Smile . . .Tony Bennett Brings Down the House in Tel Aviv Last Night!

UPDATES 9 am Israel time, Monday, September 15 2014:

**As the budget battle between PM Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (of the Yesh Atid party) continues to rage over issues like defense spending, income taxes, and the VAT tax, a new “election” poll out this morning provides an interesting perspective on where the Israeli public stands.

According to the poll that was conducted by Israel’s Channel 10 TV, the following “leading” parties would win the seats indicated if an election were held tomorrow:

Likud (Netanyahu): 26 seats. Likud currently holds 19 seats.

Jewish Home (Bennett): 16. Jewish Home currently has 12 seats.

Israel Beytenu (Lieberman): 14. Israel Beytenu currently has 13 seats.

Labor (Herzog): 13. Labor currently has 15 seats.

Yesh Atid (Lapid): 8. Yesh Atid currently has 19 seats.

This poll is somewhat in line with other polls taken in recent days–most of which have Likud in the 19-26 range, Jewish Home in the 16-19 range, Israel Beytenu in the 9-14 range, Labor in the 13-17 range, and Yesh Atid in the 8-11 range.

What these polls suggest is that Netanyahu’s stock has stabilized after the war, Bennett’s has risen, and Lapid’s has dramatically fallen. Any thought that Avigdor Lieberman may have entertained about becoming Israel’s next prime minister has also flown out the window.

Nevertheless, in the sense that Likud, Jewish Home, and Israel Beytenu are generally thought of as parties on the political “right”, the poll augurs well for that side of the political spectrum.

**According to a study by the OECD, Israel is now the 4th most educated country in the world as determined by the percentage of citizens who have completed tertiary education. In order, the top four are: Russia, Canada, Japan, and Israel.

**Sheba Rehabilitation Hospital in Tel Hashomer near Tel Aviv has taken first place in an important international TEDMED competition designed to reward medical creativity and innovation.

Sheba won the award mainly because of creation and development of its ReAbility online program which focuses two computerized systems on patients suffering from traumatic brain injury such as those suffering from multiple sclerosis, strokes, trauma, diseases, and infections.

The program allows patients to be treated at home with the help of physiotherapists, speech pathologists, and rehabilitation experts.

In fact, Sheba is one of the largest rehabilitation centers in the world with 800 beds spread out over 14 buildings. It has long specialized in the long-term care and treatment of wounded soldiers and victims of terror. Currently, 8 soldiers from the recent war in Gaza are receiving care at Sheba.


The ageless Tony Bennett. This picture was made in 2003--he looked exactly the same on stage in Tel Aviv last night!

The ageless Tony Bennett. This picture was made in 2003–he looked exactly the same on stage in Tel Aviv last night!

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by.

If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
For you.

Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying.
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile-
If you just smile.

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying.
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile-
If you just smile.

Music written by Charlie Chaplin for his movie “Modern Times” in 1936

Lyrics written by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons in 1954

Song sung by Tony Bennett in Tel Aviv last night.

Following his appearance on stage with Lady Gaga in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park the night before, Tony Bennett and his quartet of stellar musicians appeared last night at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. Your humble servant and his wife were privileged to be in attendance.

Playing to a sold-out crowd that that frequently stood and applauded his singing efforts, the 88-year-old Bennett displayed the wide range of his remarkable voice for all to see as he made the grand tour through some of his greatest hits from soft love longs through loud, and perfectly pitched standards such as “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”.

Prancing around the stage like a man sixty years younger and looking as youthful as ever, Bennett’s message was twofold: “Life is about love”, and “if you want to stay young, be happy!” It was a terrifically uplifting performance to an Israeli audience that had just been through 50 days of war with Hamas.

Through it all, Bennett managed to sprinkle his songs with short stories such as how Charlie Chaplin wrote him from Switzerland back in the 1950s and thanked him for resurrecting his song “Smile”.

And lest you think this was an audience of oldies, the Center was packed with young people who were among the most vigorous people standing and applauding (Bennett returned to the stage for 5 encores).

Who the best singer is will of course depend on your taste, but after last night’s bravura performance, it’s hard to argue with Frank Sinatra who famously commented that “Tony Bennett is the best singer of all time.” 




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