■ CONSIDERING THEIR common passion for democracy, Dr. Arye Carmon, the founding president of the Israel Democracy Institute and President Reuven Rivlin had a lot to talk about when Carmon called on Rivlin last week to present him with his new book, To Speak Zionism, State and Religion – an existential battle. Carmon, who is a historian and educator by profession, helped to establish IDI in 1991 with the aim of strengthening the structural and normative foundations of Israeli democracy. He also promoted democracy and political education in the classroom. He stepped down from the presidency of IDI in 2014 and was succeeded by Yohanan Plesner. Carmon and Rivlin are not strangers to each other. While at the helm of IDI, Carmon annually presented the Israel Democracy Index to successive presidents of Israel, including Rivlin.
■ MEDIA BUFFS who like to peruse old newspapers and digital archives often jump back in near surprise when coming across data about someone who was once a household name, and who for years appeared in headline news in the media. Once such people stop being public figures, they are quickly forgotten. An article in Yediot Aharonot this week relates to former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, whose granddaughter, Michal Diament, is waging a Facebook campaign against Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai for omitting to erect a city monument in memory of Shamir who died little over six years ago. “Shame on you” she wrote to Huldai as she underscored that her grandfather had spent a large portion of his life in Tel Aviv. She named all the streets in which her grandfather had lived – the last having been Moshe Sharett Street, which is the place of domicile of a number of Tel Aviv notables including former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, and former two-time Israel ambassador to the United States Zalman Shoval. The late Raya Jaglom, who was for 25 years the president of World WIZO, also lived in a penthouse apartment in Moshe Sharett Street. Huldai was in fact willing to commemorate Shamir in perpetuity, but Shamir’s family rejected the street he proposed, because it was a small side street away from the center of the city. Diament accused Huldai of naming streets after other well known figures less than two years after they died, but of overlooking her grandfather. Although Shamir, was on the right of the political spectrum, the politician who instantly responded to Diament was Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson, who signed up a large number of MKs who sent a petition to Huldai’s home in which they wrote that it was untenable that after six years there is no monument for Shamir of a nature that would honor his memory. The response was instant. It acknowledged Shamir’s numerous achievements on behalf of the state and undertook to memorialize him in the manner that he deserved within the next year. Sometimes Facebook can have a positive effect.
■ ANOTHER WELL-KNOWN figure in his hey day, who faded from the headlines over the years, was Eliezer Shmueli, a legendary director-general of the Education Ministry responsible for initiating and mobilizing numerous education projects throughout Israel. He can also be credited with giving powerful encouragement to the establishment of colleges so that high school graduates who had not been able to enter universities, would still have access to higher education. Over time, at least one of those colleges became a university, and other colleges were able to give BA and in some cases MA accreditation. Shmueli, who was born in Greece, died this week in Jerusalem at the age of 90. A life-long educator, he was responsible for establishing comprehensive high schools in development towns , initiated the compulsory education law, and also encouraged the study of eastern Jewish history and tradition. He also lectured at Tel Aviv University’s School of Education. In 1948, he qualified as a teacher at the David Yellin School, and during the War of Independence was a Gadna commander. In 1951, he was appointed principal of the Lemel School and in 1957 he joined the Education Ministry which was then headed by Zalman Aran. He was subsequently sent abroad on educational missions by the Jewish Agency. He left the Education Ministry in 1987 due to a clash of views with then-education minister Yitzhak Navon, but continued to work in the sphere of education almost until his dying day. However, if people were stopped at random in the street, and were asked about him, it’s doubtful that many would recognize his name.
■ BRAZILIAN JEWISH journalist Shirley Nigri raises an important point about international conferences in Israel. If there is a Jewish media summit in Jerusalem near the end of this year, as there has been every two years for quite some time, Nigri does not want to simply listen to the Israeli agenda. Should there be another Jewish media summit, she’s planning to attend, but she doesn’t want to have Israeli propaganda thrust down her throat. She knows that this sounds ungrateful, and while she is anxious to hear updates about developments in Israel, she believes that when Jewish journalists from around the world come together, they should decide on the program, because there is so much happening in the Jewish Diaspora, that it is important for Jewish communities in different countries to learn from each other, especially in an era of incitement and increasing racism.
■ FORMER AUSTRALIAN ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma, who has been an informal ambassador for Israel ever since he returned home, continues to wave the flag for Israel. In an interview with Sky News Australia, which together with other Australian media give him similar status on Middle East issues as the Israeli media give to Zvi Mazel, a former Israel ambassador to Egypt – Sharma, when asked whether Australia should move its embassy to Jerusalem, replied: “I don’t think we should be ruling it out, I don’t think we should be rushing to do it either. The Americans have moved their embassy and the world hasn’t ended” MIFAL HAPAYIS, the state lottery company is changing its image and its logo under the slogan of Giving for the sake of giving. The whole idea according to Mifal Hapayis CEO Omri Lotan is to persuade people to contribute to the communities in which they live by taking notice of general needs, and doing something about them, but also to be more aware of the needs of individuals around them and to put out a helping hand. Often, it doesn’t take much more than a greeting and a smile. Mifal Hapayis is investing NIS4 million in a television and digital and print media campaign during its rebranding process. The interesting thing is that the Knesset has frequently discussed lowering the profile of the different lotteries that are such a magnet for the poor. True, somebody has to win the prizes, and when it’s a needy person, that’s just wonderful. But what about all the poor people who exhaust a large percentage of their meager earnings on lottery tickets or in guessing the outcome of soccer matches? Mostly it’s a losing proposition. Some people console themselves knowing that their losses have contributed to the building of a school or a playground or some other community facility constructed by Mifal Hapayis. Yes, what they do is valuable to the community, but what does it do to the individuals who can’t really afford to lose what their bets amount to?
■ THE MERGER between Channel 10 and Reshet less than a year after the Reshet/ Keshet break away from Channel 2 which caused that Channel’s demise, now has a lot of people who work for Chennel 10 and Reshet wondering whether their jobs are safe. When the approval of the merger by the Antitrust regulator was announced this week on Kan 11, anchor woman Geula Even Saar remarked laconically that a lot of people must be worried about whether they will still be employed. A little more empathy on her part would have been expected considering that it’s not all that long ago that employees of the now defunct Israel Broadcasting Authority of which she was a member and in whose protest demonstrations by workers she participated, were in the same boat. Apparently memories get shorter as one rises to the top. It can only be hoped that the merger will result in so many new projects that there will be work not only for existing staff of Channel 10 and Reshet, but also for people not yet employed by either. It would not be surprising if some of the Channel 10 people were snapped up by Keshet.