It is easy to understand the optimism of US Secretary of State John Kerry, whose
shuttle diplomacy is evocative of that of Henry Kissinger in the
An extract from a March 1975 report in Time magazine reads:
“Unfortunately, the differences on a number of key issues have proven
irreconcilable. We therefore believe a period of reassessment is needed, so that
all concerned can consider how best to proceed toward a just and lasting
“With that admission of failure, read to newsmen in Jerusalem by
State Department spokesman Robert Anderson, Kissinger’s latest venture
in shuttle diplomacy came to an abrupt and unhappy end. After 17 days of
almost continuous commuting between Israel and Egypt, the secretary suspended
his efforts to get a second- stage disengagement and returned to Washington to
report to President [Gerald] Ford.”
Kissinger engaged in shuttle
diplomacy in the Middle East during the administrations of both Richard Nixon
and Ford. Inasmuch as the situation seemed hopeless in March 1975, it should be
remembered that Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in Washington in March
1979, following Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem in
■ FAST forwarding, Kissinger was in Bejing last week,
where he met not only with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang but also with Israel’s
former national infrastructure minister Yosef Paritzky. Both were in Beijing for
the Global Think Tank Summit hosted by the China International Economic and
Exchange Center. Kissinger was a keynote speaker at the opening session of the
summit, which was attended by Chinese Energy Authority head Zhang Guobao – with
whom Paritzky also met.
Kissinger spoke of how globalization is
overtaking the world. Paritzky, also a speaker at the summit, focused his
address on the discovery of gas reserves in the Mediterranean and the
cooperative endeavors between different entities in the region to find more
In a private conversation with Paritzky, Kissinger
asked what he thought of Kerry’s chances to facilitate the resumption of peace
talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
In typical Jewish fashion,
Paritzky asked Kissinger the same question.
Kissinger was pensive for a
moment, then replied that when he thinks back on his period as secretary of
state, he’s very happy that he no longer has to deal with the
Paritzky also managed a private conversation with Zhang, who
visited Israel more than a decade ago in his former capacity as infrastructure
and energy minister. The two happened to be attending a dinner within the
framework of the summit. Zhang, who is now the foremost authority on energy in
China, told Paritzky he would like to visit Israel again.
lawyer by profession, has for several years been involved with international
He is the founder and owner of International
Pipes, headquartered in Houston, Texas.
■ FARE THE government and Knesset
afraid of national forgetfulness? Is this the reason that the Israeli public is
being force-fed the memories of its founding fathers? It has been a longstanding
tradition for memorial ceremonies to be conducted on the anniversaries of the
deaths of Theodor Herzl, Ze’ev Jabotinsky and David Ben-Gurion, but unless it
was a milestone anniversary, these events were held without any excess fanfare
(with a possible exception in the case of Ben-Gurion, whose vision for the Negev
– though on the way to becoming a reality – has not yet been entirely
Last month, however, even though it was not a milestone
anniversary, we were inundated with radio commercials plus some print media
advertising for Herzl Day. This month, the same is happening with regard to
Jabotinsky, whose memorial this coming Sunday is being linked with a 70th
anniversary commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Then, on Tuesday
of next week, the Knesset will mark the first anniversary of the passing of
former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir by holding a special session in his memory.
Earlier in his political career, Shamir had served as speaker of the Knesset
from 1977-1980, so it was fitting for current Speaker Yuli Edelstein to honor
his memory. But there are other Knesset speakers who are all but forgotten, such
as Yisrael Yeshayahu, who was Shamir’s immediate predecessor and the only
Yemenite thus far to hold the position.
Almost immediately after the
Shamir session comes the entirely appropriate centennial commemoration of the
birth of Menachem Begin, who prevented civil war, was the nation’s first
right-wing prime minister and was the first Israeli prime minister to sign a
peace agreement with an Arab country.
In previous years, not enough was
done to honor the memory of Chaim Weizmann, who played such a pivotal role in
the creation of the state.
But if things continue as they have this year,
then Weizmann should also get his due in November – even though this is
not a milestone year of either his birth in 1874 or his death in 1952. British
Ambassador Matthew Gould set the ball rolling for properly honoring Weizmann
this year, when he chose to hold the Queen’s Birthday reception at the Weizmann
Institute of Science.
There, both he and President Shimon Peres spoke of
Weizmann’s contribution to the establishment of the state and to bilateral
relations, particularly of a scientific nature, between Israel and
■ WHEN YOU’RE hitting 90 and you’ve had an active and varied
life in a relatively small country, revisiting old haunts is almost
Thus Shimon, a former leader of the Givatayim-based Borochov
branch of Hano’ar Ha’oved Vehalomed, returned this week to his old 1940s
stomping grounds. There, he met with a new generation of youngsters, who had
just completed the school year the previous day and were on the verge of a
The Shimon in question was, of course, Israel’s No. 1
citizen – President Peres – who urged the youngsters to take advantage of the
long vacation period to join summer camps and go out and explore the history,
geography and scenic beauty of the country – and to learn what generations
before them had done to make Israel what it is today. His happiest moments, he
said, were spent with Hano’ar Ha’oved Vehalomed. It was a busy time in which he
and his friends worked in kibbutzim and moshavim, doing hard manual
The settlement movement of kibbutzim and moshavim provided the
foundations for Israel’s agriculture industry, which Peres said proudly is one
of the best in the world. “We were farmers in a barren land, and look what we
have now,” he said.
Today’s youth has no less an important task, said
Peres, emphasizing that education is the key that will lead young people out of
ignorance and poverty. Children are being rescued from this situation every day,
he said, and members of their peer generation can help to accelerate this. “You
are the future leaders of Israel,” he told them.
Most of the president’s
meetings are with two-legged creatures, but early on Tuesday morning, he
displayed a greater interest in those with four legs – as well as the two-legged
species with feathers. This was, of course, when Peres visited the Jerusalem
Biblical Zoo, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
EXTRAORDINAIRE Stef Wertheimer, who inter alia builds industrial parks to help
create more employment opportunities, hosted German Bundesrat president Winfried
Kretschmann, who came to Israel with a 30-member, highranking delegation.
Kretschmann and his colleagues came to confer the Meister (Master Craftsman)
diploma on eight alumni of the first course in fine mechanics, which was
conducted at the initiative of the Galilee Center for Industrial Training and
Wertheimer, in cooperation with the government of Baden-Wurttemberg, the Center
for Continuing Education for Teachers in Esslingen and the HandwerksKammer
(Chamber of Crafts) Stuttgart, which supports business and
The two-and-a-half year course included both theoretical and
practical work. The eight alumni, who will work as teachers and trainers, all
did well in the course and passed external examinations conducted by German
Kretschmann, who is also prime minister of
Baden-Wurttemberg, said he was very pleased that Wertheimer had brought the
German dual education system to Israel, and that the students had passed the
exams with such high marks. HandwerksKammer Stuttgart head Claus Munkwitz, in
presenting the diplomas, said that in Germany, many of the people who had earned
Meister diplomas were employed in top executive positions in major industrial
plants. The awards ceremony at the Nazareth Industrial Park was indeed attended
by several industrialists, as well as by Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy and former
industry, trade and labor minister Shalom Simhon.
■ THOUGH WOMEN are
still underrepresented in the government and in the Knesset, and the prime
minister occasionally has to be reminded that certain committees he has
appointed should not be all male, there has been considerable improvement, said
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, when addressing a women’s convention in
Jerusalem this week. The convention, a co-venture of Kol Ha’ir, the Jerusalem
supplement of Haaretz and the capital’s municipality, attracted some 400
participants to the Jerusalem Theater.
Livnat noted that although the
current Knesset has the highest female representation in the history of the
state, 27 women out of 120 legislators is still not enough – even though this
number is more than double the number of females that served in the Knesset when
Livnat first became an MK in 1992. Since then, she said, many laws regarding
women’s rights that are now taken for granted have been enacted, though back in
1992, there seemed to be little chance of getting them passed. Encouraged by
past triumphs, Livnat, who wants to achieve more through the collective efforts
of women legislators, borrowed from US President Barack Obama, and declared
convincingly “Yes we can! Yes we will!” It is a matter of female MKs placing
their commitment to the advancement of women ahead of their ideological
differences, she said. Twenty years ago, when she started working intensively
towards women’s advancement, Livnat, who chaired the Knesset Committee on the
Status of Women, was told by Likud colleagues that she would never be able to
work with Tamar Gozansky of Hadash or Naomi Chazan of Meretz, because their
political ideologies were so far apart from those of her party.
got used to each other and we worked together very well,” said Livnat, who also
had high praise for Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie, who currently heads the committee
she used to chair.
What bothers both Livnat and Lavie was that although
many laws benefitting women exist, there is no one to ensure their
■ IT’S FRUSTRATING for any press photographer to submit
what they consider to be an outstanding photograph to a publication, only to
find that whoever was in charge of choosing photographs to illustrate a
particular story opted for an inferior submission by another
But what must be even harder for a top-ranking,
prize-winning photographer such as Israel Prize laureate Micha Bar-Am, is
exercising self-censorship on a scoop.
The most famous photograph of
Israel’s reunification of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War is that taken by
David Rubinger, of three paratroopers at the Western Wall.
said many times that it was not the photograph he had picked; instead, it was
the one selected by his late wife, Annie. Since then, it has become the iconic
photograph of the era.
But Rubinger, who is also an Israel Prize
laureate, was not the only photographer present. Bar-Am was also there, and has
a photograph which right-wingers would give almost anything to lay their hands
Bar-Am revealed details on the photograph when interviewed by Yoav
Ginai for the Channel 1 program- Touching the Spirit. Ginai asked Bar- Am if he
had any photos which he would never publish. Bar-Am replied that there were very
few, and of those, the one that would cause the biggest political bombshell was
of the Israeli flag atop the Temple Mount – namely over the Dome of the Rock.
Moshe Dayan, then defense minister, ordered the flag to be taken down
immediately, not knowing that Bar- Am had already captured the frame in his
camera. Bar-Am, realizing the repercussions if the photo was published, never
■ THIS SEEMS to the era for people in the entertainment and
communications industries who are in their 70s or late 60s to either prove that
they still have what it takes, or to make a comeback. Broadcast and print media
journalist Dan Shilon is a case in point. If there was ever a wandering Jew,
it’s Shilon, who has done the rounds of radio and television
Early in the history of Channel 2, Shilon, who was then general
manager of the channel’s franchisee, Reshet, launched Dan Shilon Live – a highly
popular weekly interview program in which he had newsmakers from different,
often totally unrelated fields sitting in a semi-circle and fielding questions.
Now aged 72, Shilon is this week making a comeback with a similar format. Taking
a look at some of our senior citizens such as Peres, Wertheimer, Yitzhak Navon,
Ruth Dayan, Lia Van Leer, David Azrieli, Shelly Hoshen, Binyamin Ben- Eliezer
and David Teperson, who came from South Africa to Israel as a Machal volunteer
and spent 61 years in the IDF, Israel may well become a world leader in
continuing activity in the third age.
Navon, incidentally, was one of a
group of Jerusalem and Motza residents who towards the end of last week, went to
dine at one of Abu Ghosh’s major restaurants in an act of solidarity with the
residents – following the vicious vandalism and racist slurs perpetrated against
them by bigoted Jewish elements. The demonstration of solidarity was organized
by former defense minister Itzik Mordechai.
■ THERE IS no greater grief
than losing child. It is bad enough when the child has a terminal illness and
the parents are prepared for the worst, and somehow make their farewells while
infusing as much quality as possible into the life of their dying
But when a child dies suddenly as the result of an accident,
unintentional negligence or a terrorist attack, parents have a very difficult
time in finding closure. Some turn their grief into doing good for others. Thus,
Nachshon Wachsman, the soldier son of Esther and Yehuda Wachsman who was
murdered by Hamas in October 1994 at age 19, is memorialized in perpetuity at
Beit Nachshon in the Shalva Children’s Center. One of his younger brothers,
Raphael, who was born with Down syndrome, was given regular therapy and
recreation at Shalva; the family chose to honor Nachshon’s memory in this way
because he frequently took Raphael there and cared for him deeply.
their eldest child, 13-year-old Koby, was stoned to death while hiking with a
friend near his home in the West Bank in May 2001, his parents Sherri and Seth
Mandell established the Koby Mandell Foundation. It offers healing programs that
include camps and retreats for families and individuals who have been directly
affected by terrorism. Sherri Mandell, a gifted writer, has also shared her
grief through her writing, which has been helpful to others who lost loved ones
In August, 2001, three months after the attack that cost Koby
his life, Malki Roth was one of 15 people – most of them minors – murdered
during a terrorist attack on the Sbarro pizza parlor in the heart of downtown
Jerusalem. Her parents, Frimet and Arnold Roth, created Keren Malki, or the
Malki Foundation as it is known in English, which benefits children with special
needs and their families.
Like the Wachsmans, the Roths also have a child
with special needs, and Malki was always sensitive to the needs of her severely
It was therefore a natural progression for her parents
to establish a caring foundation in her memory. Some 3,300 families from all
strata of Israeli society and from different faiths and ethnic backgrounds have
been helped through Keren Malki programs.
Last month, in recognition of
their important work, the Roths were honored by Welfare and Social Services
Minister Meir Cohen, who at a special ceremony presented them with the
Minister’s Shield for Volunteerism- Lifetime Achievement Award. Like Sherri
Mandell, Frimet Roth is also a talented writer who uses her ability to condemn
acts of terrorism wherever they may occur.
The related tragedies that
these three families experienced prompted them to kindle lights of hope in many
hearts, in the names of their murdered children. All of us are born with
potential that remains unrealized.
The circumstances in which the
Wachsmans, the Mandells and the Roths found themselves pushed a lot of that
hidden potential to the forefront, enabling them to do things they may have
previously thought themselves incapable.
That’s what their love for their
children and their concern for other people’s children has done: They have all
turned the most negative episode in their lives into something infinitely
■ WHEN INTERNATIONAL businessman and philanthropist Marc Rich
was pardoned in January 2001 by US president Bill Clinton, just before the
latter left office, there was a big hue and cry as to whether he deserved to be
pardoned. Rich and some of his associates had been indicted in 1983 on charges
of tax evasion, false statements and illegal trading with Iran.
result, Rich lived in exile in Switzerland and was unable to return to the US
for the funeral of his daughter, Gabrielle, who succumbed to leukemia. Had he
attended the funeral, he would have promptly been arrested.
pardon, there was a debate in the Israeli media as to whether Israeli
organizations should accept allegedly tainted money. There were those who said
that if the money was being used for positive purposes, there was nothing wrong
with accepting it; others adopted a holier-than-thou attitude. If Israel in its
nascent years had accepted aid from the Mafia, it could hardly turn its back on
Rich – and for the most part, it didn’t.
In fact, Rich, who died last
week, contributed handsomely to numerous Israeli organizations and institutions
through the Marc Rich Foundation, and his various honors, among others, included
honorary doctorates from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Bar-Ilan University
and Tel Aviv University. He was also an honorary fellow of the Interdisciplinary
Center Herzliya, the Israel Museum and the Tel Aviv Museum. In addition, he was
an honorary citizen of Tel Aviv.
His foundation supported health,
education, medical research, culture and much more, and established the
Gabrielle Rich Center for Clinical Immunology and Transplant Biology at the
Weizmann Institute, long before Rich was pardoned. Among the organizations and
institutions that published death and condolence notices for Rich in the Israeli
media were the Haifa Music Center; Arthur Rubinstein International Music
Society; Weizmann Institute; Rabin Medical Center; Ohr Torah Stone; Open
University; Tel Aviv University; Ben- Gurion University; University of Haifa;
IDC Herzliya; Israeli Opera; Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; Tel Aviv Museum of
Art; Eretz Israel Museum; Beit Hatfutsot; and Taglit- Birthright
All the good that Rich did does not of course eradicate the
crimes he committed, even if he did eventually receive a pardon. The bitter
irony is that without bending the rules to the extent that he did, he might not
have become affluent enough to support so many worthy causes.
something that critics of Israel’s tycoons should bear mind. It’s the tycoons
who are shelling out millions to support Israel’s hospitals, museums,
universities, colleges, social welfare institutions and countless projects.
Without their combined financial input, tens of thousands of Israelis would have
a much reduced quality of life.
■ ONE WOULD imagine that almost seven
decades after the end of World War II, people who lost track of loved ones would
give up on trying to find them. But where there is no closure or evidence that a
loved one did not survive, people live on faint threads of hope that maybe
somewhere, someday, a miracle may happen.
Indeed, many miracles have
happened, where siblings, cousins and even spouses have rediscovered each other
many years after having given each other up for dead. In Israel, there was a
case of two brothers who lived around the corner from each other and never met –
until they retired and happened to share a bench in the local
Television and stage personality Tsofit Grant, who each year
accompanies her husband, football coach Avram Grant, on the March of the Living,
has decided to take one last leap into the unknown on behalf of those who are
still searching for loved ones. She will use her Channel 2 show, Lost, to try to
help anyone who contacts her research assistant Michal Hochberg, at michalhocha@
While on the subject of Holocaust survivors, the Central
Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, in conjunction with the Senior
Citizens Ministry, the Claims Conference and the Holocaust Survivors Rights
Authority in the Finance Ministry, has published a booklet explaining all the
rights of Holocaust survivors. This includes: Finance Ministry disability
grants; health allotments; one timegrants from Germany; compensatory payments
for forced labor from Germany; assistance from the Claims Conference; Welfare
and Social Services Ministry special benefits; psychological help provided by
Amcha; assistance from the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust
Victims’ Assets; entitlements from the National Insurance Institute; special
benefits for the Righteous Among the Nations; and much more.
there was a case of better late than never, this is it.
Organization offices are located at 55 Hamasger Street, Tel Aviv; (03)
■ THE MUSIC Center at Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim serves
as a concert hall and recording studio for the 20-member Gitit Choir, performing
under the auspices of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. The choir,
conducted by Ronit Banit and accompanied on the piano by Lydia Chernin, who is
also responsible for the musical arrangements, has an extensive repertoire that
includes opera, jazz, folksongs and liturgical music – in fact, just about
anything that provides an opportunity for the singers and accompanying musicians
to demonstrate their versatility. They also sing in several
Possibly because 2013 is the Verdi bicentennial year, the
choir’s summer concert started with an impressive rendition of the “Chorus of
the Hebrew Slaves” from Verdi’s Nabucco.
Easily the most superbly
performed item on the varied program was Yonatan Razel’s “Vehi Sheamda,” but
unfortunately, when it came to Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love,”
the only word that comes to mind is travesty.
It was a good program on
the whole, with several singers showing off their instrumental talents as
However, one singer stood out – but not necessarily because of his
Rather, he was the only one who throughout the concert, kept his
eyes on the conductor and did not once look into his folder to check the lyrics
or music – knowing it all by heart. His name is Doriav Menashe, and he’s
something of a musical prodigy.
A fine pianist, he did not study music at
the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, but it was important to his teacher
that he receive his matriculation certificate in music from there. It was an
unusual request, but the people at the academy are sufficiently savvy to know
that you don’t turn a request like that down without first hearing the
The upshot was that Menashe received his certificate through
the academy, and earned full marks.
Later, it was discovered that he
could also sing, and he was invited to join the choir. However, talented as he
is, Menashe has no inclination towards making a career out of
Currently a university student, he’s aiming for a degree in
business management – and music, he said, will remain a hobby.