Grapevine: Double Ten

There were more guests than in years gone by, and they stayed for longer than usual.

By
October 13, 2016 20:51
COLORADO RESIDENTS vote in the US midterm elections last week

COLORADO RESIDENTS vote in the US midterm elections. (photo credit: REUTERS)

POPULARLY KNOWN as 10/10 or Double Ten in Taiwan, October 10 commemorates the start of the Wuchang Uprising of October 10, 1911, which led to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in China and establishment of the Republic of China on January 1, 1912.

Last Monday, Yun-Sheng Chi, the Representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Tel Aviv, together with his wife hosted a Taiwan National Day reception at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv, where a Chinese chef contributed to the authenticity with Taiwanese cuisine.

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There were more guests than in years gone by, and they stayed for longer than usual.

The only thing that marred the occasion was that despite the elegance of the hotel and the friendly efficiency of its service, its acoustics were horrendous.

A young Israeli woman, brought on to sing in Chinese and Hebrew, made a valiant attempt to be heard over the rising crescendo of the babble of the crowd.

People standing right in front of her could barely hear her. She put on a brave front and kept smiling throughout, but as soon as she concluded her performance, she rushed off the stage in tears, and nothing that her relatives or friends said could comfort her.

One can imagine her anticipation at performing at such an occasion, and the trauma that resulted from the experience. The uncivilized behavior of guests at National Day receptions is nothing new. A former Russian ambassador once yelled so loudly into the microphone for guests to keep quiet that they fell into shocked silence. A former Lithuanian ambassador would not allow food to be served until all the formalities of the occasion had been completed.

Guests knew that if they didn’t behave themselves, they would go home hungry.

Too often, an ambassador hosting a function cannot be heard at his or her own residence, let alone in a hotel or another public facility, because of the noise of the crowd. It’s a pity that the OECD doesn’t give points for rudeness vs politeness.

If it did, Israel might be shamed into improving its behavior. There was a wonderful video of the vibrant, multi-cultural, multi-faith population of Taiwan and their achievements in culture, industry, medicine, science and technology and humanitarian aid to other countries, but unfortunately, hardly any of the guests stopped to watch it. Yet another facet of rudeness coupled with an inexplicable lack of curiosity.

For political reasons, Israel does not have full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and therefore Foreign Ministry officials do not attend Taiwan events. However retired Foreign Ministry and other former government officials have no compunction about attending them, and at least three such people were present as well as Ramat Gan Mayor Israel Singer, whose city has a twin city agreement with Taiwan, former government minister Ran Cohen who is currently chairman of the Israel Standards Institute and President of the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce; and Knesset members Nachman Shai and Nurit Koren, who are both members of the Israel-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group of which Shai is the chairman.

In his address, Shai, despite the absence of full diplomatic relations, referred to Yun-Sheng as “ambassador” as did most other people. Both Shai and Yun-Sheng made their speeches in English, with Shai concluding that he hoped that by next year that the ambassador would speak in Hebrew, and that he, would speak in Chinese.

Yung-Sheng said that he wanted to continue and expand ties with the government and people of Israel and to encourage greater cooperative ventures. Over the past year he said 10,000 Taiwanese had visited Israel, and 6,000 Israelis had visited Taiwan. He is very keen to have more Taiwanese people visit the Holy Land, he said, and implied that word of mouth recommendations would result in more Israelis putting Taiwan on their travel itineraries. “All Israeli visitors to Taiwan tell me they had the best time.” Relating to Taiwan’s January 2016 elections in which Tsai Ing-wen became her country’s first female president, Yun-Sheng said that there been a smooth transition of power which had been an example of democracy in action.

■ WOMEN Wage Peace is a political, non-partisan movement of Jewish and Arab women some of whom have lost loved ones to war and terrorism. They came together with a common purpose two years ago following Operation Protective Edge, and they are marching to Jerusalem – and not just because Succot is a pilgrim festival on which in ancient times, pilgrims brought their offerings to the Temple in Jerusalem.

On the evening of October 4 this year, Women Wage Peace started out from the extreme north of the country to walk to the residence in Jerusalem of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on their March of Hope, linking up with marchers from different parts of the country along the way. The two-week march is due to end on Wednesday, October 19. Barring any interference by security authorities, some 1,000 Palestinian women from the West Bank together with Liberian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, who is the guest of honor of Women Wage Peace, will join their Israeli counterparts.

The joint call for peace coupled with the demand that Israel reach a treaty with the Palestinians so that Israeli and Palestinian children can grow up with a safe and carefree childhood free of hatred and fear will be within close to the prime minister’s residence, but not directly outside it.

Ever since the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, the public has not been permitted to congregate in either Balfour or Smolenskin streets which intersect at the Prime Minister’s residence, and all demonstrations take place around the corner in Paris Square, where the PM cannot necessarily see them.

■ APROPOS NETANYAHU, though looking somewhat unwell and perspiring profusely, he nonetheless kept his pledge to attend the Kol Nidre service at Jerusalem’s Hazvi Yisrael Congregation.

Accompanied by his two sons, the PM stayed through the whole service, and also delivered an address. “He’s a real trooper” said one of the stalwarts of the congregation.

President Reuven Rivlin had also been scheduled to attend, but opted out and went to the Great Synagogue instead.

■ US AMBASSADOR Dan Shapiro is urging American citizens in Israel to vote.

His Facebook Page features him photographed alongside an American flag and a poster that states: “Americans can vote wherever they are.” Shapiro’s message reads: “You are eligible to vote by absentee ballot in this year’s US elections. You must register to vote in your state of last residence, and drop off your ballot to the US Embassy or mail it back to the US by October 20.”

■ ALTHOUGH THERE are festivals all over Israel during the intermediate days of Succot, it seems that at some stage or another during this holiday period, that all roads lead to Jerusalem as they did in Temple times.

This applies to non-Jews as well as Jews.

For several years now, the International Christian Embassy has been hosting the Feast of Tabernacles which brings thousands of Evangelicals from around the world to Jerusalem, and it is also a co-sponsor of the Chairman’s Conference to be held together with the World Jewish Congress and the Israel Allies Foundation during the period of the Succot. This is the fifth consecutive year in which the Chairman’s Conference will be held, and it will include 23 parliamentarians who are also participating in the feast, which is being held in the capital’s Pais Arena. The key theme of the Chairman’s Conference, taking place at the Mamilla Hotel will be the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

MPs attending the conference include: Bas Belder, who serves as the chairman of the Israel Allies Caucus in the European Parliament and vice chairman of the delegation for relations between the European Parliament and Israel; Italian Senator Lucio Malan, who earlier this year initiated a bill prohibiting Holocaust denial; Kees van der Staaij who proposed a bill in The Netherlands for the prevention of funding of BDS organizations; and MP Kenneth Meshoe from South Africa who strongly opposes the claim that Israel is an apartheid state. Other MPs scheduled to attend the conference will come from Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Greece, Portugal, Brazil, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Chile and Malawi.

The MPs will be greeted at reception at the Mamilla hotel by Josh Reinstein of the IAF which coordinates the activities of 35 pro-Israel caucuses in parliaments in the US, Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Australia, Jürgen Bühler, the executive director of ICEJ and Lawrence Weinbaum representing the World Jewish Congress, whose President Ronald Lauder is coming to Israel for the third time in a five-week period in order to address the conference.

Within the framework of the conference, participants will also visit Hebron as guests of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. As far as is known, this is the first time that so many parliamentarians from so many countries will visit the Cave of the Patriarchs greerfc@gmail.com


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