STUDENTS FROM Germany visit the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
■ OUT OF Zion shall come not only the law, but gastronomic delights. From his flagship restaurant Machneyehuda, celebrity chef Assaf Granit, a native son of Jerusalem branched out to become a television star and the co-owner of Hasadna in Talbiyeh, a wine bar on Aza Street, the Barbary and Palomar restaurants in London and Balagan in Paris. Not satisfied with all that, Granit is looking for bigger fish to fry and is planning to open a hotel in Greece, where no doubt the bulk of his clientele will be Israelis. Greece has become a popular vacation spot for Israelis who ironically take time out from Israel to get away from it all – and then cluster wherever they find fellow countrymen.
■ CZECH PRESIDENT Milos Zeman, when he was in Israel in 2013, spoke of his desire to move the Czech Embassy to Jerusalem. In fact, he would have liked to do so ahead of the Americans, but opposition on the home front coupled with the Czech obligation to fall in line with European Union policy has put any such move on hold. However, the opening of Czech House in Jerusalem this week, was in Zeman’s view a first step towards the embassy’s relocation.
■ MEANWHILE, THE US Embassy is expanding. Former mayor Nir Barkat last week signed approval for a 700-sq.m. addition to the existing building that will enable the transfer of more staff and services from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The embassy is located in the building that was formerly the US Consulate, which, though quite large, is not large enough to accommodate an embassy with the scope of that of the United States of America. The upcoming enlargement is apparently the first stage of expansion, to be followed soon after by another to help strengthen the ties between Washington and Jerusalem.
The ambassador’s official residence has not yet moved from Herzliya Pituah to Jerusalem, and the truth is that it would be difficult to find a conveniently located property of the same size in the capital, unless ambassador David Friedman takes over the residence of the Consul General in Agron Street. There have been rumors to this effect, but as yet they are nothing more than rumors. On the other hand, in October of this year, the Trump administration announced that the Consulate in Agron Street, which catered primarily to American relations with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, would cease to operate in its present location and would move into the US Embassy. This of course would free up the property in Agron Street and make it suitable for the ambassador’s residence. For religiously observant Friedman, the Agron Street property is in easy walking distance of some dozen Orthodox, Conservative and Reform synagogues.
■ THE FRENCH obviously have no intention of moving their embassy, but French Ambassador Hélène Le Gal is finding more reasons to come to Jerusalem. This week she came to the Jerusalem-based Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities to participate in the Science without Boundaries conference that was held in conjunction with French Académie des Sciences and was addressed by its Permanent Secretary Catherine Bréchignac.
Next week Le Gal is scheduled to attend the three-day Vichy Revisited conference. In recent years, European countries whose governments or specific political groups collaborated with the Nazis in the persecution and murder of Jews, other minorities and members of Resistance movements, have with the passing of time become more willing to confront the dark and shameful chapters in their history. The conference will open at the Van Leer Institute on Monday December 3, will continue on Tuesday at the Constantiner Lecture Hall in Yad Vashem and will conclude on Wednesday at the Hebrew University’s Mandel School on the Mount Scopus campus.
■ YAD VASHEM for many years gave recognition to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Efforts by relatives of Jews who saved Jews to have similar recognition accorded to them were for a long time to no avail. Change came slowly over the past decade. On Wednesday morning, December 5, Yad Vashem will host a conference on Jews who saved Jews. Most lectures will be devoted to female rescuers and women partisans. Among the speakers will be MK Merav Michaeli, who will discuss her grandfather Israel Kasztner, who facilitated the rescue of hundreds of Hungarian Jews, but who after settling in Israel was accused of collaborating with the Nazis and was assassinated in March, 1957. He was posthumously exonerated by the Supreme Court in January 1958.
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