Grapevine: Members of the Club

A new diplomats’ network holds its first event, a charity drive is launched for Queensland flood victims.

grapevine (photo credit: Sivan Farag)
(photo credit: Sivan Farag)
FOR MORE than a year before retiring as Foreign Ministry chief of protocol, Yitzhak Eldan dreamed of creating an Ambassadors’ Club as a social network that would also be open to honorary consuls, heads of chambers of commerce and heads of academic and cultural institutions. He discussed the matter with Henri Etoundi Essomba, the dean of the diplomatic corps, who encouraged him to go ahead.
Eldan wanted the club’s inaugural event to be low key but prestigious. He wasn’t quite sure in which direction to go until he met former concert pianist and Internet entrepreneur Muli Litvak, who had decided to change direction and open a high class art gallery in Tel Aviv’s Museum Tower. Litvak was about to celebrate the first anniversary of his gallery, and was looking for an event that could incorporate the fabulous Chihuly glass exhibition it is currently hosting.
The Litvak-Eldan get-together was a marriage made in heaven. Litvak not only offered his gallery as a venue and the Chihuly exhibition as an attraction, but also provided the elegant catering, some very classy looking hostesses and gift packages at the end of the evening. The ambassadors and honorary consuls turned out in droves, and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who at the Foreign Ministry’s farewell for Eldan had commended him for the idea, also showed up to endorse the project, even though he had at least two other pressing engagements that night. Both Ayalon and Nitza Raz-Silbiger, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Protocol Department, were besieged by diplomats wanting to know when the workers’ sanctions would end, so that they could come to the ministry and get on with their business. Unfortunately, neither had an answer. She, in particular, was hoping that the strike would be over soon because she had a group of new ambassadors from Costa Rica, Estonia, Chile, Bulgaria and Ethiopia scheduled to present credentials to President Shimon Peres on January 31. But if the sanctions are still in force, the ceremony will have to be postponed.
Ami Orkaby, honorary consul-general for Korea, was master of ceremonies and praised Eldan for his vision and initiative, and assured him: “We all love you and support you.”
Ayalon was equally complimentary saying that the initiative was “important and timely.” He also praised the honorary consuls “whom we regard as the best of our troops, representing Israel’s interests.” Their presence, he said, gave a robust boost to the new organization.
It was very fitting for the inaugural function to be held in the Litvak Gallery, Ayalon said, because it is one of the key examples demonstrating that the country is not just about conflict, but also has a lot of culture, art, science and technology.
Litvak disclosed that since the gallery opened, it had hosted more than 120,000 visitors. Consular corps president Gad Naschitz, who on January 26 will preside over the honorary consuls’ annual dinner, remarked on the similarities of glass and diplomacy. “Both should be transparent,” he said, “and both are very fragile.”
Among the many guests were Rwandan Health Minister Richard Sezibera, US Ambassador James Cunningham, Russian Ambassador Piotr Stegny, Korean Ambassador Young-Sam Ma (who was very pleased that the Agriculture Ministry had promised him more than 250,000 units of vaccine to help overcome cow disease in his country), Belgian Ambassador Benedicte Frankinet, South African Ambassador Ismail Coovadia, Croatian Ambassador Marica Matkovic, Ivory Coast Ambassador Raymond Kessie Koudou, Macedonian Ambassador Pajo Avirovik and Latvian Ambassador Martin Perts. Of the honorary consuls, the one who had to travel the shortest distance was Ran Rahav, the honorary consul of the Marshall Islands, who only had to get into the elevator; both his PR agency and his consular office are in the same building as the Litvak Gallery.
■ FASHION DESIGNERS, current and former fashion models and others in the fashion industry flocked to the Azrieli Mall in Holon for a night of fun, fashion, feasting and film. Inspired by the famous little black dress collection of French fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent, designers who had come to the local premiere of the documentary tribute to him, O Louco Amor de Yves Saint Laurent designed their own little black dresses. These were displayed on mannequins and accompanied by signboards with the name of the designer and an explanation of the design. The little black dress will be among the highlights of the upcoming spring/summer season.
Veteran fashion model Karin Donsky hammed it up for the cameras with exaggerated poses, and designers, who are usually busy backstage during fashion shows, were out front and chatting in a relaxed mood as they eyed each other’s creations and waited eagerly for the movie. Among them were Dany Mizrahi, Sasson Kedem, Liat Ashuri, Galit Levi, Keren Wolf, Massada Ze’evi, Naama Bezalel, Efrat Klig and Yaron Minkowski, who came with his wife, actress Pazit Yaron-Minkowski.
■ NOT EVERYONE knows who’s who in the Prime Minister’s Office. Someone who makes it his business to know most people there is AIPAC president Lee Rosenberg, who arrived this week at the helm of a 50-member AIPAC delegation. When introducing the group to Jordana Cutler, deputy to Ron Dermer, the prime minister’s senior political adviser, Rosenberg jokingly referred to her as Dermer’s boss. Then noting that she is expecting a baby – her first – he offered congratulations. In a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Rosenberg invited him to be the keynote speaker at the AIPAC conference on May 23, and he instantly agreed.
■ HEADS OF diplomatic missions are competing to prove their prowess in Hebrew. Whether it’s at a national day reception, a cultural or sporting event or the opening of a new commercial venture which has its headquarters in one of their countries, they feel the need to make at least a few remarks in Hebrew.
Danish Ambassador Liselotte Plesner is no exception. As guest of honor at the ribbon- cutting ceremony for the Danish jewelry concept store Pandora in Tel Aviv, she spoke in Hebrew when wishing success to its local team, Helena Katzan and Tali Rona. Better still, she was a walking advertisement for Pandora. She was wearing one of its bracelets which she had brought from Denmark and proceeded to explain that one of the company’s limited designs is based on the hat of Hans Christian Andersen. Not only that, she also set an example by purchasing bracelets as gifts for her nieces.
■ AUSTRALIA HAS supported Israel since well before the establishment of the state.Aside from Australian soldiers who were stationed here during both world wars, it cast the first yes vote for the UN resolution for the partition of Palestine. In later years, Australian Jewry supported numerous social welfare, educational, cultural, scientific and health projects here and, on a per capita basis, for many years gave more than any other country to the United Israel Appeal.
Now, it’s payback time. Dr. Orna Berry, chairwoman of the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce, together with its executive, has launched an appeal to raise funds for the Queensland flood victims. Anyone who cares to donate should contact executive director Paul Israel at (054) 442-3385 or (03)510-6464, e-mail
■ SCENARIOS OF what the future may bring will be presented at the upcoming Afternoons with IPCRI series when Yossi Alpher of, Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, Hagit Ofran of Settlement Watch and Peace Now, and Hanna Siniora, co- CEO of IPCRI discuss the options at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, January 26 at the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem. Afternoons with IPCRI is facilitated by the support of the government of Finland.
■ WHILE AUSTRALIA Day on January 26 is a multilayered day of celebration in Australia, it’s very low key in Australian embassies abroad.
Ambassadors were long ago instructed by Canberra not to host lavish receptions like those of many of their colleagues from other countries. Here, a major international Zionist meeting has occasionally taken place around the same time with the result that an Australia Day reception was hosted by the leaders of the Zionist Federation of Australia, with the ambassador as guest of honor instead of host. On another occasion, foreign minister Alexander Downer was in Jerusalem on Australia Day, which was a good excuse for a reception.
Ambassador Andrea Faulkner has cunningly found a way in which to celebrate Australia Day without defying Canberra. She’s hosting an Australian wine tasting event at her residence on January 25. The timing is perfect, because it will be well after midnight in Australia when the event begins, which means that technically it’s on Australia Day, and all of Faulkner’s guest will have a glass in their hands to toast the occasion.
■ TOTALLY UNRELATED to Australia, but nonetheless involving Faulkner, was her visit to Big Brothers. She has a diploma in education from the University of Adelaide, and watching her in the company of children would lead anyone to suspect that had she not opted for a career in the Foreign Service, she would have probably been a teacher – possibly of music, in which she has a degree. A few months back, Faulkner had a great time when hosting a celebration for a group of Chabad bar mitzva boys, and she looked even happier when she visited Big Brothers Big Sisters at its clubhouse in Jerusalem.
The visit was within the framework of enhancing ties between the Israeli and Australian branches of the organization that provides mentoring on many levels to youngsters growing up in single parent families. With typical Australian informality, Faulkner charmed the youngsters by getting down on the floor with them and exchanging jokes in Hebrew and English. The visit was initiated by Paul Israel of the Israel Australia Chamber of Commerce. Libby Reichman, founder and director of the local branch of BBBS which has been operating since 2003, looks forward to discussing Faulkner’s visit with Australian colleagues when she travels down under later this year.
■ MANY PEOPLE involved in the arts are multitalented. Case in point is journalist, author and actor Yuval Abramovitz, who was surrounded with celebrities at the launch of his second book Please Behave Accordingly (Na Lehitnaheg B’hetem). Among those attending the launch at the Tzomet Sfarim book store in Dizengoff Center were Amnon Jacont, who edited the book, Efrat Gosh, Avi Greinik, Haim Etgar, Ido Tadmor, Mira Awad, Arik Alper, former MK Shmuel Flatto Sharon, who owns Dizengoff Center, Yuval Caspin, Shira Gavrielov and Tslil Sela. It was a great day for autograph hunters.
■ IN A country which long ago had a woman prime minister, has had two female foreign ministers, and currently has a woman as the head of a major political party, a woman president of the Supreme Court, a woman president of the National Labor Court, women presiding over various courts, a woman as head of the Israel Press Council, a woman president of the Israel Academy of Sciences, etc., one would assume that feminists could sit back and stop thinking about breaking the glass ceiling. But no, the battle goes on, and that’s why Karen Pomerantz Tandy, senior vice president of public affairs and communications at Motorola, is here as the guest of WE Power, known in Hebrew as Koach Nashim. Tonight, she will deliver the keynote address at a gala event at the Herzliya Pituah home of Anat Tamir.
Tandy comes with an impressive record. Prior to joining Motorola a little over three years ago, she was the first woman head of America’s Drug Enforcement Administration. Before that she was associate deputy attorney general and director of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force.
Participants in tonight’s event will pay NIS 1,200 per couple with proceeds going toward courses aimed at giving women the tools with which to enter public life. Among those who have indicated their attendance are Etie and Gabi Roter, Hila and Ran Rahav, Orna and Danny Brenner, Hani and Avigdor Kelner, Pnina and Moshe Edri, and Dana Azrieli.
■ WHEN ALUMNI of the Ben Shemen Agricultural School get together on Sunday, January 23, to usher in its 85th anniversary year, one public figure in whom the school once took pride will be missing. In previous years Ben Shemen was proud to count Moshe Katsav among its graduates, but this is no longer the case. However, he was not the only future president of Israel to attend Ben Shemen. Shimon Peres was there several years before him, and will be in attendance, accompanied by his son Chemi. Another famous graduate who has faded from the limelight is former beauty queen Ilana Shoshan who will also be there, along with other well known graduates whose stories will be told by actress Yael Abecassiss.
■ UK MINISTER for the Middle East Alistair Burt visited the Yokne’am plant of Given Imaging and was presented with PillCam, a small capsule that saves money by eliminating wasteful procedures in detecting disease in the GI tract. The visit gave him the opportunity to see the work of one of the pioneers in the bio-tech industry – an area of growing collaboration with the UK. During his visit in November, British Foreign Secretary William Hague launched the UKIsrael Life Sciences Council. Next week will see the inaugural meeting of the council which includes leading scientists from the two countries.
■ BUSINESS TYCOON Stef Wertheimer knows what it means to put up a museum. He already has one at Tefen, the industrial park he created in the Galilee. But now he’s involved in another museum, a relatively small one commemorating the soldiers who fell in battle for the Nebi Yosha fortress in the War of Independence. The venture is designed to make future generations aware of the battle and will be known as Hare’ut (the friendship) and is the brainchild of Yehuda Dekel. The estimated cost is NIS 6 million which will be jointly provided by Wertheimer and fellow businessman Boaz Dekel, in cooperation with the Council for the Preservation of National Heritage Sites. The cornerstone, overlooking the Hula Valley, has already been laid.