THERE IS life after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Former Chief of Protocol Uri Halfon, who retired a couple of years back and dabbled in international business, is the new director general of the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce. Halfon was introduced to members of the Chamber at a festive ceremony presided over by recently elected President of the Chamber Rami Mandel, the managing director of Co-Op Jerusalem. Mandel replaced Shmulik Zemel who resigned in order to pursue his Law studies, while Halfon replaced Netanel Liram who, after many years of service, has chosen to step down. Halfon, who is also a former ambassador, continues to be on diplomatic guest lists, a factor which will undoubtedly be reflected at future events of the Chamber when, by way of reciprocity, he invites the heads of foreign missions. Having a former diplomat at the helm could augur well for the Chamber's foreign relations as well as facilitating introductions to foreign markets for members of the Chamber. YOU CAN be one of the 10 wealthiest people in the country, you can have more than a finger in a variety of lucrative business pies, you can have access to corridors of power around the world, but you can't always get past the petty bureaucrats. That's what Lev Leviev discovered when he sought to turn the upper floors of Jerusalem's Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza hotel into luxury apartments. The hotel, which is part of the Africa Israel stable, in which Leviev has controlling interest, was originally the Jerusalem Hilton. Located near the entrance to the capital, it initially stood in splendid isolation until a row of additional hotels and several apartment complexes were built nearby. More hotels are slated for construction in the large adjacent plot of land that for many years was the site of the Foreign Ministry. It is not unheard of for hotels in the capital to have private residential facilities. The Jerusalem Sheraton Plaza, located within a few minutes walk of downtown has private residences, some of which are rented out when the owners are away. Now that the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza is more or less in a residential area, there appeared to be a valid reason for converting the uppermost floors into 12 apartments which would serve the needs of affluent people who want panoramic views plus their own private comforts and arrangements, but who like the idea of having instant hotel service on hand. Among those in the applications committee opposed to the idea was the Ministry of Tourism, which is not interested in having the number of available rooms reduced, regardless of the fact that the hotel is expanding its existing facilities and more hotel rooms have been approved for construction elsewhere in the city. Leviev does not take defeat easily - the bureaucratic "no" may not be the last word on the matter. THE UNIVERSITY of Haifa is basking in the success of one of its alumni Dr. I'mad Shams, an evolutionary biologist, who has just been accepted as a post-doctoral fellow by Yale University. The eldest of seven children born into a farming family that grew apples, peaches and plums on a plot of land in the Druze village of Magdal Shams in the Golan Heights along the Syrian border, Shams never dreamed of an academic career. As a boy, he helped harvest the fruit. Then came the Six Day War, and he could no longer harvest the fruit. The family's land was located on the Syrian side of the ceasefire border and they had no access to it. Shams's parents wanted something better for their children than to be poor farmers; to them, education was the key to a better life and they urged all their children to leave the village and study. Shams went to Russia and earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Moscow University where he studied the effect of peptides on blood clotting. Unable to find employment when he returned to Israel, he decided to continue his research and applied to the University of Haifa and its Institute of Evolution. The Russian-trained Jewish scientists there were only too happy to accept him as a research assistant. They quickly recognized his potential and offered him every encouragement. After 11 months as a research assistant, he was accepted as a doctoral candidate. "I am living proof," says Shams, who recently received his Ph.D., "that it's possible to overcome all obstacles and to realize one's dreams if one really wants to do research, wants to study and wants to succeed." The message should send a red alert warning to Israel's education authorities to improve educational facilities and opportunities for all of Israel's minorities so that the brightest among them can realize their potential and utilize it not only for their own benefit but for the benefit of the country. ANYONE WHO wonders what happened to Laura Kam Issacharoff, the former co-director of the ADL's Israel office when she accompanied her diplomat husband Jeremy to Washington where he is deputy head of the Israel Embassy, should be aware that she's still deeply involved in promoting Jewish and Israel interests. Together with Yossi Olmert, the brother of Prime Minister designate Ehud Olmert and Deena Freedman, Kam serves as a leader of an international strategic communications program run by The Israel Project (TIP) a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. that works to strengthen Israel's image in the media. Kam, who spent almost two decades working for the Anti-Defamation League, is the director of TIP's Media Fellows project and will oversee Media Fellows working in Washington, D.C. Olmert will head the New York Media Fellow's program co-sponsored by the Jewish Community relations Council. Olmert was formerly an advisor to prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, director of the Government Press Office and policy advisor to former defense minister Moshe Arens. An authority on the Middle East, he is the author of several books on different aspects of the region. He is also a former radio commentator on Middle East developments. Freedman, a former director of American public relations and media for the Shalem Center in Jerusalem will coordinate the Media Fellows working in Jerusalem. TIP, currently operating in the United States, Europe and Israel, offers a unique high powered paid fellowship opportunity for 30 of the best and brightest 19-24 year old college or graduate school students in journalism, political science, Judaic studies or public relations programs or those beginning their careers in journalism or Israel advocacy. TIP Media Fellows will embark on a nine-week program, beginning June 6, and will benefit from intensive training; substantive contacts with leading journalists and communications professionals and practical out-of-the-classroom experience. The course will enable participants to develop potential long-term career building relationships with Middle East experts in the media and elsewhere. Internships are available in Washington, D.C., New York City and Jerusalem. Ten outstanding applicants will be accepted for each of the three locations. Media Fellows in New York and Washington will be involved in staffing and planning TIP speaking events in regions across the United States. In Israel, the Media Fellows will undertake in-depth research projects pertaining to current events in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Through this practical experience - building relationships with journalists, providing reporters with key information, assisting with media events and research activities - the Israel Project Media Fellows will work to improve what is being reported about Israel in the American and global media. GIVEN IMAGING Ltd. has announced the appointment of Nachum (Homi) Shamir as President and CEO of the company and a member of the board of directors. Shamir comes to Given Imaging Ltd. from the Eastman Kodak Company, where he served as corporate vice president and president of the Transaction and Industrial Solutions Group. Gavriel Meron, Given Imaging's founder and current President and CEO, will become Executive Vice Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Board's Executive Committee. Meron will support and monitor the execution of the company's annual plans, while focusing on strategic activities, advancing new products and partnerships and nurturing ongoing relations with the GI community. Over the last year, Meron has also served as interim President of GI's US subsidiary, Given Imaging Inc. Intensive efforts are being made to find a suitable person to fill this position. Prior to joining Eastman Kodak, Shamir, who will be based in Atlanta, was employed by the Scitex Corporation Ltd., where since 1993, he held a variety of senior management positions including Chief Executive Officer and President of the corporation and CEO of Scitex Digital Printing (which was acquired by Eastman Kodak in January 2004). He continues to serve as a member of the Scitex Board of Directors. Before joining Scitex, Shamir held senior management positions at various international companies mainly in the Asia Pacific regions. Shamir holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Hebrew University Jerusalem and a Master's in Public Administration from Harvard University. THE SHAARE ZEDEK Medical Center has announced the appointment of Prof. Francis Mimouni, one of Israel's leading pediatricians as head of its pediatrics department. A former head of the Israel Neonatology Association, Mimouni is currently Chairman of the Israeli Pediatric Society. For the past nine years, he has been in charge of pediatrics and neonatology at the Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv.