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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin hold a press conference announcing Zehuts withdrawal from the elections..(Photo by: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Grapevine September 8, 2019: Corruption allegations not a priority for Israeli voters
By GREER FAY CASHMAN
09/07/2019
A roundup of news from around Israel.
Security and the cost of living are more important factors to most Israeli voters than alleged corruption on the part of candidates, pollster Rafi Smith told members of The Jerusalem Press Club last week.

What Smith termed “the Liberman phenomenon” caused him to miss out on a vacation. Israel Beytenu Party leader Avigdor Liberman has provoked a shift in voter preferences, and Liberman is now getting votes from veteran Israelis as well as Russians, said Smith, who credited Liberman’s anti-haredi stance to the increase in the number of seats he is likely to get.

Many people polled were still undecided as to which party will get their vote, and when asked, have replied that they will decide when they get to the ballot box. According to Smith, only two things are fairly certain. One is a tense period in the days leading up to the September 17 vote, and the other is a victory on the part of the right-wing bloc. For every person on the left, there are at least two on the right, he said.

Having worked in the past with both right and left-wing parties, Smith said that the right is much better than the left at running an election campaign.

■ AS MENTIONED more than once in this column, fears that reduced concentration spans resulting from the abridged language of the digital screen, would put an end to the reading of books, have thus far proved groundless. People are still reading books, magazines and newspapers, and people are writing books, both fact and fiction, and on light and weighty subjects. Jerusalem Post colleague Seth Frantzman, who is the paper’s Op-Ed editor but actually prefers to do investigative reporting in some of the most dangerous areas in the Middle East, will on Wednesday, September 11 launch his book  After Isis: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East. The launch will take place at the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. Jerusalem Post editor in chief Yaakov Katz had his book launch in July, and law and intelligence reporter Yonah Jeremy Bob has likewise published a book: Justice in the West Bank? The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Goes to Court. So, it’s possible that another member of staff may have a book published by December. Former JP staff member Sam Sokol also came out recently with a book on Ukraine – a magnum opus on which he was working for five years.

■ BEYOND THE Jerusalem Post, Emunah Jerusalem is hosting a book launch on Sunday, September 15 with authors Heather Dean and Chana Studley who will share their personal stories of working in Hollywood, and what it was that inspired them to make aliyah and live an Orthodox life style. Heather Dean is an author, much in demand public speaker, and the host of Aish.com’s weekly podcast ‘At Home in Jerusalem’. Before coming to Israel, she spent 14 years interviewing celebrities and dignitaries on various American and international television and radio outlets. She is now a respected producer and interviewer in the Orthodox Jewish world.

Chana Studley is an educator who trained as a counselor with the Manchester Women in Crisis Center in the 1980s, and for 30 years has worked with women in all areas of mental health. She is a certified life coach and three principles practitioner, as well as a member of the United Hatzalah Psycho-trauma and crisis unit. She is also a World Health Organization first responder. Now living in Jerusalem, she works with people suffering chronic pain and trauma. She also had an Academy Award-winning career in Hollywood where she created special effects for movies, and gave it up in order to live in Israel.

Dean’s book is called Searching for Heather Dean, and Studley’s book is The Myth of Low Self Esteemf Esteem.

The launch is in a private home. To make reservations call Brenda at 0544.972.777. Proceeds will be ear-marked for the Emunah Jerusalem Emergency Fund for families of children in Emunah Day Care centers.

■ LATER IN the month, Swedish Ambassador Magnus Helgren will host a book launch appropriate not so much for the 80th anniversary year of the beginning of the World War II as for next May’s 75th anniversary of its end. The book, Birches and Railways, written by Mordechai Giloh, deals with some of the more than 20,000 Holocaust survivors permanently or temporarily absorbed by Sweden during and after the war in what was an extraordinary humanitarian operation. The majority of survivors suffered various physical ailments and diseases, and had to be restored to health. They were financially destitute, and in many cases, emotionally unhinged. A support mechanism by public institutions, volunteer organizations and ordinary Swedes, as well as various Jewish organizations, was created to help these survivors start life anew. Many migrated to Israel and other countries, while thousands remained in Sweden. The book adds a relatively unknown chapter to the saga of pre to post Holocaust history. The launch will include a panel discussion followed by a Q&A with audience participation. The panel comprises the author of the book, Eva Fried of The Living History Forum, Prof. Dina Porat of Tel Aviv University and Yad Vashem, and Dr. Orna Keren of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

■ A GROWING population has growing needs. During the past two or three weeks, attention in the sphere of education has focused mainly on lack of placements for special needs children, mistreatment of pre-school children in kindergartens, strikes by the teachers’ union, inadequate educational facilities for children in non-recognized Beduin villages, racism, and more. What hasn’t received much media attention is what the situation will be in the coming decade when Israel’s population will have passed the 10,000,000 mark. There are simply not enough universities and colleges in Israel at the present time to accommodate future students eligible for higher education. As it is, many young people who for whatever reason are unable to get into universities here go abroad, and some do so well in their studies that they are snapped up by overseas head hunters for various professions. In most cases, such people are unlikely to return to Israel. Some are so expert in their respective careers that Israel practically turns cartwheels in efforts to persuade them to return home. One person who is looking to the future in this regard is Economics Minister Eli Cohen, who in the course of a visit to Ashdod last week declared that it should be a national mission to establish a university in Ashdod. Cohen was in Ashdod with several prominent business people at the invitation of Mayor Yehiel Lasri, who is interested in introducing more innovation into his city.

■ THURSDAY OF this week will be a very busy day for diplomats with five new ambassadors Lina Antanaviciene of Lithuania, Hans Docter of the Netherlands, Lasha Zhvania of Georgia, Eric Danon of France, and Andreja Purkart Martinez of Slovenia presenting credentials to President Reuven Rivlin. While two of the new ambassadors are women, three female ambassadors left in recent weeks. More countries are increasingly promoting female diplomats to ambassadorial rank. But the best record for women ambassadors is arguably held by Finland, which has had three consecutive women ambassadors to Israel. Also on Thursday, the embassies of Central America are joining forces to celebrate their Independence Day, and elsewhere at the same time, US Ambassador David Friedman is hosting a Rosh Hashana toast.

■ POPULAR journalist Sivan Rahav Meir and her husband Yedidya, who are currently World Mizrahi emissaries in the US and living in Manhattan with their five children, are somehow managing to deal with different time zones as they now work on two continents, keep up to some extent with their permanent jobs in Israel as well as with their temporary post in the US which is supposed to be for somewhere between 10 months and a year – but it could possibly stretch out longer. In addition to broadcasting on radio and television, Rahav Meir delivers a weekly lecture on the Torah portion for the week, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot, and when she was still in Israel, was often called on to act as a moderator at major events.

She has also developed a following in the US, and on Sunday, September 22, will be among the speakers at third annual Torah New York mega study and prayer event hosted by the Orthodox Union. Organizers expect a turnout of 2,500 men, women and children who will congregate at Citi Field in Queens to listen to leading rabbinic scholars, educators and Jewish communal leaders. It is believed to be one of the biggest events of its kind in America, though the International Conference of Chabad Emissaries which takes place annually in New York, and will this year be held from November 20-25, usually attracts more than 3,000 participants.

greerfc@gmail.com

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