Grapevine: Building strong foundations

With all the negativity surrounding Israel in the media, it is important to focus on those who stand by and support the Holy Land.

Newspapers (photo credit: Wikicommons)
(photo credit: Wikicommons)
WITH ALL of the negative attitudes toward Israel that are making headlines in local and international media, it’s always a pleasant surprise to learn how many individuals and organizations continue to be not only well disposed toward the country, but also generous in their financial support of Israel projects.
A case in point is the Helmsley Charitable Trust, whose gift of $2.86 million to the Jerusalem Foundation has enabled the creation of a fully equipped International Press Club at Mishkenot Sha’ananim – not in the Konrad Adenauer Conference Center, but further down the stairs in what was once the elegant Mishkenot Restaurant. The facility has been completely gutted and is due to open in its new guise next year. Mishkenot director Uri Dromi, who is both a journalist and former diplomat in his own right, is heading the project, and happily showed it off to people attending the unveiling ceremony of the Winston Churchill bust at Mishkenot last Sunday.
Dromi was one of the few people present who was not a Brit or a British expat living in Israel. Among those who could count either the King’s or Queen’s English as their native tongue (depending on when they were born) were Harry Sapir, a director of the Jerusalem Foundation who has spent the major part of his life in Israel but continues to converse largely in English; Peter Halban, chairman of the foundation’s UK branch; Russell Rothstein, president of the Churchill Society of Israel; philanthropist Della Worms; ambassador and Jerusalem Foundation president Mark Sofer; British Ambassador Matthew Gould; Daniel Taub, the British-born Israeli ambassador to the Court of St. James; three generations of the family of Anthony Rosenfelder, a trustee of the foundation and one of the initiators of the Winston Churchill project; Churchill’s greatgrandson Randolph Churchill and his wife Catherine; British Consul-General in Jerusalem Sir Vincent Fean and his wife Lady Anne Marie Fean; Jane Biran, who used to head the British Desk at the foundation; and lawyer Sheila Fox, the widow of Michael Fox, who was a former president of the Israel, Britain and the Commonwealth Association and one of the founders of Israel’s largest law firm, Herzog, Fox & Neeman.
The Churchill event was so British that the first of two compositions performed by the Hasadna Group from the Jerusalem Conservatorium was by British composer Sir Edward Elgar.
NOTWITHSTANDING THAT he was leaving for New York late that night, Dore Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, delivered a lecture at the capital’s Great Synagogue last Saturday night and even took a number of questions.
Anyone who wanted to ask a question was invited to come stand in line behind the microphone, where it was easier for Gold to see and hear them.
Gold was standing in for Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, whom Hurricane Sandy had prevented from leaving New York. Gold focused primarily on the resurgence of al-Qaida elements in Libya and said he was disturbed by the complacency of Western countries and their tendency to ignore the danger signals. Very few world leaders are speaking of dangers that might occur in or emanate from Libya, he noted, adding that people in power in Libya today were jihadists.
Terrorists are taking over countries in the region, and Libya is furnishing them with weaponry, said Gold, who included Hamas in the list of Libyan recipients. He also cited an MI5 disclosure that Britain was concerned British jihadists were no longer going to Pakistan for training, but to North Yemen, Egypt, Syria and Libya, where they not only learned the strategies of terrorism but also received weapons.
The JCPA president stressed that there was nothing secret in what he was saying. “The information is out there, but there’s a kind of complacency in the West. If you don’t pay attention to details, you can make huge mistakes,” he cautioned, adding that there had been “all kinds of warning signals.” Likewise, he underscored, there seems to be a perpetual complacency about Iran, even though Israel’s prime minister is trying to shake things up.
Information about Iran’s nuclear capability in reports by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency can’t be avoided, said Gold.