■ THE MARRIAGES and divorces of Israel’s wealthiest woman, Shari Arison, have made international newspaper headlines, but the good thing is that although she had a custody battle in one case, all three divorces have in the final analysis been civilized, so that all three of her ex-husbands were present this week at the marriage of her son Jason to Alital Elkon, with whom he has been keeping company for six years – about the average length of each of his mother’s marriages. The groom’s father, Jose Antonio Suarez, who was an officer on one of the ships owned by Arison’s father Ted at the time she met him, came to join her in leading the groom to the bridal canopy. Her second husband, basketball- player-turned-investor Miki Dorsman, was also there, as was her most recent ex, Ofer Glazer.

Though vastly different from each other, what the three men have in common is that they left the marriage somewhat wealthier than they entered it. There’s apparently a new slightly low-key trend among the ultra-affluent to have their celebrations at Ronit Farm, where Nochi Dankner married off his daughter early this month, and where Nir Gilad, the CEO of the Israel Corporation owned by the Ofer family, will marry off his son just before Rosh Hashana. That’s the domino effect of over-priced cottage cheese.

Most of the guests at the Arison affair had also been at the Dankner wedding and will in all likelihood be back for the Gilad wedding.

■ AMONG THE saving graces for former or retired diplomats are organizations such as the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Israel Council on Foreign Relations and various quasi-academic institutions that benefit from knowledge diplomats have acquired in their postings abroad. A conference to be held on the propitious date of September 19, the day before the fateful United Nations vote on the declaration of a Palestinian state, will be hosted at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem by the JCPA, which is headed by former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold.

The topic is “The Rights of Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People in International Diplomacy.”

In addition to Gold, there will be four retired ambassadors: Yehuda Avner, Alan Baker, Zvi Mazel and Shimon Stein. At least two other participants have diplomatic connections.

Prof. Benny Morris is the son of a diplomat, and Prof. Ruth Lapidot is a former Foreign Ministry legal adviser.

■ ON THE subject of diplomats, Daniel Shek – a former ambassador to France and, long before that, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry – commented during a panel discussion at the conclusion of the First International Conference for Economic Regional Cooperation on Monday that in a country known for its lack of discretion and its leaks, regional cooperation was one of the best-kept secrets.

Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, who is also the minister for regional cooperation, promised that cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian businesspeople would be enhanced by the construction of a business lounge at the Jalama checkpoint. This strategic placement of the business lounge will enable businesspeople to meet in comfort without the Palestinians having to go through the bureaucratic hassles of getting special permits to enter Israel, and without the Israelis being afraid to venture into Palestinian territory.

Shalom was certain that in this environment, new connections would be made, trust would be built and greater cooperation would result.

Labor MK Ghaleb Majadle, also a panelist at the conference, seemed more confident than some of the Jewish speakers that peace was not only possible but probable. Majadle gave a riveting, history-rooted dissertation about enemies who had become friends.

Who would have imagined during the Hundred Years War that Germany and France would sit together in the European Union, he wondered. Similarly who during the Holocaust could ever have envisaged that Germany would become one of Israel’s staunchest allies? If such impossibilities became realities, Majadle concluded, there was no reason to suppose it couldn’t happen in the Middle East.

While the conference was generally upbeat, the most pessimistic note was sounded by Evgueni Stanovski, the director of the Moscow-based Middle East Institute, who delivered dire predictions in a stand-up comedy style that had everyone howling with laughter, though they probably should have been crying with fear. According to Stanovski, it will take two to three years before Iran has a nuclear bomb. He felt the US State Department was paying too much attention to Iran and not enough to Pakistan, which he said was equally dangerous. The nuclear bomb, he said, would be developed not only in Tehran, but also in Istanbul, because the Turks were creating a new Ottoman Empire with a radical Islamist character.


As for those who think democracy is coming to Egypt, Stanovski pooh-poohed the idea and forecast that a water crisis would lead to another Egypt-Israel war sometime within the next six to 10 years.

Oh, and one last thing: With all the Sudanese who are succeeding in breaching the border despite the security precautions that Israel has taken, Stanovski’s outlook is that soon Israel will be the new Sudan, after which it will become like Lebanon.

■ THE JERUSALEM Post has bid farewell to yet another of its editorial staff members. Jonah Mandel, who was the paper’s religious affairs reporter, has transferred his allegiance to the AFP International News Service. Because his last day of work was on a Thursday, which is the busiest day of the week for most newspapers, Mandel chose not to have his farewell party at the office, but to meet colleagues in the late evening at the O’Connell Bar in the capital’s busy Ben-Shatah Street. The street is chock-a-block with restaurants and bars to suit different tastes and budgets, and every establishment appeared to be doing good business, judging by the number of people and the shortage of chairs.

Despite its Irish name, the bar-restaurant Mandel chose is kosher and has an incredible choice of beers. Colleagues started arriving at 9 p.m.

and kept coming till after 10 p.m. In fact, there were so many that extra tables had to be found.

■ AFTER NUMEROUS farewells, Korean Ambassador Young Sam Ma and his wife returned home to Seoul on Saturday, but not before Ma gave a farewell address at the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem earlier in the week.

He was introduced by Mordechai Arbell, a former ambassador to South Korea, who chaired the event and introduced Ma after Begin Center director Herzl Makov had spoken about Israel and Korea representing two ancient civilizations whose people had both been the victims of naked aggression, and who despite the odds had developed scientifically, economically and in other ways. Taking his cue from the word “ancient” and the era of nomadic tribes, Arbell said there were very few nomadic tribes today besides diplomats.

Ma did not say to where he was moving next, but he did give an emotional address in which he made comparisons between his country and Israel, each rising from the ashes of destruction to become a developed nation with a strong, stable economy and great hitech capability. He recalled when Koreans were earning an average wage of $80 per year. His voice broke as he related the story of poverty in his own family and what it meant. One day, he saw his mother wearing a scarf over her head, which was unusual, and when he asked why, he learned that she had sold her hair to a wig maker so that she could put food on the table. His country had been so poor that its president had to go to Europe to ask for a loan from Germany to enable the country to survive.

For that matter, Israeli leaders used to make such trips to the United States.

greerfc@gmail.com

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