The Jerusalem Post

Grapevine September 18, 2023: Ministerial disqualifications

 RAMLE’S POOL of Arches. (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
RAMLE’S POOL of Arches.
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

■ FOLLOWING REVELATIONS that National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir is a serial violator of traffic regulations, driving at speeds much faster than the law allows and driving through red lights, perhaps the focus of the Knesset and the government should shift from judicial reform to incidents in a person’s curriculum vitae, which would disqualify him or her from being a minister in any government. 

A one-time illegal act, committed a decade and more ago, might be excused, but continued repetition of acts against which charges had been laid, demands disqualification. As it is, Ben-Gvir has caused enormous harm and embarrassment to a Netanyahu-led government. Moreover, he announced at a coalition pre-Rosh Hashanah toast that his party would no longer toe the line on coalition discipline. Just how much more damage must he do before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decides to oust him?

Women are making history

■ WOMEN ARE quietly making history. An example of that is Hadassa Getsztain, the recently elected chairperson of the Israel branch of the World Jewish Congress. She is the first woman to hold that role, meaning that yet another crack has appeared in the glass ceiling. Getsztain was unanimously elected at the end of March, replacing Gad Arieli, who resigned to take up a senior government posting. Getsztain served on the board of the WJC for several years. The granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, she was born in Brazil and came to Israel when she was 10. She did her military service in the navy, and subsequently studied government and diplomacy at IDC Herzliya, now known as Reichman University.

Ramle: A scene of international culture 

■ RAMLE IS rapidly becoming a scene of international culture. On Tuesday, September 19, Ramle’s 1,200-year-old Pool of Arches, which is one the city’s favorite tourist sites, will be the backdrop for an artistic happening by Daniel Rothbart, an internationally renowned American artist who lives and works in New York. His work deals with climate change and ecological issues. His projects on the subject have been presented all over the world.


At the Pool of Arches, Rothbart will present floating sculptures, which will be transported according to the water ripples. Visitors will be able to sail around the sculptures.

 The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, 2020. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, 2020. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

Rothbart has previously presented his floating sculptures in the Hudson River, in hot springs in Germany, and in other water sources around the globe. The sculptures he created for the current exhibition were adapted to the ancient structure of the pool, and the movement of the water inside it. Rothbart’s sculpture is reminiscent of early marine forms, thus he alludes to early Gaulish periods when the sea covered all regions before the human impact caused a serious decrease in biological diversity,

The project is supported by the NYSCA, New York State’s cultural foundation,

 As part of the exhibition, two evenings will be held at a later date in New York at WHITEBOX and at the JCC, the cultural center of the Jewish community in Manhattan, in which documentation of the blessing of the rainbows and the exhibition will be shown.

 In Ramle, on the same day as Rothbart’s event, another climate-related exhibition by Italian artist Elena Ceretti Stein will open.


Her installation is reportedly breathtaking and includes two sea spaces, a walking path, a nine-meter wall painting, and paintings on the windows. The display changes depending on the changing daylight, which creates spectacular, colorful reflections.

 Stein uses materials from nature, and relies on genetics, science, and biology to make us aware that the power relations between humans and natural resources are changing: Climate change is already being felt in large parts of the world, and man no longer controls nature.

Stein, who lived in Israel for several years, returned to Milan a year ago.

Balfour and Kristallnacht

■ THERE ARE just too many anniversaries to remember in the history of the Jewish people. When the Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association made arrangements for its Balfour Day Dinner, for whatever reason, November 2, the actual anniversary of the famous Balfour letter affirming that “His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” was not the date set for the dinner. 

The date chosen was November 9, which falls a week later. However, November 9 is the date of Kristallnacht, the night of the broken glass when Jewish establishments in Germany, Austria, and Nazi-occupied Western Czechoslovakia were ransacked, looted, and burned, windows and glass doors shattered, and Jews were beaten simply because they were Jews. 

German-born, nonagenarian journalist Walter Bingham, who was among youngsters who were saved from Nazi atrocities by being taken on kindertransports to Britain, takes great exception to a joyous event being held on the anniversary of such horrific destruction. He has written to IBCA and to the two keynote speakers, asking them to change the date. 

On the other hand, the Balfour Declaration was an important step towards the establishment of the State of Israel, which is the antithesis to the solution to the Jewish problem that Hitler and his Nazi cohorts had in mind.

Contact Bernard Herman

■ ANOTHER NONAGENARIAN, who left Europe just in time was 93-year-old Bernard Herman, who left Riga in Latvia on August 4, 1939, for Montreal, Canada. As a boy, he attended the Ezra School in Riga and has a class photograph that he believes includes the late Moshe Arens, who was a foreign and defense minister of Israel, as well as an Israel ambassador to the US. Herman would love to hear from anyone with a direct or indirect connection to the Ezra School, and can be reached at

Netanyahu's speech on World Peace Day

■ SEPTEMBER 21, the date on which Netanyahu is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly, was in 1981 declared as the International Day of Peace, or World Peace Day, in a resolution passed by the UN. There hasn’t been much peace since then. If anything, war and violence have escalated. Israel had it tough enough in combating an existential threat throughout her 75 years of statehood. Thursday may well be Netanyahu’s swan song at the UN, where he will probably rehash his Iran mantra. But elsewhere during his visit to the US, he will not be able to avoid questions about his domestic and personal problems.

Legendary ambassador at large gets award

■ IN ISRAEL on September 21, a special award will be presented by the Ambassadors’ Club to legendary Ambassador at Large Bruce Kashdan, who was reputed to travel light with only a toothbrush and a clean shirt in his luggage. Long before the Abraham Accords, Kashdan left Israeli footprints in different parts of the Arab world. A captivating personality with an ever-present genial smile, Kashdan consistently refused to be interviewed or photographed, but during times spent in Israel, he was extremely active in social welfare programs, and was one of the first people to bring the plight of battered women from all strata of society to public attention.

Economically disadvantaged IDF soldiers, lone soldiers get holiday gift cards

■ CLOSE TO 11,000 economically disadvantaged IDF soldiers, as well as lone soldiers, received holiday gift cards in the amount of NIS 500, totaling approximately NIS 5 million. The gift cards are redeemable for supplies such as food, clothing, and shoes at more than 100 retail stores.

 Of the soldiers receiving the holiday gift cards, roughly 6,800 were lone soldiers – including both those who come from abroad to serve in the IDF, and have no immediate family in Israel; or native Israelis who serve without family support. Fifty-five percent of lone soldiers serve in combat or combat-support roles. Out of all lone soldiers currently serving in the IDF, more than half come from 73 countries around the world: 686 are from the US, 647 from Russia, 501 from Ukraine, and 341 from France.

Israeli confab on investments and climate crisis

■ EXACTLY A week ago, what is believed to be the first conference in Israel on investments in the diverse fields of climate crisis was held at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The event was led by Oporto Carbon, Entropy Company, and BridgeWise. As part of the conference, representatives from 60 Israeli companies traded on the Israeli stock exchange, or on global exchanges participated to prepare the Israeli economy for creating business opportunities in the climate sector and to introduce measurement tools and mechanisms that will be accepted in the European Union, in the US, and under the ESG standards.

Among the companies that participated in the conference were Bank Hapoalim, Prashkovsky real estate company, Teva, Bank Leumi, Microsoft Israel, and other leaders of commerce and industry.