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Grapevine, May 2, 2021: Stranger than fiction

CM 01/05/2021


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If someone took all the political stories that have appeared in the Israeli media over the past two years and used them as the basis for a movie script or a television series, the end product – no matter how well written – would be rejected again and again on the grounds that the writer’s imagination had gone overboard and that all the conflicting developments could not possibly occur in such a short span of time. Yet another proof that truth is definitely stranger than fiction. Who would have imagined that after vilifying members of Arab political parties, that leaders of Zionist parties would begin wooing Arab politicians and offering them tempting plum roles in the legislature and government in return for their support. Whoever said that politics is a form of prostitution was not far off the mark. The speed with which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu changes his mind is extraordinary, as is the herd mentality of Likud ministers and MKs who seem to be on a nonstop political seesaw on which flip flops are the order of the day. What has emerged as an urgent matter for the new government if and when it comes into being is to decide on exactly what the role of the attorney-general should be. It would seem that over the past five years, the incumbent, Avichai Mandelblit, has been plagued by a conflict of interests, and that is a situation which should not be allowed to occur.

■ IF ANYONE wants to know why such a large proportion of people of North African background vote Likud and are Likud MKs, they should ask former Black Panther Charlie Biton, who is frequently interviewed on electronic and print media in relation to the 50th anniversary of the emergence of the revolutionary group, who used Robin Hood methods to fight against discrimination. All former Black Panthers recall that they were unwanted by the established Ashkenazi hierarchy and were treated as pariahs. Golda Meir said that they were not nice people. But when Biton, the Black Panther firebrand, ran for election to the Knesset with the Hadash Party (whose name was a Hebrew acronym for The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), and won a seat, the first person to welcome him and embrace him was Menachem Begin, who also attempted to upgrade his status by calling him Charles rather than Charlie. It was also during Begin’s administration that Project Renewal, a program for the rehabilitation of distressed neighborhoods, was introduced. During its first five years, a total of 82 urban neighborhoods with an aggregate population of 450,000 had been given a much-needed face lift. The program has since continued at a much slower pace and the number of improved neighborhoods now numbers in excess of 100. Residents in most of these neighborhoods were primarily of North African background. Begin, in his election campaign, called them his brothers, promised to help them if he won and kept his word. Entertainment personality Dudu Topaz, who was affiliated with Labor, unintentionally contributed to Begin’s victory in 1977, by calling Begin’s “brothers” riff-raff. In addition to celebrating the jubilee year of the Black Panthers, Biton on April 11 celebrated his 74th birthday.

■ IT SEEMS that Jerusalem-born presidents of the state, regardless of which side of the political aisle they stood on as politicians, have a special relationship with Abu Ghosh, the Arab village, some 10 kilometers outside the entrance to Jerusalem. Yitzhak Navon had many personal friends, almost like extended family in Abu Ghosh. He felt very much at home there, according to his son, Erez, and he liked to visit and spend time there. Current President Reuven Rivlin also has a good relationship with the people of Abu Ghosh, and happily accepted the invitation to an interfaith iftar dinner hosted last week by Salim Jaber, head of the Abu Ghosh Regional Council.
Also among the guest, were Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Mowafak Tarif, Brother Olivier, the prior of the Benedictine Monastery representing the Christian community, and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, who could hardly refuse, given that it’s a long-standing tradition for the leavened property of the nation to be symbolically sold by the chief rabbi on the eve of Passover to a member of the Jaber family.
Several diplomats were likewise included among the guests – Egyptian Ambassador Khaled Azmi, Jordanian Ambassador Ghassan Majali, UAE Ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja, Moroccan head of mission and Ambassador-designate Abd al Rahim and French Ambassador Eric Danon, who happens to be Jewish.
Earlier in the day, Rivlin had sent a letter (in French) to French President Emmanuel Macron, in which he expressed his sorrow at the decision of the French courts which have determined that the brutal killer of Sarah Halimi, an Orthodox Jewish woman, is unfit to stand trial.
As for Abu Ghosh, Rivlin said that its people have always been known for their hospitality. He noted that their friendship for the Jewish people goes back to before the founding of the state.
When Chaim Weizmann, who later became Israel’s first president, visited the country in 1920, he was hosted by the residents of Abu Ghosh who were on good terms with the Zionist leadership and often worked together with them. Lehi, the clandestine national defense movement, had a particularly good relationship with the people of Abu Ghosh, so much so that when Lehi broadcaster Geula Cohen was hiding from the British Mandate authorities, she found a haven in Abu Ghosh.
During the 1947-48 war, the supply route to Jerusalem was cut off, and the city was under siege, but the people of Abu Ghosh found a way to deliver supplies to the city.
Rivlin praised the residents of Abu Ghosh as always being an example of moderation.
Unable to refrain from commenting on the political shenanigans of the past two years, and those of the previous few days in particular, Rivlin said: “The miracle of the existence of the State of Israel was and still is the result of hard work to which we are all committed, and it is based, in part, on the foundations of laws, good governance and justice. For some time now, we have been living with the illusion of constitutional functionality between one election campaign and the next, but it appears that yesterday another fence collapsed. We must return to the principle according to which the government serves the people, not that the people serve the government.” Rivlin was referring to the brouhaha surrounding the appointment of a justice minister. That hurdle has since been crossed, and it is anticipated that other ministerial positions will be filled today. If not, there will be an encore of what happened last week – and of course the nation is waiting with bated breath to see what is happening next in the prime ministerial saga this week.
■ ANYONE WHO has not yet experienced an iftar dinner is invited to the Museum of the Seam that was built in 1932, and sits on the former border between Israel and the stretch of no man’s land that for 19 years divided Jerusalem between Israel and Jordan. For NIS 180, participants will have the opportunity to inspect the current art exhibition, Life, Still Life, Land, after which they can ascend to the roof to enjoy one of the most spectacular panoramic views of Jerusalem, and at 7:30 p.m. on May 4 they can join Muslim guests in breaking the fast over a sumptuous meal. The event will be held in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines. Hosting this multi-culture venture is Curator and Art Director Raphie Etgar, who is himself an artist, and who in 1999 turned the museum into an institute dedicated to dialogue, understanding and coexistence, and in 2005 developed it even further, making it as far as is known, the first sociopolitical museum for contemporary art in Israel. Advance registration for the iftar event is required. 02-6281278.
■ FOR YEARS Yad Sarah has been lending out medical equipment for temporary use to those who need it, asking for a small deposit, which is peanuts compared to what it would cost patients if they had to buy such equipment. Now, according to the NGO’s CEO Moshe Cohen, Yad Sarah is expanding its lending program to India, and last week dispatched a thousand oxygen concentrators and ventilators to India for use as long as needed, on the understanding that the equipment will be sent back to Israel when no longer required. Given the size of the Indian population and the extent of the spread of coronavirus, Yad Sarah’s contribution appears to be minimal – but if it helps to save lives, no matter how few, it is of tremendous value, especially to the families whose loved ones would otherwise have died. Small though Israel may be in terms of territory and population in comparison to many other countries, its medical, humanitarian aid and search and rescue teams affiliated with various not for profit organizations have done tremendous work in creating field hospitals, providing electricity and fresh water resources, feeding the hungry, and rescuing those trapped as a result of earthquakes and other natural disasters. Israel may be somewhat discombobulated on the home front, but is doing a great job abroad.

greerfc@gmail.com

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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