Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Begin Center Dinner Report

From Greer Fay Cashman's Grapevine:

· IT WAS somehow appropriate that the 10th anniversary of the Begin Heritage Center should take place during the Christmas period, one of whose focal points is peace. After all, it was Prime Minister Menachem Begin who signed the country's first peace treaty with an Arab state. On hand were Begin stalwarts such as Yehiel Kadishai, Yehuda Avner and Meir Rosenne, but unfortunately there were no members of the Begin family. The late Harry Hurwitz, to whose vision and tenacity the BHC owes its existence, was represented by his wife Freda. Oddly, very little was said about Begin, while Hurwitz, who had been Begin's close friend and ally from 1946 until Begin's death in 1992, and who himself passed away in October 2008, received only a passing mention.

The man of the hour was Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who had come to talk about the way in which the country was overcoming the global economic crisis. He was particularly proud of the fact that in a review of global economies, the investment bank Barclays Capital had pronounced Israel to have the strongest recovery story. Steinitz was also proud of the fact that even though such a measure has been broadly criticized by economists, the Knesset passed a two-year budget.

A punctual man, Steinitz, who was running a fever, had a good excuse for not attending. In fact, he came early and, during the cocktail reception, waited for his turn at the microphone so that he could go home. He spoke without notes, and considering how he felt, he was remarkably good on his feet. Had he not been able to deliver, either Rosenne or Avner could have easily improvised. Both are seasoned public speakers. Smoky Simon, chairman of World Mahal, who had been close to Begin since 1957, said of Avner that Begin had always referred to him as "my Shakespeare."
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