Jerusalem Grapevine: Agnon jubilee

News briefs from around Jerusalem.

December 8, 2016 16:18
3 minute read.
Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold

Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)

• ISRAELIS WILL find any reason to celebrate and the 50th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize to an Israeli is as good a reason as any. Noted author S.Y. Agnon was the first Israeli to be chosen as a Nobel Prize laureate, and the jubilee of that event is being celebrated by several Israeli cultural organizations, with Beit Agnon in the forefront.

In addition to events being held at Beit Agnon, the site’s team is also working in conjunction with other national and Jerusalem- based enterprises to pay tribute to Agnon on the half-century anniversary of his literary triumph. Coming up on Tuesday, December 13, is the Reading Agnon in the Knesset commemoration, beginning with a 90-minute discussion in the Knesset’s Education Culture and Sports Committee chaired by Shas MK Ya’acov Margi.

This will be followed by a festive celebration in the Knesset library with the participation of legislators, authors and Agnon researchers and scholars, and there will also be a session on Agnon in the Knesset plenum.

• FEW EVENTS could do greater justice in honoring the memory of Prof. Daniel J. Elazar, founder of The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, than a conversation between current JCPA president Dore Gold and eminent American jurist and Professor of Law Emeritus of Harvard Law School Prof. Alan Dershowitz.

Their conversation will cover several subjects, including making the case for Israel, the US presidential elections and American Jewry and Israel.

Daniel Elazar was an American-born and -educated political scientist who made his home in Jerusalem, but also commuted to America where he was the director of the Center for the Study of Federalism at Temple University. In Israel he taught at Bar-Ilan University. In 1986, president Ronald Reagan appointed him a citizen member of the US Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.

Gold was also born in America. Whereas Elazar’s alma mater was the University of Chicago, Gold earned his PhD in political science at Columbia University. He is a former adviser to prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, a former Israel ambassador to the United Nations, and most recently a former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Gold and Dershowitz are a perfect pair to discuss the selected subjects. The venue is Mishkenot Sha’ananim and the date is Wednesday, December 14, at 4.30 p.m.

• FILM LOVERS from all over the country flock to Jerusalem toward the end of each year for the annual Jewish Film Festival, which has been running since 1999. This year’s festival will be held throughout Hanukka and opens on December 24 with the thought-provoking film Denial.

Despite all the evidence of the Holocaust that is available and accessible to anyone who needs proof that this horrendous chapter of man’s inhumanity to man took place, there are still those who deny it – not just ignorant rednecks, but highly educated historians and researchers. The most notorious was David Irving, who was involved in a highly publicized lawsuit against Holocaust researcher Deborah Lipstadt, who had called him a Holocaust denier. Irving sued Lipstadt for libel and lost the case.

Under English law, it is up to the accused to show proof of innocence; Lipstadt and her legal team sought to prove that Irving knew he was lying.

As the case developed, Lipstadt had to contend not only with Irving, but also with the British Jewish community, whose leaders wanted her to settle out of court – as well as with her lawyers, who attempted to muzzle her so that they could run the case as they saw fit. The film, which was released this year and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, stars Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius and Alex Jennings.

Although the festival will open with a Holocaust-related film, its central theme this year will be intermarriage, a growing phenomenon in the Jewish world. It will also deal with issues of Jewish identity.

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