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Your Holiness Pope Francis,

I want to welcome you, on behalf of the State of Israel and all the people of Israel, with a warm “Shalom,”

You have come to Jerusalem which radiates faith and understands suffering. The humility in your nature and the power in your spirit raised a spiritual elation and a thirst for peace. The values which you stand for enrich us and bring righteousness between people.  The moral call remains the wisest human judgment. It has no equal.  Today, you are greeted here by a distinguished and diverse representation of Israeli society.

A society in which freedom of speech, the right to express oneself and the respect of holy sites are cornerstone values.

With your permission, I shall welcome all those who convened here in your honor – community and religious leaders, city mayors, judges, people of intellect and science. Jews and Arabs, Druse and Circassians, Catholics and Orthodox, young and old, men and women, from the city and from the

They long to hear your words while they are characterized by their fear of God and the love for humanity.  They have come to bless you on inspiring by your very nature trust among the fallen and strength among the trodden. A combatant against discrimination, anti-Semitism and racism.

Your Eminence,

The world is shocked by the blood that is shed in city squares, and in the thick of villages. The blood of the clean-handed is crying from the land. The blood of the innocents, the blood of children which had yet to taste the flavor of life.

No one can stand the growing number of widows, orphans, refugees that run with nowhere to go, and foodless. Grief and bereavement calls for true soul-searching, everywhere and at all time.

Your visit, Your Holiness, is a moving event with the power to motivate the religious leaders into joining forces to enable moral ethics and scientific innovations to enable each person to free themselves from despair, poverty and violence.

Faith and science have the power to reveal the hidden strengths within people, the treasures of the land, and the innovation stemming from research centers. All this can bring blessings to our lives.

Sadly, rotten apples are also exposed. Those who plant the seeds of evil today are the terror organizations. They have no pity and spread destruction. They kill without judgment, without distinction, without pity without logic.  We must stand together to prevent the menace on the lives of people and on world peace.

In the face of moral corruption we must show moral responsibility. And make clear that there is no greater contradiction than that between faith and murder.

I appeal to all the religious and spiritual leaders of our time: Make your voices clearly heard. With a distinct message. It is our duty that our children, the children of the world, regardless of religion or nationality, may live without fear and grow up in a world free of slaughter, a world which allows each person to live as a human being.

Your Eminence,

I know that you stand as firmly as a rock against any attempt to connect religion to terror. And that you aspire to create a common ground for global, regional and individual peace. We join you with body and soul in the effort to thwart murder and replace it by gates of peace.

Distinguished Guests,

I welcome the encounters between the religious authorities and the political world that can serve to highlight the spiritual, moral and common foundations that connect them.

  

Their ability to enhance political aspirations with the religious authority necessary to enable the compromises needed to achieve peace. I believe that your visit and call for peace will echo through the region and contribute to revitalizing the efforts to complete the peace process between us and the Palestinians, based on two states living in peace. A Jewish state – Israel. And an Arab state- Palestine.

This solution can be reached by mutual agreement. I believe that the citizens of the region want peace. They pray for peace. They are ready for peace with their neighbors and with all the nations of our region.

The threats of war will not bring peace. The dead will offer no praise. Only constructive perseverance can achieve peace. Only peace has the power to uproot poverty, overcome despair. Only peace can free people from tyranny. To the skeptics we shall say that we achieved peace with Egypt and Jordan, despite the fact that many saw this as a distant dream.

Your Eminence,

We are an ancient people, but our path is new. Because our values are constant, but the road is changing. However, there is no contradiction between the Ten Commandments and scientific innovation. In the words of Rabbi Kook: “We must sanctify the old, and respect the new.” Faith and science helped Israel overcome poverty, protect itself, and enabled it to achieve full peace. We will be happy to put our expertise at the disposal of all.  And the more this will benefit others, the better it will be for us.

Your Holiness,

Your visit to the Holy Land is an important opportunity for a joint prayer to God in Heaven for peace. We would be honored to offer such a prayer either in our home or yours. In accordance with your kind offer.

A prayer that children will grow without danger to their lives. That a mother will bear her child without hearing a siren. That every man will sit under his vine or his fig tree untroubled. We will work together, Jews, Christians and Muslims to bring an end to the conflicts.

Economic prosperity and social justice for all. I believe that peace is the key to bringing about these changes.

Your Holiness,

Our home is open to every pilgrim.  As is said in the Book of Isaiah, "For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." Israel was born in innocence. It was built by pioneers who volunteered and who toiled to create an Israel worthy of the aspirations of our parents and the expectations of our children.

We are a small nation but with the world. A nation dedicated to Tikkun Olam – Bettering the world. A world which you call, "a world of brotherhood."

My dear friend,

I was young and now I am old. I learnt that dreams do not age and I recommend to all act accordingly.

You walked in pilgrimage and you paved a road.

May you blessed.

 

Photo  Mark Neuman  / GPO 

 

 

 

 

On May 25th, Africa and the rest of the world is commemorating “Africa Day”, which puts an emphasis on African unity and the connection to Africans throughout the world.

 

The honorable  Ambassador of Kenya, His Excellency Lt. General Augostino S.K. Njoroge (Rtd.), hosted in his house in Kfar- Shmariahu, Ambassadors and Head of Missions of  Angola, Cameroon, Congo DRC, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

 

On behalf of the Israeli Government, came the Minister of Defense, Mr. Moshe Yaalon, to greet the honorable guests. Also came to greet representatives and mission heads of countries from Asia and Europe, among them the Ambassadors of Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Latvia, Serbia, Sweden, Poland and guests from Israel and abroad. The dress code was Business Suit and National Dress.

 

In the swimming pool, located in the house lawn, floated colored balloons in the respective countries colors. The guests enjoyed food from the kitchen of participating African countries.

After the National Anthem of the African Union and Israel, and after proposing a toast to both nations, spoke the Ambassador of Kenya, in his role of the Dean of African Diplomatic Corps in Israel.

The Ambassador welcomed the Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon, the ambassadors and all  guests. He spoke about the 50th anniversary of the founding of the African continental organization in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia in 1963 and about 2014 as the year of Agriculture and food security, that marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Comprehensive African Agriculture and Development Program.

The Ambassador  spoke about the goal of agricultural transformation in Africa – to enable production and availability of food for the population, and to provide means of livelihood to the ever increasing population. The future farmers in Africa are going to be young and exposed to technologies so as to succeed in sustaining the agricultural growth.

He then spoke about the threat that the climate change poses to achieving these goals although Africa is producing the least amount of greenhouse gases in the world and called for global application of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.

The African shall not succeed in eradicating poverty and diseases unless they engage in integration of its economy and mineral resources. The African Union has a new agenda – Agenda 2063, which presents a collective effort to regain power to determine Africa own destiny. Agenda 2063 will translate this vision into concrete milestones and targets.

 

The Ambassador than spoke about sustainable peace and security to the African people that will enable the development of the continent. African leaders will continue to harness the conductive environment for peace and stability to ensure development and shared prosperity.

Africa has enormous untapped resources like hydro power, wind and solar energy and geothermal energy that will have enormous potential for bio-energy development. Therefor Africa will strive to generate most of its energy from renewable sources. In this regard, Israeli companies with their advanced technologies are invited to participate in the harnessing of these untapped renewable sources of energy in Africa.  He also extended Africa’s appreciation to the State of Israel for considering Africa as the next business destination for Israelis.

 

The search for peace in the Middle East continues to be an urgent priority for the African Union, who seeks to take every opportunity to help promote a peaceful two state solution, in accordance with the international resolutions aimed at achieving lasting peace, security and economic prosperity in the region.

After the Ambassador, spoke the Minister of Defense, Mr. Moshe Yaalon.

The minister addressed his speech to the Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in Israel, the Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic mission in Israel. He represented the Government of Israel in the celebration of 51 years of the African Union. Minister Yaalon said that Israel and the African States share special and close relations ever since the peoples of Africa gained their independence in the 20th Century.

Based on the common values of freedom and democracy, the pursuit of development together with a common historic heritage. Israel, said the minister, is proud of its historic and continuous relations with Africa. Israel acknowledges the vast economic potential of Africa and Israeli organizations see it as an important destination.

 

Israel, said Mr. Yaalon, attaches great importance to the African Union, which holds a central part in the promotion of Pan-African unity and solidarity. Unfortunately, since 2002, Israel has been banned from the African Union conferences. If the A.U. is interested in having influence in the Middle East, it must enable Israel’s return to this political body. The African Union can find in Israel a loyal partner for the sake of its development, compatible with the agenda of Africa's Renaissance.

The minister reiterated that  Africa holds great importance for Israel from the points of view of defense and the war against terror, especially in view of  the growing strength of radical Islamist organizations and the infiltration of terrorist elements, following what was called the "Arab Spring" in North Africa. Recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu responded positively to the appeal of the President of Nigeria and an Israeli delegation is presently in Nigeria to help locate the kidnapped young girls.

 

We consider, continued minister Yaalon, Recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu responded positively to the appeal of the President of Nigeria and an Israeli delegation is presently in Nigeria to help locate the kidnapped young girls. Israel will always stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder with African countries confronting the menace of terror and radicalism. The same is true regarding the battle we need to lead together against racism, violence and xenophobia.  Both the Jewish people and the peoples of Africa suffered and continue to suffer today from racism and persecutions, as we have seen only yesterday in the heinous murder in the Jewish museum in Brussels.

 

Minister Yaalon ended his speech by presenting warm congratulations and the best wishes of the Israeli Government on the occasion of Africa Day.

This unique and honoring evening ended in African Fashion Show and dancing to African music. All is left for us is to greet Africa to be united, peaceful and prosperous.

 

Photos  : Arieh Lahat

 

The angels smiled. The weather was perfect, the setting magical, the hosts gracious, the guests scintillating and the refreshments outstanding.

 

The event was the reception hosted by His Excellency Ambassador Sisa Ngombane and Mrs. Thatanyana Ngombane at their ambassadorial residence in Ramat Gan on the 29th April. It was just 20 years ago that South Africa dropped the outrageous apartheid policy and joined the family of nations as a true democracy for all its citizens. No longer would the color of one’s skin be the deciding factor in so many spheres of anyone’s daily life. Indeed, a reason to celebrate.

 

The evening opened with a smart reception with guests mingling happily on the beautiful lawns. Honoring the assembly with their presence where, amongst many others, their Excellencies Ambassadors Rodrigo X. Carreras (Costa Rica), Lars Faaborg-Andersen ( European Union), Miguel de Almeida e Sousa (Portugal) and Pjer Šimunović (Croatia); senior (and other) members of the diplomatic corps in Israel, captains of industry, art, science, education and culture in Israel; and many other honored guests from various walks of life that link South Africa and Israel.

 

The national anthems of South Africa and Israel preceded Ambassador Ngombane’s address to the guests. He noted that for only the 5th time, fully democratic elections in South Africa are scheduled to be held on 7th May; elections with a special significance after only 20 years of freedom. He paid tribute to the many South Africans living abroad, including in Israel, whom, he said “… have made significant contributions to their adoptive countries….”.

 

“Freedom came with a heavy price tag, and we pay homage to those who fought so hard to bring that freedom. … South Africans having been passing poverty from generation to generation. We are now reversing that trend”. The Ambassador noted that South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world because of the widening economic gap. He noted too that South Africa was one of the countries that voted in favor of the establishment of the State of Israel at the UN General Assembly in 1947, and that South Africa today, with its large Muslim population, supports “the Palestinian desire for Independence”.

 

 

Israel’s Minister of Tourism Dr. Uzi Landau, representing the Government and the State of Israel responded. He congratulated South Africa, and the gracious hosts, and requested that greetings and best wishes be sent to the Government and the people of South Africa, from the people of Israel. Dr. Landau gave a brief, complimentary overview of South Africa’s pluralism, democracy, scientific achievements and more. He mentioned the significant role South African Jewry – a tiny minority – had played not only in the country’s successes, but also in the struggle for freedom. “Today there is robust cooperation between the two countries. South Africa is Israel’s largest trading partner in Africa, and is unique in having Israel’s only Commercial Attaché on that continent. Nevertheless, we believe that there is potential to upgrade and diversify our cooperation for the benefit of both nations and in areas such as public health, water management, and food security.” As for the Palestinian desire for independence, Dr. Landau noted sadly that “Israel is still praying for a Palestinian “Sadat” who seeks peace, a free press and true democracy”.

 

 

Ambassador Ngombane thanked the Israeli representative for his words and proposed a toast to the health of the President of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres.

 

With the background of charming music, and abetted by the delicious South African liqueurs, many of the guests joined in a group dance while a festive buffet dinner was served. South Africans have long been known for their sincere and congenial hospitality and Ambassador Ngombane and Mrs. Ngombane ensure that the tradition lives on.

 

 

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika. (Xhosa for “Lord bless Africa” and part of the South African national anthem).

  

 

 

Photo Silvia Golan  &  Dave Kaplan

For the first time, members of the Romanian Royal family visit the state of Israel

The representatives of the Royal Family of Romaniatheir Royal Highnesses, the Crown Princess, Margareta, and Prince Radu of Romania,visited the State of Israel where they held meetings with members of the Knesset (Parliament), Ministers, religious and academics authorities.

They were received by the Deputy-Speaker Ruth Calderon, and the Minister of Health Mrs Yael German,  and  by Zeev Elkin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. This is the first visit of the Romanian Royal Family since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. 

During the visit, which took place the last week, the Royal couple visited the Yad Vashem Memorial. They visited the Hall of Names Room which features 600 portraits of Jewish Holocaust victims and contains binders which document 4,000,000 victims of the Holocaust. It is important to mention that The Queen Mother Helen of Romania- has the distinguished honor as "Righteous Among the Nations", for helping  save Jews during the World War II.

The agenda included a meeting with His Most Godly Beatitude Theophilos III, Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem  and also a visit to the Romanian Patriarchy Representation in Jerusalem. Their Royal Highnesses  visited the Holy Places and the Western Wall.

 The Prince Radu gave a lecture at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Mount Scopus Campus where he spoke about the 'Democracy and Public Institutions'. He and Princess Margareta visited the library of the Dinur Center from the Hebrew University focusing on Romanian Jewish history.

Another highlight of the visit was the Wolfson Medical Centre where a special attention was devoted to the Save A Child's Heart project, where Crown Princess Margareta met with Romanian doctors that undertake training at the Wolfdon Medical Centre, as well as with Romanian children that are treated here.

 The President of Romania Traian Băsescu visited Israel in January 2014.

 

 Photos provided by the Romanian Embassy

 

 

 

Chinese newspaper describes the event as "The most successful event ever held on Weibo"

President Peres:

"I'm proud to be a member of the Weibo family."

 

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, launched his official Weibo page this morning on China's largest social network from the company's headquarters in Beijing. President Peres is among the first world leaders to launch a page on the social networking site which boasts 2.8 billion posts a month and hundreds of millions of users. In accordance with Chinese tradition, President Peres and the Vice President of the company hit a gong to announce the launch, hundreds of Weibo employees attended and waved Chinese and Israeli flags. Within minutes of the launch 50 million users viewed the Weibo page of the President of the State of Israel.

President Peres said, "I'm proud to be a member of the Weibo family, I look forward to seeing you all on my page so that I can speak directly to the Chinese people, and especially the younger generation, to strengthen Israeli-Sino relations." The Vice-President of the company said the event was the first of its kind in China and was the largest launch of a Weibo page in the history of the company. The users posted questions for President Peres with many interested in finding out more about the State of Israel. Immediately after the launch event President Peres conducted an interview in the company studio with two leading Chinese bloggers, Ma Xiolin and Wang Chong, and questions from Weibo users.

 

President Peres answered questions pertaining to his life and work, his recommendations for places to visit in Israel and in particular Israeli science and technology. President Peres was asked what the secret to the wisdom of the Jewish people is and he responded, "Our secret is learning. It's important to ask questions, to cast doubt, to think creatively outside of the box and to learn about issues in depth. Our secret is based on high quality education."

The bloggers were interested in how President Peres perceived Israeli-Sino relations and asked about the arms embargo to which President Peres responded with a smile, "Israel and China have a wide range of cooperation and I have come to China to deepen and expand our trade in technology, medicine, high-tech and science rather than arms, I think that's preferable."

President Peres also addressed the peace process with the Palestinians which is garnering attention in China and said, "Both the Israeli and Palestinian people want to live in independent and separate states and we should respect that. I hope that the peace process between the people will bear fruit and we will be able to live side by side in friendship."

At the end of the interview President Peres took the opportunity to invite the people of China to visit Israel and said, "I invite you to visit Israel, the people of Israeli look forward to meeting you and will welcome you warmly. We have the Dead Sea where you can float, Jerusalem where you can learn history and a tradition like no other."

 

 

President Peres' Sina Weibo Page

 

http://weibo.com/u/5055437375

 

 

Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO