'Mahar' conference in Budva

The future of Jewish people

12 NOVEMBER 2016,
The ballerina of Budva with the Old town in the background
The ballerina of Budva with the Old town in the background

The meaning of the word "Mahar" in Hebrew is tomorrow. I'm not sure but I'm just pointing out here my opinion that the Jewish people is the leading people who is concentrating not only on his past and present but on his future, his tomorrow.

Budva, Montenegro, November 2016
This attractive city by the Adriatic Sea was chosen by Mr. Jasha Alfandari, the Head of the Jewish community in Podgorica (Montenegro), to host the "Mahar" conference supported by the World Jewish Congress, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and the government of Montenegro. Thirty five Jewish communities from Europe and elsewhere have respected Jasha's invitation and sent their representatives (over 400 people) to joint that magnificent and powerful conference.

As part of the Israeli delegation I was also invited to film the event. While I was watching on the first day the arrival of the participants and their gathering in front of the reception desk in hotel Avala, I thought that it was something worth to cherish and remember, not like as act of power but as act of care; the Jewish Diaspora really cares about the State of Israel and the future of the Jewish people in general. In this sense I salute Mr. Alfandari for his efforts and results. For few days it seems that the Jewish Diaspora was prospering again in Europe and especially in the Balkans after it almost extinct during the Holocaust.

I had the opportunity to meet many Jewish leaders who showed their interest on the State of Israel, but not only; they showed interest on the global politics and wars, the elections in America, the bilateral relations between the states in the Balkans and their opinion about the European Union. A video greeting from the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, was broadcast to the participants and was followed by a speech from the President of the Republic of Montenegro, Mr. Filip Vujanovic. I was glad to witness the warm embrace by the President to my people and especially to Mr. Alfandari, which by all means is contributing a lot to the warm and tight relations between the State of Israel and the Republic of Montenegro.

That was also an opportunity for the Israeli Admiral (Res.) and the former Head of the Israeli secret service ("Shin Bet"), Ami Ayalon, who lectured about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from his point of view, to step for the first time of his life on a Balkan soil. Mr. Ayalon told me that when he was serving in the Israeli Navy, as the commander of unit "Shayetet 13" (Seals) he was sailing many times on the Adriatic Sea on secret missions but never went out of the sea and step on its soil.

The fact that Mr. Ayalon, together with Dr. Yom-Tov Samia, Major General (Res.) in the IDF (the Israeli army) and Mrs. Alona Fisher Kamm, the Israeli Ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro, and Mr. Dan Oryan, the Israeli Ambassador to Macedonia and Head of the Balkan department in the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry, came to participate in the conference and strengthen the Jewish Diaspora looked like a demonstration of power of the Israeli-Jewish people in the eyes of the delegates, furthermore most of the panels where moderated by Mr. Shimon Shiffer, one of the leading Israelis journalists and publicists. For few days the delegates have participated in panels, lectures and exhibitions, which one of them was the "Entebbe operation," held by the Israeli army to release Israeli hostages from Entebbe - Uganda in the year 1976.

No doubt that the conference which was held on Montenegrin soil and was supported by the Montenegrin government is a proof how close, deep and respectable relations thus the Jewish community in Podgorica have with the Montenegrin administration and vise versa with the State of Israel. As I been told by Neda, a close friend from Kotor, Budva was a movie site in Richard Widmark movie, "The Long Ships" (1964) and the giant Bell (made of plastic) left as a memory from the movie's set near the entrance to the old city. When we arrived to Budva the city smiled at us at the beginning with a gray smile and with some rain drops. On the last day there was also heavy rain and even the waves which crashed the shore were angry. But at one point there was a morning when the sun came out of the clouds and sent a long ray to the shore like God himself was greeting us and telling us that we should never quit thinking positively about the future, about tomorrow, about Mahar.