Grapevine: Choices and influence

The old story about two Jews three opinions, proves its veracity time after time. One of the examples is in the choices of influential Jews published by various media outlets in Israel and abroad. Yes, there were several instances in which there was agreement – the most common being over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though there was no consensus as to his ranking.

Among the influential Jews chosen by the American Jewish news website Algemeiner, which also publishes a weekly newspaper, were several Israelis as well as non-Israelis who influence Jewish life. Among the Israelis, in addition to Netanyahu, were – among others – Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai, choreographer Ohad Naharin, Watergen CEO Arye Kohavi, Orbotech CEO Asher Levy, Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum, billionaire philanthropist Roman Abramovich, ZAKA founder and chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, politicians Avi Dichter and Elazar Stern, Labor party chairman Avi Gabbay, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, outgoing Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Mossad director Yossi Cohen, Rabbis David Lau, Yitzhak Yosef and Adin Steinsaltz broadcaster Ilana Dayan, and Leah Goldin, the mother of fallen soldier Hadar Goldin. Members of the Goldin family, who for four years have been battling for the return by Hamas of Hadar’s remains, are among the most vocal of Israelis at home and abroad, often undermining Netanyahu in what they say.

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Coming to Netanyahu’s defense from the strangest of quarters is Nehemia Strassler, a veteran journalist who writes for Haaretz, the publication which is one of Netanyahu’s sternest critics. Though conscious that one of the taboos in Israel is an attack on bereaved parents, Strassler, in an op-ed headlined “To halt the Goldins,” wrote that for some time now Leah and Simcha Goldin have been accusing the prime minister of capitulating to Hamas and of abandoning missing soldiers and not doing anything to bring them home. Strassler argues that such talk not only undermines the prime minister but is also damaging to public morale. He also says that the way in which the Goldins talk creates the false impression that Hadar (whose funeral Strassler attended even though he doesn’t know the family) and Oron Shaul – the other soldier whose body is believed to be held by Hamas – are alive.

Strassler believes that in order to win their battle, the Goldins want Israel to penetrate further into Gaza and to fight harder wherever there is resistance. This, he argues, will result only in more destruction, more loss of life and more grief.

In an interview with Liat Regev on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet, Strassler concurred with KAN military reporter Carmella Menashe, who earlier in the day had taken herself and her fellow reporters to task for having known the situation before the onset of the Yom Kippur War and having failed to report it. “Our job as journalists is not to please, but to disclose and to publish,” she said, as she chastised the Defense Ministry for waiting for 45 years before allowing the truth about the debacle that cost so many lives and ruined so many other lives to be declassified and published.

LEADING UP to the opening of the first Jerusalem WeWork location on October 2 in the old Hamashbir building on the corner of King George Street and Ben Yehuda, the world-wide company – which provides space and services to enable people to create their life’s work – will be welcoming Jerusalemites and visitors to the capital to see its WeWork sukka at First Station.

The sukka will be open to the public from September 20-28. The essential difference between the WeWork sukka and others is that it will be equipped with two conference rooms, indoor and outdoor hot desks, wifi and baristas. In other words, for those who are mixing business with pleasure, it will be an office away from the office and will be staffed with WeWork employees. In the evenings there will also be a DJ.

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“The way that people live and work has undergone a fundamental shift, one which emphasizes flexibility, energy, excitement, mobility and the search for meaning – a shift that WeWork has been at the forefront of bringing about,” said Benjy Singer, general manager of WeWork Israel. “Much like WeWork does with bringing people together and giving them a space to build something meaningful and impactful, the construction of a Sukka and its placement outside the home allows us to experience a very similar shift – one in which we open the walls of our temporary homes to any and every guest, allowing us to interact, learn from and collaborate with new and old friends alike, providing us with unique energy and excitement.”

THERE ARE so many activities all over the country during Sukkot and not enough time in which to see and do all that we want. Unless someone sets out for an out of town attraction in the pre-dawn hours, they’re bound to waste precious time in traffic congestion only to discover that their destination of choice is overflowing and cannot accommodate any more people.

Before leaving, check out the traffic with Waze and, if possible, telephone the place you are going to decide on whether it’s worth your while. Because so many things are happening in Jerusalem, certain streets will be closed, especially on Thursday, the day of the annual Jerusalem march with the largest contingent from the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which has attracted 6,000 participants to its annual Feast of Tabernacles.

According to ICEJ vice president and senior international spokesman David Parsons the economic impact on Israel of the week-long Feast of Tabernacles is expected to be somewhere between $18 million to $20m. Many participants who arrived early last week almost immediately went out shopping, and one Asian group in particular was greatly attracted to a display of shofars outside a Ben Yehuda Street gift shop, and blew nearly all of them only hours before Kol Nidre.

THE JERUSALEM municipal elections are heating up as changes are taking place. Residents of the city are receiving phone calls with a recorded message from Netanyahu endorsing Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin. Education Minister Naftali Bennett has also put his weight behind Elkin .

Mayoral candidate and former municipal legal adviser Yossi Havilio has dropped out of the race and is giving his backing to Ofer Berkovitch, who is proving to be serious competition for Elkin and for Moshe Lion.
Havilio is, however, running for city council. Elkin is most unhappy that Shas and Degel Hatorah parties are standing behind Lion, which of course improves Lion’s chances. Up until last Wednesday night, candidates had been very civil and even complimentary when talking about each other, but once Elkin realized the Lion could possibly surge ahead of him, the gloves came off.

It’s interesting that hardly anyone is talking about how much it cost to maintain a Jerusalem Affairs Ministry before this needless addition to the administration was introduced with Elkin at its head. If he becomes mayor, will the ministry still exist, and if he doesn’t win the election will he go back to heading the ministry and needlessly spend more of the tax-payers’ money? The Shas-Degel Hatorah alliance was also a blow for haredi candidate Yossi Deitch, a city council veteran with a good reputation.

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