Presented by the Jewish Federation of Collier County and the Israel Affairs Committee in Naples, Florida, we were fortunate to have a one-on-one interview with Mr. Ofer Bavly, Consul General of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico last week at the Naples Hilton. Supported by the Naples Chamber of Commerce and CIVIC, the Council for International Visitors to Collier County, of which I’m an organizational member, Mr Bavly, who was a well-spoken, articulate and easily understood speaker fielded questions from the audience but started the program answering questions from the moderator, Jeff Lytle, Editorial Editor to the Naples Daily News. Questions raised were directed to relevant issues facing Israel today, including business, commerce and technology. Mr Bavly pointedly stated that there were two things Israeli’s want: Democracy and Peace. Why and how is the Israeli economy booming? #1 – Israel is policy driven #2 – staunchly supporting fiscal responsibility it sends a message to the stock market which reacts accordingly, which then limits damage and loss, except for those investors that are dealing with the US trade. “Israel export totaled $3.79 billion last June. Imports went up 5.8% to $4.36 billion. Economists still warn that the final quarter of the year will feel the economic slowdown in Israel.” Jewish News World of Judaica, Aug 13, ’10. Giving credit where credit is due, Mr. Bavly emphatically stated that Stanley Fischer was pivotal in that success. Fischer, the Chairman of the Bank of Israel, was responsible for the “steering of Israel’s economy through one of the most dangerous periods in economic history since just before the Great Depression.” Jewish News World of Judaica, Sept 26, ’10. For those of us not familiar with all the intricacies of the rich history of Israel and it’s direct neighbors there were certain points of interest that need to be mentioned. Wanting and achieving peace in the Gaza Strip may or may not ever occur, however, a note worthy of pointing out that I wasn’t aware of that I’d like to share with you is: Due to the direct influence of Israel, the Palestinian economy experienced a 9% growth last year due directly to steps implemented by the Israeli government. By helping their neighbors to prosper, it greatly reduces the risk of war. Really, how can you fight your neighbors that have helped enrich your life, your economy? If Naples is lucky enough to have Mr. Bavly here next year, I hope you get an opportunity to spend a few hours with him. You’ll walk away all the wiser. I know I did.
Naples First Annual Film & Flavor event on 5th Avenue, as a benefit for the Naples International Film Festival (NIFF) will go down in our cultural history books “as the beginning of a great partnership” this past Saturday night. The Second Annual Film Festival, still in it’s infant stage, is sure to experience another successful year. NIFF partnered with the Downtown Naples Association, City of Naples and the Naples Daily News as 13 restaurants participated in this unique feast. What a simple, yet ingenious offer: Buy tickets to your favorite restaurant (ranging in price from $25 – $75) which includes a cocktail reception, dine alfresco under the swaying palms and tropical breeze and enjoy interactive entertainment with film trailers from this year’s films. It was a wonderful opportunity for Neapolitans to meet new friends, enjoy old ones and applaud Mother Nature for providing such a wonderful backdrop. The Naples Area Chamber of Commerce provided the festival with volunteers for the event. My job, along with six other volunteers, was to pour cocktails (well, somebody had to do it!) and yes, I did sample a few (one must have first hand knowledge to be able to recommend) of the libations that were created by several of the participating restaurants exclusively for this event using vodka sponsored by Slavianskaya Vodka, an organic vodka created by traditional Russian methods using dry rye crusts and incorporating a natural honey only found in Russia. Their pepper vodka is not overpowering but has a pleasant after-kick to it, for all those that like a little spice in their life. Can you imagine the indulgence created when combining a shot of this pepper vodka with a cayenne-infused dark chocolate truffle? Hmmm….I think I may just make that this weekend, again, experimenting is the key to a life well lived. Back to the vodka: Craig Martin, a representative from Slavie Vodka was our team leader and he kept his cool (not easy to do with six woman) throughout the event. The cocktail reception was a hit and I look forward to participating every year. Friends of ours in the entertainment industry have flown in from Los Angeles to partake in the screenings and experience our version for the second year on a “just as grand, but smaller version” of the big city film festivals. And that’s the beauty of our film festival: It’s a more intimate setting but doesn’t lack for great flicks. Kudos to Rowan Samuel, the Festival’s Executive Director and Lisa Swirda, the Executive Director for the Downtown Naples Association for their tireless efforts in making this year’s first Annual Film & Flavor a huge success as a kickoff to the Festival running from November 4 through November 7. The kick-off film is “Thespians” documenting four Florida high school troupes in their efforts to take the state’s crowning competition achievement as the #1 drama troupe in the state. It hasn’t been screened as often as “The Cove” which won an Oscar last year for Best Documentary, but, it’s a flick that is sure to inspire and has been well-received where it has been viewed. There’s a bit of a buzz about this film so don’t hesitate to get your tickets while there are still some left. For further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at Ruth@RuthBethem.com or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.