“It turns out that Moses wasn’t such a bad navigator after all, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Presidential Conference birthday party for President Shimon Peres Thursday evening.
Negating the old joke that Moses could have turned towards Saudi Arabia and lead the People of Israel from Egypt to a land of oil instead of one of “milk and honey” and sand, the Prime Minister said, “We’re lucky enough not to have discovered gas in our first 65 years, or 60 years, because we could rely on our wits, on our ingenuity.
“And yesterday we decided to open up our gas fields for developing an export. We’re not going to make the mistake of those countries who said we shall not export, and the gas remained in the ground and in the sea. We’re going to develop the gas for our internal market and we’re going to fill up the coffers of the state with what we bring from exports for the benefit of all Israelis.”
American actor Robert De Niro landed in Israel with his son Tuesday morning for a 24-visit, highlighted by his appearance at this evening’s birthday bash for President Shimon Peres, who turns 9o on August 2.
DeNiro, who is not Jewish, met with the president at his Jerusalem home, and among other topics, they spoke about the Iranian nuclear threat. The president also related to the actor and his 17-year-old son the modern history of the re-establishment of the State of Israel and the country’s relations in the Middle East.
The prize-winning actor said he brought is 17-year-old son with to learn about Israel.
“Thank you for coming, President Peres told DeNiro, “We are very happy to see you in our country. Although you received an Oscar prize for your work, you also receive a great amount of love from the People of Israel.”
DeNiro thanked him for his words and noted this is his fifth visit to Israel.
A 16-year-old girl, Coral Vedder, who is suffering from a rare form of cancer, sang Barbara Streisand’s song “People” to the Jewish legend when the award winning singer met with a group of children on Monday at the official Jerusalem residence of President Shimon Peres.
Streisand, who will perform at the Presidential Conference Tuesday night, met the children suffering life-threatening diseases and who were brought to the President’s Residence by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The children expressed their wish to meet President Peres and wish him a happy birthday in person and told them their stories, their wishes and their struggles with illness.
Everyone was moved to tears during Coral’s performance, and Streisand said, “This was such a beautiful rendition; it moved me very much.”
The children surprised her with a gift of beads on which was inscribed, “Hope is strength and happiness.”
Streisand told the children, “I will remember this meeting forever. There is an incredible strength in this room and from meeting with you. When I sing “Aveinu Malkeinu” tomorrow for Peres’ birthday, I will dedicate it in my heart to you. I am full of hope for you, for the State of Israel and for the entire world.”
Streisand, 71, arrived in Israel – with her pet dog – Saturday night and later visited the Western Wall.
She is to receive on Monday an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she donated money for a building in the memory of her father. Streisand, for the first time in her life, will sing in public in Israel at two performances in a Jaffa on Thursday and Saturday. Tickets are going for $300 each, except for VIPs, who will pay $950 for the privilege.
Legendary American Jewish actress and singer Barbra Streisand will receive an honorary doctor of philosophy degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem next month.
The university said it is honoring Streisand “in recognition of her professional achievements, outstanding humanitarianism, leadership in the realm of human and civil rights, and dedication to Israel and the Jewish people.”
Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, president of the Hebrew University, stated, “Barbra Streisand’s transcendent talent is matched by her passionate concern for equality and opportunity for people of every gender and background. Equally important, her love of Israel and her Jewish heritage are reflected in so many aspects of her life and career. We are deeply proud to honor an individual who exemplifies these values which we at the Hebrew University share and uphold.”
Streisand established the Emanuel Streisand Building for Jewish Studies on the University’s Mount Scopus campus in 1984 in memory of her father, whom she praised as “a teacher, scholar and religious man who devoted himself to education.”
Referring to her 1983 award-winning movie, “Yentl,” she said she was pleased that women could now “pursue Jewish studies without having to disguise themselves as men.” The film, which she directed, produced, and co-wrote, had its Israeli premiere in 1984 under the sponsorship of the Israel Friends of The Hebrew University.
Streisand will sing publicly for the first time in Israel when she visits next month and performs in two concerts. The personal highlight of her trip will be the performance on the opening night of the Israeli Presidential Conference at the Jerusalem International Convention Center June 18.
Two years ago, Streisand appeared in a program on behalf of the welfare of soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, raising $12 million.
Born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn in 1942, she lost her father when she was just a child. While still in her teens, she launched her career as a singer by initially winning a singing contest. At age 19, Streisand made her Broadway debut, and in 1962 she issued her first album, which quickly became the top-selling record by a female vocalist in the United States.
By age 28, Streisand had already earned five of the entertainment industry’s most prestigious awards – the Grammy, Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe, making her an icon of American culture and an international favorite.
The honorary degree from Hebrew University will not be her first. Streisand holds an Honorary Doctorate in Arts and Humanities from Brandeis.
Streisand once sang the Israel national anthem, taking the stage at the conclusion of the 1978 Stars Salute Israel show.
A YouTube video of her rendition can be seen below.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Nobel laureate Professor Daniel Kahneman headlined the first plenary session of the Israeli Presidential Conference, presenting their prescriptions for bringing about “a better tomorrow.”
The panel also featured world record-holding Paralympic swimmer Keren Leibovitch, Yuri Milner, a leading Internet entrepreneur and venture capitalist and Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the renowned sex therapist.
Several of the panelists focused on the tremendous potential offered by technology, including social media, the rapid growth of smartphones and mobile devices and the widening of Internet access in the developing world.
“The smartphone revolution will be universal,” said Schmidt, emphasizing the need to increase Internet access in the developing world. “There are only one billion people with smartphones and two billion with access to the Internet. The World Wide Web has yet to live up to its name. Technology does not produce miracles, but connectivity, even in modest amounts, changes lives.”
Dr. Ruth spoke of her personal motivations and the lessons she would impart to the next generation.
“Young people need to get out there, stop complaining and do something productive,” said the 84-year old Dr. Ruth. “I survived the Holocaust, whereas 1.5 million children didn’t. I knew I needed to commit myself to Tikkun Olam (fixing the world).”