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Grapevine August 1, 2021: A late but welcome apology

CM 31/07/2021

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Over the years, Deputy Knesset Speaker Ahmad Tibi has suffered a number of racial slurs and indignities, including the recent disgusting lack of respect by MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, who from the podium in the Knesset plenum called him as terrorist. Tibi is a physician by profession. More than 30 years ago, when he was working at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus as a gynecologist, he was about to treat a pregnant, religious Jewish woman, but withdrew when she refused to have an Arab doctor examine her. Tibi mentioned this in a recent television appearance in a one-on-one interview program hosted by Roni Kuban. Last week, a young woman, who had seen the show and heard what Tibi had to say, showed up at his office in the Knesset and revealed that she was the daughter of the reluctant patient of decades earlier. Profuse in her apology, the daughter said that she was a teacher who strove to educate her students to be accepting of the other, to aim for fraternity and peace and to combat racism in all its forms. “It came from the heart and it entered the heart,” tweeted Tibi.

■ IT DID not take long for former labor, welfare and social services minister Itzik Shmuli to find a new job after deciding not to vie for a Knesset seat in the last election. To be honest, Shmuli, who in a sense crossed the floor to join the administration of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would not have had much chance of being reelected in the Labor Party primaries, even though he had been among the favorites a couple of years back. Neither Shmuli nor former Labor Party chairman and long-time MK Amir Peretz, who had also joined Netanyahu in return for a ministerial portfolio, stood for reelection. Shmuli resigned in February of this year, stating that he had erred in joining the Netanyahu coalition and that he was taking a break from politics. His new job, which becomes effective on August 1, is that of director-general of the Israel office of the UJA-Federation of New York. Shmuli launched his political career as chairman of the National Union of Israeli students, and in 2011 made national and 
international headlines as one of the leaders of the Israel social protest movement, joining Daphni Leef and Stav Shafir. The trio had thousands of followers, many of whom camped out in Tel Aviv’s trendy Rothschild Boulevard, where in July, Leef had set up a tent after being evicted from her apartment. Shafir and Shmuli went on to become Labor MKs, in which capacity they chalked up impressive political achievements. Leef declined to enter politics. Now, none of them are in politics. Along the way, Shmuli collected several awards including the Knesset’s “Outstanding Acts for Social Inclusion Member of Parliament MK” five times; the “Ometz” Award, Outstanding Parliamentarian Award from the Israel Democracy Institute; Medal of Light from the Holocaust Survivors’ Organization, Medal of Honor from the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Victims, Rotary Award and more.
In his new role at UJA, Shmuli will lead a team of professionals charged with advancing UJA’s strategic priorities, including caring for the vulnerable, promoting shared society among diverse groups of Israelis, supporting multiple pathways of Jewish engagement, and helping to bridge the divide between world Jewry and Israel.
UJA CEO Eric Goldstein said he was thrilled that Shmuli was assuming this critical leadership role, and predicted that Shmuli’s input would significantly elevate UJA’s work in Israel.
Shmuli noted that the UJA Federation began supporting Israel even before the proclamation of Israel’s independence, and over the years has made a tremendous contribution to Israel’s security, development and prosperity. His decision to join the UJA, he said, was to help strengthen the critical connection between Israel and American Jewry.

■ MANY YOUNG people who would like to spend a gap year in Israel, but do not have the financial means to support themselves, and are refused financial help by parents who don’t want them to be in so “dangerous” a place as the Middle East for a long period of time, are missing out on what could be the most important year in their lives.
Realizing this, the Zionist Federation of Australia has launched Israel Go, a funding initiative that will provide financial support for Gap Year Programs in Israel, thereby enabling young adults to participate in gap year Israel programs in 2022 and 2023.
In partnership with UIA-Keren Hayesod and private philanthropists, Israel Go will ensure that participation in a gap year Israel program is accessible to students across the Australian Jewish community. Depending on the length of their programs, eligible applicants will receive grants ranging from A$5,000 up to A$10,000.
Israel Go support is additional to any other funding support participants may receive, including the means tested Masa Israel Journey subsidy of up to USD $6,500.
Israel Go grants are provided by the ZFA to applicants on an opt-in basis and are not means tested.
“We can see from the data that participation in Israel Programs, be it a short or long-term program, increases the connection to and relationship with Israel, and that participants of long- term immersive programs are more likely to become active members of the wider-Jewish community on their return,” said ZFA CEO Ginette Searle. “It was important for us, particularly with the financial challenges that the pandemic created, to be a part of an innovative solution that will see the numbers of participants increase again.”
ZFA President Jeremy Leibler concurred, saying: “We believe that this initiative will be a game changer in rebooting gap year participation by young Jewish adults. We have listened to the concerns of the families and stakeholders within the community, and whilst cost is not the only factor affecting the decision to go on a long-term Israel program, it’s certainly a dominant one. We understand the intrinsic value of Israel programs for the entire community, and we do not want anyone to miss out because of financial pressure.”
■ DURING WHAT is commonly known as the cucumber season, because it is generally bland and almost devoid of hard news, almost anything makes the media headlines – especially filibusters in parliament. Last week was no exception when Knesset members spent 27 straight hours listening to speeches which were nothing more than delaying tactics in the effort to prevent the passage of a bill. Although filibusters have been commonplace in the Knesset since March 1957, no one has yet broken the personal record of former Likud MK Michael Eitan, who in December 1992 spoke for 10 hours and seven minutes, pausing occasionally for a sip of water, but no longer than the time it took to take that sip. Fearful of the toll that this might be taking on Eitan’s health, the Knesset physician forced him to call it quits.
■ JERUSALEM MAYOR Moshe Lion, in an initiative to promote the city, enlisted the services of one of the capital’s best-known residents, Israel Prize laureate and failed presidential candidate Miriam Peretz, to whom Jerusalem is no less important than it is to Lion himself. Peretz was videotaped and photographed in different parts of the city, including a panoramic view while suspended from a glider. In fact, she did this twice. Quite an adventure for a 67-year-old grandmother. The fee being paid to Peretz has not been made public, but it will not be going into her bank account. She has asked that it be distributed to social welfare charitable organizations.
■ WITH MINIMAL fanfare, now that his dad is no longer prime minister, Yair Netanyahu last week celebrated his 30th birthday. Hopefully, he has reached an age of maturity in which he has decided to live independently, and in which he will spend less time insulting his father’s political rivals.
■ APROPOS INSULTS, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, who used to be quite a firebrand when he was in the opposition, but now spends a lot of time trying to cool the tempers of other MKs, when interviewed on KAN Reshet Bet by Yaron Dekel and Chaim Levinson, admitted to having been a hothead, but said that he had never stooped to personal insults against MKs or members of their families, contrary to what has become the unsavory norm these days.
■ IN WHAT will be one of his last appearances as president of the Israel Hotels association before taking up his new position as Israel’s first ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Amir Hayek is scheduled to be one of the keynote speakers on August 4, at a conference in east Tel Aviv in which leading figures from different branches of Israel’s tourism industry will trade ideas on how to revive the goose that once laid the golden egg. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, there was a constant increase in incoming tourism to Israel, prompting a glut in hotel construction. The finishing touches to quite a large number of new boutique hotels were completed during the year in which tourism was at its lowest ebb. A few luxury hotels were also completed and several boutique and luxury hotels are still under construction. Tour guides have not been able to find work, nor do they receive much financial help if any, from the government. Some are literally on the point of starvation.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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