Jerusalem Post readers who wrote letters to the editor protesting the inclusion of Ehud Olmert among speakers at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York next month should now understand that Olmert – who as the prime minister gave the order to destroy Syria’s nuclear reactor – will arguably be one of the most important speakers at the conference.
No one will ever know how many Israeli lives were spared on the basis of that order. If Syria had continued to develop the reactor, it might eventually have blown up the whole of Israel, and once the dust had settled on the ruins, the world would have woken up to a Greater Syria. That does not excuse the charges for which Olmert was imprisoned, but it shows that Olmert, like every human being, has several sides to his character, and his concern for the safety and security of the people of Israel far outweighs his corruption.
■ NAW RUZ, which is the Iranian and Bahá’í new year always falls near the beginning of spring and is celebrated throughout the Middle East and many Islamic countries in Central Asia.
Although the two main centers of the Bahá’í international community are in Haifa and Acre, the major Naw Ruz celebration in Israel is traditionally held in Jerusalem, a factor noted by President Reuven Rivlin in his letter of greeting. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also sent a warm letter of greeting, but neither letter could match the refined eloquence of Dr. Joshua Lincoln, Secretary General of the Bahá’í International community, who in using his own words in addition to quoting those of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i faith, explained that Naw Raz marks not only the coming of spring but also a time of spiritual renewal and reexamination of matters of the heart.
Lincoln said that while members of the Bahá’í faith are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh; the 175th year in the Bahá’í calendar; and the upcoming gathering in Haifa of 1,400 delegates from 165 countries who are arriving to elect an international governing council, which they do every five years; he was saddened by the fact that the Baha’i are among the most persecuted people in the world, especially in places such as Iran and Yemen, where they are subjected to discrimination, denial of human rights, false accusations and sometimes execution. In Iran, Bahá’ís were subject to arbitrary arrests; lengthy imprisonment; torture and other ill-treatment; the forcible closure of Baha’i-owned businesses; confiscation of Baha’i properties; bans on employment in the public sector; and denial of access to universities.
One of the Bahá’í volunteers at the Naw Ruz celebration sang a haunting chant in Persian. Six others from the Pacific Islands gave a wonderful presentation of movement reflecting everyday life in the islands of the Pacific and commonalities that exist in multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies.
■ IN RECENT months there have been several renovations at the President’s Residence, including a new entrance, flooring and furniture.
But what was needed most was a red pile carpet on which dirt and dust wouldn’t show up. For the visit of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev last Tuesday, maintenance staff had to sweep the carpet over and over after every time someone stepped on it. Some of the administrative staff took off their shoes and put them on again after walking across the carpet. Nonetheless, the poor man charged with sweeping was called again and again to remove specks of dust which rose with every footprint, whether stockinged or shod. What a waste of time, effort and energy. As it is, the carpet is very unattractive and the color is more in the nature of burgundy than royal red. A new carpet would do wonders in more ways than one.
■ NEARLY 25 years ago, a young fashion designer from Bethlehem by the name of Hani Murad suddenly popped up on the Israeli fashion scene, beginning with modest but eye-popping shows at the Seven Arches and American Colony hotels in Jerusalem and then showing his creations at the gala Israel Fashion Week in Tel Aviv. In the process, he garnered loads of international publicity, not only because he was a promising designer, but because he was, and is, Arab.
The glory lasted for a couple of years, but then faded.
Murad continues to design beautiful clothes. But for some odd reason, although there are quite a number of talented Arab designers in the local fashion industry, by and large they are below the radar. And though they are well-known in Arab communities, they are for the most part unknown among Jewish Israelis, other than among those who live and shop in Jaffa or certain parts of Haifa. Among the leading designers in Jaffa, Nadia Ibrahim Azizi says with regard to Arab designers in general: “Politics aside, we live in a very multicultural and diverse country. We’ve got the talent and we love what we do, and we definitely would love it to be known!” A Shenkar College graduate and a regular participant in Tel Aviv Fashion Week since its inception in 2011, Azizi this week, together with other designers, held a show for the International Women’s Club. Club members are spouses of diplomats and representatives of foreign enterprises with branches in Israel, as well as women who have come from abroad to study in Israel, plus a number of Israeli women. Now 40, Azizi, was interested in fashion while still a school girl. She studied pattern-making and fashion design at Shenkar’s external division, and specializes in cocktail, evening and wedding dresses. Her talent was quickly recognized and she has been invited on television shows to talk about styling and has worked in collaboration with international brand names such as H. Stern jewelry, Skalsky bags, and Steve Madden shoes. In addition to custom-made garments, she also has designed a readyto- wear collection.
Azizi hopes the success she has achieved as a designer will inspire other young Israeli Arab women with a talent for fashion to follow their dreams and give creative expression to their passions. Her studio in Jaffa is located at 45 Kedem Street. Although the show for the IWC was titled “AZIZI – Made in Jaffa” by Nadia Ibrahim Azizi, she gave credit to what she called “Israeli Arab creators,” not all of whom are from Jaffa. They included shoe designer Sahar Abu Seif, bag designer Rafat Omar and jewelry designer Hanan Masalha, with Yasmin Daas as stylist. Models were both Arab and Jewish.
The event at Beit Kandinoff, a new bar-restaurant in the heart of the old city of Jaffa, provided a different ambience than is usually experienced at fashion shows.
Beit Kandinoff showcases local artwork, rotating exhibitions, private art studios and runs classes in the arts To add to the atmosphere, internationally acclaimed musician Mumin Sesler, who plays Turkish-Ottoman classical maqam music, in addition to Mediterranean and globally recognized music, entertained close to 200 people who congregated in Jaffa to view Arab creativity.
Reactions were very positive, and one suspects that there will be an increase in the number of members of the diplomatic community flocking to Jaffa to shop for clothes.
■ MEMBERS OF Knesset should not be surprised if the newest legislator suddenly rushes out of plenum or committee meetings.
Yinon Azoulay, of Shas, who has replaced his father Shas MK David Azoulay, who has to undergo extensive medical treatment, also serves as a volunteer first responder for United Hatzalah. This week, while still a rookie MK, Yinon Azoulay responded to a call following traffic accident on Highway 6 near the Sorek interchange, in which five people were injured.
The accident involved a taxi and two private vehicles that had flipped over. One person was seriously injured, one person was moderately injured and three people were lightly injured. Azoulay arrived at the scene before the ambulances and together with other United Hatzalah first responders from the organization’s ambucycle unit provided first aid for the injured, one of whom was an infant. All the injured were subsequently hospitalized.
Following the incident, United Hatzalah president and founder Eli Beer voiced pride in the fact that in addition to all the other volunteers – who come from so many different ethnic, religious and professional backgrounds, from cities, towns and villages all over Israel – there is now also a volunteer in the Knesset.
Should there be a medical emergency in the Knesset, he added, UH has a man on the spot.
■ THE EXPRESSION “From Vienna to Jerusalem” immediately evokes three names. One is that of Theodor Herzl, who came to Jerusalem more than 100 years ago, and the other two are Teddy Kollek, the legendary mayor of Jerusalem and David Rubinger, Israel’s iconic photographer. But in this instance, it’s the title of an art exhibition that opens at 12 noon this coming Saturday at Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Hod. Curated by Shelly Liebowitz Kalaora, its theme is that of migration and cultural transition that reveals the forgotten story of Grete Wolf Krakauer who came to Palestine in 1924 from the very heart of socialist-red Vienna, bustling with culture and modern ideas, bringing with her remarkable feminist and social engagement. The exhibition sheds light on her art and life while drawing a set of parallels to contemporary art, and more than ever, to the contemporary realty of immigration as a major component in the evolution of current culture and thought.