Grapevine: Pushing the envelope

European Parliament issues a limited-edition first day cover featuring both Golda Meir and President Shimon Peres.

Peres and Hollande 370 (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Peres and Hollande 370
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Pushing the envelope acquired a whole new meaning in Strasbourg this week. Political historians, whose specialty is Israel, are well aware that there was no love lost between Golda Meir and Shimon Peres. In fact, she detested both him and Henry Kissinger and made no secret of it. But when the European Parliament this week chose to honor Peres beyond giving him the podium, it apparently failed to read the history book of Israeli politics and issued a limited-edition first day cover featuring both Golda and Peres, thereby inadvertently causing Israel’s first and only woman premier to turn in her grave. Of course, she may have mellowed with advancing age as Peres has, but it’s doubtful that she would have been happy about sharing the small space afforded by an envelope. At least the heads of the two Israeli leaders are at opposite ends of the envelope and facing away from one another.
■ THE FIRST question that global Jewish leaders ask after the election of a pope is whether he will be good for the Jews. Both Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, and Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, are convinced that Pope Francis, who in his role as cardinal spoke out against all forms of anti- Semitism and Holocaust denial, will continue on this path. Lauder was hopeful that Pope Francis will strengthen the Vatican’s relationship with Israel and Hier recalled that, as cardinal, Pope Francis was outspoken against the attack on the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires by Iranian terrorist agents in 1994.
He also attended Rosh Hashana services in the B’nei Tikva Synagogue in 2007 and Hanukka services in the Emanu-El synagogue in 2012. Last November he presided over a Kristallnacht commemoration in his own cathedral in Buenos Aires.
■ ACCORDING TO Michael Jankelowitz, a former spokesman for the Jewish Agency, before immigrating from New York with Nefesh B'Nefesh, Marin Teremets, who appears in the centerfold of the first edition of the Hebrew Playboy magazine first visited the country with Birthright Israel and participated in the Jewish Agency’s MASA program.
Daniel Pomerantz, who launched the Hebrew edition of Playboy, is also still in the category of new immigrant, having arrived only a year or so ago. He might be a little more fortunate than Galia Albin, who in 1981 brought over the Hebrew version of Penthouse but closed up shop after 11 issues. Constant hassling with outraged haredim was just not worth the effort. Admittedly, Israel has become less conservative since then.
■ ONE OF the perks of being an ambassador is having a car and sometimes even a driver. Dutch Ambassador Caspar Veldkamp, who has the use of a chauffeured limousine, prefers to ride a bike. Veldkamp and second secretary Liesbeth Mol attracted a lot of attention early this week when they arrived for the opening of the Herzliya Conference at the Dan Accadia Hotel riding bicycles made from sustainable oak wood and designed by the Dutch company Bough Bikes. Admittedly, it was not that long a journey from the ambassador’s residence in Herzliya Pituah, but it afforded them the opportunity to catch some fresh air, exercise their legs and catch the eye of the media.
■ IT IS rare for members of the haredi community to be photographed with women who are not members of their immediate family. But Yehuda Meshi- Zahav, the founder and chairman of ZAKA, the Disaster Victim Identification service, has demonstrated time again that he is not a typical haredi in that he has been an official beacon-lighter on Independence Day, has engaged in extreme sports and attended the induction ceremony of the IDF combat unit in which one of his sons is serving. When it comes to expanding ZAKA’s international activities, Meshi- Zahav has no qualms about being photographed with a woman, because the cause is just too important.
He was photographed with Australian Ambassador Andrea Faulkner, who visited ZAKA headquarters in Jerusalem within the framework of plans for the expansion of ZAKA into Australia.
Faulkner, who was accompanied by Australian immigration officer and manager of the visa, immigration and citizenship section Abdullah Azar and Australian lawyer Michael Kadoury, received a detailed briefing on ZAKA’s activities from Meshi-Zahav and ZAKA International Rescue Unit commander Mati Goldstein. They told her how volunteers in 14 units around the world receive regular, specialized training in mass casualty disaster management and emergency rescue and recovery from the Israeli team. The readiness of these trained volunteers in key communities and cities, from North and South America to Russia, Europe and the Far East, significantly reduces the response time of the ZAKA volunteers to incidents involving mass casualties and thus contributes to the saving of many lives.
Faulkner said that while she knew about ZAKA activities in Israel and around the world, she was not aware of the “scope and sheer number of incidents where the organization has provided assistance.”
She was pleased that ZAKA is planning to establish a unit in Australia and promised to help facilitate connection with the relevant emergency and rescue services in her country.
“My door will always be open for you,” she said.
In the 18 years since it was founded, ZAKA has amassed more than 1,500 trained volunteers in Israel alone. They are on call 24/7 to respond to emergency situations where their expertise in search, rescue and recovery on land and sea can help to save lives. ZAKA has been recognized by the United Nations and has assisted with rescue operations in the wake of natural disasters, plane crashes and terrorist attacks in Japan, Haiti, New Orleans, Thailand, Mexico, Mumbai, Mombasa and Istanbul.
■ IN THE same week as the Israel Apartheid conference opened in Africa, the Tel Aviv Arts Council issued a statement that it was proud to announce that Arab-Israeli designer Naim Qasim would be the headline presenter at Night in the House of Fashion: The Cutting Edge of Israeli Fashion Art & Design, which opened last night in Tel Aviv’s main garment production district. Qasim, who identifies as both an Israeli and a Palestinian, combines traditional Arab garb with Western fashion concepts to produce truly eye-catching and innovative creations. He is one of the most talented of Israeli/Palestinian fashion designers and, as an Israeli citizen, exhibits frequently in Israeli fashion shows under his own brand name.
Born in the Tira Triangle, his main goal is to bring more fashion awareness to the streets of Arab cities because he believes that fashion is a tool that can be used positively to bring about change. He believes that fashion is a language in and of itself, as well as a great influential vehicle that enables people to connect and express a variety of feelings freely, individually and differently. He describes his own creations as a fusion of culture and reality. When he connects with both sources of inspiration, he feels more complete and connected to his inner being
 ■ CELEBRATED LEGAL expert Prof. Alan Dershowitz, who will be one of the keynote speakers at the annual Jerusalem Post Conference in New York next month, was also the keynote speaker this week at the 15th anniversary banquet of Gateways, an American Jewish outreach organization that created the Brownstone experience, a collegiate and young adult leadership center that offers young men and women from around the world the opportunity to strengthen their Jewish identities and to deepen their connections to Israel. Earlier in the day, Dershowitz had been with a group of Jewish leaders who met with US President Barack Obama prior to his visit to Israel that begins next Wednesday.
“It is more important than ever for the president to state in no uncertain terms that Iran will never be permitted to develop nuclear weapons,” Dershowitz said. “He must make it clear that the United States will never compromise on Israel’s security. This is important not only for Israel, but for world peace.”
Among the dinner guests was Israel’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Ron Prosor.
Honorary chairmen of the event were New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Consul- General in New York Ido Aharoni.
■ ROTARY INTERNATIONAL President Sakuji Tanaka this week visited Save a Child’s Heart at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon and met with hospital director Dr. Yitzhak Berlovich, who told him how much the Rotary International and Rotary Israel’s commitment to SACH meant to all the doctors involved in this humanitarian project which transcends borders and political differences.
Tanaka toured the pediatric wards and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Wolfson and met with children from Ethiopia, Ghana, Iraq, Kenya, the Palestinian Authority, Romania and Zanzibar who were all brought by SACH to Israel to undergo lifesaving heart surgeries. Tanaka was accompanied by Rotary Israel governor Moshik Yanai and other Rotary Club representatives who are involved with SACH, among them former governor of Rotary Israel and SACH chairman Yoram Cohen.
The visit ended at the SACH children’s home, where Tanaka met the project’s volunteers from around the globe and spoke of the importance of the ongoing cooperation between Rotary and SACH, saying that it is integral to Rotary’s motto for this year – “Peace through Service.”
SACH has been supported by rotarians in many parts of the world because it embodies what the Rotary movement stands for: providing humanitarian service, encouraging high ethical standards in all vocations and helping to build goodwill and peace in the world. SACH has representatives of the Holon, Jaffa and Ramat Aviv Rotary clubs in Israel on its board of directors, as well as rotarians actively involved with SACH activities abroad.
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