Grapevine: The planting of the green

PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN embraces Irish Ambassador to Israel Kyle O’Sullivan, accompanied by his wife and three sons, after O’Sullivan presented his credentials in 2019.  (photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)
PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN embraces Irish Ambassador to Israel Kyle O’Sullivan, accompanied by his wife and three sons, after O’Sullivan presented his credentials in 2019.
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)
Although the Irish do not always see eye to eye with Israel, there is agreement on the color green, which is the Irish national color, and for Israelis – especially at this time of the year – it means the greening of the country. A series of Irish ambassadors and visiting dignitaries have planted trees in Israel, or have attended the inauguration of groves dedicated to Irish leaders. There’s an Eamon de Valera forest, a grove in memory of John White, who served as president of JNF Ireland for 50 years, and trees planted by various Irish dignitaries in the Grove of Nations. On Sunday, Irish Ambassador to Israel Kyle O’Sullivan, accompanied by members of the Israel-Ireland Friendship League, will plant a tree in the KKL-JNF’s Jerusalem Grove of Nations at the Yad Kennedy Memorial Forest near Moshav Aminadav. The tree planting is in honor of Tu Bishvat.
Tu Bishvat is also the birthday of the Knesset, but there’s so much vicious squabbling these days, and the Knesset elections are only three weeks away, so it’s hardly an occasion for celebration.
■ APROPOS THE Knesset elections, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin will have to take time out from the campaign trail this week in order to attend events pertaining to the 26th International Tourism Market, which each year brings hundreds of foreign exhibitors from many countries to Israel to participate in conferences and a variety of marketing campaigns. Last year there were 1,870 exhibitors from 57 countries plus 26,800 visitors comprising Israelis and tourists. Organizers anticipate that this year’s IMTM will be even bigger and better.
The IMTM is yet another a feather in the cap of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai – in that it also boosts tourism to his city. All the foreign exhibitors get to see many of the sights of Tel Aviv, sample the excellent and varied cuisine and for those who come from Europe – where it is still very cold, wet and even snowing in some places – there is the opportunity to bask in the Tel Aviv sunshine and go to the beach to take an early morning swim, which will make their brief stay in Israel pure joy.
The exhibition and conferences take place at Expo Tel Aviv on February 11 and 12, with a gala opening by invitation only in Jerusalem on Monday, February 10.
The overall event is also a big deal for heads of diplomatic missions and their staffs who have to support the exhibitors from their respective countries.
In fact, there’s a special breakfast for ambassadors on Tuesday.
Among events on the official program are a meeting of the Israel Association of Travel Agents; a conference of welfare managers; a lecture in Hebrew on “Ethiopia – Land of Origins;” a case-study for the branding and developing of the Negev as a new tourism area; a wellness travel conference; the winter 2020 conference of members of the Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association; a lecture in Hebrew on “China beyond imagination with Sichuan Airlines;” a lecture in English and Hebrew on “Accessible tourism: Is there such a thing?” Lectures in English on “Limassol Reborn,” “Cruises on Russian Rivers,” “Romania – a big surprise and “Next Stop Portugal.” Other events that are not necessarily on the official program are being organized by various embassies, such as that of Nepal. It has to be remembered that programs are devised months ahead of any conference or convention, so while tourism to China will be virtually non-existent for the foreseeable future, there is no reason to cancel a lecture that helps to infor
m people who are planning to travel within a year or two.
■ INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED sexologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer despairs of the negative impact of technology on romance. These days, she has said in some of her lectures, a couple walks down the street hand in hand but they don’t talk to each other. He’s holding a mobile device in one hand and so is she. Instead of talking to each other, they text each other.
But it’s not only romance that is being negatively affected by mobile phones. It’s social discourse in general. In the street, people are risking their safety by looking at their screens instead of where they’re walking, and not noticing if any obstacle may be in front of them. On the bus, more than 80 per cent of the passengers are reading their emails, Instagrams, Facebook or WhatsApp instead of talking to each other. In a coffee shop or restaurant, people don’t put away their mobile phones but leave them on the table within instant reach, and in some cases keep their eyes glued to the screen and barely contribute to the conversation, beyond placing their order, because they’re too busy texting.
Jerusalem restaurant proprietor David Erlich, whose T’mol Shilshom premises include a mini library of good books, and whose patrons over the years have included many writers who somehow found their inspiration while sitting at one of his tables, decided to use a discount incentive to restore conversation. He provides a small cage in which patrons can place their mobile phones and offers a 10% discount on the bill for anyone who leaves their phone in the cage for the whole duration of the time they are in the restaurant. So far, there have been hardly any takers. People see their mobile phones as extensions of themselves, and to stay separated from their phones is like having an amputation. Curiously, religiously observant Jews are able to do this on Shabbat and other holy days – but the second that Shabbat is over they make a rush for the phone. It’s a bit like religiously observant smokers. On Shabbat they feel no desire for a cigarette, but as soon as there are three stars in the sky, they’ve simply got to
have a puff. How is it that humanity lived for centuries without cigarettes or a mobile phone?
■ IT’S NOT always true that a prophet is not recognized in his own country. Tel Aviv-born high priestess of dance Rina Schenfeld, who at 81 is still dancing, choreographing and teaching dance, has been named as Yekirat Tel Aviv – a worthy of Tel Aviv – in recognition of what she has contributed to the city’s culture. In fact, she has contributed to Israel’s culture and Israel’s cultural reputation abroad. She has also given fresh hope to people of her own generation by proving that if you work at it, your body can remain supple till well into advanced age.
If she lives to be a 100 or more, Schenfeld will still be dancing.
■ AS IF the House of Windsor doesn’t have enough problems on the royal plate, a new one recently cropped up with the claim by Simon Charles Dorante-Day, 53, who lives in Queensland, Australia, that he is the love child of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla before either of them married other spouses.
According to Dorante-Day, his adoptive parents were in service to the Queen, and it was to them that she turned when looking for suitable parents for the grandchild who was born on the wrong side of the blanket.
Dorante-Day is now telling whoever wants to listen that after Charles it is he, not William, who is next in line for the throne.
Furthermore, he says that Princess Diana was aware of his existence and had threatened to go public with it shortly before her death.
Whether it’s true or not, it’s embarrassing for the royal family. DNA tests on Charles and Camilla would of course clear up the mystery immediately, but the big question is would they agree to undergo such tests. Even if they disagree and Dorante-Day takes the matter to court, can any court force the future king of England to submit to a DNA test?
It also sounds as if the story was inspired by the highly rated television series Downton Abbey, in which there was also a child born out of wedlock to the daughter of aristocrat family – though in the TV series it was a girl, not a boy, and the father was not a prince.
Last year, it was announced that the series had come to an end, but due to its enormous popularity around the world, that decision was recently rescinded and a seventh season is on the way.
The big flaw in Dorante-Day’s claim to the royal blood line is that he’s just a fraction too old for the story to hold water.
When Charles and Camilla first met at a polo match in 1970, she was throwing her cap at Andrew Parker Bowles, but she was also attracted to Charles. The couple dated for six months and in 1971, Charles joined the Royal Navy without proposing. Camilla might never have met Charles but for the fact that Andrew had taken up with Princess Anne. Camilla was intent on breaking up that relationship, but consoled herself with Charles after their meeting. After he left for the Navy and spent eight months away, Camilla resumed her pursuit of Andrew, whom she married in 1973, and with whom she subsequently had two children, Laura and Tom.
Dorante-Day says that after his birth, she disappeared for 18 months to look after him. This seems unlikely given the other data.
Because they moved in the same social circles, Charles and Camilla occasionally bumped into each other, but their romance was not rekindled until 1986, five years after his marriage to Diana, who met him in 1977 through her older sister Sarah Spencer, whom Charles was dating at the time.
Royal romances are great fodder for trashy novels and feature films.