A permanent profession

The ultimate decider: President Reuven Rivlin (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The ultimate decider: President Reuven Rivlin
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Once a journalist, always journalist. Members of the fourth estate, even when they leave the profession, can’t help being just a little more aware than most other people of what is going on around them, and sometimes reacting as if they were still on the job. That’s what happened this week – and not for the first time – with Polish Ambassador Marek Magierowski, who spent many years as a journalist before entering the realm of diplomacy.
Usually, when an ambassador accompanies an official delegation to meet with the president or the prime minister or some other high ranking official, the ambassador is given a seat of honor, but seldom has anything to do or say. The ambassador simply sits. Not so for Magierowski, who this week accompanied a delegation of Polish Righteous among the Nations, Polish Army Veterans and current top brass, as well as government dignitaries to a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin. Within minutes he was competing with the official Polish and Israeli photographers, initially from his seat and then standing up to cross the room. When a member of Rivlin’s staff offered to take the camera from him and photograph so that he too could be in the picture, he adamantly refused. Contrary to what is too often the case today, the true journalist is not there to inject himself into the news, but to record and report the news.
■ LATER, IN the evening of the same day, Magierowski accompanied the same delegation to the Jerusalem Theater, where a special Israel Poland concert was being held in their honor master of ceremonies, Haim Rosen, who is a member of the Israel-Poland Association, addressed the audience in Polish and Hebrew. When it was Magierowski’s turn to speak, he addressed the audience in Hebrew and Polish. His Hebrew is fluent and grammatically correct with only the slightest trace of an accent. The first half of the concert was conducted by the inimitable Elli Jaffe, and essentially comprised Jewish liturgical songs. Because the concert was titled “David Psalms,” several of the Israelis present anticipated that the Polish section of the concert would contain Christian liturgical music, and some of the religious Israelis left. Boy, did they miss out. The word “psalm” in Polish does not have the same sober connotations as in Hebrew or English. Energetic conductor-composer and accomplished cellist, Piotr Rubik, literally danced on the podium, and now and again came down from the podium to briefly dance or sing with a soloist. It was like a Broadway show with wonderfully talented male and female singers who also know how to dance. They all looked like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves, and the feeling was contagious. The audience adored them, roared, tapped their feet, clapped and gave them a standing ovation. Rubik, the master showman, was ecstatic. He comes to Israel twice a year to visit his relatives, he said, but he’d never done a concert here before, and after being so well received, he wants to come back and do another. “He’s Jewish?” said the surprised person sitting next to Polish Institute Director Joanna Hofman. “Who isn’t Jewish in Poland?” retorted Hofman, who is Polish herself. And who also loved the Jewish section of the program.
One of the key sponsors of the event was Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is involved in quite a number of projects designed to foster closer cooperation and understanding between Poland and Israel. It does this through the embassy and through the Polish Institute.
Hofman was closely involved in a project where Polish high school students came to Israel and interviewed Israeli Holocaust survivors, and Israeli high school students went to Poland to interview Righteous Among the Nations who had been involved in hiding and rescuing Jews from the Nazis. The students’ common language was English and they worked in pairs so that the Israeli student would translate when necessary for the Polish student, and in Poland, the Polish student would translate for the Israeli.
What they learned has just been published in a book in Hebrew and Polish by the Polish Institute and the Polish Foreign Ministry. Because what the students learned was so relevant, says Hofman, the book will be translated into English.
■ IN LINE with its varied activities on behalf of the young international community that has gravitated to Tel Aviv, the Tel Aviv International Salon seeks to aid the integration of young immigrants into Israel’s mainstream society by hosting informative events that will bring immigrants up to date with Israeli politics, economics, hi-tech, innovation, etc. It is also a platform for social networking, and in addition, it ensures that young immigrants also remain abreast with what is happening around the globe, in particular in relation to Israel. In this context, it runs the monthly Ambassador series, where ambassadors posted to Israel speak about the bilateral relations between their respective countries and Israel. Coming up on Wednesday, October 23, is Mariano A. Caucino, the Ambassador of Argentina, who, in conversation with ILTV’s Natasha Kirtchuk at his residence in Herzliya Pituah, will be speaking not only about Argentine-Israel relations but also about Latin America’s relations with Israel in general and with other countries which may not necessarily be well disposed toward Israel. Caucino came to diplomacy from the world of academia, so his perspective may be somewhat broader than that of a diplomat who may have an academic degree but no academic experience. Attendance is limited to people in the 20s and 30s age groups. The address and time will be supplied after people register at: https://ArgentinaIsraelSalon.eventbrite.com.
■ ON OCTOBER 27, four days before the deadline for Brexit (as it now stands), Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono will host a convention to discuss the impact of Brexit on Israel’s foreign relations, and of course, the new course of relations between the EU and the UK. Among the listed speakers are: Prof. Ramses Wessel, University of Twente the Netherlands, Prof. Arie Reich, Bar-Ilan University, Daniel Kolbar from the Economy Ministry, Dan Catarivas, chairman of the Israel-EU Chamber of Commerce, and Prof. David Newman of Ben-Gurion University.
The convention will include a workshop organized by the Law Faculty at Ono Academic College together with the Israeli Association for the Study of European Integration and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.
The workshop has been organized and will be chaired by Dr. Rachel Frid de Vries, senior law school lecturer at Ono Academic College.
■ WHEN YOUR daughter is about to present you with another grandchild, you don’t want to be stuck in some luxury hotel in Jerusalem if the expectant mother suddenly goes into labor. That’s why former senator Joe Lieberman, who was the Democratic Party’s nominee for vice president in the turn-of-the-century elections in 2000, and his wife, Hadassah, have opted to stay with their daughter, Hani Lowenstein, who lives not far from Jerusalem, and together with her husband and four children came on aliyah in July 2018. Lieberman is coming to Israel not only to be present when his new grandchild arrives, but also to be one of the keynote speakers in the First Herzl Conference that will be taking place on Mount Herzl on October 30 and 31. The other keynote speaker will be President Reuven Rivlin, whose family arrived in Jerusalem long before Herzl was a gleam in his father’s eye. The conference, titled “From Vision to Reality,” will feature other well-known speakers, including former governor of the Bank of Israel and a former vice chairman of the US Federal Reserve Bank, Stanley Fischer, along with other eminent economists. The conference, chaired by Prof. Itamar Rabinovich, a former Israel ambassador to the United States and a former president of Tel Aviv University, is being held at the initiative of Dr. Nissim Levy, chairman of the board of governors of the Herzl Center and Museum. Speakers will examine a broad range of aspects of the Zionist enterprise.
■ FORMER CANADIAN prime minister Stephen Harper will visit Israel next month as the guest of KKL-JNF World Center chairman, Danny Atar, who will accompany him to the opening of the Stephen J. Harper Visitor Center in the Hula Valley. Canadian donors to the project will be arriving in Israel with Harper. While in office, Harper was one of Israel’s staunchest allies and publicly declared that he was willing to suffer any political backlash for his support and defense of Israel. Over the years, he has received several awards from Israel advocacy organizations in appreciation of his moral courage.