To a 16-year-old, any age over 50 is ancient. When Paul McCartney, now 71, wrote
“When I’m 64,” he was only 16.
The song, recorded by The Beatles in
December 1966, is one of the enduring hits of the album released in June 1967
under the title Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
If 64 was
considered old when McCartney was still an adolescent, imagine what the attitude
was to 90. But 90 has become the new 50.
If we look at the lifestyle of
Israel’s No. 1 citizen, who goes on enjoying himself and doing the unexpected,
that factor becomes obvious.
Several members of his peer generation are
no less active than President Shimon Peres. If things keep going in this
direction, it will no longer be a traditional blessing among Jews, when wishing
someone “Happy Birthday,” to add “Till 120” – because 120 will no longer be
regarded as unattainable or even old! Indeed, in the Carpathian Mountains, there
are recorded cases of people who lived well beyond 120.
There is always
lots of interest and variety in the president’s schedule – and this week was no
exception. It started off on a geopolitical note with a meeting with French
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. The following day, Peres visited Google’s Tel
Aviv campus and helped launch the new Android Code Game Laboratory.
also inspected various Google projects and even mounted a bike that has a Google
Street View device attached to the handlebars.
In his youth, he used to
ride a motorcycle.
On Tuesday, the first day of the new school year, he
visited the Shalom School in Jerusalem’s Malha neighborhood. There, he was
joined by Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely, whose responsibilities
include road safety campaigns, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. All donned bright
yellow road safety vests and helped first graders to cross the road – though
usually it’s the other way around, with schoolchildren helping senior citizens
to cross the road.
Then, on Wednesday, Peres met with a German delegation
representing 400 German magazine publishers, who presented him with a lifetime
achievement award in recognition of his ongoing efforts to achieve peace in the
Middle East and reconciliation with Germany. On Thursday, he realized the dream
of many small boys when he went on a tour of Israel Police headquarters in
These are only the highlights of his week, as there were many
more meetings and tours.
Peres has an insatiable curiosity about almost
everything, which makes him one of the most hardworking of public servants. Yet
for all that, there will be a cut in his next salary payment. This salary
erosion, effective from August salaries onward, also applies to the prime
minister, other government ministers, MKs and civil servants.
way, at the beginning of the year, the president’s monthly salary was NIS
54,200. From now until the end of the year, it will be reduced by 1 percent to
NIS 53,658. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s salary, which was NIS 46,700 at
the beginning of the year, is now NIS 46,233; while other government ministers
have had their salaries reduced from NIS 41,900 to NIS 41,481. MKs were
receiving NIS 38,300 at the beginning of the year but will now be paid NIS
However, this is only a temporary measure and all the salaries
will be raised again at the beginning of 2014. In fact, they will not only be
restored but increased, so that the president will be earning NIS 55,000; the
prime minister NIS 47,250; other government ministers NIS 42,393; and MKs NIS
39,054. Obviously, none of them had or will have a problem with the price of
■ THE MORE political parties there are, the lower the
chances of the winner of an election having a significant majority. From the
comfortable position that he seemed to occupy six months ago, when there was
little doubt that he would serve a second term, Barkat is facing increasing
opposition in the race for mayor of the capital.
He may have made a
serious mistake in dropping deputy mayor Naomi Tsur from his list. Tsur and
council member Edna Friedman have teamed up to form a new party, Ometz – which
was officially launched this week. Their list includes a broad social mosaic of
religious and secular, Ashkenazi and Mizrahi, Jewish and non-Jewish, immigrants
from Russia and Ethiopia, etc. Two of the major issues on the party’s platform
are the greening of Jerusalem and the advancement of the status of women. Long
before the party was formed, green activists in the capital were campaigning on
a regular basis in the city’s Ben-Yehuda Pedestrian Mall. Presumably, Ometz will
also receive support from Women of the Wall.
Meanwhile, the in-limbo
campaign of Likud candidate Moshe Lion has now become official. On the same day
that the Likud internal court, headed by former MK Michael Kleiner, rejected an
appeal by Jerusalem Likud member Yair Gabai to disqualify Lion, Tsur and
Friedman officially launched Ometz. The day happened to be Tuesday, which in
Jewish tradition is a lucky day – because on the third day of the creation of
the world, God saw twice that it was good.
Lion also has a demographic
mix on his list, though not as broad as that of Ometz. One of the people on his
list is fencing champion Vladimir Shklar, who is president of the Israel Fencing
Association. It remains to be seen whether he can thrust and parry in the
■ WHAT STARTED out as the Israeli launch of The Hague
Odyssey: Israel’s Struggle for Security on the Front Lines of Terrorism and Her
Battle for Justice at the United Nations by lawyer Richard Heideman, after a
previous book launch at the National Press Club in Washington, turned into a
call for international intervention to prevent the ongoing massacres of whole
families of the Syrian people by the Syrian regime.
Washingtonbased trial lawyer who serves as lead trial counsel on behalf of
American victims of terrorism, is an honorary president of B’nai B’rith
International and a longtime advocate for human and civil rights for victims of
violations of those rights, regardless of creed, color or nationality.
has served in executive capacities on numerous American Jewish and international
Jewish organizations, and is a trustee of the B’nai B’rith World Center in
Jerusalem – whose director Alan Schneider moderated the Israel launch of the
Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem.
According to veteran B’nai
B’rith stalwart Avigdor Warsaw, the Begin Center is built on the site of what
was previously intended to be the headquarters of the B’nai B’rith World Center.
Warsaw had negotiated with Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek for allocation of the
land, but in the final analysis, the project had proven too costly and was
Around that time, Warsaw had a chance meeting with MK Eliahu
Ben-Elissar, who told him that the Likud was looking for a suitable site for a
permanent monument to Begin and his achievements. Warsaw told him that he had
all the paperwork ready for him, and all that was required was a transfer of the
B’nai B’rith, which on October 13 will celebrate its
170th anniversary, is the Jewish organization with the longest relationship with
the UN, said Schneider. It was present at the founding of the UN in San
Francisco in 1945, and has been an active NGO at the UN ever
Heideman’s book deals to a large extent with the anti-Israel bias
of the UN, especially with regard to the West Bank security barrier, which the
UN calls an apartheid wall. Heideman vigorously disputes and refutes the UN
contention, declaring that it is the right and obligation of every nation-state,
including Israel, to protect its citizens.
The barrier was in fact
constructed to prevent terrorist infiltration.
Yet following the
construction, the UN General Assembly requested an advisory opinion from the
International Court of Justice at The Hague regarding its legality. Heideman
argued that in doing so, the UN violated its own charter.
chairman of the OneFamily Fund, which co-sponsored the launch, said that in the
12 years since OneFamily was founded as a support group for victims of terror
and their families, it has distributed more than $38 million to more than 3,500
victims and their families.
In explaining how OneFamily came into being,
Belzberg said: “I saw terror and could not remain unaffected. I heard terror and
could not remain silent. I felt terror and could not remain
Citing statistics, Belzberg said that 772 children had lost
fathers to terrorism, 199 children had lost mothers and 72 children had lost
both parents. He lauded the important work that Heideman is doing on behalf of
victims of terrorism, and Israel’s right to defend herself against
Prof. Yuval Shani, dean of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew
University and a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, said that until its
advisory opinion had been sought on the security barrier, the International
Court of Justice had never been a major player in the Middle East conflict.
“This was its big chance,” he said, adding that the court, in its desire to
become relevant, was throwing away the rules of jurisdiction.
saying that the book was in memory of the victims of terrorism, Heideman made
minimal reference to the book itself, but spoke of terrorist acts and human
rights violations around the globe – which have barely caused a ripple in world
reaction. “The world watched and didn’t care,” he said. “All victims were real
people who had the right to be free of terrorism.”
What is happening in
Syria and in other countries where people are being massacred is totally
unacceptable, he said, as he urged that voices be raised in the name of human
dignity and human rights and obligations. World leaders must stand up for the
people of Syria, he said, underscoring that terrorism affects people everywhere,
not just in Israel.
The Syrian leadership must be held responsible for
crimes against humanity, Heideman insisted, and found it incredible that after
all the carnage, Syria still sits as a member in the family of nations and on UN
human rights committees.
■ THE ISRAEL Coins and Medals Corporation has
minted a limited edition of a medal honoring the memory of former prime minister
Yitzhak Shamir. At a ceremony at the Agriculture Ministry, which is headed by
Shamir’s son, Yair, the medal was presented to him and to Shamir’s daughter,
Gilada Diament, by Corporation CEO Aviv Katz.
■ AFTER FIVE years in
Israel, Simon Hsieh, director of the Information Division of the Taipei Economic
and Cultural Office in Tel Aviv, is returning home tomorrow to take up a senior
post in his country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. He will remain there for
three-and-a-half years until his retirement.
To say farewell to Hsieh and
to welcome his successor, Allen Chenhwa Lou, who arrived in Israel only this
week, Ambassador Liang-Jen Chang, the Taiwan representative in Israel, held a
luncheon in the capital’s 1868 restaurant. This was in a sense symbolic, because
1868 was the year in which China and the US concluded the Burlingame- Seward
Treaty, thus establishing basic principles to ease immigration and restrictions
for Chinese in the US, to allow China to appoint consuls to American cities and
to limit American interference in China’s internal affairs.
was a frequent letter writer to The Jerusalem Post, says he will continue to
read the paper online, and hopes to stay in touch with editors and journalists
whom he got to know over the years.
Although both he and Chang understand
a little Hebrew, neither has actually mastered the language.
favorite word is “balagan,” which though it is part of the Hebrew lexicon, is
actually a Slavic word commonly used in Russia and Poland. Cheng said there has
been “a lot of balagan in Taiwan lately,” in regard to the succession of defense
ministers – with three different people in the position in the space of one
■ IT’S BEEN a long birthday celebration for former basketball star Tal
Brody, who in 1977 led Maccabi Tel Aviv to triumph in the European Cup
Basketball Championships, defeating the formidable CSKA Moscow team in the
semi-finals along the way. That win was particularly important because at the
time, Russia was still Communist and the struggle for Soviet Jewry was a global
Jewish mission. In 1977, Brody, in heavily accented Hebrew, coined the phrase:
“We are on the map, and we are staying on the map!” In recent weeks, he has been
interviewed by several publications, which have highlighted his career as a
player, coach, philanthropist and goodwill ambassador for Israel. All of the
interviews have been related to his 70th birthday – which is actually today,
On Wednesday, some of his old Maccabi Tel Aviv teammates, most
of whom have remained close friends, as well as some Maccabi Tel Aviv players
who came after Brody, held a birthday celebration for him. They presented him
with a cake in the team colors, topped with a sugared basketball and the Maccabi
Tel Aviv logo. Among those who joined in the celebration were Miki Berkovich,
Doron Jamchi, Aulcie Perry, Nikola Vujcic and Moti