THE NAME is Bond, James Bond. Well, actually in this case Agent 007 was Sir Roger Moore, who played James Bond in seven films and, before that, over a seven-year period played Simon Templar in the television series The Saint. Sir Roger, who was the guest of honor at the Eilat Chamber Music Festival, arrived in Israel last week with his wife Kristina Tholstrup for a weeklong stay. Sir Roger, who has been a UNICEF ambassador since 1991, was the narrator of the character piece in the orchestra of Saint Saens's Carnival of the Animals at the festival that took place at Herod's Forum in Eilat. He donated his fee to the Jerusalem AIDS Project and HIV in Africa.
This was his second visit to Israel. The first was 40 years ago, when he received a personal guided tour from Teddy Kollek, who was then mayor of Jerusalem, and he found the changes in the country amazing. Sir Roger and his wife decided that for part of their stay they wanted to behave like genuine tourists, so they got themselves a map and planned a tour schedule that included Jerusalem, the Dead Sea area and Masada. Due to the inclement weather conditions on Saturday they had to give Masada a miss, but they received a royal welcome at the Daniel Hotel on the Dead Sea, where they were greeted by general manager Lior Heimowitz, who escorted them to the Royal Suite, where a carefully prepared low-calorie feast awaited them. At 81, the health and fitness-conscious Sir Roger maintains a slim, well-toned physique. Later the couple enjoyed the hotel's spa and pub. In the visitor's book, Sir Roger drew a sketch of The Saint alongside his signature before heading back to the King David Hotel in Jerusalem to meet with Mayor Nir Barkat.
A MEETING between US Consul General Jacob Walles and Mayor Nir Barkat took place in the mayor's office, where the two discussed Barkat's vision for Jerusalem's future with the emphasis on economic development, investment and tourism. Walles briefed Barkat on America's ongoing work in the region in general and Jerusalem in particular. Despite promises by a series of high-ranking American politicians and diplomats that the United States Embassy will be transferred from Tel Aviv to the large plot of land in Jerusalem that has been designated for the embassy, no real progress has been made in this direction. Barkat expressed the hope that under the leadership of President Barack Obama, the promise would become a reality.
SENATOR JOE Lieberman was the first US senator whom Nir Barkat has met since taking office as mayor. Lieberman, who is Jewish and well disposed toward Jerusalem, made an excellent impression on Barkat as they talked about US foreign policy in the Middle East and issues of concern in Jerusalem. Following the meeting, Barkat said that Lieberman's leadership and unwavering support for Jerusalem are well known; but after talking to him, Barkat was even more impressed by the depth of his knowledge and his passion and is looking forward to forging closer ties with him.
AS A rule, the Saturday night lectures at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue attract a huge crowd, sometimes in excess of 1,000 people. This is especially so when the issue is a hot one or the speaker an erudite and dramatic orator such as Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. But even someone of Hoenlein's caliber cannot compete with the sheets of rain that fell last Saturday afternoon and evening, thus the hall was only half full. Those who didn't attend really missed out. Despite battling a bad cold, Hoenlein was true to form, outlining the gravity of pervasive anti-Semitism throughout the world and even providing a small history lesson. Contrary to popular belief, the Conference of Presidents was not created by a Jewish leader but by US secretary of state John Foster Dulles, who did not want to meet separately with the heads of what were then (in 1956) six major Jewish organizations. Dulles obviously had prescience because today there are 51 Jewish organizations represented by the Conference of Presidents.
DESPITE WHAT he termed "the globalization of anti-Semitism" and the call for the annihilation not only of the State of Israel but of the Jewish people, Malcolm Hoenlein declared in his talk at the Great Synagogue that 2009 is not 1939 "because there are millions of Christians ready to stand with us, and we have a State of Israel." Nonetheless, he warned, without Jewish unity 2009 could be like 1939. "When we put aside our differences, there is nothing we can't accomplish," he said. Instead of Jews squandering their energies on political infighting, he said it was imperative that they get together to fight such challenges as Holocaust denial and the Iranian threat. Hoenlein instanced as one of the dangers confronting the Jewish people and the Western world the fact that Iran is building 39 factories in Venezuela. Terrorists are being smuggled from Venezuela into the US, he added, noting that he had been arguing the case against Iran for more than 12 years but that all his warnings have fallen on deaf ears. He was also concerned about the upcoming Durban II conference which, next to Iran, he said, should be the major Jewish issue.