All roads lead to J'lem at President's Conference

"Facing Tomorrow," the third Presidential Conference, brings together some of the world's best minds.

June 21, 2011 01:09
2 minute read.
President Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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It’s a magic two-word formula. No, it’s not abra cadabra. That’s passé. The password is “Shimon Peres.”

Just mention the name of Israel’s president and doors open and acquiescence abounds.

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In 2008, Peres introduced the first Facing Tomorrow Presidential Conference in Jerusalem that was attended by 3,500 people, including past and present global movers and shakers such as Mikhail Gorbachev, George W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, Elie Wiesel, Rupert Murdoch and many other internationally known names.

That year Peres brought together some of the world’s best minds in many spheres at what is reputed to be the center of the universe. The only person who refused him was Barbra Streisand, though initially she indicated that she would come.

Several of the personalities who attended in 2008 returned in 2009, plus a whole batch of newcomers. There was no conference in 2010, but there is one this week, from Tuesday to Thursday at the Jerusalem International Convention Center (Binyenei Ha’uma).

Several major Jewish organizations are holding their international conferences in Israel just before, during or after Facing Tomorrow, and some are also participating.

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There are meetings in the capital this week of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Governing Board of the World Jewish Congress, the World Board of Trustees of Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal and several other organizations, and their leaders will be at the grand opening on Tuesday night of the 2011 Facing Tomorrow conference.

The speakers at this year’s President’s Conference will include Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, opposition head Tzipi Livni, Quartet envoy Tony Blair, former Shas chairman Arye Deri, British Ambassador Matthew Gould, US Ambassador Dan Kurtzer, French intellectual Bernard- Henri Lévy, author Amos Oz, US diplomat Dennis Ross, hitech entrepreneur Yossi Vardi – and, of course, Peres.

Plenary sessions will deal with nations, ethics, trends, challenges, decisions, global perspectives for tomorrow and future media.

The panel discussions promise to be more interesting but will in many cases leave audiences frustrated because there will be too many people addressing each topic, which means that few if any participants will have time to develop a theme and audiences will not be much wiser, if any wiser, at the end.

The topics of some of these discussions are: Thin Ice – Criticism vs. Loyalty in Israel-Diaspora relations; The Israel Economy – A Small, Leading Market; Israel and America: Has the Love Cooled?; The Future of European Jewry; The Israeli- Palestinian Peace Process; Delegitimization; Conversion: Who Keeps the Gate for the Jewish Nation; Jewish Identity; Israel and the Diaspora: Relationship among Equals?; Cutting Edge Medicine; Will We Miss the Old Middle East?; New Energy for Tomorrow; The Jewish Dimension of a Peace Agreement; Where is Jewish Philanthropy Headed?; The Drama of Brain Research; and Stopping Nuclear Proliferation.

It’s a great opportunity for citizens of the world to network and discuss issues of common interest outside the various halls in which the conference will be held.

Comprehensive reports on the conference and interviews with some of the personalities attending will be published in The Jerusalem Post.

Between greeting participants and attending a Keren Hayesod awards ceremony on Monday, Peres found time to meet with Dr. Daniel Clair, who flew in from the US to operate on 101- year-old Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv, who successfully underwent surgery at the capital’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center on Sunday evening.

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