Grapevine June 6, 2022: An important date in history

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 A DRUZE DELEGATION at the National Library of Israel. (photo credit: NLI)
A DRUZE DELEGATION at the National Library of Israel.
(photo credit: NLI)

Today, Monday, June 6, is the Gregorian calendar date of the anniversary of the Six Days War. It is also the anniversary of the invasion of Normandy by allied troops in 1944. And it happens to be the National Day of Sweden, whose ambassador Erik Ullenhag hosted an event last week to mark the 110th anniversary of the birth of the great Swedish diplomat and humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg, who saved the lives of thousands of Hungarian Jews. Among the speakers were Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and US Ambassador Tom Nides. Lapid arrived late and had to leave early.

Nides, who had to contend with Israel’s chaotic traffic congestion, arrived even later and missed out on hearing Lapid’s speech. When it was his own turn at the microphone, Nides said he was sorry that Lapid was no longer present because he would have liked Lapid to hear him say that “No one represents Israel better in the world today than Yair Lapid.” After the event, the ever gracious Nides tweeted his appreciation to Ullenhag for “this chance to honor Raoul Wallenberg, whose bravery and compassion inspire us all. We need to learn from him as we face conflict and hateful discrimination today.”

■ NIDES FACED far less of a traffic problem the following day when he went to meet with young business and tech leaders from around the world on the final day of the Forbes Under 30 summit. The meeting was on the campus of Start-Up City, initiated by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), which was founded and is headed by former Labor MK Erel Margalit. Among the 150 young people, the meting was also attended by Jerusalem deputy mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum. Participants were Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs that came from Nablus, Ramala, east and west Jerusalem and from mixed Israeli cities.

After explaining how JVP had developed and led the evolution of some of Jerusalem and Israel’s major technological successes, Margalit spoke of the importance of innovation as a way to connect communities and countries. “The next chapter in the region is Saudi Arabia, “ he said. “ When we are doing such great things in Jerusalem, with such a diverse community of entrepreneurs working together, it reflects the region as a whole.”

Nides emphasized that, “The Abraham Accords was the beginning of something really important. It’s the essence of bringing people together. The free trade agreement, as an offshoot of the Accords, is brilliant for the region, for the Israelis and Emiratis, and hopefully the benefit will spread to the Palestinians.”

 US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, March 27, 2022.  (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, March 27, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

In relation to the meeting itself he said, “I cannot understate how important such meetings are. If we are going to keep Israel as a democratic and Jewish state, we must not lose sight of a two-state solution and one way to do this is to be sure that young Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza have a connection to entrepreneurship and opportunity. If we lose sight of that, we lose everything.”

■ AS FOR the anniversary of the Six Day War, Dalia Rabin has allowed visitors who come to the Israel Museum at the Rabin Center on the campus of Tel Aviv University today to enter free of charge to view an exhibition that includes photographs, documents, maps and other memorabilia related to the Six Day War and to Jerusalem. Some of the exhibits have been culled from the IDF archives, the Defense Ministry and the Government Press Office. The exhibition was facilitated by Avraham and Michal Kedar.

It should be remembered that Yitzhak Rabin, whose centenary year this is, was Chief of Staff during the Six Day War, and among the iconic photographs of that period are those of him, together with Moshe Dayan, and Uzi Narkis marching into the Old City of Jerusalem after a 19-year absence of a Jewish presence. The exhibits also include the draft text in Naomi Shemer’s notebook of Jerusalem of Gold, which has become Israel’s second national anthem.

Although admission to the exhibition is free of charge today, reservations must be made by phone at *4585.

■ TOO MANY political and religious leaders who talk about peace are paying lip service to a concept in which they do not really believe and do nothing towards its realization. Anila Ali, an American born Pakistani who heads the NGO, American Muslim and Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council (AMMWEC), after leading a group of Pakistani citizens and expatriates on a trip to Israel last month, has been lambasted in Pakistan and the US for the step she took towards peace.

Inter alia, the group met with President Isaac Herzog who welcomed them warmly, as did Israelis wherever they went.

Pakistan is primarily a Muslim country that has never entered into diplomatic relations with Israel, though occasional endeavors have been made to bring the two countries together.

In an interview with Pakistan’s Geo TV, Anila Ali said that her organization wants to build interfaith relationships with people of different communities in the Americas. In an alliance between Muslims and Jews, it was decided to visit not only Israel but Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well. That’s hardly surprising, given the inspirational effect of the Abraham Accords on the Muslim world

“Our trip has nothing to do with Pakistan and everything to do with Muslim-Jewish peacemaking,” she said.

There is a growing belief around the world that if people of different faiths can learn to respect and co-exist with each other, this will lead to both domestic and global peace.

Meanwhile even an accompanying Pakistani journalist Ahmed Quraishi, who has worked extensively in the Middle East and was invited to join the group, was hauled over the coals and fired from his job for not asking permission. He had not been aware that a journalist covering a story in a country with which his country did not have diplomatic relations had to seek governmental permission in advance, in order to perform his work as a journalist.

The story has been widely reported in Pakistan as if it was some kind of conspiracy theory. So much for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding.

■ OTHER THAN Torah, what is the subject that has most preoccupied Jews throughout the centuries to the present day? Antisemitism!

What would we do without it? Inasmuch as it has spurred the persecution of Jews, it has also been the cause of Jewish unity, the formation of numerous Jewish organizations around the world and platform from which would-be Jewish leaders can leapfrog into many avenues of Jewish life.

As facetious as all that me be, it bears more than a grain of truth. It’s a problem that attracts Jews of every stripe from philosophers to bully boys. It’s often a means of getting the unaffiliated involved because they too are targets of hatred and racism, no matter how assimilated they may be. Unfortunately, antisemitism in its various forms, remains one of the greatest challenges to our safety and well being, and reports from Jewish communities around the world indicate that it is on the rise big time. 

Can it be stopped and if so, how? Those questions will be answered Monday, June 6, at 7 p.m. at the Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem by internationally syndicated columnist Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the most famous of all former Prisoners of Zion, Natan Sharansky, and former Israel ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer. The discussion will be in English and will hone in on the rise of modern antisemitism.

Entry is free of charge. The event is co-sponsored by The World Values Network, JIC Israel and the Tel Aviv International Salon.

On Tuesday, June 7, the Tel Aviv International Salon will be hosting former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who will be speaking at 7.30 p.m. at the Social Space in Kikar Ataraim, Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv.

■ IN TANDEM with the Life is Beautiful group exhibition currently on view at ZOA House in Tel Aviv, there will be an inspiring and provocative evening on Wednesday, June 9, beginning at 6 p.m. Participants will include Dr. Eli Fischer, president of Fischer Pharmaceuticals, Life’s Door chairman Prof. Ben Corn, Sculptor Gidi Presser and Doron Polak, the curator of the exhibition. There will also be the screening of a film, after which a discussion will be held between Corn and author and filmmaker Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter. Entry is free of charge.

■ DRUZE SPIRITUAL leader Mowafaq Tarif is no stranger to Jerusalem, often coming from his home in the north to attend state ceremonies and to meet with Israeli government leaders and officials. One of the places in the capital he had not visited previously was the National Library of Israel, to which he led a 30 member delegation of Druze religious notables last week.

The National Library deals with the history and culture of all the peoples in the region and although the Druze are a mystic religion that dates back many centuries, some of their rare manuscripts have found their way to the National Library of Israel. They were shown to the group, which expressed both awe and interest. On hand to welcome them were Sallai Meridor, chairman of the National Library’s Board of Directors, and the Library’s rector Shai Nitzan. Some 150,000 Druze live in Israel. Other Druze communities can be found in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. One of the tenets of all Druze communities is absolute loyalty to the country in which they live.