Grapevine: A decade after his death

Controversy has arisen as to whether former US president Bill Clinton will address the memorial rally for Yitzhak Rabin in Israel.

A SERIES OF events commemorating the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin will be held throughout the Jewish world during the month of November. Controversy has arisen as to whether former US president Bill Clinton will address the memorial rally in Israel. Clinton is being flown to Israel anyway by communications and entertainment mogul Haim Saban to kick off the November 12 gala dinner and conference of the Saban Center for Middle East policy - an event that may coincide with the rally in Rabin Square. Down under, the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Hawke Center and Adelaide University, chose a speaker with a more intimate relationship with the slain prime minister - his son Yuval Rabin, whose topic is "Yitzhak Rabin - my father and his legacy to peace." Anyone expecting to be in the South Australian capital on November 19 might be able to find a seat in the Mutual Community Theater. Yuval Rabin, who lives in the US and is based in Washington, DC, has had more than 20 years' experience in the development, design and project management of software, and has worked in senior capacities for some of America's leading companies. He is currently the managing partner of Rabin, Sheves, Lipkin-Shahak, Birger, Inc., which specializes in bringing Israeli technologies to the US. Considering the identity of the sponsors of his Australian visit, it is reasonable to suppose that in addition to talking about his father's legacy, he will devote some time to discussing business. AMONG THOSE who were closest to Yitzhak Rabin and his wife, Lea, were public relations guru Ran Rahav and his wife, Hila, who are hosting their own private remembrance event for both Yitzhak and Lea Rabin at their home in Savyon. Symbolically, they have chosen the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month as the moment of remembrance. Historically that commemorates the signing by the Central Powers of the armistice agreement, which in 1918 was supposed to put an end to world conflict... BEERSHEBA IS the capital of the Negev, but for the first 10 days of November, it will also be the chess capital of the world. International chess champions will converge on the ancient southern city that dates back to biblical times to move their kings and queens to "checkmate." Leading Israeli chess player Aviv Bushinsky, the former spokesman for Binyamin Netanyahu, is the chairman of the Israel Chess Federation. Other well-known chess players here include former government ministers Natan Sharansky and Tommy Lapid. IF YOU will it, it is no dream. The Herzlean philosophy that was the cornerstone of the establishment of a Jewish State is also the motto of a Beduin Arab of the Muslim faith, who aims to become the first Beduin to serve as an ambassador of Israel. Ismail Haldi, who recently completed the Foreign Ministry's cadet course for diplomats, was born in a Beduin village in the Galilee that was so cut off from mainstream Israel that it had neither electricity nor water. Today it has water, but not everyone has electricity. As a child, Haldi walked five kilometers to school each day. But he was thirsty for knowledge, he was ambitious, and he knew what he wanted out of life - he wanted to be occupied with international politics; his career goal was to be a diplomat. The Foreign Ministry initially rejected him because his knowledge of Judaism was inadequate and his English not sufficiently fluent. He caught up in both spheres, and is now capable of presenting Israel's point of view in Hebrew, English and Arabic. During the disengagement from Gaza, he gave interviews to most of the major Arabic language television channels. Even though his life has not been easy, Haldi sees his future as bound up in that of Israel's. "Whatever happens to Israel happens to me," he says. It's a safe bet that the Foreign Ministry will utilize him in future negotiations with Arab states. His knowledge of the language, the mentality and culture will help to overcome hurdles that were previously insurmountable. IT'S NOT OFTEN that an Israeli university, in conferring an honorary doctorate, presents the honoree not only with the flowery-languaged diploma, but with a copy in braille. But that's what happened when University of Haifa President Prof. Aaron Ben-Ze'ev traveled to England for the conferment ceremony in which David Blunkett, Britain's secretary of state for work and pensions, received his honorary doctorate. The honorary doctorate scroll cites Blunkett's "steadfast devotion to values of social responsibility" and his "long-standing activity in advancing education, on the one hand, and in combating terror and crime, on the other." Ben-Ze'ev, however, summed up the reason for the award more succinctly: "David Blunkett, against all odds, has attained impressive achievement in his continuing professional activity promoting the welfare of the community," he said of the blind cabinet minister. The conferment ceremony, in addition to being an academic event, was also a black-tie gala dinner at London's prestigious Carlton Tower. Guests included British Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Lord Kalms, the former chairman of one of England's and Europe's largest electrical/electronic outlets, Lord Jacobs, the past chairman of the University's Board of Governors, and Sir Maurice Hatter, a deputy chairman of the university's board. Members of the British Friends of Haifa University and others in the forefront of the battle against the AUT (Britain's Association of University Teachers') boycott of the Israeli institutions also attended. AT THE Kfar Shmaryahu residence of Turkish Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu and his wife Ayze, they're hoping that the weather will be fine, so that guests attending the reception celebrating the 82nd anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey can mingle on the lawns in comfort. The occasion was also celebrated last year with a Friday buffet lunch on manicured grass, and it proved so successful that it is receiving an encore today. Prior to that, most of the Turkish Republic Day receptions were held in the evening - sometimes under a huge marquee - just in case of rain. JORDAN'S AMBASSADOR Marouk al-Bakhit was not the only envoy to complete his tour of duty within only a few months of his arrival. Juan Velit, the Ambassador of Peru who presented his credentials to President Moshe Katsav only six months ago, is also leaving, but unlike al-Bakhit, not to serve at his ruler's side. Velit will represent Peru in Poland. PERHAPS IF some of the decision makers in the Finance Ministry sat down and talked to Thaddeus Hamoy, Vice Consul at the Philippines Embassy, they might persuade the immigration police to take a more lenient attitude toward foreign workers. Speaking of Filipino workers in particular, Hamoy notes that they have an innate respect for the aged and infirm that is part of their cultural heritage. Thus, for the most part, they treat them well and with compassion and free up other members of the family to go out and work and contribute to the national economy. At the same time the foreign workers themselves contribute to the economy because they are consumers who buy a lot of products that they send home. And let's face it, we all know that very few Israelis can match the Filipinos when it comes to work ethics. THE PERIOD of tenure of Nissim Zvili, Israel's ambassador to France, is drawing to a close, and there is fierce competition for the posting from within the Foreign Ministry. Though a political appointee, Zvili acquitted himself very well. The question is whether his successor will also be a political appointee.