It’s rather neat when your name is part of the title of a program in which you are appearing. American actress, comedienne, writer and television producer Roseanne Barr – who is contemplating making aliyah, and whose current trip to Israel has been orchestrated by author and syndicated columnist Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, whose column appears in The Jerusalem Post and who is the founder of the World Values organization – will appear with him in Tel Aviv in a conversation titled “No Holds Barred.”
The event involving the Tel Aviv International Salon for Young Professionals will be held at Hangar 11 at the Port of Tel Aviv on Monday evening, January 28.
Two days later, on January 30, Barr is scheduled to address the Knesset, but it’s unlikely there will be more than a handful of people in the plenum as MKs who are running for reelection are scrambling on the hustings.
Barr was recently fired by ABC for making what the network and others regarded as a racist slur. But Barr claims that she was misunderstood. She attributes the reason for her dismissal to the fact that she is Jewish and a supporter of Israel. In a nutshell, she believes that antisemitism was at the root of her being let go.
Barr is no slouch when it comes to speaking out on political issues, so the event in Tel Aviv promises to be quite exciting.
Following their conversation, Barr and Boteach will be open to a Q&A session. Their avid support of Donald Trump will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion.
PUBLIC DIPLOMACY has become a must in international Jewish organizations that were originally founded for purposes of social welfare, and tended in their early years to steer clear of other issues. Women’s organizations, in particular, devoted their efforts to projects related to women and children in the Land of Israel. But over the years they expanded their scope to include campaigns for equal rights for women, pre-nup agreements that would not only deal with joint property and its disposal in case of divorce, but also with the pre-nuptial agreement, ensuring that the husband would give the wife a Jewish bill of divorce in the event the marriage failed.
Women’s organizations have also come out against sexual abuse. More recently, women’s organizations have established empowerment programs to train members for political activity, business management, et al. Recently, they have joined forces to protest insufficient action by the government to prevent domestic violence and the murder of women by their spouses or partners. Rising antisemitism and attempts to delegitimize Israel have caused some women’s organizations to include public diplomacy on their list of activities. There are some excellent spokeswomen for Israel throughout the Jewish world and even among non-Jewish women, such as former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Christian Zionist leader Laurie Cardoza Moore.
This week, people attending WIZO’s Tel Aviv-based Meeting of Representatives (MOR) along with delegates from nearly 30 countries, will get to hear at least three different presentations related to public diplomacy.
One will be from Rolene Marks, who made aliyah from South Africa and currently resides in Modi’in. Marks is a World WIZO executive member for public diplomacy. Professionally, Marks is a freelance journalist and broadcaster and appears on international radio and television and has been published in numerous global publications.
She can be heard daily on Chai FM, a Johannesburg-based radio station, and has been invited to speak to international audiences in Brazil, Germany, Australia, South Africa, Israel and elsewhere.
In 2007, Marks participated in the Israel Foreign Ministry’s Young Jewish Diplomats Leadership course.
ANOTHER EXPERT in public diplomacy is Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, the senior adviser to US Ambassador David Friedman. Prior to joining the State Department, Lightstone worked as an educator, management professional, entrepreneur and issue advocate. A native of Denver, Colorado, he completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Yeshiva University, where he excelled in finance, management, biblical studies and political science, with an emphasis on the Middle East. He has served at the management and executive level for both not-for-profit and for-profit enterprises, and was instrumental in the creation and mission implementation of several prominent advocacy organizations, focused on US-Israel relations and national security.
Arguably the best known of the speakers who have expertise in public diplomacy is former Israel ambassador to the US Dr. Michael Oren
, who is currently deputy minister for public diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office. Oren, who is a Kulanu MK, will not stand for reelection, but will continue in future capacities to advocate for Israel. He is widely respected in the United States where he was named by Politico as one of the 50 most influential thinkers in America; by The Forward as one of the five most influential Jews in America; and on the home front, by The Jerusalem Post as one of the 10 most influential Jews worldwide.
THE COMMUNITY of Jewish expatriates from Iran in Los Angeles is well known for its philanthropy, but few more than Younes and Soraya Nazarian, who have made an extremely significant donation to the University of Haifa for the purpose of expanding one of Israel’s largest libraries. The Nazarians visited Israel earlier this month to mark the seventh anniversary of the expanded library project they funded.
The Younes and Soraya Nazarian Library is a central academic library serving the research and teaching needs of all faculties and programs at the University of Haifa. Its 16,000-square-meter building is home to more than 2.5 million print and electronic items, including more than 43,500 journal titles, 1.1 million books, 8,000 theses, 106,000 digital images, 23,300 maps, 750 databases, and 22,100 visual and audio media titles. The library initiates and focuses on the development, digitization and preservation of special collections, such as dissertations, faculty research publications, historical photographs of the Land of Israel, and archives of Israeli theater and performing arts.
The Nazarians founded the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, which is dedicated to the promotion of education for societal change, including through its support for the development of higher education institutions in the US and Israel.
In May 2011, the University of Haifa dedicated the library’s new South Wing, at which time the entire facility was renamed after Younes and Soraya Nazarian. Several years earlier, in June 2007, Younes Nazarian, who is a member of the University of Haifa board of governors, received an honorary doctorate from the university in recognition of his family’s philanthropic support of the school, as well as for his broader commitment to the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
In addition to his family foundation, Younes Nazarian is also the founder of the Ima Foundation, which operates in Israel. He is a former chairman of the board of governors of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, serves on the board of directors of Sapir College, has a pre-academic library named after him and his wife at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and donates scholarships to various Israeli institutes of higher learning. He has also donated to numerous educational institutes in California, and serves on the board of directors of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
His brother Isaac Parviz Nazarian is also known for his philanthropy, and in 2005, as founder of the Citizens Empowerment Center in Israel, joined then-president Moshe Katsav in an attempt to introduce electoral reform in Israel in order to avoid situations such as the one currently facing the Israeli electorate. CECI spearheaded the formation of the Presidential Commission for Examination of the Structure of the Government in which Katsav, who was also born in Iran, convened 70 leading Israeli academics, political and judicial figures to discuss the possibility of changing Israel’s parliamentary system. There was a consensus that change was needed, but no one came up with a solution for its implementation.
INDIA HAS a magnetic pull, not only for backpackers, but also for business people and academics. The latter category includes Prof. David Newman, who last week left for a four-month stint in Delhi to serve as a guest professor at the South Asia University.
Originally from London, to which he commutes quite frequently, Newman says he is leaving his comfort zones of Israel and the UK. He may discover yet another comfort zone in India, where he will be teaching and tutoring postgraduate and PhD students from India, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, and possibly Pakistan, and other countries of the region, in areas relating to geopolitics, territorial conflicts and border studies in which he specialized at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. In recent years, with the pull of his roots, Newman has also transformed himself into a student of Anglo Jewish history and stained-glass windows. For all that, he maintains an interest in geopolitics and is interested in hearing the geopolitical narratives of people from areas outside the Middle East and Europe – the two areas which he has studied and written about over the years. Newman readily admits that he doesn’t know enough about the geopolitical issues in Asia, and South Asia in particular, and hopes that he will come away as enriched in his own new knowledge and field trips, as he hopes his students and researchers will be from his own previous experiences.
As an academic, Newman has frequently traveled abroad for conferences and meetings. But he notes that there is a considerable difference between going to a city in another country for a few days and having a hotel room, to setting up an apartment for four months and possibly longer. He sees his stay in India as a personal as much as a professional adventure, and has already planned to attend academic conferences and lectures in Mumbai, Goa and Calcutta. Being British by birth, Newman is naturally a cricket fan and is looking forward to the test match between India and Australia in March, but he regrets that he will miss most of the British football season. However, he’s not particularly bothered about missing the Knesset elections. On the other hand, he will miss the final processes of Brexit and spending Shabbat in London with his British relatives.
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