A much-publicized Israel at 60 celebration at England’s Windsor Castle turned out a little less glittery than expected.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, the guest of honor, did not show up for the $10,000-per-couple dinner, a fund-raiser for the Jewish National Fund and the UJIA, the United Kingdom’s equivalent of the United Jewish Communities. The Israeli government sent no one in his place.
Also, host Prince Philip was hospitalized with a chest cold. He sent his son Prince Edward to fill in, the London Jewish Chronicle reported.
Three hundred people attended Monday’s champagne reception and dinner, many praising the opulence and historic nature of the evening. It was the first time a British royal officially took part in Israeli independence celebrations, and the first time Windsor Castle’s kitchen was made kosher.
But a long list of Jewish leaders chose to boycott, citing the prohibitive cost and organizers’ refusal to allow non-paying academics and Jewish intellectuals to attend, even if they were subsidized by others, according to the Chronicle.
One senior communal figure told the Chronicle, “If you wanted to hold an event at Windsor Castle, you cannot just pick only rich Jews to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary.”