Grapevine: Recognizing diplomats for what they do

Diplomats do not always receive the recognition due to them, although in Israel this lacuna is being amended.

DR. EYRAN HALPERN 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Diplomacy is an art that is spread over many fields of endeavor, often in areas of which the general public is largely unaware, but it is a vital tool in cementing relations between different countries.
Diplomats do not always receive the recognition due to them, although in Israel this lacuna is being amended via various organizations and institutions that are dedicated to providing activities for diplomats.
The Jerusalem Post has joined in this effort, and on December 12, a few days after the paper celebrates its 80th anniversary, will under the auspices of The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Club host a convention at the Daniel Hotel, Herzliya, in which speakers will include Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni (who will have decided by then whether she is running for the Knesset) and former Israel Air Force commander Ido Nehushtan.
■ IN ENGLAND, an organization known as the Grassroot Diplomat Initiative rewards diplomats and local politicians for outstanding work done for and support given to civil society within the context of bridging the gap between civil society, government officials and diplomatic activities. Awards are given out in three categories: Policy Driver Award, Social Driver Award and Business Driver Award. Thirty-eight politicians and diplomats have been nominated for these awards, and on the short list in the Business Driver category is Israel’s ambassador to the Court of St. James Daniel Taub, who has been nominated for supporting young startups and entrepreneurs in the Bizcamp Tel Aviv competition organized by the City of Tel Aviv and Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. Bizcamp’s 10- day itinerary is formed around a series of business meetings and workshops with Israel’s most successful start-up entrepreneurs, tech investors and leading multinational tech firms. The awards ceremony will be held in January.
■ IN ADDITION to accompanying Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to meetings with Israeli dignitaries this week, German Ambassador Andreas Michaelis also made a point of going to Kiryat Malachi on Tuesday to meet with Orly Gal, the CEO of Natal, the Israeli Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War, and to present her with a check for NIS 250,000 which been pledged by Germany’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs for the treatment of children and youth suffering the traumatic effects of constant rocket fire.
Michaelis met with several Natal therapists and inspected the damage caused to buildings that had been struck by rockets.
■ EVEN DURING a period of hostilities, “protekzia” (connections), Israel’s perennial dooropener, is at the forefront. On the night that United Nation’s Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon came to the President’s Residence to meet with President Shimon Peres, several members of his entourage wondered who the little boy was that was sitting in the front row in the reception hall. The child was Aharon Meir, the son of Channel 2’s Sivan Rahav Meir, who had been brought by his father, journalist Yedidya Meir, to see how Mummy works.
In many work places staff is not allowed to bring children to VIP events, but given Rahav Meir’s standing, Aharon was not only permitted attend, but given a front row seat, although his father, who sat behind him, commanded him to go to the end of the row so he would be out of range of TV camera crews. Presidential staff members treated little Aharon like royalty.
Included in Ban’s entourage was Terje Larsen, who 20 years ago paved the way for the Oslo Accords and who currently serves as UN under-secretary general, and Israel’s permanent representative to the UN Ambassador Ron Prosor. The group stayed to have dinner with Peres and the room was decorated in blue and white, not just in deference to national sentiments but because the UN flag is also blue and white – albeit a different shade of blue.
■ MANY INDIVIDUALS and organizations have gone to great lengths to help people of the South by distributing toys, food and furnishings; making cultural and leisure institutions in other parts of the country available to them free of charge; and arranging accommodation for those who need to get away. In some places, residents of southern communities could also have free travel on public transportation so long as they could prove they were from the South.
As commendable as all these actions are, too many of the do-gooders were also interested in getting mileage out of their good deeds. Media outlets and individual journalists have been flooded with press releases with follow-up phone calls from PR agencies about what this or that organization is doing to bring some happiness and relief to the traumatized residents of the South. Likewise, academic institutions have been quick to release names and contact details of experts who could talk to the media about Gaza and the hostilities – as if they could say more than members of the government who are regularly briefed by Israeli Intelligence.
■ SIGNS OF economic recovery in the US, Hurricane Sandy not withstanding, were reflected in the $1 million raised this week for the Rabin Medical Center at the $1,000-aplate gala dinner held at Cipriani on New York City’s 42nd Street, where the gourmet fare was kosher and the entertainment included the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
One of the highlights of the evening was a discussion on security featuring Ami Ayalon, former commander in chief of the Israel Navy, who was subsequently head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and more recently a former Labor MK; and New York City Police commissioner Raymond W.
Kelly. The two were interviewed by acclaimed interviewer and broadcast journalist Charlie Rose, who was master of ceremonies.
The event in aid of the trauma center currently under construction at RMC was attended by more than 600 Friends of the Rabin Medical Center as well as RMC CEO Dr.
Eyran Halpern and president of the Friends of RMC Nava Barak. Given the situation at the beginning of the week, the dinner guests were more than eager to year Ayalon’s assessment of Operation Defensive Shield.
■ WOMEN HAVE long struggled to find their place in a man’s world, but now men are trying to find their place in a woman’s world.
Beauty contests have until now been the domain of the fairer sex. But at the annual Girl of the Year Beauty Contest taking place at the Haifa Grand Canyon this coming Monday, there will also be a contest for the Boy of the Year, with eight young male finalists competing for the title as compared to 16 females. Grand Canyon CEO Michael Savyon says that for the 13 years in which the contest has been going, the idea was to promote beauty and modeling in the northern region of the country. But this year, in view of the fact that so many companies in the center of the country are using male models, it was decided to give the boys a chance too.
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