The Jerusalem Post
A diplomatic day
It was a diplomatic day on Wednesday for President Isaac Herzog and many members of Israel’s diplomatic community, as well as for Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai. In the morning they attended the official inauguration at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates hosted by Ambassador
Mohamed Al Khaja, and in the late afternoon, they convened again at the Bastille Day reception hosted by French Ambassador Eric Danon.
Although the text of the invitation for the early morning reception was in English, the bottom line in Hebrew read “We will be honored to host you.” The event concluded with an opening of the trading day ceremony.
For Herzog who since taking office a week and a half ago, has been heavily involved in regional diplomacy, his attendance at the UAE event was yet another step in this direction and added proof that the presidency is more than a mere ceremonial role.
Inter alia, he has updated himself on Israel’s security situation in the course of meetings with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and Chief of General Staff Aviv Kohavi.
■ AT the ceremony at the UAE Embassy, Herzog said that he was delighted to have the opportunity at the beginning of his term to join with Ambassador Al Khaja in opening the embassy.
“This is an important step for the entire Middle East. We hope to expand this circle of peace to other countries,” he said.
■ AT THE residence of French Ambassador Eric Danon, a huge crowd had to be parted to make way for Herzog and the official party to walk from inside the house to a dais in the garden. There was loud applause as soon as he appeared, and even louder applause following his speech in English, plus cries of Lehaim (To Life) when Herzog and Danon clinked glasses in a Bastille Day toast to continued liberty, equality and fraternity in their two countries.
Herzog was unable to stay because he had another commitment to attend the graduation ceremony of students who completed a course at the National Security College at Camp Moshe Dayan at Glilot Junction. But before making his own speech prior to leaving, he listened intently as Danon spoke of France’s zero tolerance for antisemitism and any other form of racism. Danon stated that radicalism of any kind was unacceptable. He also mentioned France’s accession to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
Danon made a point of France’s commitment to Israel’s security, and in reference to clashes and conflict on the Gaza border, declared that Hamas is entirely to blame.
Towards the conclusion of formalities, Huldai was conferred with a medal denoting that he is now a Knight of the French Legion of Honor.
In congratulating Huldai, Herzog called him a true leader, who turned Tel Aviv into the global capital of culture, art, liberalism and freedom.
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar who attended as the representative of the government called Huldai “the eternal mayor of Tel Aviv.”
In his speech, Herzog spoke of the influence of the French Revolution on humanity’s heritage and continues to be so in democratic countries.
Herzog also emphasized the need for people to learn to work together in order to create a stronger society.
Both he and Sa’ar expressed the wish that French President Emmanuel Macron, together with his wife, will pay a state visit to Israel at some time this year.
Sa’ar spoke of the long-lasting friendship between the two countries, even if there were occasional points of difference.
There is a wide and robust spectrum of cooperation, he said, in addition to high-level dialogues and meetings.
He conveyed the sincere appreciation of the government of Israel and of the Jewish people for the staunch stand that the French Government has taken in combating antisemitism, and its commitment to protecting its Jewish citizens.
After Danon had recited a lengthy review of Huldai’s career from his youth on kibbutz through the Air Force, as a teacher and as a mayor with enormous energy, talent and initiative, Huldai said that as excited as he was to be named a Knight of the French Legion of Honor, it was not given to him as an individual, but rather to the city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa and its residents.
Recalling the highly successful stage and screen musical Kazablan, which had been set in Jaffa, Huldai said that there was a line in the text that stated Bishvil kavod tzarich l’avod (To merit honor, you have to work). The analogy, following the superlatives that Danon had heaped on him, was self-explanatory.
■ IT IS difficult to estimate how many people have benefited from Life’s Door, the NGO established in 2004 by Prof. Ben Corn and his wife Dvora, who is a family therapist. Corn, an American-born and trained senior oncologist and radiotherapy specialist at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center where he serves as deputy director, was only 11 years old when he lost his father to cancer.
Cancer was then one of those diseases that people simply did not talk about, certainly not in Israel, where in the Hebrew media, it was still not referred to by name but was simply called an illness. It is often fatal, but not always.
Families who knew that a loved one had cancer, were scared to ask basic questions such as “How are you feeling?” or “What do you want to do before the end?”
People have become a little more open in recent years, and some cancer patients have shared their experiences on social media platforms to make it easier for others to talk about in a normal fashion, and not in hushed tones as before.
But Corn introduced talking about it – even at the dinner table – when he launched Life’s Door, for which he was awarded the President’s Prize for Volunteerism by the late president Shimon Peres.
Life’s Door benefits patients, their families and their friends, and gives them a sense of hope, in that they can make the most of what is left of their lives.
Corn was recently the recipient of another prize, the 2021 ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) Humanitarian Award. First presented in 2011, the humanitarian award recognizes an oncologist who personifies ASCO’s mission and
values by going above and beyond the call of duty in providing outstanding patient care through innovative means or exceptional service or leadership through voluntary and uncompensated humanitarian endeavors.
Some of Corn’s friends got together recently to honor him after learning of his latest award.
The event, held at the Tel Aviv home of Ruth and Menachem Oren, was double-barreled in that it also honored renowned 90-year-old writer, existential psychiatrist and emeritus professor of psychiatry at Standford University, Irvin Yalom
on the publication of his newest book A Matter of Death and Life.
Most of those present were influential figures from the realms of medicine, academia, literature and business, and included, inter alia, Nir, Iris and Dr. Noya Lempert, Prof. Dan Arieli, author Naomi Ragen, Jude Yovel Recanati, Dr. Sefi Mendelowitz, Ronita Tabib, Dr. David
and Dvora Goldfarb, Nily Falic, Tmira Yardeni, Prof. Amnon and Lynn Gimpel, plus many others. The highlight of the evening was a discussion between Corn and Yalom on life alongside a sick spouse, aging, how to prepare for the end of life, and love and sex for people of the third age.
■ THINGS ARE not going well in the family of diamond billionaire Lev Leviev. He doesn’t have too many problems with his daughters, but son Shalom, with whom he had a falling-out over a diamond transaction, is not living up to his name and is causing him a lot of grief.
Bad enough that Shalom and his wife Orly got divorced. Also bad enough that Shalom has been declared bankrupt and owes hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of debts. Bad enough that there is little hope of Shalom and Orly patching up their differences because each has found another partner. But what really rankles is what Shalom and
Orly agree on – namely the sale of the house in Kfar Shmaryahu which is registered in both their names, and which they want to sell to pay off Shalom’s debts, and to have a handsome sum to enable each them to start life anew. What bothers Lev Leviev – who paid for the house and gave it to the couple as a gift in their lovey-dovey days – is that it’s valued at somewhere in the range of NIS 10 million. When he gave them the house it was essentially with his grandchildren in mind. He figured that his son who was in the diamond business, and his ex-daughter-in-law who is a lawyer, could fend for themselves. But he also wanted to make sure that their children would have something to fall back on. The matter has been in court for some time and is still not settled.
Leviev finds it incomprehensible that his son wants to sell the house when his debts come to far less than a million shekels.