A City like No Other – A Lesson in Life


[Blog Editor: Full Disclosure – I’m a Christian Zionist supporter of Israel’s Biblical Land Promise – JRH]

 

Ari Bussel shares a Jewish-American perspective that connects the Jewish community in Beverly Hills California and Israel. An interesting whether you are Jewish or not and have an interest in Israel’s existence.

 

JRH 2/27/20

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A City like No Other – A Lesson in Life

What Makes Beverly Hills Unique 

 

By Ari Bussel

Sent  2/27/2020 12:47 AM

 

 

When my siblings and I went to Beverly, we were taught that “there is Beverly Hills and the rest of the world.”  Let us see what else we learned right here in Beverly Hills:  Treat the other the way you want to be treated, and he who spreads his bread is bound one day in the future to find it.

 

 

The headline of the main local paper read “Two Presidents in Beverly Hills on One Historic Day.”  One president was here to fundraise, the other for a short stop on a long route.  Since I did not quite understand the true meaning of this “historic day,” I continued reading, flipping the pages to find and astonishing amount of “Israel.”

 

In the previous administration, President Barack Obama was in Beverly Hills so many times, one lost count.  President Donald J Trump has not been here so frequently as his predecessor, but we knew each time he was here from the demonstrations against him.  Surprisingly, Beverly Hills Jews are apparently not all Democrats, and some would pay tens and hundreds of thousands of Dollars for a photo-op or to spent breakfast, lunch or dinner with the President of the USA.

 

On the same day, Israeli President Rivlin was here too.  Los Angeles was the first stop, followed by Pacific Islands on a long trip to Australia (still ongoing).  In Los Angeles, the President was honored by the Beverly Hills City Council and given the Key to the City and at UCLA by the Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.  Apparently, super-rich Iranians were able to reach the President who previously rejected an invitation by the local Jewish Iranian American community for a mega event in his and Israel’s honor.  Money does the trick, and even a president flies in to be honored.

 

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, center, accepted a key to the city from Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch (photo courtesy of the city of Beverly Hills – Photo appeared in Park Labrea News Beverly Press)

 

President Rivlin’s previous visit to Los Angeles was most hastily arranged, after the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America refused to have Prime Minister Netanyahu speak to it.

 

President Rivlin then (11/13/2017) emphasized: “We are all one people, and Israel is dear to all of us.”  On the Western Wall, the President said:  “The symbol of unity, the Wall of our Tears and Joy, has become a symbol of division and disagreement.  I hope that in the future we can return to the table together, and reach an understanding on this important issue.”

 

And he laid the following need for cooperation:  “These are the tasks before us; the fight against anti-Semitism, preserving Jewish identity, safeguarding the security of Israel.  We must continue to pass these duties to our children and grandchildren, from one generation to the next.”

 

The deep rift regarding prayer at the Western Wall still continues.  Neither the Prime Minister’s absence nor the President’s substitute speech helped.

 

Unlike New York, Los Angeles is far away from Israel.  Thus, the total number of times an Israeli president has been here since the formation of the modern state is de minimis.  When Israel’s ninth president, Shimon Peres of blessed memory, came to Los Angeles, the preparations took some two years.  The President met numerous groups, including a mega event at the Beverly Hilton and another at Dream Works.  It was most apt, for President Peres was respected by the entire world as a “Dreamer” (visionary, in the most positive sense of the word).  The entire region was energized.

 

Like his successor who would refuse to meet with the Iranian Jewish community, President Peres refused to meet with the Christian community, and declined an invitation to a mega event (the President’s requirement at that time was for at least 2,000 people to attend an event; the proposed event was for 5,000).  For each, his own priorities and preferences.

 

So here came President Rivlin, and like his previous visit, it was limited to those who are either super-rich or most connected.  Strange, since President Rivlin is viewed as the people’s president, loved and adored by Israelis for being “one of them.”  A once-in-a-lifetime treat that should be shared and open to the public at large, not only to a select few ended as a photo caption in one paper and a front page headline in another.

 

Israel and the Beverly Hills Courier

 

The coverage of the President’s visit would be a picture on p.2 of the other local paper a week after the visit and an entire issue immediately following the visit dedicated to Israel by the Beverly Hills Courier.  How strange life turns out to be.  Let me tell you why.

 

The BH Courier and the City of BH were always dismissed as insignificant by the Israeli diplomatic mission to the West Coast.  There were other newspapers (e.g. the Los Angeles Times), there were more important cities (e.g. Los Angeles).  So much so, that until the arrival of Consul General David Siegel [Jewish Journal-2011, Communications 2025 profile-2012 & GovServ.org-2019], the BH Courier was not even on the press list of the Israeli Consulate General.

 

The publisher of the Courier at that time, Clif Smith [Blog Editor: I didn’t do a deep search but found it interesting WikiZero’s report on Clif Smith’s publishing style as Conservative as if that was a bad thing.], wanted to meet with top Israeli visitors and hear from them.  His paper and the community are ardent supporters of Israel, and it would have been appropriate that the main local paper be paid the respect and be afforded the professional courtesy it deserved.  But for the staff at the Consulate, a local throw-away paper and a city of 34,000 were … nothing.  Luckily, we in Beverly Hills stand very well on our own.  We do good without expectation or anticipation of thanks.  And we continue our unabashed support of the only homeland for the Jewish people around the world no-matter-what!

 

Came a real diplomat and changed the culture and attitude at the Consulate.  After a pitch was made to include also the local – seemingly insignificant and unimportant – publications, Mr. Smith was invited for President Peres visit and a relationship started that is bearing fruit to this very day.

 

Similarly, slowly it was discovered that Beverly Hills is a unique city in the entire world in terms of Israel.  What makes the City so unique?  Its majority Jewish population?  The number of synagogues within its boundaries?  The large proportion of Iranians who call the City home (about 1/3 the entire City population)?  The leadership, at all elected entities – City Council, School Board, Treasurer – that is usually Jewish?

 

Beverly Hills and Israel

 

We can go back generations of BH City Councils and meet amazing people who have supported Israel in numerous ways.  Previously, mega donors to Israel call BH their home, and there is not a university, hospital or museum in Israel where their names cannot be found at the very top of the donors lists.

 

Then came to the City a philanthropist businesswoman, who does not even reside within the City proper, and turned the City into the strongest pro-Israel fort to be found anywhere in the USA.  Gina Raphael [Algemeiner author profile & JNF Interview] has utilized her connections in the City, her own money and her leadership style to do good.  She brought symposiums about water and cyber security to the City.  She marked 9/11 jointly with Israel, time and time again.  She brought the Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office (i.e. the Chief Executive of Israel) to celebrate Israel on Israel’s Independence Day (the one day he should have been in Israel).  She regularly brings the different elements of the community together (i.e. Ashkenazi and Sephardi, competing Rabbis, …).  Gina serves as an example for women in business, women in leadership and women of philanthropy and for parents who would do everything to have children, and she is a bulldozer when it comes to Jewish life and the Jewish people.

 

In short, Gina Raphael managed to change the landscape like a loving, most capable gardener tending to a garden.  A magnificent and most tender work of creation.  This happened at the same time that CG David Siegel was here and changed the attitude toward public diplomacy, that started with working with the press and treating each and every one as if they are the entire world (rather than dismissing those not useful at the very moment or not rich or not important enough as rugs on which to wipe one’s feet, possibly to be used in the future if and when convenient).  It was a new world order.

 

Since then, Israel’s situation continued to deteriorate and the hatred toward Israel continued to intensify.  Ancient anti-Semitism rose again, this time around disguised as “permissible criticism of Israel.”  The United States has seen some horrific anti-Semitic attacks on synagogues.  Hate crimes against Jews rose in numbers and intensity.  The BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement has spread and managed to poison innocent minds with lies and propaganda.

 

[Blog Editor: The BDS Movement is a grievous embodiment of Antisemitic Jew-Hatred as is demonstrated by facts  rather than lying propaganda:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Israel is compared to evil, and anything bad that happens to Jews is not punishment enough.  Companies like Air BnB and leading figures in the entertainment world like Natalie Portman take action against Israel, for talk has now morphed into action, and even local Jews of the younger generation now support organizations that harm Israel under the guise of “human rights.”

 

And then, there is Beverly Hills, an oasis of safety and sanity, a city where the great divide – between Democrats and Republicans, Netanyahu’s supporters and detractors, Reform and Orthodox Jews – has not managed to blindside those at the helm (“every elected member in the City is Jewish,” as Dr. Julian Gold likes to say).

 

A City like no other

 

Time and again, the Council stands up to fight anti-Semitism, to support Israel, to allow a safe haven for the Jews and to remember those who perished in the Holocaust.  Why do they do it?  Likely because any student of history knows that what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews; that if we do not know our own history, we are bound to repeat it; and if we do not stand up and speak (and act), there will be no one left to stand up for us when the time comes.  Simple lessons; all practiced in Beverly Hills.

 

Nothing happens in vacuum, and the world has not come into being today.  The support for Israel has been a cornerstone of Beverly Hills for the past seven decades.  Giants like Guilford Glazer z”l [Blog Editor: For non-Jews who are unaware, when you see z”l after a person’s name, they are deceased (See CoffeeShopRabbi.com for some info)], Nate Shapell z”l, Max Well z”l, Larry Field z”l and others – many who survived the Holocaust.  Philanthropists like Paul and Herta Amir, Virginia and Frank Maas and Dick Ziman.  Past Mayors like Max Salter, MaraLee Goldman and Mark Egerman.  Journalists like Norma Zager, the former editor in chief of the Courier.  Local leaders like Sue Brucker (“How can we make Israelis understand we – Reform Jews – are Jews too?!?”).  Rabbis like Rabbi Laura Geller, Rabbi Yossi Cunin and Rabbi Kalman Topp (a Reform and two Orthodox; a woman and two men).  City Staff like Mahdi Aluzri and Pamela Mottice-Muller (an Iraqi and a Christian).  Religious leaders like senior pastor Dave Worth (of the BH Presbyterian Church).  In short – a community, Beverly Hills like no other.

 

It would not have happened without a push and a shove and a determination by a diplomat one rarely encounters in one’s life time, and a local mother-businesswomen-leader who focuses on doing good and away from nonsense, on substance than form.  But more importantly, the lesson to be learned is to never belittle the individual, or in this case, a tiny city, seemingly insignificant, or a local paper, equally “inconsequential.”  When you treat the “widower, orphaned and foreigner among us” as equal, as deserving and worthy, God repays, most handsomely.  Pay attention in life, for that is what God wants from us.  A dear lesson to learn indeed.  And if we ignore the other, we may end up finding ourselves … on our own.

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BLOG EDITOR: I’ve apparently been placed in restricted Facebook Jail! The restriction was relegated after criticizing Democrats for supporting abortion in one post and criticizing Virginia Dems for gun-grabbing legislation and levying protester restrictions. Rather than capitulate to Facebook censorship by abandoning the platform, I choose to post and share until the Leftist censors ban me completely. Conservatives are a huge portion of Facebook. If more or all Conservatives are banned, it will affect the Facebook advertising revenue paradigm. SO FIGHT CENSORSHIP BY SHARE – SHARE – SHARE!!! Facebook notified me in pop-up on 1/20/20: “You’re temporarily restricted from joining and posting to groups that you do not manage until April 18 at 7:04 PM.”

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Edited by John R. Houk

Text enclosed by brackets and embedded links are by the Editor.

 

© Ari Bussel

 

Ari Bussel is Vice President of Operations at Saybrex International, a privately held family business specializing in the distribution of fine wines and spirits. He is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company and has held various positions in the company since 1993.

 

Prior to joining Saybrex, Mr. Bussel served as First Lieutenant in the Center for Systems Analysis at General Headquarters of the Israel Defense Forces, where he led the implementation of the Logistics War Doctrine in the Computerized Wargame Program.

 

Mr. Bussel is involved in a variety of philanthropic and civic activities. Mr. Bussel completed the Team Beverly Hills Leadership Program and served on the Environmental Sustainability Topic Committee of the City of Beverly Hills. He was a member of the Steering Committees of former Beverly Hills Mayor MeraLee Goldman and the current Beverly Hills City Treasurer, the Hon. Eliot Finkel. Mr. Bussel also completed and participated in the Community Emergency Response Training Program of the City of Beverly Hills as well as the Crisis Response Team of the Maple Counseling Center.

 

Mr. Bussel was among the founding members and served on the boards of Gen. Shimon Erem’s Israel Christian Nexus, the Western Region of Friends of Israel Firefighters and the Israel Institute for Alternative Energy Advancement. He completed the Salvin Leadership Program of the Anti-Defamation League.

 

Mr. Bussel writes regularly. For the past decade, his weekly columns appeared in print in Israel Jewish Life, Shalom LA, Muslim World Today and Israeli Week. Mr. Bussel’s articles appear on numerous websites, including Canada Free Press, Free Republic, NewsBlaze, SlantRight and OpEdNews. He is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club.

 

Mr. Bussel received a Master of Science in Operations Research from Stanford …READ THE REST