Grapevine June 16, 2023: Not really another snub

Movers and shakers in Israeli society.

 LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte and Chemi Peres, chairman of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, chat as they overlook the sea directly below the Peres Center in Jaffa. (photo credit: COURTESY PERES CENTER)
LITHUANIAN PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte and Chemi Peres, chairman of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, chat as they overlook the sea directly below the Peres Center in Jaffa.

It may seem like a slap in the face to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that President Isaac Herzog has been invited to meet with US President Joe Biden at the White House during Herzog’s official visit to the US next month.

But the invitation was received last November, and the present government did not take office until December 29.

It will be Herzog’s third meeting with Biden in the space of a year. In July 2022, Biden came to Israel. A reciprocal visit by Herzog to the US took place in October, and the two will meet again next month.

Azerbaijan gives Israel a carpet

■ ON A somewhat different bilateral level, whoever is invited to dine with the Herzogs in their private quarters should look at the floor which has been graced by a large woven silk carpet that was presented to Herzog by Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, when Herzog paid a state visit there in May. During it, Aliyev was profuse in thanking Herzog for Israel’s arms supply to his country, and as a gesture of honor and respect, presented Herzog with the beautifully woven carpet. Israel and Azerbaijan, a Muslim-majority country, have had close relations on various levels for several years, despite that Iran is Azerbaijan’s next-door neighbor. Visiting heads of state and other dignitaries will have an opportunity to view the carpet when they meet in private with the Herzogs.

Kosovo-Albania ties on display in Jerusalem

■ THERE’S A symbiotic relationship between Kosovo and Albania, partially because Albanians constitute the bulk of Kosovo’s population. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Albanian is the official language of Kosovo, and the traditions of the two countries are very similar. Albanians were among the members of a bipartisan parliamentary delegation from Kosovo which visited Israel last week. Among the events they attended was a special reception at the Kosovo embassy in Jerusalem to meet Dr. Anna Kohen, hosted by Kosovo’s Charge d’affaires Ines Demiri. Kohen, the daughter of Greek-born parents who fled to Albania to escape the Nazis, was born in Albania, and has devoted her life to promoting Albania whose mainly Muslim population did not give up a single Jew to the Nazis. Kohen has written a book Flower of Vlora, about how her family was saved by Albanian Muslims. It tells the story of what it was like initially to live under a Nazi regime and later under a Communist dictatorship before she and her family were able to leave for Greece, and subsequently to the US where she lives now. Demiri had to do a diplomatic balancing act, having her guests and Kohen in one room and some of the delegations who needed to discuss bilateral issues in the adjoining room. Also present were Daniel Oryan, who is the director of the Balkan Department in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Albanian Ambassador Dr. Bardhyl Canaj

THE COUNTRY pays their last respects to prime minister Yitzhak Shamir after his death in 2012. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
THE COUNTRY pays their last respects to prime minister Yitzhak Shamir after his death in 2012. (credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)

Film to be aired about Israel's former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir

■ TO MARK the 11th anniversary according to the Gregorian calendar of the passing of former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, the Tel Aviv International Salon will host a film screening about him at the Lehi Museum, 8 Avraham Stern Street, Tel Aviv, at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 19. Many young people have never heard of Shamir, who was born in 1915 and died in 2012. The event, geared to people in their 20s and 30s is aimed at reducing the gap in their knowledge about Israel’s seventh prime minister, who had a fascinating history as a freedom fighter, a Mossad operator and a politician. His son Yair, a prominent businessman and former Israel Air Force pilot, followed him into politics and had a brief fling as an MK and a minister before returning to the world of hi- tech. Any questions left unanswered in the documentary, will be answered by him after the screening.

Lithuania's prime minister visits the Peres Center

■ ALTHOUGH ITS founder is now deceased, the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation continues to be a magnet for visiting heads of state and government. Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonyte was no exception. During her visit to Israel last week, she made a point of going to the Peres Center and meeting with its chairman Chemi Peres, who noted the rich history shared by Israel and Lithuania, which was once the home of the greatest thinkers and writers of the Jewish People.

With this historic foundation, “it stands to reason that today our modern nations are working together through innovation to address some of the most pressing challenges the world faces, and to discuss our work on coexistence projects and the important role innovation is playing in our region, to bring people together,” he said.

Women in Israel forge ahead

■ NOTWITHSTANDING CLAIMS by various women’s organizations that the distaff side is being overlooked in appointments to senior positions in government, academia and business, women are forging ahead. Admittedly there has been a decline in female representation in politics but let’s not forget that – unlike in academia and business – people are elected, not appointed. In politics, with the exception of some religious parties, there is no discrimination against women. They just didn’t campaign well enough to pass muster. PwC, an accounting and consultancy firm, recently appointed seven new partners of whom four are women. The female quartet comprises Sivan Ninio, Keren Efrati, Ruthie Gilad, and Tali Azrieli whose combined areas of expertise are in a word – awesome.

Jerusalem Anglo Women's Rosh Hodesh Tamuz lecture

■ THE JERUSALEM Anglo Women’s Rosh Hodesh Tamuz lecture will take place in the function hall at Kehillat Mevakshei Derech, 22 Sderot Shai Agnon, San Simon on Tuesday, June 20, 2023, at 12:45 pm. All facilities at this venue are on the ground floor and it is fully wheelchair accessible.

Entrance fee: NIS 50 (payable by cash only). A light catered lunch is included.

Prior registration at is mandatory.

The guest speaker will be Paulette Woolf, an independent consultant in organizational change management with 35 years of international experience. She successfully introduced management audits at the United Nations and reengineered automated New York City procurement processes.

She made aliyah to Netanya with her husband David in 2016.

The title of her address is “Beyond Politics.”

The event has been jointly organized by Shirley Zauer, Rebecca Goldsmith, Lyn Fisher, and Leah Zelwer.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe has died – but Chabad lives on

■ THE THIRD day of the Hebrew calendar month of Tamuz is one of great significance to Chabad families and communities. This is the date on which the last of the Lubavitcher rebbes, Menachem Mendel Schneerson died – but Chabad lives on.

A special women’s event in spirit and song to mark the 29th anniversary of the Rebbe’s passing will take place this coming Wednesday, June 21, at 7.45 p.m. Participants will include internationally renowned speaker Shaindy Jacobson, popular singer Nirit Hotovely, and Vera Rosen who will tell rare stories of the Rebbe. The venue is the Sol and Clara Kest Center, 11 Shonei Halochot Street in the Old City across from the Western Wall. Tickets are NIS 50 each.

Israel's top police officials are resigning

■ THE FRONT page of Yediot Aharonot on Tuesday featured a full-width photograph taken in 2021 of the police top brass seated with then-President Reuven Rivlin at the inauguration of Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai. Now, only two years later, 11 of the 19 officers in the photograph have left the police force. Six resigned because they could not come to terms with the new regime. Now former police commissioners are urging Netanyahu to fire National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, of whom Labor Party head Merav Michaeli says: “The man, who during his time as National Security Minister has presided over an unprecedented number of murders and an unimaginable wave of violence, is now taking revenge on the Israeli public who denounce him as a convicted criminal and a resounding failure.” Michaeli added that “Ben-Gvir was arrested so many times for so many offenses that today, when he is minister of police, he cannot resist the temptation. He wants to arrest everyone.”

Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities gets 8 new members

■ EIGHT NEW members have joined the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. They were elected this week during the IASH General Assembly.

Their election brings the total number of members to 149. The new members are: Prof. Shmuel Feiner, Jewish History, Bar-Ilan University; Prof. Itzhak Fried, Neurosurgery and Brain Sciences, Tel Aviv University and UCLA; Prof. Israel Gershoni, Modern Middle Eastern History, Tel Aviv University; Prof. Michal Irani, Computer Science, the Weizmann Institute of Science; Prof. Sarah Stroumsa, Arabic Language and Literature, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. Leona Toker, English Literature, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Prof. Ofer Zeitouni, Mathematics, the Weizmann Institute of Science & NYU; and Prof. Eli Zeldov, Condensed Matter Physics, the Weizmann Institute of Science

Academy President Prof. David Harel in welcoming the new members, expressed his confidence that alongside their accomplishments and excellence in research and teaching, they would contribute greatly to the Academy’s work and enrich it with the best of their knowledge and experience.

Rabbi Sacks Scholars come to Jerusalem

■ DURING THE last week of June, the inaugural cohort of 27 Rabbi Sacks Scholars from across the world will gather in Jerusalem for a 6-day academic seminar launching the fellowship program. The group, comprised of top Jewish educators and communal leaders from North America, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia, is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, June 27. The conference launches the year-long Rabbi Sacks Legacy-run initiative and will be followed by 10 monthly online seminars taught by global leaders in Jewish education, academia, and politics.

Events throughout the six days will be held at different Jerusalem venues.

Among the events will be a panel discussion on June 27 featuring Lady Elaine Sacks, her brother-in-law Alan Sacks, Israel’s former ambassador to the Court of St. James Daniel Tau, Director of the Office of the Chief Rabbi under Rabbi Sacks Syma Weisberg, and Rabbi Sacks Legacy Chief Executive Jonna Benarroch.