Grapevine November 12: Yet Another Honor

The president of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor, has a variety of awards from the governments of Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Belgium, France, Italy and Romania, as well as an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University in recognition of his work in the campaign against anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism and incitement, to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, to promote tolerance and reconciliation and to actively work for peace.

The Russian-born billionaire and philanthropist, who now lives in England but is constantly on an international Jewish trip, puts his money where his mouth is and has generously contributed to numerous projects in the aforementioned countries.

This week he was added to his collection of awards, when he received the highest civil award of distinction Austria can confer: the Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria.

Wolfgang Sobotka, Chairman of the National Council, Austria’s parliament, presented the award in the absence of President Alexander Van der Bellen, who went into quarantine after his secretary was diagnosed with COVID-19. Sobotka described Kantor as a visionary Jewish leader, leading the fight against anti-Semitism, promoting Jewish culture, and preserving the meaning of the Shoah for future generations.

When a Jewish leader is chosen for an award, the first question that comes to mind is whether to accept it or not, Kantor explained. “For me, the answer to this question is if the Jewish community is happy and if they feel that I have faithfully served their interests. In the case of Austria, I did not hesitate for a second. Today, Jews in Austria feel at home, that they are an integral part of Austrian society and that their concerns are taken into account. This award is not for me personally, “he insisted,” but for the Jewish community and its leaders. Kantor thanked the Austrian government for its comprehensive response to ensure and promote Jewish life.

JONATHAN DAVIS (standing fifth from right in dark shirt), vice president of Reichman University and principal of the Raphael Recanati International School, with lone student soldiers. (credit: Shira Gazit)

Later that day, Minister for Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai, who was in Austria as an official government representative at Kristallnacht ceremonies, in particular the inauguration of the Shoah Wall of Names, spoke of the increase of anti-Semitism throughout Europe and the world in general. Last year, in Austria alone, he said, there was a significant increase in anti-Semitic incidents, with a total of 585 hate crimes.

Anti-Semitism is not a problem that Israel or the Jewish world can solve, he said. “It is the responsibility of nations and institutions around the world to take action against this ancient virus.

Kantor has spoken out on this issue many times, and when he spoke to journalists on Tuesday he said that anti-Semitism as a crime should be written into the legislation of all countries.

■ FOREIGN COUNTRIES are increasing their presence in Jerusalem. The president of Colombia, Iván Duque, who this week inaugurated the first innovation and entrepreneurship agency of his country accredited diplomatically abroad, chose to do so in Jerusalem. In doing so, it joined Brazil, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Victoria state of Australia, which have opened commercial and cultural offices in Israel’s capital, a step widely interpreted as an initial step toward relocating embassies to Jerusalem. So far, none of the governments of the aforementioned countries have indicated that they are in a hurry to do so, but there are four countries with embassies in Jerusalem: the United States, Guatemala, Kosovo and Honduras.

Given the strong Palestinian presence in Latin America, it is a courageous step for any Latin American country to establish an embassy in Jerusalem. Perhaps the time has come for Israel, too, to take a courageous diplomatic step and reconsider its relations with Taiwan, whose trade office under the title of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office has been operating as such in Tel Aviv for years, because Israel, in deference China has not agreed to full diplomatic relations, although a number of Taiwanese trade office heads have served as ambassadors, serving as ambassadors to other countries.

Among them is the current incumbent Paul Kuoboug Chang, who is a professional diplomat. Taiwan also has a separate commercial center in Tel Aviv and has numerous joint agreements with Israel.

■ WHAT ARE the real challenges in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute? Bren Carlill, director of public affairs for the Zionist Federation of Australia, has been committed to the issue for 20 years and has written a book about it that will be released on Sunday, November 14 at 11 a.m. M. Israel time and at 8 p. M. AEDT. Carlill will discuss its content with Eran Lerman, former Israeli deputy national security adviser and now vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security. The discussion will be interactive with members of the Zoom audiences in Israel and Australia joining. Before the discussion, there will be comments related to the book by ZFA President Jeremy Leibler and shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus.

■ REICHMAN UNIVERSITY Vice President and Raphael Recanati International School Principal Jonathan Davis invited the school’s 300 lone former soldiers for pizza in the center of campus. Many accepted the invitation, including students from South Africa, South America, the United States and Australia. Davis, a lone former soldier, has a special place in his heart for others like him.

Among those attending the pizza festival was Sharon Berhovski, 24, from Germany. “I served in the Spokesmen Unit and later as a commander in the Artillery [Corps], “she said.” My service was challenging but meaningful. I met many people whom I now consider to be my best friends. Fortunately, I was also honored to be accepted as a Heseg scholar, with a lone soldier scholarship based on personal excellence. .

“A lot of my friends from the army are also studying here in the UK, so there is a pretty lonely community of soldiers here and it’s great to be with people who have similar backgrounds to mine and are going through the same things as me. . “

■ ALL KINDS of good things are happening as a result of the Abrahamic Accords. Delegations from Morocco and the United Arab Emirates were received at the Bar-Ilan University campus in Ramat Gan this week, something that would have been an impossible dream before the agreements were signed last year.

A formal delegation from the UAE Ministry of Education met with the Bar-Ilan leadership as a step towards building academic cooperation with wide-ranging impact.

BIU President Professor Arie Zaban highlighted the significant growth in the student body over the past four years, as well as a sharp increase in STEM and artificial intelligence research. Bar-Ilan, he said, is on a clear path to becoming an innovative campus that strongly highlights the university’s innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship among its researchers and students. “Connecting Bar-Ilan with society in general, industry and the international arena is part of our DNA,” he said.

In this context, he mentioned that connections with the UAE academic community have already advanced. He cited cooperation with the Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi and the Gulf Medical University in Ajman. “It was very emotional and exciting to establish contact and sign the agreement with GMU,” said Zaban.

A small group of Emirati students are studying online at Bar-Ilan University, said Professor Moshe Lewenstein, vice president for international students.

Academics involved in various disciplines at BIU spoke about their work.

“For me, the epicenter of sustainable energy research was the University of Bar-Ilan,” said Professor Lior Elbaz from the Department of Chemistry, who explained why he joined BIU after working at Los Alamos National Laboratory. in New Mexico. Elbaz, who has started an Israeli fuel cell consortium at BIU in collaboration with other universities, shared his dream of establishing a Middle East collaboration with the United Arab Emirates and volunteered to help establish the hydrogen economy (storing power from the sun during the day for use at night) and fuel cell projects there.

At the beginning of the week, during the visit of a Moroccan delegation to Bar-Ilan, a cooperation agreement was signed.

■ VISITORS TO THE Museum of the Lands of the Bible will be surprised to see the new integrated exhibition in which contemporary art interconnects with the archaeological antiquities of the region. There was a large turnout at the opening of this new exhibition last week, although the majority were seniors, few of whom were able to find a seat during the lengthy opening ceremony. Museum director Yonit Kolb noted that the permanent exhibition teaches viewers about ancient art that has disappeared from the world, but the integration with modern art is in line with the vision of the museum’s founder, the late Elie Borowski, who said that the past is a basis for the future. Curator Shira Friedman was widely applauded for doing the daunting task of selecting works of art to complement the permanent exhibition, but said it was not as difficult as it seemed because many well-known artists have reflected archeology in their works.

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