Grapevine: Coincidental anniversaries

The Oslo anniversary this year coincides with 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.

By
July 18, 2013 21:08
President Peres at Center IDC Herzliya on 11 July 2013.

Peres speaking at conference 370. (photo credit: Sarit Font )

 
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September 13 will mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of Oslo Accords on the White House lawn.

The document, also known as the Declaration of Principles, was signed by then foreign minister Shimon Peres and PLO leader Yasser Arafat, in the presence of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and US president Bill Clinton.

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Yediot Aharonot’s publishing company, Yediot Books, decided to preempt the anticipated reams of commentary that are likely to fill the Israeli media during the Oslo anniversary week, and came out with the book Secret Channel: Oslo by Ron Pundak, who was one of the architects of the Oslo peace process. The launch was held this week at the Tel Aviv Museum, where guests included Yossi Beilin, who in his capacity as deputy foreign minister was closely involved in the Oslo process; former Palestinian Authority minister Ashraf al-Ajrami; and former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who back in 1993 was a staunch Likudnik totally opposed to the Oslo Accords, but has since changed his stance.

In the strange world of coincidence, the Oslo anniversary this year coincides with 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, which though it broke out on October 6, 1973, will be commemorated in accordance with the Hebrew calendar date.

Pundak, who is still involved in activities aimed at ending the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, served for 10 years as executive director of the Peres Center for Peace, a position that he held until 2011. He continues to be associated with PPC and is co-chairman of its Palestinian- Israeli Peace NGO Forum.

■ SEVERAL AMBASSADORS hosted receptions for the Maccabiah Games teams from their respective countries.

Due to the strike actions by Foreign Ministry workers, Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma still has the word “designate” attached to his title, because he has been unable to present his credentials as of yet. However, this has not stopped him from attending various functions or hosting his own – such as his reception for representatives of the 416-member Australian team on Wednesday.



Although everyone else was casually dressed, Sharma – despite the heat and humidity of Herzliya Pituah – wore a suit and tie, though he did remove the jacket and tie, and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt after the formalities. The dominant colors at the ambassador’s residence were, of course, Australia’s national colors of gold and green.

The Aussies, who have been touring and practicing since their arrival a week ago, welcomed the chance to just sit around and enjoy the respite from their hectic schedule. Among those who gathered in the ambassador’s garden (in the front of the premises, as distinct from the rear in most other ambassadorial residences), were: Parliamentary Secretary for Police and Emergency Services David Southwick, MP; Ron Hoenig, MP, a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly; and executive members of Maccabi Australia, including president Lisa Borowick; chairman Barry Smorgon; delegation head Harry Procel; Sam Parasol; and Jeff Houseman.

To ensure identifiable support for the Australians in their various contests, Borowick decided to distribute hats and Tshirts to embassy staff, many of whom will be attending various sporting events.

Sharma, addressing his guests, noted some of the quirky tales that are unique to the delegation, such as: five sets of brothers in the 26-member rugby team; the siblings in the women’s hockey team; and of course, the romantic tale of Bec and Adam Joseph, soccer players who met at the 2005 Maccabiah, got engaged at the 2009 Maccabiah and returned to the 2013 Maccabiah with their new baby.

Sharma, an avid sportsman himself, regretted that it was not necessarily a genetic trait. He concluded with a personal plea to his guests, and asked that they use their powers of persuasion to convince his daughters to show some interest in sport.

As she did with his predecessor, the ambassador’s personal assistant Esti Sherbelis, who is also from Australia, drifted seamlessly among the guests to ensure that everything flowed smoothly.

The Australians didn’t have a chance to even think about jet lag, let alone get over it. No sooner had they arrived then they were whisked off to a tree-planting ceremony in Nachshon Forest. This was hardly surprising, firstly because the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund is deeply ingrained in the Australian Jewish psyche. In this particular case, however, it was also due to the fact that Andy Michelson, the JNF chief of protocol who is in charge of tree planting ceremonies, happens to hail from Melbourne, Australia.

Another place that a large number of the Aussies visited was the Emunah Neveh Michael Youth Village in Pardess Hanna.

Australian Jews support numerous institutions and organizations in Israel, including Emunah, also sending useful goods. In 2009, members of the Australian Maccabiah team each packed an extra towel in their luggage, and all the towels were brought to Neveh Michael. This time, each of the athletes packed a spare set of bed linen, which was donated by a firm in Melbourne.

In addition to the bed linen, many of the athletes donated their old uniforms, because the current uniform is of a different design. The youngsters at Neveh Michael were thrilled beyond belief.

■ THIS YEAR’S Maccabiah Games are not only the largest in the history of the Jewish Olympics, but also introduce events that did not feature in previous competitions – not to mention a higher number of outstanding athletes with many previous victories to their credit, in both Jewish and non-Jewish sporting events.

Among them is award-winning American- Israeli show jumper Danielle Goldstein, who has been named the chef d’equipe, or team captain, of Team Israel’s equestrian squad. Though a resident of Florida, Goldstein became an Israeli citizen in 2010 and has been competing for the “blue and white” in major international equestrian competitions since 2012.

Equestrian sports are among the innovations in the current Maccabiah Games, marking Goldstein’s first opportunity to represent Israel within its borders.

Having garnered support from the Israeli Olympic Committee during her previous visit to Israel in May, Goldstein hopes to spend whatever free time she will have during the next week and a half laying the groundwork for the first-ever Israeli team of first-class equestrian athletes capable of competing at the international level, and chasing down gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Goldstein will also launch an equestrian awareness campaign, complete with an identifiable T-shirt designed by NU Campaign, a social activist group that supports causes in Israel. The shirt sells for $25.

■ ALMOST EVERY week, there is an announcement that someone else is leaving the Israel Broadcasting Authority. At the end of this month, Hayuta Dvir will be retiring.

Dvir has devoted herself to presenting the weekly “Etnachta” series of classical music concerts, performed free of charge by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in the foyer of the Henry Crown Symphony Hall at the Jerusalem Theater. The concerts are recorded and broadcast live on The Voice of Music.

Initiated by Avi Hanani and Paul Landau, coordinating Etnachta has been Dvir’s life’s work since 1989. Dvir, conscious of all the changes taking place at the IBA, is concerned that management has not yet announced what it plans to do with regard to the program in the future.

Etnachta provided a platform for promising Israeli classical musicians and composers, and joy to music lovers. Because the performances were open to the public free of charge, many music lovers who could not afford the price of a regular concert ticket availed themselves of the opportunity to attend these weekly cultural treats. There have been attempts in the past to close down The Voice of Music, and without stalwarts such as Dvir to stand up and defend it, there is a possibility that it will be sacrificed on the altar of cost-cutting and efficiency.

In an attempt to prevent this from happening, The Voice of Music staff and others who are fearful that the Etnachta concerts are drawing to a close have published an Internet petition to keep Etnachta alive. Anyone who is interested in signing the petition can access it at www.atzuma.

co.il/saveatnachta ■ THE NAME of the game used to be “Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”

These days, it’s called networking – and it doesn’t necessarily take place at specific gatherings of professionals with similar jobs and interests. Very often, it involves people from a variety of disciplines coming together under a completely different umbrella – such as a charitable cause that appeals to all of them, despite their professional and ideological differences.

Of course, they’re not only there to network, and the gatherings are surreptitious fund-raisers; the networking is an encore or continuation of conversations held previously at similar events for other causes.

The bottom line is that the organizers want participants to shell out for their cause – and for many of those attending, it’s a game of philanthropic musical chairs.

Several of the people who last Friday gathered for breakfast at the Tel Aviv Hilton, as the guests of Rabin Medical Center’s CEO Dr. Eyran Halpern and executive committee chairman Pini Cohen, included lawyers Gad Naschitz, Gideon Tadmor, Pinhas Rubin and Yehuda Raveh, among others. But they weren’t there for a law conference. Also attending were Dr.

Steven Welks, director of Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology, and Dr. Nissim Ohana, head of the Spinal Unit, who spoke of innovations and new developments in orthopedics – although it wasn’t strictly a medical conference.

Others present included Dun and Bradstreet CEO Haim Cohen; Herzliya Mayor Yonatan Yasur; Teva’s Chaim Hurvitz; Bank of Jerusalem chairman Ze’ev Gutman; businessman Shalom Zinger and his wife, Nava Barak; Avivit Peleg of the Yanai Peleg & Co Investment House, who was recently elected deputy chairwoman of RMC’s executive committee; advertising guru and political strategist Reuven Adler; and several other well-known figures.

They are all members of a forum created by Cohen as an adjunct to the Friends of RMC, which he also chairs. The forum is a more intimate, family-style gathering, in which friends of and donors to the hospital get to know each other better. This was only the second meeting of the forum and attendance was high, possibly because so many people wanted to hear Tadmor’s riveting talk.

Tadmor, like most of the people present, wears several hats – one of which is chairman of Delek Drilling and CEO of Avner Oil and Gas. His sharing of the excitement of energy exploration and natural gas finds had his audience all but mesmerized.

■ PRIME MINISTER Netanyahu and Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat have invited composer, artist and Israel Prize laureate Nachum Heiman to serve as special adviser for a project aimed at strengthening Hebrew song. The project will include, inter alia, digitizing generations of Hebrew songs and making them more accessible. That will be relatively simple for Heiman, who has devoted years of his life to collecting and preserving Hebrew songs.

The project is the joint initiative of the Prime Minister’s Office Heritage Branch and the Hebrew Song Department of the National Council for Culture and the Arts.

Heiman will be paid approximately NIS 50,000 per year for his services, which works out to just over NIS 4,000 per month. Talk about slave labor! Haiman was the first musical manager of the world famous Gevatron choir, which originated in Kibbutz Geva and is currently celebrating its 65th anniversary. At the time, Heiman lived in nearby Kibbutz Beit Alfa. He stayed with Gevatron for seven years, during which he molded an amateur group of singers into a professional choir that is in high international demand.

He left to go overseas and stayed away for a long period. Other musical managers took his place, but he is always welcome at Geva, where they have a soft spot for him and he for them.

Netanyahu told Heiman that he was in the pantheon of artists, having composed many of the songs with which the prime minister and members of his family were raised.

■ HIS ADVANCED age of 92 is no impediment for artist Yosl Bergner, who last week together with his wife, Audrey, traveled from their home in Tel Aviv to the Mane Katz Museum in Haifa. He was there for the opening of a retrospective exhibition of his works, held in conjunction with the Dan Gallery. Titled “The Party,” the exhibition features bronze statuettes of the familiar figures that have so frequently appeared in Bergner’s works over the years: musicians, clowns, a rider on a wooden horse, children with kites and other images which have integrated themselves into Israel’s wide-ranging cultural identity.

Among those attending the opening were Haifa Mayor Yona ; Moshe Abir of the Dan Gallery; Haim Ador and Moshe Pearlman of Israel Radio; former Mane Katz Museum director Noa Tarshish; Nissim Meidan, head of the friends of the Mane Katz Museum; Carmela Rubin, curator of the Reuven Rubin Museum in Tel Aviv; Bracha Sela and Israel Ben-Shalom, at whose initiative a Bergner statue found a permanent home at the entrance to Haifa City Hall; and many other wellknown personalities.

Bergner, who grew up in Warsaw, got out of Europe just in time to escape the Nazi atrocities. Members of his family moved to Australia, where he studied at the National Gallery Art School in Melbourne.

Following the outbreak of World War II, he served for four-and-a-half years in the Australian Army. He left Australia in 1948 and traveled and exhibited widely around the world, until making his permanent home in Israel in 1957.

Bergner’s father, Zekharye Khone Bergner, who wrote under the pseudonym of Melech Ravitch, was a renowned Yiddish poet and essayist who for 10 years was executive secretary of the Association of Jewish Writers and Journalists in Warsaw.

The artist’s uncle, Herz Bergner, was also an acclaimed Yiddish writer – arguably the best-known Yiddish writer in Australia.

■ THE DEPUTY Premier and Minister of State Development for Victoria in Australia, Peter Ryan, arrived in Israel on Monday as the head of a trade mission that came to explore Israeli innovation in health and medical services. The mission is part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s Victoria-Israel Science Innovation and Technology Scheme (VISITS).

Ryan said his delegation’s focus was on learning about Israel’s experiences in the translation of medical research to health outcomes and related service delivery models. Toward this end, delegates met with representatives of some of Israel’s leading hospitals, medical research organizations and universities. “This trade mission will provide us with an exciting new pathway for more mutually beneficial partnerships between Victoria and Israel,” said Ryan.

Launched earlier this year, VISITS is a new program providing Victorian and Israeli companies with the opportunity to work collaboratively on projects of mutual benefit. As part of VISITS, the Victorian Coalition Government, in partnership with the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, has committed to two trade missions to Israel in 2013, aimed at developing collaborative linkages between companies and research organizations in Australia and Israel. The eventual aim of these missions is building a more productive and internationally engaged economy, which will create more jobs and boost exports and wealth to both Victoria and Israel.

Another Victorian trade mission is planned for October, with the focus on exchanging ideas about water and the environment.

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