Unconventional both in his appearance and his philanthropy, Chilean Jewish millionaire Leonardo Farkas was seen at the Western Wall on the day prior to Shavuot handing out $100 bills. Farkas, whose long blond hair trails halfway down his back, and whose easy, super-white smile would be the joy of any toothpaste company, supports both Jewish and non-Jewish causes around the world.
Before becoming a businessman and philanthropist, Farkas, who studied commercial engineering, opted for a career in show business, playing piano across the United States and on cruise ships. After his father died, he returned to Chile to take over the family business. It was important for him to be in Israel, especially in Jerusalem at this time, because he happens to have been born in 1967.
In 2010, he captured international headlines when he gave $10,000 each to the families of 33 miners who had been trapped for more than two weeks when a mine collapsed in Chile. He freely distributes money to passersby in the streets of Chile, and in New York entered a restaurant, paid for the meals of all the diners, and gave more than handsome tips to the waiters.
He is among the patrons of March of the Living , and in Israel the causes that he supports include United Hatzalah, whose Safed and Haifa branches he has adopted.
■ THERE WERE at least two former permanent representatives of their respective countries to the United Nations and at least one former Israel ambassador to the United States at the 21st annual Guardian of Zion Award ceremony held at the King David Hotel Jerusalem by Bar-Ilan University’s Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies. There was, of course, this year’s recipient, ambassador John Bolton, and there was also previous recipient ambassador Dore Gold. Another former diplomat who was also present was ambassador Zalman Shoval, who has twice served as ambassador to the United States.
When Rennert Center director Prof. Joshua Schwartz read out the names of previous recipients, there was polite applause, except when he came to the name of Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, whose presence received roaring approval, as did that of another columnist, Ruthie Blum, who was standing in for her father, a former recipient of the Guardian of Zion Award. Gold also received warm applause, but Glick and Blum scored the loudest reactions. During the pre-dinner reception, a Chicago fan came up to Glick, who is also originally from Chicago, gushing about how avidly she reads Glick’s columns, and said that if she were running for prime minister, she would get her vote.
Aside from Ingeborg and Ira Rennert, who flew in from the US for the occasion, there were several other visitors from the US who had taken advantage of the close proximity in the calendar of Jerusalem Day, the Trump visit, the Guardian of Zion event and Shavuot.
Among them was Nina Rosenwald, president of the Gatestone Institute, of which Bolton is the chairman. Unfailingly present each year is former Guardian of Zion recipient Arthur Cohn, who divides his time between his native Basel in Switzerland and Jerusalem, where he also has a home. This was the last Guardian of Zion ceremony that Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz attended in his capacity as president of Bar-Ilan. His successor, Prof. Arie Zaban, was also present.
Schwartz quoted from Bolton’s speeches and writings, including Bolton’s consistent urging that the US place its embassy in Jerusalem, where Bolton believes it belongs.
In his view this would signify to the world that Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people. This prompted Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to publicly say to Bolton: “Welcome to the club. We’re going to recruit you to Likud.”
■ LAST YEAR, it was announced in Britain that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had agreed to add 23 names to a circular stone memorial in Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey to commemorate 24 victims lost at sea in the first joint operation of Jews of Mandate Palestine and the British Forces. One of the victims was British officer Major Sir Anthony Palmer, whose name was already commemorated. The other 23 were members of the Palmah.
At the beginning of this week, Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev participated in the unveiling ceremony of the names of the volunteers from Mandate Palestine and read a letter from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he stated that the story of the 23 volunteers is one of incredible courage and dedication. Netanyahu also commended the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for agreeing to commemorate the lost volunteers, whose fates remain unknown. Netanyahu also expressed Israel’s solidarity with Britain with regard to the terrorist attack in Manchester.
The mission of Operation Boatswain, as it was known, was to sabotage the Vichy-operated oil refinery off the coast of Lebanon.
It was undertaken by Britain’s Special Operations Executive, who in addition to Palmer included the 23 Palmahniks: Zvi Spector, Katriel Yaffe, Yitzhak Hecker, Shimon U t c h i t e l , Aryeh Barzilai Eizen, Yaakov Gordon, Aryeh Gelber, Efraim Veiman, Chaim Weisman, Shmuel Hanovitz, Ariel Temes, Baruch Jacobson, Mordechai Cohen, Israel Norden-Nord, Avraham Nuriel, David Nafcha, Neriel Paglin, Mordechai Plonchik, Yehuda Zerner, Gershon Kopler, Menachem Kurakin, Ze’ev Rotman and Amiram Shochat.
In Hebrew the operation is referenced as “Kaf-Gimel Yordei Hasira,” which translates as the 23 who went down with the ship.
The boat, which left Haifa on May 18, 1941, disappeared without a trace soon afterward. The files on the missing men were closed in 2014, but Martin Sugarman of the Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women of the UK thought it unfair that people who had volunteered to fight with the British forces should not be remembered. After some intensive research, he proved to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission that the 23 deserved to be commemorated along with others who disappeared in war with no knowledge of what befell them.
The unveiling and commemoration ceremony was organized by Paul McCue, a trustee of the Secret World War Two Learning Network.
On the same day Regev participated in the US Memorial Day ceremony at the same military cemetery and later tweeted: “Proud to have been at US Memorial Day service at Brookwood Mil Cemetery.
My father was liberated in 1945 by 102nd ‘Ozark’ Division.”
■ DEPUTY MINISTER Michael Oren, toward the end of last month, received the Jerusalem Covenant Award from Israel365. The covenant, which declares Jerusalem as the eternal, biblical and political capital of Israel, was signed by more than 150,000 Christian supporters of Israel from around the world.
“If Jesus, Mary and Joseph were here, they would be illegal settlers,” quipped Oren to a crowd of more than 300 Christians and Jews who attended the ceremony in the capital’s Beit Shmuel banquet hall.
To the accompaniment of great applause Oren continued: “We are all combatants in this war, and we will fight with the facts. We will be armed with the truth. And just as the great soldiers of ’67, we will win.”
Likud MK Yehudah Glick, who was last year’s recipient of the Jerusalem Covenant Award, said he sees the victory of the Six Day War and modern-day Jerusalem as the fulfillment of prophecy.
“When you see the bridges and the tunnels and the roads and the train rails, if you don’t see Isaiah, you better get a new pair of glasses,” Glick told the crowd at this year’s ceremony. “Ezekiel, those dry bones are not dry anymore.
Jeremiah, Jerusalem is no longer isolated, it is surrounded by so many lovers. We don’t need their [diplomatic] recognition of Jerusalem, they need their recognition of Jerusalem.”
The Jerusalem Covenant was written in 1992 by then-deputy chief justice Menachem Elon, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the capital’s liberation and reunification. It was intended as a renewal of the biblical covenant between God and the people of Israel.
In 2013, Israel365, founded by Rabbi Tuly Weisz, sought to reaffirm the Jerusalem Covenant, and in the first year received 10,000 signatures. That number grew to 23,000 in 2014, 50,000 signatures in 2015 and topped 93,000 last year. This year, more than 60,000 additional signatures were collected from supporters in more than 100 countries from Albania to Zimbabwe.
“The Jerusalem Covenant gives supporters of Jerusalem around the world a chance to make their voices heard,” said Weisz. Israel365 had chosen Oren as a member of Knesset, former ambassador to the United States, and the author of Six Days of War as the most suitable representative to share this special edition of the Jerusalem Covenant, “which represents a powerful display of international solidarity with the city of Jerusalem, with the world.”
Other than Glick, previous recipients of the Jerusalem Covenant Award were Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Likud MK and government minister Gila Gamliel before him.
The celebration at Beit Shmuel was co-sponsored with Israel365 by HaYovel and Bridges for Peace.
Weisz is also the publisher of Breaking Israel News, whose website, he says, is visited by some 1.5 million Evangelic Christians each month. On Monday, June 5, it will launch its inaugural Prophecy in the News conference, which will examine the challenges of reporting news from a biblical perspective.
The conference, which will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, will feature Christian and Jewish panelists, including Marney Blom, news director, Acts News Network; Kade Hawkins, founder, Prophecy News Watch; AnaRina Heymann, director, Jerusalem Watch; Gael Greenwald, chairman, Settlement Division, World Zionist Organization; Yehudah Glick; Dr. Mordechai Kedar, professor of Arabic culture, Bar-Ilan University; Harry Moskoff, investigative archeologist; David Parsons, media and public relations director, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; David Rubin, former mayor of Shiloh; Jeremy Saltan, of the Bayit Yehudi Party; Weisz; and Marc Zell, chairman, Republicans Overseas Israel.
Topics to be discussed include: “Broadcasting Jerusalem’s Jubilee to all the Nations of the World”; “Reporting on Israel in a World of Fake News and Media Bias”; “Good News from the Good Land: Miraculous Events Shaping the Next 50 Years”; “Prophecy in the News: Pitfalls and Promises.”
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