Baha'i News -- GRAPEVINE: Unexpected recognition

GRAPEVINE: Unexpected recognition

By Greer Fay Cashman

(March 21) NEWLY arrived Italian Ambassador Guilio Terzi di Sant'ago has not yet presented his credentials, but he's already getting to know his diplomatic colleagues and an ever-widening circle of Israelis. One of the opportunities afforded him was at the dinner hosted by US Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer and his wife Sheila for the American Jewish Committee delegation which was in Israel this week.

Other guests included the ambassadors of Spain, Sweden and Denmark, Carlos Barcena Portoles, Anders Liden and Hans Michael Kofoed-Hansen, and the most senior members of the Egyptian and Jordanian missions, Ihab El-Sharif and Mazen Tal. Kurtzer updated his guests on the latest attempts to achieve a cease-fire and resuscitate the peace process, and called on Egypt and Jordan to restore their ambassadors and thereby advance the peace effort. Jordan has in fact appointed an ambassador-designate, but no date has been set for his arrival.

Less than two weeks earlier, AJC president Harold Tanner, at a meeting in Washington with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, also raised the ambassadorial issue. The AJC delegation, headed by Tanner and AJC executive director David Harris, traveled from Israel to Paris, Madrid and Brussels for discussions with government officials and Jewish communal leadership.

AJC's international director of interreligious affairs, Rabbi David Rosen, who was celebrating the first birthday of his first grandchild, came to the dinner from a St. Patrick's Day reception at the home of Irish Ambassador Patrick Hennessy and his wife Pauline, to which he had been invited in his capacity as former chief rabbi of Ireland.

There seemed to be a little less wearing of the green at this year's St Patrick's Day reception than was the case in previous years at receptions hosted by the Hennessys' predecessors Brendan and Margaret Scannell. Among those whose deference to Ireland's favorite color was most visible were Barbara Wisman of the Bahai office in Jerusalem, who wore a vivid green jacket, and green-bloused Miriam Ben-Haim, who acts as an unofficial liaison between Israelis and representatives of foreign missions.

Leaving Israel was not an out-of-sight, out-of-mind process for the Scannells, who telephoned several of their Israeli friends on Sunday to convey season's greetings and to tell them how much they missed them. But the celebration hosted by the Hennessys was no less merry than those hosted by the Scannells. In fact it was enhanced by a musical trio who played Irish melodies. Hygiene experts would have nodded their heads in approval at the smoked salmon bar, where the young lady dishing out the popular delicacy not only used a knife and fork rather than her fingers, but also kept her hands gloved all night to ensure that there would be no contact with the edibles.

Although most of the Irish guests were expatriates, there were some visitors from the Emerald Isle who came especially from Jerusalem where they were attending a legal conference. They included Supreme Court Judges Roderick Murphy and Patrick McCartan along with Peter Smithwick, president of the District Court. Byrganym Aitimova, dean of the diplomatic corps, made a brief appearance en route to the ballet, but many of her diplomatic colleagues such as South African Ambassador Johann Marx and his wife Theresa, Chilean Ambassador Sally Bendersky and Slovenian Ambassador Peter Tos stayed for most of the evening. Also present was Gideon Ezra, deputy minister for internal security. Ezra's attendance was in line with a new government directive calling for government representation at all national day celebrations by foreign missions stationed in Israel. Many ambassadors had felt slighted in the past when they saw the turnout of ministers and parliamentarians at national day receptions hosted by American, Egyptian, British, German, Russian, French, Chinese, and Turkish heads of missions, while their own receptions were at best attended by representatives of the Foreign Ministry's protocol department along with former Israel ambassadors to the country in question. Zvi Gubbay, a former Israel ambassador to Ireland, makes a point of always attending the St. Patrick's day do and exchanged a few words in Hebrew with Hennessy, who is studying at Ulpan Akiva in Netanya.

MISSING from the St Patrick's Day reception was regular invitee Pnina Herzog, whose late husband Ya'acov Herzog was born in Ireland, as was his older brother and Israel's sixth president Chaim Herzog, whose widow Aura Herzog did attend. Pnina, who is president of the International Council of Women, was attending to ICW duties and was readying herself for the annual Ya'acov Herzog scholarship awards taking place the following day.

AROUND the time that Henrietta Szold founded Hadassah, the largest Jewish organization in America, Rebecca Sieff joined the daughters of Zion in England which inspired her to found the South Manchester Women's Zionist Society, the forerunner to the Women's International Zionist Organization which she cofounded two years later (in 1920) with Vera Weizmann and Edith Eder. Szold and Sieff, who headed their respective organizations for many years, made a territorial pact whereby WIZO would not be active in North America and Hadassah would not be active in Europe. That agreement was broken some 20 years ago by Bernice Tannenbaum and Raya Jaglom when they headed the two organizations, thus paving the way for the Hadassah International Medical Relief Association of which Tannenbaum was the founding chair and the entry of WIZO into North America. The two women who have served many of the same causes and sat on many of the same boards such as the World Jewish Congress, the World Zionist Organization, the Friends of the Hebrew University and The World Council for Soviet Jewry, met up in Geneva this week where Jaglom was one of the recipients of the Volunteer of Distinction Award presented at the Hadassah International Conference. Other honorees were former Turkish ambassador to Israel Onur Gokce and his wife Aytul, in recognition of their contributions to improved Turkey-Israel relations and their work for Hadassah in Israel, Turkey and Finland, philanthropist Philip Norman, who is a great supporter of Youth Aliya and who provided the funds for the establishment of an AIDS clinic at Hadassah, and actor, novelist, playwright and director Peter Ustinov, who for over three decades has been a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF). In presenting Jaglom with her award, Tannenbaum, whose own CV is a record of remarkable, wide-ranging voluntary service, said that she had known and worked with Jaglom for many years in many arenas. She described her as a bold leader always ready for challenge and change, and noted that countless babies, children and adults had been helped by her contribution to society. Jaglom was particularly touched by the fact that her good friend Emma Adler, the honorary president of WIZO Mexico, had specially flown to Switzerland for the occasion and that other friends, Princess Maria Gabriella de Savoie, the daughter of King Umberto of Italy, and Nicole Ghez, whose late husband Oscar Ghez was the founder and curator of the Petit Palis Museum, dedicated to 18 artists who perished in the Holocaust. What thrilled her most was the presence of three generations of Jagloms: her husband Josef, her son Elan and her grandson Daniel whose wife is a member of the Rachmilevich family which has provided two generations of highly respected medical practitioners who have served Hasassah with distinction. For Jaglom, who has received many honors over the years, this was the first time that three generations of her family were witness to her recognition. Also present were Israel's ambassador to Switzerland Yigal Entebbe and Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva Ya'acov Levy.

ONE of the toughest decisions which Jonathan Davis, head of the Hebrew University's external relations division, had to make this past year was to accept the offer of Uriel Reichman to join the staff of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary College as its vice president for external relations. To Davis, the Hebrew University was much more than a place of work. It was also his alma mater, and it was through the Hebrew University that he made aliya when he came to Jerusalem on the one-year program for foreign students instead of returning to Columbia University. In fact Davis was so reluctant to leave, that at the farewell party held for him by HU vice president Moshe Arad, he announced his intention to join the Friends of the Hebrew University so that he can continue to maintain his ties. HU president Menachem Megidor joined Arad in commending Davis' devotion to duty and his enthusiasm for the cause, and observed that sometimes his zeal took him a little too far. In this respect Megidor took the attitude of the late Moshe Dayan who wrote that he would rather rein in a fast horse than have to whip a slow one. Of the many tributes that Davis received, the most original was that from Jill Moskowitz, head of the HU's American desk, who when she's not promoting academics and academia, works as a talented folk singer. Moskowitz revised the lyrics of Partridge in a Pear Tree to provide a musical synopsis of Davis' seven good years with the university.

JERUSALEM Mayor Ehud Olmert paid an almost reluctant compliment this week to Finance Ministry director-general Ohed Marani when the two were guests of the Jerusalem Economic Forum. Olmert said that while it was not customary for mayors to praise directors-general of the Treasury, he had to admit that Maroni, unlike some of his predecessors, displayed an extraordinary understanding for the special needs of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

HE may have said it elsewhere, but to many members in the audience at the annual general meeting of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, it was the first time that they had heard US Ambassador Dan Kurtzer say that America had pressured Israel to pull out of Area A. Particularly excited by the admission was former Jerusalem Post editor Ari Rath who exclaimed triumphantly: "We always knew it, but now he's actually said it." Kurtzer and Turkish Ambassador Ahmed Uzumcu dialogued on The Role of People-to-People Programs in Peace-Building. "All of us need to move beyond self justification and a sense of victimization," said Kurtzer who had just returned from the airport after seeing off US Vice President Dick Cheney. "Perhaps we are en route to turning a corner as the two sides grapple with the issues that confront them," he added optimistically.

Both the US and Turkish governments fund a variety of projects to promote better relations between Israelis and Palestinians. There are a lot of dialogue activities said Uzumcu underscoring that "my country is proudly supporting some of them." Uzumcu took advantage of the platform offered him to point out that the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11 showed how easy it is for deep-seated cultural and religious prejudices to surface. "It showed how little we know of each other and the need to learn each other's cultures," he said, stressing the need for people of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds to enhance their knowledge of each other.

BROADCASTER Shelly Yachimovich must have been prescient when she interviewed Israel Prize laureate-designate Ephraim Kishon a couple of weeks back and made a point of mentioning that he had not yet been awarded the Israel Prize. MK Tommy Lapid wrote this week what a shame it was that Kishon was getting the prize for life achievement and not for literature. Interviewed on Israel Radio, Kishon differed from his friend of over 50 years and noted that he had also contributed to stage and screen, so a life achievement award was appropriate - aside from which this was a good time in his life in which to get it. Kishon has received many honors over the years, but the one he wanted most eluded him till now.

ROUGH and gruff social commentator Natan Zahavi, who can often be outrageously rude, had nothing but good words to say for Israel's men and women in blue this week. Zahavi, who was one of the survivors of the terrorist attack on the Seafood Market in Tel Aviv, produced an obviously low-budget but highly felt tribute to the heroism of the overworked and underpaid police force.

Keshet allowed him to air it on Channel Two, and in his usual scathing manner he compared the work of the police to that of members of Knesset, noting that the police put in long hours of overtime without extra pay, constantly risk their lives and are denied basic extras such as armored vehicles. On the other hand, the MKs have long recess periods, are hardly ever in the plenum, and not as visible at committee meetings as they should be, he said, on top of which they have the gall to vote themselves raises.

Zahavi apologized to some of the heroes in the studio that time did not permit him to interview them - but he did show that under that tough exterior beats a heart of gold.

©Copyright 2002, The Jerusalem Post

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