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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Inbal Hotel’

US Congressmen Hear about the Peace Before Oslo

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Two U.S. congressmen were on a whirlwind visit through Israel this week. Visiting the nation from top to bottom, east to west, meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister, retired generals, visiting a local winery, high tech company, energy experts and shell-shocked victims of terror, Cong. Dennis Ross of Florida (R-15) and Cong. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina (R-9) made the most of their week-long trip. (Cong. Dennis Ross is not the man by the same name who worked in the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations, or under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. ed.)

Congressmen arrive at the Gush Etzion winery. Feb. 16, 2015.

Congressmen arrive at the Gush Etzion winery. Feb. 16, 2015.

The Jewish Press was present at the very first stop of their trip on Monday morning. The congressmen came right from the all-night flight which landed in Tel Aviv to the beautiful Gush winery at the Gush Etzion junction.

During an hour-long breakfast meeting at the winery’s restaurant with local government officials and representatives of Gush Etzion, a cluster of Jewish communities south of Jerusalem, the topics were exactly as expected: peace and terrorism – how to have more of the former and less of the latter.

Mayor Davidi Perl explained that in the Gush Etzion area there are 80,000 Jewish residents and approximately 30,000 Arab residents. He said “everyone wants to live quietly, in peace, we have good relations with our neighbors, the problem is the leadership.”

Davidi Perl, mayor of Gush Etzion Regional Council, Feb. 16, 2015

Davidi Perl, mayor of Gush Etzion Regional Council, Feb. 16, 2015

Cong. Ross said that it seemed to him, “economic opportunity is the best weapon to achieve peaceful relations, without Israel’s economic infrastructure, the Arab neighbors don’t have a future.”

Bob Lang, the head of the Efrat Religious Council responded: “Forty years ago, before the so-called Oslo peace, we were living in peace with our neighbors. We all could and did shop in Bethlehem,” and Mayor Perl added that when he was a child, his school bus driver was an Arab. His parents never thought twice about putting him on the bus with an Arab driver.

Cong. Ross wanted to know what happened. “You are saying you used to have peaceful co-existence.” Lang piped up immediately: “the PLO was brought here and the Oslo Accords ended that peaceful co-existence. Now our cooperation has to be kept under the table.”

Cong. Robert Pittenger (L), Cong. Dennis and Mrs. Ross (Center and R)

Cong. Robert Pittenger (L), Cong. Dennis and Mrs. Cindy Ross (Center and R)

“We missed the opportunity to get involved and play a useful role in the Arab Spring,” Ross told the gathering of about 15. “The Muslim Brotherhood moved in to fill that void while we sat idly by. That kind of ‘neutrality’ is almost like we became isolationists,” he continued, “and the frustration by many of us in Congress is overwhelming.”

Cong. Pittenger added that he and others have met with Arab leaders in the region, and “the paradox is that they get it,” he said, telling the assembled Israelis “you are not alone.”

After the Congressmen left the winery, they went on to visit Hebron, the burial place of the patriarch and the matriarchs. They later met for a security briefing with a retired Israel Defense Forces general, stopped at an energy plant in Ashkelon, and visited a site of one of the Iron Dome batteries, the premier missile defense system which saved so many Israeli lives during recent conflicts.

The congressmen went up on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and visited many of the capital’s neighborhoods. They had a helicopter ride over Israel to see the topography and the security strengths and vulnerabilities. They visited the borders with Lebanon and Syria and stopped in the town of Sderot, on the border with Gaza.

Two Jerusalem Hotels Buzzing with Pre-Obama Rush

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

While Jerusalem has been visually primed for U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit—more than 1,000 American and Israeli flags dot major roads and streets along with signs and banners that read “Unbreakable Alliance”—Jerusalem hotels have also been gearing up for their guests.

Along with Obama, the fifth American president to visit Israel, approximately 500 foreign journalists are visiting Jerusalem to cover the presidential trip. The White House press corps will be staying at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel, while the President and his entourage will be housed nearby in the best, most expensive suite of the prestigious King David Hotel.

The management teams at both hotels are no strangers to foreign dignitaries and have long traditions of hosting world leaders, the Inbal hotel is facing a major assignment, hosting one of the biggest media operations in the history of Israel.

“The requirements were very different this time around,” Inbal’s General Manager Bruno H.P. De Schuyter told Tazpit News Agency. For the more than 200 foreign reporters staying at his hotel, the Inbal is providing a special media center on the premises.

The Inbal Hotel media center for the White House press corps. Photo by Anav Silverman / Tazpit News Agency

The Inbal Hotel media center for the White House press corps. Photo by Anav Silverman / Tazpit News Agency

“The Inbal was chosen by the White House because it’s the only hotel in Jerusalem that offers the logistics suitable for such a press center, as well as for its central location in the capital, and its views of the Old City as background,” explained De Schuyter. Several other Jerusalem hotels competed for the assignment of hosting the White House press corps and the rest of Obama’s press entourage.

In addition to providing the media infrastructure, dubbed the “nerve center,” the Inbal also had to contend with the food limitations that next week’s Passover holiday entails (no leavened bread, wheat and other grains). With the hotel kitchen already kosher for Passover, journalists who checked as early as Monday have been eating the holiday -approved food. “This is good!” remarked one correspondent to another, after taking a bite of the kosher-for-Passover sandwich.

“Our chef was extremely creative in designing the menu for the visiting guests,” commented De Schuyter.

At the King David, I was the last reporter on Tuesday morning to be given a tour before the hotel premises were sealed off to the public for the President’s arrival on Wednesday, March 20.

The historic prestige of the King David, built in 1930, is immediately felt as one enters the famous hotel, has most recently hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin, former French President Nicholas Sarkozy and, last November, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama stayed at the King David when he visited Israel in 2008, during his presidential campaign.

“We knew he would be back on this visit,” Yoni Forsyth, King David’s spokesperson told Tazpit News Agency.

“There’s never been a complaint from a world leader,” Forsyth continued. “We keep a guest book full of personal comments and compliments – Bono even wrote a poem when he stayed at the King David last year.”

New uniforms have been tailored for the staff, the red carpets have been cleaned and every inch of the hotel inspected.

Forsyth pointed to the balcony overlooking the King David garden, where Winston Churchill smoked one of his cigars. “The hotel is part of Israel’s history, Forsyth said. Then, pointing to a beautiful wooden table, he added: “The Jordanian peace agreement was signed here.”

“The staff is very familiar with hosting important political celebrities. Some of the employees taking care of President Obama have attended to Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and Anwar Sadaat,” he elaborated.

Dror Danino, King David’s manager, said he was looking forward to greeting President Obama and ensuring his stay is pleasant. “The White House team has been great to work with—we know exactly what will happen at each moment during the President’s stay.”

“The next time we get some sleep, however, will be after the Passover Seder next week,” Danino quipped with a tired smile.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/two-jerusalem-hotels-buzzing-with-pre-obama-rush/2013/03/20/

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