‘How did Anne Frank write her Holocaust diary with a pen that wasn’t invented until 1949?” asks Tom Gross, a British-born journalist and human rights campaigner, who is also a former member of the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post, and who monitors the international media for untruths and antisemitism. Among the items that recently caught his eye was a doctored, fake advertisement on Facebook by BIC pens, put up by Holocaust deniers, that implied that Frank’s diary was written with the aid of one of their products. This post “is the kind of lie that is common on Facebook, which Mark Zuckerberg’s company has been slow to remove,” writes Gross.
“Zuckerberg is Jewish and it is particularly galling when left-wing Jews in the media and social media, including at powerful institutions such as Facebook, The New York Times and the BBC, allow the facilitating of antisemitic hatred, whether in the guise of lies told about the Holocaust, or falsehoods told about Israel.”
Actually, the exploitation of Anne Frank is relatively mild compared to some of the other lies and antisemitic items that Gross comes across and shares. The worst stereotyped images of Jews have been resurrected, and because social media offers so many platforms for the dissemination of fake news, the war of words and pictures becomes an increasingly difficult challenge.
■ ONE OF the traditions of new ambassadors is to host a reception known as a vin d’honneur after presenting their credentials to the head of state, be they monarch or president. The cost factor of the reception is shared by the embassies concerned. The venue in Israel is always the King David Hotel in Jerusalem – and of course there’s a special discount rate for embassies, most of which bring a lot of business to the hotel. Five new ambassadors presented credentials to President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, then attended the vin d’honneur, which is essentially a diplomatic networking event wet-nursed by members of Israel’s Foreign Ministry. It enables ambassadors who have not yet met to meet each other and other diplomats of lesser rank, honorary consuls and prominent representatives of academia and the world of business.
But for some odd reason, two of the new ambassadors opted not to join the event – not financially, and not with their presence. This is almost unheard of in diplomatic circles, especially in view of the fact that neither comes from a newly independent country which is just beginning to find its feet in diplomatic, political and economic terms. It was quite surprising not to see Uzbekistan’s Said Rastimov and Poland’s Marek Magierowski, who each made a very good impression at their individual presentation of credentials ceremonies. Rustamov and Rivlin had discussed how Uzbekistan had taken in Jews fleeing the Nazis during the Holocaust; and Rivlin and Magierowski had talked about the 1,000-year history of Jews in Poland. Rivlin had mentioned the cooperation between the University of Warsaw and Yad Vashem in matters of Holocaust history, and in so doing had commented that Menachem Begin had studied at Warsaw University, to which Magierowski had added that Begin also fought in the Polish Army.
Rivlin had complimented Magierowski on his excellent Hebrew when presenting his credentials, and Magierowski had in turn said how wonderful it was every time he walked through downtown Warsaw to hear Hebrew in the street. He had written in the presidential guest book before leaving: “A great honor and incredible privilege to serve as Poland’s representative in Israel – a country so dear to our hearts.” Under the circumstances, some people might wonder why he absented himself from the vin d’honneur.
■ IN A country of immigrants, many expatriates of other countries think that it’s a big deal to rub shoulders, or better still shake hands with the ambassador representing their country of origin. British immigrants, who for whatever reason have missed out on being on any of the guest lists for the many events hosted by British Ambassador David Quarrey at the British residence in Ramat Gan, will have an opportunity to meet him on Thursday, August 9, and to do a good deed at the same time. Quarrey is scheduled to attend the Bridge the Food Gap event at the Leket Center in Ra’anana, which has been advertised as an “Indoor volunteer event for Anglos in Israel.” As one of Israel’s leaders in food rescue operations, Leket Israel collects and distributes 15,000 tons of fruit and vegetables each year for distribution to the needy in Israel. The produce has to be sorted and packed, which is where the volunteer effort comes in. Anyone who wants to be part of this volunteer effort, in addition to meeting the ambassador (or perhaps the other way around), should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 054-797-7008.
■ DURING THE summer vacation, institutions and organizations vie with each other to provide activities for children, so as to free up working parents who need to put in an appearance at their jobs. This year, thanks to Hamas, competition will focus more on youngsters living in the region of the Gaza Strip. Some have endured very traumatic experiences, and the idea is to get them geographically and mentally out of their regular habitat. Among the first to initiate such projects are Harel Insurance and Finance in cooperation with the Beit Zvi School of the Arts. Brothers Yair and Gideon Hamburger, who are the key people at Harel, are involved with a number of cultural institutions and organizations, and it was only natural that they would team up with an institution in that genre in order to give the youngsters from the Gaza Strip not only an exciting cultural experience, but a memorable one with lessons that they could take home and think about. They intend to bring some 300 youngsters from the Gaza Strip to Ramat Gan where there will be inspirational workshops on different aspects of theater. The youngsters will also watch a theatrical production and will meet with well-known actors and actresses.
■ A NEW education forum, named Alliance for European Cooperation in Higher Education, was launched last week in the course of a conference at the University of Mannheim. There were 12 founders represented by the presidents of leading European institutions in the fields of social sciences, business administration and economics. Among the 12 was Prof. Uriel Reichman, founder and president of IDC Herzliya, the only member of the forum who is not from Europe.
Noting that IDC already has broad relations and cooperation in research and students exchange with European institutions, Reichman said that relations are about to expands with some of the forum members and with other leading institutions around the world. “The invitation to IDC Herzliya to take part in this distinguished forum is without a doubt recognition of its academic quality and innovation,” he said.
Prof. Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden, president of Mannheim University and the forum’s initiator, said, “A strategy meeting of this kind is unprecedented and meant to examine future forms of collaboration between top universities in Europe.”
Members of the forum are: London School of Economics and Political Science; Sciences Po (Paris); Université Toulouse Capitole; Università Luigi Bocconi (Milan); European University Institute (Florence); Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona); Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (Vienna); Stockholm School of Economics; Tilburg University (Tilburg, Netherlands); Central European University (Budapest); Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya; and Universität Mannheim (Germany).
■ POPULAR COMPOSER, singer and instrumentalist Ariel Zilber, who will celebrate his 75th birthday on September 23, had planned to retire this year, but has delayed the move saying that he realized that this is not the right time to stop performing. However, he intends to retire from the stage next year, “because everyone has to step down at some time, and it’s been a nice ride this past 40-50 years.” Yet even if he stops singing and playing the keyboard in public, he will not stop composing, because music is in his soul.
■ ALL ORGANIZATIONS and institutions, regardless of any government contributions to their budgets, rely on the generosity of donors to their causes in order to remain operational. Sheba Medical Center has recently received an injection of new blood toward its fund-raising efforts. Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, MD, director general of Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, has announced the appointment of Eric Heffler, CFRE of New York, as vice chancellor of the Sheba Fund for Health Services and Research, and as US chapter development officer for the eastern US.
In a career spanning four decades, Heffler recently completed a seven- year tenure as national executive director of Israel Cancer Research Fund, where he bolstered the stability of the organization by the creation of new chapters of friends and inspiring new friends of existing chapters across the US. In so doing, he has set historic research funding records. Heffler is a long-time member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and is credited as a Certified Fund-Raising Executive. He earned a master’s degree in not-for-profit management from the New School in New York. In welcoming Heffler to the Sheba family, Kreiss said he was confident that with Heffler’s extensive achievement in the development of prominent American friends organizations for leading Israeli institutions, he would also bring increased visibility and philanthropic support to the Sheba Medical Center.