Sights from the Saddle

A perspective on the road ahead as the wheels of Middle East progress are spinning in sync with the wheels of Israel’s top cyclists at the Tour de France

By David E. Kaplan

What a difference 7 months can make!

In February 2020, Israel’s pro-cycling team, Israel Start-Up Nation (ISN) took part in a cycling tour in the UAE that this August, signed a historic groundbreaking “normalization deal” with Israel  – a deal that not only formally ended an economic boycott but will likely lead to transforming the political landscape of the Middle East. “Normalisation” is the name of the new game and what was once “abnormal” is today peddling at high speed into “the new normal.”

If in February Israeli professionals were in Dubai cycling, in a post-Corona world Israeli tourists will be there shopping.

Israel Start-Up Nation. Confident, proud and ready to ride into the future.

More than seeing it coming was  ISN’s co-owner and the man behind Israel’s cycling revolution, Sylvan Adams, who played a sporting role in these welcome developments. A cycling enthusiast responsible for the Middle East’s first indoor velodrome  in Tel Aviv and who brought the “Grand Start” of Giro d’Italia to Israel in 2018 so  astutely observed before February’s 2020 tour in Dubai:

When our leaders decide  to make peace, we would already have prepared the GROUND for a warm peace.”

Literally on the ‘ground” as the signs were all too evident for Adams on the streets in Dubai in February:

 “Our cyclists had the national blue and white colours emblazoned on the front of their jerseys. They carry the name of our nation on their backs and fans were standing in line to receive autographs of our riders who they earlier had cheered in the streets of the United Arab Emirates.”

Up and Ready. Israel’s Start-Up Nation cycling team training ahead of the 2020 Tour de France.

And now in September, when both the UAE and – for the first time – Israel are participating in the 2020 Tour de France, we see developments of the new agreement between Israel and the UAE taking shape by facilitating easy banking, lowering financial impediments to making investments between the countries, and promoting joint investments in the capital markets. The word out is that there will soon be additional agreements in aviation, tourism, trade tech, research, energy and academia.

Adams is astute when it comes to marketing Israel through sport. In an interview with the writer with the Hilton Israel Magazine at the time of the start of the Giro d’Italia in Israel, Adams said, “It was not just the biggest sporting even in Israel but the biggest event in Israel’s history – period!”

Point taken. Where have a billion people watched an event – “any event”- in Israel?

Over a billion people worldwide,”said Adams, “watched the first three days of the race in Israel. What this TV global audience was exposed to was not an Israel as a ‘news item’ but as a normal country, basking in sunshine with exquisite scenery and wonderful warm people. They saw our biblical sites as well as modern Israel and learnt about our culture.”

History is Made. Israeli cyclists whizz through the streets of Nice in the south of France on the first day of the Tour de France. (Photo by Noa Arnon via Facebook)

Upping the Pace

And now with Israel Start-Up Nation participating in the 2020 Tour de France, the Jewish State is riding its way into the history books as the first Israeli team to participate in one of the most watched sporting events in the world.

Dynamite Duo. Cofounder of Israel Start-Up Nation, Sylvan Adams (left) and Israel’s first Israeli rider in a Tour de France, Guy Niv.

For three weeks, Israel’s cycling team “is being watched by three-and-a-half billion television spectators as we represent the whole country,” says Adams, “showing our true face, warmth,  friendship, diversity, tolerance, bringing our message of peace to people all around the world.”

The 107th Tour de France got underway on the French Riviera on Saturday, 29 August, two months later than planned and under the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic.  That shadow, however, did not darken the spotlight on the state of Israel as it participates  in what is described as “the world’s most prestigious and most difficult bicycle race”.

For 26-year-old Guy Niv, the first Israeli to ride in the Tour, “It is a dream come true; I have goosebumps thinking about it,” he said before the race.

I am honored and privileged to represent my country and team in the biggest race in cycling. And to be the first Israeli to do so? It might sound cliché, but my dream of a lifetime has now been realised.”

On Track. With the Arc de Triomphe in the background at the western end of the Champs-Élysées, Gur Niv is fulfilling a childhood dream.
 

Niv’s journey, which hopefully will lead to crossing the finish line on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées on September 20,  began at the same place in 2007 when he was thirteen years old.

“I went on a Bar Mitzvah trip to watch the Tour de France and now as the first Israeli rider in the 2020 Tour de France, I have the opportunity  to close a circle.” He had no illusions that it would be the ultimate challenge, saying, “I have concerns; it will be a mental challenge, not just a physical one, but I’m ready for this mission.”

Carrying the Colours. Members of the Israeli cycling team, Israel Start-Up Nation (ISN), training in northern Israel in May 2020. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)

The Tour de France is certainly a “big deal,” not only for the riders but for Israel. To this point,  the dream of competing in the Tour de France was “almost unthinkable only five years ago when we launched the team,” says Adams. “Now it’s come true. A professional team with world-class Israeli riders alongside the finest international talents, racing with pride in one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events.” Adds Israel Cycling Academy co-founder,  Ron Baron that “when we founded the team five years ago, we dreamed of this moment. But we strive for more than just the glory of racing in the Tour de France. We want every kid in Israel to say, ‘I can be Guy Niv one day. I can get to the Tour”.”

Niv is the only Israeli on the team, which also includes Ireland’s Dan Martin, André Greipel and Nils Politt from Germany, Ben Hermans and Tom Van Asbroeck from Belgium, France’s Hugo Hofstetter, Latvian cyclist Krists Neilands and from South Africa, Daryl Impey, the first ever from that country to wear the ‘Yellow Jersey’  at a Tour de France. That was back in 2013.

Now in 2020, “Around 3.5 billion viewers in hundreds of countries across the world will see the Israeli flag and hear the message of the Israel Start-Up Nation team that this is a country bringing unrivalled innovation to the world,” said Adams.

The Road Ahead. The writer interviewing Sylvan Adams in  2018 in Tel Aviv following the the Giro d’Italia in Israel, where he said, “Next up, is the Tour de France”.

Taking on the challenges of navigating success in a turbulent Middle East or grinding up the Alps and Pyrenees in the Tour de France, it’s always “a lot of uphill”.

Equipped with boundless grit and chutzpah, little wonder for the mix-up sometimes of the ‘Start-Up Nation’ thought proudly as the ‘Upstart nation’!










While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

“Under Construction” – from Buildings to Human Relations

Israel’s Top Trade Union Provides Safety Training During the COVID Crisis for Every Palestinian Construction Worker

By David E. Kaplan

Something “constructive” has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel – an innovative programme to save Palestinian lives; not from disease but from preventable accidents in Israel’s bustling construction industry.

In Israel’s entire workforce, construction workers are in the greatest danger, and for decades have suffered the highest rates of fatal workplace accidents – 6.6 times more than that of the average worker in Israel.

Like in most societies, the victims of these fatal workplace accidents are disproportionately the most vulnerable members of society and in Israel it is Israeli Arabs, Palestinians  and other foreign workers consistently over-represented in the number of construction-site fatalities and injuries.

Caught in the Act. Captured on camera, repeated safety offenses at a construction site in the center of the country. (Photo: First thing)
 

A breakdown shows that the highest incidence of fatal workplace accidents from 2017 to 2019 were caused by falls from heights, followed in descending order of falling objects, vehicular accidents, collapsing walls and scaffolding, electrocution, explosions and other.

Yes, society demands expansion and rapid development, but humanity no less morally requires that there is a limit at what price and every effort should be made to safeguard work environments.

To this end, over the past few months, a construction site in the Beit Zafafa neighbourhood in Jerusalem was rented by Israel’s largest trade union – the Histadrut – and converted into a “hands-on classroom” for the safety training of Palestinians in the construction industry. Already more than 500 Palestinian construction workers have participated in the training course at the “Safety Headquarters” with the primary aim “to prevent the next casualty.”

“Stayin’ Alive”. Safety training for Palestinian workers in Israel as the  Beit Zafafa construction site in Jerusalem. (Photo: Nizzan Zvi Cohen)

The Histadrut or the General Organization of Workers in Israel was established in 1920 in Mandatory Palestine and soon emerged as one of the most powerful institutions in the Yishuv (the body of Jewish residents in the region prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948).

In extending their services to the wellbeing of non-Israeli workers in Israel, the Histadrut proudly subscribes to the motto:

Unionised labour recognizes no borders

The one-day training sessions were planned and implemented by the Histadrut in partnership with the Israel Builders Association, who utilised the prolonged stay of Palestinian workers in Israel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to carry out the safety workshops. The morning of the training, workers were transported from their places of accommodation across Israel to the on-site “classroom”. Upon arrival,  they would register at the reception station, where after the workers were divided into small groups that underwent the training, each one separately, in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the restrictions of the Corona virus.

Certificates of Safety. Proudly displaying their certificates are Palestinian safety training graduates with Avital Shapira on the right. (Photo: Avital Shapira)

Work like a Dream

Eyal Ben Reuven, Chairman of the Safety Headquarters, explained that “The training is both theoretical and practical and is based on scenarios of real accidents in the industry.” The training sessions, said Reuven, “dealt with scaffolding, ladders, dangerous mechanical tools, electricity and preventing objects from falling.”

With the thousands of Palestinians working in Israel’s construction industry, the programme has a long way to go, but it’s a start – “a constructive start.”

My dream is that only workers who graduate safety training will be able to work on construction sites,” says Ben Reuven. “But for that to happen, the government needs to help us.”

According to Reuven, the course costs approximately NIS 450 per worker with current funding being provided by the Fund for the Encouragement of the Construction Industry. With the government showing little interest in supporting the initiative at present, “we are trying to fund-raise to continue the course,” says Reuven.

Striving for Safer Working Environments. Meeting with the Palestinian delegation in the office of Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David (4th from the left). (Photo: Histadrut spokeswoman)

The success of the programme depends on the support of the constructive industry, which according to the Deputy Director General of the Israel Builders Association, Itzik Gurvich, has come to the table with construction companies “agreeing to pay their workers a full days wages to participate in the training.” The result has been that “Both employers and the workers have been satisfied with the course, and we’re hoping to expand the pilot.”

Ahmed Ghanaim, who heads Al Ola College, a vocational training  college in the Western Galilee; and whose instructors are responsible for the training itself, explains that even veteran Palestinian workers “who have been working in Israel for decades and are experienced in their field, don’t know Israeli labour and safety laws. This information doesn’t really exist in the Palestinian Authority and also the employers don’t always give workers all necessary knowledge. Once workers have this knowledge, they’ll know what to ask for from management in order to return home safe and sound.”

Constructing a Safer Tomorrow. The construction site hired by the Histadrut in Jerusalem offered a perfect “classroom” training ground. (Photo: Nitzan Zvi Cohen)
 

After a most instructive hands-on session about scaffolding and ladders, the workers gathered in a circle to discuss the regulations as it applies in practice. One concerned worker remarks to the instructor:

But out there on the site, it doesn’t actually happen like that!”

The instructor replies:

Listen, at the end of the day there’s a hierarchy of responsibility. You have to speak to your foreman, and he needs to report to the contractor.”

And what if the employer tells me to break those rules?” asks the employee.

Contact the Histadrut,” the instructor replies. “Remember that we’re talking about your life, don’t agree to work in dangerous conditions.”

Avital Shapira, Director of International Relations of the Histadrut, addressed the Palestinian workers in fluent Arabic. Shapira’s fluency in Arabic  stems from her stay in Egypt where she was the first Israeli student to study at the American University of Cairo, back in 1994.

This is a great opportunity to show that the Histadrut is the home for all workers, regardless of origin, religion or gender,” Shapira told Davar, the Histadrut’s online news outlet.

This is also an opportunity to use this platform to convey to Palestinian workers the message that the Histadrut sees them as a bridge to peace. I think the presence of so many Palestinian workers in the Israeli labour market is a platform for cooperation and coexistence.” The presence of these Palestinian workers, according to Shapira, also strengthens the relationship with the Building and Wood Workers’ International organization (BW).

Safe and Sound. Histadrut’s Director of International Relations, Avital Shapira, addresses the Palestinian workers in Arabic  at a safety training workshop at Beit Zafafa in Jerusalem. (Photo: Nitzan Zvi Cohen)

It is important to understand that in the construction industry there is no difference between a Palestinian, Israeli, or migrant worker,” adds Tal Burshtein, Vice Chairman of the Construction, Related Industries and Wood Workers’ Union. “Everyone is covered by the same collective bargaining agreement and is entitled to the same rights.”

Most of the Palestinians who came to the safety training chose to become members of the Histadrut, a process that began in recent years.

And for good reason!

Think of the abhorrent conditions foreign workers are treated in countries where they have found employment, notably in the Middle East and Africa. Too frequently they are exploited, with few legal rights to protect themselves.

In Israel, on the other hand, the Histadrut, will aid Palestinian foreign workers who have been fired, help them receive their vacation and sick days, and even represents them against the National Insurance Institution in events of workplace accidents. “First and foremost, the Histadrut is a sympathetic ear – we want to help.” During the COVID-19 crisis, the Histadrut distributed tens of thousands of masks and gloves and more than 2,000 liters of hand sanitizer to Palestinian workers.

Meeting with them has shown us that they lack a lot of knowledge about their rights,” said Burshtein. “Since we’ve been distributing pamphlets on workers’ rights and signing them up to the Histadrut, we’ve been getting many more inquiries from Palestinian workers to our information service center, asking for help with problems at work. The workers who’ve gotten the pamphlets in Arabic also serve as ambassadors who disseminate this knowledge to additional workers.”

Building Bridges

Peter Lerner, Director General of the Histadrut’s International Relations Division, is totally upbeat about the joint venture safety training programme for Palestinian workers. “The pilot was an initiative,” he told Lay of the Land,  “that we hope will become the new standard for saving the lives of workers in the construction sector. I believe that it is a joint obligation to combine efforts and produce a safer working environment for the workers, empowering them and sharing knowledge about safety in the workplace and workers’ rights.” 

Thumbs Up. An inspired Director General of the Histadrut’s International Relations Division, Peter Lerner.
 

Lerner asserts that this project is part of the Histadrut’s “expanded activities with Palestinian workers” adding that while “designed to ensure the health and welfare of Palestinian workers, they also promote co-existence.”

In Israel’s ever-expanding ‘urban landscape’, the building of new inspiring edifices is welcome. No less welcome in the country’s frenetic ‘social landscape’ is the building of improved relations between people!

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

Back to School in Tel Aviv – of Sorts!

Tel Aviv to open classrooms in city’s leading public institutions

By David E. Kaplan

Parents in Israel are in Corona virus panic mode with their kids returning to shool on the 1 September.

“Are the schools ready?” “Does the government know what it’s doing?” “Will schools close again?”

There are far more sensible questions than credible answers and being a Jewish state, grandparents feel obliged to share in the panic. After all, when the domestic alarm bells sounds, Saba and Safta (grandfather and grandmother) are the ‘First Responders’!

Floating an Idea. Israel’s famed beach city which is fueled by ideas has come up with some new ideas to get kids safely back to school during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, Israel’s “City of big ideas”, Tel Aviv-Yafo, has come up with some innovative ideas on meeting this challenge. Mayor, Ron Huldai, says “We have prepared for every scenario that we are expected to confront.”

What this means is that while it may be back to school, it might not be exactly the same school or the school as it once was.

What does this mean?

New and intriguing surroundings will welcome the schoolchildren, after the city’s education system adopted a series of creative solutions to enable in-class learning. To this end, the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality has prepared for the return of almost 75,000 pupils to schools amid strict Health Ministry COVID-19 guidelines, including the opening of classrooms in a range of public buildings and spaces across the city.

It is a case of “and now for something completely different!”

Toasting Tel Aviv. Light at the end of the tunnel, Mayor Ron Huldai drinking at a bar in Tel Aviv (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
 

To enable classes to be split into smaller “capsules for safer and socially distanced learning”, additional spaces have been secured at sites including Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theater, the Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal HaTarbut), the Israel Music Conservatory and Tel Aviv University. One ‘sure thing’ during these “unsure times” is the certainty of no rain. So, taking advantage of Israel’s guaranteed sunshine this time of year, classes will also be taught in parks and other green spaces located adjacent to schools.

Taking Centre Stage. The Cameri Theater Tel Aviv which will provide unique space to provide social distancing education for schoolkids.

Work of Art

Smaller classes means requiring more teachers, so the Municipality came up the idea of utilising local artists and performers who have been impacted by the coronavirus to provide the additional teaching staff for the supplementary classes. Not sitting idle in the sweltering summer vacations, they have been undergoing training as educational support workers and are ready for the big day.

Sounding like gearing up for a Normandy landing, Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo said in a press release:

 “The coronavirus outbreak hurled the entire world into a new reality and presented us with a challenge of an unprecedented nature. Given the experience of recent months, we have made special preparations for the opening of the new school year.

The schools of September 2020 will be unlike the schools that we have known to date. The coming year will bring new challenges, but there are also opportunities: to implement upgrades; to accelerate pedagogical and structural processes for which the time is now ripe; and to reexamine our educational premises. We have prepared for every scenario that we are expected to confront this year in the shadow of the coronavirus, and we are all hopeful that this year will advance us to unprecedented and different levels of ability.”

Inspiring stuff!!

Ready to Begin. All quite at present at an elementary school in the neighborhood of Kohav Hatsafon in Tel Aviv.

Such inspirational rhetoric during a global war against a disease, gives credence to the rumours that Tel Aviv Mayor, Ron Huldai, is mulling a run for Prime Minister. In a July 19 article in The Jerusalem Post, it was  reported that he was facing increasing calls to enter national politics after 22 years as the Mayor of Tel Aviv and earlier careers as an IAF combat pilot and high school principal.

 As a former “high school principal”, Mayor Huldai understands education at a grassroots level, which has helped him respond to the current pandemic crisis.

Sounds Sensible. The illustrious home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) – the Charles Bronfman Auditorium – will now provide a venue for school kids during Corona.

Out in the Open

In addition to opening classrooms in public buildings  and institutions – all impressive landmark structures on the Tel Aviv landscape – infrastructure work has been carried out in 137 schoolyards across the city to enable or enhance outdoor learning, including greater provision of shade and artificial grass.

Tel Aviv has proved from its inception in 1909 to be a city that adjusts to change. Understanding that students returning to school might not be quite the same they were before the pandemic,  has led to finding new methodologies to navigate the uncertain road ahead.

According to the press release, “All educational institutions in the city will dedicate the first days of the school year to personal and group conversations with pupils, placing an emphasis on enhancing their emotional and social skills.”

Explains Shirley Rimon-Bracha, Head of Tel Aviv-Yafo’s Education Administration:

The past six months have presented educational teams in kindergartens and schools with management and educational challenges. We have translated all the lessons learnt and insights into optimal preparations for September.

Education in the city has undergone significant reform in recent years, and school principals are therefore relatively prepared to acclimatize to change, to adjust educational frameworks and to work with flexibility and creatively. I expect an interesting and educational year for us all, and I pay tribute to school and kindergarten heads for their exceptional effort to open the new school year.”

Orchestrating Creativity. The Israel Conservatory of Music, Tel Aviv founded in 1943 by musicians who had immigrated to Israel during this dark period  is today providing light as a center of creativity for future musicians.  It will further provide an added venue for general schooling practicing social distancing.

Warm Welcome

In addition to using public spaces, pupils arriving at over 70 elementary and middle schools on September 1, will be greeted by approximately 200 street performers at the school gates and adjacent public spaces.

The performances will fulfil two key municipal objectives: boosting the income of street performers and raising the morale of schoolchildren as they start an unfamiliar academic year.

That does not mean parents will still not worry.

Its embedded in Jewish DNA. As one writer once noted:

 “Forget Murphy’s Law. Chances are his real name was Murphosky and his family taught him: “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

On the other hand it might not – Tel Aviv is ready.

Green Light. The huge campus of Tel Aviv University will provide plenty of aesthetic space for schools to function adhering to Covid-19 guidelines.





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

From Drive-In to Sail-In

Tel Aviv-Yafo goes ‘retro’ with  Israel’s first “Sail-In” floating cinema

By David E. Kaplan

Those old enough, would well remember the “Drive-In”? Whether in the USA, South Africa, Australia and yes, Israel’s Tel Aviv, couples used to pile into their cars  to watch movies and snack at the same time, without someone bellowing “keep quiet!” Sound came from speakers clipped to the car window – not that the quality mattered too much in those days.

image002 (13)
Sounds of Silence. Remember when the speaker did not work and you had to move the car.

It was the age of motorcar romance and as one commentator so ‘fondly’ recalls, “Whether they watched the movies or not depended on how friendly they were.” And as I recall, those sixties and seventies horror movies were a ‘sure thing’ to engineer getting extra ‘friendly’.

No doubt, the Drive-In played its role in propagating our species.

image001 - 2020-08-13T110249.763
Oh, Those Were The Days.

Unlike today when Tel Aviv is in the vanguard for innovation, the “City that never sleeps” came late to the ‘Drive-In’’ party.

Only opening its first Drive-In in 1973 north of the Yarkon River with Disney’s Jungle Book, it remained open until 2000, finally giving way in 2014 to the Shalom Group Arena, the home ground for the Hapoel Tel-Aviv basketball club. Most important, it retained its huge parking area from the Drive-In era and to mark the annual romantic Jewish holiday – Israel’s Valentine’s Day – of TuB’Av (4th August) – it was back in business. In the City’s press release, it advertised the Drive-In’s opening with the anatomically suggestive “for the romantically inclined”!

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Adjusting to Corona. The parking lot of the Hapoel Tel Aviv basketball arena is repurposed for a drive-in theatre.

On select evenings of the week during the sweltering summer month of August, in conjunction with the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and the Tel Aviv Cinemateque, there will be screenings for 200 cars, strictly in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines and “purple badge” public health standards. Movie audio is transmitted in high quality via an FM radio frequency. “Tel Aviv is the ‘non-stop city’ but the coronavirus outbreak understandably halted a large share of cultural and leisure activity,” said Tel Aviv-Yafo Mayor Ron Huldai. “Nevertheless, we constantly searched for creative ways to grant residents access to culture. The return of the drive-in is another creative way to pass the hot August days, in accordance with Health Ministry guidelines.”

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Tel Aviv’s legendary Drive-In Theater Returns. The screenings are exclusively for DigiTel Resident Card holders and tickets must be purchased ahead of time via the municipality website. (photo credit: AMIR YAKOBY)

The director of the culture department in the Tel Aviv municipality, Shavei Mizrahi, said that in light of the high demand for screenings, “a reassessment of the situation will be made, and the intention is to conduct more screening days, including weekends.”

Down By The Riverside

Tel Aviv is characterized by always taking things to the next level and in this case from land to water. Fresh off the successful return of Tel Aviv’s legendary drive-in theatre, Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality was delighted to announce on the 9 August, the launch of Israel’s first “Sail-In” floating cinema at HaYarkon Park’s boating lake.

With the Coronavirus pandemic proving particularly challenging for the entertainment industry worldwide, outdoor initiatives represented almost the sole solution for cultural events.

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Floating Around. An illustrative image of the ‘Sail-In’ floating cinema at Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park. (courtesy of Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality)

Following Health Ministry approval for open-air drive-in events,  Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality again in partnership with Tel Aviv Cinematheque, will launch a “Sail-In” floating cinema under the clear night sky from August 22-28.

A total of 70 ‘socially distanced’ boats will be available to moviegoers, adults and children alike, seeking to enjoy a night of cinematic entertainment under the stars.

Like people in public, boats will be distanced two meters apart at all times opposite a large screen, ensuring a safe and fun experience, and allowing all ticketholders to float and unwind and escape the daily grind in a serene atmosphere between the water and the stars. If movie-goers are unlikely to hear other patrons crunching their popcorn, they may hear the night owls, crickets and frogs – nature’s divine soundtrack.

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No Dress Code. Feet out the window, relaxing and watching a flick at Tel Aviv’s Drive-In. (Photo: Avshalom Shoshani)

Tickets for eight screenings – four suitable for families and four suitable for adults – will be available exclusively to DigiTel Resident Card holders.

The launch of the “Sail-In” floating cinema joins a long list of municipal initiatives that include fitness classes on the roof of the Tel Aviv municipality building and musical performances on the roof of the Eretz Israel Museum.

Tel Aviv is in the forefront  of coming up with creative ideas during corona as befitting one of my favourite monikers:

 “The city that wakes each morning wondering what it’s going to be.”

 

 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

 

Nose Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing

The severe conditions of COVID-19 that we are living through have made one fact painfully clear – Preventive Care in the ‘best of times’ can reduce health risks in the ‘worst of times’

By Lionel H. Phillips D.O.

Now is the time to be proactive and embrace the power of preventive care. In the same vein of prevention, it is also important to stay as active as possible.

American pharmacologist and 1998 Nobel Laureate in Physiology, Prof. Louis J. Ignarro, describes one of the body’s many natural defenses against pathogens:

Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It’s not just something you do in yoga class – breathing this way actually provides a powerful medical benefit that can help the body fight viral infections.”

I have requested that health Ministries make a point of questioning each and every COVID-19 virus sufferer, as to whether they are nose or mouth breathers.

I am convinced that a larger percent are mouth breathers.

Nose breathing – as opposed to mouth breathing, increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes. Diaphragmatic Breathing – When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward, extending the area. This creates more space in your chest cavity allowing the lungs to expand. The diaphragm muscle not only separates the upper from the lower organs, it also acts as a massager tool to both areas. Your nose cleans the air you breathe – The nose helps clean the air. On the surface of the nasal tissues, particularly the turbinates, are cells with small hair-like appendages called cilia that trap much of the bad stuff. Writes Prof. Louis J. Ignarro, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine, in an article dated 19th June 2020:

Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It’s not just something you do in yoga class – breathing this way actually provides a powerful medical benefit that can help the body fight viral infections. The reason is that your nasal cavities produce the molecule nitric oxide, which chemists abbreviate NO, that increases blood flow through the lungs and boosts oxygen levels in the blood. Breathing in through the nose delivers NO (nitric oxide) directly into the lungs, where it helps fight coronavirus infection by blocking the replication of the coronavirus in the lungs”.

It would be surely advantageous for the Health Ministries to take note of the experience and views of Prof. Ignarro.

Air temperature – In the same way as our throat and lungs do not like dirty air, they do not like air that is too cold or too hot. The passing of the air through the nose allows the air to become more like our body temperature, which is better tolerated by the tissues.

Your Respiratory System

We all know that breathing is a vital necessity, that we do without giving it a thought. In addition, we have been given two options – to breathe through the nose or mouth. We image001 - 2020-07-20T100621.458.jpgbreathe to supply our body with oxygen as we breathe in – inhale, whilst we get rid of Carbon Dioxide plus other elements when we exhale. The Oxygen that we inhale either through the nose or the mouth, will enter your lungs. The diagram illustrates the route. The oxygen inhaled will enter your Pharynx, pass through the Trachea and then enter your Lungs. Research shows that Nose breathing is the correct and most optimal way to breathe. Not only are our bodies designed for nose breathing based on the specific apparatus and the mechanisms by which we inhale and exhale through nose breathing, but there are numerous important health benefits to be had from correct consistent nose breathing. The converse is also true, because mouth breathing bypasses important filtering stages in the breathing process and this method of breathing may lead to many health problems, not the least of which may include snoring and sleep apnea. Our lungs are full of tunnels that end in tiny air sacks called alveoli. This is where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. The oxygen then passes into your blood, which supplies the oxygenated blood to every part of your body.

Diaphragmatic Breathing – The In’s and Out’s

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle at the base of the lungs that separates the thoracic (chest) from the abdominal cavities. It is the principal muscle of respiration, though you may not be aware of it. When you inhale, through the nose your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward extending the abdominal area. This creates more space in your chest cavity allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the opposite happens — your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity, providing a great massage for both upper and lower organs. All of us are born with the ingrained knowledge of how to fully engage the diaphragm to take deep, refreshing breaths. As we get older however, we get out of the habit. Everything from the stresses of everyday life to common poor postural habits, results in shallower, less satisfying “chest breathing.”

Nasal breathing – as opposed to mouth breathing – increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes. image010 (52)The internal nose not only provides around 90% of the respiratory system air-conditioning requirement, but also recovers around 33% of exhaled heat and moisture. Your nose cleans the air you breathe. The air we breathe has all kinds of stuff in it – from oxygen and nitrogen to dust, pollution, allergens, smoke, bacteria, viruses, small bugs and countless other things. The nose helps clean image015 (17)that air. On the surface of the nasal tissues, particularly the turbinates, are cells with small hair-like appendages called cilia that trap much of the bad stuff. Once captured, the bad stuff sits in the mucous and is gradually pushed into the throat, where it is swallowed. Our stomachs tolerate bad stuff much better than our lungs. This is lessened by blowing your nose when it feels blocked, rather than waiting until it is swallowed. In your Lungs there are sacs called Alveoli. Blood vessels cover the alveolus that connect to a system of veins and arteries that move blood through your body. The oxygen then spreads into the blood vessels so that the heart can pump it to different parts of your body. The sense of smell is not only for pleasure; it is necessary for safety. We need our smell to detect smoke, spoiled food and toxic gases. People who have lost their sense of smell need to have alarms for these gases and they must be careful with what they eat. Our nose regulates the temperature. Just like our throat and lungs do not like dirty air, they do not like air that is too cold or too hot. The passing of the air through the nose allows the air to become more like the body temperature, which is better tolerated by the tissues. Warming cool air is more common than cooling warm air. That is because we spend more time in environments below body temperature than above it. A clear manifestation of the warming and humidifying effect is the runny nose we get in cold weather, which is related to condensation of the moisture in the nose. Smell plays a key role in taste. We have four primary tastes – bitter, sour, sweet and salty. All of the refinements in taste are in fact related to smell. That is why people feel that food is tasteless when their ability to smell is decreased.

Diaphragmatic breathing techniqueHow to get started

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Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees and head supported with pillows as shown in the diagram. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel the movement of your diaphragm as you breathe in and out. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your abdominal section moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible. Tighten your abdominal muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible. When you first learn the diaphragmatic breathing technique, it may be easier for you to follow the instructions lying down, as shown above. As you gain more practice, you can try the diaphragmatic breathing technique while sitting in a chair. To perform this exercise while sitting in a chair: Sit comfortably, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head and neck relaxed. The rest of the breathing process is identical as when lying down. Note: You may notice an increased effort will be needed to use the diaphragm correctly. At first, you will probably get tired while doing this exercise. But keep at it, because with continued practice, diaphragmatic breathing will become easy and automatic. Correct Nose Breathing has a positive effect on every system in the body. Mouth breathing will have a negative effect.

How often should I practice this exercise?

At first, practice this exercise for a few minutes about 2 – 3 times per day. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing this exercise, and perhaps even increase the effort of the exercise by placing a book on your abdomen if lying down.

A change from an ingrained habit of mouth breathing to nose breathing is extremely difficult for many. Please do not give up too easily. In addition, it is understandable that the elderly often find mouth breathing easier for them. Even in their situation, I would encourage them to have patience. You may find children and grandchildren easier to convince before the mouth breathing becomes ingrained.

As for the COVID-19 Virus, allow me to share a thought on the assumption that you have read through the above information on the Respiratory system. During this time, nose breathing becomes even more important and relevant. Nose breathing can reduce dust, pollution, allergens, smoke, bacteria and viruses from entering the lungs. As usual, I welcome your views and comments on the above. Shoot straight from the hip. May you and yours keep safe and healthy.

 

 

About the Author:

Staying Healthy During Corona Crisis6.JPGLionel Phillips is a Doctor of Osteopathy (1975), an International Fitness & Health Instructor, Consultant and Lecturer. He has researched and designed ‘The Needs & Functions of the Human Body’ as an educational subject for inclusion in all School Curriculums World-Wide.

A past Federation Member and Israel Liaison Representative of IHRSA (International, Health & Racquet Sportsclub Association) and member of their worldwide “Panel of Experts”, Phillips is a recipient of the “Prime Ministers Award of Merit” (PM Menachem Begin).

Our mailing address is: global@globalhealth-education.com

 

 

 

 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

 

“Weighing in” on Lockdown Eating

By Justine Friedman

At a recent gathering of friends in Israel (we are allowed to be doing that now!), a good friend announced that “food is the enemy”. This gave me a lot of pause for thought as I examined the source of this challenge levelled against an essential element that literally keeps us alive. Without air, water and food we would certainly not be alive. So why is this life-giving source of nourishment seen in such a negative light? Corona or Covid-19 aside, this is a lifetime battle that many face, and at this time of varying stages of lockdown, the proverbial elephant in the room is front and centre.

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Lockdown has resulted in many living a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise is important (Illustration: Onkarnath Bhattacharya).

Social media is inundated with posts that range from fitness gurus posting Zoom lessons on different exercise regimes to the latest recipe craze that MUST be baked and enjoyed and re-baked and consumed again. From banana bread to apple fritter loaf that surely has enough sugar to make the least at-risk person diabetic with one bite, food seems to be the focus of how we are filling our time. Eating is more than just a physiological need that we fill. As human beings, we are so tied in with the emotional and social aspect that food provides. At a time like this, where socialising is not the reason for relaxed eating, the emotional aspect is the biggest trigger. Many of us are eating in response to a variety of situations and emotions. Currently, I believe that the biggest triggers are the lack of our normal routines, of purpose, boredom, anxiety, and fear over the future be they financial, health or family related. We also have non-stop access to our pantries and fridges.

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It is important to make healthy food choices for our families during this stressful time.

On the flip side, many of us are in the mind-set of allowing ourselves the pleasure of eating as so many other external restrictions are being imposed on us, so why worry about what we are eating on top of all of that.

 My biggest concern as a clinical dietician with these triggers is the increased risks we face when poor food choices combines with a more sedentary lifestyle and increased stress. Without listing facts and figures, the risks for heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and high blood pressure are increased substantially.

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Many of us crave the comforting carbohydrates of chips and sweets but there are healthier alternatives. (Image: Istock)

So how do we take better care of ourselves at a time like this, bearing in mind that there may also be a lack of availability to some healthier options? How can we minimise the risks that we could face even when less than nutritious choices are available?

Awareness is the starting place.

Before eating, stop and reflect on why you are feeling a need to eat in the first place. Is it true physiological hunger or is it an emotion or boredom that triggered you?

If the latter, pause before eating and allow yourself the opportunity to identify what emotion has been triggered in you. The trick here is to name the emotion. So, if for example you identify that you were feeling angry, sad or anxious, say to yourself:  I am feeling ANGRY/ SAD/ ANXIOUS. Say it out loud or to yourself. The key is to name it and say it. So often the reason we are eating is to suppress this emotion. However, once it is acknowledged, the desire to eat and hence the need to suppress it often goes away as does the desire to overeat.

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We are feeling overwhelmed by the mounting stress and the unknown and are resorting to emotional eating.

This is the starting point; to understand WHY we are eating in a reactive way.  By acknowledging and addressing our emotions, we can then make a more level headed choice – instead of a knee jerk decision – on whether to eat or not to eat.

When emotions dictate our food choices, the underlying craving is often for a food that will give us a specific feeling. Sugar, baked goods, chocolate, crisps and gummy sweets all hit the spot in the moment, but the rebound effect leaves one feeling flatter and in need of more of the same pick-me-up again. This creates a vicious cycle of cravings and energy dips. The only way out of this is to keep your blood sugar levels as balanced as possible throughout the day by eating smaller and more frequent meals and snacks. If you experience stressful triggers and are hungry with a lower blood sugar level, then you are more likely to fall victim to these foods.

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Sweets temporarily bring comfort but leave us craving more.

Another factor is the ongoing debate around carbohydrates and the role they play in nutrition. Not all carbohydrates are created equal. By this, I mean that there are more complex and wholegrain options which may also be completely natural such as sweet potato, potato, oats, quinoa and corn and then some more processed but not unhealthy options like rice, pasta, low GI and rye breads. The closer any food is to its natural form will always be best utilised by our bodies for fuel, and the energy in these foods will be metabolised more efficiently. The more processed and preserved a food is, the less efficiently the body functions in response to eating it. What we eat with a carbohydrate is also incredibly important. If we are eating lean protein choices with a moderate amount of healthier fats and salad and non-starchy vegetables, our bodies handle it well. However, should we combine a perfectly nutritious potato with high fat like cream, cheese and butter, the meal now becomes incredibly unhealthy. So, it’s not just about one specific food group but how the different food groups are combined together that can either enhance health or create disease.

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Wholegrain options are much better alternatives to preserved, processed foods.

I would love to tell you all to go ahead and indulge and allow yourselves the enjoyment of cakes, biscuits, banana bread and the like; but the truth is – weight issues aside – they just aren’t nutritious not for our bodies nor for our emotions, and certainly not for the attainment of a positive state of mind. If you must have them, then consider the quantity and limit the intake. Take a smaller amount, put it on a plate and eat it slowly savouring every bite.

As for those who really want to make better choices and who would rather avoid the vicious sugar craving cycle, here are some healthier options to keep on hand.

Sugar free-salt free peanut butter which is delicious on a slice of thick toasted low GI bread. If you must make it a bit sweeter, rather add a dash of honey yourself than choose the option with sugar added. Other savoury options to put on are avocado, low fat cottage cheese, tuna with a light mayonnaise or boiled egg with some light mayonnaise. And please leave off the margarine or butter!  Add tomato, cucumber, a chopped pickled cucumber for some extra flavour.

To avoid the tiresome activity of preparing salad vegetables, I always advise my clients (and I do this myself!) to keep ready cut salad veg in the fridge. This allows you to easily add it to any meal without the added hassle of preparing anew each time.

For the colder winter evenings and days, make some homemade vegetable soup with vegetables like baby marrow, carrot, celery and a little sweet potato. A hearty vegetable soup goes a long way to filling the gap.

Raw nuts (in moderation) and seeds also make for a great snack and keep the body in a less inflamed state due to their healthier fat component. Almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are a great nush option. Combine this with a fresh piece of fruit and your blood sugar will stay stable for longer periods.

My last piece of advice is to remember to stay hydrated. Yes, drinking 8 glasses of water a day is important. When our bodies are well hydrated, they function better; and thirst can also mimic as hunger if you haven’t had enough water to drink. So, stay off the cold drinks and fruit juices. Be mindful of too many cups of tea and coffee and hot drinks like hot chocolate. Good old water or even a tasty herbal tea is first choice.

Weighing in on Lockdown Eating9
Make sure that you stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water.

This advice covers the general healthy population. If you suffer from any medical condition and you have been given sound nutrition advice from a registered dietician, please follow it. If you are concerned about your health, or you feel that your emotional eating pattern is something that you would like to address, seek out a certified dietician who does not promote fad diets and who will look at your eating in a holistic way. You are more than what you eat – and any advice that you are given should take more than just food into account.

Struggling with thoughts (specifically obsessing over food related issues) and feeling that “food is the enemy” does not need to consume our lives. There is a way to learn to make peace with food. Yes, we need food to survive, but let us also turn our food experiences into ones of nourishment for body, mind, and soul.

 

 

About the writer:

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Justine Friedman (née Aginsky), Clinical Dietician (RDSA) and Mind-Body coach, made aliyah from Johannesburg, South Africa in November 2019 with her husband and their two children. In Johannesburg, she was a successful clinical dietician, coach and speaker who ran her own private practice for 17 years. Justine is passionate about helping people, and women, in particular, achieve greater degrees of health in their mind, body and soul. She is based in Modi’in and loves the challenges and successes that living in Israel has to offer.

 

 

 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

 

 

 

Wanted: A Runner with Soul

By Stephen Schulman

In the cold winter pre-dawn darkness of 2005, in a parking lot in Tel Aviv, Offer and Gai Ben Dor, father and son, were expectantly waiting for a meeting. Both Offer and Gai, seasoned long distance runners, had come to volunteer in response to an internet ad:

“Wanted: A Runner with Soul!”

The sender was Beza, a young Ethiopian born Israeli in his early twenties. Blind from birth, deserted by his father, at the age of seven he had immigrated to Israel with his mother and now wished to fulfill his long held dream of becoming a runner.

The mission was a daunting one for them all. Gai recalls: “Here in front of us was someone of my age who was completely physically unfit who could barely run twenty meters. Not only that, but he was a heavy smoker too! To achieve any result involves a grueling regimen of daily runs often in inclement weather that demands physical stamina and mental discipline. So, we knew that a long road lay ahead of us.”

A blind runner needs a companion to run beside him/her and they are joined together by a short strap with wrist loops. With the passing of time, a closeness and comradeship evolves where they can sense each other’s status and needs. Being the eyes of the blind person, the sighted runner develops sensitivity to perceive any obstacles that might hinder his/her partner’s physical progress – something a sighted runner takes for granted.

With the passing of time, Beza’s determination together with the love and dedication of the Ben Dors, began to pay dividends. Graduating from 5 to 10 kilometer runs, they ran 21 kilometer half marathons. From there, it was a natural advance to the full marathon – an exhausting 42.2 kilometers! Beza had heard that the Paralympics were to take place in Beijing in 2008 and expressed his eagerness to take part in the marathon. There was only one obstacle – you had to be in the global top 30 of blind runners, have a minimum qualifying time to earn a place and Beza was very far from it!

With this aim in their sights, all three of them started training in earnest and participating in overseas events. Failing to achieve the desired result in the Berlin Marathon, they had one last chance in the forthcoming event in Amsterdam. Gai recounts: “We were close to the finishing line and looking at my watch, I realized that we were going to make it. I unfurled the Israeli flag in my pocket and with tears of joy, together we crossed the finishing line – Beijing awaited us.”

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 Marathon Man. An advocate, CPA, entrepreneur and social activist, 180°’s  Gai Ben Dor with blind Beza at the 2008 Paralympics (photo Raz Livnat).

The Beijing Marathon was arduous: Beza sustained a leg injury and was flagging, but with the continual support of Offer and Gai, he persevered. Entering the stadium for the final lap, the roar of encouragement of the 91,000 spectators infused him with fresh strength. They released the wrist strap and Beza ran alone and unaided for the last 30 meters to the finishing line!

Fresh from his accomplishment and with Nepal in close proximity, Beza expressed a further wish – to climb Mount Everest! Once more, all three of them accepted the challenge and made the climb of 5,500 meters all the way to the base camp: Gai recalls the difficulties encountered: “You not only have to cope with the difficulty of breathing in the oxygen depleted air, but have to deal with guiding over rocks, crossing rivers and transversing crevasses”. Upon finally reaching the base camp, an exultant Beza exclaimed: “The view here was worth the climb!”

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Seeing is Believing. Offer and Gai Ben Dor climb Mount Everest with Beza who is blind in 2008. (Photo: Gai Ben Dor)

Helping Beza achieve so much had been an enlightening and transformative experience. Returning home, Gai decided to help other handicapped people and in addition to his studies became a running instructor to help disabled people through sport.

In 2016, Gai, together with his wife Adi and his parents Offer and Orit, decided to promote their vision by founding the social organization, 180°, aimed at the empowerment and social integration of people with disabilities and special needs through sports and educational programs.

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On Track. Sights set on the finishing line for this blind participant in the Tel Aviv Marathon.

 Since its inception, 180° has gone from strength to strength and now runs many groups that encompass participants of both genders and all ages, irrespective of their backgrounds. Each of the groups is headed by a qualified running instructor and each participant has his/her own permanent volunteer. This approach is mutually beneficial since a bond develops between the two, the volunteer gains greater empathy and understanding whilst helping the partner regain self confidence and belief in self.

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In The Vanguard. Members from 180° that aims at empowering and socially integrating people with disabilities through sport participating in the Tel Aviv Marathon with Gai and Offer Ben Dor (left).

Gai and Adi are aware that those with disabilities are not granted the same opportunities as others, very often in sport. There is a lack of the appropriate frameworks, a lack of understanding of their needs and very often social exclusion that leads them to lose faith in their own abilities. The founding of 180° created a framework that brings people together and through sport has helped those physically less advantaged and those with special needs to attain greater self-esteem and consequent self-actualization.

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V for Victory. Gai Ben Dor (left) and wife Adi, a  running trainer and responsible for the marketing and collaborations of 180° with young volunteer (right).

A few years ago, Gili joined the group. With a severe case of cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair, his main physical exercise was limited to manipulating the joystick. Nevertheless, his dream was being able to walk. With the aid and dedication of Gai and his volunteers, he began to stand on his own feet and progress. After two years of practice, with support on both sides, he completed a 5 km walk at a special event in Berlin. “Helping Gili was physically demanding but seeing the finishing line  approaching and crossing it with him, for us all, was intensely satisfying and a profoundly moving experience!”

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Go Go Gil. Gai Ben Dor and his father Offer accompany Gil who has cerebral palsy, across the finishing line during a 5K race in Berlin. (Photo: Gai Ben Dor)

Another project of 180° that is close to Gai and Adi’s heart has been the initiative to establish 180° Education – running groups in elementary schools to inculcate in young people the values of tolerance, understanding and helping others less fortunate.

 These are running groups in elementary schools with the intention to inculcate in young people the values of tolerance, understanding and helping others less fortunate. Handicapped children are teamed up with classmates in order to train together in preparation for athletic events. By so doing, the helper learns empathy by aiding a partner and facilitating his/her social inclusion.

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Helping Hands. Volunteers from 180° guiding a visually impaired participant in the Tel Aviv Marathon (courtesy 180°)

 Gai states: “I truly believe that when people are doing sports activities together, they go through a process that creates a relationship and removes the barriers between them. I also believe that sports help people to develop self- confidence, a sense of ability and higher self esteem!”

What a wonderful way of making our world a better place!

 

 

180° is a social organization aimed at empowerment and social integration of people with disabilities through sport and educational programs

Read more: https://www.180sport.org/en

 

 

 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

 

Clash Of Cultures To Cultural Understandings

Ultra-Orthodox Bnei Brak Meets Unorthodox Aviv Geffen

By David E. Kaplan

Addressing the plight to the entertainment industry caused by Corona, Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher (“The Other Story,” “Past Life”) asserts:

Culture is not a luxury, but a global strategic asset.”

How true it has been revealed during these months of Covid-19.  People may have been physically ‘confined’ but not their minds – nor their senses. And this is partly thanks to our entertaining artists who have been finding ways to entertain us in our living rooms; as if we were sitting amongst a live audience in an auditorium, open air park or amphitheatre.

Aviv Geffen in an acoustic performance – Shuni Amphitheater – 07 April 2020

For some, it has also brought new understanding on issues of what is important in life and understanding the “other”!

In a touching and at times emotional interview with Dana Weiss on Israel’s Channel 12, Israeli rock musician, singer, songwriter, producer, keyboardist, guitarist and proudly secular, Aviv Geffen, laid himself bare before the Israeli public.

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Face The Music. Seen here at the EMI, the Israel Artists Association, lifetime achievement awards ceremony in 2016, Israeli singer Aviv Geffen has never shied away from taking on the establishment. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

To the question as what lessons Corona taught him, the artist responded with new-found humility that “I was a pig! I always went for the label or brand, whether to buy the tomato from Spain or the Louis Vuitton bag; it was disgusting, and then came the Corona and said, “Friends here I am, good night and goodbye”.”

“So that’s it;  you are ready to discard all that was so important to you?”  asks a surprised Dana.

Yes,” answers Aviv. “I have outside a luxury car that I stupidly bought; I’ll also sell it because it completely embarrasses me now”.

“What,  suddenly everything was foolish, and your life is all about vanity?”

The brands yes; I think the world has positively opened its eyes.”

For Geffen, yesterdays prized possessions are today irrelevant. This has been the first lesson of Corona. More were to be revealed.

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Rebel With A Cause. Geffen hit the Israeli scene in 1990 and became known for Goth-like makeup, a Mick Jagger-like snarl and being an outspoken peace activist.

Geffen then relates about performing ALONE at the old amphitheatre in Shuni near Binyamina. Yes, it was a LIVE performance but there was no audience, at least not in front of him. His audience were all at home watching on TV. They could see him; he could not see them!

I had not prepared what I would say,” he told Weiss, and then the thought came to him about what was most dominating the news – the ultra-religious community in Israel; how they were suffering more than most with Corona. How they were experiencing the most cases diagnosed and the most deaths and then being blamed because of their beliefs. As if they deserved it!

The media was full of it; being battered by the disease and then by the media. The worse hit of the ultra-orthodox communities were the citizens of Bnei Brak who had been “fenced off” like in a “ghetto” with roadblocks at all entrance points.

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Under Scrutiny. An Israeli police officer speaks to a strictly Orthodox student in Bnei Brak. Not since Corona has the lifestyle of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel come under such scrutiny in the media. (Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Suffering And Stigmatised

These were the thoughts that percolated in the rock musician’s mind between performing his numbers when he appealed, to let them be; to leave them alone. Suffering enough, they did not need to be subjected to public ridicule and rebuke.

Explaining to interviewer Dana Weiss:

I said, “leave Bnei Brak alone. They are not guilty; they believe in God; I believe in Google.”

Laying bare the cultural chasm, Geffen might have thought that was the end of the matter until he finished the show. Suddenly:

 “I leave the stage and I see on my telephone, without exaggeration, 420 messages. I start opening them, scrolling, and learn that someone had given my number to all of Bnei Brak. And I cried. I could not leave the empty amphitheatre. The love, the division in the nation, suddenly everything came together. The love I received came from people I had denigrated since I was nineteen and now responded with love and tears. ‘Thank you so much Aviv for thinking of us,’ I read.” I was sitting on the stairs, the amphitheatre was empty, and I was reading the messages and crying. At four in the morning, the theatre staff got me up and told me: ‘Go home.'”

Relating this in the studio, Aviv again breaks into tears, soliciting from the interviewer:

“Wait a minute; you cried why? Because you feel guilty of what you once thought of this community or about the sudden love you discovered from them? Do you really know why you cried and why you are crying again?”

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Up Close And Personal. A tearful Aviv Geffen relates in interview on Channel 12 how moved he was to the online personal messages he received from the ultra-Orthodox citizens of Bnei Brak.

Aviv does not hide the fact that artists by nature are egoists. They feed off the audience; they need that reassurance, that affirmation. However, all this is denied by Corona because there is no real audience only a virtual one. “And then suddenly, I receive these hundreds of messages from Bnei Brak” that were genuinely moved by his words and  the song  Kotzim (‘Thorns’) that he had dedicated to the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel. (See the words in English at the end of the article).

Trying to make sense of it all to the bewildered interviewer, Geffen continues:

 “I cried because of all those years we learned how to hate the other – the religious and the secular. ‘He’s religious, he’s secular.’ I, too, was a soldier in this game. Suddenly I saw the other. You ask: So how did the corona change me? Just like this: I learned to respect. A flame of love, simply amazing, was lit. I cannot even describe it in words, only in tears.”

Still not completely satisfied with this answer, Dana Weiss persists in her enquiry:

So what! Are you thinking that your attitude back then about the ultra-Orthodox was a crime or a sin? Is this what brought on the tears?”

Geffen answers emphatically and an admission:

No, not at all. It was because for the first time I saw them.”

Hope For The Future

Aviv Geffen’s next appearance would again be before a live audience but this time not in front of their TV’s but on Tel Aviv beachfront at the Charles Clore Park. The concert on the 21st May was the biggest gathering since the Corona virus struck Israel.

Most appropriate for Corona, Geffen broke into “The Hope Song” an iconic hit he wrote following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that is often compared as Israeli version of John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

Let’s go dream,
Without race and nationality.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

We’ll bury the guns,
And not the children.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

Let’s go dream,
Without race and nationality.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

We’ll bury the guns,
And not the children.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

We will conquer peace,
And not the territories.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is.

To eternal freedom,
To my children.
Let’s try.
Until it’s good,
Until it is …

Until it is …

(The Hope song- Aviv Geffen & Shahin Najafi – 06:30min)

Geffen’s peace hymn was all the more powerful and poignant; when partnering him on-stage before an audience of 6000 was exiled Iranian artist Shahin Najafi. What is more, they sang in Farsi – the language of Israel’s archenemy Iran  – and in Hebrew.

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Language Of Love. Iranian Shahin Najafi (right), and Israeli Aviv Geffen (left) rehearse in Tel Aviv. Geffen and Najafi say their Hebrew-Farsi fusion offers hope in a volatile region. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

The pair showed that despite the bitter enmity between their countries, ordinary people can find common ground.

From the ultra-Orthodox to Iran, Corona was providing a platform for revealing “common ground” and giving credence to Avi Nesher’s astute assertion that:

Culture is not a luxury, but a global strategic asset

Thorns -קוצים (Kotzim)

(English translation)

Thorns are all that is left of me

The flowers you have given me have died by now

Ways I have walked in

I am now retracing my steps

After not finding that which I have searched for

Everyone can dream

Paper boats in water

I just wanted to sail as far as I could

I am a man from nowhere

Just searching for a reason to breathe

Look, I have built us a house

When he was born I gave all that I didn’t have

Thorns, forcefully reminding

Not granting me forgiveness

Cutting through us and not letting go

https://lyricstranslate.com/en/kotzim-thorns.html-0

 

Jan Smuts vs Corona

A colossus against global evil – the Nazis –  how would South Africa’s WWII leader have shone today against a global disease – Covid-19?

By Philip Weyers, great-grandson of General Jan Smuts.

A few days ago, “Lay of the Land” Editor, Dave Kaplan, posed to me what I thought to be an interesting question:

“How would a Jan Smuts’ government have dealt with the Corona crisis?”

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Professor Frederic William Maitland (© National Portrait Gallery, London)

Before being a Soldier-Statesman, my grandfather was a brilliant scholar. While one of his tutors,  Professor Frederic William Maitland – regarded as the modern father of English legal history – said of Smuts “the most brilliant student” he had ever met,  Lord Todd, the Master  of Christ’s College, said that “in 500 years of the College’s history, of all its members, past and present, three had been truly outstanding – John MiltonCharles Darwin and Jan Smuts.”

While offered by his old Cambridge college, Christ’s College, a fellowship in Law, he declined, choosing instead to return to the Cape Colony, determined to make his future there. He sure did!

Apart from leading his country inspirationally through WWII, Smuts contributed substantially to the creation of both the League of Nations and the United Nations – writing the preface to the U.N. Charter. Participating in so many milestone happenings of the 20th century, it should come as little surprise  that the only person to have signed the charters of both the League of Nations and the United Nations was General Jan Christiaan Smuts. Sadly, Smuts’ United Party lost the election in 1948 to the Nationalist Party of D.F. Malan that introduced Apartheid  – system of institutionalised racial segregation – that existed to the early 1990s.

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Mobilising People Support. Smuts won the South African vote to join the war against the Nazis.

Of course with Smuts gone for nearly 70 years any attempt to answer the question relating to Corona would be purely speculative and based on our understanding of his personality and how in the past he confronted monumental challenges.

I do however believe we have sufficient evidence to create at least some credible scenarios.

Covid-19 made its presence known with people dying in droves in Wuhan, China, subsequently high percentage of deaths followed in Italy, Spain, the UK and the USA where New York City has been the worst hit.

The South African Government did react relatively swiftly applying lockdown measures with individual movement restricted to medical reasons and the purchase of essential items. Socialising of any nature was forbidden. Initially there was understanding and compliance from the vast majority of the urban population, but in the informal settlements, life continued much as usual. It is important to note that the initial lockdown included prohibitions on the sale or purchase of inter alia cars, clothing, hardware, children’s toys, stationery including puzzles and of course the two “sin” items – alcohol and tobacco products.

 

It is reasonable to believe that Jan Smuts would have reacted in much the same manner initially; he would have been attempting by best means possible to combat what was for the entire world  – a complete unknown. It is also fair to believe that Smuts would have permitted a larger component of the South African economy to remain active than was the case, under conditions to minimise the transmission of the disease.

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Two Men And A Baby. In the gardens of the British Embassy in Cairo on the 23rd August, 1942, Winston Churchill (left) and Jan Smuts fuss over Victor Lampson, the baby son of the British Ambassador. (Photo: Birmingham Mail and Pos)

After nearly five weeks of what was advised to be “Stage-5” of the lockdown, President Ramaphosa advised that their efforts had been successful in slowing down the spread of Covid-19 and that there was to be a move to “Stage-4” on 1 May. Perplexing the public – some amusingly others irritatingly – the sale of alcohol remained illegal, while tobacco products could again be purchased. Much joy and relief followed this announcement, not least of all the11 million South Africans who smoke!

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Corona Crazy. A cartoon by Zapiro in the Daily Maverick that satirizes South Africa’s policies to Corona.

Those who were missing a drink resorted either to the highly active and exorbitant black-market or started brewing their own mampoer  – South Africa’s highly intoxicating “moonshine” derived mainly from pineapple. Within days of President Ramaphosa announcing a relaxation of the sale of tobacco products, it was announced by Nkosana Dhlamini-Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, that the matter had been re-assessed and the tobacco would remain embargoed, resulting in astonishment and much anger amongst the population.

It is at this point I believe that Jan Smuts’ path would have taken a significantly divergent course to that adopted by the South African Government, and in a number of ways.

The Great Communicator

Jan Smuts was an accomplished communicator, and believed in the value of accurate, comprehensive, and regular communications. He was a prodigious correspondent and a highly accomplished writer – in longhand – of his own speeches. It would be inconceivable that at a time of such perceived threat and uncertainty, he would not regularly appear on all media platforms, placating and reassuring the population, certainly he would not have been silent for weeks at a stretch.

We can see today from Smuts’ many speeches how his voice resonated with his audience and how he instilled confidence. This is precisely what is needed today and is surely lacking!

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General Jan Christiaan Smuts

Furthermore, it would be inconceivable to believe that a Smuts Government would not have consulted every credible source of expertise covering such essential aspects as the economy, medical (in particular epidemiologists both locally and abroad), commerce and business and modelled the regulations imposed according to guidelines that he would have gleaned from such consultations. A balance between all critical elements would have been achieved as far as possible.

Smuts would have realised from the start that trying to legislate a population into compliance, would have produced at best short-term results. He would not have been autocratic, aggressive nor condescending when dealing with the people. He would have been well aware that compliance would result from cooperation rather than legislation, particularly when the regulations would seem  – with some justification –  to be nonsensical and of little tangible value.

To achieve public compliance would invariably have involved law-enforcement but certainly no heavy-handed and unnecessary force. Violent enforcement would not have been tolerated – particularly of petty contraventions.

There can be no doubt that following the initial lockdown and greater scientific data became available offering the wisest counsel to this “mystery disease”, Smuts would have moved swiftly to get the economy back on track. It would have been clear to Smuts that without revenue, a government is restricted in its ability to control or treat the virus.

Disrespect To Disregard

Essential to gaining the people’s support and compliance is to return their lives to as normal a situation as possible. Smuts would realise that a population will only adhere to regulations while they present at least some logic and make sense even at an unsophisticated level. Nonsensical and seemingly irrelevant restrictions would enjoy a short period of compliance before the public at large despaired and disregarded them. The extended restrictions on clothing, for one, were apparently devoid of logic and benefit.

One could buy a long-sleeved shirt, but not a short-sleeved one! Ladies could buy “winter” shoes but not shoes with open toes!

Smuts would not have countenanced such nonsensical regulations believing them rather to further aggravate an already incensed population.

One can of course hypothesize almost without end how the ‘soldier-statesman’ Smuts would have mounted a campaign to counter Corona. In truth, we could never really know. I sense that a Smuts Government would not have acted very differently to the Ramaphosa government in the initial four-week period, but beyond that period, there would have been a marked divergence.

Therefore I feel confident to surmise, that under a Smuts leadership, South Africans would be in far better position than that in which we currently find ourselves.

 

 

About The Writer

PHILIP WEYERS1.jpgPhilip Weyers is Past Executive Director of General Smuts Foundation. An “Amateur historian” on Jan Smuts, the South African Air Force and the Royal Air Force, Weyers is President Emeritus of the South African Air Force Association. He is currently a member of SAAFA NEC; SAAF/SAAFA Liaison, Foreign Relations. As a “Friend of Israel” and like the “Oubaas”, a confirmed Christian Zionist, he addresses audiences in Israel and England.

 

 

 

‘Marathon Man’

From running marathons to running Israel’s medical system, Ichilov Hospital’s Prof. Ronni Gamzu is now overseeing Israel’s senior living facilities

By David E. Kaplan

While Corona grounded Israel’s traditional Independence Day flyover, it did not stop four training planes taking off and flying over the hospitals throughout the State of Israel in salute to the medical teams who  – like our soldiers in uniform – are risking their lives daily.

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Aerial Appreciation. The Israeli air force devoted its annual fly-by to health workers, with four planes crisscrossing the nation and performing aerial acrobatics over hospitals and medical centers.

From my balcony in Kfar Saba, our family watched the planes fly over nearby Meir Hospital and then two of them perform a spectacular vertical maneuver leaving a huge while trail in the sky in the shape of a giant heart.

Residents from balconies draped in the blue and white Israeli flags, clapped and cheered. Everyone knew someone affected by Corona whose lives were dependent on the men and woman to whom the pilots in these planes were paying tribute.

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Independence Day. Looking as if he had just crossed the finishing line in a marathon, CEO of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Ronni Gamzu, cheers with his team members the Israeli Air Force acrobatic team flying over Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on Israel’s 72nd Independence Day. April 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

One of the most vulnerable sectors of the population are our seniors and so my thoughts went out to Prof. Ronni Gamzu who I had interviewed back in 2016 for Hilton Israel Magazine and had been pleased to learn had in early April 2020 been placed in charge of the Ministry of Health’s efforts to combat the virus in homes for the elderly. In other words – to oversee senior living facilities throughout Israel.

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Tomorrow’s Man Today. Professor Ronni Gamzu in front of the Morris Kahn Research in Personalized Medicine Research Center at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. Sponsored by the Israeli entrepreneur and philanthropist, former South African Morris Kahn, the Centre hosts state-of-the-art research laboratories, where scientists, researchers, and doctors from diverse disciplines conduct research destined to define the future of medicine.

His appointment followed a number of coronavirus-related deaths in homes for the elderly followed by a public outcry and a High Court petition to which the state was required to respond. The Health Ministry responded – most notably by appointing Prof. Gamzu, the director general of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center aka Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, to coordinate between government departments and formulate a national plan of action.

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Exporting Expertise. With Israel frequently hosting overseas delegations keen to learn more about Israel’s unique system of Public Health, seen here is Prof. Ronni Gamzu (left) then Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Health hosting a delegation from France, led by its Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine (right).

Within a few days, residents at senior living facilities were being tested around the country.  My thoughts went back to that interview looking at the huge heart in the sky.

On the late afternoon of our interview in 2016, this gynaecologist and obstetrician who had brought “over 1000 babies into the world,” had his own to look after – his young baby daughter, Anouk – “our first”. So instead of meeting at Ichilov Hospital, we met in a garden in Ramat Gan, within “easy running distance” to the hospital and his home – whichever emergency might summon him at any moment. The interview proceeded uninterrupted with neither a ‘cry’ from Anouk nor patients.

It was well known that back in 2016 Prof. Gamzu participated in major marathons around the world which invited my first question. His answer proved revealing – a metaphor on his approach to medicine.

Marthon Man5
On Track. Prof. Ronni Gamzu (left) with overseas participant at  the  Tel Aviv 2016 Marathon. 

Running in the London, Paris, New York and Tel Aviv marathons, explained Gamsu “is very different than running in the Jerusalem marathon which is hilly.” The point the professor was making is that conditions and topography vary, and one must correctly read the landscape and understand its complexity to successfully negotiate “the road ahead”.

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Dream Team. Prof. Ronni Gamzu CEO of Ichilov hospital (9th from right) with hospital staff at the 2016 Tel Aviv Marathon.

Prof. Gamzu has always been focused on “the road ahead”. This would explain how he perceived early in his career, the need to be equipped with a broad and varied education that spread well beyond the discipline of medicine.

Following degrees in medicine at Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and a PhD in fertility research from Tel Aviv University (TAU), I asked why he felt the need to add to his academic armory an MBA and a degree in law.

“Well, ‘armory’ is the right word,” he replied because “these degrees literally helped me to surmount loads of legalese and achieve goals that I may not have without them.”

During his earlier tenure as the Director General of the Health Ministry (2010-2014), he explained, “we made major progress in expanding the general services covered by our national health insurance. My predecessors in the Health Ministry tried for years without success – always coming up against a bureaucratic wall; not seeing a way forward. With my legal background, I found a way around it.”

“What do you mean by “a way around”?” I asked.

“The standard approach was to look to the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) to either pass or amend legislation. This is understandable but problematic because of political coalitions and so many competing interests that, to reach consensus about extending provision for any public service, is never easy. Military matters are always easier because they are considered a national existential issue. This is not the case with social services. This is unfortunate as the issues from education to public medicine are no less existential to the wellbeing of a nation.”

So, with his legal training, “I buried myself in reading all legislation pertaining to national medical coverage and realised that we did not need to proceed through the Knesset – we could bypass it, as there were pre-existing regulations that permitted us to proceed forward. In this way, we made major breakthroughs that have dramatically changed the lives of Israeli citizens.”

Can you cite examples?

“Yes, we expanded our general health services to include mental health issues that had been limited, and dental care that had been mostly private, and prohibitively expensive. Under the new plan, family doctors started referring patients with emotional and mental problems – such as depression, phobias or panic attacks – to psychiatrists, psychologists and other therapists for treatment, without themselves writing prescriptions for psychiatric drugs, as they did before.”

With regard to extending dental services, he explained:

“Dental hygiene is no less important than other areas of personal health. Periodontal or gum disease that ranges from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth, affects too many Israelis of all ages. It is important to treat at a young age so that teeth are not lost in early adulthood. Whether gum disease is stopped, slowed, or gets worse depends a great deal on how well people care for their teeth; this requires regular diagnosis by professionals and this is where we came in, making it affordable to those who had previously neglected their teethnot because they felt it was less important – but because they felt they could not afford going to private dentists and hygienists.”

Under the new system, Gamzu explained, “they still pay but considerably less with the result that dental health has now become affordable – not the luxury of the wealthy, but a right to all. The new system of dental cover is now more in line with the fundamental egalitarian philosophy of Israel’s founding fathers.”

Asking what specifically he meant by this, Gamzu replied, “Well Israel can be truly proud of not only its superlative cutting edge medical services but of how we provide this quality service to all our citizens at affordable costs to the recipient.

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Health Services To New Nation. Residents of a Ma’abara (transitional settlement for new immigrants) near Tel Aviv waiting in line outside a “Kupat Cholim” clinic in 1949, one year after the establishment of the State of Israel.

For this, Gamzu said “we are indebted to the founding fathers of the modern State of Israel.” Combining the traditional Jewish concern for all people with an emphasis on societal needs, “the Zionist Movement in pre-state Israel, regarded public health as a top social, political and economic priority. By the time Israel declared its independence in 1948, we already had a national health infrastructure in place.”

Gamzu cited as examples “Tipat Halav (Mother-and-child care centers) administering vaccinations to new-born babies and counseling parents on proper care for their infants, and Kupot Cholim (Health insurance funds) offering day-to-day consultations with doctors and specialists, and insured members for hospitalization.”

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Health For All. Long before the state of Israel was established in 1948, Tipat Halav (“Drop of Milk”) family health stations were established for everyone regardless of race and religion (Courtesy of Hadassah Women’s Organization).

With medical cover a challenge in any society, “and we see how it dominates debate in US elections,” I asked how will Israel sustain its special features of affordable cover to all?

“You are right; it is a challenge of our public health system and it’s a challenge that I am committed to,” answered Gamzu. “However, we have seen that even with Israel’s transformation from a socialist to a capitalist economy, some of our most cherished values remained intact because it’s part of our ethos and ingrained in our culture. As future needs arise as was the case in extending services for mental and dental health, so we need to be on guard and adhere to our founding principles.”

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Flowering Achievement. Beth Protea in Herzliya, one of the many retirement facilities across Israel where residents and staff were all tested for Coronavirus. One of its first residents was the late Rona Baram (née Moss-Morris from Durban, South Africa) when as a pioneer on kibbutz Kfar Blum, opened the first Tipat Halav (family health clinic) in Kiryat Shmona in the north of Israel in the 1940s.

“Do you think Israel can teach the world about its concept of Public Health?” I enquired.

“Sure, and we do. Israel has been a pioneer in the practice of Public Health, and we host many visitors – particularly from the developing world –  keen to learn of how Israel developed its system of Public Health. Just so we understand, while medicine treats the health needs of an individual, Public Health (also known as public or social medicine) deals with the health requirements of society as a whole and despite absorbing wave after wave of immigrations, bringing with it a host of medical challenges, Israel has one of the world’s healthiest populations with one of the highest average life expectancies in the world.”

I reflected on that 2016 interview as I gazed from my balcony on this Corona Yom Ha’atzmaut upon the giant heart in the sky over Meir Hospital and thought that despite our enormous challenges, we can be thankful for  Israel’s unique health system.

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Reunited. With Restrictions eased, 82-Year-old Malka Gamzu rubs elbows with her son Ronni.

There is a reason why Jews, when toasting, prefer to say “Le’Chaim” instead of “Cheers”.

After all, what can be more important to cheer about than “to Life”?

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Heroes In Green. Acknowledging the salute of appreciation, hospital staff wave national flags as the Israeli Air Force (IAF) fly over during Israel’s Independence day celebrations. (PIC: AFP)