- Written by Steven Aiello
On Thursday evening the Embassy of Austria in Tel Aviv hosted its annual celebration at the home of Ambassador H.E. Mr. Martin Weiss and his wife Susi in Herzliya. Guests enjoyed live music, Austrian delicacies, and a friendly ambience all evening.
The evening opened on a somber note, with Ambassador Weiss calling for a moment of silence to honor honorary consul Pinchas Zeltzer, who recently passed away. Tackling another difficult topic, the ambassador mentioned the “elephant in the room” -- recent elections in Austria, which included relative electoral gains by far-right parties. Ambassador Weiss assured his guests that regardless of who the next government coalition would consist of, Austria would remain both pro-European and dedicated to protecting individual rights and fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.
Gilad Erdan, the Minister of Public Strategy, Strategic Affairs, and Information, spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Minister Erdan commented on the strengthening of Austria-Israel relations, as evidenced by many recent high-level diplomatic visits: Austrian chancellor Kern, then Foreign Minister Kurz, and Defense Minister Doskozil among others.
Minister Erdan discussed the need for democracies to cooperate in facing contemporary challenges, and mentioned a pending agreement between Austria and Israel in this regard. He also lauded Austria’s efforts to remember and learn from the Holocaust via education and cultural initiatives, as well as its strong stance in combating all forms of anti-Semitism and bigotry. Sticking to the theme of education, the minister highlighted successful partnerships over the last year to enable and encourage Austrian and Israeli student exchanges.
In closing, Minister Erdan thanked Ambassador Weiss for the work that he and his staff do to bring the two nations together, and offered congratulations from the government of Israel to the government of Austria on the occasion of its national day.
A live band in the mezzanine section of the ambassador’s residence then played both the Austrian and Israeli national anthems, and a toast was raised to bilateral relations and the success of both nations. Although the formal portion of the evening ended, guests remained to enjoy the live music and dinner, including Austrian beers and sausages.
Among the many prestigious guests in attendance were former Israeli ambassador to the US Professor Itamar Rabinovich and his wife Efrat; Yechezkal Daskal, the head of the Israel-Austria Chamber of Commerce; Mr. Andrea Nasi from the European Union Delegation to the West Bank and Gaza; Mr. Andreas Obereder from the Austrian company Frequentis, who was in Israel to oversee a joint project; Dov Randel, International Coordinator for the Israel Government Employee Association for Social Awareness, and Ariel Yacobi, Chairman of the Israel Union of Government Employees.
Happy Austrian National Day from www.diplomacy.co.il Staff !!!!!
- Written by Steven Aiello
For the third year in a row, the Embassy of Hungary in Tel Aviv brought the sights, sounds, smells, and flavors of Hungary to Israel with the Hungarian Days festival. Hundreds of Israelis got to experience the best that Hungary has to offer over the two day festival. The festival opened Wednesday night with special musical and bilingual theatrical performances.
- Written by Buzzy Gordon
The Embassy of Spain in Israel in Israel celebrated its national day -- Columbus Day, Hispanic Heritage Day -- at a reception held October 17, 2017, at the residence of Spain’s newly appointed ambassador to Israel, Manuel Gómez-Acebo and Mrs. Maria Jose Gomez-Acebo. The grounds of the residence were festooned with flowers the color of Spain’s flag, as well as decorative textiles.
The evening’s program commenced with the playing of the national anthems of Israel and Spain. The government of Israel was represented by the Minister of Health, Ya’akov Litzman.
- Written by President’s Spokesperson
President Reuven Rivlin began this morning (Monday) with a ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, received the
First to present his credentials was Ambassador of Italy, H.E. Mr. Gianluigi Benedetti. The President wished him much success in his role and said, “It is an honor for us to host you and your family in Jerusalem. You are not just an ambassador, you are a scholar, who has helped raise new and deeper understanding between our peoples. I know you were an important part of the efforts to translate the Talmud into Italian. My father was a scholar and translator, and he taught me that the key to understanding other cultures, was through gaining an understanding of their history and language. You have made a great contribution to the understanding between our peoples.”
The President added, “I was greatly impressed by your work to help make clear to the Italian people and Government, the ancient connection of the Jews to Jerusalem in light of UNESCO's attempt to eradicate it." He continued, "I am also aware of your actions in the struggle against BDS. I appreciate your work for the Jewish people and the State of Israel and your friends.”
Ambassador Benedetti thanked the President and said, “Thank you very much for the hospitality in Jerusalem, a city that people around the world look to in love and admiration. Our two peoples share in an unprecendented brotherhood and friendship and it is an honor to serve as ambassador. The roots of our friendship are rooted deep in history, which is important to stress, and in the last 15 years we have done much, but I promise that every day we will work to do more, with determination and passion it is possible to increase the friendship between our two peoples.” He added, “The Mediterranean is an area that brings us big challenges, and it is important that we stand together. Italy will always stand besides Israel whenever Israel's identity, or right to exist in peace in the region is threatened.”
Ambassador of Denmark, H.E. Mrs. Charlotte Slente, presented her credentials, accompanied by her family. The President welcomed them and said, “We have a close and warm relationship despite sometimes we have different opinions.” The President stressed the significance of the Danish people's rescue of Jews during the Holocaust and said, “Jews throughout the world and in Israel, remember with emotion and appreciation the efforts of the Danish people to save Jews during the Holocaust.”
Ambassador Slente thanked the President and responded, “"My family and I have been very impressed by the dynamic, entrepreneurial society in Israel, and thanks to this you have been able to create what Israel is today in such a short period of time.” Speaking of the rescue of Jews by Denmark during the Holocaust, she said, “It is a part of our history we are proud of. Next year is 75 and we look forward to marking this together. We are very proud that we managed to bring a little light in the dark.” She added, “I congratulate you on your personal efforts to promote coexistence and I am sure we can work together well.”
Ambassador of the EU, H.E. Mr. Emanuele Giaufret then arrived to present his credentials, accompanied also by his wife and their three young children. The President raised Israel’s concerns about Iran’s infiltration into the region its attempts to establish itself on the Mediterranean coast on its way to Europe. The President added, “The Iranians reject the very existence of Israel and openly support terrorism, Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the terror organizations in Yemen.” The President added, “Europe wants to reach an understanding with the Iranian people, and we are also interested in such an understanding. But the Iranian people are now led by a Shi’ite leadership that promotes religion over the needs of its people. The Iranian problem is not related to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and it is impossible to tie things together.”
Ambassador Giaufret thanked the President for his welcome and said, “For me personally, I am very happy to return to the country in which I enjoyed my service in the past. Europe and Israel have intense and good trade relations, we are working to find new understandings for the future, in the fields of energy, and Israel is contributing greatly to this, and also Israeli tourism to Europe is growing. I agree that from time to time we have differences of opinion, as is the case among friends, but we share fundamental values. The struggle against anti-Semitism is a necessary struggle. We cannot accept anti-Semitism and will fight it every day and wherever it raises its head.”
Finally, Ambassador of Nigeria H.E. Mr. Enoch Pear Duchi presented his credentials to the President. The President welcomed him and his family and said, “I’m looking forward, knowing that everyone one of us would like to have even better relationships between our peoples and our governments. Africa is the future.” He added, “We have so much together, so many challenges that we can face together. We have experience when it coined to health, agriculture, water, and security.” The President expressed his hope that Nigeria would support Israel to regain its observer status at the African Union.
Noting the history of Israel-Nigerian relations, Ambassador Duchi said, “Our relations have remained cordial and have greatly increased our level of interactions. Nigeria has benefited from Israeli expertise in security, the fight against terrorism, education, agriculture, and more besides.”
He added, “I will work toward strengthening the bilateral relations for the benefit of both our peoples.”
Following his meetings with the Ambassadors, President Rivlin then held a working meeting with Foreign Minister of Romania, Teodor Meleșcanu, who was visiting Israel. The President welcomed the Foreign Minister and praised the relationship between the two peoples and the two governments. He said, "When we sometimes have difficulties explaining things to others in Europe, you stand behind us and we thank you for this very much.” On the issue of the conflict with the Palestinians the President reiterated, “We have to find a way to change the atmosphere and build confidence. We are trying to find a way to let them understand that we can live together and there is no other way than to live together.” The President stressed Israel’s concern that Iran continued to support global terror, “We are bothered by Iran's ability to hold nuclear weapons but on the other hand we are concerned by the idea that they are supporting terror, not just with Hamas and Hezbollah, but also in Yemen.”
The Foreign Minister thanked the President for his welcome and spoke of the importance he attached to the need to combat anti-Semitism, “We have come here from Yad Vashem, and I am saying that anyone who has a problem with the history should visit once to Yad Vashem.” He continued, “We have had some difficult times and periods but finally we have managed to understand what Elie Weisel said that negating the Holocaust is not only dangerous, it is offensive.” He noted Romania’s important role in the formulation and adoption of the Working Definition of anti-Semitism during the country’s presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), and noted, “This had a great impact on our society”.
The two went on to hold a wide discussion on regional developments, and ways to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
Photo Credit Mark Neymann / GPO
- Written by Steven Aiello
On Monday evening October 2, Tel Aviv’s Sheraton Hotel transported guests to east Asia, as the Taipei Cultural and Economic Office celebrated the 106th National Day of the Republic of China (Taiwan). With an exhibition of works by Taiwanese-Israeli oil painter Ben Wang, and musical performers and cuisine to match the occasion, the festive scene brought Taiwan to Tel Aviv for one night of celebration.
The evening opened with the playing of both Taiwan and Israel’s national anthems. For each, an elaborate video backdrop showed moving symbols and motifs of Israel and Taiwan. After the playing of the anthems, Nico Lin performed the Tamborine Dance, with the song “Shaken, not Stern.”
Representative of Taiwan in Israel H.E. Mr. Yun-Sheng Chi greeted the guests, welcoming everyone to the celebration. Mr. Chi emphasized that as the oldest democracy in Asia, despite the many trials and tribulations of the past century, “the pursuit of democracy and freedom has never died or halted.” He noted that last year a female President, Dr. Tsai Ing-Wen, had been elected for the first time in Taiwan’s history. Mr. Chi also mentioned the stellar ranking of Taiwan by impartial observers like Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders.
Moving to the Israel-Taiwan relationship, Mr. Chi listed parliamentary visits, twinned sisters, and the numerous high-tech and start-up partnership connecting Israeli and Taiwanese innovation and financing as evidence of the strength of bilateral relations. He also mentioned a recent joint effort with El Al Airlines to bring Israeli journalists to Taiwan, Taiwanese youth volunteering in Israel, the Taiwan-Israel Medical Conference to be held in December, and the nearly $1.6 billion in trade between the two nations as signs that Israeli-Taiwanese cooperation was still growing. In closing, Chi offered a toast to the peace and prosperity of the two nations, and to everlasting friendship.
Nava Boker, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, spoke on behalf of the government. She talked of the economic and technological revolutions bringing improvements to the world, and of how both Israel and Taiwan were poised to be leaders in this change via agriculture, medicine, hitech, cyberspace, and other scientic innovations. Boker mentioned how impressed she was on a recent visit to Taiwan, when she led a parliamentary delegation. Boker finished by hoping for future years of collaboration and shared innovative successes.
Lapid Lavi spoke on behalf of Dr. Nachman Shai, the Chairman of the Israel-Taiwan Friendship group. He mentioned the trust and wide-ranging cooperation and thanked Representative Chi for his work to bring the two nations closer together.
Following the speeches, guests were delighted to enjoy a special musical performance featuring traditional Chinese drummers. A giant cake was then cut, and guests were able to wander around the hall, sampling the various dishes. All of the food had been specially prepared in a joint effort between the Cultural and Economic Office and the Sheraton. A special chef, Xiu-Ling Skoropa, was flown in to work with the hotel staff in preparing traditional dishes that would be up to Taiwanese standards, allowing guests a taste of what a visit to Taiwan might be like. The results were excellent, and Chinese, Israeli, and other international guests all benefitted from this latest example of Israeli-Taiwanese cooperation.
In addition at this prestigious event were numerous Knesset members, including several who had been on the parliamentary delegation to Taiwan; Israeli Nobel laureate in Chemistry Professor Dan Schechtman; former deputy Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Asia section) Zvi Gabai; El Al Deputy Director of International Relations Stanley Morais, and Israeli theatrical Director Howard Ripp.
Diplomacy.co.il wishes the Taipei Cultural and Economic Office and all those celebrating a happy and blessed 106th Anniversary celebration!
Photos Silvia Golan
Founder, Debate for Peace