- Written by Silvia Golan & Steven Aiello
On Wednesday evening, October 10, a special celebration was held at the top of the Azrieli towers in Tel Aviv. The Azrieli observatory, on the 49th floor, was the site for this year’s National Day celebration for the Republic of China (Taiwan). Guests enjoyed traditional Chinese food, live music, and some of the best views of the Tel Aviv region.
Ambassador Chang opened his remarks by noting his excitement at celebrating the occasion in Israel for the first time since his appointment. He provided the historical backdrop for the history of the establishment of Taiwan and the national day, with the 1911 revolution ending two millennia of Chinese dynastic rule.
The ambassador noted that Taiwan was proud of its democratic heritage, still the only Chinese speaking democracy, with a human rights and civil liberties record recognized by watchdog NGOs like Freedom House. The ambassador also noted that despite recent tensions, Taiwan was fully committed to maintaining peaceful relations with all of its neighbors.
Ambassador Chang also noted the significant and growing economic cooperation between Israel and Taiwan. He mentioned a recent Knesset delegation to Israel, along with a Taiwanese parliamentary delegation which visited Israel to learn about agricultural techniques.
On the cultural and social levels, the ambassador explained that increasing ties between the countries, and tourism from Taiwan to Israel, has led to a better understanding by Chinese people of what life in Israel is actually alike, as opposed to media coverage, which often focuses on conflicts and violence. The ambassador concluded his remarks with a toast to the success of both Taiwan and Israel.
Knesset Member Dr. Nachman Shai spoke next. Dr. Shai noted the presence of his fellow MKs Lea Fadida and Meir Ben Ari, some of the Knesset members to have visited Taiwan recently as part of the effort to improve bilateral cooperation. Dr. Shai mentioned his own recent visit to Taiwan, including meeting the president. He noted that although he has been to Taiwan many times, each time he sees new aspects of its vibrant economic and democratic ethos. He pointed out that this is a common point which Israel and Taiwan share. As the chair of the Taiwan-Israel parliamentary friendship group, Dr. Shai expressed his hope that relations between Israel and Taiwan would continue to grow.
Following the speeches, guests enjoyed a lavish dinner of traditional Chinese cuisine, prepared kosher with the help of chefs from Taiwan. A band played live music, and guests also received a gift from the embassy at the end of the evening, made with traditional Chinese wooden handicraft.
Diplomacy.co.il offers congratulations to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office on its National Day, and best wishes for peace and prosperity.
- Written by Steven Aiello
On Tuesday evening, October 9, the Korean embassy in Israel celebrated its national day, with a festive reception at the Embassy in Herzliya. The evening celebrated past and present Korean achievements, marking Korea’s national day with traditional Korean food, a display of Samsung innovations, and a dance performance that mixed the past with the contemporary.
Korean singer Lee DamJi opened the evening by performing the national anthems of both Israel and the Republic of Korea.
H.E. Mr. Choi Yong-hwan then welcomed the guests to Embassy, noting that this year marks 70 years for both Israel and Korea as modern states. The ambassador pointed out that during those 70 years, relations between North and South Korea have been up and down. The ambassador expressed his optimism in light of recent diplomatic developments between the governments of North and South Korea and emphasized his hope for a peaceful future for the Korean peninsula, as well as for Israel.
Ambassador Choi Yong-hwan emphasized the link between Israel and Korea in having robust democracies and market economies, which have led both countries to flourish in the last 70 years. This has also led to closer ties since diplomatic relations between the two countries was established in 1962. The ambassador noted that Korean car-producers (Hyundai and Kia) have been the top two in new car sales in Israel for the last three years, along with the popularity of Samsung and LG phones and other appliances. Acknowledging Israeli technological innovation as well, the ambassador recognized the Korea-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (KORIL-RDF) for its success in raising $57 million in joint funding for R&D projects, as well as a Free Trade Agreement, now in its final stage, that is expected to increase Israeli-Korean economic cooperation even more.
Moving to the cultural side, the ambassador mentioned the annual K-pop contest, now in its 7th year, which is attended by Israeli fans of Korean music. He pointed out that Neta Barzilai, Israel’s Eurovision winner this year, had in fact been inspired by K-pop music with her own winning Eurovision entry. Noting many more opportunities for cultural sharing, such as food and cosmetics, the ambassador cited a Korean expression, which translates to “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”
Minister of Regional Cooperation Tsachi Hanegbi spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. The minister noted that although the countries are geographically far, they are close in many other ways, with shared values and similar stories of perseverance over adversity.
The minister reiterated the success of both Korean and Israeli technological innovation, of free trade between the two nations, and of joint technological research ventures. He also remarked upon the rise in tourism, with a 20% increase in Korean visits to Israel in the last year. Finally, minister Hanegbi noted the cooperation between the two countries in the area of national security and military defense technology. The minister finished his remarks by offering congratulations, and his blessings for peace and prosperity in Korea.
Following the speeches, guests enjoyed a contemporary dance performance, itself a collaboration between an Israeli and Korean dancer, who acted out a traditional Korean fairy tale. Traditional Korean dishes were then served for dinner.
Along with numerous members of the Israeli and international diplomatic corps, the distinguished guests in attendance included Major General (Res.) and former ambassador Matan Vilnai;Honorary Consul of France Nathalie Mimoun; Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan, head of the Israeli Center for Young Leaders and the Israel School for Young Ambassadors; Ambassador Meron Reuven, Chief of Protocol for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Lihi Yariv-Laor, former head of the department of Asian studies at Hebrew University (which offers Israel’s only BA in Korean studies);Ehud Rassabi, Chairman of the Board of Ilan, the Israel Foundation for Handicapped Children; Samsung Managing Director Koh and business manager Daniel Rhee, and Dan Crivolotti of YONACO - Korea business experts.
Photo Silvia Golan
- Written by Steven Aiello
The embassies of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras hosted a lavish celebration at the Sheraton hotel in Tel Aviv on Thursday September 13, marking 197 years of Central American independence. The event showcased both the richness of Central America’s cultural diversity and the achievements of the respective countries, as well as the close ties and cooperation between Israel and the countries of central America.
Guests were greeted by the Ambassador of Costa Rica H.E. Mr. Esteban Penrod and his wife Suantzy; the Ambassador of Honduras H.E. Mr. Mario E. Castillo and his wife Arsinoe, the Ambassador of Guatemala H.E. Mr. Mario A. Bucaro and his wife Carina, and H.E. Mr. Hector E. Celari, the Charge d’Affaires of El Salvador. Along with the customary refreshments, guests enjoyed four colorful tables adorned with photos, ornaments, and souvenirs from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. These displays brought some of Central America’s heritage to Tel Aviv, and set the stage for what was to come later in the evening.
Emma Maor, as the master of ceremonies, opened the evening by calling up the ambassadors, together with Israeli Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin. The national anthems of all five countries were then played.
Ambassador Bucaro, speaking on behalf of the Central American nations, addressed the audience next. The ambassador spoke about the importance of this anniversary from the Central American perspective, and how it recalled a key moment of unification and collaboration. In that sense, the ambassador discussed sharing the benefits and example of Central American cooperation with Israel and Israelis. He also mentioned the agricultural cooperation with Mashav, Israel’s agency for international development, and thanked the Keren Kayemet L'Israel for its support. Finally, the ambassador mentioned the excellent tourism opportunities in Central America that many Israelis have already realized, and expressed his hope that more Israelis will continue to visit the region.
Israeli Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin spoke next, representing the state of Israel. Minister Levin delivered his entire speech in Spanish. The minister mentioned his own recent visit to the region, including Guatemala and Honduras, and thanked Mr. Aguilar, director of INGUAT in Guatemala, and Minister of Tourism in Honduras Mr. Silvestri, for their help in coordinating his trip. He invited the tourism ministers of all four countries to travel to Israel to participate in the tourism exhibition planned for February.
Minister Levin also mentioned the deep historical ties of friendship between Israel and the Central American nations. Costa Rica and Guatemala played key roles in gaining international support for the establishment of the state of Israel, while the consul general of El Salvador in Geneva, José Arturo Castellanos, saved the lives of thousands of Jews by granting them visas during World War II. Expressing hope that this strong friendship will continue to grow, the minister noted that Israel has requested to be admitted as an observer in SICA, the Central American Integration System. He concluded his remarks by wishing congratulations and blessings on behalf of the people and government of Israel.
Following the minister’s speech, a video was shown on stage, highlighting the sights, sounds, and colors of Central America. The theme was the magic of Central America, and the film did a good job of expressing that magic while explaining that to truly experience the beauty of Central America one has to visit in person. Following the video, the ambassadors and Minister Levin led a toast to the success of all of their nations. A second video followed this one featuring the accomplishments of the cooperation between Keren Kayemet L'Israel, and the Central American countries.
Mr. Ariel Goldgewicht, director of the Latin American department of Keren Kayemet LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) spoke on behalf of the KKL-JNF. Mr. Goldgewicht spoke about his pride, as both the KKL representative and a Central American himself, on the anniversary of Central American independence. He talked about how KKL-Central American cooperation has brought the nations closer together, and shared technological and agricultural innovation has benefitted all of the countries involved. Invoking the bravery of those who brought Central American independence in the early 19th century, Mr. Goldgewicht noted that today’s challenges are also daunting: climate change; food security; providing clean water, and that collaboration and shared creativity would once again hold the answer to collective success.
The ambassadors presented a gift basket to Mr. Goldgewicht, and another gift basket to the director of Mashav, Ambassador Gil Haskel. Following this formal portion of the evening, guests proceeded to a banquet in honor of the occasion, where they could continue the celebration.
Among the many distinguished guests in attendance were Ambassador Meron Reuben, chief of state protocol in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ambassador Moshe Bachar, former ambassador of Israel in Guatemala; Ambassador Yosef Livne, former ambassador of Israel to El Salvador, Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan, head of the Israeli Center for Young Leaders and the Israel School for Young Ambassadors; Itsik Kamilian, C.E.O. of the School for Young Ambassadors; Gabriel Hayon, CEO, of the Israel-Latin American Chamber of Commerce; Dyana Cordero, Director of the Trade Office of Costa Rica in Israel; Lian Lara International Coordinator of the International Affairs Division of the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel; Consuls Javier Rojas (Costa Rica); Carlos Meyer (Guatemala); Julio Tercero (Honduras); Franco Vella, general manager of the Sheraton, and Jane Yacoubzadi, public relations manager at the Sheraton.
Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the embassies of Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala and Honduras, and offers best wishes for continued success and strong bilateral relations with Israel.
- Written by Steven Aiello
On Sunday evening, September 16, the sounds and sights of traditional Chinese opera came to Tel Aviv, with an unforgettable performance at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The performance, by the China National Peking Opera Company, was the centerpiece of an evening dedicated to commemorating the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Israeli and international diplomats, business and civil society leaders, met at the Museum of Art for a celebration of Chinese culture. After enjoying dinner in the lower atrium of the museum, guests were ushered into the auditorium for the official ceremony and the anticipated opera performance.
As they entered the hall, guests were shown beautiful messages in Chinese and Hebrew, and images of friendship between the two nations, including photos of Jerusalem with singing in Chinese in the background. Once all of the guests had arrived, the ceremony began with the playing of the national anthems.
H.E. Ambassador Zhan Yongxin welcomed the guests, noting that this was a double celebration--69 years of the People’s Republic of China, and 40 years since China’s economic reform and opening up to outside investment. The ambassador described how the country has developed as a result of the robust economic growth over the last 40 years. He noted specifically China’s annual GDP and foreign trade growing at rates of 9.5% and 14.5% annually, leading to an incredible rise in per capita disposable income by a factor of 100. In total, the ambassador reported that “more than 700 million Chinese people were lifted out of poverty, accounting for over 70 percent of the world's poverty population.”
The ambassador explained that this has also benefited China’s trade partners over the last 40 years, with China contributing 30% of global economic growth in recent years. He informed the audience that the 75 economic and trade cooperation zones that China has built abroad have resulted in 2.2 billion USD taxes revenue and 210 thousand jobs for host countries. This includes China, which is already Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia, and rapidly growing, with bilateral trade volume grew more than 20% in the first half of 2018. Ambassador Zhan also noted that China will hold the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai this November, with participation from 140 countries, including Israel.
Observing that Israel-China relations are at a high, the ambassador mentioned the visit by Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu to China last year and the subsequent establishment of the China-Israel Innovative Comprehensive Partnership. Direct flights between Tel Aviv and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong (and soon Chengdu) serve nearly 200,000 Israeli and Chinese travelers, with the Chinese tourism to Israel almost tripling in two years. Finally, the establishment of the Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation and an Intergovernmental Mechanism of Economic and Technological Cooperation, and the opening of a Chinese Culture Center in Tel Aviv are further evidence of the growing ties between China and Israel. The minister closed with a toast to the friendship and success of the two nations.
Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Minister Akunis noted that although Israeli-Chinese diplomatic relations formally began only 26 years ago, the history of the two people goes back much farther. He noted a Jewish community in Kaifeng from the 10th century, as well as China serving as a safe haven for Jews from Russian pogroms in the late 19th century, and again during World War II for Jews fleeing the horrors of the Holocaust.
With this backdrop, the minister agreed with Ambassador Zhan that Israel-China relations are on the rise. He cited his own four visits to China, along with a recent visit by his Chinese counterpart, Mr. Wang, Minister of Science and Technology of China, and the upcoming visit by the vice president of China Mr. Wang Qishan, as further proof of the significance of Israeli-Chinese collaboration. This cooperation is particularly strong in the sciences, with researchers, scientists, academics, and government agencies partnering on a range of topics, and the opening of the Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology in China. Fittingly, the minister finished his remarks by presenting a book on Israeli innovation to the ambassador.
Following the speeches, the guests enjoyed a remarkable performance by the Peking Opera Company, which performed three short operas: On the Crossroads; The Palace of Eternal Youth, and the Monkey King. The lively sounds and colors of the opera soon enveloped the hall, and the applause after each performance and at the end of the evening was thundering.
Along with numerous members of the Israeli and international diplomatic corps, the distinguished guests in attendance included former Knesset member and minister Orit Noked; Professor Moshe Lewenstein, deputy president of Bar Ilan University; Professor Danielle Gurevich, director of the Asia division at Bar Ilan University; Ofer Dahan-Director of International Division at Bar Ilan University;; Yona Bartal, representative of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation; former basketball player Tal Brody, and Roni Klein, Global Sales Director at IDE technologies.
Diplomacy.co.il offers congratulations to the embassy of the People’s Republic of China on this important anniversary, and best wishes for years of prosperity and friendship.
- Written by David Aiello
Celebrating 25 years of Slovakian independence and strong Israel-Slovakia bilateral relations at Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University’s Porter School Building played host on Thursday evening September 6th to a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Slovakian independence. H.E. Ambassador Peter Hulenyi and his wife Tatiana were joined by dignitaries from various countries in marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Slovak Republic and Day of the Armed Forces. Guests enjoyed a festive reception, including wines, beer, and liquors imported from Slovakia.
Ambassador Meron Reuven spoke on behalf of the Israeli government and in place of Minister of Social Equality Gila Gamliel. He preceded the formal remarks by noting that he had been impressed on a personal level with the warmth and down to earth nature of Slovakians that he has met while serving as an Israeli diplomat.
Reading Gamliel’s formal statement, Reuven noted that Israel was one of the first nations to establish diplomatic relations with the Slovak Republic and the growth in bilateral cooperation since then. He cited visits to Israel by the President of the Slovak Republic, its Speaker of the Parliament, Foreign Minister, ministers of justice, culture, education and others, and members of parliament, as well as visits to Slovakia by Israel’s Speaker of the Knesset; ministers, and other Knesset members. Reuven said that although the bilateral cooperation is already strong, there is nonetheless great potential for further deepening that cooperation. He mentioned the growing Slovakian economy, pointing out that despite its young age Slovakia has already proved its potential with its many accomplishments. The ambassador concluded by offering congratulations on behalf of the government and people of Israel on this momentous anniversary.
Ambassador Hulenyi agreed with Ambassador Reuven that the Israeli-Slovakian relationship is a strong and vibrant one. He listed some of the accomplishments achieved in recent years, beginning with one that had taken place at Tel Aviv University in the last year - the establishment of the Slovak-Israel Scientific and Innovation in the presence of Slovak President Adrej Kiska and Tel Aviv University president Professor Yossi Klafter. The ambassador noted that Professor Klafter would be receiving an honorary doctorate in a few weeks at a Slovak-Israel scientific conference in Slovakia. He also cited a pilot scholarship program for Slovak PhD students at Tel Aviv University; a 2 million Euro budget allocated for bilateral projects in industrial innovation; another million euro call for bilateral R & D projects, and tens of thousands of Israeli tourists in Slovakia annually. The ambassador joked that if he wanted to know the popular vacation spots in Slovakia he need only ask Israelis.
Ambassador Hulenyi noted that in addition to the 25th anniversary of the Slovak Republic, this year was also the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia. Slovakia also recently assumed the presidency of the Visegrad 4 (Slovakia; Czech Republic; Hungary and Poland). He concluded his remarks by wishing all the guests a happy Jewish new year.
Among with foreign dignitaries, the distinguished guests at the celebration included Israel’s first ambassador to Slovakia, along with Ambassador Meron Reuven, Chief of Protocol for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Rodica Radian-Gordon, head of the Europe Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan, head of the Israeli Center for Young Leaders; Professor Raanan Rein, rector of Tel Aviv University; and Boaz Waksman, owner of Ophir Tours.
Diplomacy.co.il offers congratulations to the Embassy of the Sovak Republic on the momentous anniversaries and best wishes for continued growth in bilateral cooperation.