Pre­sen­ta­tion of am­bas­sado­rial cre­den­tials be­comes a fam­ily af­fair

New Colom­bian en­voy has a cousin in Beit Hanassi

The Jerusalem Post - - News - • By GREER FAY CASH­MAN

The cer­e­mo­nial pre­sen­ta­tion of cre­den­tials by new am­bas­sadors to the pres­i­dent is usu­ally a for­mal, solemn event, with mil­i­tary honor guard, po­lice or mil­i­tary band and a re­cep­tion com­mit­tee made up of se­nior For­eign Min­istry and pres­i­den­tial staff.

It was all this and more for three of the four am­bas­sadors who pre­sented their cre­den­tials to Pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres on Mon­day.

But Colom­bian Am­bas­sador Dr. Isaac Gilin­ski in­tro­duced a much more in­for­mal am­bi­ence and even gave a big hug to one of the peo­ple in the re­cep­tion line. Gilin­ski is a third cousin to Yona Bar-Tal, nee Gilin­ski, who is sec­ond in com­mand in the pres­i­dent’s bureau.

Usu­ally calm and col­lected, Bar-Tal was ex­cited well in ad­vance of Gilin­ski’s ar­rival, even though she’s been in touch with him dur­ing the month and half since he came to Is­rael.

Gilin­ski is the sec­ond mem­ber of his im­me­di­ate fam­ily to serve as Colom­bia’s am­bas­sador to Is­rael. His brother Lazar was am­bas­sador some two decades ago.

In con­trast to most other parts of the world, the Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries are not the least bit trou­bled about send­ing Jews to rep­re­sent them here. The en­voys of Chile, Colom­bia, Costa Rica and El Sal­vador are all Jewish, and in the past, Gu­atemala also had a Jewish am­bas­sador.

“It’s al­most a fam­ily re­union,” said Peres, telling Galin­ski that he had an am­bas­sador in Beit Hanassi in the per­son of Bar-Tal.

Galin­ski and Peres are long­time ac­quain­tances. Peres has twice vis­ited Colom­bia and met Galin­ski, an in­flu­en­tial Jewish com­mu­nity leader and the owner of a small loans bank in Colom­bia. They have also met in in­ter­na­tional fo­rums.

“I know you as a leader and now I want to see you as a diplo­mat,” said Peres.

What Peres didn’t know was that Galin­ski is also a singer and com­poser. Galin­ski pre­sented Peres with a copy of his CD, and in re­turn re­ceived a CD from Peres of “Ray of Hope,” for which Peres com­posed the lyrics, with singers from around the world adapt­ing them to dif­fer­ent melodies.

Galin­ski told Peres that Colom­bian Pres­i­dent Alvero Uribe Velez is ea­ger to come to Is­rael be­fore his term ex­pires. Some 70 per­cent of Colom­bians want Velez to serve a third term, but he is pre­vented from do­ing so by the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion. Colom­bians will soon hold a ref­er­en­dum as to whether the con­sti­tu­tion should be amended so that Valez can serve a third term.

Peres met Velez re­cently in Copen­hagen and was greatly im­pressed by him, es­pe­cially by what he has done to im­prove se­cu­rity for his coun­try’s cit­i­zens.

Re­call­ing one of his vis­its to Colom­bia, Peres said that he was there as the guest of the Colom­bia Air Force and was try­ing to buy two de­stroy­ers from Colom­bia for Is­rael.

Galin­ski came to Beit Hanassi ac­com­pa­nied by his se­nior staff, his wife, his son, his two daugh­ters, his son-in­law, Venezue­lan-born Pe­dro Seidl and for­mer Is­rael am­bas­sador to Colom­bia Haim Aron and his wife Maria. Mem­bers of the fam­ily each kissed the mezuza as they went through the door­way.

Seidl and his wife Tanya are new im­mi­grants who live in Ra’anana. He works in hi-tech and has also brought some new fit­ness con­cepts to Is­rael.

Galin­ski told Peres that he in­tended to run the best em­bassy that Colom­bia ever had.

“I’m very quipped.

“You’ll do very well in Is­rael,” replied Peres. “We’re all mod­est.”

The first am­bas­sador to present cre­den­tials was Sri Lanka’s Don­ald Per­era, who Peres noted, has ex­changed a mil­i­tary ca­reer for a diplo­matic one. Per­era was his coun­try’s chief of the armed forces and be­fore that, he was the com­man­der of the air force.

Per­era said that Sri Lankan Pres­i­dent Mahinda Ra­japaksa wants to clear the coun­try of ter­ror­ism. The Tamir Tiger re­bel­lion had been quelled some two months be­fore Per­era re­signed from the armed forces.

Peres ex­pressed ad­mi­ra­tion for the way in which Sri Lanka has de­vel­oped since the quelling of the re­bel­lion and

mod­est,”

he of­fered Is­rael’s as­sis­tance in fur­ther de­vel­op­ment, es­pe­cially agri­cul­ture. Peres also of­fered Is­rael’s as­sis­tance in mat­ters of se­cu­rity.

The third and fourth am­bas­sadors to present cre­den­tials are non-res­i­dents Yosiwo P. Ge­orge of Mi­crone­sia, who is sta­tioned in Wash­ing­ton, and Rwanda’s Prof. Joseph Nsen­gi­mana who came at­tired in his coun­try’s na­tional cos­tume, which is a toga-like gar­ment worn over a long-sleeved shirt. He re­sides in Addis Ababa.

Both men were in Is­rael for the first time.

Mi­crone­sia has con­sis­tently voted with Is­rael at the United Na­tions and Peres thanked Ge­orge for his coun­try’s en­dur­ing friend­ship and “out­stand­ing” sup­port.

“I don’t know the size of your coun­try,” he said, “but I know the size of your friend­ship.”

Ge­orge stated that Mi­crone­sia greatly val­ues its re­la­tion­ship with Is­rael.

“We look to Is­rael as a leader and share val­ues and in­ter­ests,” he said.

He was also ea­ger to work on co­op­er­a­tive projects with Is­rael to ad­vance his coun­try’s econ­omy and like­wise asked for tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance. Peres as­sured him that Is­rael would al­ways be ready to help Mi­crone­sia.

To Nsen­gi­mana, Peres said that Is­rael re­gards him as a very spe­cial am­bas­sador, “be­cause you rep­re­sent the mov­ing story of your peo­ple.”

Is­rael could em­pathize with the Rwan­dan tragedy, Peres con­tin­ued. Be­cause there are so many Holo­caust sur­vivors in Is­rael,”we can un­der­stand the feel­ings of the peo­ple of Rwanda. It’s an emo­tional re­la­tion­ship.”

DR. ISAAC GILIN­SKI

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