Grapevine: November notes

Grapevine November note

THE MONTH of November has different connotations for different people. November 1 is All Saints Day, a Christian holiday in honor of good people.
  • November 2 is All Souls Day, a Catholic holiday honoring the memories of the dead. November 3,1957 was an important date in space exploration. It was then that the Russians sent the first living creature into space - a dog by the name of Laika. November 5 is known in Britain as Guy Fawkes Day, commemorating the foiled Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when Guy Fawkes planned to blow up the houses of Parliament. For Poles, November 7 is important, as it is the birth date of Polish-born scientist and two-time Nobel Prize laureate Marie Curie. November 9 is marked by Jews of Austrian and German background as Kristallnacht, the night of the broken glass, when Nazi hooligans vandalized Jewish-owned premises. In more recent years, it has also become a day of celebration marking the anniversary of the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. November 11 is Armistice Day, marking the cessation of hostilities on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the First World War. November 21, 1783 marked the genesis of air travel by human beings with the first flight by a man in a hot air balloon. November 30 is St. Andrew's Day, which is important to Scots. It also happens to be the date on which the great British leader Winston Churchill was born. For Israelis, there are quite a number of events commemorated in November. First and foremost is November 29, the date of the historic United Nations resolution that paved the way for the creation of a Jewish State. Kristallnacht is also commemorated in Israel. Aside from November 29, the November date that is seared in the Israeli psyche is November 4, the date on which Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995. On a much happier note was the arrival in Jerusalem on November 19, 1977 of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Among the nation's leaders who were born or died in November were Chaim Weizmann, who was born on November 27 and died on November 8; Yitzhak Ben Zvi,who was born on November 24, and Zalman Shazar, who was also born on November 24.
  • ANOTHER NOTEWORTHY Israeli was Abba Eban, who died on November 17, 2002. Four of Israel's former ambassadors to the United Nations will pay tribute to Eban, one of the pioneers of Israel's foreign service and the nation's first ambassador to the UN, at an event marking the seventh anniversary of his passing. The diplomatic gathering at the Hebrew University's Truman Institute will include many other diplomats, past and present, who will discuss the State of Israel and United Nations - Challenges and Triumphs. The event will take place on Sunday, November 29, the 62nd anniversary of the United Nations resolution on the partition of Palestine, in which Eban played such a key role. Former ambassadors to the UN who are participating include Prof. Yehuda Blum, Yohanan Bein, Yoram Aridor and Dr. Yehuda Lancry. The opening address will be delivered by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who is a former Israel Ambassador to the United States. Eban was also ambassador to the US and later Foreign Minister. EBAN'S WIDOW, Suzy Eban, who was the founder and long-standing president of the Israel Cancer Association, remains active and recently attended the opening of the Suzy Eban oncology unit at the Rebecca Sieff Medical Center. The unit was established through a NIS 1 million gift by the Clore Foundation, headed by Dame Vivien Duffield, who was present along with other members of the foundation's Board of Trustees and staff, including Tamar Galai-Gat, Sir David Sieff, Kay Weinberger, Alan Sacks, and Caroline Deletra. Also present were Miri Ziv, director of the ICA, Meir Moskovitch, chairman of the friends of the Sieff Medical Center, Dr. Oscar Embon, director of the SMC, and other senior staff members. The extension of the oncology department was a matter of necessity given the ever increasing numbers of patients, and the Clore Foundation came to the rescue.
  • WITHIN FOUR hours of coming home following a nine day absence on his state visits to Brazil and Argentina, Peres held a meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who had come to Israel to confer the French Legion of Honor on Peres's son-in-law, French-born Prof. Raphi Walden, a member of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Human Rights. Walden, who is the personal physician to the president, is also the deputy director of the Sheba-Tel Hashomer Medical Center. Kouchner, who is one of the founders of Doctors without Borders, is a personal friend of Walden's. Prior to his meeting with Peres in Tel Aviv, Kouchner was at the French Consulate in Jerusalem where he signed an agreement for the reconstruction of a Gaza Hospital that suffered heavy damages during Operation Cast Lead. The project, including new equipment, will cost in the range of €2 million. Kouchner, who was supposed to arrive in Israel during the last week of October, postponed the visit when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denied him the right to cross into Gaza from Israel. This caused somewhat of a diplomatic rift between France and Israel which Peres was asked to repair. After the meeting, the two men met again at the residence of French Ambassador Christophe Bigot for the conferment ceremony. Former political leader and peace activist Dr. Yossi Beilin, who is a Peres protege and whom the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin once dubbed "Peres's poodle," was also conferred with the Legion of Honor in recognition of his ongoing efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East. Peres also sought to mend bridges with Turkey and invited President Abdullah Gul to visit Israel. On Sunday, Peres went to Egypt to meet with President Hosni Mubarak and on Tuesday, he met with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. There are several other meetings with foreign dignitaries at home and abroad in the pipeline. The problem is that while everyone wants to meet with Peres, not everyone wants to hear the message.
  • BY THE way, Peres is not the only octogenarian who still has loads of energy and who is forever looking for involvement in something new. Even those who do not share his views cannot help but admire the tenacity, commitment and stamina of peace activist, journalist and former MK Uri Avnery, who was the recipient last Saturday of the Blue Planet Award for 2009, given by the German Ethecon Foundation for Ethics and Economics. Avnery, who was born as Helmut Ostermann on September 10, 1923 in Beckum, Westphalia, came with his parents to Palestine in 1933 in the immediate aftermath of Hitler's rise to power. Avnery changed his German name for a Hebrew one when he was 18.
  • ANOTHER EXAMPLE of boundless energy of mind and body is former Defense and Foreign Minister and former Israel Ambassador to the US Moshe Arens, who will celebrate his 84th birthday on December 27. Arens, together with Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon, who is also a former ambassador to the US, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs President Dore Gold, who is a former Ambassador to the UN and Alan Baker, a former ambassador to Canada and before that a former legal counsel to Israel's Foreign Ministry, will participate Wednesday in the launch of Hadar, the Israel Council for Civic Action, an organization that aims to foster leadership from the ranks of people from English-speaking countries. Ayalon, who is a sabra, doesn't quite qualify except for the fact that his wife is American. For that matter, Arens, although he came to Israel from America, was in fact born in Lithuania. Within the framework of the launch, the four men will talk with journalist Ruthie Blum Leibowitz about how to confront new threats to delegitimize Israel, and will take a look at the UN 62 years after the passing of the resolution for the partition of Palestine. The event will be held at the Begin Heritage Center, Jerusalem. Anglo leadership from English speaking countries or via English speaking countries is not a new thing in Israel. It was there from pre-state times. Just a few examples: Golda Meir, whom Ben-Gurion dubbed the only man in his cabinet and who eventually became Israel's first and thus far only woman prime minister; Dov Yosef, a politician and statesman and Israel's second Minister of Justice; Abba Eban, pioneer diplomat and statesman; Chaim Herzog, Israel's sixth president; Al Schwimmer, hero of Israel's War of Independence and founder of Israel Aircraft Industries; Shimon Agranat, president of the Supreme Court 1965- 1976; Max Nurock, pioneer diplomat; Bernard Cherick, vice president of the Hebrew University, who served the university for 41 years; Zena Harman, who laid the foundations for Israel's social services; Abe Harman, president of the Hebrew University, diplomat and political activist; Louis Pincus, first managing director of El Al, chairman of the board of Tel Aviv University and chairman of the Jewish Agency which he was instrumental in restructuring; Alice Shalvi, innovative educator, civil rights activist, religious feminist and founder of the Israel Women's Network; Michael Fox, legal expert; Yehuda Avner, diplomat; and Stanley Fisher, governor of the Bank of Israel and many others.
  • LIFE BECOMES a merry-go-round when your real home and part of your income is in one country, your residence and preferred work in another and your husband's place of employment in yet another - and none of them are in Europe. That's what life is all about for Tel Aviv-born actress, singer and model Noa Tishby, who is the presenter of HaDavar Hagadol Haba ("The next big thing") and the house model and presenter for ml fashion. However Tishby prefers to live in Los Angeles, where she frequently lands roles in films and television productions. The LA-TA commute is strenuous enough, but this week Tishby, after spending an extended period in Israel, left for Sydney, Australia to be present at the launch of the new television series LA Life, hosted by her husband, TV megastar Andrew G.,who will interview Hollywood personalities about their lifestyles and their careers. At the gala launch attended by both Hollywood and Australian entertainment luminaries, Tishby displayed a dash of patriotism by wearing one of the four outfits specially designed for her by ml. The gowns, in four distinctly different styles, enabled Tishby to make a choice in accordance with her mood. Better still, when complimented and asked about the origin of her attire, she was able to say nonchalantly that it was a little something that she picked up in Israel.
  • TRITE EXPRESSIONS such as 'one person can make a difference,' have become part of our lingua franca but to most of us they don't really mean anything. Ruth Lande Wasserman is living proof that one person can indeed make a difference, and that one person can inspire another and another and another until together they become a cohesive force working for a common cause that is dear to all their hearts. Like many of us traveling from the north to the south or the south to the north of the country, Lande Wasserman often drove past Ben-Gurion Airport, occasionally took the turn-off into the airport, but until a little over a year ago, never drove into Lod itself. Before the airport was named for Israel's founding prime minister, it was called Lod or Lydda. Though somewhat run down today, Lod is a treasure trove of the history of the three monotheistic faiths of the region. Wasserman, a former advisor on Diaspora affairs to Peres, and today a doctoral student in Middle East Studies at Oxford University, drove through the different neighborhoods, walked through the old city and wept at the neglect - not only physical and infrastructural neglect, but human neglect. She decided to do something about it - all this in the midst of marriage and study plans. Fortunately, when one works at Beit Hanassi, one gets to know a lot of influential people, and Wasserman wasted no time in making contacts and impressing the message that Lod had to be restored to its former glory. It helped that the World Monument Fund recently added the old city of Lod to its list of monuments at risk, and that Lod was also declared a World Heritage site. Lande and her husband, Aviv Wasserman, together with like-minded people founded The Lod Community Foundation that drummed up interest among the leaders of the city's various ethnic communities, and persuaded them that with a little effort they could turn Lod from a tenement city into a showplace. They cleaned up a number of areas, planted trees, introduced enrichment programs and planned viable strategies for the city's future development, with the aim of turning it into an attractive tourist center, which in turn will provide income for thousands of residents. After proving that it could indeed help the people of Lod out of their quagmire, the LCF held its official launch last week in the presence of government ministers, diplomats, business leaders and local residents. The event in the old city included visits to open houses of Jewish and Arab residents, whose united front proved that coexistence is indeed possible. There was also a photographic exhibition curated by award-winning photographer Alex Levac, and a presentation of the LCF's vision and projects for the development of the city. To round things off, there was a concert by David Broza and local musicians, plus an ethnic food festival. The spirit of carnival was definitely in the air, and it was a great way to introduce Lod to people who have never before been inside the city. For Mayor Ilan Harrari, the LCF is a godsend. Although it has not yet been mentioned in future plans, it would not be surprising to find a Dan hotel going up in Lod in the next couple of years. Among the LFC's supporters is Michael Federmann, who heads the Dan hotel chain. By the way, the Wassermans not only work and plan on behalf of Lod - they live there.
  • THE RECIPIENT of numerous honors over the years, American Jewish community leader, philanthropist and investor in Israel's economy, Ronald S. Lauder, was among the recipients of honorary doctorates awarded this week by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The event was held as part of the university's annual Ben-Gurion Day commemorations to mark the anniversary of the passing of Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The four other recipients were: physicist Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, a former president of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Israeli dancer and choreographer Rina Schenfeld; social activist and Israel Prize laureate Prof. Alice Shalvi, who established the Israel Women's Network and led the struggle to break the glass ceiling; and journalist Haim Yavin, aka Mr. Television. The Ben-Gurion Negev Prize was presented to the head of palliative care in the Negev, Dr. Yoram Singer. A former US ambassador to Austria, Lauder maintains a deep commitment to his heritage within a mosaic of charitable and professional endeavors reaching around the world. He established the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, a philanthropic organization that is dedicated to rebuilding Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe. The foundation also supports student exchange programs between New York and various capitals in Central and Eastern Europe. If there was an Israel Prize for Diaspora Jews, Lauder would surely be deserving for his role in the revitalizing of European Jewish communities. Only people who visited East and Central European Jewish communities in the Communist and post-Communist eras can appreciate the enormity of what he has accomplished. Lauder is a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, former president and now Chairman of the Jewish National Fund, chairman of the International Public Committee of the World Jewish Restitution Organization and president of the World Jewish Congress. He also serves as chairman of the Jewish Heritage Council, director of the International Board of Governors of the International Society for Yad Vashem, member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Theological Seminary, member of the Board of Directors of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, member of the Board of Trustees of the Anti-Defamation League Foundation, member of the Board of Trustees of The Abraham Fund, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sakharov Archives at Brandeis University and is a member of the International Board of Governors of the Tel Aviv Museum.
  • SOME CITIES and countries mark landmark anniversaries for a whole year, and begin to celebrate them a year in advance of the actual date. For popular singer Shlomo Artzi, the approach of his 60th birthday has been so momentous, that he, too, has been celebrating for the best part of a year, and tomorrow, Thursday, November 26, will finally reach the golden age. Artzi was born on November 26, 1949 at Moshav Alonei Abba.
  • THE NAME of impresario Shmuel Tzemach is legendary in Israel's entertainment industry. Tzemach was the first to bring Leonard Cohen to Israel, and his galaxy of stars includes performers such as Elton John, Mercedes Sosa, Paul Simon, Paul Anka, Simon and Garfunkel, Tina Turner, Frank Sinatra, Pavarotti, and many others. His contribution to the industry was again officially recognized this week at the annual EMI awards. EMI is the Hebrew acronym for the Israel Union of Performing Artists. Tzemach, 77, was given a life achievement award by EMI and the municipality of Petah Tikva. His previous awards include the Israeli Theater Prize and the International Variety Prize.