GRAPEVINE: Diplomatically speaking

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French Ambassador to Israel Helene Le Gal (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
French Ambassador to Israel Helene Le Gal
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
■ FRENCH AMBASSADOR Helene Le Gal will this week host an event at her residence in Jaffa on behalf of lTLV Young Professionals working in conjunction with the Konrad- Adenauer-Stiftung. The event which is part of the Ambassador Series in which young immigrants to Israel are seeking to enhance their knowledge of the country and its relations with other countries, come together to network socially and professionally and to learn more about Israel’s bilateral relationships and about how other countries view Israel. The event is limited to young people in their 20s and 30s. Le Gal who is the first French female ambassador in Israel is not a novice to the country.
She previously served here as first secretary from 1994-1998, but discovered a lot of changes when she returned in 2016.
She will discuss France-Israel relations, as well as the stalled peace process and what she envisions, will happen beyond.
■ MAY 15 marks the first anniversary of the demise of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the birth after a long gestation period of KAN, the Israel Broadcasting Corporation.
In many respects, there is not much difference between the two, other than the fact than KAN is operating on a smaller budget. The radio broadcasting staff remained almost intact. A small number of people among the broadcasters were not taken on by Eldad Koblentz who was tasked to build and open the new public broadcasting entity. While broadcasters – who were household names – were let go, a few new voices were added, but in general, it’s the same old favorites. Much the same can be said for Channel 11, that used to be Channel 1. But where expectations have definitely not been fulfilled is the move away from so-called temporary premises in Modi’in to Jerusalem.
If the Americans and Guatemalans can do it, surely the Israelis can do the same. It was announced nearly a year ago that KAN had acquired premises in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood. But so far there is no indication that KAN is moving in that direction.
■ AT ITS Jerusalem Day reception last week, the International Christian Embassy announced the establishment of its Cyrus award, which will be conferred for the first time this coming Wednesday, May 16, on President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala, who is coming to Israel to officially return his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, after a long hiatus on the Coastal Plain. ICEJ president Jurgen Buhler announced that any head of state or government – who recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and will bring their country’s embassy to Jerusalem. It will receive the Cyrus award, which has been named for the ancient King Cyrus of Persia, whose conquests were legendary as was his respect for the upholding of the traditions and religious practices of the people whose countries he had conquered, especially those of the Jews.
Buhler said that he would have liked President Donald Trump to be the first recipient of the award, as it’s Trump who is leading the way for embassies to return to Israel’s capital, but unfortunately, he is not coming to Israel at this time. The award will be presented to him very soon, said ICEJ officials.
■ AUSTRIAN DOCUMENTARIES are included in this year’s International Docaviv Film Festival running from May 17-26. This year, two films both dealing with Austria’s past will be screened. In The Waldheim Waltz, Ruth Beckermann looks back to the beginning of the Waldheim Affair that marked a turning point in Austria’s postwar history, and eventually led to Austria accepting responsibility for its share of Nazi atrocities.
The movie won the Documentary Award at this year’s Berlinale.
Yair Lev’s Israeli-Austrian-German co-production You Only Die Twice is a Jewish detective story set in the Alps and revolves around the former president of the Jewish Community of Tirol, Ernst Bechinsky.
A man with the same name dies twice: in 1969 in Israel and in 1987 in Innsbruck. Who was Ernst Bechinsky really? Given the category, it’s not all that difficult to guess – but why be a spoiler? ■ IT’S NOT only the US administration that celebrates significant anniversaries in Israel’s history in accordance with the Gregorian calendar.
B’nai B’rith World Center has also chosen to do so and is holding its annual awards ceremony for journalistic excellence in reporting on Jewish Diaspora affairs and Diaspora relations with Israel. The event at the Konrad Adenauer Center in Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim will take place on Tuesday, June 5, which happens to be the 51st anniversary of the outbreak of the Six Day War. It also happens to be the 25th anniversary of the award, which was established by German- born journalist Wolf Matsdorf who spent many years in Australia before settling in Israel with his wife Hilda, who was a social worker.
Matsdorf used to say that he was the first Jew in Frankfurt to obtain a driver’s license.
Prize winners are Jerusalem Post columnist Amotz Asa-El in the print media section and Yair Shreki of the Israel News Company in the Broadcasting section. A certificate of merit in memory of Luis and Trudy Schydlowsky will also be awarded to Kan 11 broadcaster, Benny Teitelbaum. Keynote speaker for the event will be Elliott Abrams – a senior fellow for Middle East Studies Council on Foreign Relations and former US deputy National Security advisor, whose topic will be: Israel and American Jews – A portrait at 70.
■ ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS from abroad are increasingly partnering with Israeli institutions of higher learning, or with other institutions whose areas of expertise can be harnessed and used for the benefit of both partners.
Florida International University is partnering with Beit Issie Shapiro, Israel’s leading developer and provider of innovative therapies and services for children and adults with developmental disabilities, to further advance state-of-the-art solutions and to collaborate on the exchange of research and education.
Representatives from BIS, which is based in Ra’anana, were in Miami to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with Florida International University’s Embrace – a university-wide initiative that promotes health, wellness, and overall functioning for adults with developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
Developmental disabilities impact individual’s physical and intellectual capabilities well into adulthood. Adults with intellectual disabilities face staggering unemployment, varying from 60% to almost 90%.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that Florida is home to more than 200,000 individuals of all ages living with autism and related disorders. They often experience disparities in key health indicators such as obesity, mental health and access to health services.
The signing of the MOU signals both organizations’ commitment to establishing evidence-based models of care that are both sustainable and transferable while nurturing and exploring potential for mutually beneficial research and training opportunities between BIS and FIU faculty, staff and students that address the needs of our communities.
The organizations have also agreed to work with each other to effectively and efficiently identify, analyze and address research, training and education projects of mutual benefit. The MOU clears the way for FIU and BIS to co-host international conferences on disabilities in Miami and Israel, and the exchange of training, professional development and education information in any of the service areas offered by either organization.
“FIU is committed to exploring partnerships and amicable alliances that advance our ability to serve our very diverse community,” says FIU’s provost and executive vice president, Kenneth Furton. “Beit Issie Shapiro has pioneered innovative solutions to improve the quality of life for Israelis and as such this partnership is critical to FIU’s strategic goals.”
Beit Issie Shapiro has over four decades of expertise in scaling validated solutions and services for children and adults with developmental disabilities, enabling the organization to promote systemic change in the quality of life of people in Israel and globally.
BIS promotes social change through the development and provision of cutting edge services, changing attitudes in society and advocating for better legislation while sharing research and best practices internationally through research, consultation and training.
“It is a great honor to have been selected by FIU as a place of best practice in the field of disabilities,” says executive director of Beit Issie Shapiro, Jean Judes. “FIU has a unique model of embracing disabilities throughout their campus and we believe this comprehensive approach to change is unique.”
FIU Embrace, which officially launched in fall 2016, utilizes a person-focused, household-centric approach, recognizing that people with developmental disabilities deserve to be treated as individuals with personal patterns of talents and challenges.
Through education and dissemination, services, and research opportunities, Embrace strives to positively impact the lives of individuals affected by developmental disabilities, their families, and learners. FIU Embrace is a part of the Office of Research and Economic Development, and is an initiative consistent with the university’s vision for inclusion and embracing the diversity of our Miami community.
BIS representatives toured FIU’s south campus and visited key facilities including the Center for Images Sciences, the Oxidative Stress Lab and FIU Embrace’s medical facilities – which specialize in wraparound services for adults with developmental disabilities and their families and caregivers.
“We [FIU and BIS] share a values- based commitment to diversity and people with disabilities and we know this new partnership will make a significant impact,” added Judes. “Together we will create a more inclusive and equal society.”