Grapevine: Surprise! Surprise!

This is an opportunity to thank Paul Berger, who has given decades to the developing US-Israel relations.

Paul Berger 311 (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Paul Berger 311
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
Surprise! Surprise! No, it wasn’t a birthday party. It was an opportunity to say thank you to a man who has given more than four decades of his life to the building, preservation and development of America-Israel relations. Paul Berger has for more than 40 years been the legal adviser to the Israeli embassy in Washington. He’s sat in on negotiations for loan guarantees and has helped work out strategies for how to deal with the Arab boycott. In fact, he’s been involved with just about every phase of Israel’s diplomatic activity in the United States. His late wife, Debbie, was also passionately devoted to enhancing US-Israel relations.
While in Israel this week, Berger was asked to meet with Ron Dermer, a senior advisor to the prime minister. He thought it a little strange that the meeting was going to be taking place in the cabinet room, but then there was always the possibility that Dermer would be asking other people to join them. What Berger didn’t was that there would be no meeting in the formal sense of the word. But when he entered the room, he saw quite a few familiar faces.
It’s not often that you can get five Israeli ambassadors to the US together, but this was one of those rare occasions. In the room were present incumbent Michael Oren, along with former ambassadors Sallai Meridor, Danny Ayalon, Zalaman Shoval and Itamar Rabinovich. Also present was Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, along with six former Israeli economic attaches to the US and four former directors-general of the Finance Ministry.
A modest, 79-year-old man with a deep commitment to the America- Israel relationship, Berger was almost bowled over by the outpouring of goodwill in appreciation for what he’s done and what he will continue to do. The testimonial was not by way of a golden handshake. Berger will continue to be the legal guiding light to Israeli ambassadors in Washington. As he walked into the room, all faces were wreathed in smiles and he received a standing ovation.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke warmly of Berger’s outstanding contribution to the relationship between America and Israel and each of the ambassadors told an anecdote to illustrate what Israel owes to this man. Netanyahu also presented Berger with a Bible, which, all things considered, is more representative of Israel than anything else.
■ STAGE AND screen actress Keren Mor, who turned 47 on December 30, proves that one does not necessarily have to be young to be a successful fashion model. Mor was chosen by Rina Tzin to model her spring/summer collection, which was inspired by old movies. Mor, who recently completed a television series on Israeli fashion in which she proved her role-changing abilities, was a natural choice. She also has the kind of face that reflects an indeterminate age, which enables her to appear much younger or much older than she really is. It should be noted that Galit Gutman, who is one of Israel’s leading fashion models in addition to having a successful acting career, will turn 40 in September.
■ A PROVOCATIVE as well as a prolific writer, Rabbi Shmueli Boteach, who inter alia is a regular columnist for The Jerusalem Post, is currently in Israel for two reasons: to see two of his daughters who live in Israel, one who is married and the other who is about to enter the army; and the to promote his book, Kosher Jesus, published by Gefen. Boteach contends that not only has Jesus been misrepresented to both Christians and Jews, but it’s almost a case of identity theft. The ever-eloquent Boteach, who spent some ten years in England and has British citizenship in addition to his American citizenship, does not really see himself as a candidate for the role of chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, even though it has been reported that he is being considered as a possible successor to Lord Jonathan Sacks. Boteach does not think that the British establishment would allow him to come to Israel’s defense with the same degree of passion that he exercised during his period at Oxford. If he is not given the freedom to express himself as clearly and as loudly as he would like on matters related to Israel, he said when meeting with some of the Post’s editorial staff, he is not interested in the job. Boteach is upset by the behavior of extremists in the haredi camp and said that they’re not behaving Jewishly.
■ AMONG THE joys of being the owners of Cinema City for brothers Moshe and Leon Edery is that they get to see just about any movie that takes their fancy before it is officially released. One of the other pleasures is being able to host dignitaries and celebrities at premieres and special screenings. The brothers have done a lot of that lately, most recently this week when they hosted the premiere of Names Ba’geshem (Melting Away), to which they invited the whole cast.
Among those who attended were director Doron Eran and lead actors Chen Yanai, Limor Goldstein and Ami Weinberg. The screening was in a new auditorium that was being publicly used for the first time.
■ KNESSET MEMBER Ahmed Tibi, who celebrated his 53rd birthday on December 19, got a very nice birthday present. He was voted the most popular Arab MK in a poll conducted in the Arab community via the Arabic media. Curiously, Haneen Zoabi came last in the poll. Although several right-wing politicians have tried to prevent Tibi from being a member of the legislature, all such efforts have failed and Tibi currently enjoys the role of deputy speaker. He gets on famously with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin – possibly because each of them has a highly developed sense of humor.
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