Shimon Peres 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
It’s a magic two-word formula. No, it’s not abra cadabra. That’s
passé. The password is “Shimon Peres.”
Just mention the name of Israel’s
president and doors open and acquiescence abounds.
In 2008, Peres
introduced the first Facing Tomorrow Presidential Conference in Jerusalem that
was attended by 3,500 people, including past and present global movers and
shakers such as Mikhail Gorbachev, George W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair,
Elie Wiesel, Rupert Murdoch and many other internationally known
That year Peres brought together some of the world’s best minds in
many spheres at what is reputed to be the center of the universe. The only
person who refused him was Barbra Streisand, though initially she indicated that
she would come.
Several of the personalities who attended in 2008
returned in 2009, plus a whole batch of newcomers. There was no conference in
2010, but there is one this week, from Tuesday to Thursday at the Jerusalem
International Convention Center (Binyenei Ha’uma).
Several major Jewish
organizations are holding their international conferences in Israel just before,
during or after Facing Tomorrow, and some are also participating.
are meetings in the capital this week of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress, the
World Board of Trustees of Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal and several other
organizations, and their leaders will be at the grand opening on Tuesday night
of the 2011 Facing Tomorrow conference.
The speakers at this year’s
President’s Conference will include Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,
opposition head Tzipi Livni, Quartet envoy Tony Blair, former Shas chairman Arye
Deri, British Ambassador Matthew Gould, US Ambassador Dan Kurtzer, French
intellectual Bernard- Henri Lévy, author Amos Oz, US diplomat Dennis Ross,
hitech entrepreneur Yossi Vardi – and, of course, Peres.
will deal with nations, ethics, trends, challenges, decisions, global
perspectives for tomorrow and future media.
The panel discussions promise
to be more interesting but will in many cases leave audiences frustrated because
there will be too many people addressing each topic, which means that few if any
participants will have time to develop a theme and audiences will not be much
wiser, if any wiser, at the end.
The topics of some of these discussions
are: Thin Ice – Criticism vs. Loyalty in Israel-Diaspora relations; The Israel
Economy – A Small, Leading Market; Israel and America: Has the Love Cooled?; The
Future of European Jewry; The Israeli- Palestinian Peace Process;
Delegitimization; Conversion: Who Keeps the Gate for the Jewish Nation; Jewish
Identity; Israel and the Diaspora: Relationship among Equals?; Cutting Edge
Medicine; Will We Miss the Old Middle East?; New Energy for Tomorrow; The Jewish
Dimension of a Peace Agreement; Where is Jewish Philanthropy Headed?; The Drama
of Brain Research; and Stopping Nuclear Proliferation.
It’s a great
opportunity for citizens of the world to network and discuss issues of common
interest outside the various halls in which the conference will be
Comprehensive reports on the conference and interviews with some of
the personalities attending will be published in The Jerusalem
Between greeting participants and attending a Keren Hayesod awards
ceremony on Monday, Peres found time to meet with Dr. Daniel Clair, who flew in
from the US to operate on 101- year-old Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv, who
successfully underwent surgery at the capital’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center on