Grapevine October 29, 2021: Back to Normal

The state visit this week by Felix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, heralded a sign that things are almost back to normal. For the past 18 months or so, visiting heads of state who received a reception at the president’s residence had to settle for a very low-key affair, with a token military honor guard and a considerably reduced military or police band. This week, both the IDF honor guard and the military band accelerated again, although the state dinner hosted by President Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal, for Tshisekedi and his wife, Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi, was slightly less in the number of guests than is the norm. Among the guests were MK Miki Zohar; Yossi Abramowitz, who works on energy solutions to improve the quality of life; Simon Fisher, CEO of Save a Child’s Heart, and Haim Taib, President of SACH Africa. When SACH recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, which coincided with Taib’s birthday, a decision was made to bring a boy from each of the 25 countries in the next year to have his heart defects treated and repaired in Israel. In the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as a special gesture in honor of its president’s visit to Israel, there will be five children. Over the years, SACH has saved the hearts of more than 6,000 children from 62 countries, including those who have no relations with Israel. A child from a 63rd country is expected to arrive in Israel next week.

In his speech, Herzog noted that he was touched to learn that Tshisekedi, like him, was the son of a father who was a public figure. Etienne Tshisekedi was Prime Minister of his country when it was still called Zaire and was the founder of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress.

President Tshisekedi, in his speech, recalled that when he visited Israel in 2003, he had never imagined that he would return as his country’s president. He also mentioned that the late Haifa-born journalist and diplomat, Tamar Golan, had been friends with his mother, Martha Kasalu Jubukala. Both he and Herzog referred to the strong relations between their countries with Tshisekedi saying “I cannot find words for the depth of our friendship.”

Guests dined on sea bream on a bed of black pasta with Roman artichokes, black olives, cherry tomato and fresh basil, followed by fillet of beef in a red wine sauce with mashed potatoes and truffles and zucchini sticks. There were also vegetarian options. The dessert consisted of puff pastry with vanilla and caramel cream, with mini lemon tart and apple tart. Before dessert, the Herzogs led the tshisekedis from table to table introducing them to the guests.

The following day, the Herzogs welcomed the president of the Swiss Confederation, Guy Parmelin, and his wife, Caroline. But Parmelin’s was a working visit, not a state visit, so there was no state dinner. However, the two presidential couples dined together in the Herzogs’ private dining room.

MICHAL And President Isaac Herzog with women from Gam Ani Ratza (‘I also run’) to raise awareness of breast cancer. (credit: Levi Dvish)

Between traveling the country and hosting visiting dignitaries as well as special interest groups, Herzog also keeps up with important correspondence, such as his letter to King Abdullah of Jordan on the 27th anniversary of the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. In the letter, Herzog, who met Abdullah several weeks ago, praised the king’s father and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for demonstrating the true meaning of leadership by taking responsibility for the destiny of their nations.

The signing of the agreement, he wrote, “represented the triumph of the vision over extremism and cynicism. Twenty-seven years later, everyone must be clear about the supreme strategic value of peace. Only by deepening and expanding our ties at all levels of government and civil society, and in all fields of cooperation, will we be able to safeguard this indispensable asset of peace ”.

On the day Herzog received Tshekedi in Jerusalem, he had to rush between the morning reception and the evening state dinner to deliver a memorial speech by the grave of Israel’s founding president, Chaim Weizmann, on the anniversary of the Hebrew calendar of his death. Unlike most of the nation’s leaders, neither Weizmann, nor Presidents Ephraim Katzir and Ezer Weizman or Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin are buried on Mount Herzl in the special section reserved for the leaders of the nation. Weizmann and Katzir, both scientists, are buried in Rehovot. Weizman is buried in Or Akiva with his son and daughter-in-law. Ben-Gurion is buried at Sde Boker and Begin on the Mount of Olives.

So Herzog had to go to Rehovot and return to Jerusalem.

On Weizmann, Herzog said that he had come to pay his respects not because it was done or because he was bound by protocol, but because of the enormous debt he owes to Weizmann, one of the giants among the Zionists. On display in Herzog’s office is a portrait that Weizmann gave to Herzog’s uncle, former Foreign Minister Abba Eban, considered one of Israel’s greatest statesmen.

■ AFTER his indignities, former Labor leader and Cabinet Minister Amir Peretz may regret leaving the political arena. In December 2020, after facing strong criticism for joining a Netanyahu-led government, he announced that he was running for president. A month later, he dropped out. Before the elections for the current Knesset, he decided to leave politics, which had been an important part of his life. But Defense Minister Benny Gantz nominated him for the presidency of the Israel Aerospace Industries board, but despite the fact that Peretz is himself a former Defense Minister, and who gave the green light to the Iron Dome, the board expelled him on the grounds that he lacks business and management experience. This is also a symbolic slap in the face for Gantz, who will likely be pondering next month what it might have been. Gantz was scheduled to sign a rotation agreement with Benjamin Netanyahu to take over as prime minister in November 2021. It turned out to be a pipe dream, and Gantz, who had entered politics with a bang, found that his political influence had shrunk to a groan. Several political experts have predicted that something similar will happen to Yair Lapid in his deal with Naftali Bennett.

■ IT’S NO secret that Laurent Levy, entrepreneur, real estate investor and founder of an international chain of optical centers, likes to do things in a big way. One has only to look at the Music Center in the center of Jerusalem, or the hotel and shopping center that he is building on the capital Jaffa Road or the optical center that he opened in Zion Square on the former site of the Bank Leumi, which this man stands at. dedicated. to extravagance. He is also building a museum in the old Gesher building in Jerusalem, next to the Waldorf Astoria hotel. But now he has really overreached himself in a bid to boost Israel’s tourism industry, which officially reopens on November 1, but Levy is ahead a day by bringing 3,000 of his Optical Center employees from around the world in a business. – Pleasure trip on October 31st.

Although he owns properties in various parts of Israel, Levy’s main focus is Jerusalem, where he has booked 1,300 hotel rooms in 11 of the capital’s hotels, 300 tour buses and 70 tour guides. Levy, a Frenchman who now lives in Israel, has a very patriotic disposition towards Israel and says that people should do everything possible to improve the image of Israel around the world and show visitors that Jerusalem is a city in which Jews, Muslims and Christians can live. Side to side. Levy had previously relocated his employees to the Seychelles and Thailand, but decided it was important right now that they come to Israel, to see the country and its people first-hand and not be affected by the anti-Israel bias in both. traditional and social media.

■ IN THE FRAMEWORK of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Michal Herzog welcomed representatives from Gam Ani Ratza (“I Run Too”), a national initiative of running and fitness groups for women who are struggling or struggling. have recovered from breast cancer. Michal Herzog launched the start of a race from the President’s Residence and clocked the final kilometer. The runners are trained by professionals on a completely voluntary basis. The organization comprises 50 groups of approximately 1,000 women in total living in areas stretching from Nahariya to Eilat, in addition to 90 qualified Wingate Institute certified trainers. To create greater awareness, the group wants to reach a total of 40,075 km., Which is equivalent to going around the Earth. Both men and women, including soldiers, police, schoolchildren, members of youth groups and others, participate in this campaign. In addition to Michal Herzog, the women who ran off the Presidential Residence grounds were joined by President Herzog, Omri Pedatzur, who started the campaign, and four women who have recovered from breast cancer and recently completed a course at Wingate. as coaches. for marathon runners. Michal Herzog said that he had heard many amazing stories about runners and marveled at their resilience and the fact that running made it easier for them to endure the treatments they were receiving. He also emphasized the importance of regular checkups from an early age, emphasizing that they could lead to early detection of breast cancer and better chances of recovery.

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