British Ambassador David Quarrey .
(photo credit: BEN KELMER)
ISRAEL’S LESBIAN, gay, bisexual and transgender community now has its own ambassador, although he’s actually the ambassador of a foreign country that once had a firm toehold in the pre-state Land of Israel. He is British Ambassador David Quarrey who, together with his partner Aldo Henriquez , hosted a large group of LGBT youth at the British Residence – and not just because it was politically correct to do so. Quarrey and Henriquez are part of the LGBT community and have never made a secret of their sexual orientation. The meeting with Israeli Gay Youth (IGY) leaders was the first in a series that the ambassador intends to hold with members of Israel’s gay community. To be entirely accurate, it was the second meeting of its kind. The first was in the aftermath of last year’s Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, in which teenager Shira Banki was murdered. The IGY people who gathered last week at the residence movingly told their stories, and Quarrey shared part of his, telling them of his experiences as he was growing up and noting the tremendous change that the UK has undergone over the past 25 years. He also mentioned that seven of Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office ambassadors around the globe are gay. Quarrey told the group that he will march with them and that the real change will begin with their work from within. He pledged that he and Henriquez would be there to support the LGBT youth. “I invited you here today to tell you that I am ambassador to all of Israel’s citizens,” he said. “We belong to the same community. The change starts from within, and it is because of your work and activism. We are here to support you. The most challenging time to be gay is in school, but I can wholeheartedly tell you that it gets better.” Mandy Michaeli , director of IGY, said that he had welcomed the invitation and was grateful for the hospitality of Quarrey and Henriquez but was quite frankly amazed to see IGY members sitting in front of the ambassador and his partner and sharing their stories – “something I would never have imagined possible when I was a teenager.” Michaeli said he was looking forward to working closely and collaborating with the embassy.
■ HEALTH MINISTER Ya’acov Litzman , together with Education Minister Naftali Bennett , last week paid a surprise visit to the Ma’apilim elementary school in Lod to check out whether the meals being served to the students are nutritious. Litzman has made children’s nutrition a signal feature of his policy and is clamping down on companies and schools that serve food that is not nutritious. Bennett, who is the father of young children, is equally keen for school meals to be nutritious, and the surprise visit was at his initiative. Litzman said he was very happy to receive the invitation to join Bennett, adding that he appreciated the cooperation between the two ministries. The ministers intend to pay several more surprise visits, so schools had better be on their toes.
■ EVEN THOUGH Osem has been delisted from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange since the Nestle takeover last month, it does not mean that the Osem brand name will disappear from the market or that Osem investments will be discontinued. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon last week attended the laying of the cornerstone ceremony for a new Osem factory in Kiryat Gat that will be dedicated to the production of Bamba, the peanut-flavored baked snack that is a favorite with adults and children alike. Among those present at the ceremony were Dan Propper , chairman of the Osem Investments Group; the company’s CEO Itzik Saig ; and Kiryat Gat Mayor Aviram Dahari .
Kahlon said that there was great significance in the fact that Osem had launched another production plant because it will provide more jobs. He also quipped that he was delighted that this was a Bamba plant because he is very partial to Bamba.
■ THE BERLIN Girls’ Choir of the West Berlin School of Music is visiting Israel and giving concerts around the country on its own and together with its Israeli sister choir, the Bat Kol Girls’ Choir of the Tel Conservatory of Music. It is also performing in Jerusalem with the Joshua Tuttnauer Choir- Ankor and with the Nona Choir at Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael, where it will also conduct workshops. Some performances by the visitors from Berlin will be free of charge and will take place on May 16 at the Tel Aviv Conservatory of Music at 8 p.m.; on May 17 at the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem at 8 p.m.; on May 19 at Kibbutz Sha’ar Hagolan at 8:30 p.m.; and on May 21 at Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael at noon.