Grapevine October 14 2022: The call of Bahrain

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 PRESIDENT ISAAC Herzog and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef share a humorous moment in the rabbi’s sukkah.  (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
PRESIDENT ISAAC Herzog and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef share a humorous moment in the rabbi’s sukkah.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

Now that he’s been in Israel for just over a year, seen this and done that in so many places and made so many friends, Khaled Yusuf Al Jalahma, the ambassador of Bahrain, is eager to promote events in his own country that will be of interest to Israeli tourists and business people. Coming on November 9–11 is the Bahrain International Airshow (BIAS), a global aviation event that, since 2010, has taken place every two years at the Sakhir Air base in Bahrain.

Also in November will be the Middle East International Jewelry and Watch Exhibition, which will be held from November 22-26 at Exhibition World.

Jazz lovers after attending festivals in Jaffa and Eilat can continue on to Bahrain for the December 2 Jazz Festival, which will feature local and international jazz bands on multiple stages.

For people with a finger in the cyber security pie, there is the Arab International Cybersecurity Summit, which will offer yet another opportunity for Israelis and representatives of Arab states to engage in beneath the radar cooperation. As has already been seen with hindsight on various occasions, where there is mutual interest, especially in matters of security, animosities are put aside. It’s not a political thing.

It doesn’t always lead to normalization, but it does help to improve regional stability. The Summit, which is under the patronage of the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and Prime Minister Salman Hamad Al Khalifa will be held at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Center from December 6-8.

 SHKENAZI CHIEF Rabbi David Lau hosts President Isaac Herzog in the rabbi’s sukkah.  (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO) SHKENAZI CHIEF Rabbi David Lau hosts President Isaac Herzog in the rabbi’s sukkah. (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

Relocating the British Embassy

■ A GROUP of British Jews who support the idea of relocating the British Embassy to Jerusalem, have posted an open letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Within days of the letter’s appearance on a website, some 400 British Jews, representing a variety of political opinions, levels of religious observance and streams of Judaism have signed it and more have indicated that they will do so.

Among the signatories are:

· Baroness Ruth Deech, DBE, KC(Hon), Crossbench Life Peer, former Chair of the Bar Standards Board

· Edwin Shuker, Vice President Board of Deputies

· Rabbi Yanky Abrams, Loughton Synagogue

· Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Romain MBE, Maidenhead Reform Synagogue

· Rabbi Dr. Andrea Zanardo, Brighton and  Hove Reform Synagogue

· Jonathan Turner, Chief Executive, UK Lawyers for Israel

· Alex Hearn, Director, Labour Against Antisemitism – LAAS

· Judy Weleminsky, Board Member, Movement for Reform Judaism

The letter reads:

“We are proud British Jews. While we differ in terms of political opinions and religious practice, we are united in the belief that Jerusalem (Yerushalaim) is the capital of the State of Israel, the Holy City of Judaism and the beating heart of the Jewish people. Her importance to Jews brings together religion, culture and peoplehood. In the words of the Psalmist: “If I forsake thee, Jerusalem, let my right arm forget its strength”. On a more prosaic note, it is the prerogative of Israel to determine her capital city – just like any other country in the world.

“We therefore note with satisfaction and applaud your call to the British Government to relocate the UK embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We wholeheartedly support it and encourage you to be even more vocal in that respect.

“We note with dismay that certain groups that are active on the fringes of our community have now launched a politicized campaign criticizing your call. We wanted to reassure you that such views are the domain of a tiny minority. Their arguments don’t just run contrary to the views of the vast majority of Jews but they are full of internal contradictions and do not withstand close scrutiny.

“For instance, they say that such embassy relocation would jeopardize the prospect of a political resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Why should that be so? The United Kingdom operates – for many years now – the British Consulate General in Jerusalem, which is its diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority. On the other hand, the UK Embassy to Israel is currently located in Tel Aviv. So, far from prejudicing a political resolution, relocating the Embassy to Jerusalem would, in fact, constitute a long-awaited and necessary correction of what is currently an unfair situation.

“As for the argument that moving the Embassy to Jerusalem regardless of which neighborhood [it] would be moved to would be to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the entire city, why would that be so? The United States embassy to Israel is currently located in Jerusalem but this has no impact on views regarding sovereignty, territory and borders: the US Administration continues to promote a two state solution.

“Some are pushing a new ‘Project Fear’, by claiming that relocating the embassy will trigger acts of violence by the Palestinian population and Israeli responses to it. The same people are misleadingly trying to connect the 2018 Hamas-initiated violence at the Gaza border with former president Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy. This is false not because we say it but according to the very instigators of that violence, the leaders of Hamas: that operation was entitled The Great March of Return. Its declared purpose was a return to the entire State of Israel – not to Jerusalem. In fact, Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations do not need a reason to engage in violence – they do so periodically, as it is their main raison d’être. In any case, the United Kingdom cannot allow its foreign policy to be held hostage to acts of violence or threats thereof. This has to do not with sovereignty over Jerusalem but, indeed, with UK sovereignty over its own political decisions.

“The same campaigners try to exploit the current economic situation by hypocritically claiming that relocating the embassy would constitute diverting millions of pounds. Again, this is false. The relocation to Jerusalem would enable both the embassy and the Consulate General to operate out of the same compound. The government would be able not just to dispose of the very expensive site in Tel Aviv but to eliminate the many inefficiencies resulting from the operation of two different diplomatic compounds. And more: while currently the embassy personnel is located in Tel Aviv, they are required to travel to Jerusalem for meetings with Israeli officials. Relocating the embassy closer to the seat of Israel’s government and parliament would cut travel and accommodation expenses, would reduce their environmental impact and would increase staff efficiency, as they would not waste so much time on the road.

It is, unfortunately, unsurprising that your critics’ arguments make so little sense. We are talking about groups that claim to be pro-Israel, while their entire social media output promotes positions that are opposed by the vast majority of Israelis. We, therefore, believe that their arguments are not just wrong but disingenuous – cut out of whole cloth to serve the peculiar ideological inclinations of a tiny constituency.

We urge you to ignore their politicized rumblings and continue to act as a representative of the mainstream Jewish community, calling the UK Government to restore justice by relocating its mission to Israel to the Jewish state’s capital, Jerusalem.”

India celebrates ties with Israel

■ ALTHOUGH HE stayed in Jerusalem when he visited Israel, in July 2017, and dined at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, toward the end of that year, wrote a letter to the United Nations in which he stated that India hopes for an early realization of a sovereign, independent and United Palestine coexisting peacefully with Israel. Modi has since reiterated several times that the Indian Embassy will remain in Tel Aviv until the matter is settled.

That, by the way, does not mean that India cannot celebrate its 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Israel in Jerusalem. The Indian Embassy has been engaged in a year-long celebration, which on Friday, December 14, is coming to Jerusalem’s First Station by way of a Kathak dance recital.

Kathak is one of eight styles of classical Indian dancing. The recital, featuring Ritusri Chaudhuri, Sonali Vishwakarma, Samadreeta Chanda, Anamika Mondal, Paavni Nangia, Harshal Pradipkumar Vyas, Rito Pratim Choudhury and Hriday Pal will take place at 12 p.m. on the center stage of the Frist Station, directly opposite the main entrance. It will be followed by a workshop and an opportunity to mingle with the dancers.

■ EARLY THIS week, before opening the presidential sukkah to the public, President Isaac Herzog, visited Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau in his sukkah in Modiin, and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, at his sukkah in Jerusalem. The president also visited the sukkah of the Amit Mesorati (Conservative) congregation in Raanana, where he and his wife Michal were greeted by the Mayor of Raanana Chaim Broide and the CEO of the Masorti Movement, Rakefet Greenberg.

In his address to the congregants, Herzog stressed the importance of balance in all things. He emphasized the need to understand and respect the many different lifestyles that exist and the variety of world views espoused by different people. That is the only way to coexist, especially in Israel, he said. The message was based on the meaning of the lulav, in which different species are held together as a united group.

Last night, Herzog again met Lau at the Hakhel ceremony at the Western Wall, where others in attendance included Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and US Ambassador Tom Nides, who followed the example of his predecessor, David Friedman, who frequently participated in Western Wall ceremonies.  Nides also seems to be spending a lot of time at the Western Wall.

[email protected]