Surprise! Surprise! No, it wasn’t a birthday party. It was an opportunity to say
thank you to a man who has given more than four decades of his life to the
building, preservation and development of America-Israel relations. Paul Berger
has for more than 40 years been the legal adviser to the Israeli embassy in
Washington. He’s sat in on negotiations for loan guarantees and has helped work
out strategies for how to deal with the Arab boycott. In fact, he’s been
involved with just about every phase of Israel’s diplomatic activity in the
United States. His late wife, Debbie, was also passionately devoted to
enhancing US-Israel relations.
While in Israel this week, Berger was asked
to meet with Ron Dermer, a senior advisor to the prime minister. He thought it a
little strange that the meeting was going to be taking place in the cabinet
room, but then there was always the possibility that Dermer would be asking
other people to join them. What Berger didn’t was that there would be no meeting
in the formal sense of the word. But when he entered the room, he saw quite a
few familiar faces.
It’s not often that you can get five Israeli
ambassadors to the US together, but this was one of those rare occasions. In the
room were present incumbent Michael Oren, along with former ambassadors Sallai
Meridor, Danny Ayalon, Zalaman Shoval and Itamar Rabinovich. Also present was
Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, along with six former Israeli economic attaches
to the US and four former directors-general of the Finance Ministry.
modest, 79-year-old man with a deep commitment to the America- Israel
relationship, Berger was almost bowled over by the outpouring of goodwill in
appreciation for what he’s done and what he will continue to do. The testimonial
was not by way of a golden handshake. Berger will continue to be the legal
guiding light to Israeli ambassadors in Washington. As he walked into the
room, all faces were wreathed in smiles and he received a standing
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke warmly of Berger’s
outstanding contribution to the relationship between America and Israel and each
of the ambassadors told an anecdote to illustrate what Israel owes to this man.
Netanyahu also presented Berger with a Bible, which, all things considered, is
more representative of Israel than anything else.
■ STAGE AND screen
actress Keren Mor, who turned 47 on December 30, proves that one does not
necessarily have to be young to be a successful fashion model. Mor was chosen by
Rina Tzin to model her spring/summer collection, which was inspired by old
movies. Mor, who recently completed a television series on Israeli fashion in
which she proved her role-changing abilities, was a natural choice. She also has
the kind of face that reflects an indeterminate age, which enables her to appear
much younger or much older than she really is. It should be noted that Galit
Gutman, who is one of Israel’s leading fashion models in addition to having a
successful acting career, will turn 40 in September.
■ A PROVOCATIVE as
well as a prolific writer, Rabbi Shmueli Boteach, who inter alia is a regular
columnist for The Jerusalem Post, is currently in Israel for two reasons: to see
two of his daughters who live in Israel, one who is married and the other who is
about to enter the army; and the to promote his book, Kosher Jesus, published by
Gefen. Boteach contends that not only has Jesus been misrepresented to both
Christians and Jews, but it’s almost a case of identity theft. The ever-eloquent
Boteach, who spent some ten years in England and has British citizenship in
addition to his American citizenship, does not really see himself as a candidate
for the role of chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, even though it has been
reported that he is being considered as a possible successor to Lord Jonathan
Sacks. Boteach does not think that the British establishment would allow him to
come to Israel’s defense with the same degree of passion that he exercised
during his period at Oxford. If he is not given the freedom to express himself
as clearly and as loudly as he would like on matters related to Israel, he said
when meeting with some of the Post’s editorial staff, he is not interested in
the job. Boteach is upset by the behavior of extremists in the haredi camp and
said that they’re not behaving Jewishly.
■ AMONG THE joys of being the
owners of Cinema City for brothers Moshe and Leon Edery is that they get to see
just about any movie that takes their fancy before it is officially released.
One of the other pleasures is being able to host dignitaries and celebrities at
premieres and special screenings. The brothers have done a lot of that lately,
most recently this week when they hosted the premiere of Names Ba’geshem
(Melting Away), to which they invited the whole cast.
Among those who
attended were director Doron Eran and lead actors Chen Yanai, Limor Goldstein
and Ami Weinberg. The screening was in a new auditorium that was being publicly
used for the first time.
■ KNESSET MEMBER Ahmed Tibi, who celebrated his
53rd birthday on December 19, got a very nice birthday present. He was voted the
most popular Arab MK in a poll conducted in the Arab community via the Arabic
media. Curiously, Haneen Zoabi came last in the poll. Although several
right-wing politicians have tried to prevent Tibi from being a member of the
legislature, all such efforts have failed and Tibi currently enjoys the role of
deputy speaker. He gets on famously with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin –
possibly because each of them has a highly developed sense of