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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





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



A spring Monday evening at the home of South African ambassador to Israel, H.E. Sisa Ngombane and Mrs. Thathanyana Ngombane. The gracious hosts held a reception in honor of a group of South African journalists who are on a “discovery” trip to Israel, under the auspices of the South Africa-Israel Forum.


Gracing the event was the doyen of the Israeli diplomatic corps, H.E. Henri Etoundi Essomba, ambassador to Israel of Cameroon. Also present was the ambassador of the European Union H.E Lars Faaborg-Andersen and ambassadors and diplomatic staff of several other countries.


In his warm welcome address to the gathering, Ambassador Ngombane spoke of how careful one must be in Israel (or anywhere for that matter) to avoid a diplomatic faux pas by saying the perceived wrong things. He successfully avoided any clangers and made the guests feel right at home.


The South African journalists, from a range of news media there, are in Israel for just five days. According to Dan Brotman, executive director of the South Africa-Israel Forum, the group will see Israel “warts and all”. The Forum brings groups from South Africa from a range of backgrounds, with the defined intention of inviting them to examine the country at a grassroots level.

Among the Israeli guests were Steve Linde, Editor-in-Chief of the Jerusalem Post; Hagay El-Ad, Executive Director of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, Raphael Ahren, senior writer at the Times of Israel, and Marcelle Sheiman, chairperson of the South Africa-Israel Chamber of Commerce.


First Secretary of the South African diplomatic mission, Mr. Freddie Jordaan was on hand at all times to make sure the event was a diplomatic success in every sense of the word. Having wonderful South African wines on hand to accompany the elegant meal was a perfect supplement to what proved to be an interesting and productive evening.

Thank you Ambassador and Mrs. Ngombane.



Photo  by  Dave Kaplan from Telfed 



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





Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

Nowruz is Persian for"[The] New Day" and is the name of the Iranian New Year or the Persian New Year. It marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendarNowruz is celebrated and observed by Iranian people and their various religious groups


A few days ago, I joined members of the Baha'i faith, one of these groups, at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, to celebrate it.

I doubt there is anyone that has ever visited Israel that has not been to visit and see the spectacular  beauty of the Baha'i gardens in Haifa and Akko. This site serves as the Bahá'í World Center which is much the result of a successive number of persecutions and imprisonments of Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith who was banished from Persia by Nasser-al-Din Shahin 1853, 


It is not only their contributions to the Israeli landscape, however, that connect Israel to the Baha'i Faith. A close examination of its principles reveals a common link between them and those of the State of Israel. They both share the understanding that "human rights must be applied irrespective of differences of racial background, ethnic origin, religious belief or national identity." All one had to do in order to grasp the truism of this principle was to look around the reception hall. There were members of every creed, every race, nationality and religious entity among the participants.

After the warm welcome at the entrance by the leaders of the community, the guests were invited to enjoy the abundance of delicacies and the traditional symbolic foods associated with the special day, all nicely displayed on the tables across the reception hall.


Following the reading of President Shimon Peres festive greetings to the Baha'i community, Secretary General, Joshua Lincoln delivered his welcoming speech. He shared with the guests the Baha'i's global activities and goals for the coming year. He specifically stressed the role of the Baha'I youth in their various projects of volunteering activities.  Ami Palmor, Director General of the Ministry of Justice of the State of Israel spoke last. She described the special relationship that has evolved between the Baha'i community and the Ministry.


Finally, in line with the Baha'i faith's emphasis on the role of youth to serve humanity in shaping the future of our world, a group of young boys and girls performed the late Arik Einstein's song, "Ata V'Ani Neshaneh et Haolam," (You and I will change the world).


 This New Spring Season, we wish our Baha'i friends – and all of mankind  - a year full of Hope, Celebrations, Productivity and great Collaborations in our efforts to make this world a better place for all.


Photos Silvia Golan