By SIMONE COHEN SCOTT
Not often does the Remis Speakers’ Forum have two speakers at once. Further, we almost never have speakers honour us by planning their trips to accommodate our schedule.
But that’s what Shai Doron and Nomi Yeshua did, and we are the richer for it in our appreciation of Jerusalem. These two people are the President and the Chief Development Officer, respectively, of The Jerusalem Foundation, and their outstanding presentation was truly inspirational – at the Speakers’ Forum on July 29.
Nomi set the stage by giving an overview of the rationale for, and the founding of, the Jerusalem Foundation. She is well placed to do so, having made Aliyah from Vancouver in 1990, when she immediately landed a job in the mayor’s office. Except for various leaves of absence while she furthered her education, Nomi worked with Mayor Teddy Kollek, gradually transitioning from the mayor’s office to the Jerusalem Foundation.
Teddy Kollek became Mayor of Jerusalem in 1965, when part of the city was under occupation by Jordan. His jurisdiction included about 2,000 Arabs. Two years later, unexpectedly, East Jerusalem was liberated, and 69,000 Arabs joined the rest of the population.
Growing up in Vienna, Teddy had experienced a city where diverse groups interacted in a friendly fashion, everyone participating in everything the sophisticated city had to offer. This exposure to possibilities influenced his vision of what Jerusalem could and should become. He, of course, immediately became aware of, and was disturbed by the reality he’d inherited. East Jerusalem under Jordan had not developed anywhere near the cultural opportunities as had West Jerusalem, and he desperately wanted this situation to be rectified.
Teddy’s tax based civic budget would provide the basics such as schools, but was inadequate for the enrichment opportunities necessary to develop a modern, mid-century, city. It was the need to forge beyond these limiting parameters, that motivated him to develop the Jerusalem Foundation.
Thus, Teddy enabled himself to raise funds from lovers of Jerusalem everywhere, to build theatres, sports centres, concert halls, libraries, art galleries, museums, community centres, and plenty of parks and green spaces.
Nomi showed a series of graphs prepared by the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research, which illustrated the lead-up to the demographic Teddy inherited.
In 1922, early in the British Mandate Period, the population of Municipal Jerusalem was 63,000 (including 29,000 Arabs). By the end of WWII, the population had grown to 164,000 (including 65,000 Arabs). During the years between the War of Independence and the Six Day War, the population had grown by about 30,000 (but including only 2,000 Arabs, the rest being in Jordan-occupied territory).
With the liberation of East Jerusalem, 69,000 Arabs became part of Municipal Jerusalem, bringing the total population to 267,000. Deciphering graphs is sometimes difficult, but what these numbers show is the proportion, the fracturing, and perhaps the temperament, of the population at the beginning of a unified Jerusalem under Mayor Kollek. A challenging situation indeed!
Within these general population numbers, the break-down of the study became more nuanced. In 2017, the year this study was completed, the population of Municipal Jerusalem was 902,000, 342,000 of which were Arabs. More graphs gave us more information.
Analyses of Jews, Muslims, Arab Christians, non-Arab Christians, those not identified by religion, were all displayed. Within these population groups further analyses proceeded. Age groups, gender, variations of religious observance, education, poverty rates, and on and on, were graphed out every which way.
Nomi accompanied each with explanations. By the time she was done, the enormity of the problem, the intricacies of the complications, had thoroughly sunk in. How was Teddy’s vision ever going to be actualized?
Then it was Shai’s turn. In 1989, Shai became the director of the mayor’s office, working closely with Teddy Kollek, coordinating and managing significant projects, including being involved in urban planning. In 1993 he was appointed Director General of the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.
The zoo was Teddy’s brainchild, too. He wanted a place where every niche of demographic could bring their families, and feel ‘at home’, from Ultra-Orthodox Jew to Devout Muslim, to Christian, to visitors of every faith, to secular. Shai was more than inspired. He expanded and transformed the zoo into a meeting point for all Jerusalem residents and visitors. In 2011, he led and developed the construction of an aquarium, the first in Israel, adjacent to the zoo.
During his tenure, the zoo became the leading tourist attraction in Israel, attracting more than 700,000 visitors every year. Last year Shai was appointed President of the Jerusalem Foundation. Teddy must be qvelling over his protege!
When Shai expounds on what he sees Jerusalem becoming, in spite of its dizzying problems, one realizes not only has he caught Teddy’s vision, but he has run with it up into the stratosphere. In his words: “Jerusalem needs to be a model of shared living to the entire world…..not only Jews and Arabs but Jews and Jews”.
Teddy envisioned the goal; Shai sees the steps to the goal. He believes this shared living (not merely co-existence) will depend on the young people, and what is done for them now.
These children need these basics: Arabs and Jews need to learn each other’s language; need to learn English; need training in computer science; training in communication and leadership skills.
Today’s leaders must develop programs that will provide these ‘pillars’ as he calls them, which will ultimately implement a pluralist, productive, society. This should be done, Shai says, “……creatively, in state of the art fashion,…..with a moral, not a political, agenda.”
It was not difficult to see why this man has been so successful in raising millions in funds, necessary not only for these completed projects, but for development of the ‘pillars’ he sees as vital.
Upon reflecting back on the analyses Nomi presented, showing multiple variations of demographics, one realizes how nuanced each project needs to be, to attract, draw in, and enhance, each unique segment of the community.
But Shai’s enthusiasm is contagious. He is on a grand Aliyah, a ‘going up’ to Zion, and the impulse to join him on his vision’s path is irresistible. Nomi and Shai make frequent trips through Canada. The Remis Speakers’ Forum has already placed them on the ‘must contact’ list for next season’s roster, so our members can follow Nomi and Shai’s progress.
The key will be enlisting those creative individuals with a moral, not political, agenda, who will put their shoulder to the wheel, helping to make Jerusalem….. “a model of shared living to the entire world.” Hmmm, sounds like something right out of Scripture.
Hamas murdered their friend. Now, they help Israeli soldiers to keep his memory alive
By VIRGINIA ALLEN (The Daily Signal) David Newman sent a text to a friend the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. Something terrible had happened. Word quickly spread among Newman’s group of friends, who had known each other since high school.
Newman, 25, had traveled the night before to the music festival in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. It was supposed to be a fun weekend with his girlfriend “celebrating life,” something Newman, who served with the Israel Defense Forces, was good at and loved to do, friend Gidon Hazony recalls.
When Hazony learned that Newman, his longtime friend, was in danger, he and another friend decided they were “going to go down and try and save him.” Trained as a medic and armed with a handgun and bulletproof vest, Hazony started driving south from Jerusalem.
Hazony and his friend ended up joining with other medical personnel and “treated probably around 50 soldiers and civilians in total that day,” Hazony recalls, but they kept trying to make it south to rescue Newman.
But the two “never made it down to the party, and that’s probably for the best,” Hazony says, “because that area was completely taken over by terrorists. And if we had gone down there, I think we would’ve been killed.”
Hazony later learned that Hamas terrorists had murdered Newman on Oct. 7, but not before Newman had saved nearly 300 lives, including the life of his girlfriend.
When the terrorists began their attack on the music festival, many attendees began running to their cars. But Newman and his girlfriend encountered a police officer who warned them to run the opposite direction because the terrorists were near the vehicles, says David Gani, another friend of Newman’s.
Newman “ran in the opposite direction with his girlfriend and whoever else he could kind of corral with him,” Gani explains during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“They saw two industrial garbage cans, big containers, and so David told everyone, ‘Hide, hide in those containers,’” Gani says. “And so what he did over the course of the next few hours is, he would take people and … he was this big guy, and he would just chuck them in that container. And then he would go in, wait, wait till the coast is clear, and then he’d go back out, find more people, put them in there.”
Newman’s actions that day, and the atrocities Hazony and so many others in Israel witnessed Oct. 7, led Hazony, Gani, and several friends to quit their jobs and set up a nonprofit called Soldiers Save Lives. The organization is working to collect tactical and humanitarian aid for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.
According to the group’s website, Soldiers Save Lives has supplied over 20 IDF units and civilian response teams “with protective and self-defense gear.”
Gani, board chairman, chief financial officer, and chief technology officer of Soldiers Save Lives, and Hazony, president of the organization, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise support and awareness for their mission to provide IDF troops with needed supplies.
If you would like to find out more about Soldiers Save Lives or donate to them, go to https://www.soldierssavelives.org/
Reprinted with permission.
Our New Jewish Reality
By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.
Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead
Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.
To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333