Grapevine: Oslo revived

A round-up of news from around Israel.

CHAVA ALBERSTEIN, flanked by President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Necham (photo credit: MARC NEYMAN/GPO)
CHAVA ALBERSTEIN, flanked by President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Necham
(photo credit: MARC NEYMAN/GPO)
In advance of the opening this Saturday night of the controversial Beit Lessin production Oslo, Yediot Aharonot organized a meeting between veteran actor Ilan Dar, who plays Shimon Peres, and Prof. Tsvia Walden, who is the daughter of Israel’s ninth president. Despite the numerous roles he’s played over the years, it’s somewhat daunting for the 82-year-old Dar to step into the shoes of Shimon Peres, but Walden put him at ease when she greeted him with “Hi Dad.” With spontaneous thespian instincts, Dar replied, “hi, sweetie.” Walden was amused and bemused because that was the way her father had greeted her. The two discussed theater, politics and the extent to which Walden misses her father. True to his memory, she believes that his spirit lingers in Israel and that there is still hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Whoever says that there is no hope and no partner is a sour pickle,” she said.
■ ISRAEL IS full of streets, statues, posters and other symbols memorializing Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl. We celebrate his birthday and commemorate his death. He was considered to be so important an inspiration for future generations of Israelis that his remains were removed from his grave in Vienna’s Dobling cemetery and re-interred in 1949 on the mountain in Jerusalem that bears his name.
The question that is seldom asked is whether Herzl would have conceived the Zionist vision had he not in his capacity as a journalist covered the iniquitous trial of a French officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who in 1894 was convicted on trumped up charges of treason. He was exonerated more than a century ago.
Herzl was incensed by the injustice of what he saw and heard, and it was from this negative element that he was inspired to advocate the return to the Jewish homeland.
There are some who think that Dreyfus was short-changed by history, and that without him the Zionist enterprise might never have eventuated.
Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People hosted a French exhibition, part of which was dedicated to Dreyfus, but there’s not much in Israel to remind people of who he was and how his story influenced Herzl.
Now people strolling along Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, where the most dominant statue is that of the city’s first mayor Meir Dizengoff on his horse, will be able to gaze at a statue of yet another historic figure – Dreyfus.
The statue which has been placed in front of the French Institute at 7 Rothschild Boulevard, will be officially unveiled this coming Tuesday, November 27 in the presence of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, French Ambassador Helene Le Gal and the descendants of Alfred and Lucie Dreyfus.
■ CHRISTIAN ZIONIST and founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, Mike Evans was among the speakers on Wednesday at the annual Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference. Evans, who has a long history of working with Israel’s leadership, told the story that when Menachem Begin was prime minister, he offered him some land in Jerusalem for the purpose of building a center. Evans, who had an even longer relationship with Jerusalem’s legendary mayor Teddy Kollek, excitedly told him about Begin’s offer. Kollek promptly said, “no.” Protesting to Kollek that the prime minister had made the offer, the rejoinder was, “he’s not prime minister of Jerusalem.” Evans related the exchange to Begin, who said, “he’s right.”
■ AT PREVIOUS JP Diplomatic Conferences at which he was speaker, former defense minister Avigdor Liberman always came dressed in a suit. But now that he’s back in the ranks of MK, he came in a sports shirt sans tie, and no jacket. However, when taking his seat in the Knesset, he did wear a suit. Incidentally, some of the MKs who had been scheduled for on-stage appearances at the conference, bowed out because they had to be at the Knesset in time for the vote. Those who did come, for the most part cut their appearances short, but kept their commitments. For the duration of the current Knesset, it looks as if a Knesset vote is going to be the standard excuse for bowing out from other events. No minister or MK is sure at this stage exactly when the next elections will be held other than in 2019, which is when they were initially scheduled to be held just under a year from now. Most people have the feeling that they will be held sooner rather than later – but in this topsy-turvy country one never knows.
■ POLISH AMBASSADOR Marek Magierowski who was one of many ambassadors who attended the diplomatic conference retweeted a tweet by Canadian Ambassador Deborah Lyons, who had written that she was honored to attend the JP annual diplomatic conference together with MK Stav Shaffir and fellow Ambassador Thessalia Salina Shambos of Cyprus, for an in-depth discussion on Women’s Diplomacy and the role of feminism in Canada’s Foreign policy. Shambos said afterwards that she had so much more to say. No doubt she and others will have an opportunity to speak on this and other issues on Sunday, November 25, at events marking the International Day of Eliminating Violence against Women, and again on Tuesday, November 27, at the Women Wage Peace Conference in Tel Aviv.
Both ambassadors said that their male colleagues should also be speaking up on the elimination of violence and in favor of parity in the work place.
Magierowski tweeted that he had found the discussion about the role of women in diplomacy to be fascinating, and on the Polish Embassy’s twitter account, either he or Katarzyna Rybka-Iwanska, the head of the embassy’s political and economic section, tweeted that 100 years ago, Polish women were among the first in Europe to gain voting rights and Polish female parliamentarians across the board championed welfare, education and the rights of women, children and minorities.
■ THE SPEAKERS who probably made the most favorable impression on the crowd were two businessmen from Judea and Samaria – one Jewish and the other Palestinian, who share the belief that Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace, harmony and friendship on the same terrain.
“Whoever believes in peace has to work with us. Jews and Palestinians have an unbreakable bond,” said Ashraf Jaabari, who announced in advance that he was not afraid to voice his opinion. Jaabari spoke in Hebrew through an interpreter. Yehuda Cohen, the CEO of the Lipski Company in the Barkan Industrial Park, said that about a third of his employees were Jewish and the rest Palestinian. Speaking in halting English, he kept repeating: “I give them hope.”
The hope that he gives is enabling employees to not only support their families, but to have enough money to plan for the future – to buy a house or a car. There was consensus on the panel, in which the two said that facts on the ground between Jews and Palestinians are different from impressions gained via the media or political diatribes.
■ ALTHOUGH MOST people at the conference had come to listen to ministers, MKs and diplomats, almost everyone in the crowded ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem sat in rapt fascination as Prof. Michael Glikson, the director of the Integrated Heart Center at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, gave a beautifully illustrated and easy to understand lecture on the latest cardiovascular technologies. No one knows when they might suffer a sudden heart attack, and more people die from cardiovascular diseases than almost any other ailment, so the lecture was a strong attention-getter. It certainly was not Glikson’s intention to frighten anyone in his audience. Rather, he sought to reassure them that new non-invasive techniques in both detecting and repairing an ailing heart will add to the quality, not to mention longevity of their lives.
■ ON THE subject of cardiology, Chaim Fachler, the director of International Resource Development at the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak is thrilled to report that the hospital’s new Heiden Foundation Cardiology Department and hospitalization buildings have been completed on schedule and will be officially inaugurated on Sunday, December 2.
■ AT THE event held at the President’s Residence on Tuesday night by the National Authority for Yiddish Culture, which, together with the Culture and Sport Ministry, presented Life Achievement awards to poet and translator Moshe Shachar and singer lyricist and composer Chava Alberstein. It was a given that the entertainment would be in Yiddish, and that one of the performers would be Alberstein herself. One of the songs she chose to sing was “Oyfn Pripetshik” (On the Hearth), which is about a rabbi teaching the alphabet to his young students by getting them to sing it. Alberstein was followed by veteran actor and comedian Yaakov Bodo, who after doing a marvelous recital on the difference between Lithuanian and Galician Yiddish, related to “Oyfn Pripetshik” and said that it had been common in Jewish schools in Europe to teach tiny tots via a melody and illustrated this with multiplication tables. But when the test came to see how much was remembered, he said, there were those who remembered only the melody and couldn’t do the arithmetic.
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