A voice for the helpless

Countess Esther de Pommery, leading pro-Israel rights activist, comes to aid of woman battling to keep her child.

By FELICITY KAY
March 5, 2010 05:41
2 minute read.
Esther de Pommery

esther de pommery. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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With $80 million spent on toys and 57 hospitals dedicated, all on behalf of “Jewish mothers” or “the people of Israel,” the countess Esther de Pommery could teach the Israeli government a thing or two about hasbara (public diplomacy).

De Pommery regularly travels the world, seeking to help disadvantaged youth and women with her donations, with the aim of increasing Israel’s standing in the eyes of the world. However, her latest project – a documentary about Ronit Bitton, an Israeli woman who has fought a long battle to keep her son in Israel rather than with her estranged non-Jewish husband in Belgium –  is taking her philanthropy to a new level.

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Moved after seeing news coverage of Bitton’s story, the countess went to meet her and decided to make a documentary on the case. She also supplied Bitton with the help of leading Israeli lawyer Zion Amir, and Carlos Chiko – another highly successful lawyer and the incumbent president of Peru, whom she befriended and brought over to Israel especially for the case.

“I’m the voice of those who don’t have a voice anymore,” de Pommery said on Thursday, two days after the release of the 20-minute documentary, Ronit.

Meri Crouley, an American journalist who co-produced the film with the countess, said, “I think it’s fabulous, all the things she’s done – the human rights, the toys for peace. She helps everyone, with all their different needs.”

The countess’s work around the world certainly testifies to this. The Switzerland native, who commutes regularly to Hollywood for her other documentary projects, has in the past few years travelled to places as diverse as Bulgaria, South Africa and Israel, to name a few, visiting disadvantaged children and women and meeting each country’s ambassadors and politicians.

During her most recent travels in Israel, she visited Ashdod, Sderot and Nitzanim, where she met the residents, gave toys to the children and listened to their experiences of living in cities under siege.


Her next projects are set to be similarly diverse: She plans to produce her own line of wines – some of which will be kosher – with proceeds going to the Esther de Pommery Foundation, dedicated to human rights activism and Israel. The official opening ceremony will be held Friday in Hebron at 2 p.m.

As for her future plans, the countess stated that she hoped to continue doing what she does now: “Helping people. I’m so busy, I have so many places to go and things to do. I have everything I need!”

She also plans to make aliya eventually.  “One day I hope to live in Israel. I love coming to Jerusalem. I love this country, it’s my home,” she said.

Bitton’s trial is due to take place next Sunday, March 7, with an additional hearing on March 27.

Ronit can be seen on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/mericrouley.

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