Grapevine: New ambassador

A round up of news briefs from around the country.

David Friedman testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Israel, on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, February 16, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)
David Friedman testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Israel, on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, February 16, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
♦US AMBASSADOR David Friedman spent his first Shabbat in his new capacity in Jerusalem and on Friday night attended services at Hazvi Yisrael congregation in Talbiyeh. Those congregants who recognized him respected his privacy and did not crowd him.
Unfortunately, by not attending services at the same synagogue on Saturday, he missed the sermon of Rabbi Avigdor Burstein, who explained that the double Torah portion, Behar and Behukotai, linked Jerusalem Day with Shavuot. Behar was reminiscent of Motta Gur, commander of the paratroop regiment in the Six Day War triumphantly declaring “Har Habayit beyadeinu” (The Temple Mount is in our hands) and Shavuot, which is the Festival of the Giving of the Torah, is the day on which the Children of Israel accepted what has become the “constitution” of the Jewish People.
♦ON SUNDAY evening of this week, Rabbis Jeremy Gimpel and Ari Abramowitz, who head the Land of Israel Network, inaugurated the Land of Israel international headquarters in Gush Etzion at the Judean Festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the area coming under Israeli control.
The Judean Festival that they hosted was a joyful happening with a mix of fervent addresses and lots of Jewish soul music. Speakers included Yishai Fleisher, Shlomo Katz, Eve Harow and Josh Hasten. The headquarters will incorporate broadcast studios, rooms and other facilities for seminars, etc., as well as dormitories that can be used by visitors.
The event was live-streamed around the world. On the previous evening, Gimpel attended the annual Jerusalem Day party hosted by his parents, Amnon and Lynn Gimpel, in their charming Jerusalem apartment.
Gimpel’s father was born in Jerusalem, and his paternal grandfather, 101 years ago, walked from Russia to the land of Israel, living initially in the north of the country where he planted trees.
Gimpel said that he is envious of that period in his grandfather’s life because this was an era of simple Zionism in action. The ideology that guided his grandfather is something that he wishes he could have himself. Today, it’s no longer a matter of working the land and draining the swamps; it’s much more difficult to be a Zionist both ideologically and in practice, he acknowledged. Today, Zionism is expressed through high technology. Gimpel’s parents are avid Zionists of the old school and his mother, in a highly visible show of patriotism, wore a lapis blue tunic over white culottes.
♦LECTURES, DISCUSIONS, symposia and conferences related to the Six Day War will continue way beyond the 50th anniversary year. Academics, war veterans and current army officers will continue to share their views on the 1967 war and its repercussions.
An example, on Monday, June 5, will be a symposium at Yad Ben-Zvi, 14 Ibn Gvirol Street, Jerusalem on “The War that changed the Face of Israel and the Middle East,” which will be held jointly with the Institute for National Security Studies. There will be speakers from the US as well as from Israel.
The Israeli speakers will include former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, who is also a former chief of staff; former Mossad director Efraim Halevy; and former prime minister Ehud Barak, who is also a former defense minister and former chief of staff, as well as one of Israel’s most highly decorated soldiers.
♦FOR THOSE who are really hooked on the subject of the Six Day War, there will be another opportunity to listen to speakers and diverse opinions on June 6, when NGO Monitor will link its 15th anniversary celebrations with the 50th anniversary of the war and the 70th anniversary of the United Nations resolution on the partition of Palestine.
Titled “Turning Point from Partition to Delegitimization,” this event will also be held at Yad Ben- Zvi and will feature NGO Monitor founder and president Prof. Gerald Steinberg in conversation with Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC.
Steinberg will make the point that in 1947, 33 countries at the United Nations voted in favor of the Partition Plan, recognizing Israel’s right to form a nation state.
Today there is a significant change in this narrative at the UN, in parliaments across Europe, and on college campuses. Steinberg and Abrams will discuss various reasons as to how and why this narrative has changed.
♦PEOPLE FORTUNATE enough to get tickets for the October 31 celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba have been instructed to be there very early in the morning because 2,500 to 3,000 people are expected to attend the event, which begins at 9 a.m.
All the hotels in Beersheba are already fully booked on that date and the preceding day, which means that people coming from outside Beersheba will have to begin their journey in the predawn hours, and even then will be lucky to arrive on time, given the anticipated significant increase of traffic on the highway.
President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, together with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other dignitaries from Australia and New Zealand, will in all likelihood go by helicopter, but most other participants in this mega-event celebrating the victory of the Australian and New Zealand Light Horse regiment over the soldiers of the Ottoman army will have to travel in cars and buses. One can only imagine the amount of traffic congestion that there will be on highways leading from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to Beersheba.