OTHER THAN the fact that Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu had telephoned President Isaac Herzog a few minutes before his midnight deadline on Wednesday to tell him that he had succeeded in forming a government, there wasn’t much by way of news early on Thursday morning.
The meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and United States President Joe Biden was obviously the main subject of discussion on current affairs programs on the electronic media but what dominated several conversations on the subject was Zelensky’s defiance of the White House dress code, which is a business suit for male employees and visitors. But Zelensky arrived wearing the olive-green military-style outfit that he has worn since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, last February. It should be remembered that before he became president, Zelensky was a professional actor who was well aware that the role of any character he played was enhanced by the costume that he wore.
Other than the elderly, the male population has not been permitted to leave Ukraine and many have been drafted into the army. Thus it behooves the country’s commander-in-chief to look like a soldier by dressing the part. In conveying the image, Zelensky is boosting his country’s morale inside of Ukraine and gaining sympathy and support outside of Ukraine.
■ HEADS OF foreign diplomatic missions stationed in Israel get to see much more of the country and meet many more people of influence and affluence than the average Israeli citizen. Aside from seeking ways of improving bilateral relations between their respective countries and Israel, ambassadors receive countless invitations from organizations and institutions that are eager to host them and introduce them to their activities and achievements.
Thus it came about last week that Ambassador Dimiter Tzantchev, the Hebrew-speaking head of the delegation of the European Union in Israel, visited United Hatzalah’s headquarters in Jerusalem and was given a briefing by the organization’s CEO Eli Pollack and Vice President of Operations Dov Maisel. The ambassador also met with Jewish, Muslim and Christian EMT volunteers, and learned how the policy of being first responders helps to build bridges across cultural, ethnic and religious divides.
Maisel showed the ambassador how the organization’s Dispatch and Command Center works and how United Hatzalah uses cutting-edge technology to enable the organization’s 6,200 volunteers across the country to be dispatched efficiently so that they can provide emergency medical services to people in need of help in an average time of less than three minutes.
Tzantchev lauded the organization, saying, “You treat patients regardless of their race, religion, origin or ethnicity. I would like to commend you for that because in these turbulent times we need more unity, more humanity and more kindness. We need more life and less death, more light and less darkness. Your organization, which saves multiple entire worlds every day, definitely adds light to this planet.”
The visit concluded with the lighting of Hanukkah candles on a massive hanukkiah outside the entrance to the United Hatzalah building, near the entrance to the capital.
■ FREQUENT MEDIA reports about violence among youth in schools and elsewhere might lead to the impression that there is no hope for the next generation. But as is often the case, the few stand out against the many. There are more young people involved in volunteer activities for the benefit of others than there are young people engaged in violence. But bad news always surpasses good news in media headlines.
In the good news category, members of the 9th division of the Nofrim youth group in Tiberias had money left over following an end-of-year party and decided that they wanted to use it to benefit youngsters in the post-surgery recovery room at the Medical Center of the North, previously known as Poriya Medical Center. In consultation with Tamar Kazula, the head nurse in the recovery room, they opted for a play table, which was greatly appreciated not only by the young patients but also by the medical center staff.
■ JERUSALEM IS brimming with conferences. Whereas Tel Aviv has for many years been Israel’s main conference center, Jerusalem is not only catching up but may soon be passing Tel Aviv. Coming up this week is the Jerusalem business conference that includes both discussions and workshops, plus booths containing informative literature about participating business enterprises. The event will be held on Tuesday, December 27, at the Vert Hotel, at the entrance to the city.
Conspicuously absent from the list of speakers are discount supermarket king Rami Levy, Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum, who is in the forefront of promoting economic activity in the city, and leading venture capitalists Erel Margalit, Jonathan Medved and Shlomo Kalish.
Nearly all the speakers live in Jerusalem or its immediate environs. A notable exception is one of Israel’s best-known public relations personalities Ran Rahav, who has several clients in Jerusalem, including amongst others the King David Hotel, which is the flagship of the Dan chain, which was one of his first clients when starting out more than 30 years ago and has remained with him, the Jerusalem International Convention Center and the Jerusalem Cinematheque.
Rahav and his wife Hila, own one of the largest PR agencies in Israel, with literally scores of diverse portfolios that include almost every category of activity in the country. Rahav goes beyond regular PR services, vigorously defends his clients when they are under attack, deals with complaints from members of the public who can’t get hold of a responsible figure in any given firm that Rahav’s agency represents, invites clients to each other’s events to facilitate networking, sends birthday greetings and gifts to untold numbers of people throughout the year, and maintains a large and loyal staff whose members he treats like extended family.
■ THE FOURTH Jerusalem Summit will be hosted at the Begin Heritage Center by the International Leaders Summit (ILS) in partnership with The Washington Times on Wednesday, December 28 from 5-8 p.m. The ILS is a US-based think tank co-founded by economist Natasha Srdoc.
The conference takes place on the threshold of significant political changes in the US Israel and Europe.
Subjects to be discussed at the Jerusalem Summit have been chosen with a view to advance policies that strengthen Israel’s trade, investment and security ties with America and Europe. Speakers will also affirm the Abraham Accords and urge other countries in the region to join in expanding this historic peace and prosperity initiative for the mutual benefit of all.
In this context, Saudi Arabia, one of the countries that is on the verge of joining will be included in discussions.
Other subjects will include the rise of anti-Semitism in the West and how the new environmental, social and governance climate in Israel will affect attitudes towards Israel and foreign investments in Israel. It goes without saying that the Iranian threat and the Russian-Ukrainian war will also be on the agenda.
The moderator will be Steve Linde, Editor of The Jerusalem Report.
The speakers will include, amongst others: Cheryl Chumley, the On-Line Opinion Editor of The Washington Times, Sir Ivan Lawrence, QC, a former Conservative Party member of the British Parliament, Oded Revivi, the head of the Efrat Municipal Council, Prof. Moshe Koppel, head of the Kohelet Policy Forum, author Gol Kalev, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum, Gil Troy, distinguished scholar in North American History at McGill University, and Dr. Paul Ruebig, Austrian politician, Member of the European Union’s Economic and Social Committee, president of SME Global, and member of the governing board of The European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
■ THREE SCORE years and ten (70 years) has been an important number in a person’s life since Biblical times. Internationally renowned film producer and director Avi Nesher celebrated his 70th birthday on December 13, and just under a week later, was honored by the Tel Aviv Cinematheque with a retrospective screening of the films that he has made over the past 45 years.
In addition to his wife, Iris, and daughter, Tom, who came with her boyfriend, Guy, to celebrate with him, there was Moshe Edery, who has financed several of Nesher’s productions, along with many of the actors and actresses who have appeared in Nesher’s films. Among them were Netta Garti, Liraz Charhi, Tom Avni, Chelli Goldenberg and numerous others.
■ WHAT IS believed to be the first Arab conference in Israel on cryptocurrencies took place in Nazareth, this week. The conference was organized by a number of blockchain entrepreneurs.
Youval Rouach, co-founder and CEO of Bits of Gold, a private company engaged in cryptocurrency trading, stated that it was extremely important for Arab business people to learn as much as they could about cryptocurrencies and was particularly pleased by the high attendance and level of interest.
His company has seen increasing clientele in the Arab communities, he said, especially in the north of the country, where there appears to be greater trading in digital currencies and in the crypto credit card.