President Rivlin meets with King Phillipe of Belgium and Belgian PM Michel


President Rilvin: “Today we know that there is a link between anti-Semitism against Jews, and Jihadi terror that kills innocent people of all religions. We must not wait for anti-Semitism to become terror; we must fight it from the beginning, together.”

​President Reuven Rivlin today (Monday, 20 June 2016) began his official visit to the European Union and to the Kingdom of Belgium by holding a working meeting with Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel, and later with His Majesty King Phillipe. The President was received by the Prime Minister before the two went on to review a guard of honor.


At the conclusion of their meeting, the two delivered media statements, during which the President stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against anti-Semitism and terrorism. The President said, “Israel is concerned by the activities of the BDS movement in your country. BDS is of no importance, but even their small victories can give the wrong impression. We hope that under your leadership, Belgium will say 'no to BDS' and 'yes to peace', 'yes to cooperation'. Today we know that there is a link between anti-Semitism against Jews, and Jihadi terror that kills innocent people of all religions. We must not wait for anti-Semitism to become terror; we must fight it from the beginning, together, we must fight together against anti-Semitism.”


Prime Minister Michel welcomed the President, he said, “We spoke today about the fight against terror, which stands central to the efforts of our two peoples and of the whole world. We must improve the coordination between our intelligence organizations to ensure that we will succeed in preventing future attacks. In addition, we spoke about our shared values, the values of democracy, and the peace process in light of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East. We share in the concern about events in Syria, Libya, and Iraq. One of the issues about which we spoke was that of the refugees which is of concern to both countries.”


The Prime Minister added, “We share diplomatic, political, and economic values, and the cooperation between us is significant - especially in the area of trade. We appreciate Israeli innovation, and the drive for education and academic development, and hope that your visit will strengthen the abilities of our countries to work together.”


The Prime Minister stressed that in their discussions, “I had the opportunity to reaffirm Belgium’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. We will fight anti-Semitism with all our strength. This is a shared struggle.”


After his meeting with the Prime Minister, President Rivlin went on to meet His Majesty King Phillipe of Belgium, with whom he discussed a range of bilateral issues, and spoke of strengthening the relations between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Belgium.


Over the course of his visit, President Rivlin is due to deliver a special address before the European Parliament on Wednesday 22 June, and will also meet leaders of the European institutions, and of the Jewish and other faith communities.


President Rivlin with King Phillipe of Belgium
Copyright: GPO/ Mark Neiman







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Slovenia Celebrates 25 Years of Independence


On Tuesday, June 14th, the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia hosted a gala anniversary reception, celebrating 25 years of independence. The reception was held at the residence of the Slovenian Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Ms. Barbara Sušnik, overlooking the sea in Herzliya.


In attendance at the reception were a range of guests, from representatives of various embassies, Israeli Government representatives and Slovenian diplomats to local businesspersons, members of the Jewish community in Ljubljana, and musicians, including world-renowned conductor Ronen Nissan and vocalist Tair from the popular Israeli-Yemenite music group A-WA.


Ambassador Sušnik opened the formal part of the evening by expressing sympathy and support for Israel in light of the recent terror attack in Tel Aviv. The Ambassador emphasized the principles behind Slovenian independence, including commitments to human rights, helping those in need, and Responsibility to Protect (R2P) that serve as the basis of international diplomatic cooperation. She closed her remarks by expressing hope for peace in the Middle East and a negotiated two-state solution.


Ambassador Sušnik then called up the Deputy Foreign Minister of Slovenia, who had served as Slovenia's first Ambassador to Israel, Darja Bavdaž Kuret offer some remarks in honor of the occasion. Both the Ambassador and the Deputy Foreign Minister emphasized the close historical ties between Israel and Slovenia, and artistic, cultural and diplomatic cooperation between the two countries.


Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked addressed the guests next. The minister mentioned prior diplomatic exchanges between Slovenia and Israel and expressed her hope that the forthcoming increase of direct flights between the countries would lead to further visits and cooperation and that Israel would open an embassy in Slovenia.


Guests were then treated to a musical rendition of the national anthems of both Slovenia and Israel, and a theatrical performance by members of the Jewish Cultural Center of Ljubljana. Slovenia is home to approximately 500 Jews, centered in Ljubljana, and has seen a renaissance of Jewish activity in recent years. Israel and Slovenia have enjoyed full diplomatic relations since 1992, and friends of both Slovenia can look forward to celebrating Israeli-Slovenian ties on many more such occasions in coming years.



 Photo Courtesy of the Slovenian Embassy











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The Philippines Celebrates the Anniversary of Its Independence


The 118th anniversary of the Republic of the Philippines’ proclamation of its independence fell on June 12 of this year, but it was celebrated on the evening of June 14, at a reception held at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv. Guests were greeted by the  Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines to Israel, the Honorable Neal Imperial and Mrs. Octavia Imperial. The government of Israel was represented by Minister of Social Equality Gila Gamliel.


Among the guests were Mark Sofer, Deputy Director General for Asia and Pacific Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and members of the diplomatic corps.


The official ceremony commenced with the playing of the national anthems of the Republic of the Philippines and the State of Israel.



In his address to the assembled, Ambassador Imperial noted that the Philippines has just elected a new president, ushering in a new administration that he is sure will continue to foster the good relations between the two nations. Following are excerpts of his remarks:


“It is a great honor to have with us tonight a woman minister and distinguished feminist. As an ambassador of the most gender equal country in the Asia-Pacific -- the Philippines has had two women presidents, and the present Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is a woman -- we share common ground with Israel in supporting the struggle for gender equality globally.


“The Filipino nation was forged in the crucible of the first successful anti-colonial revolution in Asia: 118 years ago, the Philippine flag was raised and the national anthem was sung, for the first time, in Kawit Cavite, signaling the birth of Asia's first republic. Thanks to the courage, vision and sacrifices of our national heroes, some of whom were women, the Philippines is now a stable democracy with a resilient economy.


“Together with the 27,000-strong Filipino community in Israel, we also take pride in celebrating this year, the 30th anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution. People Power, Philippines style, was a unique popular uprising that overthrew 14 years of authoritarian rule through peaceful and democratic means. This mode of peaceful political change has inspired a wave of democratization worldwide that reverberates to this day.


“Next year, Israel and the Philippines will celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations, an important milestone in the relations between our two democracies and an opportunity to build on our common thrusts, particularly in the areas of tourism and agricultural cooperation.


“In September last year, the Philippines was privileged to be the first country to be visited by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. Since his visit, tourism exchanges have seen a dramatic rise. Israelis are beginning to discover why it's more fun to visit Palawan, Cebu, Bohol and Boracay, which are some of the best island destinations in the world, according to prestigious travel magazines. Inbound tourism from Israel increased by 34% last year, while the number of Filipinos going on pilgrimage tour to the Holy Land continues to rise.


“Agricultural cooperation remains a significant component of our bilateral relations. Our minister on food security and agricultural modernization was in Israel early this year to explore how Israeli agri-tech could boost agricultural production and improve water management in the farm sector back home. MASHAV training programs for many Filipinos from diverse backgrounds are continuing, and the Philippines greatly appreciates the consistently large number of Filipino agricultural students studying and working in Israeli farms through the Granot Agrostudies Program.


“The Philippine economy is doing remarkably well. After growing by an average of more than 6% in the last six years, the economy is poised to grow by 6.5-7% this year, one of the fastest in the world. The Philippines is now widely acknowledged for its steady rise as a dynamic economic growth hub with sustainable inclusive development, a vital and responsible member of the global community committed to uphold and abide by the rule of law in defending its territorial integrity and supporting multilateral institutions.


“Under the incoming administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who won the May Presidential elections with a landslide victory, the Philippines will ensure continuity in economic policy with a strong emphasis on restoring peace and order, curbing criminality and decisively addressing graft and corruption. Israel should expect the next administration to build on the existing close ties between Israel and the Philippines, especially in the areas of tourism, agriculture, defense and counter-terrorism.


“I cannot fail to mention the almost 20,000 Filipino caregivers living and working in Israel, helping many Israeli families cope with the challenges of an aging population. They are the reason why there is so much goodwill between Israelis and Filipinos. I wish to thank the government of Israel for allowing them to work here, one of the few countries in the Middle East where our workers' contribution to society is recognized and their labor rights are protected.”




In her remarks on behalf of the government of Israel, Minister Gamliel recalled the history of relations between the Philippines and the Jewish people and the State of Israel, beginning with the initiative of former Philippine President Manuel Quezon to welcome Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, and continuing with the Philippines’ vote in the United Nations in 1947 to support the creation of the Jewish state -- the only Asian nation to do so. She also noted that some 6,000 Philippine students have studied in this country in the framework of Israel’s educational outreach to the developing world. Minister Gamliel concluded her remarks with words of praise for the professionalism and dedication of Philippine caregivers assisting Israel’s elderly population.


After the remarks of the ambassador and the minister, the two joined in a ceremonial toast and in cutting a decorative cake adorned by the flags of the Philippines and Israel.


The evening’s entertainment featured Philippine vocalist Rose “Osang” Fostanes, a recent winner on the Israeli television show X-Factor, who was accompanied by Israeli musician Tal Kravitz. There was a small exhibit of Philippine crafts and clothing, and promotional tourism videos of the Philippines were screened on monitors.


A buffet was catered by the Hilton’s banquet services. Among the dishes served was a Philippine noodle soup.


 Photos Courtesy of the Philippine Embassy









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Italy Celebrates Its National Day  2016


Hundreds of people gathered at the residence of Italian ambassador Francesco Talo’ in Ramat Gan on June 2 to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Republic of Italy. Special guests from Italy included Education and Science Minister Stefania Giannini and dignitaries from the Jewish community in Rome. The government of Israel was represented by Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz.


Among the guests were opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog; former government ministers  Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, Gideon Sa’ar and Yossi Beilin; Member of Knesset Oren Hazan; Ambassador Meron Reuben of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; members of the diplomatic corps, and business leaders, including Gad Propper, Chairman of the Israel-EU chamber of Commerce and the general manager of Alitalia in Israel Aldo Delia. Cinzia Klein of the Italian Academy of Cuisine and actor/model Michael Lewis were also in attendance.


The slogan of the evening, on the invitations and festooned on signs overlooking the gathering, was “Italy and Israel: Our Strong Roots, Our Great Future.” The Master of Ceremonies was television personality Danny Kashmaro.





The official ceremony commenced with the singing of the national anthems of Italy, the European Union and Israel, performed by the choir of the Rishon school, where the Italian language is taught.


In his address to the assembled, Ambassador Talo’ emphasized that Italy cooperated with Israel in many spheres, not only bilaterally, but also in the framework of the European Union. Following are excerpts of his remarks:


“We believe that the future of our peoples is based on the intensity of the relationship between researchers of both countries, and we are concretely supporting ever more visits and common projects between Israel and Israel. To show the commitment of the Italian government to this endeavor, the Italian Minister of Education and Science Stefania Giannini is once again visiting Israel. Moreover, an important delegation of Italian universities and research institutions has come to improve the already very strong cooperation with Israeli counterparts.


“To mark 15 years to the Italian Israeli Government to Government Agreement on Scientific, Technological and Industrial Collaboration, under which Italy allocates millions of Euros each year, the Embassy of Italy, in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce Italy–Israel, is holding an unprecedented set of activities: ten parallel scientific conferences all over Israel. They will relate to all the areas of research and innovation where the partnership between the two countries flourishes.


“During the month of June, the Italian Trade Agency (ICE-Tel Aviv), in collaboration with Sheraton, will organize a series of initiatives aimed to promote authentic Italian food and Italian kosher products, as part of Italy's "Extraordinary Italian Taste" campaign.  


“On the evening of June 22, in collaboration with the Israeli Opera, the Verdi masterpiece “Rigoletto” will be performed at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem. The extraordinary opera performance, with young and talented italian conductor, Francesco Cilluffo, will be attended by 5,000 spectators, and an “Italian Lounge” offering Italian products will welcome our guests.


“Finally, on June 22-23, the Italian Minister of Agriculture will visit Israel, meet his colleague Uri Ariel and inaugurate the Expo Milano 2015 Forest in Yatir, a project developed thanks to KKL, which underlines the importance of Israel’s participation in last year’s universal Expo, and the fact that Israel and Italy are EXPOnential Partners.”


Minister Giannini added: “On the occasion of our National Day, there will be the presentation in Israel of the Italian translation of the Talmud. For the first time, the Babylonian Talmud has been translated into Italian, also thanks to a contribution of the Italian Government of 5 million Euros. This huge and ongoing endeavor was recently presented in Rome by Rav Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome, at the presence of the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella.”


In his remarks on behalf of the government of Israel, Minister Steinitz praised the natural beauty of Italy, Israel’s Mediterranean neighbor, and welcomed the mooted cooperation between the two countries in developing the region’s natural gas resources.


The kosher affair was catered by La Familia, with pizza margherita baked fresh on site by Peppe. Beverages and spirits were provided Pellegrino, Neroni, Aperol, Galliano and Vini di Lombardia, who were sponsors of the evening’s festivities. Other sponsors included Alitalia, which raffled off two airline tickets to Italy; Alfa Romeo, which had a demo car on display; Ferrero, which had a booth handing out Kinder chocolates; Caffe Lilly, which served espresso; and Arte Glideria, the Tel Aviv gelateria that served up its award-winning gelato.   


The  evening’s entertainment featured the Arakne music and dance and ensemble, and jazz played by the in the Shlomi Goldenberg trio.


The Jewish National Fund, which is the agency in charge of afforestation in Israel, awarded the Italian embassy a certificate of sustainability in recognition of the embassy’s pledge to plant 120 trees in order to offset the carbon footprint of the event.


 Photos by Silvia G. Golan


More pictures at  Facebook Diplomacy Israel




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