The birthday of the emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito, was celebrated in splendid fashion in Herzliya, in an extravagant celebration held in the home of Ambassador Koji Tomita and his wife Norika. Live music, dance, authentic cuisine, and guest celebrities all enhanced the remarkable party.


The evening featured a variety of Japanese dishes prepared by restaurants in Israel which have been certified by the Japanese embassy as using authentic imported Japanese products. Japanese and Israeli musicians, including the Taiko Life musical group, put on a spectacular performance.


The evening was educational as well--tables provided information about the technological innovations and successes of Japanese industry, in particular companies which cooperate with Israeli companies. Other tables featured information on touring Japan or preparing traditional Japanese dishes. There was also a section devoted to Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul based in Lithuania who saved thousands of Jewish lives during World War II by issuing travel visas.


Following the national anthems, Ambassador Tomita welcomed the guests. He mentioned the great suceesses in bilateral cooperation over the last year, position 2017 as a “watershed year” in Israeli-Japanese relations, with six Israeli ministers visiting Japan, and three Japanese ministers visiting Israel. He also cited the business cooperation, punctuated by Mitsubishi’s acquisition of Israeli firm NeuroDerm for more than a billion dollars, and a rise in tourism, with Israeli tourism to Japan increasing by 20%, and Japanese tourism to Israel increasing by 45%.


In closing, the ambassador expressed his hope for peace and stability in the region, commending Israel for success in building a strong democracy despite adversity and calling on it to undertake renewed efforts for peace, pledging Japan’s support in such endeavors.



The Israeli Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Offering congratulations on the festive occasion, Minister Shaked recalled her own visit to Japan earlier in the year, and how she had been smitten with the people, food, and culture of Japan. During the trip she went to the port city of Tusruga, where Jews saved by the heroism of consul Suihara were then greated by the compassion and generoisity of the people of Tusruga.


Minister Shaked praised the strong cooperation between Japan and Israel on a number of fronts, with four billion dollars in trade, and agreements on sports, innovation and technological cooperation recently signed. She called for this to increase in the future, including a wish for direct flights between Tel Aviv and Tokyo, and her hope that her Japanese counterpart, Minister of Justice Uriko Kamikawa, would be able to attend a conference in Israel in the beginning of 2018 on “The Struggle Against Slanderous and Antisemitic Speech on the Internet.” In closing, Minister Shaked wished the emperor a joyous birthday, and the Japanese people peace, security, prosperity and success.




Following the remarks, guests continued to enjoy the authentic Japanese buffet and live music. Among the many distinguished guests were Olympic athletes Ayumi Nakamura (Japanese volleyball player)  and Yarden Gerbi (Israeli judoka), Yehuda Meshi Zahav, the head of the ZAKA emergency response services, Middle East studies professor Dr. Nirit Ofir, and numerous diplomats, business, religious and civil society leaders. wishes Emperor Akihito a happy birthday, and a year of success and prosperity to the Japanese people.

Photo Silvia G. Golan


The Republic of Kazakhstan held a gala evening on December 5, 2017, to mark the occasion of 26 years of the country’s independence at the beautiful residence of the Kazakh Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Mr. Doulat Kuanyeshev and his wife Gulmira. The evening was attended by Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver representing the State of Israel.



President Reuven Rivlin this Wednesday ,  29 November 2017 , at a ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, received the diplomatic credentials of the new Ambassadors to Israel, from Sweden, Portugal, Uruguay, and the Vatican. Each ceremony began with the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem of the visiting country, and - after the presentation of the credentials - the signing of the guest book, before the playing of Israel's national anthem 'Hatikva'.

First to present his credentials was Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Mr. Mangus Hellgren. The President welcomed him to Israel, and said, he appreciated greatly the Ambassador’s experience and knowledge of the region. He said, “We in Israel admire the welfare system of Sweden, this is a model of a country's ability to care for its citizens, and to grow and prosper economically. In the relationship between our countries, we have of course experienced ups and downs, but we have always remained strong friends. I very much hope that during your term here we will be able to strengthen this relationship even further – both in the political sphere and in our bilateral trade and other cooperation between our peoples.” The President stressed that while Israel was prepared to accept criticism, he warned of the dangers of boycotts and politically motivated unilateral moves.

The President also thanked the Ambassador for his government’s commitment to the fight against anti-Semitism, and urged the Swedish Government to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in its entirety.

Ambassador Hellgren thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, “It is a great honor to be received here by you today. It is an historic day, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UN resolution which set in motion the process that led to the establishment of Israel.” He noted, “Sweden was a strong supporter of the idea of creating two states in this region, with a Jewish state for the Jewish people. Our commitment to the two state solution has been steadfast ever since. We have had differences of opinion but that has not stopped us from being a good friend of Israel. We are definitely not supporting any idea of boycotting Israel. We want to see more trade with Israel, not less.” The Ambassador stressed that the Swedish Government was committed to Holocaust remembrance and education, especially to ensure that the younger generation understood the dangers of hatred, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism.



Next to arrive was Ambassador of Portugal H.E. Mr. Joao Bernardo De Oliveira Martins Wienstein. The President welcomed him and said, “For the Jewish people, the Iberian Peninsula is not only a place, it is an idea. It is the wisdom, and the philosophy of the Jewish people, so much of which grew and developed there. We are very proud of being part of the Peninsula for many centuries.” The President spoke of the warm relations between the two countries adding that more could be done to strengthen and deepen existing cooperation in many areas between the two countries. The President concluded by saying that he was looking forward to the opportunity to host the President of Portugal, who was due to visit Israel in 2018.

Ambassador Wienstein thanked the President, and said, “We are so delighted that so many Israelis are coming to Portugal, visiting Portugal, and enjoying Portugal.” He stressed, “There are lots of alliances between our educational institutions, and I want to increase the number of cooperation activities between our universities, and our students.”




The President then received the diplomatic credentials of Ambassador of Uruguay, H.E. Mr. Bernardo Greiver, who was beginning his second term as Ambassador to Israel having previously served in the post 2009-15. The President welcomed him back to Israel and said, “We know all you have done for Israel, and how you have supported Israel over the years, and we are looking forward to your return.”

The President added, “You are here on a very special day,” and noted the important role played by Uruguay’s Ambassador to the UN during the vote on Resolution 181 which had been adopted 70 years earlier. “We cannot forget the unique Uruguayan Ambassador to the UN in 1947, Ambassador Fabregat, and I know that your former President is here today to receive the Jerusalem Prize along with Ambassador Fabregat’s son, at a time when we are celebrating the decision of the United Nations to recognize the need and the moral right of the Jewish People to return back to our homeland.” The President also spoke of the close relationship between the two peoples and noted that the President of Uruguay held a post-doctorate degree from the Weizmann Institute.

Ambassador Greiver thanked the President and noted, “Today is a symbolic day, seventy years ago Uruguay did not just vote for the resolution, the Uruguayan permanent representative to the UN was the one who drafted the resolution that was approved.” He spoke of the long history of diplomatic relations between Israel and Uruguay, and of the current cooperation, in particular the free trade agreement through the Southern Common Market (Mercosur).

The Ambassador expressed his hope that the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would be renewed. The President replied that the Palestinians still denied Israel's right to exist and that the trust between the sides should be restored.



The President then welcomed the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli who presented his diplomatic credentials on behalf of the Vatican. He said to him, “This is the land, and this is the city where it all began. We know this city is holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims - it became a political issue but this is the city of God.” The President stressed his appreciation for the Pope’s efforts and commitment to build understanding between different faiths. “There is only one God, and everyone worships Him according to their traditions, but we have to respect each other because we are all children of God. I had the honor to visit the Pope in the Vatican. We spoke of the efforts to bring cooperation between the different communities in the Holy Land, and of Israel’s efforts to develop the Land of Monasteries on the banks of the Jordan River to allow for more pilgrims to visit from around the world.” He added, “We are doing everything in Jerusalem to allow everyone to worship God according to their belief.”

The Archbishop thanked the President and said, “I take this opportunity to convey to you Mr. President, the greetings and the blessings of the Holy Father. Pope Francis has the Holy Land in his heart, he is very close to the people.” He added, “The Pope wishes to stress the importance of dialogue, of tolerance, of mutual understanding. Through dialogue we really can achieve peace and security.”

The President invited the Pope to visit Israel as part of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State and said, “The Pope has a message for all people all over the world. He is doing much in the fight against anti-Semitism.”

Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)





There could be no doubt that the dress code recommendation on the formal invitation: “Business Attire” or “National Dress” was being taken seriously. Entering the Grand Ballroom at Tel Aviv’s Hilton Hotel on Tuesday, walking the red carpet to the reception line headed by her Excellency Penprapa Vongkovit, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to the State of Israel; this was to be a grand event.


On Monday evening November 27, the Romanian Embassy in Tel Aviv hosted its annual Unification Celebration at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, with the attendance of diplomats, business leaders, and Romanian expatriates and friends. This year’s celebration was particularly noteworthy, as it ushers in the 100th year since the unification of Romania in 1918.


To open the evening, singer Monica Schwartz performed both the Romanian and Israeli anthems. Mr. Ovidiu Ierulescu, the Charge d’affaires of the Romanian embassy welcomed the guests, and noted the evening’s themes of tolerance and mutual respect. Mr. Ierulescu discussed Romania’s commitment to rule of law and playing a positive rule in the international system, including participation in the United Nations, European Union, NATO, and other organizations.


Mr. Ierulescu also mentioned the contributions of Romania expatriates around the world. In Israel, he noted that Romanian immigrants constituted one of the more significant groups of Jewish immigrants to the state, with an even disproportionately larger impact, including founding the cities of Rosh Pina and Zichron Yaakov.


Moving to more recent history, Ierulesco cited recent high-level visits from the Prime Minister and foreign minister of Romania to Israel, as well as corresponding visits by Israeli leaders to Romania, as evidence of the strong Israel-Romania relationship.


Ambassador Meron Reuven, chief of protocol for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke on behalf of the Israeli government, and in particular in place of Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis, and Knesset member Yossi Yona. Reuven noted that Romania’s centennial coincided with the 70 year anniversary of Israel-Romania diplomatic relations, pointing out that Romania was the only Soviet linked country to maintain relations with Israel from its inception.


Reuven stressed the importance of Romanian immigrants in Israel in serving as bridges between the two countries, which he said enjoyed a special relationship of friendship. Among the many areas of cooperation between the two countries, Reuven cited security, academia, trade, agriculture, investment, and culture as some of the areas in which the two countries have partnered together.



In keeping with the theme of cultural bridges, Monica Schwartz was then called back to the stage to continue performing traditional Romania songs and music. In addition to the catered dinner, guests were encouraged to try some of the original Romanian wines served special for the occasion. In addition to the various diplomats and official representatives, guests included Anat Kaufman, Projects Director for the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel, and Stephen Abrahams, from the Ministry of National Infrastructures Energy and Water Resources. wishes congratulations to the Embassy of Romania in Tel Aviv on the occasion of their national unification day.


Photos provided by Romanian Embassy in Tel Aviv  and by Steven Aiello
Steven Aiello