International graffiti artist and actor, Corin Nemec, (star of the series "Parker Lewis Can't Lose") came to support Israel and painted today (Sunday) a giant graffiti wall for peace, centered on a portrait of the late Ninth President of Israel, Shimon Peres, at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. Nemec came to Israel as part of a delegation through the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa Ron Huldai led a group of children – participants in Peres Center programs – in adding to the graffiti performance art, which will be displayed around the world at a time when international graffiti artists are using art to criticize Israel.
Nemec said: "I am honored to be here, in Tel Aviv, which is one of my favorite cities in the world, and at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. I believe that children and adults can come together through art and bridge geographic and cultural divides. I am happy to see children from all backgrounds and cultures here at the Peres Center, creating exciting friendships and working together." Nemec said that he "stands by Israel, in the real world and on social media".
The mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Ron Huldai, said: "Today we are at the home of the man who dreamed non-stop to bring peace – the late Shimon Peres. I am glad that I had the opportunity to take part in this project, which creates an opportunity for people and children to come together, connect, and build peace in our region".
Nemec's visit to Israel was designed to send a message of peace, shared-living and tolerance within Israel and to the world. Just two weeks ago popular British activist and street artist "Banksy" opened a new hotel in Bethlehem near the separation fence, referred to as "the hotel with the worst view in the world".
In April this year the Dept. of State of the USA appointed its first ever “Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons”, Mr. Randy W. Berry. Last Friday morning the American Ambassador to Israel, his Excellency Dan Shapiro with his wife Ms. Julie Fisher hosted Mr. Berry at a unique gathering of the movers and shakers of the Israeli lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBTI) at the ambassadorial residence in Herzlia Pituach.
Attendees also included his Excellency Ambassador David Quarrey of the British Embassy (with his partner Mr. Aldo Henriquez), his Excellency Ambassador Werner Romero of the Embassy of El Salvador (with his partner Mr. Roger Atwood), MK. Aliza Lavi (Yesh Atid) and MK Sharren Haskel (Likud), representatives of the US Embassy, representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (including Elad Strohmayer, former Deputy Consul at the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia, where he married his partner Mr. Oren Ben Yosef at a ceremony conducted by the Mayor of Philadelphia), and representatives of various foreign embassies in Israel.
Ambassador Shapiro welcomed the gathering, mentioning that not only is gender equality a stated policy of the present US administration, but also something that he and his wife personally see as crucially important in achieving mutual understanding and tolerance for all communities. “Everyone is equal under the law”, he said, which is why the recent United States Supreme Court ruling that single sex marriages are now legal state-wide in the USA is so important.
This is not the first time that the distinguished American Ambassador and Ms. Fisher have reached out to the Israeli LGBTI community – and to other diplomats in Israel. Their actions speak much louder than any words on human rights, gender equality, civil rights and inclusion could. Their fine example has been followed by several other diplomats, and the staff at www.diplomacy.co.il salutes their efforts.
Mr. Berry’s words to the audience were electrifying. He spoke briefly of his personal interests (he is married and has two children and wants them to grow up in a better world) and then voiced the State Department’s aims and purpose in creating his position.
“When the United States Declaration of Independence stated that ‘All men are created equal’, that did not include people of color, it did not include women, and it did not include the LGBTI community. The USA has dared to redefine ‘equal’ and the change has been extraordinary.” Mr. Berry pointed out that the previous American military policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was discarded for a more inclusive one only in 1998 (long after Israel’s equality in the military policy). “LGBTI equality are not ‘boutique’ rights, but are at the core of human rights issues”, he said. In his position of Special Envoy he mentioned his efforts to spur US businesses to spread their equality policies internationally, wherever they operate, and to encourage public support for the minorities there, Also his efforts facing, in his words, “communities of faith” (he had arrived in Israel directly after his talks at the Holy See in Rome) to open dialog – essential in the battle to change negative opinions.
After an interesting exchange of ideas with the audience in a questions-and-answers session, a rich buffet offered the opportunity for the guest to mingle and chat.
It’s very clear: USA policy is leading the way to gender equality worldwide.
Together with the people of Germany, we will mark a long journey - a journey which has brought us from the unforgettable horrors of the past, to the shared values of the present, and with cooperation and friendship, will lead us to a promising future.
Israel and Germany mark 50 years of diplomatic relations
President of Israel Reuven Rivlin will on Sunday evening (10 May) depart for a state visit of Germany at the invitation of German President Joachim Gauck, to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany.
As preparations for the visit drew to a close, President Rivlin said, "My visit to Germany is for me both emotional and deeply significant. Together with the people of Germany, we will mark a long journey - a journey which has brought us from the unforgettable horrors of the past, to the shared values of the present, and with cooperation and friendship, will lead us to a promising future.
I have no doubt that my meetings with the German President, Chancellor, and senior government officials will help deepen the cooperation between our two peoples and governments. It is important to remember that our friendship is in no way compensation for the Holocaust. It is built on a basis of shared values, after Germany accepted upon itself responsibility for that dark period. Today, we are thriving, with the values of democracy and freedom of expression, having been able to learn the lessons of the past."
Relations between Israel and Germany were established gradually, and began with the signing of the Reparations Agreement in 1952. After the development of relations on an economic level, political relations were officially established between West Germany and Israel in 1965. Over the years there has been a significant strengthening of bilateral relations between the countries, and the forging of close cooperation in the political, security, economic, and cultural fields.
During the course of the visit, President Rivlin will deliver a special address marking the jubilee of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany; meet with President Joachim Gauck, Chancellor Angela Merke, President (Speaker) of the Bundestag Norbert Lammert, and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier; and lay a wreath at the Platform 17 memorial to the Jews of Berlin murdered in the Holocaust. He will be the guest of honor at a celebratory concert of the Berlin Philharmonic, meet with young Israelis and Germans involved in partnership projects, and meet with German students at Kiel University. President Rivlin will also meet with participants of the German-Israeli Future Forum Foundation, and hear from them about different ways to conserve and strengthen bilateral relations, and examine the history of relations between the two countries.
President Peres and the Foreign Minister of China, Mr. Wang Yi held a diplomatic work meeting and delivered joint statements
President Peres: "Israel faces not only grave threats but also great opportunities. The threat of a nuclear Iran must be met. The chance for peace must not be ignored."
"China, as a key player in the global arena can play a crucial role in the effort to prevent a nuclear Iran"
Foreign Minister Wang Yi: "What is important now is for all the parties concerned, Iran included, to fully comply with their respective obligations and responsibilities"
"Peace needs to be won with hard work"
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Wang Yi, met today at the President's Residence in Jerusalem and delivered joint statements to the press. During the meeting they discussed the Iranian nuclear threat, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and the strengthening of strategic relations between Israel and China. President Peres began the statements by welcoming his guest and said, "It is a pleasure and a privilege to have you here in Jerusalem. I thank you for the productive exchange we just had. Your visit here today represents the growing and strengthening relations between our two countries."
President Peres addressed the threat of a nuclear Iran and said, "Israel faces not only grave threats but also great opportunities. The threat of a nuclear Iran must be met. The chance for peace must not be ignored. Peace is the greatest chance, Iran the gravest problem. The world, in which China is a major player, should help the Iranian people to divorce themselves from the policies of threats and hostilities to prevent her from acquiring nuclear capability and serving as a center of terror. We prefer the diplomatic solution rather than military means. A united stand of the global community can bring peace and stability and relieve all of us from the dark clouds of terror and destruction. We must maintain the diplomatic pressure; ensure the sanctions regime remains effective to force Iran to comply with the inspections and limitations which the international community demands from them. We do not view the Iranian people as our enemy, our enemies are the policies and ideology driving the current Iranian regime."
President Peres also addressed the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and said, "While the efforts to prevent Iran from realizing its nuclear ambitions are at a crucial junction we also stand at a crossroads in the effort for peace. Peace is our greatest desire. We appreciate China's constructive support in the efforts to bring peace between us and the Palestinians, to bring peace to the Middle East and we thank you for it. As President Xi outlined in his address, two states must be the basis for the solution and can only be reached by negotiations between the two sides. Those negotiations are ongoing and the conclusion is agreed already. We must navigate the path to a successful conclusion. It is Israel and the Palestinians who must walk that path directly while enjoying the support of the international community. Your visit here and your clear support for peace strengthens those working for a peaceful solution. The people of Israel want peace, we want to live as good neighbors with the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world."
Foreign Minister Wang Yi addressed the Iranian nuclear threat and said, "We talked about Iran and I told Mr. President that with joint efforts of the various parties, the P5+1 and Iran reached an important, also preliminary, agreement marking the first step towards the settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue. What is important now is for all the parties concerned, Iran included, to fully comply with their respective obligations and responsibilities prescribed in this deal and for all the parties to work together to uphold the international non-proliferation regime and for promoting peace in the Middle East region."
Foreign Minister Wang Yi reflected on President Peres' words on the peace process and said, "Just now he mentioned that the peace process in the Middle East has come to a crossroads and he shared with me his strong desire for peace in the Middle East and for peace between Israel and Palestine. We strongly support your desire for peace. Mr. President told us through his own experiences that peace needs to be made through taking initiative, it will not happen on its own." The Chinese Foreign Minister added that, "Peace needs to be won with hard work, rather than waiting, it won't happen on its own. I told the president that before I came here I went to the top of the Mount of Olives and saw the Old City. In these two kilometers I saw that it is home to a large number of holy sites of civilizations and religions. We hope and believe that the various religions and civilizations will be able to integrate rather than clash, learn from and exchange with each other rather than live in mutual estrangement. We believe this day will eventually come."
French President Francois Hollande will, on Sunday, 17 November 2013, arrive in Israel, together with his partner Valerie Trierweiler, on his first visit to Israel as President of France.
French President Hollande will be welcomed at Ben-Gurion International Airport in full ceremony. From there, he will proceed to a reception at President Shimon Peres' Jerusalem residence. Afterwards, he will continue to Mt. Herzl and Yad Vashem.
In the evening, he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two men will hold a joint press conference and sign bilateral cooperation agreements. The Prime Minister and his wife Sara will then host President Hollande and Miss Trierweiler for dinner at the Prime Minister's official Jerusalem residence.
On Monday morning, President Hollande will visit the Church of St. Anne in the Old City of Jerusalem, from which he will proceed to the Palestinian Authority. In the afternoon, he will address a special session of the Knesset plenum, to be followed by a state dinner at President Peres' Jerusalem residence. Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife will also attend the dinner.
On Tuesday morning, President Hollande will lay a stone on the graves of the victims of the March 2012 terrorist attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse. From there, he will go to an economic event on Israeli innovation that was created especially for him. After the event, the French President will meet with members of the French community in Israel at Tel Aviv University, which will mark the conclusion of his visit.
During the visit, Prime Minister Netanyahu and French President Hollande will sign a joint statement that expresses the continued growth of bilateral relations, the determination to continue and deepen cooperation in many areas of strategic importance, and the strengthening of economic, scientific, educational and cultural ties between the two countries.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "The French President is a close friend of the State of Israel and I look forward to hosting him and his partner in Israel, especially at this time when the major powers, including France, are discussing ways to halt the Iranian military nuclear program. I am also pleased to host his team and French government ministers, including Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is taking an active and important part in the current talks by the major powers. Together we will work to advance and deepen bilateral strategic and economic relations."
Over 40 Friends, donors and members of staff from JNF Canada took part in a mission to Israel during which they deepened their connection with the country and acquired first-hand knowledge of KKL-JNF projects throughout the country. Lake Hula, the Northern Research and Development Station, the IDF training bases in the Negev, “secure roads” in the south, Beersheba River Park, Jerusalem’s Teddy Park, an Air Force base in central Israel, Ayalon-Canada Park, the planting center in Nachshon Forest – these are just a few of the sites visited by members of the delegation.">For Allan Goldenberg of Montreal, one of the veteran members of the Canadian delegation, this was the sixth time he had visited Israel on a mission like this one. “These missions provide a new and different way to experience Israel every time, and it is thanks to them that we have the opportunity to visit places we’d never see as regular tourists,” he said in explanation of their success. “Israel is a significant part of my life, and it’s very important to me to be involved in what goes on here,” he added. ">
In the course of their tour of Israel, the participants also got the chance to inaugurate a new project – a gate at the entrance to Teddy Park in Jerusalem, which was donated by sistersHelen Zenith and Giezelle Pash of Calgary in memory of their parents Etel and Benjamin Wolf. “A gate like this, which links the eastern and western parts of the city and which will be used by adherents of all religions, is a site that possesses profound symbolic significance,” said Helen Zenith with emotion at the ceremonial unveiling.">
Inauguration of new entrance gate to Teddy Park, donated by Helen Zenith and Giezelle Pash. Photo: Yoav Devir
In honor of Etel and Benjamin Wolf Z"L. Photo: Yoav Devir">">Inside the park itself the delegation members met architect Roi Singer, who was responsible for planning the project, and Jerusalem Foundation representative Nomi Yeshua, both of whom talked to the Canadian guests about the history and development of the site. The park extends over an area of some seven dunam (approx 1.75 acres) and includes a visitors’ center that portrays the building of modern Jerusalem. Stone signs situated along the paths recount milestones in the life of the late Teddy Kollek, the former Jerusalem mayor who gave the park its name. Archeological remains, historic buildings, well tended landscaping, environmental sculptures, an unusual sundial, a wishing well and a marvelous fountain display – all these combine to make the site a real attraction. "> “Teddy Park is an excellent example of the type of work KKL-JNF does, because it links past, present and future,” said Avi Dickstein, Executive Director of KKL-JNF’s Resources, Development and Public Relations Division. “In the past this site was neglected and abandoned, and now it’s beautiful and well cared for. This is precisely the task that KKL-JNF has taken upon itself – building the nation together.”
"I want to express our profound thanks to your people for what they did during the Shoah…we shall never forget it, we consider it a historic act."
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, hosted Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark for a meeting at the President's Residence in Jerusalem. The meeting came on the first day of the visit by the Crown Prince to Israel. The visit centers on the remembrance events to mark 70 years since the saving of the Jews of Denmark.
President Peres welcomed Crown Prince Frederik to Israel and said, "Let me express the appreciation of our people and of myself for your timely visit to our land and to Jerusalem. Denmark is an exemplary country in the world, a state based on peace, social justice and caring for people. I believe that's why you're admired. I want to express our profound thanks to your people for what they did during the Shoah. Among all other countries it was Denmark that made a supreme attempt to save the lives of the Jewish people in your country either by hiding them, defending them or shipping them to Sweden. Most of them were saved and we shall never forget it, we consider it a historic act. I would like to express my personal appreciation for your visit and I hope that the Queen will follow suit; in our days parents are following their children and we shall be delighted to host her here."
Crown Prince Frederik thanked President Peres and said, "Thank you very much Mr. President, I would like to extend my warmest wishes from my parents, Margrethe, Queen of Denmark and my father Prince Consul of Denmark. On a personal note it is fantastic to be in Israel and to visit so far the museum and to witness also the part that tells a positive story during World War II about Danish Jews being shipped and rescued on small boats across from the shores of eastern Denmark to Swedish shores, that was a very bold act of good Danish citizens who came from all walks of life and who did not hesitate to act when it was very necessary. For me this is something personal but today our two countries commemorate this. I will remember this visit for the rest of my life."
"We're very glad to see you here, it's meaningful and is an opportunity to look at this beautiful country with its long past and great future"
Paula Adbul to President Peres:
"I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude to be here, I've wanted to come for years"
"Everyone told me you're so sababa and it's true"
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, met this morning with international singing and dancing star, Paula Abdul who is visiting Israel as a guest of the Ministry of Tourism. President Peres and Paula Abdul met at the beginning of her visit to Israel during which she will tour Israel's sites including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and northern Israel and learn more about Israeli society, fashion, dance, theater and music.
Paula Abdul thanked President Peres for his warm welcome and said, "I'm so overwhelmed with gratitude to be here, I've wanted to come for years. My career took me many places and this is my first vacation in almost eight years that I'm actually here to sight-see like a regular tourist. My family were here and they were crying, overwhelmed with joy that I'm here. It's such an honor, I know already when I have to leave I won't want to." During the meeting Abdul asked to see photos of the president's grandchildren and hear more about life in Israel. She said to President Peres, "Everyone told me you're so sababa and it's true"
President Peres welcomed Paula Abdul to Israel and said, "We're very glad to see you here, it's meaningful and is an opportunity to take a good look at this beautiful country with its long past and great future." President Peres added that he is sure she will feel the warmth and love of the people of Israel, "I am sure that wherever you go you will feel the warmth and love of the people of Israel, you will feel at home here."
“This is a moving day for us all. It’s heartening to see how the State of Israel is growing and flourishing, and we are grateful for having been given the opportunity to share and participate in this.”
“Planting a tree symbolizes that the world has a future and that we all have life,” said the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Peter O’Neill at the planting ceremony in Jerusalem’s Grove of Nations. Prime Minister O’Neill has now joined the august ranks of dozens of leaders from all over the world who have planted olive trees in this special plot in Jerusalem Forest.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his entourage arrived at the Grove of Nations after a visit to the nearby Yad VaShem memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust, which overlooks the planting site. “This is a moving day for us all,” said the visiting prime minister. “It’s heartening to see how the State of Israel is growing and flourishing, and we are grateful for having been given the opportunity to share and participate in this.”
Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister, Defense Minister and Minister of Agriculture were also members of their country’s delegation on this visit to Israel. KKL-JNF’s Board of Directors was represented at the ceremony by Andy Michelson, the organization’s Chief of Protocol, and KKL-JNF representative Jana Marcus presided over the ceremony.
Papua New Guinea PM Peter O'Neill plants a tree together with his partner, the PNG Foreign Minister and Ministers of Defense and Agriculture. Photo: Yoav Devir
PM Peter O'Neill addresses the audience at the Grove of Nations. Photo: Yoav Devir
Andy Michelson exemplified the importance of tree-planting in Jewish tradition by quoting themidrash (commentary) that says: 'If you are busy planting a tree and someone comes and tells you that the Messiah has arrived, you must finish planting before setting out to welcome him."
The flags of KKL-JNF, Papua New Guinea and Israel fly at the Grove of Nations. Photo: Yoav Devir
Mr. Michelson continued by contrasting the horrific scenes on view at Yad VaShem with the optimism and joy communicated by the woodland surroundings of the forest. “When you return to your distant homeland, you will be able to remember that here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, you have left behind something living that will continue to grow and flourish like all the other trees that have been planted here in recent years,” he told his guests.
After the speeches had been concluded, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea read the Planter’s Prayer and the members of the delegation set out together to plant an olive tree. As Prime Minister O’Neill filled in the earth around the newly-planted tree, he invited the delegation members to join him in the task, and after he had watered it he promised to return for another visit to Israel in the future in order to monitor its progress. “In the meantime, it’s a good thing that a representative of our neighbor Australia is here to keep an eye on things and make sure the tree is well looked after,” he said with a smile to Andy Michelson, who immigrated to Israel from Australia many years ago.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea was presented with a certificate of appreciation for having planted an olive tree in the Grove of Nations in the Jerusalem Forest.
The Prime Minister of Malta Dr. Joseph Muscat Plants a Tree in the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem Forest.
For the first time since Malta declared independence in the 1960s, the Prime Minister of Malta, Dr. Joseph Muscat, has come to visit Israel and to plant a tree in the Grove of Nations in the Jerusalem Forest.
“It’s taken us forty-nine years to get here and our tree may well be the youngest of them all, but I have no doubt that it will grow and develop, gaining in size and strength just like the relationship between our two countries,” said Dr. Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta.
The tree-planting ceremony took place in the Jerusalem Forest’s Grove of Nations, where heads of state plant trees as a sign of friendship with Israel and the Jewish people, and as a symbol of world peace. KKL-JNF’s Board of Directors was represented at the ceremony by Andy Michelson, the organization’s Chief of Protocol, who, in his speech, referred to the symbolic role of the olive tree planted by Dr. Muscat: “The olive branch carried by the dove back to Noah’s ark signaled the end of the Biblical flood. Olive branches can likewise be seen on Israel’s national emblem – and, of course, they are also the symbol of peace,” he said. He went on to remind his listeners how important it is to plant trees as a symbol of life, of Jewish tradition and of the connection to the Land of Israel.
Left: Maltese PM Dr. Joseph Muscat plants a tree together with his wife Michelle Muscat. Photo: Yossi Zamir, KKL-JNF Photo Archive. Right: Name plaque next to the PM's olive tree. Photo: Yoav Devir
After the speeches had been concluded, Michelle Muscat, wife of the Maltese Prime Minister, read the Planter’s Prayer and all those present set out to complete their joint task. Andy Michelson began to explain to his guest precisely how the job should be carried out in order to ensure that the tree would take root in the best possible manner, but Dr. Muscat reassured him by telling him with a broad smile: “I come from a farming family, and I’ve planted a good number of trees in my time.” Once he got to work with the hoe, his hosts from KKL-JNF agreed unanimously that he knew exactly what he was doing. “I haven’t come here to have my photo taken, I’ve come to work,” he told the photographers who tried to get him to take a break and smile for the cameras.
Michelle Muscat, wife of the Maltese Prime Minister, reads the Planter’s Prayer. Photo: Yoav Devir
Dr. Muscat’s wife also joined in the planting, as did all members of the entourage who had accompanied the couple on their visit to Israel. At the conclusion of the ceremony, hosts and guests alike gathered to taste some of the fruits of the Holy Land. Andy Michelson told Dr. Muscat briefly of KKL-JNF’s activities and learned from of the Prime Minister about life in Malta.
The visiting prime minister tasted the fruit of the prickly pear cactus (tzabar in Hebrew, often referred in English as sabra). In response to hearing that the sabra with its prickly outside and sweet inside is symbolic of the native-born Israeli, Dr. Muscat said: “One thing’s for sure, that’s much better than someone who’s sweet on the outside and prickly within.”
Before the members of the Maltese delegation continued their tour of Israel, they promised to come back soon and not to wait another forty-nine years before their next visit. Malta is certainly proof that a small country can be a great friend.
KKL-JNF hosted the President of the Czech Republic at a traditional tree planting ceremony in the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem. President Milos Zeman was the 65th head of state to plant an olive tree in this valley below Yad Vashem.