What do Lord Roderick Balfour, former Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky and the State of Israel have in common? All three came into being in 1948. The interesting coincidence came to light this week at a gala dinner celebrating the 101st anniversary of the Balfour Declaration hosted by the Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association at the Hilton Hotel, Tel Aviv. Lord Balfour, who is no stranger to Israel, and Sharansky were the guest speakers. Balfour – utilizing that characteristically British mix of wry self-deprecation, humor and wit – kept his audience alert as he made some interesting historical and emotional points. Sharansky noted that 101 years earlier, news of the Balfour Declaration and the Bolshevik Revolution had been published on the same day in newspapers. Not much attention was paid at that time to the Balfour Declaration, but the Bolshevik Revolution was hailed as something that would change the course of history. Before either of them spoke, there were the traditional toasts to the president of Israel and the queen of England. In making the toast to President Reuven Rivlin, British Ambassador David Quarrey said he was a great admirer of Rivlin, but was taken aback when presenting his credentials when Rivlin had asked him on camera when the queen would visit Israel. Although that visit did not take place, Quarrey was delighted to have accompanied Prince William to meet the president.
The toast to the queen was made by one of her former subjects, British-born Daniel Taub, who is the immediate past Israel ambassador to Britain, and who has taken leave from the Foreign Ministry to work for the Rothschild Foundation. He said that while those who originally came from the UK look at what is happening there with concern, this was not the evening to talk about that. It was an evening of celebration. Taub, a Jerusalemite, hinted that the British Embassy might one day move to Jerusalem, and said if that happens, the Israel, Britain and the Commonwealth Association, or IBCA, will have to move its events to Jerusalem as well.
Arthur James Balfour, after whom a street bordering the residence of the prime minister of Israel is called, never married, and therefore Roderick Lord Balfour is not a direct descendant, but a great nephew.
Coincidence being what it is, the letter that became known as the Balfour Declaration had been delivered to Lord Walter Rothschild, and last year, at the IBCA dinner celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the guest speaker from Britain was Lord Jacob Rothschild. The present Lord Balfour worked for the NM Rothschild Bank in London for 15 years, and brought greetings from Lord Jacob Rothschild who was in New York to receive the World Jewish Congress Theodor Herzl Award, which was presented to the Rothschild family.
WJC President Ronald Lauder, who is certainly no slouch himself when it comes to philanthropy in general and Jewish philanthropy in particular, praised the Rothschilds as “one family that stands above all others and who have rarely been recognized publicly for all that they have done.”
Space does not permit a full report of either the IBCA or the WJC event, both of which will be dealt with more adequately in Sunday’s Jerusalem Post.
■ OUTGOING POLICE Commissioner Roni Alsheich has come in for a lot of flak in recent weeks, but this week he received high praise from President Rivlin, who thanked him for his many years of service in safeguarding Israel’s security.
Speaking at an awards ceremony at the National Police College in Beit Shemesh, Rivlin noted that Alsheich had served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, as a high-ranking member of Israel Security Agency and as head of the police.
Medals were awarded to members of the civilian counter-terrorism unit (Yamam), Border Police and Israel Police for distinction in action, initiative, determination and more.
Family members of the recipients were justifiably proud, but there was also a note of sadness in that some of the medals were awarded posthumously.
Among those whose family members received their medals in their stead was Hadas Malka of the Border Police, who died at Hadassah Medical Center Mount Scopus following a July 2017 terrorist attack near the Damascus Gate while she was on patrol. She bravely fought off her attacker but was stabbed in the chest while attempting to draw her weapon.
The Distinguished Civilian Service medal was awarded to the late Ari Fuld in recognition of his conspicuous bravery during a stabbing attack in Gush Etzion last September. The Commissioner’s Citation and the Medal for Distinguished Service were awarded to Sergeant Majors YL and SA of Yamam for professionalism and initiative in eliminating those responsible for the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevah, who was shot dead in the West Bank by a terrorist in January of this year. Even in the close confines of the National Police College, the two Yamam men came in disguise in order to protect their identities and their safety.
The Commissioner’s Citation was also awarded to the Arava Rescue Unit for operational excellence while exhibiting professionalism, determination and devotion to the mission during the rescue of the students of the Bnei Zion pre-army academy who were trapped in floods in the Nahal Tzafit disaster. The Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service was awarded to Ofek Moshe Kaufman for exemplary courage during an attempted stabbing attack at the Mishor Adumim petrol station. Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Alsheich also spoke of the dedicated men and women who risk their lives every day to guarantee the safety and security of the nation.
■ IT WAS not your everyday wedding present, and it was intended much more for the groom than for the bride – but both were very happy with it. What was it? A vote of public confidence. Amichai Siboni, a senior adviser to Bayit Yehudi leader and Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett recently married Tziona Rimmel of Chicago, and very soon after was elected to serve on the Ashkelon City Council. Not too many people can boast of a similar wedding gift.
■ NEXT YEAR, the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya will celebrate its silver anniversary. When its founder and president Prof. Uriel Reichman first began promoting the concept of an Ivy League-style educational facility in Israel, he wasn’t exactly ridiculed, but he didn’t receive much encouragement, either. But Reichman went ahead and followed his dream, with the upshot that IDC, which teaches in English as well as Hebrew, has approximately a third of its enrollments from overseas.
When it opened in 1994, there were 300 students in the first class. Today, the student population is in excess of 7,000. The high-caliber faculty includes professors who also teach at Ivy League universities in the US.
Moreover, IDC is a private college that does not depend on the government for funding.
This week, Reichman received an award from the Council for Higher Education in recognition of his broad and meaningful contribution to the advancement of higher education in Israel. The award ceremony was held in the presence of President Rivlin.
Reichman, who over the years has had serious disputes with the council, was acknowledged as “being a pioneer who founded an academic institution which is not subsidized by the government. His deeds enabled the academic system to develop alongside the subsidized colleges, thereby providing an additional model of non-subsidized facilities. He paved the path in Israel for the development of higher education that is not dependent on public funding.” Following his initiative and his influence, additional institutions were founded. Reichman was also lauded for establishing his institution with an impressive academic vision that enabled interdisciplinary studies, which at the time were not common in Israeli academia. His enterprise affected the academic discourse, research and teaching throughout the entire higher education system in Israel.” In response, Reichman said the award was somewhat in the nature of closure for him. More than 25 years ago he set out on an adventure with a dream to establish a new type of academic institution, a nonprofit private university that heralded freedom and responsibility – the freedom for self-fulfillment alongside the responsibility for other beings in society. “I am not sure that I would have embarked on this journey had I known ahead the difficulties and challenges I was to encounter,” he said. “It is not a secret that IDC Herzliya dealt with great opposition from its very first moment, and that over the years I had my disputes with CHE. Even [with that], though, IDC thrived and became an institution with more than 7,000 students, in 10 different schools, which developed new disciplines, a leader in teaching and in research with 25,000 graduates. In our Raphael Recanati International School there are 2,000 students from 90 countries, which led CHE to recognize us as the most international institution in Israel. I am especially proud in the fact that many of our graduates who came from abroad chose to live in Israel and strengthen our relations with the Diaspora.”
■ IDC WAS not the only beneficiary of the CHE’s recognition. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI), along with the Bezalel Academy of Design and Azrieli College of Engineering, received a 20-million shekel ($5.4 million) grant from the CHE to establish an entrepreneurship and innovation center in downtown Jerusalem. This consortium, united under the name “JLM-Impact Consortium,” won first place for CHE’s request for proposals to boost entrepreneurial activity among the city’s students and academic community.
Yishai Fraenkel, HUJI vice president and director general, attributed selection for the grant to close teamwork with Bezalel and Azrieli. “We plan to make our mark on this city by instilling “a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said. “Every student and professor is a potential entrepreneur.”
Remarks in a similar vein were made by Dr. Amnon Dekel, head of Hebrew University’s HUJI Innovate, Prof. Raza Azhari, president of Azrieli College of Engineering, Dr. Yuval Karniel, rector of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, and Dr. Yaron Daniely, CEO & president of Yissum, the Hebrew University’s technology transfer company.
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