Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, who is currently a vice president of the UN General Assembly, was inadvertently involved in a case of mistaken identity. The ambassador, who like so many Israelis is also a sports fan, was hosting Israeli soccer coach Avraham Grant. As they entered the Security Council, Prosor introduced his guest as “Mr. Grant,” omitting the coach’s first name.

In a moment of confusion, the recently appointed security guard thought that Prosor was accompanied by Mark Lyall Grant, who is the British ambassador to the UN, and proceeded to accompany the two “ambassadors” into the Security Council. Prosor immediately understood what had happened and explained that his guest was not Mark Lyall Grant but Avraham Grant, the former manager of England’s Chelsea, Portsmouth and West Ham United football teams.

To add a light touch to the explanation, he added that each Grant had in his own way served Her Majesty the Queen.

■ SPANISH AMBASSADOR Fernando Cadera hosted a reception for famous Spanish entertainer Antonio Carmona, a founding member of the cutting-edge Ketama flamenco group, and popular Israeli pop singer Pablo Rosenberg.

Cadera came to Israel at Rosenberg’s invitation. The two had previously performed together in Madrid after Rosenberg had sent Cadera a disc in which Rosenberg sang two of Cadera’s songs in Hebrew. Cadera loved Rosenberg’s rendition of his work, and the two got together and found that there was instant chemistry. It was as though they had known each other all their lives. They performed together in Madrid and found that their mix of flamenco and pop had wide audience appeal.

They decide to test the Israeli waters and see if Israeli audiences would become equally excited.

Last night they appeared at Reading 3 in Tel Aviv to find out if they would be asked to come back.

Meanwhile they have plans to keep on performing together in Madrid and in other parts of the world.

There were many members of Israel’s entertainment industry milling around on the ambassador’s front lawn on Tuesday evening, with Rosenberg and Carmona acting almost as brothers.

But the most popular person present was journalist Chiquita Klimovsky Levov, who writes for the local Spanish language publication Aurora. She was the only one with a real camera (as distinct from those with cellphones and tablets), and just about everyone wanted their picture taken with the guests of honor.

■ IN OUR condemnation of convicted felons, especially those who descended from high places to prison cells, we tend to forget some of the more positive sides of their characters as we focus on their misdeeds and take perverse pleasure in labeling them as criminals.

Any State Comptroller’s Report on the misconduct of Knesset members illustrates how close many of them were to losing their own influence and reputations and possibly standing trial on charges of corruption or misappropriation.

But “let he who is guiltless cast the first stone.” There are an awful lot of people around who deserve to be in jail. It’s just that no one actually saw them with their hands in the cookie jar. When Moshe Katsav was president he conceived the idea of having a parliament of the Jewish people alongside that of the Knesset to debate and decide on issues that affected not only the Jews of Israel but Jews worldwide.

Although there were two or three meetings of global Jewish leaders as a courtesy to the office which he held, most of the participants laughed at him and denigrated the idea.

Perhaps the timing was wrong, because an updated version of Katsav’s proposal is about to surface.

In light of the global economic crisis and changing trends in Jewish philanthropy, more than 120 Jewish leaders and decision-makers from around the world will congregate for a two-day conference at the Mount Zion Hotel in Jerusalem on October 30-31.

According to the organizers, participants will include President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is taking precious time out of his election campaign.

Plenary sessions will include a conversation with Peres hosted by Ambassador Dennis Ross, a lecture by Jewish-French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy and encounters with leaders of Israeli political parties and rising young politicians as well as with the US Ambassador Dan Shapiro and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky.

And, of course, Iran will be one of the key topics of in-depth discussions.

The Conference on the Future of the Jewish People was initiated by the Jewish People Policy Institute (established by the Jewish Agency for Israel) in partnership with the NADAV Foundation, which is headed by mega-tycoon and philanthropist Leonid Nevzlin, whose monetary intervention prevented Beit Hatefutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People from ceasing its operations.

Tabled for discussion are the strategic issues affecting the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, namely: “Uncertain Realities: The Geopolitical Landscape”; “Agreeing to Disagree: Jewish Peoplehood – Between Attachment and Criticism”; “Promoting New Young Jewish Leadership”; “Jewish Identity and Identification”; and “Building a Jewish People Perspective on Ways and Means,” which organizers consider to be the strategic issues of the Jewish people.

All of these topics, with slight differences in the headlines, have been discussed for years at Zionist Congresses, meetings of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization, Hadassah, WIZO, Naamat and Emuna conventions, etc, and no one seems to get tired of talking about the same topics.

But there may yet be a glimmer of something different. JPPI president Avinoam Bar-Yosef claims that the conference will, for the first time, raise the issue of managing the budgets and resources within the Jewish world in light of the ongoing global economic crisis and the changing trends in Jewish philanthropy. Isn’t that what the United Jewish Appeal used to do in its heyday? Bar-Yosef says: “For the first time, we can see that the Israel government is taking Diaspora Jewry seriously, viewing it as a strategic asset to Israel, and that it is willing to invest in its future to maintain its power and influence.”

Really? For the first time? Whose money built this country if not that of Diaspora Jewry? It wasn’t only the big bucks. Remember the Blue Box in which Jews around the globe deposited a few coins every Friday before candle lighting? Those coins paid for a lot of swamp-draining and tree-planting.

Every Israeli government has viewed Diaspora Jewry as a strategic asset, but not necessarily as a strategic partner.

■ RELATIVES, FRIENDS and fans of the late singing rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, who, like Elvis Presley, has become even more popular in death than in life, will next week mark the 18th anniversary of his passing with special synagogue services and memorial concerts in many parts of the world. In New York on Wednesday night, October 31, his daughter Neshama Carlebach, a celebrated singer in her own right, will perform at the Carlebach Synagogue at 305 W. 79th Street. In Jerusalem, where Carlebach is buried, the annual pilgrimage to his grave at Har Hamenuhot, will take place at 2 p.m. on Thursday, November 1.

In Efrat, Rabbi Zvi Anshil Halevi Leshem of the Shirat Shlomo congregation has arranged a Carlebach weekend for singles ages 30-40 beginning Friday, November 2. Participants from out-of-town will be accommodated in the homes of congregants. On Sunday evening, November 4, the Jerusalem branch of Yakar will host a commemorative evening of Carlebach melodies, Torah teaching and storytelling, followed by a live concert by Yehuda Katz and Shlomo Katz. The annual Shlomo Carlebach mega-concert will not be held this year, but another tradition related to the anniversary of his death will be maintained.

One of the constant annual features of Shlomo Carlebach memorial events is the publication of a book of anthologies, Kol Chevra, faithfully edited by Emuna Witt Halevi, who for more years than she can remember has been collecting material about Carlebach’s teachings and anecdotes, from people who had life changing experiences simply because Carlebach genuinely loved all humanity regardless of creed or color. One of the stories in the current issue is by Zusha Frumin, who remembers accompanying Carlebach in 1978 to Neveh Tirza prison where he sang for the female inmates, most of whom were hard-core criminals who had committed murder or acts of terrorism. Arab and Jewish women were all serving time together and came together to his concert. As was his custom, Carlebach invited some of his friends from Moshav Mevo Modi’im, which he founded, to come with him to entertain the prisoners, who were not really interested in listening to him. Before long the charismatic Carlebach had them singing and dancing, but not before he had asked Frumin to get the women to dance with him.

Frumin was embarrassed, but did as he was asked and amazingly everyone Jews, Arabs and guards were all dancing together – including a terrorist by the name of Fatima who had planted a bomb in a movie theater, resulting in the deaths of many Jews. She was completely enchanted by Carlebach and embraced him. They exchanged phone numbers and from time to time he would call her at the prison. Some years later she was released in a prisoner exchange and went to Gaza, where she became head of the women’s police.

This is one of many heart-warming stories in Kol Chevra which is available by calling 050-862-9040.

■ AUSTRALIAN AND New Zealand soldiers left a most favorable impression in the Land of Israel during the first and the second World Wars. During the WWI, the Australian Light Horse men unknowingly paved the way for the establishment of the State of Israel when they triumphed over the Turks in the Battle of Beersheba, which is commemorated annually by the Australian Embassy and the Beersheba Municipality in conjunction with the Pratt Foundation, which financed the construction of the Park of the Australian Soldier adjacent to the Commonwealth Graves Cemetery where Australian and New Zealand soldiers lie buried. This year, Australian Ambassador Andrea Faulkner has two such ceremonies to attend within days of each other but in vastly different parts of the country.

This Sunday, October 28, together with a visiting delegation of the Australian Light Horse Association headed by association president Phil Chalker, she will participate in a ceremony in honor of he Australian Light Horsemen at the Battle of Tzemach at Kinneret Academic College on the Sea of Galilee.

While many Israelis are familiar with the Battle of Beersheba, they know less, if anything, about the heroic moonlight battle in the Galilee in which the Australian soldiers wrested control of a village from Turkish and German troops.

The brave charge of the cavalry unit from down under took quite a heavy toll on life. Fourteen of the light horsemen, including three officers, were killed as they charged the Turkish and German gun and artillery positions. The dead were not shipped home, but were initially buried on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and later reinterred in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Haifa. On Wednesday, October 31, the Australian visitors will again join Faulkner in Beersheba. The proximity of the dates of the battles to that of the Balfour Declaration is not a coincidence, as any historian who has studied the period can testify.

■ MANY AUSTRALIAN expatriates and Australians who are in Israel on volunteer and leadership programs will be at one or both events.

It’s not certain whether Benjamin Rutland, the newly appointed spokesperson to the Foreign and English Language Media at the Jewish Agency for Israel, will have time to attend as he settles into his new job. Rutland, 38, is the son of noted Australian historian Prof. Suzanne Rutland, famous for her magnum opus “Edge of the Diaspora: Two centuries of Jewish Settlement in Australia.”

Benjamin Rutland comes with a rich background in both the global Jewish world and the public relations field. He is a former chairperson of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS), was CEO of a small start-up and recently completed six years of service in the Israel Defense Forces. During his service in the IDF, he held the positions of head of the European Media Desk in the IDF Spokesman’s Office and the head of the NATO Desk, IDF Strategic Division.

■ WITH SO many high-profile court cases making almost daily headlines in the local media, there was a certain prescience on the part of organizers of the annual Balfour Dinner, hosted by the Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association. Both the British and the Israeli speakers are gentlemen of the law. In fact, each is his country’s attorney general.

Dominic Grieve, QC, MP, is the attorney-general for England and Wales, and Yehuda Weinstein the attorney-general for Israel.

The dinner, which for many years has been held at the Tel Aviv Hilton, will this year be held at the Leonardo Hotel in Ramat Gan where IBCA has over the last year or two held its luncheons and has received much better value for money than in other hotels. It’s very rare for the dinner to be held on Balfour Day itself.

This year’s 95th anniversary dinner, on November 12, will be in accordance with Mediterranean Mean Time – 10 days after the actual anniversary.

greerfc@gmail.com

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