Canada’s charge d’affaires James Fox and his wife, Nurys Narda De Jesus
Estrella-Fox, hosted a dinner in honor of former Canadian prime minister Brian
Mulroney and his wife, Mila, at the Canadian ambassador’s residence this
Despite his current rank, Fox is a seasoned ambassador in his own
right, with an impressive record of service. He is filling in until Foreign
Affairs Minister John Baird appoints a successor to Ambassador Paul Hunt, who
concluded his tour of duty in June.
Fox, who until recently was the
Canadian ambassador to Italy, was all set to retire from the Foreign Service
when he was asked to fly to Israel and hold down the fort until further notice.
Being a loyal civil servant, he complied, and in the short time he and his wife
have been here, have impressed everyone who has met them with the warmth of
Mulroney, who served as prime minister from 1984 to
1993, was known during his tenure as the greatest of Israel’s friends among
world leaders. Fox, in introducing Mulroney, said he had developed and promoted
friendship between Canada and Israel – the legacy of which can be seen
The son of Irish Catholic parents, Mulroney, though born in
Canada, speaks with a soft Irish lilt in his voice. Surprisingly, this is his
first visit to Israel, and he’s loving every moment. In a single day, he met
with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whom he first met when the latter was
Israel’s ambassador to the UN; President Shimon Peres, whom he has met in a
variety of roles; and Finance Minister Yair Lapid.
In their meetings,
both Netanyahu and Peres reminded Mulroney that he had been the greatest
supporter of Israel of any leader in the world, but he said he lost that title
to current Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Marveling at Israel’s
“extraordinary accomplishments,” Mulroney remarked that young men have visions
and old men dream dreams, “but it required an abundance of both to bring about
Relating to Israel’s meshing of history and vision,
Mulroney said the past consumes the present, and the present is alive only
because it gives birth to the future. He saw the embodiment of this in Peres,
who he said began working with David Ben-Gurion when he was 24 years old.
Adopting a tone of incredulity, Mulroney kept repeating 24 years old, saying
that when he was that age he was driving a taxi.
Of course, he may have
done that to put himself through law school; he earned himself a fine reputation
as a labor lawyer before taking up the reins of office.
With regard to
Lapid, Mulroney said he didn’t want to interfere in domestic politics, having
enough of those at home, but the impression he received from his meeting with
the finance minister was that he represented the future.
tour of the country took him to the Golan Heights, where the Canadian
peacekeeping force serves as part of the UN mission, said that no other country
of Israel’s size had been confronted by such tremendous challenges. He was
proud, he said, that Canada had been helpful in regard to Israel’s prospects for
peace and security, and peace for Israel with her neighbors.
that the Palestinians would do for their children what Israel has done for hers.
They were all entitled to health care, education, peace and prosperity, he said,
adding that he hopes young Palestinians will one day know the durable peace that
recognizes the reality of one’s neighbors.
Mulroney also had good things
to say about Fox, who he described as “one of Canada’s finest.”
the guests, Faigie Zimmerman, who attended with her husband, Reuven, hoped in
vain that Mulroney would sing – as he had done at the wedding of Charles
Bronfman and his late wife, Andrea. He didn’t, but perhaps when he comes again –
as he has promised to do – he will.
■ IF MULRONEY and Harper can be
counted as Israel’s best friends, Canada’s Brad Smith claims to be the busiest
defense attaché in Israel. Smith, who has been in Israel for two years and has
another two left to serve, says there are so many Canadian delegations and
high-ranking dignitaries coming with such frequency that he barely has time to
breathe. But he’s not complaining – it’s all a lot of fun, he says.
OF Israel’s most prominent Facebook fans is President Peres, who when talking
about hi-tech never tires of referring to Mark Zuckerberg’s conquest of the
world without commanding an army, dropping a bomb or firing a single
Peres, who has met Zuckerberg more than once, also has his own
Facebook page. It was therefore par for the course that he should meet with a
senior delegation from Facebook, led by Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president for
Europe, the Middle East and Africa, after the company purchased Israeli start-up
Onavo for around $150 million-200m., and announced the creation of a research
and development center in Israel.
Peres congratulated Facebook
management, thanking the team for its significant investment in the Jewish state
and calling on it to continue to invest in Israeli companies.
As he often
does, the president noted during the conversation that lack of natural resources
in Israel led to the development of great minds – in that necessity is the
mother of invention. He was certain Facebook’s investments in Israel and the
creation of its R&D center in this country will be of great mutual
Mendelsohn told Peres that Facebook has great respect for
Israel’s hi-tech and innovation sector, and sees significant potential within
it. She added that it had been a major decision for Facebook to open the first
R&D center outside of the US, and that the company is proud that it will be
■ MORE THAN one Hebrew newspaper carried a report last week
that former Ashkenazi chief rabbi Yona Metzger had been seen at the employment
bureau, apparently looking for a job. It seems a little far-fetched, but one
On the other hand, it’s not that difficult for former
ambassadors to crème de la crème postings to get a job in an academic
institution or a business enterprise that does a lot of high-end trading in the
global marketplace. It was in the cards that Israel’s immediate former
ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, would be courted by institutes of higher
learning, so it hardly comes as a surprise to discover he was snapped up
Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
Oren, who has a PhD in Middle Eastern
history from Princeton University, has worked as a visiting professor at Harvard
and Yale universities and has written extensively on the history of the Middle
East, is joining IDC’s Lauder School of Government Diplomacy and
■ EFRAT MAYOR Oded Revivi took time out from electioneering on
Sunday and together with Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who is the founder of
the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, co-hosted a
dinner with Zion’s Gate International to welcome the Oklahoma State Legislature
This year, the Oklahoma House of Representative’s
legislature passed a unanimous resolution affirming that the State of Israel is
“the national home for the Jewish people in the historical regions of the Land
of Israel, including the areas of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.” Continuing
their steadfast support for Israel, a House delegation arrived in Israel on
Saturday to meet with Knesset and government officials, with the aim of gaining
a better understanding of the most recent issues affecting Israel and presenting
Connie Bachman, co-founder of Zion’s Gate International –
a faith-based family foundation from Oklahoma City – joined Riskin and Revivi in
welcoming the delegation in a private reception at the Center for
Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation.
“In a time where Israel
may feel isolated on the world stage, it is important for us as Bible-believing
Christians who are in positions of government to unequivocally declare our
support for Israel,” Bachman declared.
During the reception the
delegation was presented with the key to the city of Efrat, in appreciation of
its support for Israel.
“The resolution is more than just a political
statement; it is a sacred document that affirms our scriptural right to the
land,” said Riskin.
■ SOON AFTER midnight, after polling stations had
closed on Tuesday night, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar was interviewed at
Central Election Committee headquarters by Channel 1’s Yair Weinreb. “I presume
there are no questions from the studio,” said Sa’ar. “The law doesn’t permit,
but you can send regards if you like,” responded Weinreb.
Sa’ar opted not
to, but Weinreb decided to play intermediary and told anchorwoman Geula Even
that she had warm regards from Sa’ar. The reason that she was unable to
interview him was because he happens to be her husband.
There’s a lot to
be said for pillow talk – even in the digital era.
■ THE ISRAEL
Broadcasting Authority’s political commentator, Hanan Kristal, was incredulous
in the wee hours of Wednesday morning when some of the results were made public.
He could not believe that Kfar Saba, which he referred to as Pinchas Sapir’s
city, and which was once the city of workers’ parties, did not vote in a single
left-wing candidate to sit on its municipal council.
Sapir, who served in
two ministerial capacities – finance, and industry and trade – was famous for
carrying around a little black book in which he jotted down all his observations
about the country’s economic needs and potential for growth. He lived in Kfar
Saba for most of his adult life.
n ON HIS RETURN home this week following
his recent visit to Israel, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced at a media
conference that Papua New Guinea has agreed to open an embassy in Tel Aviv in
The country’s current ambassador to Israel resides in London. The
new embassy will cater to the many thousands of Papua New Guineans who will come
to Israel to visit Christian holy sites.
Ministers of Defense, Fabian
Pok; Agriculture, Tommy Tomscoll; and Foreign Affairs, Rimbink Pato were a part
of O’Neill’s delegation to the Jewish state. The prime minister said the primary
purpose of the visit was to discuss his country’s development of agriculture,
building a strong defense system, border security and surveillance; he signed a
memorandum of understanding with Netanyahu on furthering these areas of
The support to be provided by Israel in these areas will
include training, equipment, additional resources and new surveillance
techniques. This new relationship will not only be military-based, but also will
assist law enforcement in combating the trafficking of illegal items and even in
the surveillance of illegal fishing. This will mean the protection of income and
natural resources for the people of Papua New Guinea.
Another outcome of
O’Neill’s visit to Israel was a visa waiver agreement, whereby Papua New
Guinea’s nationals will no longer require visas to visit the Jewish
■ AS IT happens, Papua New Guinea will be represented by Religion,
Youth and Community Development Minister Loujaya Toni at a gender-oriented
conference at the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center from
Some 50 women leaders – mostly from developing countries –
will discuss the remaining gaps in gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Conference sessions will cover: advancing gender mainstreaming and increasing
women’s participation in political decision-making at all levels;
coalition-building for effective advocacy for the integration of gender
equality; empowerment of women and girls and the enjoyment of their rights; and
other gender- related global issues.
Among the outstanding women
participating in the conference are: Christine Musisi, regional director for UN
WOMEN, eastern and southern Africa; Sherry Tross, executive secretary for
integral development, Organization of American States; Dr.
Koparanova, senior social affairs officer and gender focal point, Office of the
Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Europe; Education Minister Naana
Jane Opoku-Agyeman, Republic of Ghana; Prof. Amsatou Sow Sidibé of Senegal; Dr.
Cosima Schenk, president of the International Council of Women; and Prof. Ruth
Halperin Kaddar, of the UN’s CEDAW.
■ THAT OLD bugbear of allowing
politics to overtake the ethics of sportsmanship has reared its ugly head again
in, of all places, Qatar – which not so long ago was quite friendly to
World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder on Tuesday
protested Qatar’s removal of the Israeli flag from the premises of the FINA
Swimming World Cup in Doha. The flag was removed from the Aspire Zone, a
2.5-sq.km. sporting zone in the Qatari capital where Israeli swimmers were
competing. The flag was also expunged from television reports about the Israeli
The removal violates the FINA code of ethics, which mandates
that its tournament not discriminate “on the basis of gender, race, religion or
political opinion.” Lauder demanded that Qatar immediately restore the Israeli
flag to where it belonged, and to stop pandering to the worst sort of Arab
“If Doha won’t guarantee the participation of athletes from
all countries and respect the neutrality of international sportsmanship, it has
forfeited its right to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup in soccer.
should be moved from Qatar,” Lauder declared.
■ WHEN TEXAS Gov. Rick
Perry was thinking of a suitable gift for Education Minister Shai Piron, as a
means of expressing appreciation for the speed of approval of a Peace Campus
branch of Texas A&M University in Nazareth, he was aware that the gift could
only be symbolic – because legislators and government ministers are not
permitted to accept expensive personal gifts. So he gave him a maroon-colored
kippa with the university logo.
Both Perry and Texas A&M University
system chancellor Prof. John Sharp noted that the first-ever on-campus branch of
the Hillel Foundation had been established at Texas A&M University in 1916.
Notwithstanding the fact that the university is more than 139 years old, 25
percent of its graduates, even today, are the first members of their families to
attend college, said Sharp.
The Nazareth project is intended to provide
the same in terms of excellence and opportunity for Peace Campus
“Here too, the power of education will change the lives of
people forever,” said Sharp.
The Texas delegation included Rabbi Peter
Tarlow, who since 1983 has been the Hillel executive director at Texas A&M
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