Grapevine: Pride in the flag

Following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, accompanied by cancer patients 13-year-old Alon Eizarayev and 18-year-old Mika Lipsker, took time out from their busy schedule to watch the second semifinal game of the World Cup. Like so many other patriotic Israelis who went to Russia to watch the games live and to share in the excitement, Netanyahu proudly displayed the national flag, even though Israel was not among the competing national teams.

 TEL AVIV Deputy Mayor Assaf Zamir, who is running against his boss Ron Huldai in the contest for mayor of the city that never sleeps, was reportedly the youngest deputy mayor in Israel when elected at age 28 ten years ago. To some people, that’s not really a big deal. Former justice minister Moshe Nissim, was only 24 when first elected to the Knesset in 1959. Former Tel Aviv Mayor Roni Milo, who was also Israel’s first ever environment minister, was 28 when he was first elected to the Knesset; Meir Sheetrit, who was justice minister twice and over the years held a half dozen other portfolios, was mayor of Yavne from 1974-87, taking up that role at age 26. In the present Knesset, Stav Shaffir, who was one of the leaders of the 2011 social-justice protests, was 27 when elected to the Knesset in 2013.

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ISRAELI-BORN ACTRESS and model Odeya Rash, although only 21, has already carved out a successful career for herself in Hollywood and is living in Los Angeles. She is due to come home for a visit next week, primarily to make a film, but also to open the TAU Innovation Conference at the University of Tel Aviv. Rash will talk about the innovative methods she used to boost her thriving career. Rash left Israel when she was nine. The innovation conference will take place from July 16-18.

UNDER THE tongue-in-cheek headline “The defense never rests,” The New York Daily News reported this week on the fundraiser for Israel’s elite Duvdevan Counter Intelligence Commando Unit. Appearing above the story was a photograph of famed movie maker and notorious sex offender Harvey Weinstein who sparked the “Me Too” campaign which started in Hollywood and went global.

Above the item on the Duvdevan event was a photograph of Weinstein, attired in a smart suit, leaving Manhattan Criminal Court with his lawyer Benjamin Brafman, after being arraigned on three new sex crimes. Brafman was among the guests at the Duvdevan fund raiser. Duvdevan has entered the public consciousness in the US as a result of the Netflix Fauda series, now in its second season.

The event, sponsored by the Allaham family at Albert Allaham’s elegant Reserve Cut kosher steakhouse in the Setai Hotel at 40 Broad Street in Lower Manhattan, raised $250,000. Allaham came on his own from Syria to the US when he was only 13 years old. He is descended from a family of master butchers that operated in Damascus for more than 200 years. Before opening the restaurant, he opened the Prime Cut kosher butcher shop in Brooklyn which delivers to customers all over New York. The restaurant is the realization of a dream.

Joining him in hosting the event were Joly Allaham, Ralph Naher, Harry Adjmi, Ronn Torossian, and Charles Chehebar. In addition to Brafman there were a hundred other VIP guests including Israel Consul General Dani Dayan, Jordache co-founder Ralph Nakash, nightlife operator David Einhorn and reality TV star Siggy Flicker.

TRUTH BEING stranger than fiction, it’s difficult these days to realize that Eric Arthur Blair – better known as George Orwell – was so prescient. In 1949, less than a year before his death, he wrote 1984, his classic dystopian novel which introduced the idea that “Big Brother is watching you” in a work of fiction. In those days, few people could envisage a world in which one’s private life was virtually an open book controlled by the purveyors of various social media outlets, where information about a person’s life and s is not always up to date, and is often a mish-mash of data collected from other social media services.
The business networking site Linked In, for instance, this week sent out a message to some of its subscribers who mentioned The Jerusalem Post in their profiles, inviting them to connect with more people from the Post. Curiously, none of the people chosen by artificial intelligence as future s work at the paper these days, and some of them haven’t worked there for several years now.

While there are many positive aspects to social media, it also has many downsides, such as the unfortunate fact that those who use it take for granted that everyone else also does. One can’t help wondering about those invitees to the Bastille Day reception hosted on Thursday by French Ambassador Hélène Le Gal, who received emailed invitations to the reception and who, on the evening before, were sent an e-mail with a personal App code to put in their tablet or mobile phone for the purpose of gaining entry to the reception, but who don’t use either tablet or cell phone.

Yes, believe it or not there are people who do not want to be constantly preoccupied with checking their messages or looking for news updates on their mobile phones. A ride on public transport is enough to convince anyone with this frame of mind, that cell phones are ruling and even ruining our lives.

Almost every passenger, whether sitting or standing, is using a cell phone. Some are checking messages, some are looking at photographs, some are engaged in loud conversations with relatives, friends, places of employment, government offices, etc. on matters that are often very personal. Any would-be novelist would have a bonanza just recording such conversations, which incidentally, can also be done with the aid of a cell phone. We may all think we are living in freedom but in fact we are living in slavery to many forms of social media through which Orwell’s prophecy has not only become true, but has exceeded even his own fertile imagination.

TALK ABOUT biting the hand that fed it. Recently, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that Australia had terminated its AU$10 million funding to the Palestinian Authority because the Palestinians could not confirm that the money was being used for humanitarian purposes and was not being directed towards terrorist incentives. Afterwards, Nabil Sha’ath, advisor on foreign affairs to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, declared that Australia is worthy of being spat on. This angered readers of on-line reports of Palestinian reaction to the Australian government’s decision, and several people whose names do not have the slightest Jewish ring to them castigated Shaath; some also criticized countries that are still supporting the Palestinians financially where it is no secret how the money is being used.

It’s a tragic situation when Palestinians who are in dire need of humanitarian aid are not getting it despite the good intentions of some countries in the world, and many young Palestinians are losing their lives by falling victim to incentives to become terrorists. It’s very sad that history has not yet taught them that violence is not the way to realize their aspirations.

FOR MANY years, Israeli fashionistas visiting New York would find their way to the Rosebud store operated by Fern and Leslie Penn in the Big Apple’s Upper East Side. Part of the reason was that the Rosebud, which was a “Made in Israel” concept store featuring fashion, accessories and home decorative items, had merchandise that they couldn’t necessarily find in Israel – just as Israelis who go to London make their way to M&S to purchase better quality Israeli goods and at cheaper prices than they would pay at home.

In the course of running the store, Fern Penn came to Israel at least twice a year to look at new designs and to place orders. She also befriended many Israeli designers, who were saddened to learn that her store was closing due to the spiraling rentals being charged in New York. But just because she closed her store, doesn’t mean that Penn was finished with Israeli fashion – far from it. She’s now organizing fashion tours to Israel in which she takes American clientele to meet her favorite designers and choose “Made in Israel” while in Israel.

The first of these tours is due to take place in November when the weather is pleasantly warm but not too hot. If Penn has any concerns about its success, it’s that the tour is already oversubscribed. There’s a limit as to how many people one can take into a designer’s showroom. But she’s very excited at the prospect and so are those of her former clients who have already signed up. Rosebud Tours may prove to be a very interesting sales outlet for Israel’s fashion industry.

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