Remembering the UN’s hypocrisy, 40 years on

A roundup of news from across the country.

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November 24, 2015 23:35
Awards

BGU HONOREES (back row, from left) Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann, BGU rector Prof. Zvi Hacohen, journalist Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, media personality Yitzhak Livni, (front row, from left) entrepreneur and philanthropist Judith Yovel Recanati, Negev activist Dodik Shoshani, BGU president Ri. (photo credit: D MACHLIS/ BGU)

 
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One of the frustrating aspects of official functions is that they are timed for a set period, and though they occasionally start late, they seldom end later than intended, and the average time allocations for such events is an hour. That can seem like a very long time if the event is boring, but when it’s interesting, and one would like to hear more, time is all too short.

That’s what happened on Sunday night at the function at the President’s Residence commemorating the eloquence of Chaim Herzog at the United Nations 40 years ago, when in politically correct terminology, but with a turn of phrase that left no doubt about how he felt about that far from august institution, he contested the resolution equating Zionism with racism.

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Now, four decades along the line, notwithstanding the fact that the resolution was revoked, those who seek to demonize and delegitimize Israel are still disseminating the lie which too many believe to be gospel.

Retired judge Hadassa Ben-Itto, who was a member of the Israeli delegation to the UN when Herzog was the permanent representative, shared memories of the period leading up to the hateful resolution and its aftermath. Her narrative was riveting, and many in the audience were unhappy when pressures of time forced her to stop. Some also commented on her noble bearing and her clarity of mind.

Ben-Itto will celebrate her 90th birthday this coming May, but someone else who was present and seemingly ageless will enter his ninth decade a little sooner.

Former foreign and defense minister Moshe Arens will turn 90 in the last week of December.

Others who were present included former ambassador to the United States MK Michael Oren, former ambassadors to the United Nations Ron Prosor, who is a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry, and Dore Gold, its current director-general. Former justice minister Yaakov Neeman, who was Herzog’s partner in his law firm, was present and Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau was also there.



People who worked with Herzog during his presidency, such as Ami Gluska, who was his military aide, and Kamal Mansour, who was his adviser on minorities, were there, as well as people with whom Herzog worked in other capacities or with whom he socialized. Among them was Harry Sapir, who has served in executive capacities in numerous organizations and institutions, retired Supreme Court judge Gabriel Bach, Hebrew University president Menachem Ben-Sasson and many others who are engaged in the struggle against the delegitimization of Israel.

Prosor, who completed his term at the UN a month ago, said of the UN that if he didn’t know that what took place there was a tragedy, he would think that it was a parody in its discrimination against Israel, but every time he left the UN building, he said, “I walked with my back straight and my head high, proud of the nation that I serve, and proud to have stood in the same place as Chaim Herzog.”

■ ALTHOUGH THERE is a tendency to pigeonhole people in the specific work or social environments in which we find them, nearly everyone has several talents and interests. Thus Richard Shavei Tzion, who is best known as the director of the Ramatayim Men’s Choir, and in business circles as a property manager, is making one of his other talents known via his first solo photographic exhibition, Light from the Depths, which opened last week at Jerusalem’s Municipal Gallery, 17 Jaffa Street, and remains on view until December 17.

The images in this collection focus on his fascination with the Dead Sea, its great landscapes and delicate detail. As an ardent ecologist, he draws attention to the urgency of channeling efforts toward restoring and sustaining what he calls “this unique, fragile jewel of creation.”

Shavei Tzion is also the author of the Prayer for the Preservation of the Environment, which has been read in synagogues in many countries around the world.

All works on display are for sale, with proceeds dedicated to the Malki Foundation, which provides services for families who refuse to institutionalize special- needs children and opt to care for them at home, where they can be surrounded by love and familiar faces.

At the opening, Shavei Tzion gave guests a guided tour of the exhibition, explaining aspects of each photo and what the scenes that he photographed meant to him. The exhibition was curated by Dr.

Ziva Geva-Levin, the longtime director of the gallery.

Speaking at the opening, Prof. Ben Corn said that he’d been to the Dead Sea many times and yet had never seen images like the ones in the photographs. Anyone who would like a guided tour by the photographer should come to the gallery at 6 p.m.

on Wednesday, December 2. Places can be reserved by calling the Malki Foundation office: (02) 567-0602.

■ IT’S RARE for daughters-in-law to not only love their mothers-in-law, but to actually adore them. That rarity was multiplied in the case of the late Rachel Leibler, who died last month at the age of 103. She treated all three of her daughtersin- law – Naomi, Rosanna and Mary – as if they were her biological daughters. Her strong sense of family was such that when one of her grandsons, Jonathan Leibler, who lives in Ra’anana, became a first-time father, he called his grandmother to share his feelings and to describe the birth.

Rachel Leibler left her native Antwerp for Australia in 1939 with her eldest son, Isi – a popular columnist for the Post – just in time to escape the Nazi atrocities that befell several of her relatives. Two more sons, Mark and Allan, were born to her and her husband Abraham Samuel Leibler, who had preceded her in leaving Belgium.

The family settled in Melbourne and quickly integrated into the local Jewish community, in which they became active and were elected to leadership roles. When her husband died in 1957, Rachel Leibler was a 45-year-old widow. Her younger sons were still in school.

Her eldest son was in Israel at the Jewish Agency’s Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad. He had been the head of Bnei Akiva and had dreamed of remaining in Israel and becoming a diplomat. But that was not to be. In those days, there was no way that he could get back to Australia in time for his father’s funeral, and his mother told him to go to Belgium and learn the diamond trade so that he could take charge of the family business.

Meanwhile, she made sure that her two younger sons received a good education.

She also remained active in the community and was the founder of Emunah in Australia and subsequently one of the founders, with the late Rabbanit Sarah Herzog, of World Emunah, of which her eldest daughter-in-law, Naomi Leibler, became world president and is now honorary world president.

Rachel Leibler instilled a sense of community consciousness and a strong Jewish and Zionist identity in all her children, which was evidenced in their leadership roles in Australia and in international organizations. Most of her immediate family now live in Israel. A special shloshim service will be held in her memory on Thursday evening, November 26, at the Hatzvi Yisrael Congregation at 14 Hovevei Zion Street, Jerusalem, with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who knew her personally, as the keynote speaker.

■ IN HONORING the memory of Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, few things could be more fitting than the university that bears his name conferring honorary doctorates on the anniversary of his death.

Ben-Gurion wanted to see the Negev bloom, and that vision is now an unmistakable reality, which will become even more so once a railway line runs through the whole of the Negev.

The founding of Ben-Gurion University at a time when the Negev was still more or less a wilderness was a strategy that is constantly bearing fruit. People are reluctant to live where they cannot learn, so the learning came before much else; and many institutions and services that have since been set up in the Negev now work in cooperation with BGU on numerous and varied projects.

The six recipients of BGU’s honorary doctorates last week were Nobel Prize laureate and world acclaimed mathematician Prof. Yisrael Aumann, poet Erez Biton, media personality Yitzhak Livni, artist Michal Rovner, entrepreneur and philanthropist Judith Yovel Recanati and the Post’s own health and science reporter Judy Siegel-Itzkovich. The Ben-Gurion Negev Award went to Negev activist Dodik Shoshani. BGU president Rivka Carmi voiced pride in BGU’s direct contribution to developing the Negev in every area, thereby ensuring the realization of Ben-Gurion’s dream.

■ POLLARD’S RELEASE was welcomed by former President Shimon Peres, who was prime minister at the time of Pollard’s arrest, and who in the interim made several failed attempts to have him released.

It was thought that when Peres went to the United States to receive the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, he would return to Israel with Pollard at his side. Now it remains to be seen whether Rivlin will succeed in persuading Obama to use his clout to enable Pollard to come to Israel and not be forced to remain in the US for another five years. After all, Rivlin will be meeting with Obama during the Hanukka festival and will even participate in the White House candlelighting ceremony for Hanukka, which, as every Jew knows, is the miracle season, so who can tell what may happen between now and then.

For all the consensus among the Israeli public that Pollard’s sentence was unjust, with a petition for his release including the signatures of Arab MKs, now that he’s free the dirt about him is beginning to fly, and will probably be intensified if and when he comes to Israel. Such is the perversity of human nature.

■ AS THE son of a Mossad agent, Channel 1’s Oren Nahari tweeted on Friday that it irks him to hear Pollard referred to as an Israeli spy. Nahari, who is head of the channel’s foreign news desk, made the point that Eli Cohen and people like him were Israeli spies, but that Pollard, at the time that he was passing on classified information, was an American working for the Israelis. It’s more than a matter of semantics. It’s a matter of historical accuracy.

■ ON THE subject of accuracy, in last Friday’s Grapevine, Noel Coward was credited with the being the author of The Last Time I saw Paris, but readers Mark Levinson and Moshe Berlin say that it was Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein.

■ WHILE GRADUATES of several North American universities have set up alumni clubs in Israel, it is not as common for foreign students graduating from Israeli universities to set up alumni clubs in their respective hometowns – certainly not when such students come from China – at least not until now.

Tel Aviv University is not the only institute of higher learning in Israel that has an intake of Chinese students, but it may well be the only one with an alumni club in China. All in all, TAU has hosted some one thousand Chinese students, most of them from Nanjing, one of China’s largest cities.

In 2012 TAU devised a special 10-day training program for CEOs of government offices and major business enterprises, based on innovation, entrepreneurship and commercial knowledge. Students who participated in the course included academics and leading members of Nanjing’s business community. They are so appreciative of what they learned at TAU and of friendships that they made among themselves that they decided to form an alumni club, which is headed by real estate developer and art collector Yan Lugen and Prof. Joseph Klafter, the president of TAU.

The course has been expanded to include students from other parts of China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Chengdu. The club will constantly update its members about the latest developments in the world of entrepreneurship, technology and business in Israel and will enable joint research and use of TAU facilities, especially for start-up experiments.

■ JEWELRY DESIGNER Nurith Jaglom usually shows her new collections against the backdrop of her beautiful home in north Tel Aviv, but for the unveiling of her new winter collection last week, she opted to go to Beit Hamidot in Lilienblum Street, south Tel Aviv bordering Neveh Tzedek.

Beit Hamidot, one of the few remaining old buildings in Lilienblum Street, has now become the in place for arts and crafts exhibitions and numerous other events. A high-ceilinged walk-up in a state of disrepair but with large rooms, it carries an appealing air of nostalgia. Several of Jaglom’s regular clientele had never been there before, and found it fascinating to explore the area in the immediate vicinity, especially in nearby Herzl Street, which intersects with Lilienblum and still has one-, two- and three-story buildings dwarfed by huge nearby high-rise structures.

Jaglom caters for all tastes. Her creations run the gamut from the delicate to the dramatic, from perfect symmetry to asymmetry, from single centerpiece pendants to large clusters of beads and gold leaf, from monochromes to multicolored eye catching-items. Almost every piece is unique, the product of Jaglom’s fertile imagination. She is not afraid to marry contrasting elements to each other and succeeds in getting them to harmonize.

Just a few meters from Beit Hamidot, near the corner of Herzl Street, stands the HerzLilienblum Museum of Banking and Tel Aviv Nostalgia, which was built by Olga and Yitzhak Frank in 1909, the year of the founding of Tel Aviv. Originally a single-story building, it was purchased three years later by Haim Shiff, who in 1924 expanded it into a three-story structure.

Over the years the building served as a hotel, a bank, a law office and a production plant for various manufacturers. The building was eventually acquired by Bank Discount, and in 2006 underwent extensive repairs and restoration in accordance with the original architectural plans. In 2009, in tandem with the centenary celebrations of Tel Aviv, it was turned into a museum.

In the days when foreign currency was very limited in Israel, Lilienblum Street was the haunt of money changers, and anyone who was prepared to pay black market prices for precious American dollars could buy them from the money changers who frequented Lilienblum corners and doorways.

■ WHAT HAPPENS when a top-flight hairstylist meets a couple who have developed a line of extraordinary hair products? They go into business together in a five-star-plus hotel and create a custom- designed beauty salon.

That’s what happened when Israeli-born Maurice Dadoun, who had made a name for himself in Paris, New York and Beverly Hills, decided that he wanted to return to Israel, which he left as a child, and to live in Jerusalem. He teamed up with Saphira and Aviad Greenberg, who had developed an exciting line of hair-care products based on Dead Sea minerals.

Saphira Tessler-Greenberg, aware of the numerous effective skin-care products from the Dead Sea, was convinced that hair could also benefit from the Dead Sea’s bounty, and her conviction was such that she and her husband launched a business which very quickly became an international success.

Her big dream, though, was to have a salon at the Waldorf Astoria, and it started to take shape in the gift packs that every hotel guest receives. Next came the Saphira Salon, which includes special cubicles for manicures and pedicures, and where there is also a makeup artist on hand in addition to Dadoun and several other hairstylists. The salon naturally sells all the Saphira products.

Tessler-Greenberg’s exotic name “Saphira” is not something she made up. She was born into a rabbinic family during the period of the counting of the Omer, which in Hebrew is referred to as sfira. It had a nice ring to it, so that’s what her parents called her.

The official launch of the salon took place last week, and the first bride to be given the full treatment was the daughter of MK Mickey Levy, who some years back was Jerusalem police chief. The many guests who came to celebrate with the Greenbergs and Dadoun included people from Tel Aviv and beyond, and some of them witnessed the affixing of the mezuza by Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meir Tourjeman. There was much food and drink, but the main attraction was free comb-ups for those who had the patience to wait their turn.

■ THE RECEPTION that Japanese Ambassador Shigeo Matsutomi and his vivacious wife, Kaori, are hosting this week in honor of the birthday of Emperor Akihito is almost by way of being a farewell reception.

The popular couple, who arrived in Israel just over 15 months ago, are due to return to Japan on Christmas Day. Always smiling and in good spirits, the Matsutomis have added a spark to the diplomatic circuit.

Kaori Matsutomi is very sad to be leaving Israel and promises to return as often as possible to maintain contact with the many friends that she has made here.

■ ON MONDAY of this week, Danny Danon, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, hosted a concert featuring Shimon Buskila within the context of raising awareness of remembering Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

A popular singer, songwriter and composer, Buskila, who was born in Netivot, is of Moroccan background and has made his mark as one of Israel’s most outstanding artists, singing in both Hebrew and Moroccan. He has written songs for some of Israel’s greatest singers and has also released two solo albums.

This was Buskila’s first-ever solo performance in the United States, and Danon was excited to bring Buskila’s music to the United Nations.

On Monday, November 30, there will be a much more wide-ranging concert under the heading of Yearnings for Home, under the joint auspices of the Social Equality and Education ministries and the Ben-Zvi Institute at the Jerusalem Arena.

The event, initiated by Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, will feature Haim Oliel, Dikla, Kobi Oz, Liraz Charhi, Sagiv Cohen, Roni Somek, Yair Dalal, Gilad Segev, Maurice El Médioni, the Piyut Ensemble and Rita Shalhon, with actor and singer Guy Zu-Aretz as master of ceremonies.

With non-Jewish refugees from Arab lands streaming into Europe and other Western countries, the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is particularly pertinent, due to the general lack of compensation for their travails. Many of those who fled or were expelled left behind property and financial assets that have never been recovered.

Aside from the musical aspects of Thursday’s program, individuals who were born in Arab lands or are the progeny of people born in Arab lands will tell their own stories.

It is not generally known that Jews from some Arab lands are also Holocaust survivors, just like European Jews. Little is known of their lifestyles and traditions beyond their cuisine, which can be sampled in any number of eateries across the country.

They arrived here when Israel was controlled by an Ashkenazi hierarchy, and when they were given the opportunity to contribute to community life, it was in peripheral towns and cities, where their presence, if it did not constitute the majority, was nonetheless a very large minority. They were the fringe element in the more central areas, which gave rise to the Black Panthers and political parties such as Tami and Shas.

■ MONDAY WAS a gloomy day for the Dayan family. It would have been the 70th birthday of actor, director and screenwriter Assi Dayan, who was born on November 23, 1945, and who died on May 1, 2014.

The youngest of three siblings, Dayan came from a highly talented family in which not only his parents, his older siblings and his children achieved fame but also his cousins, one of whom happens to be singer-songwriter Aviv Geffen.

■ IN ADVANCE of the 80th anniversary of public broadcasting in Israel, which will be in March 2016, Israel Radio’s Izzy Mann has launched a new Saturday morning nostalgia program, loosely titled “It happened this week in history.”

Mann will delve into history corresponding with the week in which he’s broadcasting and bring back voices and events of yesteryear.

Sometimes he will tease listeners on Fridays by introducing snippets from his Saturday show on the Friday morning show hosted by Yoav Ginai. The two men 10 years ago put together a spectacular program for the 70th anniversary of public broadcasting in Israel, and are hopeful that they will have the opportunity to do something bigger and better for the 80th anniversary.greerfc@gmail.com

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