The people speak in the Carmel

January 6, 2011 - 10:26 AM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, General, Israeliness, Life, News, Politics, Social Justice, tv 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is protected by bodyguards against angry family members of the victims of the Carmel forest fire. (AP)

Wednesday night’s televised live state ceremony at Kibbutz Beit Oren to honor the 44 victims of the Carmel wildfire last month was anything but stately.

Many of the bereaved families, furious over the lack of an official government inquiry into the behavior of the official bodies responsible for budgeting the bodies responsible for preventing and fighting fires, exploded in a barrage of verbal attacks on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

They demanded that Yishai leave the ceremony – which he did- and they held up Netanyahu’s speech for over 10 minutes, while stood expressionless behind a battery of bodyguards. The scene eventually quieted down and he gave his speech, but as soon as it was over, the heckles and tumult began anew and the rest of the ceremony was more or less scrapped.

Watching the events unfold on TV, there was an eerie sense that something really bad had the potential to take place. The people watching with me discussed just how long the bodyguards were going to let the prime minister stay in the hall before escorting him out. I really thought there was a chance that one of the ceremony participants – in the heat of the moment – might try to do him harm.

But the decision was made for Netanyahu to stay until the end, and the evening ended with physical violence, but many frayed nerves. It was a riveting few minutes of television, harrowing to watch as the pain of the families boiled over yet, at the same time, unable to turn away from the scene.

While we may tout Israel as being a developed nation with culture mores and democratic institutions firmly in place, last night showed that you can take us out of the Middle East, but you can’t take the Middle East out of us.

There was something even poignant about the outburst and display of raw emotions directed at our leaders. The families still believe in ideals – that a government is there to help its citizens, and when it’s perceived as not doing that, then there’s a sense of betrayal. In most countries, that sense of the government and its citizens being on the same side is long distant memory. Here, it’s still a fresh wound.

All in the Netanyahu family

April 15, 2010 - 1:40 PM by · 2 Comments
Filed under: A New Reality, education, General, History and Culture, Holidays, Israeliness, Religion 

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his son Avner, along with the other Bible Quiz contestants.

One of the long-standing traditions of Israel Independence Day, which takes place next Monday night and Tuesday is the International Bible Quiz.

Young high-school age contestants from around the world have been arriving in Israel and are currently in a camp with the Israeli contestants, getting ready for next week’s competition. Yesterday, both the Israeli and foreign contestants were brought to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at his office.

Each one got up and said his name, but only one drew a big laugh from those gathered, when he stood, and said, “My name is Avner Netanyahu.”

The reason for the laughter was because 15-year-old Avner is the prime minister’s son, and a gifted Torah scholar. He won this year’s contest on the state school level and made it into the finals.

Without playing favorites, Netanyahu wished his son good luck and told the audience that he recently has been reading more and more Bible on a weekly basis, often under Avner’s guidance.

“Jerusalem is the city of the Bible, and the Bible is the book of life. It is the story of the people of Israel’ s life,” said Netanyahu at the gathering.

Shoni Michkei from Hungary promised Netanyahu in the name of the contestants, “When each of us returns to his country, we will be loyal ambassadors of the State of Israel.”


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