Sadat’s grandson cuts a charming figure at local bash

Peres marks his 87th birthday, changings of the diplomatic guard, and paparazzi pandemonium as Bar sails with Naomi.

carter begin sadat 311 (photo credit: .)
carter begin sadat 311
(photo credit: .)
HE DOESN’T bear any physical resemblance to his grandfather, nor does he have his grandfather’s booming voice, but he has inherited his charm. Ahmed El- Sadat, first secretary at the Egyptian Embassy, was the center of attention at yet another 21st birthday party hosted by Alice Krieger, who always manages to get an extremely interesting and diverse group of people together at her annual 21st birthday party in Tel Aviv, to which some of her guests have been coming for well over 20 years.
Krieger refuses to divulge her age, but admitted to being in the most senior rank of women of different age groups who are being featured in the British publication The Mail on Sunday in an SAS series, which stands for Single and Successful.
None of the interviewees has ever married or had children, but they all lead vibrant lives.
Krieger, who has always made a point of showing friendship to diplomats from Arab countries, was happy to welcome Sadat – who is the grandson of the late president Anwar Sadat – along with Counselor Osama Reda and told them that she hoped that they would soon be witnesses to peace.
The two Egyptians were surrounded by people all night, but probably derived the greatest pleasure from talking to Israel Prize laureates David Rubinger and Micha Bar Am who, working respectively for Time Magazine and The New York Times, each took countless photographs of Anwar Sadat more than 30 years ago. Bar Am promised to send El-Sadat some rare photos of his grandfather. Rubinger first wants to see what he has in his archives, and will then decide what to give to Sadat.
The Egyptians were also delighted to talk to former chief of general staff Dan Halutz, who is reportedly aiming for a seat in the next Knesset, and to J Street representative Oren Magnezi. Among the many other guests were musical luminaries David Krivoshey and Dubi Zeltzer, Eritrean Ambassador Tesfamariam Tekeste Debbas, Nigerian Charge d’Affaires Friday Ogacheko Okai, Slovenian Ambassador Boris Sovic, South African Ambassador Ismail Coovadia and Canadian Ambassador Jon Allen and his wife Clara Hirsh, who were making their final farewells before returning to Canada on Tuesday. The couple say that they have more family in Israel than in Canada, and hope to be back here on vacation in February because the Israeli winter is so mild compared to that of Canada.
■ IT WAS almost in the cards that Halutz, Israel’s 18th chief of general staff, would enter politics. Eleven of his 17 predecessors had done so, although one, Zvi Tzur, resigned from the Knesset only a month after taking his seat there. But the others all became government ministers, and two, Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, became prime ministers. Halutz has raised money for his race in the next Knesset elections but has not announced which party he will join, though he has been ardently wooed by Kadima.
■ JORDANIAN AMBASSADOR Ali Ayad was feted by the Foreign Ministry on Sunday night with an Iftar farewell dinner at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
Officially, he has already replaced Nabil Sharif as minister of state for media affairs and communications, and is returning home to take up his new duties. Ordinarily, the Foreign Ministry hosts a luncheon for departing ambassadors, but taking into account the fact that Muslims fast during the day during Ramadan, the farewell was moved to the break-fast meal in the evening.
The affable and personable Ayad has made many friends in Israel, and some of them – such as Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Reda, former justice minister Yossi Beilin, former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh, Dr.
Yair Hirshfeld, one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, and of course representatives of the Jordanian desk at the Foreign Ministry – were among those who came to wish him well in his new post. Ayad said he hoped to welcome them all in Jordan.
■ THIS IS the season for diplomatic changing of the guard. Among others who have left in recent weeks or are in the process of leaving are the ambassadors of Argentina, Costa Rica, Norway, Canada, Guatemala, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and Estonia. Until now, Estonia has been represented by a non-resident ambassador, but the incoming envoy will be posted here. At the Foreign Ministry they’re understandably somewhat more interested in the number of ambassadorial postings that will be available to Israeli career diplomats, visà- vis political appointments.
The law permits the foreign minister to make up to 11 political appointments. So far, Avigdor Lieberman has made only one in the person of Dorit Golender, Israel’s ambassador- designate to Russia. Not that Lieberman hasn’t tried to push through other appointments.
Indeed he has, but the people who he chose were either deemed unsuitable or were not accepted by the foreign ministries of the countries to which he wanted to send them.
For all that, the career diplomats believe that they are out of the running for the most prestigious posts that are due to become vacant over the coming year.
■ DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENTS and the naming of a chief of general staff are not the only controversial appointments issues of the moment. The selection of a successor to fill the shoes of Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, who for more than 20 years served as administrative head of the rabbinical courts, has caused more than just a storm in a teacup.
Dahan was summarily dismissed without warning just over two months ago. It wasn’t anything he’d done or hadn’t done that prompted the termination of his services. It is widely believed that his ouster was initiated by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, who wanted to bring in new blood.
Actually, considering that Neeman is an appointed and not an elected politician, he wields an extraordinary amount of influence, and he generally succeeds in getting his own way. Given all the political machinations behind the appointment of Dahan’s successor, it was decided to appoint an interim head on the understanding that he would not be eligible under such circumstances to be a candidate for the permanent appointment. The eventual choice was Rabbi Shlomo Dichovsky, a haredi moderate, who has headed the rabbinical court in Ashdod, and who is not afraid to disagree with hard-line haredi attitudes. This in itself sparked a row among members of the appointments committee, but in the final analysis Dichovsky got the vote.
The question now is: how temporary is temporary? ■ THE HEBREW media was so preoccupied with the fact that Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi were on Monday night seated at opposite ends of the front row at the Cameri Theater’s magnificent variety show in honor of President Shimon Peres on his 87th birthday that the whole purpose of the event was almost lost in the reports. While it’s true that photographers mobbed Ashkenazi to the extent that it was difficult for him to make his way from the lobby to the auditorium, the reason that he was not seated alongside Barak may have had something to do with the fact that all invitees were issued tickets with numbered seats, and may not be at all related to the current IDF scandal.
A very laconic Natan Datner narrated the story of Peres’s life, which began with an illustrated news review of who and what else was born in 1923: Henry Kissinger, Maria Callas, Shoshana Damari and Time Magazine. Datner punctuated the story with instant witticisms that were not part of the script, and vacated the stage for a series of celebrities who serenaded the president in Hebrew, Yiddish, French, Arabic and English.
There were also brilliant performances by the Cameri Ensemble, a tribute by Amos Oz in which he concluded that Peres is that rare combination of realist and dreamer whose dreams have the capacity to change reality, plus an emotional expression of appreciation by Shai Gross, a survivor of a terrorist hijacking who thanked then defense minister Peres for having the courage in 1976 to give the green light to the complex Entebbe Operation, which saved the life of a six-year-old boy pictured on the screen as Gross spoke. The boy was Gross, who recalled that Peres had been waiting on the tarmac to greet survivors as they returned to Israel after a week of threats, fear and uncertainty.
Gross said that he remembers those days whenever he thinks of Gilad Schalit, who has been in captivity for more than four years, and entreated the president to use all the influence at his disposal to bring Schalit home so that the soldier could be on stage next year to wish Peres well on his 88th birthday.
Whether by accident or design, his plea was followed by Yardena Arazi’s heartfelt rendition of “Habayta” (“Homecoming”). The president’s estranged wife, Sonia, was not present in the auditorium, but she appeared several times on the screen, as did their three children, the eldest of whom, Dr. Tzvia Walden, was also absent due to a prior commitment to attend the Limmud conference in New York.
There were songs, dances and speeches, including one by actress Mahrata Baruch, who recalled that in 1984 at age nine, she left her small village in Ethiopia and trekked the long distance to a refugee camp in Sudan, thinking she was going to Jerusalem. In Sudan, she was separated from her family, eventually arriving on her own in Israel at age 10. She was sent to a youth village, where she remained for six years before she was finally able to go to Jerusalem after being reunited with her relatives. Ten years later, she was a psychology student at Haifa University, having made a leap that would have been almost impossible in Ethiopia.
Of course it wasn’t all serious. It was spiced with humor not only by Datner, but also by singer Tomer Sharon, who told Peres: “Don’t worry, 90 is the new 20.” Peres, for his part, told the large assembly of who is who and who was who, that no one should be afraid of growing old, nor should they be in a hurry to grow old. Complimenting everyone who had participated in the production of the gala event, Peres said that it was worth being born to be feted in such a manner, “and if you’re going to be born, the best place to live is in Israel. This is a country that will always renew itself and remain forever young.”
Listing some of Israel’s many achievements, Peres said that one of the few challenges that remain is the attainment of peace. Only after attaining peace he said, would Israel be able to fulfill its mission to be a light unto the nations.
Peres also spoke of Yosef Milo, the late founder of the Cameri, who had been a personal friend and had philosophically run the Cameri at a constant deficit. Peres did not fault him for this. “It’s always preferable to have a financial deficit rather than a cultural deficit,” said the man whose many positions over the years have included that of finance minister.
■ PERES WAS almost upstaged by his spokeswoman, Ayelet Frish, who celebrated her own birthday last Friday and was due to give birth this week. Frish was on hand, and occasionally looked as if she was about to go into labor – but her baby was in no hurry.
■ APROPOS PERES, on Tuesday night he hosted an Iftar dinner for leaders of the country’s Muslim communities and today, Wednesday he is off to the Galilee for the launching of the wine trail.
■ MOST NATIONAL Day events are celebrated in the evening. Less than a handful of ambassadors have held lunchtime receptions, but Indian Ambassador Navtej Sarna got in even earlier for the celebrations of India’s 64th Independence Day by starting at 9 a.m. Close to 400 people joined Sarna in the celebrations, which were held in congruence with the morning celebrations in India. Unlike his predecessors, who also invited large numbers of people who had little or no specific Indian connections, Sarna makes this as truly an Indian affair as possible by inviting only the Indian Jewish community and other Indian citizens in Israel, plus a few journalists. Thus almost everyone present has a shared tradition.
The ceremony began with the ambassador unfurling the Tricolor, and the singing of the National Anthem. The ambassador then read out the message of President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, after which there were patriotic songs and classical Indian dances performed by members of the Indian community and Israeli artists who have immersed themselves in Indian culture.
Needless to say the lavish buffets were laden with Indian delicacies.
■ ONE OF the best ways for an ambassador to launch a food festival that features his country’s cuisine is to kick it off with a national day celebration. That’s exactly what Korean Ambassador Yong Sam Ma and his wife Park Eun-Kyung will be doing next week when they launch Korean Food Week at the Tel Aviv Sheraton.
The couple, together with a professional chef, has been busy teaching Sheraton executive chef Charlie Fadida some of the secrets of the Korean kitchen. Fadida has already tried out his newly acquired Korean culinary skills on a small group of native Koreans, and having received a seal of approval, now feels confident enough to prepare the national day feast.
■ THE ABSENCE of women on the Turkel Commission of Inquiry and in most previous commissions of inquiry has prompted Kadima MK Dalia Itzik to propose a bill that would make it mandatory for a third of the representatives on any government-appointed committee to be women. Although women’s groups and prominent public figures such as Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat have protested the absence of women, given that there are so many highly qualified women who are equal to the task, there has as yet been no change to the all-male panel. However, there is a modicum of comfort in the fact that another committee headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel does have females in its ranks. The committee appointed by the Bank of Israel to determine which famous faces should grace the new issue of Israeli bank notes to be distributed in two years’ time includes veteran Channel 1 culture reporter Sari Raz, sculptress, designer and museum proprietor Ilana Gur, and designs experts Gila Shakin and Dr. Adina Meir.
■ WHILE STOCKS are fluctuating around the world, Taiwanese solar wafer manufacturer Danen Technology, after less than three years of operation, has successfully completed its initial public offering and has been listed on the main board of the Taiwan Stock Exchange. Listed with a market cap of approximately $350 million, Danen saw its shares rise by more than 23 per cent on the first day of trading.
Why this should be of interest to Israelis is simple. The only foreign investor to participate in Danen’s fund-raising effort was Tel Aviv-headquartered Giza Venture Capital, which also has a Singapore office headed by former Jerusalem resident Yishai Klein, whose work takes him all over Asia. Giza’s investment in Danen, says Klein, is part of the company’s strategic activities in Asia. Klein also plays an active role in Singapore’s Jewish community, and frequently hosts visiting Israeli and Jewish dignitaries.
■ ONE OF the perks of being a super-model is that one gets to hobnob with all kinds of other famous personalities, especially if one has a headlines-making boyfriend such as actor Leonardo diCaprio.
Of course even without Leonardo by her side, chances were high that Bar Rafaeli would at some stage of her career meet up with model Naomi Campbell, and ordinarily it might have meant a camera flash or two by some alert paparazzi. But after Campbell had become the subject of international media focus in light of her testimony at the war crimes trial in the Netherlands of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who allegedly gave her a gift of blood diamonds, news that the two models were vacationing on a luxury yacht in Sardinia with Leonardo and Campbell’s significant other, Russian billionaire Valdimir Doronin, totally titillated the British media, which reported every move of the quartet and provided proof of the pudding with a large number of incredibly candid photos.
It was purely coincidental that a highly acclaimed film in which Leonardo DiCaprio starred in 2006 was called – yes, you’ve guessed it – Blood Diamond.
■ ALTHOUGH THERE are a lot of high achievers in Israel’s Ethiopian community, some achievements take longer than others. A young woman whose family migrated from Ethiopia in 1984 and has been living in Beersheba ever since, along with many other families who came to Israel from Ethiopia, two months ago became the first Ethiopian woman to receive a Ph.D. degree from Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
Dr. Rachel Avunie, a clinical biochemist who works in the Immunology Laboratory at the Soroka University Medical Center, is only the second Ethiopian woman in Israel to earn a Ph.D. Interviewed on Channel 1, Avunie, whose husband is also a highly qualified academic but unfortunately out of work for the past year, was obviously annoyed at the stigmatization of the Ethiopian community.
She noted that there are many Ethiopian lawyers, doctors and other professionals, and said that she hoped that by the time her children enter university, it will not be considered unusual by mainstream Israel for Ethiopians to succeed academically.
■ ISRAELIS CONTINUE to distinguish themselves abroad. Among the recipients of the Oakland, California Kenneth Rainin Foundation 2010 Innovator Awards comprising oneyear grants valued at $100,000 each, were Dr.
Dan Peer, Ph.D., of Tel Aviv University, and Dr. Eran Elinav, M.D., Ph.D., of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, for their research project entitled “Harnessing Immuno-nanotechnology for Therapy of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.”
The Israelis and a pair of American researchers were selected from among more than 100 applicants. The key components for funding consideration for award applicants include innovation, collaboration, scientific merit and a high potential for success, as well as projects that, due to their innovative nature, may not be eligible for funding from the National Institutes of Health or other, more traditional, sources.