The Jerusalem Post’s 10th Annual Conference, titled “The future is now,” was a resounding success. It was held at Jerusalem’s newest conference center, the Museum of Tolerance. Approximately 500 guests, plus many members of the international press corps, heard several dozen speakers and panelists expounding their views on subjects ranging from Israel’s relations with the Diaspora and the importance of aliyah to investment opportunities in Israel’s economy. The conference opened with an address by President Isaac Herzog, who spoke about the importance of international dialogue, which brought about the remarkable breakthrough in the history of our nation, the Abraham Accords. Israel always has an outstretched hand in peace, and he hoped that more Middle Eastern countries will emulate this path of dialogue and tolerance.
On Iran, he said: “Here we see the world’s failure to act in concert to settle on a strategy to sever Iran’s tentacles in the Middle East, to restrain it’s ballistic missile program and shut down its nuclear program. Iran is exploiting this inaction, this lack of coordination which is a clear threat to international peace and security.”
In Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s opening speech to the conference, he concentrated on the ongoing internal discourse between ideological and political forces: pressure from the Right, the humanistic approach of the Left and the power of the ultra-Orthodox, which he believes wields too much power that needs to be curtailed. There is too much polarization, instead of cooperation.
On the terror groups that surround Israel, Bennett said the country is showing the world the methodologies, technologies and intelligence how to deal with them. “Israel is a lighthouse of doing good things for the world in a storm,” he said.
Interviewed by Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Yaakov Katz, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar emphatically stated that he would never allow the establishment of a Palestinian state on Israel’s territory, and that the prime minister “is on the same page.”
He gave a vague answer to the question if there will be a preemptive strike on the state’s enemies. He stressed that in the meantime, he will legislate police powers to search for illegal weapons without a search warrant in cases where reasonable suspicion exists. Would he like to be prime minister? “Yes, of course.”
Among the international guests who were interviewed at the conference were former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Steve Mnuchin, who served as Secretary of the Treasury under US President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2021. I asked him what his future plans are and if he would return to politics if the occasion arises. He replied emphatically that he is done with politics and is returning to his business of investment banking and hedge-fund management.
In a panel discussion co-chaired by Steve Linde, the editor of The Jerusalem Report, and JPost.com editor Tamar Beeri about the work of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization, panelists were in agreement that aliyah remains the lifeblood of the Jewish nation. “In the past, the Jewish people needed a state, and now the state needs the people,” said Marina Rosenberg Koritny, head of the WZO’s Department For The Promotion Of Aliyah.
The surprise guest was Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA (the international football federation), who has held that post since 2016. In an exclusive conversation with him in the VIP room at the conference, Infantino expressed pride in organizing the World Cup in Moscow and also the forthcoming one in Doha, and he hopes to be involved in several more. He did not rule out Israel hosting the World Cup in 2030, an idea proposed by philanthropist Sylvan Adams at the conference.
Here is an extract from my interview with him.
What is your view on the controversy surrounding the British club Newcastle United, which has been bought by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, and is chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the son of the Saudi king. Do you see a political dimension?
International investors look for opportunities all over the world, and Newcastle United was ripe for a takeover because of their dire financial position.
Do you favor a shorter interval between World Cup competitions?
Many international competitions are held yearly, like Wimbledon or Golf tournaments, so the World Cup could be held say, every two years. But such a decision needs the input of the member clubs.
There were attempts to form a Super League of the world’s great clubs, which is still under discussion Do you support such a league?
Absolutely not, because we must maintain the normal pyramid that comprises football clubs.
There are more and more antisemitic and anti-black player outbursts from opposing fans, who sometimes even throwing objects at players. Would you be in favor of players walking off the field during a match in support of their black players?
My answer is yes, and it has happened a few times. FIFA has now decided that it is even in the discretion of the referee to call off the match.
The writer, 97, holds the Guinness World Record as the oldest active journalist and radio show host. He presents Walter’s World on Israel National Radio (Arutz 7) and The Walter Bingham File on Israel News Talk Radio. Both are in English