Grapevine: Lured by home hospitality

While tourists flock to regular tourist attractions, they also like to see how people in the host country live, and are delighted with opportunities to visit locals in their homes.

Yona Bar Tal (Left) with Doris Hifawi  (photo credit: CHERPAK PUBLIC RELATIONS)
Yona Bar Tal (Left) with Doris Hifawi
The home hospitality business in Israel is flourishing. All over the country, interesting people who are good storytellers are opening their homes to tourists, business people and special interest groups, and are enhancing people-to-people contacts. The hosts are religious and secular, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, Druze, Arab and Circassian, native Israelis and immigrants.
While tourists flock to regular tourist attractions, they also like to see how people in the host country live, and are delighted with opportunities to visit locals in their homes and sample whatever refreshments are provided.
One of the well-known and highly popular hostesses in Jaffa is Doris Hifawi, an Orthodox Christian Arab who was born in Jaffa, and who has a fund of fascinating stories, especially about the Ajami neighborhood. She talks about family life, how neighbors relate to each other, the changing face of the city, and much more. She also speaks several languages, which is a significant asset given the fact that she hosts many tourists as well as Israelis from all over.
This week, her Israeli guests included Henia Nur of Nur Billboards; Attalia Shmeltzer; Yona Bartal, chair of the Friends of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation; Revital Manoach, head of Shlomo Sixt Car Rentals; Naomi Cherpak of Cherpak Public Relations; and Judith Perl, whom Hifawi regaled with stories about her family’s century-old coffee business.
■ EVEN THREE years after his death, the name of Shimon Peres keeps popping up in local and international media. There were references to him this week in connection with Hebron, his 80th birthday party, hostilities between Israel and Lebanon and his over-riding of Yitzhak Shamir, even in death. The latter was in the context of an article published in Yediot Aharonot in which it was reported that a school in south Tel Aviv that had initially been proposed as a memorial for former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir was in the final analysis named for Peres. Both men in their private lives lived in Tel Aviv. Peres, while still living, had institutions named for him. Shamir had nothing named for him in Tel Aviv, something that angered his granddaughter Michal Diament, especially as Peres died three years ago, whereas Shamir died seven years ago.
Diament, according to the report, met with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who referred the matter to one of his aides, who contacted Diament and proposed various possibilities. But before matters were actually finalized, the assistant left and was replaced, apparently leaving no memoranda for the replacement, as a result of which nothing was done to memorialize Shamir. It was the old story of a new broom sweeps clean. An angry Diament told Huldai via social media that he should be ashamed.
The Tel Aviv Municipality is now giving much more serious thought to finding a place or a project that the Shamir family will deem suitable. Meanwhile, arrangements are being made for a memorial service on Mount Herzl for Peres, who was both a former prime minister and a former president of Israel – the only person to hold both offices, albeit not simultaneously. The service will be held on September 19.
■ SDEROT MAYOR Alon Davidi has picked up the Shamir gauntlet, and of his own accord contacted Diament and tweeted that Sderot will be honored to memorialize Shamir in perpetuity. He is consulting with Shamir’s family as to the nature of the monument, but in all likelihood, it will be something related to education.
■ FORMER MISS Israel Yityish “Titi” Aynaw, a social activist in Israel’s Ethiopian community, was angered by the photograph that was published of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introducing Avera Mengistu’s mother to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. She vented her anger on Instagram, where she wrote: “After five years of Avera being in Hamas captivity, the prime minister finally decided to give his attention to the issue before the elections in the hope of securing votes from the Ethiopian community.”
In all fairness to Netanyahu and his predecessors, whenever a civilian or a soldier is captured and held behind enemy lines for a protracted period of time, the families of the captives keep insisting that the prime minister is doing nothing. This is not true, because these issues are raised again and again at international forums, and Israel always has to pay a heavy price for the return of her citizens be they dead or alive. It’s usually the other side that determines the price. Beyond launching a full-scale war, there isn’t much that any prime minister of Israel can do until the other side agrees to play ball. Look how long Israel has been trying to bring home the remains of Eli Cohen and Ron Arad, and how long it took to bring back the remains of Zachary Baumel. Sometimes another country can intervene, but seldom with success.
As frustrating as this is for the families concerned, there is no magic formula for instant or even long-term results.
This is difficult for families to believe but it happens to be true. Meanwhile, for decades now, families and activists have besmirched the names of prime ministers, foreign ministers and defense ministers who they insist could have brought their loved ones home. One day, if and when classified information is declassified and becomes accessible to the public, it will be realized that all the angry accusations against prime ministers and other government officials were misplaced.
■ MANY OF Israel’s leading stage personalities were present this week for the reopening of the Beit Lessin Theater in Tel Aviv which has undergone a five-year overhaul at a cost of NIS 150 million. The theater with its two auditoriums, one seating 830 people and the other 380, will be open to the public as of next week. While it was impossible to avoid the presence of Rivka Michaeli, who was also the moderator for the event celebrating the theater’s new look, all eyes were riveted on Yona Elian, who had been extremely ill, and had spent an abnormally long period in hospital. Elian, whose career with Beit Lessin spans 30 years, is still recuperating, but plans to return to the stage very soon. Beit Lessin’s legendary director Tzipi Pines described Elian, who will celebrate her 69th birthday next month, as “an icon.” Michaeli, by the way, looks nowhere near her 81 years, and is still going strong.
■ INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED illusionist Lior Suchard together with singer/guitarist Danny Sanderson and singer Gidi Gov will perform at the Friends of Kaplan Medical Center fund-raiser this Saturday night, September 7, at the Rishon Lezion Amphi Park. Proceeds from the event will go toward the establishment of a pediatric oncological hematology unit.
■ WOMEN’S organizations are holding conferences, business meetings, fashion shows, concerts, etc., all year ‘round, but women somehow become more visible and more audible around election time.
Women Wage Peace is meeting this morning, Friday, with political figures at Talkhouse on the Tel Aviv Port.
On Sunday, September 8, a political panel comprising Gila Gamliel, Likud; Orna Barbivai, Blue and White; Stav Shaffir, the Democratic Union; and Orly Levy-Abekasis, Gesher, will convene at Migdalei Hayam Hatichon, 9 HaIrus St., Or Yehuda, to discuss what it means to be a woman in the Israeli political arena and what each hopes to achieve. Curiously, Ayelet Shaked, the only woman heading a political coalition, has been omitted, as has Aida Touma-Sliman, who heads the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women.
On September 19, two days after the elections, Polish and Israeli women entrepreneurs will get together at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation to launch the first Polish-Israeli conference on female entrepreneurship. The conference is under the patronage of Agata Korhauser-Duda, the first lady of Poland. The event, which will be conducted in English, will include lectures, workshops and panel discussions
■ ALTHOUGH THE traditional live interview format still exists, the general trend these days is for an armchair conversation. This also applies to people running for office – presumably on the premise that one catches more flies with honey. This coming Monday, September 9, Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz will be sitting down with actress, producer and social activist Noa Tishby, who is on a home visit from Hollywood. Tel Aviv-born Tishby, who is politically clued-in, will be talking to Gantz under the auspices of the Tel Aviv Salon, which works to give immigrants ages 18-36 a broad picture of Israel to enhance their knowledge, enable them to make informed choices and to speed up their integration into mainstream Israeli society. The event, which will be moderated by journalist Haviv Rettig, is taking place at Hangar 11 on the Tel Aviv Port. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.
Tishby is a member of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee). She has lobbied on Capitol Hill as a member of The Israeli Consulate Speakers Bureau and the ILC (Israeli Leadership Council). In 2011, she founded the first online advocacy and rapid response organization, Act For Israel, and became a powerful voice for the only democracy in the Middle East. She travels the world on speaking engagements, is a contributor to several well-known publications in the US and Israel, and was on Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Power list of international executives.
She is an ardent and articulate campaigner against BDS, the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
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