A tweet this week by US Ambassador Dan Shapiro read: “Many thanks to Jerusalem
Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde and his team for inviting me to speak at the
’s inaugural diplomatic conference in Herzliya.”
began his address as follows: “Today we celebrate 80 years of The Jerusalem Post
and the critical role it plays in informing Americans and other Englishs-peaking
readers around the world about events in Israel and the Middle East – through
both its print edition and its engaging website. I’ve been reading The Jerusalem
for about the last 25 of those 80 years. I remember, back in the days
before the Internet and before other Israeli outlets had English editions, The
was the source of news about Israel for English-speakers, and
people like me, in hutz la’aretz
[outside of Israel], waited eagerly for our
copy of the International Edition to arrive each week and quench our thirst for
detailed news from Israel. A lot has changed since then – news travels much
faster, the competition is much tougher and the global newspaper industry faces
many challenges. But The Jerusalem Post
has adapted and continues to deliver the
news as ever.
“I’ve been fortunate to serve as ambassador to Israel for
almost a year-and-a-half now – and I feel confident stating that the media
environment in Israel is one of the most active and vibrant in the world. The
dynamic reporting and commentary at The Jerusalem Post and at other Israeli
newspapers, covering a broad and expansive spectrum of viewpoints, is a great
testament to the strength and health of Israel’s thriving democracy, reflecting
the tremendous diversity and energy of the Israeli people and of Israeli society
and the values of free speech and an independent press.
“In Israel, and
truly, anywhere in the world, an open media fosters active debate, provides
investigative reporting and serves as a forum to express different points of
view, from the most powerful to those marginalized in society. Journalism is not
an easy field to work in. Not only can it seemingly be a lifetime of paying
dues, it’s also a field undergoing tremendous change.
“Even as we
celebrate innovations that make information faster and easier to share, it is a
challenging time for print media, as this room knows. All the more reason that I
would like to commend the journalists here today for the important role you play
and for your commitment to the free exchange of ideas.
“As we’re gathered
today by one of the world’s most famous newspapers, with a large number of
diplomatic envoys and international colleagues, it seems appropriate here to
note the importance of press freedom – and the obligation of all governments to
promote freedom of the press and protect journalists. This is a value that the
United States and Israel share. Around the world, there are many in the press
who courageously do their work at great risk.
"Journalists are often the
first to uncover corruption, to report from the front lines of a conflict or to
share with the public the activities of their government. In some countries,
they can face intimidation, harassment, attacks, detention, and
"While we’ve seen these incidents around the world, we’ve also seen
the promise that a free press holds for fostering innovative, prosperous, and
stable democracies. Secretary Hillary Clinton has said: When a free media is in
jeopardy, all other human rights are also threatened.; So in that spirit, let us
continue to champion those who stand for media freedom – and expose those who
would deny it. And let us always work toward a world where the free flow of
information and ideas remains a powerful force for progress.”
LINDE was the moderator for the conference and, prior to introducing Foreign
Minister Avigdor Liberman, told participants that they would be hearing from
both past and present foreign ministers “with very different
Liberman responded, “You don’t how big the differences are in the
views between Tzipi Livni and myself.”
Actually, it was interesting to
learn of the extent to which their views were similar, but Livni was not present
to hear Liberman and he was not present to hear her. He left immediately after
his address, and she arrived after he had gone.
Liberman described the
Post as “The only objective Zionist newspaper in Israel without prejudiced views
and a biased agenda.”
Livni began her address by saying that even though
she and Liberman have different views about government policy, they share the
same views about Israel being a Jewish democratic state.
■ FORMER AIR
Force commander Ido Nehushtan presented a wide-ranging perspective of the
reshaping of the Middle East, which he said is changing fundamentally, with
countries, borders, societies and religions throughout the Middle East all
shaking on social and economic issues. It was almost amusing to see that
although Nehushtan is a product of an advanced technological era, he did not
type up his address on a computer, but wrote it by hand on a yellow
■ THE DIPLOMATIC community in Israel is almost like an extended
family in that its members so frequently find themselves together not only
several times a week but sometimes several times within a 24 hour time span.
That’s what happened this week when several diplomats were among the guests at
the annual Hanukka party hosted in her home in Tel Aviv by social activist Alice
Krieger. Most of these diplomats came together again along with more of their
colleagues the following morning at the Daniel Hotel, Herzliya Pituah for the
inaugural Diplomatic Conference hosted by The Jerusalem Post. Still more showed
up at lunch time at Herod’s Hotel in Tel Aviv for the Kenyan Independence Day
reception hosted by Ambassador Augostino Njoroge, and in the evening many of
them again came together at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv for the 21st
anniversary celebration of the independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan hosted
by Ambassador Bolat Nurgaliyev. In all probability, some of the diplomats also
found themselves together in another venue at some time between 2.30 and 6.30
■ DIPLOMATS HAVE been getting their fill of Jewish tradition this
week at the many Hanukka parties to which they’ve been invited. But first-time
visitors to Alice Krieger’s annual Hanukka party on Tuesday did not expect
celebrated composer and pianist David Krivoshay to sit down at Krieger’s piano
and were pleasantly surprised when he joined in with a musical accompaniment to
the singing of traditional Hanukka songs by the Jewish guests.
welcomed new Ambassador Francesco Maria Talo of Italy and Belgium’s Count John
Cornet d’Elzius, telling them that they would encounter lots of pressure and
fairly good weather most of the time in Israel, and assured them that they would
never be bored.
The party, at which diplomats mingled with Israelis and
with veteran immigrants, is a tradition started by Krieger’s father who every
Hanukka came with her mother from England to Israel and held a party of this
Krieger continued with the tradition after her parents passed
An outspoken social activist whose political leanings are decidedly
left of center, Krieger decided to take an example from the majority of her
guests and to be more diplomatic than she is usually inclined to be. She hinted
at the identities of people whom she would like to see removed from government,
but refused to name names.
She expressed the hope for a miracle “for
those of us who believe in peace” that maybe some light will come into the lives
of people in the region and they will at last have peace.
the diplomats present were Irish Ambassador Breifne O'Reilly, Thai Ambassador
Jurk Boon-Long, Austrian Ambassador Franz Josef Kuglitsch, Uzbekistan Ambassador
Eshonov Oybek, Serbian Ambassador Zoran Basaraba and US Deputy Chief of Mission
Thomas Goldberger, as well as diplomats of lesser rank from several other
■ WITH TOO much competition for attendance at evening events,
Kenya’s Ambassador Augostino Njoroge decided to make the reception for the 49th
anniversary of Kenya’s independence a lunch-time affair and, as previously
mentioned, most of the ambassadors who had attended The Jerusalem Post
subsequently found their way to Herod’s in Tel Aviv.
Guests at national day receptions also include expatriates living in Israel and
representatives of Israeli businesses and institutions that enjoy a relationship
with their counterparts in the host country.
Some people attend such
receptions merely to eat, arriving early so that they can attack the buffet
tables. That’s what happened at the Kenyan event, where the beautiful
presentations of food were almost instantly demolished as greed conquered
aesthetics. At one stage, hotel staff were ordered to stand in front of the
tables so as to keep the buffet closed until after the formalities.
politely told guests that the buffet was closed but one particular boor, from
Israel’s Foreign Ministry no less, refused to listen and piled his plate with
various delicacies. His table manners were even worse. He obviously did not
attend the ministry’s course on etiquette. Curiously, the buffets were reopened
just before the ambassador delivered his address, and anyone who has read
Portnoy’s Complaint can easily surmise what happened next.
There was a
stampede for food.
Njoroge spoke of December 12, 1963, as being a
memorable day in Kenya’s history because that was the day on which Kenya
attained independence. He also paid tribute to Kenya’s great leaders in the
struggle for independence, singling out Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimathi ”who did
not live to taste independence” and Jomo Kenyata, who was the first prime
minister and president of the Independent Republic of Kenya and is widely
regarded as the father of the nation. Kenyans remain indebted to these and other
leaders, said Njoroge.
“We appreciate the sacrifices made by the heroes
of independence,” he declared, and then spoke of the tremendous political,
social and economic progress that Kenya has made over the past 49 years. He was
appreciative of Israel’s cooperation on various levels but underlined the need
to resume direct flights between Tel Aviv and Nairobi, which will facilitate
significant increases in bilateral trade.
Even though it seems at this
stage that he will not be serving in the next government or the next Knesset,
Michael Eitan, the minister for the Improvement of Government Services,
represented the government at the event. He spoke of the humanitarian and
emergency assistance that Israel has provided to Kenya, cooperation on water
management and homeland security, and a shared interest in combating the
terrorism of radical Islam backed by Iran. He noted that Israel will never
forget Kenya’s assistance in the Entebbe Rescue Operation of
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