It became increasingly apparent this week why Polish President Andrzej Duda declined the offer by President Reuven Rivlin to speak at the dinner that Rivlin hosted last Wednesday night for heads of state attending the global forum on antisemitism. Aside from not wanting a compensation prize, Duda wanted Russian President Vladimir Putin to hear him challenge the allegations that Putin made against Poland vis-à-vis the Holocaust. As Putin was not going to be at the dinner and Duda had not been included in the speakers list at Yad Vashem, Duda saw no point in coming, and instead published the speech he might have delivered had he been on the program.
It was so Jewish in content that it was a pity people could not hear him say what appeared in print in The Washington Post, Die Welt and Le Figaro on Thursday morning ahead of the start of the event at Yad Vashem.
On the previous evening, Rivlin had urged that history be left to historians and not be distorted by politicians. Duda went a step further, writing, “The truth about the Holocaust must not die. It must not be distorted or used for any purpose. In the name of sacred memory of the annihilation of the Jews and out of respect for other victims of the 20th century totalitarianism – we cannot, and we shall not condone it. We will not cease in our efforts to make the world remember this crime so that nothing of the kind would ever happen again.
Rivlin was asked after the dinner how he would relate to Duda when they meet at Auschwitz next week. Rivlin replied that there was no problem, because it was a commemorative event and was not taking place in parliament.
Meanwhile in Israel, the Polish Cultural Institute is hosting several events in Kiryat Motzkin and Tel Aviv on January 27, primarily Holocaust-related documentaries and feature films. Full details are available on the Institute’s Facebook page.
■ OF THE leaders who did come to Israel, several were involved in other events as well. For instance, President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus was awarded an honorary doctorate by IDC Herzliya in recognition of Israel-Cyprus relations and his support for the establishment of the Pafos Innovation Institute, which is a collaborative undertaking between the IDC and the city of Pafos in Cyprus, which is a twin city to Herzliya. PII, as it is known, was initiated by IDC Herzliya president Prof. Uriel Reichman with Pafos Mayor Phedonas Phedonas and Herzliya Mayor Moshe Fadlon (who were both present at the conferment ceremony), in the hope that collaboration and joint research will improve the lives of citizens of the region. The degree was conferred on Anastasiades last Tuesday at a festive ceremony in which emphasis was placed on his leadership and contribution to nurturing the strong ties between Cyprus and Israel.
Anastasiadis said that partnership between the two countries has important geopolitical significance that will only grow in the coming years. Addressing Reichman and other prominent IDC figures, Anastasiades quoted Aristotle: “Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.”
In addition to Thessalia Salina Shambos, the ambassador of Cyprus, numerous diplomats attended the conferment ceremony, including Ambassador of Myanmar U Maung Maung Lynn, whose daughter is an IDC graduate, and Nigerian Ambassador Enoch Pear Duchi, whose daughter currently studies at the Raphael Recanati International School at IDC. Also present was Allegra Biton, a student from Cyprus doing her first degree in communications at the RRIS.
■ AMONG THE Holocaust survivors who were invited to Yad Vashem on Thursday was international businessman and philanthropist Sir Frank Lowy, whose father was brutally murdered in Auschwitz.
Since moving to Israel just over a year ago, Lowy, 89 – who speaks fluent Hebrew, having initially come as teenage refugee after the Second World War, and who fought in the War of Independence before emigrating to Australia – has led an active life in Israel. Aside from a very long top-level association with Keren Hayesod, he is chairman of the board of the Institute for National Security Studies, and honorary chairman of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Foundation, which last Monday hosted a concert in his honor and that of his wife, Lady Shirley Lowy, which was attended by his close and longtime friend former prime minister Ehud Olmert and his wife, Aliza; Alfred and Hava Akirov; Michael and Sara Sela; Susie and Dan Propper; Ido and Batya Dissentshick; and many other well-known personalities. On Tuesday, Lowy, who lives in Tel Aviv, was in Jerusalem to attend a cocktail reception in honor of Australian Governor General David Hurley.
■ AMONG THE entertainers who appeared at the gala opening of WIZO’s enlarged general meeting in celebration of its centenary, was ever popular singer Yehoram Gaon, who is 20 years younger than WIZO. Gaon celebrated his 80th birthday in December.
Also appearing was the captivating Shalva Band as well as former and current WIZO musical talents.
Special guest was US Ambassador David Friedman.
Close to a thousand women from WIZO federations around the globe came to Israel and packed the Mexico Hall on the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem last Sunday night for the grand evening of celebration that was sponsored by Jana and Simon Falic and family. World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky and World WIZO president Esther Mor were emotionally moved to greet so many women from around the world who care so much about Israel, and volunteer to bring so many of WIZO’s projects to fruition,.
■ A GIFT for words apparently runs in the family. Jerusalem Post readers are familiar with Gil Troy, who is a regular columnist with the paper. But not all Post readers are familiar with his brother, best-selling presidential historian Tevi Troy, whose new book, Fight House – Rivalries in the White House from Truman to Trump, will soon be released in Israel and will be available on Amazon.
Troy served in a number of senior policy positions in the White House during the administration of George W. Bush. He was also the White House Jewish liaison, until he was appointed deputy secretary of Health and Human Services from August 2007 until January 2009.
In a pre-release event at the Kohelet Forum in Jerusalem last Wednesday, Troy was interviewed by Aylana Meisel, the director of Tikvah Israel.
Attendees at the oversubscribed event included noted Gaza-border resident and activist Adele Raemer; Promised podcast co-host Don Futterman; pollster and political analyst Mitch Barak; and former prime ministerial aide Shalom Lipner. Naturally, brother Gil was also there.
In the wide-ranging interview, Troy touched on the fascinating history of White House infighting and its historical impact on Israel. Israeli political infighting also entered the discussion. Noting that Israel has been a source of great tension in many White Houses, Troy explained that his subtitle, From Truman to Trump, was not merely alliterative but indicative of the fact that White House fighting over Israel began with the fight in the Truman White House over recognizing the State of Israel within minutes of its establishment.
In the book, which will be released to the public on February 11, Troy combines archival research, biting analysis and some of his own recollections in an entertaining and informative look at what top government aides will do to each other to advance their own interests.
The book will of course be of particular interest to American expats in Israel regardless of political affiliations and preferences, as in the period covered the occupants of the While House have at various times been either Democrats or Republicans.
■ ON THE local scene, it appears that Gil Hoffman, the Post’s political correspondent, never sleeps, given the volume of his reports and analyses for the paper. In addition, he writes for publications abroad, has a radio program on Arutz Sheva, frequently appears on local and international television channels, often lectures at home and abroad, is a devoted husband and father, works out in the gym, and because he’s religiously observant, devotes time for study and prayer. On top of all that, he has to keep his finger on the pulse of breaking news. But Hoffman is a competitive guy and loves participating in quiz contests, especially the annual Nefesh B’Nefesh Quiz Night, which is held at Mike’s Place, a popular downtown steakhouse in Jerusalem.
In the recent contest, Hoffman’s Iron Dome team won for the second consecutive year, and for the third time in a four-year period. Along with Hoffman, the Iron Dome team included Panoply quiz veterans Josh Yuter, Nachum Lamm, Eliana Rudee and Avi Unterman plus newcomer Yoni Mann.
After the strenuous work of running around the country to cover three election campaigns which have thus far failed to produce a government, Hoffman says that Panoply, though no less exciting, is far more relaxing.