Grapevine: Combating fake news

It’s headlined “Fake News,” but in actual fact it’s not. It’s an attempt to find an antidote to fake news.

Long before the digital era, when far fewer members of the public had the ability to disseminate private opinions as though they were reporting genuine news, there were nonetheless reports based on speculation and presented as facts.

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With the advent of social media, there was literally an explosion of fake news.

There were mischief makers who wanted to frighten or titillate people into believing a plethora of untrue stories. There were people who wanted to change political or economic realities by spreading false tales about politicians, business executives and economists. And then there were those who believed almost everything they read, and forwarded the fake news to all their Facebook friends.

Now, as part of Innovation Week in Tel Aviv, TechCrunch and Cyabra, a technology start-up with an integrated security solution to protect digital assets against misinformation attacks by monitoring social networks 24/7 and warning clients as soon as negative activities are recognized, are hosting a “Fake News” gathering at the Council for a Beautiful Israel on Tuesday, June 5, at 3 p.m.

Cyabra founder and CEO Don Brahmy will speak on the new solution to fake news; Dr. Yaniv Levyatan, a recognized international expert on psychological warfare, will speak on that subject and discuss how it is used in the business world; and Ram Ben Barak, a former deputy chief of the Mossad, will speak on struggles between countries in the new world, without a single bullet being fired.

THOUGH INITIALLY released in English last September in tandem with the first anniversary of his death, the Hebrew edition of No room for small dreams, the autobiography of Israel’s ninth president, Shimon Peres, was launched this week by the Friends of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation.

The event, at which the keynote speaker was former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, for whom Peres had great admiration and affection, was held at the Dan Tel Aviv Hotel, an appropriate venue, given that Peres spent a lot of time there when visiting Tel Aviv during his presidency, but also because of its proximity to the former Labor Party headquarters. In the days when Labor Party luminaries included Golda Meir, Abba Eban, Yitzhak Rabin, Peres and other personalities whose names were household words, the hotel served as a meeting place for members of the party’s leadership and visiting dignitaries from abroad.

Like so many things in Israel, the event did not go exactly according to plan, given the situation in the Gaza Strip, which became the focal point of Gantz’s address and of any conversation before and after.

Considering Peres’s record in Israel’s defense establishment, it was quite natural to shift the focus from the man to the situation.

Gantz expressed full confidence in the political and defense establishment as well as the residents of the South. “We are all aware that we live in a complicated reality,” he said, but he was nonetheless convinced that Israel has the ability to unflinchingly withstand adversity and to overcome. He had every confidence in the army’s strength and strategy, and declared that the army, the political administration and the residents of the South were deserving of every accolade.

Chemi Peres, the youngest of the three offspring of Shimon and Sonia Peres, who is today chairman of the Peres Center; his sister, Dr. Tsvia Walden; and his brother, Dr. Yoni Peres, were all present.

Chemi Peres, a former pilot in the Israel Air Force, voiced a message of warm embrace to all the residents of the South and to all the soldiers engaged in the defense of Israel’s borders. He also announced that the book, which was completed shortly before his father died, is being translated into numerous languages for the purpose of making it available to world leaders and to youth in the languages they know best.

While negotiating for translations of the book, the Peres Center is also busy with its many coexistence activities, as well as with the renovations to the building which will culminate with the opening in October of the Peres Center for Innovation.

While the Peres Center for Peace, which is headquartered in Jaffa, has been operating for more than two decades, though not always at its present location, the addition to its name was inaugurated in July 2016 with the participation of President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Peres was a tireless advocate for innovation and research to find new solutions to old problems.

ALL THE world loves a wedding. Her friends and colleagues at The Jerusalem Post were naturally delighted for special supplements editor and former news editor Noa Amouyal, when she announced that she would marry fellow journalist David Brummer, whose byline has also appeared in the Post from time to time.

Everyone at the paper was thrilled for her, but the most longstanding veterans even more so, because she is a second-generation Post writer.

Her mother, Barbara Opall-Rome, in the days when she was Barbara Amouyal, covered the police beat for the Post and managed to get crime stories of a nature that eluded both her predecessors and her successors as well as her rivals in other publications. Now a Mideast security analyst, she heads the Israel bureau of the Washington-based international weekly Defense News. She is also executive editor and host of Strictly Security on i24 News.

The groom’s mother, Marilyn Brummer, who came from London for the occasion, is a former president of the League of Jewish Women, having followed her own mother into the organization. She is currently an active member of WIZO and was previously involved with the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund.

She also served on the Citizens Advice Bureau for more than 20 years.

Officiating rabbi at the ceremony, conducted at Jaffa Port, was Rabbi David Rosen, who in his address to the young couple spoke not only of Jewish values but also introduced a little of Aristotle.

The ambience was very ecumenical.

A muezzin could be heard in the background, as Rosen was conducting the wedding service, and the skyline included a church and a mosque. The romantic bridal canopy, decorated with pastel-hued flowers, had the added touch of a tallit (prayer shawl) spread across the top. It was almost but not quite like being in Jerusalem, where the newlyweds live.

Contrary to the general practice, there was no color coordination in the wedding party. Other than identical bouquets, all the women wore what suited them best.

The bodice of the bridal gown was intricately embroidered with seed pearls and diamantes. The mother of the bride wore a classically cut gown in a deep shade of turquoise with coffee lace insets in the side seams and a cowl drape over jeweled coffee lace in the back.

The mother of the groom wore a chiffon ensemble in a delicate shade of airplane gray with a white patterned print.

Other than relatives of the bride and groom, including a large representation of the Amouyal family, the bulk of the guests were members of the fourth estate. Whereas in bygone days, all the guests dressed up for a wedding, weddings today are come-as-you-please affairs, so the fashion statements ran the gamut from evening couture to beachwear.

Paul Stern, a lifelong friend of the groom, brought along the talisman that had been so precious to him, a teddy bear that the groom received from his grandmother when he was two years old.

ANOTHER WEDDING, taking place just ahead of Gay Pride Week in Tel Aviv, is that of Ovadia Cohen and Amichai Landsman, who are members of the religious LGBT community. There’s nothing unusual these days about two men getting married to each other – not even two religious men, but in this case, it’s another proof that upbringing has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

Cohen happens to be a grandson of the late Sephardi chief rabbi and Shas mentor Ovadia Yosef, and spent several years of his youth with his grandfather. Like many religious gays, he tried to suppress his true feelings and married a woman, with whom he had two children, but the marriage didn’t work, and they divorced, after which he came out of the closet.

Landsman is fortunate in having a loving and understanding family, which has accepted him for what he is, and has also accepted Cohen. Most of Landsman’s relatives will be at the wedding, but very few of Cohen’s.

Gay Pride Week, which this year is taking place during Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations, will also mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Gay Center in Tel Aviv, and the 20th anniversary of the first gay pride parade. Tel Aviv is known as the gay capital of the Middle East, and during last year’s Gay Pride Week attracted thousands of visitors from abroad. Even more are expected this year, regardless of BDS and regional unrest.

WHILE NETANYAHU is in France next week talking to President Emmanuel Macron, members of the Consistoire, the institution set up by Napoleon’s imperial decree in 1808 for the purpose of overseeing Jewish religious life in France, will be in Israel. The Consistoire delegation is scheduled to meet with Rivlin on Monday.

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