Grapevine: Guessing games with Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's adversaries and even some of his followers say that he never forgives anyone who goes against him.

Defense minister Moshe Arens wth Israeli Air Force personnel at the Paris Air Show in 1999 with the Israel Aircraft Industry Arrow missile. (photo credit: YA’ACOV SA’AR/GPO)
Defense minister Moshe Arens wth Israeli Air Force personnel at the Paris Air Show in 1999 with the Israel Aircraft Industry Arrow missile.
(photo credit: YA’ACOV SA’AR/GPO)
There is almost always an exception to the rule. His adversaries and even some of his followers say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu never forgives anyone who goes against him. The most recent example of that was when Gideon Sa’ar contested the Likud leadership. Netanyahu’s older son, Yair, reacted with one insult after another on social media. Whether the PM was a party to this, one can never know. But other than some of the PM’s sycophants calling Sa’ar a traitor, there has been no punishment to date. Sa’ar has pledged to do all that he can to ensure that Likud wins the March 2 election, and until at least March 4, Netanyahu, if he succeeds in his bid for immunity, is unlikely to do anything that may cause harm or humiliation to Sa’ar.
When Danny Danon challenged Netanyahu for the Likud leadership in 2014, he met with the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post and voiced great confidence in his ability to win. Netanyahu garnered 75% of the vote and subsequently appointed Danon as Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, thereby giving him the title of ambassador. Danon proved to be effective in his new role, and Netanyahu extended Danon’s term by six months in the summer of 2019.
Danon’s term was supposed to end this past Tuesday, and as Netanyahu cannot make another permanent appointment while heading an interim government, Danon’s appointment has again been extended – this time to May 2020.
Prior to that Silvan Shalom had in 2005 challenged Netanyahu for the party leadership, and later held several ministerial portfolios.
Shalom resigned on December 24, following allegations by several women that he had sexually harassed them. The case was closed by the attorney-general for lack of substantive evidence. However, the allegations cost Shalom not only an illustrious, 23-year political career, but also his marriage. Since mid-2016, attempts have been made to bring him back into the political arena, but he has since entered the world of business, where he has been successful, and for the foreseeable future, is quite happy there.
■ IT IS thought provoking that Federmann Enterprises, a family owned private holding company headed by Michael Federmann, has diverse interests that include among others both Elbit Systems and the Dan Hotels chain. Elbit recently won a $144-million five-year contract with the Defense Ministry to supply small caliber ammunition to the IDF. The King David Hotel is considered to be the most security-conscious hotel in the country, which is the main reason that so many visiting heads of state and other high-ranking dignitaries stay there. Later this month, the King David will be hosting most of the heads of state who are coming to Israel at the invitation of President Reuven Rivlin to attend the Forum on Antisemitism at Yad Vashem.
■ APROPOS PRESIDENT Rivlin, hardly a week goes by without him receiving a new book. Rivlin is a voracious reader, but given all the functions he has to attend and all the official reading that he has to do, he doesn’t have much time for books – but they keep coming, and most of them via Yediot Books, the publishing House of Yediot Aharonot. Last week, accompanied by the company’s publisher Dubi Eichenold, veteran journalist Nissim Mishal made the journey from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to present Rivlin with his latest book, To be an Israeli, which is an illustrated album of the most important events in the history of the state.
■ TO MARK the first anniversary of the passing of aeronautical engineer, politician, statesman and author Moshe Arens, the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue, the Netanya Academic College in conjunction with the Jabotinsky Institute and Israel Aircraft Industries have joined forces with the Arens family in organizing a conference to be held at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, January 9, in the Tshuva Hall of the Netanya Academic College. Arens, who was instrumental in launching the political career of Benjamin Netanyahu, served as defense minister, foreign minister and Israel’s ambassador to the United States.
Prior to becoming an MK in 1973, Arens was deputy director general at Israel Aircraft Industries, and before that, a professor of aeronautics at Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
Although he was 93 years old at the time of his death on January 7, 2019, he never gave the impression of being old. He maintained a slim, youthful figure with no sign of middle-aged paunch, he was straight-backed and walked without a cane, remained one of nature’s gentlemen, and to the very end had a mind as sharp as a razor.
Among the various positions he held after leaving the political arena were honorary chairman of the Jabotinsky Institute and chairman of the Board of Governors of Ariel University. It is therefore somewhat surprising that in a conference dedicated to the life and legacy of Moshe Arens that Ariel University is not represented among the organizers. Among the long list of speakers who will honor his memory are former minister and MK Dr. Ephraim Sneh, who is chairman of the S. Daniel Abraham Center; Yossi Ahimeir, chairman of the Jabotinsky Institute; Aryeh Naor, chairman of the academic committee at the Jabotinsky Institute; former chief of military intelligence Uri Sagi; Shimon Hefetz, who was military adjutant to Arens; former director general of the Defense Ministry Amos Yaron; former Israeli ambassador to the US Salai Meridor; along with several other prominent figures. Architect Aliza Arens will represent the Arens family in speaking about her father.
To right an historical wrong about resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto, Moshe Arens researched and wrote Flags Over the Warsaw Ghetto, in which he told of right-wing resistance forces. Up until that time, the main hero of the resistance had been left-wing Mordechai Anielewicz. Arens introduced the world to Pawel Frenkiel, after which the Warsaw municipality put up a memorial plaque in Grzybowska Street where Frenkel was killed.
■ IT’S JUST been made official that Jonathan Belik of Israel and Michael Reid, a glacier guide in Alaska, have been recognized by the Guiness Book of Records for their Wheeling for the World 85-day bike ride across 48 states of America totaling some 9,000 miles.
Belik spent three summers with Seeds of Peace, where he helped to empower youth from conflict regions to understand and respect each other. He later founded Jerusalem Peace Lions, a mixed Israeli-Palestinian team playing Australian-rules football. He has traveled the world to get to know people from different places and backgrounds and to hear their stories, sometimes recording them, but always listening to them and showing a keen interest in what they have to say.
It’s not surprising that Belik is such a proponent for peace and co-existence.
Almost exactly 10 years ago, his father Dr. Harvey Belik went to Haiti to help the victims of the devastating earthquake there. Belik is associated with Natan-1 Relief which is affiliated with the Israeli Coalition for International Humanitarian Aid.
Harvey Belik is a close friend and collaborator of Danny Hakim, the founder of Budo for Peace and head of the Israel branch of Kids Kicking Cancer.
■ INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN broadcaster Earl Cox, who is known for his unwavering support for Israel, in the New Year greetings sent out by him and his wife, Kathleen, signed off with, “Remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem in 2020.”
■ DESPITE OBJECTIONS by local residents, the Tel Aviv City Council, taking its lead from Mayor Ron Huldai, who was an educator before he became a politician, voted to build a new elementary school on the site of Levinsky Park in the Neve Sha’anan area of south Tel Aviv. The school is intended for the children of migrant and refugee workers, and not for Israeli children who live in the neighborhood. Children of migrant and refugee workers have frequently been the victims of Israeli bureaucracy. In Tel Aviv, Huldai has been in the forefront of defending their rights, which include getting free education.
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