October 30, 2006 15:36
4 minute read.

israel project 298 AJ. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi)

FEW PEOPLE turn down the offer of a free dinner, especially if it's at the trendy Trask complex on the old Tel Aviv Port. The location enables visitors to enjoy the sea without getting their feet wet or having to cope with the discomfort of sand in their shoes. The dinner invitation was issued by the Jerusalem office of The Israel Project (TIP), in celebration of its first anniversary. TIP is an international non-profit organization dedicated to educating the media and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace. Invitees included foreign and local journalists, spokespeople for various Israeli offices, organizations and institutions and members of the ever-growing Israel advocacy community. Aside from people who came under their own steam, TIP hired two buses to transport Jerusalemites to and from Tel Aviv. Principal host was Calev Ben-Davidwho heads the Jerusalem office, and who came to the post after a long career in journalism, which he has not entirely abandoned. Also on hand were TIP founder and president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, TIP chairman Michael Gelmanand members of the TIP board who all flew in from the US and spoke warmly of what a great job Ben-David is doing in providing journalists with a broader, more in-depth picture of what is happening in and around Israel. Aside from celebrating the first anniversary of TIP's Jerusalem operations, Ben-David used the occasion to farewell Gideon Meir, the Foreign Ministry's former Deputy Director for Foreign Affairs, who took up his new post as Israel's ambassador to Italy on Tuesday of this week. Invited to say a few words, Meir immediately got into his new mode and started out with "Buona sera" and "Arrivederci." Looking around and seeing so many of the people that he has worked with on a regular basis for the past six years, Meir said that he could not have wished for a better departure, though he found it somewhat galling that "the TIP budget exceeds that of the Israel government budget for public diplomacy." Lauding his successor Aviv Shiron, Meir proclaimed him to be "the right man for the right job." Ben-David also bid farewell to Captain (Res) Jacob Dallal, the former deputy director of the International Press Office of the Army Spokesman's Office, who returned to reserve duty during the Second Lebanon War and who is on his way to New York to become the Jewish Agency's spokesman in the Big Apple. Ben-David would have liked to publicly farewell Raanan Gissin, the long time foreign media advisor to former prime minister Ariel Sharon, but Gissin was out of the country. Ben-David did however welcome Gissin's successor Miri Eisin, who announced "I'm here to serve you to help serve Israel." Also present were Daniel Seaman, director of the Government Press Office, and some of the most veteran representatives of the foreign press corps such as Marlin Levinand celebrated photographer David Rubinger. For Marlin Levin, the former longserving Jerusalem bureau chief for Time magazine, the TIP event was more than a first anniversary party for its Jerusalem office. It was also his 85th birthday party. Next year, Levin and his wife Betty will mark the 60th anniversary of their arrival in Jerusalem. He got to Jerusalem in time to cover the siege of the city during the War of Independence. At that time he was working for United Press, but his first job in journalism in this country was with The Palestine Postnow The Jerusalem Post. APROPOS THE Foreign Press Association, last week its founding chairman Francis Ofner, 93, received a diploma from his native country attesting to his honorary membership of the Independent Journalists Association of Vojvodina. The presentation in Ofner's Tel Aviv apartment was made by Miodrag Isakov, ambassador of the Republic of Serbia, who, prior to becoming a diplomat, and one of the founders and first president of the IJA of Vojvodina, was a prominent journalist himself. Ofner, a lawyer by training, a journalist by inclination, as well as a diplomat, scholar, university lecturer and author, was known as Axel Springer's man in Israel. Prior to working for Springer, Ofner wrote for The Christian Science Monitor, The London Observerand The Jerusalem Post. THE INTIMACY of a private home for a concert recital creates a bond between performers and audience, the nature of which cannot be achieved in even the smallest theater hall. Thus when members of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society got together at the Jerusalem home of Toni andPeter Wiseburghto present mostly G&S, but also Rogers & Hammerstein, some Al Jolson favorites and some lesser-known songs, the mood was electric. "If anyone feels the urge to sing don't suppress it," said GSS Artistic Director Robert Binder. The audience, numbering less than thirty people, took him at his word and joined in with gusto. Binder also sings, is a lyricist and knows everything there is to know about stagecraft. GSS keyboard player Paul Salter, who accompanies the sixmember concert troupe that also includes Claire Greenfeld, David Glickman, Aviella Trapido, Gregory Wolfeand Marc Zellwho all have magnificent voices, and who really enjoy what they're doing, is also a composer. He and Binder are writing a new operetta that will premiere next year to mark the 90th anniversary of the Turkish surrender of Jerusalem to the British. The GSS people are now embarking on a new venture called Encore! Educational Theater Company (ETC)which will present theatrical productions of Jewish and general works, develop new works for the stage based on traditional and historical sources, and run workshops in order to discover and develop talent in all aspects of theater. But most important, it will educate a new generation to appreciate musical theater, and in so doing will help to preserve the popularity of monumental works that might otherwise be forgotten.

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