- 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 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 Silvia G Golan
The Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borissov, visited Israel last week, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and participated in the dedication of a monument in Tel Aviv. The monument commemorates the saving of Bulgaria’s Jewish community during World War II, when a public awareness campaign by opposition politicians, church leaders, Bulgaria’s Jewish community, and Bulgarian civilians succeeded in thwarting Nazi plans to deport Bulgaria’s Jews.
On Wednesday, September 5 the two prime ministers met at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. Netanyahu spoke of the relationship between the two countries “we are not only personal friends, but there’s a special friendship between the people of Bulgaria and the people of Israel.” Netanyahu added the intent to increase cooperation in a variety of fields: cyber technology, health, water, etc., along with a general cooperation in promoting a better future for both peoples.
At the culminating event Wednesday evening, a ceremony was held in Tel Aviv’s Charles Clore Park. Bulgarian Jews, friends, and supporters of both nations, and journalists filled a tent at the by invitation event, listening to speeches and awaiting the unveiling of a monument of gratitude for the rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews.
The evening began with the entrance of both prime ministers, and Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai. The Tsadikov Orchestra sang the national anthems of both countries. Mayor Huldai spoke about the twin city relationship between Sofia and Tel Aviv. He then read from personal testimonies of Jews who were saved in Bulgaria about their kind treatment at the hands of neighbors, while acknowledging the Jews who were deported from Thrace and Macedonia and perished in Nazi concentration camps. Huldai finished by noting the contribution of Bulgarian Jews to the development of Tel Aviv and sending warm regards on behalf of all of the residents of Tel Aviv-Jaffa.
Itzhak Lipovetzky and Itzhaq Inov, from the Israel-Bulgaria Friendship association, spoke about the importance of preserving close ties between Bulgaria and Israel, as well as the knowledge of Bulgarian Jewish history. Lipovetzky, who spoke in Bulgarian as well, described the long journey to bring the monument to Tel Aviv, along with a matching one in Sofia, that he began in 2011 while visiting Bulgaria.
In a moving experience, a first generation Israeli-Bulgarian spoke next, followed by two forth generation Israelis of Bulgarian descent. Adel and Emanuelle, students at the Bulgarian school in Jaffa, recited a poem in Bulgarian and received a standing ovation.
Prime Minister Borisov addressed the crowd next, speaking in Bulgarian. After a musical interlude, the two prime ministers, along with mayor Huldai, removed the cover of the monument.
Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke last, stating that the experience during the Holocaust throughout Europe showed how the Jews were unprotected, and the need for a strong state to protect Jews. He quoted the Nazi representative in Sofia during World War II, who said that the Bulgarian people weren’t prepared to collaborate with the extermination of Jews, stating that this was the greatest compliment that one could give.
Among the distinguished guests at the event were Bulgarian Ambassador Dimitar Mihaylov and his wife Nora Mihaylov; Israeli ambassador to Bulgaria, Mrs. Irit Lilian; Ambassador Meron Reuben, chief of state protocol in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Professor Todor Chobanov, Deputy Mayor of Sofia; Mr. Moni Bar, Honorary Consul of Bulgaria; Menache Ragiv , aviation industry representative, who works with governments around the world , Shelly Hoshen, who was born in Bulgaria herself, and is President and founder of Yad B'Yad, a non-profit which helps underprivileged youth, and Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad B’Yad; Gueorg Gueorguiev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and National Coordinator of Combating Anti- Semitism in Bulgaria; Itzhak Lipovetzky, President of the Israel-Bulgaria Friendship association, and Eitan Schwarz, CEO of Tel Aviv Global for the Tel Aviv municipality.
Photos by Silvia G Golan
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- 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.
- Written by Buzzy Gordon
The embassy of Uruguay in Israel held a reception and private movie screening in Tel Aviv on August 28, marking the 193rd anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence.
The event, hosted by Ambassador H.E. Bernardo Greiver del Hoyo and his wife Mrs. Karen Burcatovsky was attended by members of the diplomatic community and citizens of Uruguay,
as well as of many other Latin American countries, currently residing in Israel
Representing the state of Israel on the occasion was Minister of Communications Ayoub Kara.
The formal program of the evening began with the playing of the national anthems of Uruguay and Israel, followed by the reading of a message from Uruguay 's Minister of
Foreign affairs Mr. Rodolfo Nin Novoa, by Uruguayan Consul in Israel Giancarlo Ghibaudi.
In this opening remarks to the gathering, Ambassador Greiver welcomed Minister Kara and thanked the Tel Aviv Cinematheque for hosting the evening’s event, noting that Uruguay likes to celebrate its independence through the arts.
Ambassador Greiver also observed that Uruguay and Israel have enjoyed 70 years of warm diplomatic relations and extended greetings to Mrs. Sapir Efron, the new consul of Israel in Uruguay.
In his message of greetings, Minister Kara noted that Uruguay has been a friend of the Jewish people since before the founding of the state of Israel, by aiding in the rescue of refugees from Nazi Germany. He also saluted Ambassador Greiver for returning to this country to serve a second term as Uruguay’s envoy to Israel.
The evening, which had begun with a buffet reception, concluded with the screening of the award-winning Uruguayan movie Mr. Kaplan, a film by Alvaro Brechner.
The entire team at www.diplomacy.co.il wishes the ambassador and people of Uruguay a happy independence day.
Photos provided by the Embassy of Uruguay