Grapevine September 23, 2022: Something personal

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 NEPALESE AMBASSADOR Kantal Rizal.  (photo credit: ORI ORHOF)
NEPALESE AMBASSADOR Kantal Rizal.
(photo credit: ORI ORHOF)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid is known to be a hit-and-run representative of his country. On his trips abroad, he doesn’t hang around longer than necessary and has been known to return to Israel without having stayed overnight in the country he visited. That policy was not feasible when he went to New York to address the General Assembly of the United Nations, as he had a number of other commitments, which included an address to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces and meetings with World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations William Daroff and President and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America Eric Fingerhut, in addition to his one-on-one meetings with world leaders. However, this time, he had a very personal reason for wanting to return home as soon as possible. His son Yoav is getting married today to Shai Alalo, and Dad wants to be there when it happens.

Nepal's ambassador hosts reception for Constitution Day

■ NEPAL’S RELATIVELY new ambassador to Israel, Kanta Rizal, who arrived some two months ago, on Sunday hosted a reception in the garden of her residence in Herzliya Pituah to mark her country’s National Day, also known as Constitution Day.

It was noted by several people present that relations between Israel and Nepal have always been cordial and that Nepal is a favorite destination for young Israelis on their post-army travels.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1960, and Israel opened an embassy in Kathmandu in March 1961, but it took a lot longer for Nepal to open an embassy in Israel. Nepal’s ambassador to Egypt was also accredited to Israel, but was resident in Cairo. It was not until 2007 that Nepal opened an embassy in Israel, though there were always strong consular connections between the two countries.

Avid mountain climber Nadav Ben Yehuda, a senior adviser to the embassy and currently chairman of the Israel-Nepal Chamber of Commerce, spoke of his passion for Nepal, and also showed a series of slides of the country to which he keeps returning.

Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg emphasized the long and excellent relations between the two countries and the importance of young Nepalese men and women in a variety of professions who come to Israel for training with Mashav, the Foreign Ministry’s Agency for International Cooperation. More than 1,500 Nepalese professionals have enhanced their skills and knowledge through Mashav training courses in agriculture, early education and public health.

Mashav pavillion at DIHAD, 2021 (credit: Courtesy)Mashav pavillion at DIHAD, 2021 (credit: Courtesy)

In her response, the ambassador commented on the trade and tourism connections between her country and Israel, with many young Nepalese coming to Israel to work as caregivers.

She also remarked that while Nepal has the highest point on earth – the tip of Mount Everest, Israel has the lowest point, the Dead Sea, which somehow contributes to the bond between the two countries.

Gil Haskel, the Foreign Ministry’s chief of state protocol, presented the ambassador with a photo album recording her meeting with President Isaac Herzog when she presented her credentials.

Utah's governor comes to Israel

■ TWEETING DURING his recent visit to Israel, Spencer J. Cox, the governor of Utah wrote: “Team Utah is getting an up-close look at Israel’s thriving economy, and it’s clear there are lots of similarities to our own economy. This trade mission is a unique opportunity to learn more about innovation in Israel, find emerging opportunities, and build economic bridges. There are so many diverse fields and people behind Israeli innovation, and Utah is a world-class destination for trade, investment, culture and tourism. Teva Pharmaceuticals, an Israeli company with 700 employees in Utah, is just one example of how we can work together.”

Cox also expressed his team’s gratitude for the opportunity to strengthen Utah’s relationship with Israel.

Among the people who hosted Cox and his team were Amelia Adler Waxman, TEVA Israel’s global head of ESG and of corporate affairs of international markets; and Dr. Uri Gat of Sela.

The tweets are liberally sprinkled with photographs of people with whom Cox and his delegation engaged, and with places they toured including the Church of the Nativity. The Old City of Jerusalem, the City of David, the Old City market, the Temple Mount and Yad Vashem.

Will Israel host King Charles?

■ REGARDLESS OF its place in the global pecking order, every country is at times puffed up with its own self-importance. More or less ignoring the fact that King Charles has to adapt to his new role, and that there are many diplomatic and other events in the pipeline, the Yisrael Hayom reporter who spoke to British Ambassador Neil Wigan when the latter was in London for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, asked whether Charles would visit Israel.

“We very much hope so, but cannot guarantee that it will happen,” replied Wigan, noting the king “has to decide on his [foreign] visit plans and has an obligation to Commonwealth countries such as Canada and Australia first.”

President Herzog, who was also in London for the royal funeral, told King Charles on Sunday that Israel would be delighted to host him.

Israel would have been delighted to host the queen, but for political reasons, she never came.

Of the king’s three visits to Israel as Prince of Wales, the last was official, which led Wigan to voice cautious optimism about the possibility that yet another visit, this time as monarch, might be forthcoming.

Wigan recalled that when Charles was in Israel in January 2020, he visited the Israel Museum and was fascinated by the Dead Sea Scrolls. In addition, the Holocaust is a very important subject for him. He has friends who are survivors, and he was very moved in Jerusalem when he met Auschwitz survivors. The king, who is academically inclined, would in all probability, time permitting, be interested in attending the grand opening of Israel’s new National Library, especially since half of its cost has been contributed by Lord Rothschild, who is one of his subjects. It doesn’t hurt to send an invitation.

US ambassador helps for Rosh Hashanah

■ US AMBASSADOR Tom Nides seems bent on getting the maximum out of his Israel experience. That includes volunteering to ensure that as many as possible families and individuals have enough to eat before, during and after the High Holy Day period.

“Having spent time volunteering with Feeding America in New York, I understand the importance of food aid organizations and the assistance they provide,” said Nides when visiting the Leket Israel facilities and seeing the quantity of produce that Leket Israel distributes to Israelis in need. Nides came not just to get a tour of the premises, but to help in packing boxes of food to be distributed to families in dire financial circumstances. With a keen understanding of how vital such work is, Nides said he was proud to take part in packing boxes that will be given to families for the holidays. He indicated that this was not a one-time fling. “I look forward to many more opportunities to partner together,” he said.

“Israel and the United States are partners in the fight against food insecurity,” said Leket founder Joseph Gittler, who commended Nides for taking time from a busy schedule to visit Leket’s Logistics Center in Rishon Lezion.

Taking Nides at his word, Gittler said: “We look forward to welcoming the ambassador again.”

Live broadcast of the Australian Football League Grand Final

■ AS HE does every year, Paul Israel, the executive director of the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce, posted a notice on Facebook regarding the live broadcast of the Grand Final of the Australian Football League. The date is Saturday, September 24. The venue is Mike’s Place, 90 Herbert Samuel Blvd., Tel Aviv. Footy fans are asked to show up at 6:45 a.m. The game starts at 7:30 a.m.

Two Australians represent Israel

■ STILL IN a Down Under mode, Israel is being represented by two Australian expatriates at The Lifesaving World Championships taking place in Riccione, Italy.

Paul, Hakim and Sarah Vanunu, each formerly from Sydney, will be representing Israel. This is a significant breakthrough for Israeli sports, as surf life saving has relatively recently been recognized as a competitive sport in Israel. The contest in Italy began on September 21 and will continue till October 3. Normally conducted every two years and attended by qualified members of the International Life Saving Federation from around the world, the competition was suspended during COVID 19.

Hakim, who is national team manager and CEO and co-founder of the Israel Life Saving Federation, said he was very proud to be leading Israel’s first cohort to the Lifesaving World Championships. For him personally, and for Israel, this is an historic occasion.

In July of this year, surf lifesaving competitions were held for the first time in Israel within the framework of the Maccabiah Games.

Rosh Hashanah in Uman

■ AS FOR life-saving in another context, United Hatzalah has representatives from Israel, as well as Ukrainians who either trained in Israel or were trained in Ukraine by Israeli Hatzalah volunteers in preparation for any medical emergency that may occur in Uman over the next week. Despite warnings by Israeli and Ukrainian governments of the risk involved in going ahead with the annual Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to Uman and the visit to the grave of Rabbi Nahman, the Breslov Hassidim went ahead as in the past, some taking very circuitous routes to get to their destination – and they were not the only ones.

Among the United Hatzalah volunteers from Israel who are currently in Uman, are several Israeli Arabs of the Muslim faith, including veteran volunteer Ayman Ibrahim from Abu Gosh. In addition to the emergency medical training that they have received, the Arab volunteers have also met with rabbis who explained to them the importance of Sabbath and New Year laws to Jews, and what Jews may and may not do during these periods. Thus, in addition to providing medical services, the Arabs will also perform duties that Jews are not permitted to perform on holy days.

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