"They say how you spend your birthday is how you spend the rest of the year," actress Sharon Stone told a small group of journalists who came to meet her in Tel Aviv Friday, on the morning of her 48th birthday.
"Thank you for having me here," she added, toasting her audience with a glass of mineral water.
Later that day Stone, who arrived in Israel on Tuesday as a guest of the Peres Center for Peace, had Shabbat dinner with 48 Israeli couples.
On Saturday, she visited the Galilee and in the evening hosted a benefit gala dinner whose proceedings, she said, would go to cultural, educational and sports activities for Israeli and Palestinian children.
Stone, who for the past 10 years has been a dedicated fundraiser on an international scale for AIDS research and other humanitarian causes, also spoke about how her desire to help find a cure for AIDS gradually led her to start working on solutions for other issues, such as malaria, clean water, and allowing HIV-positive mothers to give birth to children who were HIV negative.
Stone also said she did not mind that despite her work for these causes, the media continued to focus on her looks, which first won her widespread acclaim a decade and a half ago in the film Basic Instinct.
"I'll have plenty of years to get old and wrinkled," she said. "I can live with people growing into my wisdom.
"I never realized middle age would be like this," Stone said, referring to the interest and admiration that continue to surround her. "It's kind of confounding - I am not a person who ever had much self-confidence.
"Sometimes," she continued, "people like to say they saw me naked [in a film] just to try and make me feel small. And that is really the subject of my visit here - whether we can stop trying to have power over one another."
In comparing her experience of Israel with media reports on it, Stone said: "All you see on the news is sensationalism... I have found a wonderful country, primarily devoted to peace."
Nevertheless, she added, one problem the world over was that "everyone's so busy talking about peace, about it being a political issue, as if politicians could just go into a warehouse somewhere and get it for us. People need to address our daily behavior, to realize that peace - or a cure for AIDS - isn't something some guy is going to go get for you in nowhere land."
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