Grapevine: In a word, stop

ISRAEL’S LEADERS frequently make the point that while cooperating with other countries on many levels, when it comes to the military defense of Israel “we do it by ourselves.”

PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen inspect the honor guard at the President’s Residence (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen inspect the honor guard at the President’s Residence
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
While the Academy of the Hebrew Language fruitlessly tries to eliminate foreign words from the Hebrew language, protest movements and advertising campaigns continue to use foreign words to emphasize their messages, simply because a foreign word sometimes has far greater impact than its Hebrew equivalent.
Case in point is a new campaign to prevent violence against women. The word “STOP” imprinted in large letters, and for some reason frequently upside down on Golf tee shirts, is definitely something that catches the eye. “Stop,” which has become part of the international lexicon, is a much stronger word than the Hebrew “tafsik.”
This latest effort to combat violence against women is a joint initiative of actress, producer and model Yael Abecassis and writer Anat Lev-Adler. They launched their new movement-cum-campaign at the home of chef Shimrit Hillel in Tel Aviv’s Tzahala neighborhood, and invited a bunch of influential women, mainly from the entertainment and fashion industries, some of whom brought along their mothers and/or siblings. Whoever is interested in identifying with the campaign can purchase STOP tee shirts in any Golf fashion store, with proceeds going to Liheyot Betnua. The launch was held on the eve of Family Day, symbolically so, because women are so frequently the victims of domestic violence.
Among those who accepted the invitation to attend were Sara Netanyahu’s stylist and fashion adviser Sandra Ringler, who came with her mother, Linda; actress and singer Liraz Charhi, who came with her mother, Diana; Ofira Asayag; sisters Meshi and Noam Kleinstein; Orna Datz; Lihi Lapid and Yael Goldman.
On the same night, a Yavne man, known to social workers and the police and previously imprisoned for domestic violence, tried to kill his wife in the presence of their children, who attempted to defend her. She was critically injured and is currently hospitalized at Hadassah Medical Center. The husband committed suicide.
■ ANYONE WHO has lovingly taken care of an old car, changing its parts, keeping it spick-and-span inside and out, and finally having to put it out to pasture, can empathize with El Al pilots who this week bid farewell to the company’s Boeing 767 aircraft. The last commercial flight on the company’s Boeing 767 aircraft, flight LY382, landed in Tel Aviv on Sunday after departing Milan. The 767 aircraft were part of the El Al fleet for 36 years.
Altogether, 13 diverse models of aircraft entered the El Al fleet and were eventually retired from service – performing a total of 584,000 flight hours in 103,000 flights.
El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin, while looking forward to the new era in airline travel, was somewhat nostalgic as he said: “We are parting ways with the last of the aircraft in the old fleet. These planes served our customers faithfully, but now we are looking ahead to continued innovation and renewal with our new 787 Dreamliner aircraft.”
He noted that the 767, which continues to be manufactured in Boeing’s Seattle plant, is an efficient aircraft with a very high safety record.
Approximately one year after entering El Al service in 1984, the 767 aircraft launched a new era in the global airline industry, as the first dual-engine aircraft to be operated on commercial transatlantic flights.
The 767 fleet participated in several significant milestones in Israel’s history, including bringing Jews from the Soviet Union on nonstop flights from Moscow to Israel, and in 1991 carrying out the daring Operation Solomon that brought thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
The 767 aircraft faithfully served the three most recent prime ministers of Israel: the late Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Last month a 767 aircraft played a part in an additional historic event, when it carried the prime minister on a special flight to the Republic of Chad, and for the first time El Al’s 767 airplane flew a route that crossed over the Republic of South Sudan.
As part of the renewal of El Al’s fleet, the airline purchased 16 Dreamliner 787 aircraft, which will gradually replace 767 and 747 planes during 2019. Eight of these Dreamliner 787s are already in service, and the remainder will be received by 2020.
■ ISRAEL’S LEADERS frequently make the point that while cooperating with other countries on many levels, when it comes to the military defense of Israel “we do it by ourselves.”
While we continue to rely on our own army, when it comes to paying for the continuity of the State of Israel and its population, Israel is very much dependent on the generosity of external forces. Israel still depends on organizations such as the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem to help finance the long-awaited arrival in Israel of 1,000 immigrants from Ethiopia, the first 80 of whom arrived this week to a joyful welcome from relatives and other members of the Ethiopian Jewish community.
The ICEJ has already handed over funds for the first 300 Ethiopian Jewish arrivals and has committed to sponsoring flights for all 1,000 Ethiopian immigrants expected in 2019. The total transportation costs for each Ethiopian Jewish newcomer is currently estimated at $880. Together with its funding to assist with Ethiopian absorption and education projects over the coming months, the ICEJ will be investing nearly $1.2 million in Ethiopian aliyah this year, says ICEJ vice president David Parsons.
In previous years the ICEJ has also footed a large chunk of the cost for bringing immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel, and to this day helps to supplement the food and clothing needs of those immigrants who do not have the means to pay for such needs themselves. All in all, the ICEJ has assisted more than 142,000 Jews to return to their ancestral homeland.
In 2015, the government unanimously approved a plan to allow those Ethiopian Jews found eligible to reunite with their families in Israel on humanitarian grounds, but the process slowed to a near halt in 2018. Last October, the cabinet approved the budget for absorbing another 1,000 Ethiopian olim. At the request of the Jewish Agency, the ICEJ has agreed to sponsor their flights over the course of 2019, says Parsons.
ICEJ president Dr. Jürgen Bühler says that the ICEJ is excited to be a partner with Israel in this latest wave of Ethiopian aliyah. “We know this is going to make a lot of Ethiopian Jewish families very happy to be reunited after such a long and difficult time of separation,” he enthuses.
“We also are encouraged that the Jewish Agency’s new chairman, Yitzhak Herzog, has expressed such strong support for the renewed Ethiopian aliyah,” he adds. “This is continuing his great family legacy, as it was his grandfather Yitzhak Halevi Herzog, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, who gave the initial rabbinic approval in 1953 for the return of the ancient Ethiopian Jewish community to the people and Land of Israel.”
■ REPRESENTATIVES OF Chelsea Football Club, which is currently marking the first anniversary of its global campaign against antisemitism, met this week at the Ray Hotel on the Tel Aviv beachfront with the 40 UN ambassadors from around the world who have been visiting Israel since last Thursday and are led by Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon.
The group’s overseas journey started in Poland immediately after International Holocaust Remembrance Day, where they went back in time to Nazi atrocities against the Jewish people and humanity.
During the event hosted at the Ray by Chelsea FC, the ambassadors became more aware of present-day antisemitism as they learned of the significant work that the Chelsea club has undertaken over the past year, and of future plans and activities for the upcoming year.
Chelsea FC has been in the forefront of a global effort in the fight against racism. At the beginning of 2018, with personal support from Chelsea’s owner, Jewish businessman and philanthropist Roman Abramovich, the club embarked on an international campaign – ‘Say No to Antisemitism.” Throughout 2018, the team’s players and fans met with Holocaust survivors, visited concentration and extermination camps, and sent an official delegation to join the March of the Living through the Auschwitz and Birkenau death camps on the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The Chelsea campaign has significantly raised international awareness of widespread antisemitism in sports. Since the launch of the campaign in January 2018, Chelsea harnessed leading government officials and organizations around the world, as well as fellow FCs and other leading sports clubs.
Later this year, Chelsea will play a friendly match against the American team New England Revolution as part of the campaign. The match will take place in the US, with owners Abramovich and Robert Kraft each contributing $1m. to the campaign. In addition, as part of Chelsea FC’s strategic partnership with the World Jewish Congress, the two organizations will hold an international summit to battle discrimination, racism and antisemitism in sports, with the participation of sports ministers and other government officials from around the world.
■ AUSTRIAN PRESIDENT Alexander Van der Bellen, who is acutely conscious of the rising antisemitism in his country, and who is one of its leading opponents, is equally opposed to any form of racism and very much in favor of peace-making and reconciliation.
On Wednesday, he will visit Givat Haviva, one of the most veteran institutions in Israel actively engaged in promoting reconciliation between Jews and Arabs. Since its founding in 1949, Givat Haviva, a not-for-profit enterprise, has served as the educational center of Hashomer Hatzair, a left-wing Zionist organization, and the Kibbutz Movement.
Givat Haviva’s Center for a Shared Society seeks to engage ever-growing audiences in dialogue and action to advance a shared society in Israel. Givat Haviva began doing this long before President Reuven Rivlin came up with his Israel project for the integration of Israel’s minorities into mainstream society. Givat Haviva collaborates with other shared society organizations, with quick responses to both positive and negative changing developments in Arab-Jewish relations.
The Austrian president will meet with Givat Haviva director Yaniv Sagee and students from the Givat Haviva International School, which opened only a few months ago with half the students Jewish and Arab Israelis and half from abroad, including one from Austria. Together with Sagee, Van der Bellen will tour the Peace Gallery and view an art exhibition called “Through other Eyes.” In 2016, Austria awarded Givat Haviva with a prize for innovation and intercultural achievements through its education programs for a shared society.
Sagee is particularly pleased to welcome the president of Austria, who he believes will endorse Givat Haviva’s shared society vision. “The Austrians know very well where hatred and racism can lead, and we were very happy to note the president’s clear and unmistakable message condemning racism and promoting a shared society,” says Sagee.
Indeed, Van der Bellen is not only conscious of where hatred and racism can lead, but talks about it, as he did at the morning reception and state dinner hosted for him by Rivlin, as well as at Yad Vashem, which the two presidents visited together so that Van der Bellen could pay homage to Jews and others who were murdered by the Nazis. He mentioned more than once that there were Austrians among the Nazis, but also took pride in the fact that Theodor Herzl was “a great Austrian who was the visionary of the Jewish state.”
Situated on the mountain named for Herzl, Yad Vashem will remain the permanent testimony to the Nazi bestiality. Long after the witnesses who have bequeathed their experiences to posterity have gone, their voices and their faces will linger in Yad Vashem’s many videotaped recordings.
In addition to being the site for Yad Vashem, Mount Herzl also contains the Herzl Museum and a vast military and victims of terrorism cemetery, with a separate section for the leaders of the nation, including Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Zalman Shazar, Chaim Herzog, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Navon, Shimon Peres and, of course, Theodor Herzl, whose grave Van der Bellen made a point of visiting.
At the state dinner hosted for the Austrian president by Rivlin, yet another well-known Austrian-Israeli connection came to light when Rivlin mentioned Jerusalem’s legendary mayor Teddy Kollek, who though not born in Austria grew up in Vienna, and who, inspired by the rich culture with which he had been surrounded there, “insisted that Jerusalem should be home to the finest culture.” Kollek’s daughter, Osnat, was among the dinner guests, as was filmmaker Amichai Greenberg, whose film The Testament, which is part fact, part fiction, tells the story of a Holocaust researcher who wants the Austrian authorities to confirm that 200 Jews engaged in forced labor were murdered in the village of Lensdorf and buried in a mass grave, the exact location of which remains a mystery for much of the film. Also present was Holocaust survivor Gavriel Livne, who was a witness to the true story on which the film was based.
Livne witnessed the murder of 200 Jews near the Austrian town of Rechnitz, but for some reason cannot remember the exact location of the mass grave. However, attempts are being made in Austria to find it. Rivlin was appreciative of the efforts being made by the Austrian government in funding and organizing a new search for the site so that a Jewish funeral service could take place, giving the victims the dignity and respect they deserve.
Though brought together by their shared past, Austria and Israel also have a future together in innovation and on many other levels, said Rivlin.
Van der Bellen, who once again spoke of Herzl in his response to Rivlin’s address, noted that Herzl is mentioned in the Proclamation of Independence. Unable to shake off what he called the “most abominable chapter” in his country’s history, he said that Israel and Austria are bound together by the Shoah because so many Austrians were among the perpetrators.
He reiterated that Austrians know today that antisemitism has been present in Austrian society for a long time, and that is why there are still antisemitic tendencies today, “but antisemitism must not be tolerated anywhere.”
At state dinners the entertainment usually includes Israeli songs and some popular melodies from the home country of the guest of honor. However, Idan Raichel, who lived for some time in Austria, said that he knows no German other than an expression used by his wife when she is angry or annoyed. However, his wife and his daughters are Austrian, which may be the reason that he was the entertainer of choice, and judging by the reaction to his two performances, he was indeed an excellent choice.
Van der Bellen, who was previously a professor of economics at the University of Vienna, has been president since January 2017. He has something in common with his host in that both lost their first bid for the presidency – Rivlin in 2007, when he was defeated in the first round by Shimon Peres; and Van der Bellen, who was supported in both attempts by the Green Party, lost in 1992.
Rivlin eventually succeeded Peres in 2014 by defeating Meir Sheetrit, who subsequently retired from politics. Peres also failed in his first bid for the presidency, and in a shocking result was defeated by Moshe Katsav.
For Austrian Ambassador Martin Weiss, who is moving on to Washington in the summer, the president’s visit was a real coup. During his three-year-plus tenure in Israel, Weiss has overseen arrangements for visits by his foreign minister, chancellor and president, as well as by senior officials of slightly lower rank.
■ CONDOLENCES ARE due to Tammy Friedman, the wife of US Ambassador David Friedman, on the death of her mother, Bunny Sand. Despite the fact that the US Embassy has been transferred to Jerusalem, the US residence remains in Herzliya Pituah, which is where Tammy Friedman sat shiva, even though she and her husband own a private apartment in Jerusalem. For security reasons they can’t stay there, and when they do stay in Jerusalem it’s at the King David hotel, which is considered to have the top security facilities in the capital. People who wished to pay condolence calls were asked to come with their ID cards.
■ ONE OF the country’s best-known Grecophiles, Yaron Enosh, whose program extolling Greek life and culture has been broadcast on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet for a quarter of a century, is so enamored with Greece that he sometimes hosts his program from a studio in Athens. During one of his recent visits, he met up with one of several Greek singers who have performed in Israel since the advent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which is quite strong in Greece, and in the course of their conversation was told that when the BDS people started badgering the singer and urging him to cancel his visit, his response was that Jesus had come to him in a dream and had told him to go and sing in Jerusalem. How could he not obey Jesus, who had instructed him to sing in the holiest city in the world?
■ NO. 2 on the Hadash list for the Knesset is Aida Touma-Sliman, a prominent feminist activist, founder of the Women Against Violence Association and former editor of Al-Ittihad newspaper. Touma-Sliman, who has proved to be a very conscientious, effective and much respected MK, should ask the Knesset to correct her biographical details on its website, which states that she is the first and only woman in Israel to head a daily newspaper.
As one of the most prominent feminists in the Arab community, she has many achievements to her credit, such as advancing the legislation of three laws prior to being elected to the Knesset: a law regarding family courts, a law to raise the marriage age from 17 to 18, and a law to encourage women representatives in local and city councils.
Touma-Sliman is one of the leading activists in the fight against violence against women in Arab society, against so-called honor killings and against the police turning a blind eye.
She founded the first shelters in Israel for battered Arab women and Arab female teens in distress. Touma-Sliman also founded a center to assist victims of physical and sexual violence, has led the struggle for employment of Arab women and their representation in public bodies, and has trained and instructed women in the Arab world to set up shelters for battered women.
However, she was still a schoolgirl when the late Lea Ben-Dor was editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, and the same can be said in relation to Hannah Zemer, who was the editor of the defunct Davar, which after a dormant decade was revived and renamed on the Internet and is today called Davar Rishon.
■ THE GRIPES that Netanyahu has against the media are well founded, according to legal expert Suzie Navot, who teaches constitutional law and other courses in public law at the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon Lezion. A respected figure on many committees and the winner of several prestigious awards, Navot is often interviewed on KAN 11 radio/and or television in relation to legal issues of the day. Usually no one argues with her, but occasionally people ask very probing questions – but not when it comes to Netanyahu, whom most of the KAN 11 broadcasters have already judged as guilty.
Interviewed by Liat Regev on what might happen if Netanyahu is indicted, Navot gave a purely legal opinion with which she clearly and vehemently disagreed, her voice rising to a crescendo, while Navot calmly continued with her presentation from a legal standpoint. But she also made the point that it isn’t for journalists or anyone other than the attorney-general and the court to determine Netanyahu’s case. For two-and-a-half years, she said, he has been subjected to speculation and leaks, which have been reported as gospel and found to be empty of substance. She was not suggesting that the cases in which the prime minister is under investigation are also empty of substance, but simply that the people who are qualified and licensed to investigate be left alone to do that, without the media putting additional pressure on the prime minister.
Although Navot did not say so, anyone listening to radio or watching television current affairs programs will notice that certain journalists have taken it upon themselves to be judge and jury, without being fully conversant with the facts. Many such journalists do not have a degree in journalism, and even if they would have one, it would not entitle them to ask questions and draw conclusions in the manner that they do, and certainly would not entitle them to ruin people’s reputations.