Grapevine: Happy anniversary

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October last year, was the longest-reigning monarch in the world in his lifetime, having been on the throne for 70 years.

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November 16, 2017 20:32
Grapevine: Happy anniversary

FROM LEFT: Russian Ambassador Alexander Shein, Oleg Dukhovnitsky, head of Russia’s Federal Agency of Communications, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara and Israel Postal Company chairman Hezi Zaieg.. (photo credit: COURTESY RUSSIAN EMBASSY IN ISRAEL)

 
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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will on November 20 celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. Prince Charles, the eldest of their four children, who this week celebrated his 69th birthday, has been crown prince for nearly all of his life, and there is little chance that he will one day be king of England. Aside from his mother’s reluctance to abdicate, Charles would be the first divorced king since Henry VIII.

There has been a surfeit of divorces in the royal house of Windsor, beginning with the queen’s younger sister Princess Margaret from photographer Anthony Armstrong Jones. In addition to the highly publicized divorce of Charles from Princess Diana, and his eventual marriage to his old flame, Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he telephoned on the night of his wedding to Diana, two of the queen’s other three children have also been divorced. In the same year that Charles and Diana separated, his younger sister, Princess Anne, finalized her divorce from Capt. Mark Phillips. Next, came the divorce of Prince Andrew from Sarah Ferguson, although they remain friends.

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King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died in October last year, was the longest-reigning monarch in the world in his lifetime, having been on the throne for 70 years. Elizabeth, who has reigned for 65 years, is today the longest living monarch.

But neither the king of Thailand nor the queen of England could ever earn the title of the longest- reigning monarch ever. As far as is known, the longest-reigning monarch of all time was Sobhuza II of Swaziland, who ruled for 82 years and 254 days, and died in 1982. Natan Gamedze, one of his direct descendants, converted to Judaism and is currently a rabbi in Safed. Even if the queen outlives her mother, who died in 2002 at age 101, it is highly unlikely that she would remain on the throne for long enough to break Sobhuza’s record. And, as mentioned above, it is also fairly unlikely that Charles will ever be king.

According to the pundits, the next British monarch will be Prince William, but the queen has said that if she lives beyond 95, she wants Charles to take over her royal duties. That still wouldn’t make him king unless she died, and even then, he might step aside in favor of William, who is already considerably older than his grandmother was when she became queen.

■ THE OCCASION was the unveiling this week of the Israeli-Russian joint issue stamp honoring the Gorny Convent in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. Designed by Ivan Ulyanovsky, the stamp was issued in Israel on November 14, and in Russia a few days earlier. The Russian unveiling ceremony was held in Moscow. The Israeli ceremony, hosted by Russian Ambassador Alexander Shein, was surprisingly held not in Jerusalem but in the Russian Cultural Center in Tel Aviv, in the presence of diplomats, clergy, parliamentarians, businesspeople and academics. Moreover, there were several latecomers, because the customary 15-20 minutes of grace from the starting time listed on the invitation did not eventuate. It started exactly on time.

Nonetheless, there was some time wasted in the somewhat antiquated diplomatic protocol of speaking in one’s own language and having it translated, even when the most common language among event participants is English. Stein speaks excellent English, but chose to make his remarks in Russian and have them translated into English. The same applied to Oleg Dukhovnitsky, head of Russia’s Federal Agency of Communications, who incidentally corrected the translator, which reminded of the time that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev publicly corrected official Soviet interpreter Viktor Sukhodrev. Thankfully, both Communications Minister Ayoub Kara and Israel Postal Company chairman Hezi Zaieg made their remarks in English, instead of having someone translate from Hebrew.

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Kara spoke about the close relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He emphasized that it is important to continue this relationship not only on the economic and political levels, but also in the common fight against extremism. With regard to the joint issue, he noted that a postal stamp is a very small piece of paper, but can go a long way in spreading a message around the world.

Shein and Dukhovnitsky each spoke of the importance of joint stamps in demonstrating and enhancing bilateral relationships.

With regard to the Gorny Convent and monastery, they each spoke of Archimandrite Antonin Kapoustin, who in 1871, when the country was still under Ottoman rule, purchased land in Ein Kerem and built facilities for pilgrims.

There have been a lot of changes to the monastery over the years, just as there have been a lot of changes in relations between Russia and Israel, but as Stein pointed out, the monastery, with its shiny gold onion domes, “is an architectural and spiritual jewel of Jerusalem and a source of pride both to the municipality and the residents of the city, not to mention Russian Orthodox pilgrims.” It is also a symbol of the Russian presence in the Holy Land, he said.

He also made the point that in Russia all religious faiths coexist peacefully. “This is one of the basic foundations of our Constitution.”

He is also pleased that Israel not only guarantees the right of worship to people of all faiths but also emphasizes their cultural contribution to the country. The unveiling of the stamp coincided with the 86th birthday of Gorny Mother Superior Evgenya, who is still going strong.

Zaieg underscored the relatively recent trend of utilizing postage stamps to express friendship and cooperation between nations.

Other countries with which Israel has issued joint stamps include India, China, Canada and Croatia, he said. Zaieg added that joint issues are also a means of promoting the purchase of, and interest in, stamps.

Stamp collecting seems to be a dying pastime in the digital age, but for those who are still interested, the 31st conference of the Israel Philatelic Federation will take place on December 19 at the Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel.

■ THE UPCOMING 40th anniversary on November 19 of the historic visit to Israel by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is significant not only for its political ramifications, but also as a reminder of how the media has progressed.

My late husband, Dan Landau, was a freelance press photographer, of which there were many at the time. Unlike today, when a photo with the appropriate caption can be emailed to a newspaper within less than five minutes of it having been captured for posterity, in those days, photographers were working mainly in black and white and had to do their own developing in their own dark rooms, wait for the photo to dry so that they could write on the back of it and stamp it, and then race to deliver it to the various newspaper offices.

Although the Jerusalem photographers were in competition with one another, they also cooperated with one another, and instead of all of them rushing off to deliver photos to Tel Aviv news editors, one photographer rook a batch of photos that included his own and those of his rivals. There were at least two photographers who sometimes dumped the photos of their competitors, but in general the system worked well.

When Sadat, escorted by president Ephraim Katzir, came from the airport to Jerusalem and checked into the King David Hotel, our apartment, which is only a few minutes’ walk away from there, became the headquarters for all the cameramen, including those from Tel Aviv and overseas. They raided the refrigerator, helped themselves to tea and coffee, and in general made themselves at home.

The King David was off-limits to them during the meeting between Sadat and prime minister Menachem Begin, but at the time, Danny was the King David official photographer and was permitted into the corridor outside Sadat’s suite. Somehow he persuaded one of the bodyguards to allow him inside the suite when Begin was there, to photograph the handshake.

He rushed home to develop the photo, and all his colleagues hung around to see the result.

But there was a scratch on the film, which showed up on the print. Danny sat down on the floor and cried, but Shmuel Rahmani, who was then the head photographer at Maariv, yelled: “Who cares about the scratch? You’ve just photographed history!” He grabbed the print, which was still wet, placed it on the dashboard of his car and sped off to Tel Aviv. The print dried on the way, and the photo, crediting Danny, appeared the following morning on the front page of Maariv, which is currently a sister publication of The Jerusalem Post.

greerfc@gmail.com

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