Reflections on Tomorrow 2012

 Facing Tomorrow – the fourth Israeli Presidential Conference

was held at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem last week.

4500 participants came from around the world to attend and 

dozens of press releases and blogs have been written on this mega-event.

Tiny 84-year-old Dr. Ruth Westheimer was a big hit with audiences.

 One could say that Dr. Ruth, whose feet have trouble reaching the floor,  

was even bigger and better than last year.

International guest panelists spoke of the future.

Retired Chief-of-Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was one of the few speakers

who spoke in Hebrew and was a popular presenter.

The session rooms were overcrowded and I could not get inside,

so I spent a lot of time walking the halls.

I spotted Abe Foxman, National Director of ADL giving an interview

and Natan Sharansky on his way to speak at a session.

During an opening plenary session, Ayaan Hirsi-Ali

shared some of her impressive life story and experiences of Islam.

In her talk she mentioned her age as 42; she smiled when I told her  

that someone in the crowd tweeted that she looks more like 24.

Stanley Fisher (right), Governor of the Bank of Israel, is always popular.

The convention center was full of important people with important ideas.

But, due to his recent leg injury, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

did not speak at the closing session on Thursday.

There were three special sessions on Thursday for bloggers,

one was a question and answer session with President Shimon Peres.

Finally I had a chance to get in a session and have a good a seat.

But I did not attend the last day of Facing Tomorrow 2012.

Wednesday night I got the dreaded, but expected call

that my mother-in-law had passed away.

Ruth Brooks Spanglet z”l was born in America 89 1/2 years ago.

 She never went to college,

but her two children earned post graduate degrees.

Her legacy includes twelve devoted grandchildren and

 twenty-six great-grandchildren (with more on the way),

all of whom now must face a tomorrow without Bubby.

A friend of mine wrote a wonderful piece on what she found missing

at this conference of big names and creative ideas – the mention of family.

Families like Bubby’s are the real tomorrow and the hope for the future.

May all the mourners of Zion be comforted soon.


Facing Tomorrow, Part 1

With 7 plenary sessions, 30 panels, with 4 special sessions for bloggers,

even with several clones it would have been impossible to attend

  most of the events of the Presidential Conference “Facing Tomorrow”.

 However, President Shimon Peres attended many sessions,

as did thousands of others who filled  the halls of the International Convention Center.

In-depth analyses have been written in the press, but most people who were trying

to get to all the end-of-school-year events may not have had the time to read them.

So The Real Jerusalem Streets will offer a quick convention overview.

On the first night,

 Israeli author Amos Oz,  Bernard-Henry Levy of France, and Tony Blair of England

spoke the to an audience where electronic devices were the norm

and political opinions were to the of extremes of right and left.

Laptops were visible in the audience for the morning plenary entitled

‘Looking Towards Tomorrow-Trends, Challenges and Decisions.’

Participants were Abby Joseph-Cohen, Niall Ferguson, Amos Yadlin, and

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who called the new anti-Semitism a virus

that is hard to control and spread by the internet.

 Tzipi Livni concluded the panel which could be heard and seen in the lounge

where drinks and food were on sale and networking was the main event.

A VIP lounge provided free drinks and delicious food,

the lemon meringue pie was said to have been really special.

However, Jerusalem water, unflavored, unchilled, and unaltered 

was all that was provided free for the regular attendees of the convention.

 ‘Thin Ice: Criticism vs. Loyalty in Israel-Diaspora Relations’,

with participants Jeremy Ben-Ami, Daniel Dayan, Diana Pinto, Fania Oz-Salzberger

and Rabbi Eric Yoffe and moderated by Shmuel Rosner, was standing-room only.


Also, ‘My Visions of Jerusalem’ attracted an over flow crowd,

American Malcolm Hoenlein spoke eloquently in English about the right of all Jews

to be concerned and involved with Jerusalem and her future.

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat was the last speaker at this session.

 Another session in the same time slot was entitled, 

 ‘Israel and America-Has the Love Cooled?’.

It was moderated by Ethan Bronner and

 included such big names as Itamar Rabinovich, Robert Wexler, Ruth Yaron,

and Americans Elliot Abrams and Martin Indyk as panelists.

 ‘Where is the Global Economy Heading?’ was the evening plenary,

   moderated by Stanley Fisher.

As Larry Summer was speaking, I was heading toward the door–

enough politics and economics for one day. 

 Glad I left early or I would have missed this view on the way home…

from one of the Jerusalem streets.


More photos will be posted on The Real Jerusalem Streets Facebook page.