Grapevine: Model UN held at Rabin Center

It’s not a given that children will follow in the footsteps of their parents, but in the case of David Issacharoff, the son of Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff, it looks as if it may be happening.

By
January 3, 2013 21:30
David and Jeremy Issacharoff 370

David and Jeremy Issacharoff 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)

It’s not a given that children will follow in the footsteps of their parents, but in the case of David Issacharoff, the son of Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff, it looks as if it may be happening.

David served as secretary-general of this year’s model United Nations, which took place at the Rabin Center this week for three full days with the participation of 250 secular and religious Jewish and Arab students.

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The youngsters, who came from all parts of Jerusalem, served as delegates and chairs of committees of the model UN, representing countries from around the globe. This year, the group negotiated highly pertinent international topics such as chemical weapons in Syria, African refugees, the euro zone crisis and issues concerning China and Tibet.

David’s father began his diplomatic career at the UN in New York, where he met his wife, Laura Kam, who was then working as a press officer at Israel’s Consulate- General in New York. He’s still in the foreign service, and his last overseas posting before returning to Israel was as deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. She is currently president of Kam Global Strategies, which has worldwide connections to media, government and business, not to mention a few royals and heads of state.

■ OF COURSE, some sons don’t exactly follow their fathers, but take a parallel path of sorts. When ZAKA rescue and recovery organization founder Yehuda Meshi Zahav, an 11th-generation Jerusalemite, was in his late teens and early 20s, he was one of the young leaders of the Eida Haredit zealots, organizing stone-throwing at drivers of cars who desecrated the Sabbath, not taking notice of the fact that the stone-throwing was a desecration in itself. Meshi Zahav was raised in the anti-Zionist enclave of Mea She’arim, but it was a terrorist who made him realize that terrorists don’t differentiate between one Jew and another; nor do they care if they sacrifice their own in the process of blowing up a bus.

In July 1989, Meshi Zahav, who had already been arrested 34 times for acts of violence and disturbing the peace, witnessed the aftermath of a terrorist attack on bus No. 405 traveling from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The bus, which went out of control, landed in a ravine near Abu Ghosh.

Meshi Zahav, who had been studying at a nearby yeshiva, heard the commotion and, together with other yeshiva students, ran outside to see what had happened. After witnessing the carnage, he came to the realization that not everything was black and white. His first inclination and been to help those victims who had survived, regardless of whether they were Zionist, secular or even Jewish. Six years later, he founded ZAKA, the organization that is often first on the scene when tragedy strikes in the form of terrorist attacks or fatal traffic accidents.

A former operations officer of the Netorei Karta Young Guard, he is now critical of the violence perpetrated by young haredi extremists against Zionists, Christians and Muslims. Though still haredi, he is no longer anti-Zionist and, in fact, lit a torch on Mount Herzl at the Independence Day celebrations in 2003, risking ostracism from his family and the people with whom he had grown up.

Last year, when his son Ariel, one of his seven children, decided to join the army, Meshi Zahav accompanied him to the conscription center like any other parent, and gave him his blessing. Ariel was assigned to the illustrious Golani infantry brigade, and his father subsequently attended his induction ceremony.

Next Tuesday, Yehuda Meshi Zahav will be one of the panelists in a session on inducting haredim into the IDF – or requiring them to perform national service – at the annual Jerusalem Conference, which this year is moving away from its traditional location and is taking place at the capital’s Crown Plaza Hotel. It will be interesting to hear whether or not Meshi Zahav favors the IDF over service in a civilian capacity.

■ MOST PEOPLE might not utter the names of Rabbi Elimelech Firer, the founder of Ezra LeMarpeh, and former national security adviser Uzi Arad in the same breath. And yet the two of them were together in Australia in November on a fundraising mission for a state-of-the-art rehabilitation day care center in Sderot modeled on the one that Firer operates in Bnei Brak. Arad, whose English is much more fluent than that of Firer, did most of the talking, and did not confine himself to the topic of traumatic stress disorders with which so many of the residents of the South are afflicted.

He also spoke about the security situation, and audiences appreciated getting the information straight from the horse’s mouth. The visit to Australia was facilitated by Ra’anana-based businessman and philanthropist Elie Lederman, who is originally from Melbourne and is a volunteer at Ezra LeMarpeh.

Firer and Arad spoke at a series of events in Sydney and Melbourne.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the Sderot rehabilitation center is scheduled for January 11, with Sderot Mayor David Bouskila, government ministers, members of Knesset, other dignitaries and friends of Ezra LeMarpeh among the anticipated attendees. For the MKs running for Knesset, it will be a perfect opportunity to campaign in the South.

The rehabilitation center will be an enormous boon to residents of the South, who will have faster and more efficient access to medical services than they have had to date.

■ ONE OF Israel’s greatest miracles is the way in which it has managed to apply technology to expand agricultural potential in arid areas. The world’s major expert in this field is Netafim, which is widely recognized as the global leader in drip- and micro-irrigation solutions for sustainable productivity. Next week, Netafim will receive the 2011 Outstanding Exporter Prize sponsored by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor at the traditional ceremony at the President’s Residence, in the presence of President Shimon Peres and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon.

■ THE CABINET last week approved NIS 1.5 million in financing the establishment of a chair in the name of Binyamin Ze’ev (Theodor) Herzl at Masaryk University in Brno in the Czech Republic.

This follows the establishment in Israel of a chair in the name of Czechoslovakia’s first president, Thomas Masaryk, which was dedicated last January at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. The Herzl chair will deal with research into leadership, research of the Zionist idea and the State of Israel’s place in the family of nations. The establishment of the chair was agreed upon during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s discussions with Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas during the May 2012 consultative meeting between the Israeli and Czech governments.

Netanyahu noted that cooperation in establishing chairs in the name of the countries’ leaders strengthens the ties between peoples, especially in culture and academia.

“Both Herzl and Masaryk were statesmen, journalists and men of letters who acted to bring to reality the national dreams of their peoples and to establish sovereign states. There can be no greater symbol of cooperation than establishing a chair in the Czech Republic in Herzl’s name after a chair in Masaryk’s name was established in Israel, in order to express the friendly relations and shared history between our peoples,” said Netanyahu.

■ SEPHARDI COMMUNITIES, particularly those from Morocco, are having a festival from January 3-5 at Kinar in the Galilee. Prof. Shimon Shetreet will talk about the North African pioneers who came to Israel; Shlomo Bar will revive melodies and memories from the old country and Guy and Roi Zuatetz will sing some of the liturgical melodies familiar to North African Jews. Sabbath services will be conducted by MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem, and Channel 10 journalist Avishai Ben-Haim will pose the question of what has happened to Sephardi identity.

■ PORTUGAL, LIKE Spain, will be pleased to grant citizenship to people of Portuguese Jewish descent if they can prove their lineage, says Portuguese Ambassador Miguel De Almeida e Sousa. He also notes that toward this aim, Portugal is a little more lenient than Spain. Portugal is now interested in expanding its existing Jewish population, and among the vehicles it is using is this year’s Jerusalem International Book Fair, where it will promote almost everything to do with secret Jews who lived a double life, as well as Jewish life in Portugal today. The latter will be emphasized to a far greater degree in September, when there will be a conference in Jerusalem on being Jewish in Portugal in the 21st century. Speakers will include a teacher of Portuguese Jewish history and tradition, representatives of Portugal’s Jewish community and Colette Avital, who is a former ambassador to Portugal and who De Almeida e Sousa says is still extremely popular in Portugal.

■ THE MOST serious NFL Fantasy League group in Israel, which includes the two founders of the Israel Football Association and at least one senior diplomat, had an early Super Bowl of its own last week as the football season concluded in America. First the quarter and semifinals were played over several weeks... and then came the clash of titans. The best man may often win but not this time.

Shelly Levine, a ferocious fan of the New England Patriots and a tenacious fantasy player, roared out of the huddle, defeating the last man standing in her league by a nail-biting five-point margin chalked up in the wee hours of the morning when Sunday night football wrapped up in the States.

Levine is better known for selling thousands of apartments throughout Israel for the past two decades, but she claimed more of a rush with this victory than with any recent property disposition.

Her husband, Charley, a veteran, prize-winning PR man, graciously accepts compliments at their local grocery store from fantasy followers who are convinced a woman could never beat 11 seasoned men – but the truth is that he doesn’t know a running back from a pigskin. Poker is his game. The closest he gets to sports is through his clients. His firm, Lone Star Communications, recently signed up for the Jerusalem Marathon and the US Maccabiah’s 2013 games in Israel.

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