There have been so many milestone anniversaries this year that it was inevitable
some of them would be overlooked, or remembered only by the very few people who
were actively involved in the event.
An example was the 60th anniversary,
a couple of months back, of the transfer of the Foreign Ministry from Tel Aviv
to Jerusalem. Some ministry veterans, who are now long retired, were part of
that move – which was not favorably regarded by the country that counts itself
as Israel’s most enduring and best friend. In a statement issued on July 28,
1953, by then-US secretary of state John Foster Dulles during the presidency of
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Dulles wrote: “The United States regrets that the Israeli
government has seen fit to move its Foreign Office from Tel Aviv to
“We have made known our feelings on that subject to the
government of Israel on two prior occasions.
It was done in July 1952 and
again in March 1953, when our ambassador, hearing rumors that this was in
contemplation, called upon the Israeli government and requested them not to
transfer their Foreign Ministry to Jerusalem.
“We feel that way because
we believe that it would embarrass the United Nations, which has a primary
responsibility for determining the future status of Jerusalem. You may recall
that the presently standing UN resolution about Jerusalem contemplates that it
should be to a large extent at least an international city.
Also, we feel
that this particular action by the government of Israel at this particular time
is inopportune, in relation to the tensions which exist in the Near East –
tensions which are rather extreme – and that this will add to rather than relax
any of these tensions.
“The views that I express here are, we know,
shared by a considerable number of other governments, which have concern with
the development of an atmosphere of peace and goodwill in that part of the
“We have notified the government of Israel that we do not intend
to move our own embassy to Jerusalem.”
The US, in fact, owns land in
Jerusalem that has been designated since 1995 as the relocation site of the
embassy. A law to this effect was passed by the 104th Congress on October 23,
1995. The embassy was due to relocate no later than May 31, 1999, but a series
of American presidents found reason to delay the move from Tel Aviv to Israel’s
Almost everywhere in the world, foreign embassies are located in
the capital of the host country, and in some countries, when the capital was
moved – so were the embassies.
Perhaps in two years’ time, when the 20th
anniversary of the legislation enacted by Congress comes around, the Americans
Indeed, US President Barack Obama could conclude his term
in office with a big bang. Congress has already reiterated its commitment to
moving the embassy to the capital, with the recent passing of a bipartisan bill
which refers to “Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital for historical,
biblical and moral reasons.” The bill was passed almost concurrently with the
resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
FIVE years in a Hamas prison, Gilad Schalit has seen more of the world than he
Aside from his travels abroad as a sports writer for
Yediot Aharonot, he was utilized by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund
to drum up donations. KKL-JNF sent him to Canada on a “thank you” tour to
Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, where thousands of people paid $18
each to hear him speak and thank them for their support during his period of
On October 18, Schalit will celebrate the second
anniversary of his release. He had hoped to lead a normal life, he told his
Canadian audiences, but it’s been anything but normal.
People stop him in
the street to be photographed with him and in the market, vendors ply him with
free food and produce.
Over the past two years he’s seen a fair bit of
the world, having also traveled to Europe, the US, South America and Australia.
Now, he’s eager to catch up on his education and will soon begin his university
■NO ONE can measure another person’s sense of loss. They can
empathize, sympathize and even identify to some extent, but they can’t really
measure the grief of a bereaved parent, sibling, son or daughter. Yet
bereavement, anguish, grief and pain form a common denominator and a rare bond
between mostly Jewish Israelis and Palestinians who have lost loved ones – each
at the hands of representatives of the other.
The Bereaved Families
Forum, which started out as the Parents Circle, comprised of scores of people
from both camps who have lost loved ones in the senseless conflict that has been
going on for decades, decided long ago that war isn’t worth the price it exacts.
Together, they have forged a path of mutual respect and understanding, and have
formed friendships that are sometimes so close no one on the outside can quite
comprehend that former enemies could care for each other so deeply.
they get together in Israel, it is often a frustrating experience. No matter how
many strings have been pulled to ensure that the Palestinians will be able to
easily cross through checkpoints, there is almost always a snag of some sort,
resulting in frantic phone calls back and forth until the Israelis can sort out
the chaos and enable the Palestinians to legally enter Israel. The scene at the
Tel Aviv Cinematheque last Saturday was like so many others before it. The
Israelis waited anxiously for their Palestinian friends, and when the latter
arrived, they all literally fell into each other’s arms.
around, it was mainly a women’s meeting, with bereaved mothers, sisters and
wives of Israelis and Palestinians telling their stories through photographs,
books, art, theater and cinema – their vehicles for expressing grief and opening
doors to dialogue. They have been meeting and working together for the past six
years, in an effort to develop strategies to stop the bloodshed.
grassroots attempt, in which humanity overrides politics, has been watched with
interest by many people who are not part of the forum, but want to see it
Hundreds of them came to the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on
Among the most eloquent of the Israeli members of the forum is
Robi Damelin, and on the Palestinian side, Bushra Awad; each has lost a son.
Awad’s son, Mahmoud, was killed by Israeli soldiers and Damelin’s son, David, a
soldier on reserve duty, was killed by Palestinians.
Awad said that
following the death of her son, she was filled with hatred for Israelis and Jews
– until she met Damelin, who transformed her perspective.
After the two
women told their stories, there was a theatrical playback of their respective
situations and several panel discussions. In every aspect of the day’s
activities, Israelis and Palestinians interacted with each other, respected each
other and grieved with each other. Perhaps the politicians should step back and
let them take over.
■ FRESH FROM his meeting with US President Barack
Obama and from addressing the UN General Assembly, but with a few days to digest
reactions to what he said, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will follow up on
his comments to the UN at the opening of the 20th anniversary conference of the
Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies this coming Sunday, October 6. This
will be his eighth appearance at the BESA Center, where he has delivered seven
previous addresses in his capacities as prime minister, finance minister and
It was at the BESA Center that he delivered his
controversial two-state solution address, which heralded a turning point that
was in sharp contrast to his previously held policy and proved his capacity for
dealing with realities on the ground – though he may have been less than
overjoyed at the prospect of a Palestinian state. His topic on this occasion
will be Israel’s challenges, which gives him a lot of leeway to talk about
internal and external issues.
Since its establishment in October 1993,
the BESA Center at Bar-Ilan University has earned an international reputation
for academic excellence and strategic prescience, as well as a realistic
approach to the quest for peace and security for Israel. BESA’s 25 research
associates have represented Israel and spoken at strategic affairs conferences
in more than 30 countries. Additionally, they have been interviewed by
correspondents of 150 newspapers and quality defense publications, including The
New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times of London and Jane’s Defense
Weekly. BESA’s director Prof.
Efraim Inbar and his deputy, David M.
Weinberg, who have steered the work of the center since its inception, are
frequent columnists in The Jerusalem Post.
The center has also produced
numerous original papers and books, and has hosted more than 300 symposia for
specialists in defense, military industry, intelligence and foreign policy.
These events have a strong following in diplomatic, political, academic and
business circles, and often feature speakers from these spheres. BESA has also
partnered with leading strategic studies centers in other countries. Aside from
its own agenda, the center conducts contracted specialized research for Military
Intelligence, the National Security Council, the Foreign and Defense ministries,
NATO and others.
The opening of the conference will also provide a
platform to introduce Bar-Ilan University’s recently appointed president, Prof.
Daniel Herschkowitz, in his new guise. Herschkowitz, who was previously science
and technology minister and chairman of Bayit Yehudi, will present awards to
BESA’s three major donors: Muzi Wertheim, Saul Koschitzky and Dr. Tom
Wertheim, who had a Mossad background before he went into business
and became the chairman of Coca-Cola Israel and Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, was a keen
backer of the center from day one.
Koschitzky, of Toronto, has generously
supported the center for more than a decade. Hecht, of Montreal, gave the center
its name (an acronym memorializing Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat), and is its
Other speakers at next week’s conference at the
Bar-Ilan University Wohl Center (which, with the exception of Netanyahu’s
address, is open to the public without advance registration), include (in order
of appearance): Dr. Yuval Steinitz, intelligence minister; Prof. Uzi Arad,
former national security adviser; Ze’ev Elkin, deputy foreign minister; Maj.-
Gen. (res.) Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Israel, chairman of the Israel Space Agency;
Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, IDF chief of staff; Gilad Erdan, home front defense
minister; Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, former national security adviser; Shai
Piron, education minister; Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, former national security
adviser; Prof. Moshe Arens, former defense minister; Avi Dichter, former
director of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and former home front defense
minister; and experts from the RAND Corporation, Georgetown University and the
■ IT TAKES a lot of altruism and courage to literally give a
piece of yourself to someone else, but the Save1person organization, which is
full of such people, is currently looking for a donor in good health, who has
both A+ blood and the desire to save a life. This person is being asked to
donate a kidney to Hagit Krug, a 44-year-old geneticist who worked at the
hematology/ oncology department of a children’s hospital in Petah Tikva, but who
now needs help herself.
Krug, who received her first dialysis treatment
31 years ago, says it is a very difficult way to live. She has been on a waiting
list for a kidney from a live donor for many years, and is still waiting – and
time is running out.
Anyone with the right blood type who would like to
help grant her a longer, more normal life is asked to contact
Krug is not the only person in Israel in need of a
kidney, so people whose blood type does not correspond with hers but are willing
to be donors, should get in touch with Kidney Mitzvah or check out the
RELATIVES AND friends of the bride were doubtful
that her father would show up in time for the wedding.
If he didn’t make
it, it would not be for lack of wanting to be there, but rather due to a battle
of conscience as to whether his first duty was to his patient or to his
The father of the bride happened to be Prof. Dan Gilon, head of
the Echocardiography Unit at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s
Ein Kerem, which is treating Shas spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Gilon is
also one of the chief spokesmen who are briefing the media on Yosef’s
Last Tuesday, when Yosef’s condition was extremely precarious,
it was not certain Gilon would be able to leave Jerusalem for the wedding at a
Pardess Hanna banquet hall. The fact that the bride, Tal, is a psychologist, and
as such should have from a professional standpoint understood if her father was
absent, did not make it any easier – although her mother, Rachel, a former
publisher now working for a prestigious law firm, was there – as were other
members of the family, who had come to celebrate her marriage to Haifa
businessman Dror Man.
In truth, the couple were already married, having
gone through the religious ceremony week a earlier at a somewhat smaller family
But they put up the bridal canopy again so their friends could
enjoy a wedding, rather than just a party.
Having two weddings – one
strictly for family and closest friends, and another for a wider circle of
friends – has become quite trendy. It’s not actually a new practice. In some
countries, it is customary to have both a civil ceremony and a religious
ceremony – not necessarily on the same date or at the same place.
case, all’s well that ends well. The good doctor showed up in time, and everyone
was able to celebrate.
■ TOMORROW NIGHT, October 3, German Ambassador
Andreas Michaelis and his wife, Heike, will host a reception for the Day of
German Unity, which celebrates the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in
1989; the October 3, 1990 reunification of Berlin, which for 40 years had been
divided into East and West Germany; and the restoration of Germany’s capital,
which moved from Bonn to Berlin.
Although this is not a milestone year,
the Germans are well aware that for some reason, Berlin has a magnetic pull for
Israelis, particularly those engaged in the arts. This may have prompted the
launch of Berlin Days tomorrow night at Tel Aviv’s Machsan 2, a festival of
music from classic to hard rock, art, photography, cinema, dance, literature and
more, much of which is being held in conjunction with the Goethe Institute.
While most of the events will take place in Tel Aviv, throughout the month of
October, some will also be held in Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba, Acre and
Ashkelon. For Israel’s yekke community, this is going to be a truly great month
of cultural diversity.
■ IF ISRAEL did not have an active, energetic and
lucid 90-year-old president flitting around the world, the announcement
published by Israel HaYom that Charles Aznavour, the enormously popular
French-Armenian singer, songwriter, actor, diplomat and social activist, is
coming to Israel for a concert at the Yad Eliyahu Stadium on November 23 would
be hard to believe.
Aznavour happens to be 89 years old – and yes,
several other senior citizen entertainers such as Leonard Cohen, Paul Anka,
Peter Yarrow, Paul McCartney and Barbra Streisand have performed in Israel to
packed houses, but all of them still have a long way to go before they hit
The announcement was published on International Senior Citizen’s Day,
and seems to signify that after the third age, there may well be a fourth age in
the not-too-distant future.
■ IT MAY not have been quite the same as
winning the lottery – but all things being relative, it was certainly the next
best thing. Jerusalemite teen Dara Wohlgelernter and two friends were hoping to
get tickets for Shlomo Artzi’s performance at the Beit She’an amphitheater, and
were more than a little dejected when they arrived at the venue and found the
concert had been sold out. Suddenly, lady luck smiled in their
They spied the vehicle transporting the singer and his band
just as it was about to enter the stage area. The three young women ran over to
the bus, and Artzi rolled down his window.
Thrilled to have their idol
actually talking to them, the two poured out their hearts, saying how much they
had wanted to hear him sing and how impossible it was to get a
Artzi told them not to worry, and that there would be tickets
waiting for them at the box office in a few minutes. Not only did he fulfill his
pledge, but the three fans ended up with front-row seats. Not only that, near
the end of the show, Artzi called out to them and brought the ladies up on
stage. In next to no time, they went from being down in the dumps to floating on
■ BRITISH AMBASSADOR Matthew Gould will be in Jerusalem on
Monday, October 7 to attend a lecture by his fellow countryman, the celebrated
broadcaster, lecturer, author and winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize, Howard
Jacobson, whose controversial topic will be, “When will Jews be forgiven the
Holocaust?” Gould will deliver the closing address of the evening under the
auspices of the B’nai B’rith World Center and within the framework of the 170th
anniversary year of B’nai B’rith International.
The event will be held at
the Konrad Adenauer Conference Center in Mishkenot Sha’ananim.
will be in Israel primarily for the launch of the Hebrew edition of his book Zoo
Time. Because he is in such high demand as a speaker in England, B’nai B’rith
prevailed upon him to let Israelis benefit from his oratory and
■APROPOS THE British ambassador, for the third consecutive year,
Gould and his wife, Celia, built a succa at the British residence, where
decorations included a lot of Union Jacks, plus colored paper chains and other
adornments produced by AKIM Ramat Gan members and volunteers.
have really taken AKIM, the national association for the habilitation of
children and adults with intellectual disabilities, to their hearts. They have
started early with their older daughter, Rachel, who is still a toddler, in
practicing the concept of inclusion of others regardless of how different they
may be. Rachel, to the best of her ability, also helped with the decorations.
AKIM Ramat Gan chair Gideon Michnik presented the Goulds with a calendar that
included the artwork of people with intellectual disabilities.
OF any kind are always welcome, but in Jerusalem during election fever, a
rabbi’s blessing is most welcome – regardless of whether a candidate is
religious or secular. After all, one can never have too many
As such, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had at least three rabbis
from the national-religious camp visit his succa last week – Rabbis Shmuel
Zafrani, Eisman and Simhon. Wellknown though they might be, they don’t enjoy
quite the same surname celebrity status as members of the Ifergan family. Rabbi
Eliahu Ifergan, the nephew of Rabbi Yaakov Ifergan – generally referred to as
the X-ray Rabbi because of his uncanny ability to detect worries and illnesses –
visited the Ein Kerem succa of Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur, who heads the Ometz Lev
party. Ometz Lev’s headquarters are located in Ein Kerem; last week, it was
erroneously published in this column that Tsur lives there. While she spends a
lot of time in Ein Kerem, her home is actually in Kiryat Moshe, where she has
lived for more than 40 years.
■ YET ANOTHER feather in the cap of
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is the fact that it is the only Middle
Eastern university to take part in the new Borders in Globalization project. BGU
is one of 20 universities and public bodies worldwide involved in the project,
which will advise North American governments on how to manage and control their
borders in the coming decades.
BGU dean of the Faculty of Humanities and
Social Sciences Prof.
David Newman’s borders and geopolitical expertise
are recognized internationally. This is the third ongoing international project
on the changing nature of borders on which Newman, a frequent columnist for the
Post, will be working. As far as is known, he and his department have cultivated
the sole expertise of this nature in Israel.
“Borders in Globalization is
an innovative, integrative and sustainable partnership among an already
productive network of academics in Canada, the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle
East, who are engaging with non-academic organizations involved in managing
borders and borderlands throughout the world. The partnership will promote
further excellence in border studies, create new policy and foster knowledge
transfer, in order to address globalizing forces of security, trade and
migration flows, and to understand the challenges of emerging technologies,
self-determination and regionalization around the world, affecting borders and
borderlands,” according to Prof. Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly of the University the of
Victoria, an international borders expert who will be directing the
“The project received the Partnership Grant, which is considered
the most prestigious research partnership program in Canada. Only a few
Partnership Grants are awarded each year across Canada,” said Newman, who has
been a partner in similar European firstname.lastname@example.org
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