuna. * ALSO SPEAKING at the Nechama event was Esther Pollard, who lambasted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for having prevented his ministers from discussing her husband Jonathan Pollard with President George Bush when he visited Israel earlier this month. The people who sat down to a working dinner with Bush at the prime minister's table were a "dream team," said Pollard. "If you were to hand pick a dream team to meet with the president of the United States to negotiate the release of a captive after 23 years in captivity, you could not have chosen a better group than the one that met with Bush that night." But, she said, Olmert would not allow the subject to be raised. Esther Pollard noted that Olmert reportedly asked Bush to free her jailed husband immediately on the president's arrival here, and that Bush reportedly refused, but her information was that this was not the case. In any event, there was no reason, she said, for other ministers not to bring up the subject. Perhaps, if Bush had heard them all voice concern, he might have reconsidered. * A DAVOS Diary item published in Gulf News under the by-line of Francis Matthew, editor at large, stated that while in Davos last week, President Shimon Peres slipped on the ice and fell. Matthew was writing about the icy roads and slippery pavements of Davos and how difficult it was for television cameramen to move their heavy equipment. In the next paragraph he mentioned Peres who, he wrote, moved around with a large security detail of 10 agents from both Israel and Switzerland. "But he seems to want a normal life and manages to act as though the 10 men in suits with earpieces around him do not exist," wrote Matthew. "After his breakfast on Saturday he was due to go to the Congress Hall but suddenly changed his mind and went for a stroll through Davos's main street. This took him out of the security perimeter, and astonished tourists trying to have a normal week skiing found themselves swept up in the drama. However, they were wearing ski boots and were well set up for the icy pavements, unlike the president who was wearing his normal shoes. Inevitably the ice caught Peres, and down he went on to the ground. His security detail helped him up and he dropped in on a Swiss bakery to recover before returning to the Congress Hall and the task of debating the future of the Middle East." * SOME OF the Israelis in Davos met up with a familiar face they hadn't seen in awhile: London-based Dan Perry, who is currently the Europe and Africa Editor of the Associated Press. Perry was AP Bureau Chief in Jerusalem from 2000-2004, and for some of that period was also chairman of the Foreign Press Association. Before that he'd served in several AP postings around the world, and had also done a stint at The Jerusalem Post. In those days his name was Dan Petreanu. * ALSO IN Davos as part of the Peres entourage was former cabinet secretary Israel Maimon, whose task it was to issue invitations to world leaders and other VIPs in business and academia to come to Israel in mid-May for the state's 60th anniversary three-day "Tomorrow" conference, which is Peres' baby. * FESTIVITIES FOR the 60th anniversary have already begun. Certainly, the Herzliya conference, which opened at the Knesset on January 20, was within the framework of the 60th anniversary events, and coincidentally, former government minister and former MK Natan Sharansky, who was one of the speakers at the opening ceremony, celebrated his 60th birthday on the same date. Of all the people who could have been born in the same year as the state. Sharansky is perhaps the greatest living symbol of freedom and independence, and is in a sense continuing the struggle that he began in the Soviet Union. Today, his struggle is to maintain the total unity of Jerusalem and to take every possible legal measure to prevent it being divided. Of the current crop of MKs, those celebrating their 60th birthdays this year include Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On, outgoing Meretz-Yahad leader Yossi Beilin, Minister for the Interior Meir Sheetrit and United Torah Judaism chairman Yaacov Litzman. * WHILE ON the subject of age, Peres, who seems to pack 25 hours into every day, is not the only member of his generation who remains visibly active. Peace camp activist Uri Avnery, who at 84 is a month younger than Peres, continues to write articles in the daily press and to participate in protest rallies related to what he and members of organizations such as Peace Now perceive as mistreatment of the Palestinians. Former minister Shulamit Aloni, who will be 80 towards the end of this year, joined in the peace camps' Gaza relief convoy last Saturday. Geula Cohen, 82, and Moshe Arens, two days younger, are both still politically and otherwise active. Arens drives himself all over the country to participate in events at Ariel College, the Begin Heritage Center, the Jabotinsky Institute and elsewhere and, in his capacity as former foreign minister, is a regular at diplomatic events. Cohen broadcasts weekly on Israel Radio, has a column in Maariv, runs the Uri Zvi Greenberg Institute and is frequently invited to lecture or appear as a panelist at politically or academically oriented events. * IN HER weekly Friday program on Israel Radio Judy Shalom Nir Mozes invariably takes the side of the underdog. Apparently the apple doesn't fall from the tree. Her son Nimrod, together with some of his friends, was seen distributing clothing and blankets to the needy last weekend. * ALBEIT RELUCTANT to accept recognition and honors, Los Angeles philanthropist Lee Samson, chairman of the American Friends of Yeshivat Kiryat Shmona, traveled to Israel for the 30th anniversary celebrations of this hesder yeshiva. Samson had booked a private plane at his own expense to take his family to the North, but storm clouds prevented the flight from taking off. The family was about to return to Jerusalem when Rabbi Tzfaniah Drori, head of the yeshiva and Samson's brother in-law, phoned Samson and told him in no uncertain terms to get in a taxi and come, no matter what. Three hours later, Samson, his wife Anne and twin brother Zvi arrived tired and slightly wet but on an emotional high as they entered the hall to the rousing applause of the audience of 800 yeshiva friends, parents, graduates and dignitaries, including Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Mayor Chaim Barbivai and younger generation rabbinical leader Rabbi Mordechai Elon, an alumnus of the first hesder graduation class. Drori presented Lee and Anne Samson with a Guardians of the Walls award in recognition of their having raised more than $1 million for the yeshiva, and lauded Lee Samson's unswerving dedication to a cause that he has convinced members of the Los Angeles Jewish community and his business associates to support. Samson gave Drori a check for $100,000, and paid tribute to his brother in-law and sister, Sharri, who had come to Kiryat Shmona in the 1960s when there was very little there. New immigrants had been hastily installed in transit camps along the Lebanese border. "Some things don't change", said Samson. "The border is still dangerous; Lebanon is still an enemy, and the Israelis who live here are as courageous as ever and true heroes to all American Jews." Samson pledged to continue his campaign to raise money for a new residential campus with secure rooms to accommodate 250 hesder soldiers.