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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Presidential Conference’

Streisand Spouts Off on Women ‘In Foreign Land of Israel’

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Barbra Streisand, now “Dr. Streisand” following an award from Hebrew University on Monday, joined a host of celebrities and politicians who know nothing about Israel but can’t resist telling the country what is best for it, especially for Jewish women.

She played a handicap game, prefacing her remarks about women’s religious rights in Israel with an apologetic remark, “”I realize it’s not easy to fully grasp the dynamics of what happens in a foreign land.”

Let’s stop right there for a minute.

She is the only artist ever to receive an Academy Award, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Directors Guild of America, Golden Globe, National Medal of Arts and Peabody Awards and France’s Legion d’honneur as well as the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Streisand is the recipient of two Oscars, five Emmys, 10 Grammies, a Tony and 12 Golden Globes including the Cecil B. DeMille Award. The three films she directed received 14 Oscar nominations.

She holds an Honorary Doctorate in Arts and Humanities from Brandeis University. She received The Humanitarian Award from the Human Rights Campaign and was awarded the ACLU Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union for her defense of U.S. constitutional rights.

On Monday, she received an honorary PhD from Hebrew University, where, just by coincidence, she contributed a huge sum of money for a building in memory of her father Emanuel, whom she praised as “a teacher, scholar and religious man who devoted himself to education.”

Professor Menachem Ben-Sasson, president of the Hebrew University, said, “Her love of Israel and her Jewish heritage are reflected in so many aspects of her life and career.” University officials described her as “a close friend of Israel.”

Okay. Now we have her credentials for her declaring, in a “foreign land,” that it “is distressing to read about women in Israel being forced to sit in the back of the bus or when we hear about ‘Women of the Wall’ having metal chairs thrown at them when they attempt to peacefully and legally pray.”

Streisand loves Israel, so much so that she is visiting the country for the first time in, let me count, 29 years.

There is no doubt she really does love Israel. Almost every Jew, even those who call it an Apartheid state, say they love Israel.

And like every other Jew, not to mention the non-Jews, Streisand thinks she knows what is best for Israel.

Once an American becomes Secretary of State, or a super star in sports or entertainment, or filthy rich, or gives money to Israel, he or she usually realizes that produces instant wisdom concerning Israel.

At least Streisand had the decency to be honest by unintentionally make herself look awkward, stating that Israel is “a foreign land” to her understanding.

She spoke the truth, more than most if not all other foreigners.

Israel indeed is foreign, even to Jews, who feel filled with spirit at the Western Wall but can’t tell the difference between an Arab and a Sephardi Jew, between an “anti-suicide bomber security fence” and an “Apartheid Wall,” and between a settler and a Jew from Tel Aviv.

Streisand’s comments were not so far off the mark, except that they were totally redundant and damaging to Israel in that they simply broadcast exceptions as a rule.

It indeed was distressing that a handful, more or less, of Haredim threw metal chairs and objects – on one day and only one – at women trying to pray in their own minyan at the Western Wall, which officially is an orthodox synagogue.

Granted, the official Haredi attitude towards the Women of the Wall movement is questionable and is expressed in a way that is destructive. But it is more or less a dead issue.

Ditto regarding her comments about women sitting in the back of the bus, a phenomena that is disgusting, which occurs on a tiny percent age point of buses and is on its way to the recycle bin.

After addressing both issues that already are old and irrelevant news, she admitted, “Repairs are being made, and that’s very good.”

Streisand, as a good liberal Jew who is visiting Israel to sing at the Israeli Presidential Conference Tuesday night, undoubtedly is undergoing a spiritual experience this week.

Would Hawking Meet Paraplegic Arab Saved by Israel?

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Columnist David Suissa, the founder of OLAM magazine, has challenged theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking to visit a three-year old Gaza paraplegic who is being cared for by Israel.

Hawking shocked the entire Israel political spectrum, from left to right, by his boycotting President Shimon Peres annual “Presidential Conference’ because of the “occupation.”

Hawking who is severely handicapped by a deteriorating disease and is confined to a wheelchair, is able to communicate through a device that is run by a computer chip designed and developed in Israel.

“Instead of getting upset at Hawking, I would rather we invite him to visit the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital, part of the Tel HaShomer complex in the Israeli city of Ramat Gan, Suissa wrote in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.

There, he would meet a three-year-old Arab toddler with no arms and no legs, named Mohammed al-Farra.

“Mohammed was born in Gaza with a rare genetic disease. His parents abandoned him, and the Palestinian government refused to pay for his care.

“As soon as he was born, he was rushed to Israel for emergency treatment. As reported in Huffpost, his genetic disorder left him with a weakened immune system and crippled his bowels, and an infection destroyed his hands and feet, requiring them to be amputated.

“Since then, he has spent his days and nights in an Israeli hospital undergoing treatment and learning how to use prosthetic limbs. His grandfather lives with him. Mohammed has been warmly embraced and cared for by his Israeli doctors, who have arranged for him and his grandfather to live in the sunny pediatric ward.”

Suissa asked, “I wonder what kind of boycott Hawking would have in mind after meeting little Mohammed, and after learning about the thousands of other Arab children from the West Bank and Gaza who are routinely cared for in Israeli hospitals?

“Well, I can think of at least one: It would be a boycott of every country in the world that neglects to care for disabled children like Steven Hawking and Mohammed al-Farra.”

Reflections on the Presidential Conference 2012

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

The Presidential Conference, dubbed ‘Tomorrow’, did not disappoint. Filled with top brass politicians, journalists, ambassadors, entrepreneurs, academics, scientists and more, the conference was a networker’s paradise; classy, comfortable and conducive to fostering good, new initiatives. Focusing on technology, economy, problems and peace, sessions were strung with a seam of tomorrow with words like ‘shaping’, ‘change’, ‘adaptation’ and ‘innovation’.

Warming up the audience was the adorable media personality, 84 year old Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who built her successful career as a sex-therapist. Sharing the stage with Yossi Vardi, considered by many as the father of Israeli start-ups, Dr. Ruth’s field of expertise dominated the conversation, attracting some awkward moments. They talked about the next generation’s version of relationships due to the role new media plays in the dating world of today – a combination of fields of expertise if ever I’ve seen one.

The opening night was politically star-studded. President Peres bestowed Israel’s highest honour, the Presidential Award of Distinction, on former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Followed by the Honourable Tony Blair, who pointed out that “President Peres was a Minister before I was born,” the feeling in the air was of a triangle of friendship going back many years. Those familiar with Israel’s short history and the contribution these men have made to it, could easily have been politically ‘star-struck’. Kissinger rightfully acknowledged the significance of the award by joking, “It’s not often you hear an 89 year old man say this, but I wish my parents were here to see this.”

Sticking to the theme of ‘Tomorrow’ with the deliberation one would expect from such giants, the men praised the past but emphasized a vision for the future. As a colleague pointed out, most people of the President’s age would talk of their accomplishments or their experiences, or even merely themselves, but President Peres focuses on the future! Investing in programs and technologies and even this conference, the President is clearly embracing a better tomorrow.

In fact, every speaker I heard referenced the theme of ‘Tomorrow’. With varying degrees of optimism, hope, certainty and speculation, almost all said we should lead the change if we don’t want to be led by the change. The leaders that spoke gave glimpses into the challenges of tomorrow, where inadequate preparation for the future may leave a once powerful enterprise completely redundant and failure to properly adapt means the world is passing you by.

There is much to learn by listening to these wise and experienced speakers, and we all appreciate the time given by all those who participated in the conference, but more so, I was moved by the ‘schmooze’ time these men donated. People were accessible, friendly and willing to help, because after all, it’s about the future!

The Big Gorilla at the Presidential Conference

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

The Big Gorilla that is not hiding in any room here at the Presidential Conference is Iran. Most of the main speakers have come to tell Israel what it should, or should not, do about Iran. Dennis Ross seems to believe that it is acceptable to give Iran nuclear capabilities so long as we can ensure that it will only use the nuclear power for civilian uses. Sure, that’s going to work for how long, I want to ask him?

And when they do convert it to military power…how long will it take the world to do something. No, I don’t mean how long will it take for them to protest it, I mean how long will it take to get the world to do something! Do something.

Dennis Ross says that there is simply no way that a military strike against Iran will be successful…and again, I want to ask him how he knows…and even if he does know…do we have another option?

It is, quite simply, ridiculous. The Jordanian and Egyptian journalists offer suggestions – Israel should do the right thing, though how they define the right thing would certainly not be as we would. The Turkish diplomat (yes, I’ll go at some point and post their names) wants Israel to know that it isn’t too late and we certainly can repair the relationship with Turkey. All we have to do is apologize.

After all, he says, Turkish civilians were hurt and killed. Civilians? Hardly…Apologize? Um….no.

The most realistic and helpful comments on Iran came today from Gabi Ashkenazi. He says that the military option is and should be the last option and yet it must remain on the table because if other options are to succeed, the only way it can succeed is if the threat of military action remains.

In fact, Ashkenazi explains, the more the threat of military intervention is on the table, is considered real, the more likely all non-military responses can work. It’s such a logical and simple reality – one that so many of those who have come here for a few days to preach to us want to ignore.

The big gorilla at this conference is Iran – I doubt that those who came here to give advice are managing to notice that we here in Israel do actually understand what is happening with Iran, understand very well, as Dennis Ross felt he had to tell us, that we have to be concerned not only with the strike itself, but the day after the strike.

My advice to the many guests here at the conference – trust us. Really, trust us. We are very aware. We live here, here in the reality that is the Middle East.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/special-features/president-conference-israel-2012/the-big-gorilla-at-the-presidential-conference/2012/06/20/

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