ANDALUSIA MINISTER of Tourism Francisco Javier Hernandez was in Israel last week with a delegation of senior officials, to encourage tourism and to promote contacts with Israeli tourist enterprises. At a media conference in Tel Aviv in the course of his visit, Hernandez announced the enhancing of cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Tourism. Collaboration between Andalusia and Israel is already planned for the upcoming Fitur International Tourism Fair scheduled to take place in Spain next month. Spanish Ambassador Fernando Carderera and Spanish Tourism Consul Carlos Hernández Gracía were also present to give support to Hernandez.
In a bid to encourage tourism from Israel, Andalusian tourism officials recently launched a slogan: “Visit Andalusia to discover your roots – a wonderful voyage back to your sources.” The campaign emphasizes the Jewish roots that lie in a cultural and a historic voyage to Andalusia’s past, and how common history can create a bond between countries and civilizations.
Hernandez also announced that Sandor Airlines will operate two direct flights each week on Sundays and Thursdays to Granada, from May 25 to October 26. Andalusia is the cradle of Flamenco, guitar and bull-fighting, and a global leader in the production of olive oil. The Andalusian region is considered to be the most fascinating and exotic in Spain, with attractions that include the Alhambra Palace, masterpiece of Islamic architecture; the mezquita of Cordova; the town’s picturesque alleys with their Jewish past; Alcazar Fortress in Seville, Andalusia’s capital city; and white villages such as Ronda. Andalusia is also known for its fabled beaches and resorts. The Jewish legacy of Andalusia predates the era of the Spanish Inquisition to the golden age of Spain.
■ SOME PEOPLE whose names were once household words fall off the radar and fade from public consciousness. That doesn’t mean that they’ve stopped being involved in significant activities, it just means that what they’re doing tends to be more low-key than what they were doing previously. Dvora Ganani is a case in point. For a long time she was close to people in power: deputy spokesperson for Teddy Kollek, and media adviser and/or spokesperson for the wife of the president of Israel and the ministries of Finance, Justice and Tourism. After taking a break from public service, she became a business entrepreneur, helping to create business links between Israel and Egypt. She even opened an office in Cairo, and was on a frequent commute between Israel’s capital, where she lives, and Egypt’s capital.
One day in July 1997, on arrival in Cairo, she was arrested at the airport and detained for questioning. She could not think of anything she had done that might offend the Egyptian authorities, but her arrest made headlines in Israel. Ehud Barak, then head of the Labor Party, was in Egypt to discuss the peace process with then-president Hosni Mubarak. Barak interceded on her behalf, asking his Egyptian hosts to allow him to take her back to Israel. The Egyptians acceded to his request.
After a time, Ganani returned to community service and accepted a high-ranking position with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, where she has worked for several years. This experience contributed enormously to her understanding of the importance of building bridges between Christians and Jews, and bringing them together for humanitarian projects in Israel.
Ganani is currently working with The Jewish Agency for Israel as the director of Jewish and Christian relations, and the director of programs in Israel for The Deborah Project. That initiative is an outreach program to Israel’s most vulnerable populations based on the story of Deborah the prophetess and judge, who, like Ganani herself, was described as having a mother’s heart for Israel. Her current position takes her to Christian communities abroad, primarily in the United States, where she is enhancing existing bonds of friendship and also making new friends for Israel.
■ IT WAS almost symbolic that Sarah Aynor, who did so much for Israelis of Ethiopian background, should go to her final resting place the week of Sigd, one of the most important of Ethiopian Jewish festivals. Aynor was the second wife of Hanan Aynor, one of Israel’s pioneer diplomats who made an enormous contribution to Israel’s work in developing states. In a 40-year career, he served in almost a dozen countries, but mostly in Africa with postings in the Republic of Congo, Senegal, Gambia, Ethiopia and Zaire.
The Aynors developed a great fondness for Ethiopia and its people, and following Hanan’s retirement, they devoted themselves to providing opportunities for Ethiopian immigrants to receive a higher education, and to become part of Israel’s mainstream. Following Hanan’s death in December 1993, his family established the Hanan Aynor Foundation, with Sarah as its first chairperson, providing scholarships for Israelis of Ethiopian descent. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded well over 3,000 scholarships enabling Israeli students of Ethiopian parentage to realize their potential in high tech, medicine, law, politics, journalism and any other profession that appeals to them, and for which they have an aptitude. The scholarship presentations were always ceremonial affairs presided over by Aynor, who in recent years had been in failing health. She was laid to rest last Sunday at Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuhot Cemetery in Givat Shaul. She will be sadly missed by the hundreds of Ethiopian students and graduates for whom she always provided a willing ear and sound advice.
■ THE IRREPRESSIBLE Richard Quest of CNN’s Quest Means Business will be back in Israel again for the Globes annual business conference, which will be held December 11-12 at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv. Aside from President Reuven Rivlin and the usual crop of government ministers, top-ranking local economists and business leaders, there are a lot of heavyweights coming from abroad, among them: Prof. Alan M. Dershowitz, former Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard Law School; Alasdair Ross, countries editor for The Economist’s The World in 2017; Charlie Baker, governor of Massachusetts; David Wertime, senior editor for Foreign Policy’s Tea Leaf Nation; Luke Baker, Reuters Jerusalem bureau chief; Dr. Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute; Christopher Balding, associate professor, Peking University; Prof.
François Bourguignon, former chief economist (2003–2007) of the World Bank; Sébastien Badault, managing director, Alibaba Group France; Leslie H. Moeller, global leader, Strategy&; Prof. Ahmet K. Han, senior lecturer of strategic affairs of the Middle East; Frank Heemskerk, executive director, World Bank; Shiv Malik, author and former investigative journalist, The Guardian; Dr. Chris Brauer, founder & senior lecturer, Center for Creative & Social Technologies, Goldsmiths University; Douglas J. Feith, director of the Center for National Security Strategies, Hudson Institute; Rob Knake, Whitney Shepardson senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Prof. Branko Milanovic, senior scholar, the Graduate Center, CUNY; Elena Panaritis, CEO and founder, Thought for Action; Amrita Sen, co-founder & chief oil analyst, Energy Aspects; Peter Sullivan, managing director and head of the Public Sector Group, Africa, at Citigroup; Prof. Glenn Yago, senior director, Milken Innovation Center-Jerusalem Institute and senior fellow, Milken Institute; Oscar Chemerinski, director, Global Corporate Coverage, IFC-The World Bank Group; Hasan Akcakayalıoglu, chairman & CEO, Bank Pozitif of Turkey; Riad Al-Khouri, Middle East director, GeoEconomica GmbH; Youssef Alzeem, CEO, Everest Trading, Gaza; and Nabil Bowab, businessman, Gaza. Aside from its economic significance, the conference is a demonstration of religious pluralism, with participants coming from different streams of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Topics for discussion include “The Global Economy,” “Political Relations between Turkey & Israel,” “Measuring Peace in the Middle East,” “The Great Powers and their Impact on the Middle East,” “Global Economic Policies, Monetary Policies and Investments,” “Business Strategy in a Digital Age,” “AgriTech as a National Growth Engine,” “Cyber Threats,” “Africa’s Economic Promise,” and “Business Strategy in a Digital Age.”
■ ALTHOUGH THE next Knesset election is still some time away, Israel Prize laureate and haredi educator Adina Bar-Shalom, daughter of the late Shas spiritual leader and former Sephardi chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef, is being wooed by various political parties. Bar-Shalom, who received her father’s blessing to provide higher education for religious female students so that they would have the tools to find employment in mainstream Israel, is seriously considering running for Knesset, but will not necessarily join a religious party. Neither Shas nor United Torah Judaism accept females in their political ranks, and it’s not certain that her views are in sync with Bayit Yehudi. At this moment, it’s anybody’s guess which party she may eventually decide to join. Bar Shalom is frequently seen at diplomatic events, and is engaged in a wide range of social activism. She also appears on television and radio, and has earned the respect of a broad cross section of the Israeli public.