WHEN HE stepped up to the microphone at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem this week
to address the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations,
Yuli Edelstein, the minister for public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs,
threatened not to deliver his address. The reason: On the front page of that
morning’s Jerusalem Post, he explained, he had seen a photograph of Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu being presented with a shirt commemorating the Super
Bowl victory earlier this month of the New York Giants.
A similar gesture
had not been made to Edelstein. “No shirt, no speech!” he joked.
he was compensated when Betty Ehrenberg, executive director of the World Jewish
Congress, presented him with a large menorah, which she said was a more suitable
gift for him in view of the fact that he was a teacher by profession. The
menorah is not only the national symbol of Israel, but also the symbol of
■ ON THE subject of enlightenment, one is never too old to
study, as was demonstrated at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology by Uri
Beham, 80, who earned an MA in Civil Engineering and a BA in
Beham studied architecture at the Technion some 50 years
ago, and although he completed the course, he did not sit for the exam.
Concurrent with his architectural studies he embarked on a course in civil
engineering and received his BA with outstanding results. One of his professors
at the time told him that he couldn't be both a civil engineer and an
Professors have been known to make mistakes, and this was one
of them. A combat pilot in the Israel Air Force, Beham participated in several
air strikes until his release from reserve duty in 1994, after 44 years of
Other than the War of Independence, he had served in all of
Israel’s wars, and had been a commanding officer during Operation Solomon,
taking Ethiopian Jews home to Israel in 1991.
Together with his late
father, Philip Beham, who was an engineer, he was involved in numerous
construction projects in Haifa, Emek Hefer and Hofit.
When Beham decided
to go for his MA, a little over two years ago, he also opted to complete his
degree in architecture. Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie was not content to
present him with his certificates alone and also gave him the famous
quasi-crystal necktie designed by the Technion’s own Nobel Prize laureate Prof.
■ ROMANTICS LOVE a happy ever after ending, and that’s
what may happen in the case of entertainers Orna and Moshe Datz.
singing duo, who divorced five years ago after 21 years of marriage and a joint
career that took them to many parts of the world, continued their professional
relationship, albeit on a somewhat lower key than when they were married.
Recently, they upgraded their professional collaboration with regard to
entertainment for children, and now they’re not ruling out the possibility of a
marital comeback. Perhaps there’s some truth in the old adage that absence makes
the heart grow fonder.
■ JOURNALISM AND, other fields within the
communications industry, have in recent years become if not exactly unstable,
Some of the major changes this month alone are
indicative of that.
Yaron Deckel, the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s
astute political commentator and anchor of the radio program It’s all Talk, left
to take up the position of commander of Army Radio where he first began his
Yair Lapid, who resigned from his lucrative Channel
2 position to enter the political arena, has continued to provoke attempts to
pass legislation that would hinder his progress. Then Yaakov Eilon announced his
resignation from Channel 10, word leaked out that Yinon Magal and Merav Miller
would be dropped from presenting the Mabat news broadcast on Channel 1, the 20-
year partnership of Zarmon Goldman Advertising and Marketing broke up, and in
the Prime Minister’s Office, Yoaz Hendel became the fourth communications
director to bite the dust since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took office at
the end of March 2009.
There have also been upheavals at print media and
■ ON THE OTHER hand, the government is injecting
funds into the cash-strapped IBA. On Tuesday morning, an agreement was signed
between the IBA, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry whereby
the Treasury will give the IBA a grant of NIS 90 million, plus a loan of NIS 240
million and another bridging loan of NIS 400 million which will enable the
creation of a new IBA complex, replete with state of the art
For more than 30 years, readers of Israeli newspapers have
been fed reports about the imminent implementation of reforms at the
During that long period negotiators, officials and political parties
responsible for the implementation of the IBA Law have changed, but the
situation at the IBA has not.
With few exceptions, wages are low, flaws
in the system are exploited, State Comptroller’s Reports on the IBA are
unfailingly negative, the payroll is topheavy with human dross, the equipment is
outdated, the IBA is operating under a multi-million shekel deficit, things that
should be done in-house are being outsourced, and employees don’t know if and
when they will lose their jobs.
Despite all the disappointments that they
have encountered to date, the people at the IBA have not lost their sense of
optimism, and there is a certain euphoria in the air in the belief that this
agreement will finally pave the way to the reforms.
Only time will
■ IF JOURNALISM was regarded as an interesting and adventurous
profession, diplomacy was considered to be a glamorous profession in which
diplomats socialized at cocktail receptions with leading politicians, socialites
and business tycoons.
That still happens to some extent, but every
diplomat knows that true diplomacy takes a lot of hard work – and these days a
lot of courage. Several former Israeli diplomats, speaking at a conference this
week at the Netanya Academic College, said that diplomacy is a dangerous
It has become more so in recent years, but it has in fact
been dangerous for a very long time. Dr. Meir Rosenne, a former ambassador to
the United States and France, said that the romantic notion that many people
have of diplomatic life is erroneous.
Diplomats, and not only Israeli
diplomats, constantly confront danger. Former MK Colette Avital, who was a
longtime career diplomat before she entered politics and served, inter alia, as
ambassador to Portugal and consul-general in New York, recalled that when she
was serving in the Israel Embassy in Paris she had narrowly escaped a terrorist
When checking the exhaust pipe of her car, she saw what she
presumed to be a bomb. She alerted security and it transpired that her
suspicions were correct.
Security removed the bomb, and Avital was
informed that it had been strong enough to kill her had she been driving her
Referring to the recent attack on an Israeli Embassy car in India in
which Tal Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of the defense attaché, was injured, Avital
said the problem was that there is not always enough intelligence information to
prevent such actions.
Eytan Bentsur, a former director- general of the
Foreign Ministry, concurred, but added that the ministry does everything
possible to guarantee the safety of its representatives abroad. Yitzhak Meir,
who served as ambassador in Belgium and Switzerland, said that during these
periods he had received several threats on his life.
By the way it’s just
as dangerous to be a foreign correspondent, as was seen in Syria this
■ WHILE ISRAELIS are on tenterhooks waiting to see if film director
and screen writer Joseph Cedar returns from Los Angeles next week with an Oscar
in his luggage, Alexandra Milchan, the daughter of famous Israeli expatriate
producer and philanthropist Arnon Milchan, is planting the seeds for future
Cedars. The Israeli-born Alexandra, who is a senior vice president in her
father’s company, has set up a content hothouse in Israel to discover and
encourage Israeli creativity and to promote it abroad.