Grapevine: Star-Spangled Banner

A woman plays with her dog as the municipality building is lit in the colours of the American flag on the first day of U.S. President Donald Trump's visit in Israel, in Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/CORINNA KERN)
A woman plays with her dog as the municipality building is lit in the colours of the American flag on the first day of U.S. President Donald Trump's visit in Israel, in Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CORINNA KERN)
Anyone who wasn’t invited to the American Independence Day reception hosted by Ambassador David Friedman can join thousands of Tel Avivians on July 4, if they are willing to pay for the pleasure.
Israel BBQ is hosting a kosher all-you-can-eat event plus all you can drink, for an early bird cost of NIS 140 and a significantly higher cost of NIS 200 at the door of the Dancing Camel, 12 Hata’asiya Street, Tel Aviv. Early bird registration is at
The festivities begin at 7 p.m. and continue through to 11 p.m.
The grilled meats and vegetables include hot chicken wings, entrecôte burgers and beef sausages.
Even though the eat and drink component of the evening concludes at 11 p.m., merrymakers can stay on much longer for live entertainment, which includes comedian hypnotist/mentalist Jeremy Feldhamer; Israeli top comic Yohay Sponder; Lioz Shem Tov of this season’s America’s Got Talent and a semifinalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing; the very funny Eldad Shetrit; and the shockingly irreverent Mike Kroll.
■ THAT THE State of Israel is this year celebrating its 70th anniversary also indicates a changing era in norms and values in line with those of a new generation. Some of the changes are being prompted by minor scandals, others by charges of corruption, some by restructuring of ideology, some by career ambitions or failures, and others simply because leading figures have reached retirement age and want to catch up with families and hobbies that may have been previously neglected.
The most highly publicized change is in the Jewish Agency, where Natan Sharansky, after nine years at the helm, has passed the baton to Knesset opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who is bowing out of politics – at least temporarily.
Former justice minister Meir Shetreet, who took time out from the legislature to serve as treasurer of the agency for four years, was asked in a Israel Radio Reshet Bet interview last Thursday whether it was difficult to return to the Knesset after working in the agency, especially as prior to his joining the agency he had been one of its most outspoken critics and had said that it was no longer relevant.
He hasn’t changed his mind about that, and recalled that it was not he who approached the head hunters looking for suitable candidates; it was they who approached him.
After four years, he had certainly had enough, and he did return to the Knesset.
The question was put to him against the backdrop of current ructions in the Labor Party and the Zionist Union and a guessing game as to whether Herzog would return to the Knesset after four years or aim for the presidency of the state even earlier. Shetreet is more convinced than ever that there is no raison d’etre for the agency’s continued existence.
Sharansky, in a farewell message, related to Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev’s resignation from the chairmanship of the ministerial committee that was to approve the upgrading of the egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall.
Regev wrote on her Facebook page that she was resigning for reasons of conscience because she could not give the nod to something of which she disapproved. She cannot reconcile herself to the idea of men and women praying together.
Sharansky said: “Minister Regev’s conscience is her own matter, but her public about-face regarding the need to set established prayer practices at the site is most regrettable. I hope the prime minister brings about the completion of the expanded prayer area known as Ezrat Yisrael, as he has repeatedly promised the Jewish people in Israel and abroad that he would.”
Change has also occurred in the Spirit of Israel, which was founded by the agency more than 20 years ago for the purpose of closing socioeconomic gaps in Israeli society by recruiting human capital as against fiscal capital. The new chairman of the board of directors of the Spirit of Israel is the CFO at Matrix, Moshe Attias, who wants to put greater emphasis on finding and helping youth at risk. Tal Brody, the honorary chairman of the Spirit of Israel and one of its founders, said that the election of Attias, who has worked for years in a voluntary capacity for the Spirit of Israel, is a natural progression.
Peace Now announced last Thursday that Shaqued Morag has been selected as its new executive director.
Morag, 33, is a seasoned political and social activist who until recently served in senior positions in the Meretz Party, including as the party’s interim secretary-general after Mossi Raz became a member of Knesset, and as parliamentary adviser to MK Michal Rozin.
Before that, she served as the community coordinator in Jerusalem for Mahapach-Taghir, a grassroots Israeli Jewish-Palestinian organization for social change, where she is now a member of the executive committee.
Peace Now also announced that Yaniv Shacham, who served as director of campaigns and digital media and helped run the movement in the interim since former executive director Avi Buskila’s departure, has been appointed deputy executive director.
In accepting her new position, Morag issued a statement that was indicative of the intensity of her future political activity: “Peace Now has been leading the peace camp for 40 years and is one of the pillars of Israeli civil society. Together with the activists of the movement, I intend to continue the struggle against the creeping annexation policy of the Netanyahu government, which is abandoning Israel’s future. The burning fields in the Gaza environs and the humanitarian crisis as a result of the ongoing siege on the Gaza Strip constitute a painful, daily reminder that a just peace is the only way for both peoples to live safely on both sides of the border. I am proud to join a long list of activists and public figures who led this critical movement.”
■ PILLOW TALK has assumed a whole new meaning. A change of policy in Hilton Hotels has dictated large-size pillows in the guest rooms, similar to those in European hotels, which have bolster cushions in comparison to those in Israel. At the Hilton Tel Aviv, general-manager Ronnie Fortis suddenly found himself with 1,200 almost brand-new down cushions, which, despite their quality, he could no longer use. Reluctant to simply throw them out, Fortis contacted the Lasova association, which operates youth shelters and shelters for the homeless, and offered a donation that they could hardly refuse. Gilad Harish, founder and chairman of Lasova, was thrilled to give the people in his care a little luxury on which to rest their heads.
■ IT WOULD stand to reason that if the Oslo Accords had worked out successfully, organizations, institutions and individuals on the right of the political spectrum would gather for a milestone anniversary to reexamine why their protests had not yielded fruit.
But it’s common knowledge that the Oslo Accords did not live up to their promise, and therefore there seems to be little point in people of the Right coming together to examine what went wrong. If anyone should be doing something of that nature, it should be the Left.
For all that, to mark the upcoming 25th anniversary in September of the failed Oslo Accords, the Middle East Forum, in conjunction with the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, will on Wednesday, July 4, host a discussion on “Oslo Failed, Victory Now.”
Leading the event, which begins at 8 p.m., will be Prof. Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum, members of Knesset and other decision- makers and opinion shapers.
The discussion will be in English.
Instead of advocating a peace deal achieved by negotiation between the two parties, speakers, taking into account that the conflict has escalated since the signing of the Oslo Accords, will propose a policy that will necessitate a declaration of defeat by the Palestinians in their 100-year-plus war against Jewish self-determination, before the conflict can end. The Israel Victory Project works in close cooperation with the Israeli and American governments and parliaments to place sufficient pressure on the Palestinians to ensure an Israeli victory.
■ RETIRED DIPLOMATS and academics filled the lecture hall at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs this week for a mid-morning presentation of the English translation of The Caliph and the Ayatollah: Our world under siege, by author, journalist and former member of the Italian Parliament Fiamma Nirenstein. JCPA president Dore Gold, who is an expert on many political issues in the region, described the book as “highly readable” and said that it puts into proper balance the nature of the problem. Charles Small, director of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism, said that it is an important book, especially because the issue was not on the radar when Nirenstein began her research, but is now a significant issue with policy-makers in the West and in Israel. He chided the West for being ignorant of the dangers of political Islam.
Author, editor and journalist Ruthie Blum, who is an editor at the Gatestone Institute, noted that Nirenstein had originally written the book in Italian two years ago, and said that the English translation was dedicated to eminent historian and Middle East specialist Bernard Lewis, who had been Nirenstein’s friend and mentor.