Grapevine March 6, 2020: No fake objectivity

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

JAY LENO (from left), Miriam and Sheldon Adelson and Eli Beer attend a Friends of United Hatzalah of Israel benefit in Los Angeles last week. (photo credit: ABRAHAM JOSEPH)
JAY LENO (from left), Miriam and Sheldon Adelson and Eli Beer attend a Friends of United Hatzalah of Israel benefit in Los Angeles last week.
(photo credit: ABRAHAM JOSEPH)
In their first nightly radio program together, former MKs Shelly Yachimovich and Yigal Guetta asked each other who they voted for. He asked first and her reply was, “Labor of course. There was no question.” When she asked him, he replied “Shas.” These were the two parties that each represented in the Knesset. Commenting on their political differences, Yachimovich said that each knows what the other stands for and that this obviated the need for fake objectivity. In fact, she said, all journalists should say where they stand politically, and this will eliminate the need for any pretense at objectivity. After that, they only need to be fair.
■ HEALTH MINISTER Ya’acov Litzman wants to virtually quarantine everyone in the country who is over the age of 60. That, of course, would include him. It would also put President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of commission, as well as Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, MK Moshe Ya’alon, Ministers Israel Katz, Arye Deri, Rafi Peretz and Tzachi Hanegbi, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, Joint List co-leader Ahmad Tibi, and a whole bunch of other important people. It would also delay the swearing-in ceremony of the Knesset and the formation of a government, and delay the beginning of Netanyahu’s trial. However, if the people named above are to be exempt from Litzman’s edict, then everyone over the age of 60 who has none of the symptom of coronavirus should also be exempt.
■ JEWISH AGENCY chairman Isaac Herzog, who won’t turn 60 until September, was scheduled to travel to Boston to attend the annual Birnbaum lecture on Sunday, which has been postponed due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the US and Israel’s travel restrictions.
■ WAS IT fear of coronavirus or some other reason that caused President Rivlin to bow out of Thursday’s memorial ceremony for Josef Trumpeldor and the fallen fighters of Tel Hai? The cancellation notice was released on Wednesday, following the announcement that more extreme measures were being imposed in efforts to prevent the spread of the dreaded virus.
Rivlin is due to begin consultations with the various representatives of political parties that were elected to the 23rd Knesset during the week following his receipt of the official election results. According to a timetable released by the President’s Office on Tuesday afternoon, Judge Neil Hendel, the chairman of the Central Elections Committee, will present the results to Rivlin on March 10, which is the eve of Purim in Jerusalem.
Purim is also known as the festival of lots, and while it would appear at this moment in time that the majority of recommendations as to whom Rivlin should task with forming a government will once again be Benjamin Netanyahu, politics are fraught with uncertainty, and it could just as easily turn out to be someone else.
Rivlin was previously scrupulous about following the letter of the law, and presumably, he will do so again, but the question arises as to what he will do if the person who he tasks fails in his mission.
■ AMONG THE people who were very glad to welcome Greek Ambassador-designate Panagiotis Sarris to Israel, was Thessalia Shambos, the ambassador of Cyprus who tweeted that Sarris is a truly seasoned diplomat of vast experience. She added that they have lots to do in their prolific trilateral agenda and their valuable strategic partnership.
■ ACCORDING TO the United States Institute of Peace, continually growing research “has now recognized the importance of women’s involvement in peace and security issues to achieving long-lasting stability. This acknowledgment stems from the efforts by international organizations, national governments and civil society around the world to establish what we now know as the Women Peace and Security Agenda, and resulted in the creation in 2000 of Resolution 1325, which specifically addresses how women and girls are impacted by war and conflict.” The resolution recognizes the critical role that women can and do play in peace-building efforts.
While all people regardless of age or gender are potential victims in conflict areas, women tend to suffer more, because at a time of conquest, they also become rape victims. A horny soldier pays no attention to a woman’s rights over her own body. In fact, women are often gang-raped, not just by soldiers, but by civilians in countries in which there are many more men than women.
This was brought out in the opening film of the International Women’s Day 49% Film Festival that opened this week at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. The 49% stands for the percentage of women in the world’s total population. All the films screened were made by women, about women and for women, although there were a few men in the audience.
Rama Rau, an Indian born film-maker who lives in Canada, went back to her native land to make a compelling documentary, The Daughter Tree. In India’s Punjab region, the ratio of women to men is 750 women to every 1,000 men. Yet despite this, women are regarded as inferior, and when an ultrasound examination shows a fetus to be female, more often than not, it is aborted.
Rau sees this as a women’s rights issue, but not for the usual reasons. Most people who are anti-abortion, regard abortion as murder. People who are pro-abortion say that a woman has a right to determine what happens to her body. But for Rau, abortion of a girl fetus denies her the right to be born and to later give birth to children of her own. The situation is so tragic that the film includes an almost all-male village in which no girl has been born for 20 years. Many of the single men would like to marry, but this would entail buying a bride, and the young women who can be bought are of a lower caste and are either ostracized or mistreated by most of the village population.
The film focuses on a childless, traveling midwife, who rebels against tradition and brings many female babies into the world. When she manages to save even one girl baby she says it means that she has made a contribution to life. The projection for the end of this year is that there will be 32 million single men in India, said Rau, who explained that change can only come about when women tell their stories. “I think that it’s time for women to realize that they have stories to tell,” she said. The film took six years to make because it was so difficult to secure funding. “No one wants to know about abortion,” she explained.
In the audience were Jewish, Christian and Muslim women, both religious and secular. Some of the Jewish women wore turban-like head coverings, and some of the Muslim women wore hijabs. There were also people who came in from abroad. Yet despite the religious, ethnic and national differences, the aura was that of a sorority because there were so many similar problems and so many similar accomplishments.
Earlier in the evening, Paula Kweskin, the founder and director of The 49%, said there were still some countries in which women’s rights are not recognized as human rights. She too stressed the importance of women telling their stories to bring about change, and cited the #Me Too movement as an example. The statute of limitations had expired for some of the women who came forward with their stories, she acknowledged.
“It takes courage to tell your story,” said Kweskin, “but when women tell their stories to each other, it is empowering.” The #Me Too movement started in Los Angeles with revelations about Harvey Weinstein, and has spread around the globe as women find the courage to tell the stories of what happened to them. As a result, many of the perpetrators have been charged and convicted. Others have lost prestige jobs and have fallen from social grace. This is happening because women are coming together to tell their stories.
■ LAST WEEK in Los Angeles, Friends of United Hatzalah of Israel hosted the 2nd Annual Gala at the Beverly Hilton with more than 1,100 people in attendance. The crowd contributed $15,000,000 in support of the lifesaving work done by volunteer paramedics in Israel.
The event featured performances by Jay Leno and Israeli recording artist Dudu Aharon, with a keynote address by Dr. Miriam Adelson, who said, “The dedicated men and women of United Hatzalah are fearless and energetic. They bring Israelis closer together, bridging differences of religion and race. They bring meaning to the word ‘united’ in United Hatzalah.”
Eli Beer, the president and founder of United Hatzalah, who flew to LA for the occasion, termed the event a “historic night,” and praised the “incredible community of Los Angeles,” as well as the many people from elsewhere in the US who came to join in the festivities and the giving which will enable the purchase of more ambucycles and life-saving equipment.