Grapevine December 30, 2020: Who shall serve

Date29 December 2020
AuthorGREER FAY CASHMAN
Publication Date29 December 2020
One of the most widely publicized cases in recent weeks was that of police bursting into the home of mentally disturbed Yosef Fleischman, who lives alone in Jerusalem's Beit Yisrael neighborhood adjacent to Mea She'arim.

The predawn invasion caught Fleischman unawares. Police demanded that he identify himself, and he refused. They dragged him barefoot out of the house. His only protection against the cold Jerusalem night air was his pajamas.

At the police station, they discovered that they had the wrong man. So they sent him packing, without a police escort to take him home. He had no money with him, and no documents. Moreover, he was completely disoriented.

Relatives who come to his home daily to take care of him saw that he was absent and immediately lodged a report. He was eventually found lying in mud and feces in the Jerusalem Forest and suffering from hypothermia. He was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where he was visited by many people who were outraged by his story. Among the visitors were Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Public Security Minister Amir Ohana. Fleischman's relatives, who are extremely angry over what happened to him, have demanded the dismissal of the police who arrested him.

But there is a happy ending to the story. Young people in the neighborhood decided to renovate his somewhat neglected apartment. They painted all the walls, and brought new furniture and gave the place a whole new look. Fleischman, 66, who has since been discharged from the hospital, is still acclimatizing himself to his greatly improved environment. Sometimes, it takes something really bad to happen to bring out the good in people. This was one of those occasions.

■ SOME OF the better-class hotels that were used as quarantine centers ruined their reputations with poor service, inedible food and bedding that looked like it hadn't been changed.

While hotels were not open to the general public, a number of hotels were not completely closed, even though they were not exactly open for business. Hotels that for years have hosted airline crews and business delegations did stay open, because even with the limited number of flights to Israel from abroad, there were dignitaries and businesspeople still coming, and many Israelis who had been stranded flew home on foreign carriers whose crews stayed in Israel overnight and sometimes longer.

Among the hotels that, for precisely these reasons, did not close was the Tel Aviv Hilton, whose general manager, Ronnie Fortis, also kept many staff members on board to ensure the upkeep of the hotel's standards. Those staff members of "our team," as Fortis refers to them, who were not needed were not dismissed, and the hotel management remained in contact with them. Renovations that had been planned well in advance were carried out, and the absence of guests probably made it easier.

Fortis released a video of himself walking through the empty public areas of the hotel. Everything was spruced up, flowers were in place – but what was missing was the buzz and bustle of humanity that was always part and parcel of the Tel Aviv Hilton for more than half a century.

Fortis, who is also Hilton Israel country manager, is optimistic that life will return to normal in 2021, and people will once again start flocking to the Tel Aviv Hilton, as well as to other hotels in the chain.

■ BLUE AND White MK Ram Shefa, head of the Knesset Education Committee, was asked by Israel Radio Reshet Bet's Aryeh Golan about his future political plans, but refused to divulge them before speaking to party leader Benny Gantz. In typical fashion, Golan placed his own interpretation on what had occurred in their conversation, with Shefa interjecting to declare that this was not what he had said, and that he would make his plans public after he speaks to Gantz, whom he said he admires.

■ LEGAL ADVISER to the Foreign Ministry Tal Becker tweeted last week: "Decades ago my father left Marrakesh for the young Jewish state. Today, I fly to Rabat as part of the official Israeli delegation to open a new and promising chapter in Israeli-Moroccan relations."

Becker is, of course, not the first Israeli to close a personal circle in terms of diplomacy. Former Colombian ambassador David de la Rosa, who had been living in Colombia for many years, was actually born in Jerusalem. After returning home as a diplomat, he chose to stay.

Several Israeli...

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