Grapevine: Begin's former spokesman denied entry to Egypt

Enraged Dan Pattir is held up in Cairo, the Israel-Ireland Friendship League rededicates the Eamon De Valera Forest, and a Jerusalem restauranteur is asked to cater a party in Jordan.

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May 23, 2007 22:42

HE WAS spokesman for prime minister Menachem Begin during Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem in 1977, he is executive vice president of the Abraham Fund Initiative - which works for coexistence between Arabs and Jews - and he had an appointment to meet with President Hosni Mubarak's political adviser, Osama El Baz. But all that didn't help Dan Pattir and five other Israelis land in Egypt. The three Israeli couples decided to sail with Norwegian Cruise Lines from Athens to Alexandria, through the Aegean Islands and on to Turkey. They all had freshly stamped visas issued by the Egyptian Consulate in Tel Aviv. However, when the ship docked in Alexandria, Captain Constantinos Falios told the Israelis that they could not disembark. Some 2,500 passengers from other countries went ashore, but Pattir, his wife, Yael, and their friends Uri and Yehudit Hanoch, and Adi and Tzipporah Shavit were told in no uncertain terms, and without warning, that as holders of Israeli passports, they posed a security risk. Pattir was furious. After all, the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has been on the books for almost 30 years - and if there was a problem, surely they should have been informed when applying for the visas. But nothing Pattir said could persuade Falios to allow the Israelis to get off the ship. Pattir contacted Shalom Cohen, Israel's ambassador to Egypt, who was appalled to learn of what had happened and immediately set about trying to rectify the situation. It was hours before Cohen was able to exert whatever influence he had in the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and President's Bureau and get permission for them to leave the ship and go to Cairo. Did anyone apologize for the humiliation or inconvenience? If they did, Pattir didn't hear it. Neither the ship's skipper nor any Egyptian official saw fit to say they were sorry. A week has passed since the incident and Pattir is still fuming. nAT A memorial evening for Prof. Daniel Elazar, the founding president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on the seventh anniversary of his death, keynote speaker Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, revealed that current JCPA president Dore Gold had called him in New York and had asked, "Do you believe in the Constitution?" "Of course," replied Hoenlein. "Do you believe in free speech?" Gold continued. Again Hoenlein replied in the affirmative. To which Gold's response was: "Good, you're giving one in Jerusalem." On a more serious note, Hoenlein observed that "being anti-Jewish today is becoming increasingly acceptable. Today we see intellectuals being mobilized by the spread of anti-Jewish sentiment." Though not state sponsored, there is a resurgence of anti-Semitism, said Hoenlein, adding that he did not see a bright future for Jews in Europe. nAT JERUSALEM'S Great Synagogue last Shabbat, there was not only one sermon, there were three! The synagogue was packed to capacity with an attendance seen only on High Holy Days. The crowd was there for the special and brilliant cantorial service in honor of the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. The synagogue's resident cantor, Naftali Herstik, and choir conducted by Elli Jaffe were joined by Cantors Chaim Adler, Moshe Schulhof and Asher Hainovitz, who separately and jointly created the most glorious sound. That in itself would have made the service longer than usual. But then a sermon was delivered by Rabbi Zalman Druk, followed by another by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and a third by Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski. nJERUSALEM DAY was also the theme of the regular interview program that journalist David Bedein conducts at the Israel Center for broadcast on Shalom Television in New York. This time, his interviewee was veteran journalist Jay Bushinsky, a former chairman of the Foreign Press Association, which this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Bushinsky has been based in Israel since 1966, the year in which he opened the now defunct Chicago Daily News bureau in Israel. He also founded CNN's Jerusalem Bureau, after which he was Israel Bureau Chief for Infinity Broadcasting, filing for WINS New York, KYW Philadelphia and various other stations in Canada and Australia. He is now the Middle East correspondent for CBS Radio in addition to writing for The Toronto Sun, The Washington Times and The San Francisco Chronicle. His by-line has appeared in numerous other publications including The Jerusalem Post, where he served as diplomatic reporter a decade ago. Bedein recalled having listened eagerly and as often as three times an hour to Bushinsky's reports of the Six Day War when he was an 11th-grade student in America. Some in the audience also remembered how keenly they waited to hear what Bushinsky had to say. Being a war correspondent changed his life, said Bushinsky, who has covered every campaign in which Israel has been engaged since 1967, as well as other wars in the region. After filing his initial reports of the military action in the Old City of Jerusalem, Bushinsky was given a tongue-lashing by his editor-in-chief who told him that he should not have taken such risks: "You could have been killed. A dead correspondent is useless." Although most journalists pride themselves on objectivity and keep personal views and emotions at bay, there are times where the situation is such that absolute neutrality is impossible. Thus, as Bushinsky approached the Western Wall for the first time, he realized that he was bareheaded and could not imagine praying at the Wall without a head covering. A colleague from the Chicago Tribune was wearing a hat, which Bushinsky borrowed. As he approached the wall, he burst into a torrent of tears. "In our profession we experience great moments," he said, "but there's always a pay-off - you have to file the story." Once the reporter has the lead paragraph said Bushinsky, the rest of the story flows, but the only lead he could think of was: "Jerusalem: I just prayed at the Western Wall and Arthur Bassey of the Chicago Tribune lent me his hat." Bushinsky was hesitant. He didn't want to be identified by his faith, and he was certain that his editor would not be happy about mention of the rival newspaper, but Bassey told him it was a perfect lead and the Chicago Daily News published it without changing a word. nWHEN HE received the Israel-Ireland Friendship League's invitation to participate in the rededication of the Eamon De Valera Forest, some 10 minutes' drive from Kibbutz Lavi (whose membership includes Irish expatriates), Social Affairs and Welfare and Diaspora Affairs MinisterIsaac Herzog accepted it with alacrity. In the interim, however, affairs of state, the plight of Holocaust survivors and the security situation in Sderot took precedence, and Herzog did not show up, though he did send a letter in which he referred to his family's close ties with Ireland. In 1951, his grandfather, who was chief rabbi of Israel after having previously been chief rabbi of Ireland, together with prime minister David Ben-Gurion and Herzog's uncle, Dr. Jacob Herzog, who was then director-general of the Prime Minister's Office, welcomed then-opposition leader Eamon De Valera on his only visit to Israel. Herzog also mentioned that his father, in his capacity as president of Israel, had paid a state visit to Ireland, the place of his birth. The luck of the Irish or lack of it was reflected not only in Herzog's absence but also in the fact that rained in the middle of May. The event, which was supposed to have been held last July, had been postponed because of the war, and when IIFL chairman Malcolm Gafson wanted to hold it in November, he had been dissuaded by fellow Irish ex-pat Carole Golding, a member of the Board of Directors of KKL-JNF, on the grounds that it might rain. Golding's late father had been one of the initiators of the forest project. Despite the rain and the distance, there was quite a large turnout of local Paddies, plus a sprinkling of visitors from the Emerald Isle. Among those present were Irish Ambassador Michael Forbes, Zvi Gabay, who was Israel's first resident ambassador to Ireland, Father Eamon Kelly, the vice charge of the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem, and Marcia Abramson, who together with her husband, Prof. Mervyn Abramson, and then-chief rabbi of Ireland Isaac Cohen, had planted the first saplings in the forest 40 years earlier. In fact, Rabbi Cohen had taken three saplings back to Ireland and presented them to De Valera, who was then president of Ireland, and who was thrilled to have a piece of the Holy Land named for him. De Valera planted the saplings in the garden of the presidential residence. Zion Evroni hinted that Ireland's president, Mary McAleese, might visit Israel and plant a tree in the forest. Looking around the forest, Forbes suggested that the IFFL hold an annual picnic there. He also noted that donors to the forest had come not only from the Republic of Ireland but also from Northern Ireland. Addressing the visitors from Ireland, Forbes urged them to travel home and bring others back to Israel with them. "Don't just bring your Jewish friends, your Christian friends need shaking up too," he said. At Lavi was Daniel Briscoe, who related that his grandfather Ben Briscoe, the first Jew to be elected to the Dail, the Irish Parliament, had received permission from De Valera to leave for half a year so that he could devote himself to the rescue of Jews in Europe. nIT TAKES a lot of courage to open a new business, especially a food venture in a location that is slightly off the beaten track. Although Chez Gita is in what is considered to be downtown Jerusalem, it's more than half way up a side street off Jaffa Road which is not frequented by anyone who has no specific reason to be in that particular area. When proprietor Gita Ostrovitz came to Israel from New York in 2004, she was not only contemplating a new business but a new career. Although her family had been involved in different aspects of the food industry for more than 70 years, Ostrovitz went a different route and spent most of her professional life as a director of information technology for New York corporate law firms. Her last nine years before making aliya were spent on Wall Street. So it wasn't just a new country, a new language and a new culture, it was also a new profession. Success came slowly but surely as people discovered her European tea room and returned with relatives and friends. One day, a regular customer by the name of Annette Rosen was discussing a party with her. "I only knew her as the Remax lady," recalls Ostrovitz. But as the details of the party menu began to take shape, Rosen casually remarked: "You know my husband is Israel's ambassador to Jordan." Actually Ostrovitz didn't, but she was soon to make his acquaintance. The party that she and Rosen were discussing was the Israel Independence Day party that Jacob Rosen was hosting for Jordanian officials and members of the diplomatic community. Ostrovitz kept making suggestions, which Annette Rosen duly noted, but after a while she said to Ostrovitz, "Why don't just come to Jordan and do it yourself?" Which is exactly what happened, and the party was more than impressive, judging by Jacob Rosen's enthusiastic letter of appreciation. Ostrovitz is now on a roll. "It's a great way to celebrate my first anniversary," she said. nTHERE'S A little excitement these days at the Embassy of Peru in anticipation of the forthcoming visit by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Gonzalo Gutierrez, who, inter alia, is responsible for Peru's international economic policy. While in Israel, Gutierrez will meet with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and participate in a Round table discussion by The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, on May 31.


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