Thursday, January 04, 2007

Recalling Teddy Kolek, (the late Mayor of Jerusalem) by David Hochstein.

My own recollection of Teddy Kolek.,- the late Mayor of Jerusalem. (Miriam)

Reading the comments below, reminded me of my one and only meeting with the then Mayor of Jerusalem. He made exactly the same impression on me which Joseph Hochstein describes,- a casual person who did not stand on ceremony with anyone and was bored with protocol. I looked up my photo album of 1991 when I was part of the International Council of Jewish Women’s Executive at a Reception hosted by the Mayor and he pinned a Jerusalem badge on each of us. On the photo which I took of the dignitaries sitting on the stage listening to our President giving him a Vote of thanks, the Mayor is the only one looking away into the distance,- obviously bored with the proceedings! Never mind that we represented the leaderships of some 50 Jewish communities,- I really don’t think that he was impressed or interested in us Diaspora Jews,- or perhaps it was because we were “only” women!
I contrast this meeting with my first encounter with PM Ehud Olmert (who followed Teddy Kolek as mayor), way back in the ‘70s when he was a young Minister while visiting us here in Melbourne as an emissary for the UIA. I was designated to pick him up from the airport and being new at this VIP protocol-game, I did not greet him according to his expectations as befitting his status as a Minister of the Israeli Government. He was most unimpressed with me and let me know it,- to my embarrassment!
I briefly met PM Olmert again years later when he was Mayor, in a Jerusalem Hotel lobby and he was most charming and greeted me most cordially,- so perhaps he forgave me,- or forgot me. He seemed far more casual and relaxed then,- he also seemed to have matured somewhat by then.
Recalling Teddy Kollek

by Joseph M. Hochstein, MidEastWeb

Here are a few personal recollections of Teddy Kollek, the Vienna-born ex-kibbutznik who served as Jerusalem's mayor from 1965 until Ehud Olmert defeated him in 1993. Kollek died today (January 2, 2006) at 95. In the 1970s, Kollek spoke at a breakfast meeting of journalists visiting from the United States. The organizers asked me to chair the program and introduce Kollek. He arrived late, alone.

As I rose to make the introduction, he cut me off. "So, what are your questions?" were his first words to the group. He took it from there. Everyone, Kollek included, knew he needed no introduction. Some years later, Kollek gave a guided tour of his city to visitors attending an international conference on local government in Israel. I was there as a member of the conference staff. As before, Kollek came alone, without the typical entourage of aides who accompany mayors of important cities. He walked briskly along a hillside, and not everyone in the group was keeping up. I saw a chance to speak privately with him and ask for an appointment to interview him for a book I was researching. He could shed light on Haganah activities in New York in 1947-48, before Israel's war of independence. He had headed the no-longer-secret Haganah mission. "I'll give you five minutes," he said and kept striding toward a point overlooking his city. I protested. He took a moment to explain. Speaking slower and with less impatience, almost like an exasperated parent, he explained that he wasn't going to devote more than five minutes to talking about the past. What mattered now was the present and the future, he said, and he was prepared to make time to discuss that.

Another time, when he was pushing 80 years of age, I ran into Kollek at the arrivals terminal at New York's JFK international airport. He was alone, and no security guards were in evidence. He was standing at a baggage carousel, waiting for his luggage. He stood there with no sign of impatience, and with no VIP treatment. He said hello, and when his luggage arrived he wrestled it off the carousel by himself and walked off alone.
He was still the mayor of Jerusalem then, but he wasn't flaunting it. ---

Joseph M. Hochstein, Tel Aviv January 2, 2006
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