The View From My Veranda
Sheila's Letter From Jerusalem
23rd October 2009.
There are a few events in ones life which stand out above all others in their excellence and quality – the 2009 Presidents Conference on Tomorrow is one.
President Shimon Peres spoke from his heart http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Speeches+by+Israeli+leaders/2009/Pres_Peres_addresses_Israeli_Presidential_Conference_20-Oct-2009.htm as he gathered an array of brilliant minds to find solutions to today’s problems for a better tomorrow. They came because President Peres is a most singular man, an exceptional diplomat, a great statesman and an impressive mind – some of you may disagree with his politics – but his magnetic ability to initiate and accept new opinions and thoughts into his wide comprehension makes him a unique being in a sphere which does not pay compliments with ease. Above all, as Prime Minister Netanyahu said, he is a determined and proud Zionist.
Prime Minister Netanyahu made two very important statements hidden in his welcoming speech. One that within 10 years solar energy will be a feasible energy resource which will replace our dependency upon fossil fuels and that he is immediately forming a think tank committee to ensure his prediction come to fruition. The second was a call to Abu Mazen to take up the challenge of telling his people the truth – everything on the table – and bring them to peace. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Speeches+by+Israeli+leaders/2009/Speech_PM_Netanyahu_President_Conference_20-Oct-2009.htm
Tony Blair brought rare humour to a serious Conference http://www.presidentconf.org.il/en/ (click on is picture under the main screen).
Professor Irwin Cotler, Efraim Halevy, Mort Zuckerman sat on a panel chaired by Dr. John Ruskay, to help us understand everything from why there is an international law against genocide of which the caring agencies of the world barely avail themselves, to the threat from Iran; The inimitable Dov Maimon, a deeply religious Jew encourages and embraces diversity of thought and belief; Zhang Qianhong a Chinese Jewish Studies professor who wrote the book “History of Israel”; Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the United Nations gave a long but impressive speech, until she used the “O” word (occupation) and was surprised when her words thereafter were less acceptable! Young men who have already changed our future by creating Slide, Paypal, Wikipedia, Skype sat on a panel with moguls of advertising and media explaining how to utilize the web to reach our goals.
The educated opinion is that Iran is more scared of Israel than Israel of Iran (to say nothing of the USA) and the Tarzan-like chest beating of Ahmedinejad is to garner popularity inside Iran. Every time Iran hears from outside sources that Israel considers bombing their nuclear facilities it increases his sense of self-importance.
One of the most impressive panels was that of moderate Moslems who see the future so differently to their radical counterparts.
The world economy; the cyber-world; the increased importance of China and India in the world scene; security and the threat of international terror; Israel’s place in this world and this world’s place in Israel; a greener and kinder future and how to achieve all of the above. Great minds appeared on the platforms of Binyanei Ha Uma in Jerusalem and did so much more than discuss, they used their infinite abilities to find answers. Ambassadors and Ministers from many, many countries came to hear wisdom in the hope of taking thoughts back to their countries.
You may laugh, but my greatest moment came as I was walking upstairs to the Ladies!!!! Walking downstairs was Professor Ada Yonath! I almost fell as I leaned forward to shake her hand on her incredible achievement of winning a Nobel Prize for her undaunting work. She of course was more concerned that I remain upright than any compliment given. What a woman!!! I have other quieter heroes who do not go in for public speaking but support others in their determination to better the world. The marvelous Dan David without whom so many projects could not get off the ground and my old friend Lord Stone who quietly searched out others who want to find peaceful and green solutions. I cannot even begin to talk of the marvelous people I met in the corridors and halls, but it must be said that President Peres created a truly amazing Conference – as only he could.
My brain was hurting as the Conference drew to an end last night. I must step back to understand how the multitude of views expressed augur our future.
Leaving the Conference for a short while, Zvi spoke before and I met with wonderful people of the New York Federation who are working to find a new paradigm for the relationship between the Diaspora and Israel to entice the next generation of Jewish leadership on both sides of the Atlantic to present a strong future. Dr. John Ruskay spoke at both occasions and we were deeply impressed by his depth of knowledge and insight and ability to present his thoughts.
As you can imagine I did not have time to look at my beautiful Jerusalem outside although the Jerusalem in the Conference was no less impressive. The attendees spoke of our city with such love, Jews, Christians and Moslems alike. This isn’t “just another city” this is Jerusalem, Yerushalyim, Ir Shalem, Shiloh, Ariel a city so important, beautiful, spiritual and meaningful that it has another 65 names in the Tenach.
Today is already Friday and we have guests for Friday night supper and the traditional – or less than traditional – meal must be prepared! I have not even opened the blinds to look at the veranda – thank heaven for yet another Israeli invention – drip irrigation- so my plants and flowers have survived!
Next week is the Jewish Agency Board of Governors Assembly and Zvi and I will miss the lovely Lester Rosenberg of Chicago and wish him a speedy and ongoing recovery – we need you Lester!
With much love from Jerusalem as she slows down and enters into the wondrous peace of Shabbat