On Monday evening, Lithuanian, Israeli and Jewish influences met, in a unique blend of the classical and the contemporary. Lithuania’s National Day is February 16th, and a diverse group of diplomats and Israeli and Lithuanian guests joined to mark this occasion, and 25 years of diplomatic relations with Israel, with a special musical program at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
The program, which celebrated the 1918 Restoration of the State of Lithuania, brought the special “Window to Lithuania” collaborative music performance to Israel. “Window to Lithuania” brought together some of Lithuania’s greatest chamber music from the last 100 years in a masterful collaborative performance on piano, cello and violin by Dalia Dedinskaite, Gleb Pysniak, and Gintara Janusevious. It was held in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s Asia Auditorium, adjacent to the modern art wing. Unique to the occasion, images from the groundbreaking Lithuanian expatriate art collection were projected onto the backdrop of the stage.
Lithuanian Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Mr. Edminas Bagdonas, opened the evening with a speech that highlighted the historical Jewish influence on Lithuanian culture, politics and society, and contemporary Israeli-Lithuanian relations. He mentioned Simonas Rozenbaumas, Lithuania’s first Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Nachmanas Rachmilevicius, Vice-Minister of Trade and Economy, both Lithuanian Jews buried in Israel, as well as the late Maks Soloveichik, former Minister for Jewish Affairs in Lithuania and later Director of the Tel Aviv bank.
Ambassador Bagdonas also noted the more recent Lithuania-Israel partnerships, and the celebration of 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and the shared values, accomplishments, and academic, commercial and scientific programs binding the two countries. Mr. Bagdonas closed his remarks by connecting the past to the future, recalling the tragic effects of the Holocaust on Lithuanian Jewry, and ending with the call to action “We must never forget.”
Following the ambassador, Mr. David Azulai, the Israeli Minister of Religious Services, addressed the crowd. Mr. Azulai discussed the influence of the Lithuanian Jewish community and its important place in Jewish history. He also mentioned the Lithuanian-Israeli relationship, and the recent statement by presidents Dalia Grybauskaite and Reuven Rivlin on shared values and accomplishments of the Israeli and Lithuanian people.
Nika Zundelovitch, herself the granddaughter of a Jewish Lithuanian artist, performed the national anthems of both nations, before the actual concert opened. The concert included compilations combining the best of Lithuanian classical and contemporary chamber music, from four of the greatest composers. The most emotional part of the evening was when the trio performed “A Chant and a Dance” by Anatolijus Senderovas, and following their masterful rendition, the composer himself joined the group on stage for a warm ovation from the audience.
After the concert, guests enjoyed desserts and drinks in the museum hall. Among the guests were leading members of the Israel-Lithuania Chamber of Commerce, including its chairman, and Director of the Israel Lithuania Technology Hub, Mr. Lennie Judes, and Felix Kipper, the director; Amos Eiran, Honorary Consul of Lithuania; Nitza Raz-Silbiger, Director of the Protocol Department and Rodica Radian-Gordon, Deputy Director General of European Affairs from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ambassadors and other diplomats, and business, commercial and cultural leaders of both countries. All of the guests were left with a newfound appreciation for the unique cultural mix of Israeli, Jewish and Lithuanian artists, and the influence of the historical on the modern.
Steven Aiello is the founder and Director of the Debate for Peace MUN program
Photos Silvia G. Golan
Many people are familiar with the number six million in the context of World War II—the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust. On Wednesday night at the Cinematek theater, guests of the Philippines Embassy in Israel were introduced to a new number—1,300, the number of Jews saved during the war by the Philippines government and people.
The event, timed to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, included a private screening of the documentary “An Open Door: Holocaust Haven in the Philippines” by producer Noel Izon.
The evening opened with refreshments, and introductory remarks by Philippines Ambassador H.E. Mr. Nathaniel Imperial, who is also featured in the film discussing the importance President Manuel Quezon’s courageous decision to save Jewish refugees during World War II. Representatives of Asia-Pacific Desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Director of the AJC Jerusalem Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich also spoke about the importance of saving a human life and the magnitude of the story that needs to be told and retold about Jewish refugees in the Philippines.
Producer Noel Izon addressed the audience next and explained about his own personal connection to the story of Jewish refugees—the Jewish doctor who saved his father’s life a year before he was born, and the Jewish conductor of the Orchestra who introduced Mr. Izon to the world of music.
Following the opening remarks, guests were treated to a private screening of the film. The movie opens chronologically, discussing the rise of anti-Semitism and fascism in Nazi Germany, its effects on Jews, safety in the Philippines, the occupation of the Philippines by Japanese forces, and eventual liberation. Interspersed throughout the film are World War II-era photos and interviews with Holocaust survivors, bringing life and detail to this important story. The main theme of the film is the truly remarkable story of how President Manuel Quezon and the people of the Philippines not only saved more than 1,300 Jewish lives during the Holocaust, but actually planned to take in more than 170,000 Jewish refugees in total, before politics and circumstances prevented those plans from coming to fruition.
The screening was followed by a Q and A session with Mr. Izon, the film-maker, two Holocaust researchers and historians, and one of the survivors featured in the film. The questions ranged from questions about the kinds of Jews who lived in the Philippines, to the role of anti-Semitism in influencing American foreign policy during the war, to how to ensure that a broader audience of Israelis and Filipinos are aware of this important history. Perhaps the most emotional question came at the end of evening, when a young man explained that he himself was descended from Jewish refugees who had survived the war in the Philippines and asked where he and his family could get more information about their own heritage.
Guests at the event included diplomats, religious leaders, like Mr. Kern Wisman, representative of the Bahai community in Israel, historians like Professor Emeritus of Jewish History Dr. Robert Rockaway, families of survivors, and Philippines citizens living in Israel. In addition to the screening, the audience was also invited to a lecture the next afternoon at the Philippines Embassy by historian and professor Dr. Sharon Delmendo on Manuel Quezon’s efforts to save Jewish lives during World War II.
In a time in which hatred and xenophobia are rearing their head, and the world is once again plagued with armed conflict and refugees, the story of the courageous humanity and moral courage of President Quezon and the people of the Philippines is both heartwarming and inspiring—a call to action for responsible citizens. On Wednesday night, thanks to the Philippines Embassy, the ties between Israel and the Philippines, and Jews and Filipinos, were strengthened, as everyone involved was left to ponder the responsibility of being a moral and empathetic global citizen.
Photos Silvia Golan
This month marks the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the State of Israel. And this year in the traditional Chinese calendar begins the Year of the Rooster, which symbolizes good fortune and bright future.
The Chinese Embassy in Israel held a series of activities celebrating both occasions.
The first event took place last week at the Suzanne Dellal Centre in cooperation with the Embassy of the People's Republic of China and the Ministry of Culture of China. "Shaolin," a fabulous performance, was held in the presence of the Chinese Minister of Culture, followed by a reception.
This week the Chinese Ambassador H.E Zhan Yongxin held a reception with a fantastic performance of the China National Ballet Liaoning, under Mme. Qu Zijiao at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center. The host of the reception was Counsellor Cai Weiming, the deputy head of the mission. The national anthems of both China and Israel were played.
The Chinese Ambassador opened the formalities by greeting the guests (The full text of the ambassador’s remarks appears below.) Then Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology, MK Ofir Akunis and Member of Knesset in the Israeli Parliament, Erel Margalit, thanked Ambassador Zhan, and they were invited to sign three post cards featuring new stamps with the Menorah and Shofar symbols commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the State of Israel.
The guests of honor at the event included former Minister of Foreign Affairs David Levy, Israel’s Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai, former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Orit Noked , Ambassador Meron Reuben - FM Protocol Chief , Itzhak Eldan – former Israel’s head of ceremony, Professor Dan Shechtman, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2011 and many other distinguished guests.
www.diplomacy staff wishes a Happy Chinese New Year! Enjoy the celebrations for the Year of the Rooster!
Ambassador Yongxin’s remarks:
At the Reception to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of China-Israel Diplomatic Relations
And the Chinese New Year
By H.E. Zhan Yongxin, Chinese Ambassador to Israel
Jan. 23rd, 2017
Your Excellency Mr. Ofir Akunis, Minister of Science, Technology and Space,
Your Excellency Mr. Erel Margalit, Chairman of the Israel-China Friendship Group of the Knesset,
Your Excellency Mr. David Levy, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening! Erev Tov!
Today, we are here to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Israel. First of all, I'd like to express my high respect and sincere gratitude to all those who have dedicated and contributed to the growth of China-Israel friendship.
In the past 25 years, many high-level visits took place between our two countries. We also established two governmental mechanisms supervising bilateral cooperation, namely China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation and China-Israel Inter-governmental Economic and Technical Cooperation.
In the past 25 years, our economic and trade cooperation developed rapidly. Now China is Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and third largest in the world. Our trade volume surpassed $11 billion. China’s market is open to Israel. From January to November last year, Israel’s export to China increased by 15.7%. Our pragmatic cooperation has expanded from agriculture in the early days to desalination, food, sport, culture, chemical industry, cyber technology, etc. China’s investment to Israel has reached more than $6 billion. Last year, we started negotiations on FTA, in the good will to further boost our economic and trade cooperation.
In the past 25 years, our people-to-people exchanges flourished as well. In 1992, it was hard to see Chinese tourists in Israel. In 2016, nearly 80,000 Chinese came to visit Israel, with a 69% increase compared with 2015. On the other hand, “Happy Spring Festival” and other Chinese cultural activities like Dragon Boat Race also enrich the Israeli cultural life. The opening of more direct flight and the implementation of 10 year multi-entry visas will promote further exchanges and strengthen friendship between our two countries.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Two years ago, when I assumed office, I was looking forward to further promoting our bilateral relations into a more steady, more concrete and more deepening dimension. I mentioned that it was time for us to interpret planning into action and transform expectation into reality. Two years have passed, some expectations have turned into reality, some not yet. So, we shall roll up our sleeves to work harder in the coming years. Our experience in the past 25 years tells us that mutually beneficial and pragmatic cooperation is the best way for us to get along with each other, and it serves our common interests.
Four days later is the Chinese New Year of the Rooster, which means auspiciousness, hope, and happiness. Please allow me here to wish you all health and success in the new year, and more achievements of our bilateral cooperation!
Photos : Silvia G Golan
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President Reuven Rivlin met this morning (), at his residence with ambassadors and charges d'affaires to Israel from countries in the Asia-Pacific, including; Australia, India, South Korea, Philippines, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Japan, Myanmar, and Nepal.
He told the Ambassadors, “It is my privilege to host, and meet with all of you here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, not just because of the long histories our peoples share, but because Asia is the present and the future. Your countries’ are working to develop new innovation, and we are all greatly impressed and appreciate this.”
Speaking of the importance of the bilateral and multilateral cooperation, the President said, “In the last decade we have increased the trade relationship between our peoples. Today, 27 percent of Israel’s trade is now with the Asia-Pacific. The cooperation is wonderful and we are looking to extend our partnerships with every one of you, and all together.”
He noted he was especially proud of the academic cooperation between Israel and the countries represented, and of the exchange of students as a way to bring peoples closer together.
"We know that events that happen on one side of the world impact on the other," added the President, and stressed, "We must all stand up, and cooperate against those who believe that fundamentalism is the only way. We have to be prepared to carry the burden of security which lies upon us, especially in the face of those who do not accept the very idea of Israel as a state.”
Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Ambassador of Australia Dave Sharma thanked the President for his warm welcome and insights into the situation. He said, “We have here a diverse groups of countries, united around a couple of themes; support for the security of Israel and the well-being of the people of Israel; an appreciation of what Israel has achieved in its short history; and a deep appreciation for the unique struggles you face here.” He added, “I want to offer my thanks to you personally Mr. President, for the generosity of your time and involvement in our part of the world. You have visited many of our countries; as President, and as a Minister and Speaker of Knesset. We appreciate your support for the growing trade relations with our countries, and also your support for pluralism and equal rights for all peoples.”
Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)
The establishment of diplomatic relations with China and, a week later, with India, opened up the gates of Asia to Israel, which continues to reap the benefits of these relations up to today.
In the early hours of the morning of the 17th January 1945, Raoul Wallenberg disappeared. He had been a consular official at the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Hungary. He was never heard from again.
Raoul Wallenberg was not Jewish. He worked at the Swedish Diplomatic Mission in Budapest with one purpose in mind; to save as many Jews as possible from the Nazi death machine. He not only issued thousands of visas a “safe passes”, but empowered by his diplomatic immunity, he worked relentlessly in the face of the Nazis as they tried to deport Hungarian Jews to the death camps.
I was honored to be invited yesterday – the 17th January – to a ceremony at the official residence of the Swedish Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Carl Magnus Nesser, to honor the late hero. The central event was the screening of a short documentary film: “The Survivors in Budapest: Interviews with Persons Saved by Raoul Wallenberg”. Four Israelis, all former Hungarians, who survived and lived to tell the tale. The interviews were bone-chilling as they recounted what they as children has seen, heard, felt and experienced – and how the brave Wallenberg saved them – and thousands more. The four were in the audience with us. Living flesh and blood, now mothers and fathers, grandparents, great-grandparents – survivors.
Ambassador Nesser addressed the gathering, first in faultless Hebrew (!) which he has learned in his four years in Israel, and then in English. Also addressing the gathering was Danny Rainer, head of the Israeli representation of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
The Ambassador and the Embassy of Sweden in Tel Aviv are to be commended for arranging this event. The memory of Raoul Wallenberg will live on. May it be for a blessing for us all.
Photo credit: Eva Taylor.
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Tuesday), welcomed the leaders of Christian communities in Israel for the traditional annual reception to mark the civil New Year. The event was held in cooperation with the Minister of Interior and was attended by Interior Minister Aryeh (Makhlouf) Deri. Representatives of the Christian communites included, Greek Patriarch Theophilos III, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Nourhan Manougian.
President Rivlin began by wishing all the Christian leaders and their congregations, “A good and healthy New Year,” and added, “May it be a year of mutual understanding and respect. A year of justice and fairness.”
President Rivlin noted that “Looking back on the last year, there is a lot we should be proud of. We have continued to build good relations between the Jewish and Christian communities,” and said that “we may have different faiths, but we share many common values. We share a deep respect for mankind, created in God’s image. We share a commitment to love our neighbor. We share a hope for peace. And in this city, we all, the children of Abraham live together, side by side”.
“I see my role, and the role of the State of Israel, as guardians of this city. As guardians, our sovereignty over Jerusalem will never compromise the freedom of worship and religion for all believers,” the President said. He reiterated, “United Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and it will remain.There is no international body with the power to revoke this. And as sovereigns of the city, I stand here today to repeat in the clearest way: the State of Israel is deeply committed to ensure the religious rights of all faith communities in Jerusalem and throughout Israel.”
The President stressed, “Israel is committed to finding a way to end the tragedy between us and the Palestinians. Time and again, we have held out our hand in peace, and called for direct negotiations, without pre-conditions, and without any delay. The decision to take Israel to the UN Security Council, was wrong in trying to force pre-conditions, but also in the way it was done. The international community’s, most important job in helping us solve the conflict, is to build trust between the sides. How can we hope, as the Pope said, “to write a new page" in the history of Israel and the Palestinians, without this trust?” He said firmly, “The Security Council vote, was a blow to peace, and it was a blow to trust.”
Turning to the situation in the wider region, the President said, “Bloodshed in the name of politics and religion, have led to much misery, pain, and loss; for many many people.Cities of great history and civilization, Aleppo, Mosul, are today by-words for sorrow and destruction. In these times, silence is not an option. I believe the international community - the whole free world –must act to help the innocent, the civilians, men, women, and the children. We must work to help those who have stayed, and those who are refugees. And we must stand up and support the countries who do so much to help the wave after wave of refugees who arrive at their gates. While we have never been able to reach peace with Syria, we see the pictures and hear the voices of the people suffering, and as Israelis of all faiths, we feel the duty to try to help, and to speak out. I am proud of the humanitarian aid and medical help many Israelis are giving to the people of Syria.I know sadly, that is ‘a drop in the ocean’. But, dear friends, silence, and doing nothing cannot be an option. We must speak, we must act, we must pray.”
Minister Deri said, “Our ability to celebrate the festivals side by side, reminds us of the great extent to which we share common histories and future. The destruction of faiths has occurred in this land, and the State of Israel is the only, and the only secure state in this region where the Christian population lives and grows – not decreasing but increasing – all the while in other counties there is mass immigration and expulsion of the Christian community. Here the Christian community stands at 120,000 and its proportion to the general population continues to flourish. The Government of Israel, and my office which is responsible for religious affairs, has been and remains committed to the strengthening and prosperity of the Christian community in Israel. We are doing all in our to allow freedom of religion and worship to each according to their faith and outlook in their holy places. We are preserving and conserving the holy places as much as we are able. Last night I declared the launch of the strategic plan to strengthen the northern region, together with the Finance Minister, and in the presence of the Prime Minister. This is the region where 70% of the Christian community in Israel lives, and will directly benefit together with the other residents of the region from this initiative. The project funded by more than 20billion NIS will see investment transport infrastructure, and in the fields of health and education. In addition, in recent years, with the support of the President who pushed for the economic plan for the Arab regional authorities – where the Christian community also live – we have transferred 350million NIS in 2015-16, and in the framework of development grants we are transferring 800million NIS.”
Speaking on behalf of the Christian leaders, Greek Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem said, “We take this opportunity of this holiday gatherings to express our gratitude for the firmness with which you defend the freedoms that lie at the heart of this democracy, especially the freedom of worship. We are always encouraged by your commitment to the sacredness of life and your condemnation of all forms of terrorism. These fundamental commitments are the basis of any society that understands that we share a common human destiny. The State of Israel takes pride in the fact that this state was founded on democratic principles in the Middle East, and that it guarantees full freedom of worship. We are confident Mr. President that you will continue to resist any restrictions of religious practices.”
He concluded, “We are keenly aware this season of the unspeakable experiences of those who suffer around the world, and especially those who suffer in the countries around us. So many are suffering for the mere fact of their religious allegiance, and as those who serve the moral values of our respective religious traditions we are deeply concerned.”
Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)
On Sunday night, the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv came alive with the sounds of Africa. Sunday evening ushered in Jamhuri (Republic) Day—Kenya’s national day celebrating independence. Diplomats, academics, humanitarians, business leaders and Kenyan expatriates enjoyed a lovely and lively evening of food, music and dance which exemplified the uniqueness of Kenya and its relationship with Israel.
The evening opened with the national anthems of Kenya and Israel performed by the dynamic team of Gilad Millo and Wendy Kimani. H.E. Mr. Jon Chessoni, Charge d'Affairs of the Republic of Kenya welcomed all of the guests. Mr. Chessoni spoke about the long-standing and staunch ties linking the two nations of Kenya and Israel. In 1963, just three days before Kenya formally declared its independence, legendary Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir visited the country to lay the cornerstone for the first Israeli Embassy in Nairobi. Israel and Kenya have enjoyed a strong relationship ever since.
Mr. Chessoni discussed Kenya’s important roleas one of the largest and most robust economies in Africa, as well as the East African country’s contributions to regional-level peace and stability. Mr. Chessoni became the acting ambassador in Israel when the previous ambassador left for Juba, South Sudan, to oversee efforts to reconcile differences in the difficult civil war facing that country. Kenya has also contributed to the AMISOM African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia, as well as anti-piracy efforts in East Africa.
Mr. Chessoni also mentioned Kenya’s efforts to promote international trade and development, including a number of recent conferences and meetings, many of which have involved Israeli cooperation. Mr. Chessoni applauded the strong ties at the governmental and people levels, and encouraged more Israelis to visit “Magical Kenya.”
MK Ayoub Kara, Israel’s Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation, reinforced the message of Israeli-Kenyan partnership, specifically citing recent visits by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Kenya in July 2016 and by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Roto to Israel several months prior to that. Additionally, Mr. Kara noted, Israel and Kenya opened an important bilateral dialogue in Jerusalem in January 2016, with plans to hold a follow-up session in Nairobi in early 2017.
Mr. Kara discussed common challenges and opportunities for the two nations. He mentioned the threat of extremism and radicalization that challenged stability in the Middle East and East Africa—citing specifically Al-Shabab in Kenya’s case, and Hamas, Hezbollah and Da’esh in Israel’s case. On a more positive note,
Following the speeches, guests were treated to a special performance by the eponymous group Gilad and Wendy. Gilad Millo is a the son of an Israeli ambassador, and a former diplomat himself, whose passion for music and travel has drawn him to Kenya over the years. Wendy Kimani is a Kenyan music star. The two were joined on stage by the Groove Ambassadors, an international band featuring influences from all over the world. Within minutes, the room had come alive, and guests were dancing to a combination of English and Swahili.
In an exclusive interview with Diplomacy, Furaha, Mr. Chessoni’s daughter, discussed her experiences as a young Kenyan woman living in Israel. The Chessonis have been based in Israel for less than a year, and although the absence of the ambassador has placed additional obligations on Mr. Chessoni, the family loves living in Israel. Furaha studies Communications at the IDC Herzliya, while her younger siblings attend an international high school in Israel. Furaha Chessoni described her appreciation for the diversity of Israel and the way in which Israeli society incorporates religion and modernity, given that religion is a central part of life for so many (Kenya itself is home to numerous religious groups, and as Mr. Chessoni pointed out, had a synagogue in Nairobi as early as 1912). She drew a parallel to Kenya’s own diversity, citing the more than 40 languages spoken by various tribes throughout Kenya. Furaha reiterated her father’s call for Israelis to come visit Kenya, telling Diplomacy that Kenya’s rich cultural and geographical landscape made it an ideal tourist destination spot.
The guest list at the Jamhuri celebration was similarly diverse, including not just diplomats and business leaders, but also musicians, academics and humanitarians. Israeli music superstar Idan Raichel attended with his wife Damaris, as did Ambassador Gil Haskel, former Ambasador to Kenya and current head of MASHAV, and Ambassador Emeritus Shlomo Avital, who served as a diplomat all over Africa, Professor Isaac Dagani (a researcher of African Studies and Islam at Bar Ilan University), Director of Rotary International Gideon Peiper, and numerous military attaches and political liasons. Dr. Rina Attias, who also attended the event, told Diplomacy about her work in Kenya for the Save a Child’s Heart initiative, which brings children from all over the world to Israel for life-saving heart surgery by top surgeons.
Israel and Kenya have enjoyed a vibrant relationship ever since Kenyan independence and are positioned to continue with many exciting collaborations already in progress. It was only fitting, then that the Jamhuri celebration in Tel Aviv would commemorate this robust link with a gala, event featuring such energy, diversity and camaraderie.
Steven Aiello is the Director of the Debate for Peace MUN program
Photo Silvia Golan
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President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Monday) at his residence received the diplomatic credentials of new ambassadors to Israel from France, Canada, Guatemala, Turkey, and Cambodia. Each ceremony began with the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem of the visiting country, included an honor guard, and - after the presentation of the credentials - the signing of the guest book, before the playing of Israel's national anthem 'Hatikva'.
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mrs. Hélène Le Gal, Ambassador of France to Israel.
President Rivlin first welcomed Ambassador of France, H.E Mrs. Hélène Le Gal. He welcomed her and spoke of the good relations between the two countries and stated that he was hopeful that as she took up her post these ties would grow stronger and cooperation would increase. The President added, “We know of the goodwill of the President of France to bring to an end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the only way to bring about an understanding with our neighbors is to through direct negotiations. We welcome any initiative to end the tragedy between Israel and the Palestinians, but the Palestinians reject our offer for direct negotiations time and again – we have no war with Islam, but they must accept we are here to stay in our homeland.”
The Ambassador thanked the President for his warm welcome, and noted that as this was her second posting to Israel, having served in Israel 20 years ago, she had a sense of returning home. She said, “France was of course very active in the first 20 years of the state to help build the military capacity here, and this is still one of the main domains of our relationship if we think about counter terrorism, and we have a lot to discuss on this matter.” She added, “We are a permanent member of the Security Council and we are always keen to propose things, to try and find ideas for the different conflicts of the world. It is always in a very good spirit towards Israel. I would like to say that France and Israel share many values especially democracy, and freedom of speech and I appreciate your messages on these subjects.”
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Ms. Deborah Lyons , Ambassador of Canada to Israel.
The President then received the credentials of new Ambassador of Canada, H.E Ms. Deborah Lyons. He welcomed her and said, “Next year you will celebrate 150 years and I congratulate all Canada on this.” He added, “Canada’s friendship is of great importance to us, it is a true friendship. Also when you may have criticisms we hear they are out of love – between true friends.”
Ambassador Lyons said that, “The reception I have received from all the Government and people of Israel has been fantastic. I have been here for two and a half months, and we have had the prime minister, who of course came for a sad occasion, and then the visit of the Governor General who came with a large business delegation. I don’t see it slowing down in the new year and we are looking forward to a very busy time, as it should be between us as close friends. We are natural friends, natural colleagues, but there is much more we can do together. We are looking forward to you being able to visit Canada.” She noted that Canadians could learn much from Israel and said, “We have a new expression in the embassy from the more than 350 Canadians we have hosted in Israel since I arrived, and that is ‘Wow Israel!’”
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Ms., Ambassador of Guatemala to Israel.
The President then received the credentials of the Ambassador of Guatemala H.E. Ms. Sara Angelina Solis Castañeda. The President stressed the importance of the recent visit by President Morales of Guatemala to Israel, as a milestone in the relationship between the two countries. He said, “The visit of your President was significant and important, and strengthened the good ties between our countries – ties which are warm and friendly. I welcome you to your new post, and wish you much success in the role.”
The Ambassador thanked the President for his words and said, “It is a high honor to be here and a privilege to represent Guatemala to Israel - a country we love so much. It was a great honor to have President Morales visit at the beginning of my term.” She noted that in addition to strengthening the bilateral cooperation in the fields of agriculture, technology and health, “I am talking to some of the universities in Israel, and want to help Israelis understand about the history of the civilization in Guatemala, and the history of the Mayan people who lived there thousands of years ago.”
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Mekin Mustafa Kemal Okem , Ambassador of Turkia to Israel and family.
The President then received the diplomatic credentials of the new Ambassador of Turkey to Israel, H.E. Mr. Mekin Mustafa Kemal Okem, the first Turkish Ambassador to Israel for more than six years.
President Rivlin began by saying, "I want to start, by expressing my deep condolences to the Turkish people, to the victims of the terror attack in Istanbul, and to the families who have lost their loved ones. Mr. Ambassador, all life is sacred. Terror is terror is terror -whether in Brussels or Paris, Istanbul, Jerusalem, or Cairo. We have a duty to stand together against this terrible threat. "
He continued, "Mr. Ambassador, today is an honor, and a real moment in history. I want to express my appreciation for President Erdogan, and I thank him again for Turkey’s help in fighting the fires across Israel last month. Our friendship goes back in history, and I hope that the reconciliation and the appointment of new ambassadors will open a new and promising page in this relationship. We must work together to promote our economic relations, trade and energy cooperation, as a real engine of growth for our friendship."
The President stressed, "Mr. Ambassador, as you know the Middle East is changing. We must find the way to give strength to the voices of peace and stability. We must strengthen our common ground. When I spoke to President Erdogan, we spoke about the situation in Gaza. I want to thank him for his commitment to help return the Israelis and the bodies of our soldiers held by Hamas. Israel like Turkey places great importance in rebuilding the lives of the civilians in Gaza; in infrastructure, economy, energy, water, and more. This must be with the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority. It is also an important way to show that we can live together in this region."
He concluded, "Israel and Turkey share a desire for peace and prosperity for all the peoples of the Middle East, and it is an honor and privilege to welcome you, as Ambassador of Turkey, here in Israel, welcome."
Ambassador Okem thanked the President and said, "I have just had the honour to present my credentials to the President of the State of Israel, His Excellency Reuven Rivlin. It is an honour for me to officially begin my tenure as Turkish Ambassador to the State of Israel as of today, and I would like to thank you for the warm welcome shown to me and my family.
He added, "Indeed, Mr. President this is a new beginning in our bilateral relations and in our joint efforts, in this region in which we have close ties, historical ties. Our region has more than its share of challenges but also of big opportunities. As before, Turkey and Israel will work together to make sure that these opportunities are fully utilized and challenges are met."
He concluded, "As per instructions of my president, His Excellency President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and my Prime Minister, His Excellency Binali Yıldırım, I will explore all opportunities for cooperation in every field to the mutual benefit of our two nations. And, as an ambassador, I will do my best to enhance our relations in every field - regardless of any difficulties that we may face, we will be able to overcome together with our partners and friends Israel. So I am looking forward to closely working with all of the institutions in this country and do my best to cooperate with them. As you have just said Mr President, our hope is that this cooperation will also work for the benefit of other nations, particularly to the Palestinian Authority as well."
During their meeting, President Rivlin once again reaffirmed his wish to convey Israel's hope that the renewal in relations between Israel and Turkey would lead to the freeing of the Israeli citizens held captive in Gaza, and to the return of the bodies of the fallen Israeli soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin being held by Hamas, so they could be brought for proper burial in Israel.
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Sman Manan, Ambassador of Cambodia to Israel.
Finally, the President received the new Ambassador of Cambodia, H.E Mr. Sman Manan. The President welcomed him and said, “Only recently your Agriculture Ministry was here and there is much we can do and learn from each other in the fields of water and agriculture. I know that there are more than 300 people this year alone from Cambodia learning in Israel. This number will grow and it is important for strengthening the ties between our people. Working together in medicine, we have brought a lot of hope to people in Cambodia, and our cooperation is for the mutual benefit of both our peoples.”
The Ambassador thanked the President and said, “I want to thank the State of Israel for their help in medicine and agriculture, and also for the Israeli volunteers who have come to Cambodia.” He noted that, “Seventy percent of Cambodia is agricultural land, but we don't have the technology. As ambassador I am going to work on this and promoting tourism and investment, and will try to promote our cooperation for the benefit of both peoples.”
Photo Mark Neumann / GPO
The Republic of Kazakhstan celebrated its 25th birthday on Sunday evening with a festive event in Tel Aviv. Diplomats and business leaders convened with other guests at the Hilton Hotel along the beach, enjoying a lavish buffet, traditional Kazakhstani music and dance, and a speech delivered by the Ambassador.
The celebration commemorated 25 years of Kazakhstani independence. Kazakhstan became an independent nation in 1991, the last and largest of the republics to achieve sovereignty following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Guests were welcomed by a colorful photography display highlighting picturesque landscapes from all over Kazakhstan. In honor of the occasion they were presented with gifts, including a book on Kazakhstan’s Jewish community written by a former Israeli Ambassador to Kazakhstan.
H.E. Ambassador Kuanyshev addressed the audience, noting Kazakhstan’s many achievements over the last quarter century. The Ambassador discussed Kazakhstan’s role in promoting global peace, including its nuclear disarmament initiatives.
The ambassador also mentioned Kazakhstan’s efforts to reach a brighter and cleaner future. On that note, Ambassador Kuanyshev announced the 2017 Astana Expo on Future Energy, to be held from June through September of 2017 in Kazakhstan. The Expo will include more than 3,000 events over nearly 100 days, and is dedicated to education and innovation in improving energy efficiency.
The occasion commemorated not just a quarter century of Kazakhstani independence, but also 25 years of Israel-Kazakhstan diplomatic relations and cooperation. Ambassador Kuanyshev noted that Israel is one of Kazakhstan’s top 20 trading partners, and mentioned the many commercial ties and joint diplomatic initiatives binding the two nations. He expressed his hope for direct flights between Israel and Kazakhstan in the future. The ambassador also spoke of academic connections, including conferences and exchange student programs. Invoking a mock competitive tone, Ambassador Kuanyshev told the crowd that Kazakhstani secondary school students had recently topped their Israeli peers in standardized math and science testing.
Mr. Ayoub Kara, Israel’s Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation, addressed the crowd after Ambassador Kuanyshev. MK Kara talked about the many joint initiatives that the two countries have run, ranging from energy efficiency to tourism. He congratulated Kazakhstan on its recent appointment to the UN Security Council and pledged support in facilitating any upcoming Kazakhstani diplomatic visits to Israel. Mr. Kara finished by asking Ambassador Kuanyshev to pass a message on to President Nazarbayev and the Kazakhstani nation, offering blessings for the upcoming year and wishing success in their joint initiatives.
The event brought together, diplomats, business owners, military officers, and Kazakhstani citizens living in or visiting Israel. As the evening continued into an elaborate performance of folkloric Kazakhstani music and dance and concluded with warm words spoken between the two nations, all left sure of the importance of this diplomatic friendship.
Steven Aiello is the Founder and Director of the Debate for Peace Model UN Program
On Wednesday evening, November 30th, a collection of diplomats, politicians, artists and community leaders came together at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to celebrate the National Day of Romania. The event, held by the Romanian Embassy, celebrated Romania’s historical achievements as well as present and future Israeli-Romanian cooperation.
The evening opened with a stirring rendition of the Romanian and Israeli national anthems performed by Monica Schwartz.
Ambassador Andreea Păstârnac, who studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at Bucharest University, then addressed the crowd in Hebrew.
After thanking the event’s co-sponsors, Ambassador Păstârnac spoke of the strong Romanian connection with Israel and the historical ties between the nations, citing several early cities (including Zichron Ya’aqov and Rosh Pina) that were founded by Romanian pioneers. He also spoke of more recent diplomatic events, including visits by the Romanian Foreign Minister Lazăr Comănescu and the President, Mr. Klaus Iohannis. The Ambassador declared her country’s staunch support for Israel, especially in light of the wildfires which recently ravaged much of the country.
Romania’s National Day commemorates the December 1st, 1918 unification of Romania after World War II. Ambassador Păstârnac recalled the many Jews who contributed to Romania society at that time, including Eli Wiesel, artist Iosif Isser, and author Paul Celan, as well as Romanian Jews who have contributed to Israeli art and culture over the years.
The Ambassador chose to highlight specifically the science and technological cooperation that has been the focus of recent diplomatic initiatives between Israel and Romania. She mentioned Israeli-Romanian achievements in a range of scientific and technological areas, including the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) initiative project, based in Romania, which is the largest of its kind in the European Union. The Ambassador also gave credit to many great Romanian scientists and thinkers, noting in particular the Jewish mathematician Solomon Marcus who passed away in March 2016.
Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology, MK Ofir Akunis, complimented Ambassador Păstârnac’s Hebrew skills before reiterating the Ambassador’s message on Israeli-Romanian cooperation in science and technology. He also thanked Romania for its aid during the firefighting efforts of the previous week, and spoke about Romania’s key role in prior diplomatic efforts, including the lesser-known fact that the Israeli-Egyptian peace accords signed in 1979 actually began in 1977 in Romania. MK Akunis closed by discussing Israeli tourism in Romania, and expressed his own hope to visit Romania and continue this partnership in science and technology.
MK Yossi Yona followed Mr. Akunis’s remarks. MK Yona, himself an Iraqi Jew, spoke of the many great artistic and cultural contributions of Romania, including those brought about by Romanian Jews. As the child of immigrants, he spoke of the ability to build a new life in Israel while maintaining a strong connection to one’s place of birth, and how Romanian Jewish immigrants to Israel have done this.
Indeed, among the guests at the celebration were a number of successful Israeli-Romanian authors who continue to publish books in Romanian. Also in attendance was Rabbi Ephraim Gutman, who heads the Yaakov Yosef--Rav Zvi Gutman Synagogue and the Jewish Romanian Heritage Center in Tel Aviv. The center was named after Rav Ephraim’s two older brothers, Yaakov and Yosef, who were murdered in 1941 by members of the fascist Iron Guard movement, and after their father Rav Zvi Gutman. Dr. Alex, who accompanied Rav Gutman to the celebration, told Diplomacy about the richness of Romanian Jewish heritage, which included successful Ashkenazi and Sepharadi Jews and was one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe before World War II.
Throughout the celebration guests enjoyed delicious refreshments, including a special collection of the finest Israeli and Romanian wines and traditional Romanian music and dance. This year the celebration featured wine from wineries in Romania that are produced by Israelis of Romanian heritage, in a unique spin on the pioneering spirit and success of the Romanian immigration to Israel and the strong binational ties. Romanian singer Laticia Boroi entertained the crowd with traditional Romanian folk music, and was soon surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd of nostalgic dancers.
Between the venue, the speakers, and the guests and atmosphere, Romana’s National Day Celebration in Tel Aviv exemplified the cultural and intellectual achievements of Romania and the strong ties between Israel and Romania.
Photo Silvia Golan
The Embassy of Spain in Israel welcomed this week Minister of Tourism for the autonomous community of Andalucia Francisco Javier Hernandez, on a visit to launch a campaign promoting tourism to this historic region in southern Spain.
At a reception held at the residence of Spain’s Ambassador to Israel, Fernando Carderera, the ambassador introduced Minister Hernandez to assembled guests representing Israel’s business and travel industry leaders. In his remarks, Ambassador Carderera noted that Spain is the third most popular tourism destination in the world, welcoming more than 70 million foreign visitors annually.
Minister Hernandez unveiled Andalucia’s latest promotional campaign, aimed primarily at three million Jews of Sephardic origin living in Israel and throughout the Diaspora. He disclosed the campaign slogan -- “visit Andalucia to discover your roots: a wonderful voyage back to your sources” -- and screened a video featuring the attractions of such cities as Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada, as well as the Costa del Sol.
Following the video, guests -- among them Spanish Tourism consul for Italy and Israel Carlos Hernández Garcia-- enjoyed a concert of flamenco music and dance performed by an Israeli trio while partaking of paella and other Spanish delicacies.
Photo Silvia Golan
President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin this evening (Monday) hosted at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, an official state dinner in honor of the visit of President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales and First Lady Patricia Marroquin de Morales. At the beginning of the evening both Presidents delivered toasts.
President Rivlin welcomed his guests and said, “It is an honor and pleasure to host you here in Jerusalem, the eternal city, Jerusalem, a city dear and holy for the people of Israel and for those of faith around the world.” He added, “The honorary doctorate you received today from the Hebrew University – the jewel in our crown – is a sign of the recognition of the community in Israel, and the importance of your mission and achievements so far. At the same time, this award expresses your true friendship, and that of your country, toward Jerusalem and the Jewish people.”
The President added, “As the leader of your country, you are faced with challenges in the present, in the here and now – they are important, demanding, and urgent. In the face of these challenges, Israel is a faithful partner of Guatemala under your leadership. Israel is not a just partner in words, we are your partners in actions, in the facts on the ground.” The President went on to stress the importance of the wide ranging cooperation between the countries in the fields of medicine, agriculture, and food provision. The President concluded that, “Your visit is just the beginning, and an opportunity for the State of Israel to give thanks to a country who is a true a friend of Israel.”
President Morales thanked the President and said, “This is a great honor for my family and me, and for my delegation, to be hosted here at a dinner which is testament to the excellent relations between our countries. It is a great privilege and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness which we have received on this visit. We truly feel at home. On my visit I am also accompanied by my mother who has long dreamt of visiting the holy land, and for this I thank you.”
He added, “I want to stress the cooperation and also the assistance and professional training to thousands of our citizens through scholarship programs and to state that a great number of our cabinet ministers were recipients of this help, including our Health Minister, and our Education Minister, among many others who are thankful to Israel. This activities are part of the great efforts of our governments to advance economic and social development. The exemplarily bilateral cooperation between us will only grow further.”
He concluded emotionally by saying, “In the name of the more than six million people of Guatemala, I convey to the Israeli people a warm embrace, we love and appreciate you.”
Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)
On November 8, 2016, as millions of Americans cast their ballots, the American Embassy hosted an extravagant election night celebration. The event featured American food and music, and patriotic games and party favors, and was attended by a maximum capacity crowd at the Dan Panorama hotel in Tel Aviv, overlooking the sea.
The evening featured a full roster of events and activities. Guests enjoyed American cuisine and live music. Embassy representatives around the room wore special badges to designate them as “election experts,” happy to answer questions about the American electoral process and American politics. Stands around the party offered a variety of election-related contests, as well as posters with interesting facts and explanations about American elections.
The election games included Bingo; “Match the vice president;” “Who said that” (presidential quotes); a trivia faceoff, an Instagram contest and more. At the end of the evening, a raffle was held for the winners of each of the competitions. But every participant went home a winner, with American flags and stress balls “to relieve the stress of the elections.” There was also a photobooth, with photos then getting superimposed onto backgrounds like Mount Rushmore and the White House.
Ambassador Dan Shapiro spoke to the crowd, touching on the divisiveness of the recent election and the polarization of the American two-party system, especially in recent years. Ambassador Shapiro invoked the words of President Abraham Lincoln, who he called perhaps the greatest US president, and who sacrificed time, effort and ultimately his own life to bridge political differences and reunite the nation.
The ambassador also spoke about the importance of the right to free and fair elections. He noted that the commitment to free elections was one of the many liberal democratic values shared between Israel and the United States, something. Ambassador Shapiro also thanked all of the Embassy staff whose hard work over the last few months enabled Americans living in Israel to cast their votes for the presidential and local races.
At the end of his speech the ambassador had another announcement to make. This one wasn’t about the elections, but it was about an event no less momentous in American history. Pulling out a baseball cap and placing it on his head, Ambassador Shapiro connected the celebration to the World Series victory of his beloved Chicago Cubs, an event for which generations of Chicago baseball fans waited for over a century.
The festivities were due to continue, with the party continuing into the early hours of the morning. Early Wednesday morning, the US Embassy’s American Center in Jerusalem hosted breakfast for all those who wanted to watch the election results coming in. For some the election results brought excitement, for others disappointment, but the Embassy ensured that everyone went home well-fed, with a smile on their face, and a greater appreciation for American values, culture and the electoral process. In a time and place in which politics can too often divide people, the celebration and the ambassador’s words were important reminders that diplomacy—between people and nations, can be a powerful and valuable tool for bringing peace and reconciliation.
Article wirtten by Steven Aiello founder and director of the "Debate for Peace program"
Photos Silvia Golan
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Monday) at his residence received the diplomatic credentials of new ambassadors to Israel from the Belgium, Latvia, Switzerland, Greece, and Finland. Each ceremony began with the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem of the visiting country, included an honor guard, and - after the presentation of the credentials - the signing of the guest book, before the playing of Israel's national anthem 'Hatikva'.
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Olivier Belle , Ambassador of Belgium to Israel.
President Rivlin first welcomed Ambassador of Belgium H.E Mr. Olivier Belle and said, “I know you will feel at home here as I was made to feel during my visit in your country.” He noted, “You have an important role to fulfill regarding the ongoing agreements that we are working on together.” President Rivlin spoke about the importance of the relationship and friendship between the two peoples, and of “the need to fight - not Islam - but to fight terror, because terror is terror is terror wherever it occurs.” He added, “You are the army and the police that protects the heart of the European Union. We must carry on to work together to share the burden of security in the face of the threats.”
President Rivlin concluded by extending an official invitation to the King of Belgium to visit Israel in the near future.
Ambassador Belle thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, “We have just arrived but feel at home, and have already visited much of your country.” He noted, “There are many challenges,” and that “Israel is a special country for Belgium. We have a long friendship and it is necessary every day to consolidate this friendship – based on shared values - and I will do my best to do so.” The Ambassador spoke of the need to work to fight against discrimination and antisemitism, and added that Belgium was proud of its bilateral relationship in the fields of culture and innovation especially.
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Ms Elita Gavele , Ambassador of Latvia to Israel.
The President then welcomed Ambassador of Latvia, H.E Ms. Elita Gavele, and noted that “Within a year we will celebrate 25 years of the relationship between our countries.” He congratulated the Ambassador on her country’s joining the OECD, and noted, “For both states, Israel and Latvia, this is very important as we don’t have much natural resources but we have a lot of human resources and we appreciate very much the cooperation between our people.”
The President spoke of the importance of Holocaust education, and added, “We would like to emphasize the importance of your efforts to educate the next generations about what happened in the Holocaust, and to understand this must be remembered by all mankind and humanity."
Ambassador Gavele thanked the President and noted that “The Jewish people in Latvia have done so much for our country, and there are nearly 4,000 Israeli citizens here from Latvia,” who she noted were an important bridge between the two peoples. She noted that the Latvia President was due to come to Israel in 2018, and that there were high level ministerial visits planned including the Agricultural Minister who was arriving later in the day. The Ambassador noted, “We will celebrate our 25 years of relations with cultural events and discussions," and commented on the success of recent political consultations. She stressed, “A main issue is to improve our economic relationship”.
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr Jean-Daniel Ruch , Ambassador of Switzerland to Israel.
President Rivlin then received the diplomatic credentials of Ambassador of Switzerland, H.E Mr. Jean-Daniel Ruch. The President noted that “Next year we will commemorate 120 years since the first Zionist Congress which took place in Basel. Fifteen Zionist Congresses took place in Switzerland, and indeed it is well known across the Jewish world that Herzl said ‘In Basel I established the new Jewish state’.” He noted “This reminds us how important Switzerland was for the new Jewish renaissance”, and added, “Switzerland is also very important to Israel in terms of commerce, and we are also cooperating in many other fields including on the need to safeguard the whole world,” in the face of security threats.
Ambassador Ruch thanked the President and said that he felt, “The relationship between our peoples is an emotional one stretching back – as you said - to the first Zionist Congress,” and added that, “Israel in the conscious mind of Switzerland is a country with which we share many similarities - countries that are around the same size, with diverse societies.” He noted that “We also have many personal connections. There are around 20,000 Swiss citizens living in Israel, the largest Swiss community east of Europe. This has developed into a vast array of economic, cultural, and nowadays scientific links and cooperation.” He said that, “Among many in Switzerland, Israel is seen a almost a sister country when it comes to hi-tech and the development of sciences.” He noted that fostering this relationship would be one of his priorities.
He concluded, “Switzerland - as the nation which hosts the ICRC, and the host of numerous peace conferences - is keen to see a just and lasting peace in this region. We remain committed and remain available - of course peace must come from the actors - but we will do whatever we can to bring peace to the people of this region.”
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr Konstantinos Bikas , Ambassador of Greece to Israel.
President Rivlin then welcomed Ambassador of Greece, H.E Mr. Konstantinos Bikas. “It is a real honor to welcome an ambassador from the state which is the birthplace of democracy," said the President, and added, "the connection between the Greek people and the Jewish people is thousands of years old. As much as someone could never say that the Acropolis is not part of the Greek people, no one could say the Western Wall is not the place where Jews have prayed for centuries. We do not need to imagine history - we can see history.”
The President spoke of increased Israeli tourism to Greece and of the strengthening relationship between the two countries. He also stressed the importance of the upcoming trilateral meetings with Cyprus.
Ambassador Bikas thanked the President for his “Kind and wise words”. He said “Our relations in the last years have become strategic ones, based on the history we share, the values we share, on the democracy we share. History is something both for Jews and for Greeks that can never be taken away, it is part of who we are and we must respect it.”
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Ms. Anu Saarela , Ambassador of Finland to Israel.
Lastly, President Rivlin welcomed Ambassador of Finland. H.E Ms. Anu Saarela and said, “I admire Finland’s attitude toward education, the most important thing for every leader in Finland. Israel is considered the Start-Up nation with great universities, and I know that the cooperation between our two peoples in these issues is very important.”
He added, “We can agree to disagree on many issues, but we share the values of democracy and the dignity and the honor of all people.”
Ambassador Saarela said, “Thank you for kind words about my country. We share much more than divides us," she noted. "We want to learn from Israel, from your multiculturalism – the way you have built this country with people coming from all over. We also share the quest for innovation and hi-tech, I am sure we can deepen those ties even further," she added.
The Ambassador stressed, “We also share the objective of peace. I would like to especially stress what you said, and salute you for defending the fundamental values we share of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. These are the values on which our countries are built.”
She concluded, “Next year Finland will celebrate 100 years of independence, and we are looking forward to presenting Israeli society with many sides of our culture, innovation, and more.”
Photo Mark Neumann GPO
On Monday October 31st, the Hungarian Ambassador to Israel H.E. Mr. Andor Nagy and his wife Mariann Bercsenyi hosted a celebration commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Guests enjoyed authentic Hungarian delicacies and a display detailing Hungary’s courageous 1956 uprising against Soviet-Communist oppression following World War II.
Ambassador Nagy opened the evening by mentioning two things that Hungary is well-known for—football player Ferenc Puskas, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. In fact, the ambassador explained, the two share a link. On October 23, 1956, Hungarian students began a Solidarity March which would trigger an open rebellion against the Soviet Union.
When the public opposition to Soviet control grew, the Communist authorities opened fire on unarmed protesters, triggering a spontaneous two-week uprising that engulfed Hungary. Despite the valiant efforts of the Hungarian youth, when the Soviet Union sent in 60,000 soldiers backed by 2,500 tanks, they crushed the revolutionaries. Among the more than 200,000 Hungarians who fled the country at the end of the war was one Ferenc Puskas.
Puskas may have become famous playing for Real Madrid, but he is also a symbol of the suffering that Hungarians went through before regaining freedom and their courageous stand for independence. The Ambassador stressed that for all of his international success, Puskas, like so many Hungarian expatriates, longed to be able to return home. Ambassador Nagy closed by thanking those who had come to commemorate this historic day and celebrate Israeli-Hungarian relations.
Following the Ambassador’s speech, the Hungarian and Israeli national anthems were sung. Afterwards, Hungary’s Minister of Education Professor Laszlo Palkovics, addressed the crowd. The minister, in Israel to further bolstering the educational cooperation between the two countries, compared Hungary with Israel as two countries without who compensate for a lack of natural resources with human ingenuity and intellectual achievement. His words highlighted Hungarian-Israeli educational cooperatives, like an initiative to reserve spots for Israeli students at Hungarian universities, and opportunities to learn from one another, for example regarding supporting scholastic achievement for students from lower socio-economic demographics.
He also discussed Hungary’s robust economic growth relative to other European Union countries, the opportunities for shared commercial interests with Israeli businesses, and the desire to learn from the entrepreneurial success of Israel’s startup industry.
Following The Education Minister’s remarks he called for a toast to both nations. The guests were then invited to sample a variety of Hungarian delicacies, including Gulash, Pogacsa (a unique Hungarian dessert) and Palinka (a traditional beverage).
The guest list was similarly diverse, including ambassadors, members of various diplomatic missions, officials of both governments, representatives of the IDF and Israel Police, business leaders and other guests from both nations. Among the distinguished guests were Ms. Vered Pear Swid, Director General of the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women at the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr. and Mrs. Josef Weiss, owners of Adria Airways, Rotary International Israel District Governor Avner Fuchs, and advocate Gad Weissfeld . Of course the youngest members of the parties were hostesses—the Ambassador’s daughters Franciska and Julia. While the evening commemorated Hungarian and global history, the young girls and the promises of the Education Minister both spoke to the present and future of Hungarian-Israeli partnerships.
Article wirtten by Steven Aiello founder and director of the "Debate for Peace program"
Photos Silvia G Golan
On Thursday night, October 13th, the Tel Aviv municipality building overlooking Rabin Square glowed red and yellow in honor of Fiesta Nacional de España—Spain’s national holiday and Armed Forces Day. At the Spanish Embassy’s annual party, Israeli, Spanish and international diplomats, military attaches, and local political and business leaders enjoyed an evening of wine, cheese, and authentic Spanish musical performances.
Ambassador Fernando Carderera opened the evening, which also commemorated 30 years of Israeli-Spanish diplomatic relations, by listing the educational and cultural events that had been planned as part of the celebration, culminating with a Goya exhibition opening in December at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The Ambassador mentioned the recent visit to Israel by the King of Spain to attend the funeral of Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, as a sign of the strong ties between the two nations. Ambassador Carderera stressed Spain’s opposition to any boycotts of Israel, and then offered a toast to the heads of state of both countries, Spain’s King Felipe VI and Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and to the continued friendship of Israel and Spain.
Israeli Knesset member Gilad Erdan, Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs spoke next and mentioned the long legacy of Jews in Spain, including the many scholars like Maimonides. He praised Spain’s recent efforts to address the damage caused during the Inquisition and expulsion of Jews from Iberia in the 15th century by recent legislature allowing descendants of Spanish Jews to gain Spanish citizenship. Erdan also talked about Spain’s role in promoting peace talks, especially during the Madrid Accords. Finally he mentioned the cultural bonds that Israelis and Spaniards share, including the many Israelis supporting Real Madrid, Barcelona, and other Spanish football clubs.
Following Mr. Erdan’s speech, a representative of the Tel Aviv municipality spoke on behalf of Mayor Ron Huldai and the municipality. The guests were then shown a short film highlighting Spanish achievements, before enjoying live music and dance performances by Spanish performers, to ensure that the evening was a true Fiesta.
Article wirtten by Steven Aiello founder and director of the "Debate for Peace program"
On September 27, 2016, the diplomatic mission in Israel of the People’s Republic of China celebrated the 67th anniversary of Chinese independence by hosting a reception at the Smolarz Auditorium of Tel Aviv University for the diplomatic corps, Israeli political leaders and distinguished guests.
Following a buffet of Western and Chinese delicacies and the singing of the national anthems of the PRC and Israel, guests were addressed by the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Zhan Yongxin. The full text of the remarks by Ambassador Zhan appears below.
The State of Israel was represented by Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who congratulated the PRC on the anniversary of its independence on behalf of the government of Israel.
Among the many VIP guests in attendance were Tourism Minister Yariv Levin; former Ambassador and Minister Moshe Arens; Commander of the IDF Search and Rescue Brigade Colonel Yoram Laredo; Ms. Vered Pear Swid, Director General, Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women at the Prime Minister's Office; Asher Ben Artzi, former Chief Superintendent of the Israel Police; Tal Brody, Goodwill Ambassador and former Captain of Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball Team and Mrs. Brody.
The program for the evening was organized by the Chinese People"s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and featured the Beijing Philharmonic Choir, conducted by Yang Hongnian and Yang Li and accompanied by pianist Wang Tianyang. The children’s choir performed Chinese and Israeli songs.
The evening concluded with drinks and desserts.
The portal www.Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the People’s Republic of China on its National Day.
Remarks by H. E. Ambassador Zhan Yongxin:
Your Excellency Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, Minister Yariv Levin, Respected Mr. Alex Gilady, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
Good Evening! Erev Tov!
I am more than happy to have all of you with us here to celebrate the 67th Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
Sixty-seven years of the establishment of new China have witnessed profound developments. 1.37 billion Chinese people have changed their lives and fates through hard work. Thanks to Chinese people’s perseverance, resolve and dedication, we have succeeded in turning China into the world’s second largest economy, the biggest trader of goods, the third largest direct overseas investor, and lifted over 700 million people out of poverty, and pushed China’s per capita GDP up to 8,000 US dollars. My generation is the direct witness of this dramatic change. When I was young, I could only have peanuts on Chinese new year. But now, younger generation avoid eating peanuts to keep fit.
As China’s economy grows in size and influence and its interaction with the rest of the world deepens, the prospect of China’s economy has drawn international attention. Many people wonder whether China can keep steady growth? How will China’s economy continue to act as a pushing force for the world economy?
China’s economy, after 38 years of reform and opening-up, has entered a new normal, a stage China cannot bypass if we are to upgrade its economy and make it better structured. The way of growth, speed and quality of development have entered transitional period which is quite similar to a person's growing process, a rapid growing before the age of 18 and a gradually mature progress after.
Judging from this year’s performance, China’s economic development has done a good job. Its GDP grew by 6.7%, the final consumption expenditure contributed 73.4% to GDP, and the added value of the tertiary industry took up 54.1% of GDP. We have reasons to believe that China will embrace even better prospects and make still greater contribution to the world. We shall not be overly excited about some rebounding indexes, nor should we be overly panicking about some falling ones. All in all, Chinese economy is great in foundation, strong in toughness and large in leeway. We have faith and ability in keeping our economy developing in medium-to-high speed growth.
As we are living in a global village, each country should rely on one-another to pursue sustainable growth. During the G20 Summit, China came up with an initiative of jointly building an innovative, open, interconnected and inclusive world economy. The essence is to take innovation as the driving force, uphold the spirit of openness and interconnection and pursue the goal of inclusiveness, so as to let growth and development benefit all countries and peoples.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
Let me move onto China’s diplomacy. Foreign Affairs are the extension of domestic affairs. We have already set out goals, and are uniting all our people in a common effort to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation. Chinese diplomacy is to serve this overriding domestic objective. We are committed to the path of peaceful development. It is rooted in China’s long and profound historical and cultural tradition and is crucial to our development. We’d like to maintain friendship with all countries and peoples, on the basis of Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. We are also ready to provide more public goods to the international community. The Belt and Road Initiatives and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are just a few examples. Here, I’d like to stress that China’s opening drive is not a one-man show. Rather, it is an invitation open to all. It is not a pursuit to establish China’s own sphere of influence, but to support common development of all countries. It is not meant to build China’s own backyard garden, but a garden shared by all countries. As an old Chinese saying goes:“Joy shared with others are more enjoyed.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
Thanks to joint efforts made by Chinese and Israeli governments and our two peoples, the friendly and cooperative bilateral relations between China and Israel have been maintaining a strong momentum. Frequent political exchanges and dynamic mutual visits take place at all levels. Last week, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress H.E. Mr. ZHANG Dejiang visited Israel, the highest level visit in the past 16 years. Your Speaker of Knesset H.E. Mr. Yuli Yoel Edelstein paid an official visit to China in April. Besides, our Vice Premier of State Council Mme. LIU Yandong visited Israel last March and co-chaired with PM Netanyahu the second meeting of China-Israel Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation.
While our political mutual trust is strengthening, the economic and trade links are also expanding. China is now Israel's largest trading partner in Asia, third largest trading partner in the world, and largest goods supplier. China and Israel have also carried out extensive people-to-people exchange. Hainan Airlines opened a route between Beijing and Tel Aviv in April, the mutual issuing of Ten Years Visa will come into effect soon. In the first half of this year, the growth rate of Chinese tourists coming to Israel reached around 50% compared with last year. It is also worth mentioning that Israeli football star Mr. Eran Zahavi has been recently awarded by H.E. Mr. Shimon Peres the Ambassador of Peace and Good Relations with China for his outstanding achievement in promoting the friendship between the two peoples through sport.
Mr. Shimon Peres is a dear friend of Chinese People. He is highly respected in China for his resolute commitment in the pursuit of regional peace and his tireless effort in promoting Israel-China relations. We are very much concerned with his current health situation. During the visit by our NPC Chairman Zhang Dejiang last week, Chairman Zhang sent the accompanying Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming to pay a good-will visit to Sheba Medical Center and meet with Mr. Peres’s family. We wish him a speedy recovery.
Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Israel. In the past 25 years, we respected each other and enhanced our friendship persistently. Looking into the future, we have every reason to believe that our efforts to build a multifaceted partnership will get substantial achievements.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
Younger generation is the hope to the future of our two countries and the China-Israel relations. Tonight, lovely kids from China will present their wishes for the prosperity, development and better friendship between the two countries. Wish you a pleasant evening.
In conclusion, I would like to propose a toast,
For the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China!
For the friendship between the Chinese and the Israeli peoples!
For your good health!
Cheers! Le Haim!
Photo Silvia Golan
Four Central American Nations Celebrate Their National Day
On September 15, 2016, the diplomatic missions in Israel of the Republics of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica, celebrated the 195th anniversary of the independence of Central America at a reception they hosted in Tel Aviv at King David Hall , at Dan Tel Aviv Hotel , for the diplomatic corps accredited to Israel, leaders of the business community and the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, and citizens of Central America residing in Israel.
Guests were welcomed in an address by the Ambassador of the Republic of El Salvador, Mr. Werner Matias Romero, on behalf of the Ambassadors of Central America ( HE José Isaías Barahona, Ambassador of Honduras, HE Alfredo Vásquez, Ambassador of Guatemala, and HE Esteban Penrod, Ambassador of Costa Rica) . The full text of the remarks by Ambassador Romero appears below.
The State of Israel was represented by Mrs. Galit Sashó, the Director of Culture of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and Mr. Modi Ephraim, head of the Latin American and Caribbean desk of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In her message of congratulations on behalf of the State of Israel, Mrs. Sashó recalled with gratitude the role the nations of Central America played in supporting the United Nations resolution creating the State of Israel and praised the activities of Israel’s Agency for International Development Corporation (Mashav) in Central America.
The official ceremony commenced with the playing of the national anthems of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Israel.
During the course of the evening, Mr. Hernán Felman, KKL World Vice President, was presented with a plaque by His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of Guatemala, Mr. Alfredo Vásquez, for the organization's generous support and close relations with the Central American countries. Mr. Felman expressed his gratitude for this honor.
The final address of the evening was delivered by the ambassador of the Republic of Costa Rica, Mr. Esteban Penrod.
The evening commenced with a buffet of Central American foods and concluded with a buffet of desserts representing the cuisines of the four host countries.
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Remarks of the Ambassador of the Republic of El Salvador, Mr. Werner Matias Romero, on the occasion of the 195th anniversary of the independence of Central America:
Dear friends, Queridos amigos, Erev tov, buenas noches, good evening. I’m Werner Matías Romero, Ambassador of El Salvador to Israel. It is an honour for me to address you tonight on behalf of my colleagues (HE José Isaías Barahona, Ambassador of Honduras, HE Alfredo Vásquez, Ambassador of Guatemala, and HE Esteban Penrod, Ambassador of Costa Rica) on the occasion of the 195th anniversary of our independence. First, I want to acknowledge the presence of the Honourable Galit Wahba Shasho, Director of Culture, representing the Minister of Culture and Sports, Miri Regev. Let me also thank KKL-JNF, in particular Hernan Felman, its Vice Chairman here with us, and Ariel Goldgewicht, a fellow Central American, for their generosity in making this celebration possible. Dear members of the Knesset, Israeli government officials, ambassadors and diplomatic representatives, friends of Central America and fellow Central Americans, to all of you, my colleagues and I offer a warm welcome. Let me start by wishing a speedy recovery for Shimon Peres, who is in hospital tonight, a titan of this great democracy, Israel. President Peres, we hope you can return home soon to be with your family.
A nuestros compatriotas centroamericanos: costarricenses, guatemaltecos, hondureños y salvadoreños, en esta ocasión en la que celebramos el centésimo nonagésimo quinto aniversario de la independencia de Centroamérica, permítanme invitarles a que reflexionemos sobre el sueño de la Gran Patria Centroamericana. Y recordemos todos juntos lo que nos une, nuestra historia, nuestra geografía, nuestras costas bañadas por dos océanos, ríos majestuosos, apacibles lagos y soberbios volcanes, pero sobre todo nuestra raza, nuestra gente, nuestro mestizaje. One hundred ninety-five years ago, the original five Central American lands (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) declared their independence from Spain and were born as the “Provincias Unidas del Centro de América” (the United Provinces of the Central America).
That federation lasted only 16 years, and those provinces became the countries we are today, four of which have diplomatic representations here in Israel. Yet since that day in 1821, we Central Americans have known that we remain part of the same fatherland -- our narrow, beautiful, at times troubled isthmus. And we know that our prosperity depends on us remaining at peace and strengthening our ties of economic cooperation and integration. We Central Americans have been integrating our economies since the 1960s. Today our main multilateral forum is the Central American Integration System, or SICA in Spanish. Launched in 1991, SICA now includes the sister nations of Panama, Belize and the Dominican Republic. Our eight countries work together to pursue regional political dialogue, meet climate and environmental challenges, and share expertise in improving social programmes, with the goal of helping our people lead healthier and more secure lives.
Perhaps the area in which we have advanced the most is trade. We have negotiated joint trade agreements with all our most important partners, including the United States, the European Union, Mexico, Colombia and Chile, and we are currently engaged in negotiations with South Korea. These agreements guarantee access for our products to those markets and facilitate investment in our countries. At the same time, we continue to deepen economic integration amongst ourselves and are well underway toward completing a Customs Union, so products can move from one country to another without barriers. Central America is a geographically strategic region. We are blessed with rich biodiversity and long coastlines on both the Atlantic and Pacific. With a combined population of more than 50 million, we offer investors a large market. But we also face challenges together. Our region faces serious issues of violence due to gang activity, organized crime and drug trafficking. We are committed to tackling these problems jointly.
That is why we have created the Central American Security Strategy, or ESCA, a comprehensive effort for better sharing of information, strengthening judicial and police institutions, and intervention at the community level to prevent violence. A big part of ESCA’s work has also been to apply cooperation from friendly countries that have faced problems similar to ours. We have created a group known as the Friends of ESCA, made up of governments and international financial agencies that are bringing expertise and aid to help us face these unprecedented security challenges. Israel is not part of that group, and those of us here tonight, and my government in particular, would very much like it to be. For that to happen, Israel would have to first become an extra-regional observer to SICA, and we will continue to support that aspiration very strongly, both in our contacts with Israeli authorities and within the Central American group itself.
Israel has been a good friend of Central America over the years, and Central America has been a good friend to Israel since its establishment in 1948, the year all our nations recognized the newly born State of Israel. Moreover, all our countries have thriving Jewish communities that have played important roles in government, the arts and business. In the context of this shared history of cooperation and friendship, we have seen a constant stream of high-level delegations from Central America to Israel in the last 12 months, all with practical agendas for strengthening ties. Last October, President Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras, a MASHAV alumnus, led an official delegation whose visit concluded with commitments to expand cooperation in agriculture and water management, areas important not only to Honduras but to Central America as a whole. Currently Guatemala is preparing for a visit to Israel in the next few months by President Jimmy Morales, who took office this year and will lead a delegation of key officials. Costa Rica is organizing a visit by its Trade Minister, which will surely advance trade and investment in both directions. As for El Salvador, we are working with Israel on a third round of consultations to review our bilateral agenda, which will include political dialogue, enhanced cooperation and trade and investment possibilities.
Our governments see great opportunities in the “Start-up Nation”. And Israelis are increasingly discovering the investment opportunities offered by our countries individually and as a region. We, Central American and Israeli officials, have to work together to develop this potential. In this endeavour, not only the exchange of visits by officials, but the enhancement of our diplomatic presence, ours in Israel and Israel’s in Central America, is fundamental. That is why we have been surprised by the withdrawal of Israel’s diplomatic presence in our region. Israel this year has closed two embassies, both of them in our region, one in my own country El Salvador and the other the elimination of a roving Israeli ambassador to the Caribbean nations based in New York. As a friend of Israel, it pains my country and me personally to see the Israeli flag coming down anywhere in the world. This is particularly unfortunate in a region that has gained so much from cooperation with Israel in the past and could benefit from Israel’s good sense and expertise now more than ever.
Our region has suffered the scourges of war and forced migration. But we have worked hard to create better institutions, more prosperous economies, and democratic systems that allow all interests to have a voice and a stake in society. All of us, whatever our differences, understand that dialogue is the only means to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation. It is for this reason, and informed by our own experiences, that our countries continue to support a negotiated, two-state solution that will bring peace to Israel and Palestine, two nations that deserve no less. We Central Americans understand better than anybody that peace comes through dialogue - - not imposition – and that negotiated solutions take time and good faith. We trust that, despite all the setbacks to the peace process, the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and peoples will not lose sight of this reality. [pause] When we Central Americans get together, as we do tonight, you might hear us talking about football -- in which we have some epic rivalries -- or politics back home. But you may also hear us mentioning a figure from our independence struggle, Francisco Morazán, who fought the Spaniards and then spent his life fighting to keep Central America together as a single country, unsuccessfully. He was a liberal reformer, born in Honduras, died in Costa Rica and buried in El Salvador, and still a controversial figure today. You’ll still hear people mention el sueño de Morazán, the dream of Morazán, that is, the dream of a unified Central America. We are still working towards the dream of Morazán, although not exactly in the way he envisioned. By integrating our economies and building cooperation in every field, we are working towards realizing his dream of a united, modern and prosperous Central America. We hope Israel will continue to support and be part of that dream. Thank you, toda raba, muchas gracias.
Photo Silvia Golan
President Rivlin hosts Rosh Hashanah reception for foreign ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps serving in Israel
President Reuven & First Lady Nechama Rivlin today (Thursday) held a festive reception at his residence for foreign ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps serving in Israel, to honor the upcoming festival of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Attending were 90 ambassadors and diplomats representing countries from around the world, including Israel’s neighboring countries Egypt and Jordan.
“Thank you for joining us to raise a toast and celebrate the new Jewish year,” began the President, and added, “I want to start by saying that Israel is proud of our cooperation with each of your nations; we are proud of the friendships that we are building, between us, and between our peoples. In the past year we have worked hard to build networks, and strengthen our ties and cooperation.” He stressed, “We are especially happy with the growing partnerships and friendships with our neighbors in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. I see these opportunities as a way to build a better future for all the people in our region.”
The President noted that in the Rosh Hashanah liturgy, “We say that it is decided, ‘Who will live and who will die, who by water and who by fire, who will rest and who will wander, who will have calm, and who will be troubled’.” He observed that “This last year in our region we have seen many die by fire, and when trying to find safety many have died by water. We have seen many people wander, and many people face troubles. These terrible facts are not the actions of God, they are the evil deeds of man pretending to speak in the name of God,” and told the ambassadors and diplomats attending, “to stand up to this terrible threat needs the brave actions of man. This is a duty for all of us.”
The President said, “I don’t believe we have forgotten our values, but if this were to be true the whole free world would be in danger of sacrificing everything that we sacrificed for: freedom, liberty, and democracy.”
He concluded, “This year, on Rosh Hashanah, it will be my prayer that the world will focus on the politics of values on which our society was built. That we will remember, that beneath the politics are people; men, women and children, of all faiths, and all nations. I hope that all their voices will be heard fairly, equal before the law, and equal in society.”
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps a.i, Ambassador of Dominican Republic, H.E. Mr. Alexander de la Rosa also addressed the event, and thanked the President and First Lady for their warm welcome and hospitality. He said, “On behalf of the Diplomatic Corps, I wish to the State of Israel, its Government, and all the Jewish people a happy New Year.”
He added that he hoped this year, “The negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians will be a reality, and the two sides will solve all the differences that exist between them.” He added, that the world today faced the challenge of “terrorism, which targets the social democracy, and human rights,” and added that there should be “condemnation of terrorism in all its manifestations”. He concluded, “I wish that the progress and flourishing of the Israeli economy will continue to rise,” and that, “Israel will continue its high standard in all the medical, scientific, and technological cooperation projects, providing knowledge and solutions for the world.”
Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)
Nathalie Mimoun, new Honorary French Consul
The words sound better in French than in English: “Chavalier de L’Ordre National du Mérite”. (Freely translated into English: Knight of the National Order of Merit).
In a separate ceremony in Jerusalem, Ms. Mimoun was also awarded the official title of Honorary Consul of the French Republic in Netanya. This Mediterranean resort city has the highest concentration of French people in Israel – more that 10,000 – making it Israel’s most “French” city.
To be perfectly accurate, Ms. Mimoun should be addressed as Dr. Mimoun. She arrived in Israel from Paris (where she was born and raised) as a young medical student, some 30 years ago. Practicing medicine has been swept away by her career in politics, social welfare activism and her family life with her husband and four children. The Order of Merit award is in recognition of her boundless and devoted efforts to help new immigrants to Israel to adapt to their new country but also for her work for the welfare of Holocaust survivors. Nathalie: “I often tell new immigrants: ‘Don’t be fixated on your past life, studies or career. You’ve come to a new country, a new culture, a new world. You can start a new life as well’ ”.
In an address to the gathering at the Ambassadorial ceremony, Nathalie spoke of her experiences as an immigrant to a new country; she recalled her culture shock, but also how Israelis “opened their hearts” to her and helped her to settle in. She spoke of her own wish now, as a seasoned Israeli, to help others, in particular new immigrants from France, to feel welcome in the country that is now so close to her heart. “When political, cultural or religious conflicts rear their ugly head we must always remember how such conflicts have always been resolved throughout history: by listening, understanding and learning from the ‘other’. A lesson I never forget.”
Her route from doctor to honorary consul is long and interesting, and includes her present career, in partnership with her husband, in the diamond and jewelry industry. “I have never abandoned my French roots and culture”, she says, “but I have put down roots here in my adopted land and want to help others do the same with ease and equanimity.”
One would assume that her career, family, consular tasks and social welfare efforts leave little time for other issues. Not so for Nathalie. She plays golf, tennis and chess and is a gourmet chef. (She’s French, so gastronomy is in her genes). On life in Israel: “I love the friendship, the mix of cultures, the action … nobody agrees with others, we’re always arguing ... the day and night life in non-stop Tel Aviv ... my freedom to express myself ... I feel secure”.
There is an old saying: “Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter”. In Nathalie’s case, the opposite is also true: Making someone else’s candle glow, makes your own shine even brighter. The light she casts on those whose life she helps brighten certainly adds shine to the world about her.
Thanks Nathalie, Chavalier de L’Ordre National du Mérite and Honorary Consul of France
Photo 1 by MFA Protocol Appartment
Photo 2 Silvia G Golan
Switzerland Celebrates 725 Years of the Swiss Confederation
On August 2, the Embassy of Switzerland in Israel marked the occasion of its national day, August 1, commemorating the formation of the Swiss Confederation in 1291. The reception honoring the 725th Anniversary of the Swiss Confederation was also the occasion of the official farewell of the Ambassador of Switzerland to Israel, Dr. Andreas Baum, as he leaves for his next post in India, following four years as envoy to Israel.
The reception, held in the lush green garden of the residence of the Swiss ambassador in Ramat Gan, was attended by ambassadors and representatives of many diplomatic missions, officials of the government of Israel, Swiss nationals residing in Israel, leaders of the business community, and a cross-section of Israeli society. Among the guests were Ambassador Meron Reuben - FM Protocol Chief
and Itzhak Eldan – former Israel’s head of ceremony.
Guests were treated to a variety of traditional Swiss foods, especially raclette, as well as Swiss wines. The musical program of the evening included a yodeling performance by Miss Helvetia, Barbara Klossner and entretainment bu the local band Shmemel
The ambassador himself announced the playing of the national anthems of Switzerland and Israel.
Following is Ambassador Baum's address
Honoured guests, dear friends and colleagues,
Thank you for joining us to celebrate Switzerland’s 725th anniversary. We will now hear the national anthem of our host country Israel, interpreted by members of the band Shmemel, followed by the Swiss Psalm, sung by Barbara Klossner.
This is my fourth and last National Day in Israel. Our motto for tonight was: keep some well-established things the same, such as the combination of intense summer heat with warm raclette cheese, while bringing in a few new elements. We are partnering with Swiss International Airlines, a unique bridge builder between Switzerland and Israel. We are also showcasing three charitable projects, Kuchinate, CEC Collection and UNITAF, which the embassy has been supporting. Their collections and books are being sold inside. We are also innovating musically, with the participation of Barbara Klossner, a prominent ambassador of Swiss traditional music, who flew in a few hours ago especially to join us, and the Israeli funk rock band Shmemel, bringing in their own brand of energy. This is planned as an experiment in creative fusion and I hope you’ll enjoy it.
What can an ambassador achieve ? Our work is so difficult to quantify. Together with our Israeli partners, we have been pushing into new fields, projects and collaborations, such as promoting the Swiss dual vocational training system, which is currently being piloted in several Israeli enterprises, or celebrating, around this country, the avant-garde art movement Dada, born 100 years ago in Zurich. We have intensified and diversified our bilateral political dialogue, to reach into the multilateral, strategic and development aid areas. For all this I wish to thank my wonderful team as well as our many partners, be they Israeli officials, academics, scientists or civil society activists, the members of our vibrant Swiss community, the Chambers of commerce, the Israel-Switzerland Friendship Association. With this mix, everything was possible and even more is to come. I am of course delighted that in these four years, overall trade between the two countries grew by 15 % and that a high birth rate enriched the Swisscommunity in Israel by over 20%, to almost reach the milestone of 20’000 members. But, you’ll agree with me, I can claim no responsibility.
I’ve been cleaning up my office these last few days. How easy it becomes to throw away paper, when you wait long enough! This in no way diminishes the energy and passion that flowed into those papers, always trying to better understand the events of what have been four turbulent years: we witnessed two wars around Gaza, two early elections, the failure of peace efforts, the current wave of violence. While I have learned a lot, I must say that I am leaving with many more interrogations than certainties. I remain challenged by the contradictions posed by Israel, which is at the same time the vibrant startup nation, with which we cooperate so closely, and the author of a persistent, internationally unrecognized occupation. While I trust that you see clearer perspectives, I keep searching for the answer to a basic question found in a Haaretz article: what’s the plan?
Israel unquestioningly belongs to the Western, democratic family of nations. Because we are family, we worry, we criticize, and we even may sometimes – as some will say - meddle in its internal affairs. We thus did not understand the necessity for a so-called NGO transparency bill, we consistently oppose settlement expansion and ask for better protection of vulnerable populations in Area C. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we remain strong supporters of the only rational solution, the two States solution, as admirably sketched out by my friends of the Geneva Initiative. When I arrived, I was sure that this rational solution is more or less pre-ordained, that the parties, with support from the international community, will just have to find the - difficult - way to get there. I now rather more modestly believe that the outcome is open. Who wants what, how much, and with what means - this will determine the future. Israel, despite its many strategic challenges, chose to construct and realize a democratic, prosperous nation. This country, in spite of its fears and legitimate security concerns, can equally choose to concretely invest in peace. It is both a risk and a conscious choice. The environment and the present are a given, but the future is in your hands.
Around the world, these violent, uncomfortable times have robbed us of many certainties. We are being painfully reminded that history is not linear. Peace and prosperity through ever closer cooperation are being questioned even in Europe. The specter of new barriers, a revival of nationalism and even racism must alert us, in Europe of all places; yes, our security, our way of life are being challenged, but fear, anger, distrust and hate must not be allowed to dictate our future. As citizens, as members of civil society, we must fight, together, for our ideals and values, for a future of tolerance, of hope and opportunity. Fight democratically and peacefully, in politics, in schools, at the ballot box, if necessary on the streets. I trust in the well informed, enlightened European, Swiss and Israeli citizens.
How do you like Israel? How does it compare with your other postings? How often have I heard these questions! They are simple, honest, legitimate queries, but also tricky questions - because of the highly politicized, polarized Israeli environment, because of ongoing conflicts in the region, because of the weight of history. For a diplomat, this is a posting rich in banana peels, where the way from the high chair to the low chair can be very short. So we tend to avoid straightforward answers, fleeing into empty phrases such as “never a dull moment”. And I shall not forget the words of an experienced colleague, who said: in Israel, never give advice, never compare. But today, almost at the last minute, I feel I owe you an answer, by telling you all the things I will miss here. I will miss the people, their creativity, warmth and passion, the stimulating, high level conversations, the challenging work environment. I will miss my trusted embassy colleagues and residence staff. I will miss the culture, the beautiful classical concerts and the original works of art, of which I can take only a very small sample with me. I will miss the balmy climate, the seashore, the road trips to the North and South, the incomparable food and wine. I will miss my garden and my rapidly growing family of wild cats. In short, I am leaving with much nostalgia.
In a few days, my successor Ambassador Jean-Daniel Ruch will take up his mission. I know he can count on your trust and warm welcome. The Indian capital New Delhi will soon be my new temporary home. I look forward to this exciting, challenging, high-energy posting. I’m following in the footsteps and the quests of so many Israelis, though they’re usually a bit younger than me when they go there. One day, should I ever find serenity and wisdom, I may come back to the shores of the Mediterranean to watch the olive trees grow. Good bye, thank you and let’s keep in touch.
The Diplomacy.co.il team wishes the ambassador the best of luck at his new posting.
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Pavan Kapoor , Ambassador of India to Israel.
President Rivlin recevies new ambassadors from India, Chile, Myanmar, Estonia, and Lesotho
President Rivlin this morning (Wednesday) at his residence received the diplomatic credentials of new ambassadors to Israel from the India, Chile, Myanmar, Estonia, and Lesotho. Each ceremony began with the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem of the visiting country, included an honor guard, 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 India, H.E Mr. Pavan Kapoor. President Rivlin welcomed the Ambassador, his wife, and delegation and said, "The relationship between our two peoples and our two states is being spoken about all over, and the cooperation between us is not only about innovation where we are trying our best to tackle problems in agriculture and water, energy, but also cyber and the need for security. I know that we can expand this cooperation and your appointment is an opportunity to look at ways we can do so. I convey my best regards to the President and Prime Minister, and I hope that the Prime Minster will be able to visit Israel and that I will be able to visit India in the coming months."
Ambassador Kapoor thanked the President and said, "We are working to take our relationship further. We have received Israel's help in a number of areas including defense, agriculture and water where we suffer a lot - in our country we either have droughts or floods, and we have a lot we can learn from Israel." The Ambassador added, "We are looking forward to your visit and are working on dates for what I believe will be a landmark visit."
President Rivlin thanked him and concluded, "The Indian and Israeli peoples have a lot in common, we know how to respect tradition and to be ready to learn and bring innovation to our lives for the benefit of our peoples and the whole world."
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mrs. Monica Jimenez De La Jara , Ambassador of Chile to Israel.
Next the newly appointed Ambassador of Chile, H.E Mrs. Monica Jimenez De La Jara presented her credentials. The President welcomed her and showed her a picture of him as Speaker of the Knesset together with former President of the Chilean Senate and daughter of former Chilean president Isabel Allende taken at an international conference in Santiago. The President congratulated the Ambassador on her appointment and said, "I know that coming here from having served as Ambassador to the Vatican, you will feel at home in Jerusalem which is the center of the Holy Land. I welcome you also as a former education minister and we know that everything one can bring to our people begins with education. We are doing all we can in Israel; while 90 years ago we had only one university, now we have more than 6 universities and many colleges that are giving the opportunity to every citizen of Israel to study. We believe that the future of all people is together with education." The President spoke of the relationship between the two governments and added, "From time to time we have some differences of opinion but we know that the relationship between our two peoples and governments is strong. We can accept criticism - we do not accept boycott - but we can accept criticism."
The Ambassador of Chile thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, "I am honored to have come from the Holy See to the Holy Land. I greatly appreciate being in a country with so much university activity. We have visited the Weizmann Institute, and the Hebrew University and we have plans to visit many more. We would like to have an academic delegation from Chile to reinforce the academic and research relations."
She added, "I have worked all my life for peace. I know the situation in the Middle East is very difficult but Chile is ready with an open hand to do all it can to advance peace."
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Maung Maung Lynn , Ambassador of Myanmar to Israel.
Next, Ambassador of Myanmar, H.E Mr. Maung Maung Lynn arrived to present his credentials. The President welcomed him, his wife and delegation and said, "Mr. Ambassador, I remember as a student in High School when the Prime Minister of your country, U Nu, came to visit Israel, and then as a soldier in the IDF I remember Israel's first Prime Minister Ben Gurion visited your country and brought back a great appreciation for your people and your culture. We are very proud of our connection and our relationship with your people. The Foreign Ministry started the idea of MASHAV in your country, the idea of connecting with other peoples through learning together and sharing our knowledge about water for example. We also know that many Jews found shelter in your country until the outbreak of war. I want to congratulate you on the recent democratic elections in your country, which make Myanmar stronger."
Ambassador Lynn thanked the President and noted, "It is a great pleasure to be here. I am here with my family and my daughter who will study here, and we have visited much of the country."
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Sulev Kannike , Ambassador of Estonia to Israel.
Next, Ambassador of Estonia, H.E Mr. Sulev Kannike presented his credentials. The President congratulated him on his appointment and said, "We appreciate the wonderful relationship between our states and governments, and we appreciate your support for Israel in the international arena on so many issues, as well as the participation of Estonia in peace keeping efforts in the region. We appreciate also the understanding of Estonia on Holocaust education in your schools and among your people. In the field of cyber we are working together, in order to keep safe people in the region, and across Europe and the world." The President added, "Please send my special wishes to your Foreign Minister who served as Ambassador of Estonia in Israel."
Ambassador Kannike thanked the President and said, "I am happy to convey the greetings of my President who visited Israel in 2012. Bilateral relations between Israel and Estonia are almost without problems. We understand each other very well, and this is important for us. In July next year Estonia is taking over the Presidency of the European Union and I hope this will help us improve not only our bilateral relations but also our multilateral relations. I also express my appreciation for Israel's work in cyber security and startups – an area in which Estonia is also working hard."
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Lineo Irene Molisa Mabusela , Ambassador of Lesotho to Israel.
Ambassador of Lesotho, H.E Mrs. Lineo Irene Molisa-Mabusela then presented her credentials as non-resident Ambassador to Israel. President Rivlin congratulated the Ambassador on her appointment and stressed, "The relationship between our two nations is very important to us and despite any crises, we have maintained uninterrupted relations." The President spoke of the important cooperation between the peoples in the fields of agriculture and water innovation, he said, "We would like to see more of your students come to study through MASHAV especially here in Israel." The President added, "Israel would be pleased to return to its observer status at the African Union."
Ambassador thanked the President and said "Allow me to pass the warmest wishes of His Majesty and the people of Lesotho. We are appreciative of the wonderful relations between our two countries, and we would like to work to open new channels of communication including in the fields of healthcare, agriculture, water and many others."
Photos Mark Neuman / GPO
President Rivlin hosts state dinner in honor of President Cartes of Paraguay
President Reuven & First Lady Rivlin this evening () hosted at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, a state dinner in honor of the visit of Paraguayan President Horacia Cartes, who was making the first state visit to Israel by a president of Paraguay.
At the beginning of the evening both presidents delivered addresses. At the dinner were in attendance Julio and Dario Messer, members of the Jewish family from Brazil which 'unofficially adopted' President Cartes in his youth.
At the beginning of his address, President Rivlin welcomed President Cartes and spoke of the strong ties between the two peoples. He said, "While Paraguay is thousands of kilometers away from Israel, its friendship with Israel and the Jewish people is true and enduring. As such, Paraguay absorbed fifteen to twenty thousand Jewish migrants who were fleeing Nazi oppression. Just as you stood by the Jewish people then, you stand today alongside Israel. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this important diplomatic support, and we hope it will continue into the future."
President Rivlin continued on to say, "We must not just praise the past, we must care for the future, for the deepening of the friendship between Israel and Paraguay, the widening of our cooperation, and the growth of bilateral trade and investment. Your visit here is a step of unparalleled importance on this path to the future."
President Cartes of Paraguay thanked President Rivlin for the warm reception and said, "Today I am realizing a dream, I am in Israel. Mr. President, my deep love for Israel and its people is tied also to the Jewish family that supported me during difficult times." He added, "We will expand our cooperation with Israel, one of the most advanced countries in the fields of science and technology. Paraguay and Israel share deep historical bonds. We share values of freedom, dialogue, protecting human rights, and condemnation of all forms of fundamentalism. Together we will continue on this path."
Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)
PM Netanyahu addresses the Ethiopian parliament
All nations are threatened by the forces of terror. The terrorists see us, all of us, as one. We must fight them as one. And I want to pledge to you one thing: We can defeat them; we will defeat them; but working together we'll defeat them even faster.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Thursday, 7 July 2016), delivered the following address to the Ethiopian Parliament:
PM Netanyahu addressing the Ethiopian parliament. Photo: GPO/Kobi Gideon
President Rivlin on state visit to Bulgaria
President Rivlin: "We must all stand strong together and say in a loud and clear voice that above all else, we will fight terrorism and its supporters in any place they may try and reach and in every place they will attempt to hide."
President Rivlin and President Plevneliev at the official welcoming ceremony in St. Alexander Nevsky Square
Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach
President Rivlin meets with King Phillipe of Belgium and Belgian PM Michel
President Rilvin: “Today we know that there is a link between anti-Semitism against Jews, and Jihadi terror that kills innocent people of all religions. We must not wait for anti-Semitism to become terror; we must fight it from the beginning, together.”
At the conclusion of their meeting, the two delivered media statements, during which the President stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against anti-Semitism and terrorism. The President said, “Israel is concerned by the activities of the BDS movement in your country. BDS is of no importance, but even their small victories can give the wrong impression. We hope that under your leadership, Belgium will say 'no to BDS' and 'yes to peace', 'yes to cooperation'. Today we know that there is a link between anti-Semitism against Jews, and Jihadi terror that kills innocent people of all religions. We must not wait for anti-Semitism to become terror; we must fight it from the beginning, together, we must fight together against anti-Semitism.”
Prime Minister Michel welcomed the President, he said, “We spoke today about the fight against terror, which stands central to the efforts of our two peoples and of the whole world. We must improve the coordination between our intelligence organizations to ensure that we will succeed in preventing future attacks. In addition, we spoke about our shared values, the values of democracy, and the peace process in light of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East. We share in the concern about events in Syria, Libya, and Iraq. One of the issues about which we spoke was that of the refugees which is of concern to both countries.”
The Prime Minister added, “We share diplomatic, political, and economic values, and the cooperation between us is significant - especially in the area of trade. We appreciate Israeli innovation, and the drive for education and academic development, and hope that your visit will strengthen the abilities of our countries to work together.”
The Prime Minister stressed that in their discussions, “I had the opportunity to reaffirm Belgium’s commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. We will fight anti-Semitism with all our strength. This is a shared struggle.”
After his meeting with the Prime Minister, President Rivlin went on to meet His Majesty King Phillipe of Belgium, with whom he discussed a range of bilateral issues, and spoke of strengthening the relations between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Belgium.
Over the course of his visit, President Rivlin is due to deliver a special address before the European Parliament on Wednesday 22 June, and will also meet leaders of the European institutions, and of the Jewish and other faith communities.
President Rivlin with King Phillipe of Belgium
The Philippines Celebrates the Anniversary of Its Independence
The 118th anniversary of the Republic of the Philippines’ proclamation of its independence fell on June 12 of this year, but it was celebrated on the evening of June 14, at a reception held at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv. Guests were greeted by the Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines to Israel, the Honorable Neal Imperial and Mrs. Octavia Imperial. The government of Israel was represented by Minister of Social Equality Gila Gamliel.
Among the guests were Mark Sofer, Deputy Director General for Asia and Pacific Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and members of the diplomatic corps.
The official ceremony commenced with the playing of the national anthems of the Republic of the Philippines and the State of Israel.
In his address to the assembled, Ambassador Imperial noted that the Philippines has just elected a new president, ushering in a new administration that he is sure will continue to foster the good relations between the two nations. Following are excerpts of his remarks:
“It is a great honor to have with us tonight a woman minister and distinguished feminist. As an ambassador of the most gender equal country in the Asia-Pacific -- the Philippines has had two women presidents, and the present Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is a woman -- we share common ground with Israel in supporting the struggle for gender equality globally.
“The Filipino nation was forged in the crucible of the first successful anti-colonial revolution in Asia: 118 years ago, the Philippine flag was raised and the national anthem was sung, for the first time, in Kawit Cavite, signaling the birth of Asia's first republic. Thanks to the courage, vision and sacrifices of our national heroes, some of whom were women, the Philippines is now a stable democracy with a resilient economy.
“Together with the 27,000-strong Filipino community in Israel, we also take pride in celebrating this year, the 30th anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution. People Power, Philippines style, was a unique popular uprising that overthrew 14 years of authoritarian rule through peaceful and democratic means. This mode of peaceful political change has inspired a wave of democratization worldwide that reverberates to this day.
“Next year, Israel and the Philippines will celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations, an important milestone in the relations between our two democracies and an opportunity to build on our common thrusts, particularly in the areas of tourism and agricultural cooperation.
“In September last year, the Philippines was privileged to be the first country to be visited by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. Since his visit, tourism exchanges have seen a dramatic rise. Israelis are beginning to discover why it's more fun to visit Palawan, Cebu, Bohol and Boracay, which are some of the best island destinations in the world, according to prestigious travel magazines. Inbound tourism from Israel increased by 34% last year, while the number of Filipinos going on pilgrimage tour to the Holy Land continues to rise.
“Agricultural cooperation remains a significant component of our bilateral relations. Our minister on food security and agricultural modernization was in Israel early this year to explore how Israeli agri-tech could boost agricultural production and improve water management in the farm sector back home. MASHAV training programs for many Filipinos from diverse backgrounds are continuing, and the Philippines greatly appreciates the consistently large number of Filipino agricultural students studying and working in Israeli farms through the Granot Agrostudies Program.
“The Philippine economy is doing remarkably well. After growing by an average of more than 6% in the last six years, the economy is poised to grow by 6.5-7% this year, one of the fastest in the world. The Philippines is now widely acknowledged for its steady rise as a dynamic economic growth hub with sustainable inclusive development, a vital and responsible member of the global community committed to uphold and abide by the rule of law in defending its territorial integrity and supporting multilateral institutions.
“Under the incoming administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who won the May Presidential elections with a landslide victory, the Philippines will ensure continuity in economic policy with a strong emphasis on restoring peace and order, curbing criminality and decisively addressing graft and corruption. Israel should expect the next administration to build on the existing close ties between Israel and the Philippines, especially in the areas of tourism, agriculture, defense and counter-terrorism.
“I cannot fail to mention the almost 20,000 Filipino caregivers living and working in Israel, helping many Israeli families cope with the challenges of an aging population. They are the reason why there is so much goodwill between Israelis and Filipinos. I wish to thank the government of Israel for allowing them to work here, one of the few countries in the Middle East where our workers' contribution to society is recognized and their labor rights are protected.”
In her remarks on behalf of the government of Israel, Minister Gamliel recalled the history of relations between the Philippines and the Jewish people and the State of Israel, beginning with the initiative of former Philippine President Manuel Quezon to welcome Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, and continuing with the Philippines’ vote in the United Nations in 1947 to support the creation of the Jewish state -- the only Asian nation to do so. She also noted that some 6,000 Philippine students have studied in this country in the framework of Israel’s educational outreach to the developing world. Minister Gamliel concluded her remarks with words of praise for the professionalism and dedication of Philippine caregivers assisting Israel’s elderly population.
After the remarks of the ambassador and the minister, the two joined in a ceremonial toast and in cutting a decorative cake adorned by the flags of the Philippines and Israel.
The evening’s entertainment featured Philippine vocalist Rose “Osang” Fostanes, a recent winner on the Israeli television show X-Factor, who was accompanied by Israeli musician Tal Kravitz. There was a small exhibit of Philippine crafts and clothing, and promotional tourism videos of the Philippines were screened on monitors.
A buffet was catered by the Hilton’s banquet services. Among the dishes served was a Philippine noodle soup.
Photos Courtesy of the Philippine Embassy
Slovenia Celebrates 25 Years of Independence
On Tuesday, June 14th, the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia hosted a gala anniversary reception, celebrating 25 years of independence. The reception was held at the residence of the Slovenian Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Ms. Barbara Sušnik, overlooking the sea in Herzliya.
In attendance at the reception were a range of guests, from representatives of various embassies, Israeli Government representatives and Slovenian diplomats to local businesspersons, members of the Jewish community in Ljubljana, and musicians, including world-renowned conductor Ronen Nissan and vocalist Tair from the popular Israeli-Yemenite music group A-WA.
Ambassador Sušnik opened the formal part of the evening by expressing sympathy and support for Israel in light of the recent terror attack in Tel Aviv. The Ambassador emphasized the principles behind Slovenian independence, including commitments to human rights, helping those in need, and Responsibility to Protect (R2P) that serve as the basis of international diplomatic cooperation. She closed her remarks by expressing hope for peace in the Middle East and a negotiated two-state solution.
Ambassador Sušnik then called up the Deputy Foreign Minister of Slovenia, who had served as Slovenia's first Ambassador to Israel, Darja Bavdaž Kuret offer some remarks in honor of the occasion. Both the Ambassador and the Deputy Foreign Minister emphasized the close historical ties between Israel and Slovenia, and artistic, cultural and diplomatic cooperation between the two countries.
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked addressed the guests next. The minister mentioned prior diplomatic exchanges between Slovenia and Israel and expressed her hope that the forthcoming increase of direct flights between the countries would lead to further visits and cooperation and that Israel would open an embassy in Slovenia.
Guests were then treated to a musical rendition of the national anthems of both Slovenia and Israel, and a theatrical performance by members of the Jewish Cultural Center of Ljubljana. Slovenia is home to approximately 500 Jews, centered in Ljubljana, and has seen a renaissance of Jewish activity in recent years. Israel and Slovenia have enjoyed full diplomatic relations since 1992, and friends of both Slovenia can look forward to celebrating Israeli-Slovenian ties on many more such occasions in coming years.
Photo Courtesy of the Slovenian Embassy
Italy Celebrates Its National Day 2016
Hundreds of people gathered at the residence of Italian ambassador Francesco Talo’ in Ramat Gan on June 2 to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Republic of Italy. Special guests from Italy included Education and Science Minister Stefania Giannini and dignitaries from the Jewish community in Rome. The government of Israel was represented by Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz.
Among the guests were opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog; former government ministers Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, Gideon Sa’ar and Yossi Beilin; Member of Knesset Oren Hazan; Ambassador Meron Reuben of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; members of the diplomatic corps, and business leaders, including Gad Propper, Chairman of the Israel-EU chamber of Commerce and the general manager of Alitalia in Israel Aldo Delia. Cinzia Klein of the Italian Academy of Cuisine and actor/model Michael Lewis were also in attendance.
The slogan of the evening, on the invitations and festooned on signs overlooking the gathering, was “Italy and Israel: Our Strong Roots, Our Great Future.” The Master of Ceremonies was television personality Danny Kashmaro.
The official ceremony commenced with the singing of the national anthems of Italy, the European Union and Israel, performed by the choir of the Rishon school, where the Italian language is taught.
In his address to the assembled, Ambassador Talo’ emphasized that Italy cooperated with Israel in many spheres, not only bilaterally, but also in the framework of the European Union. Following are excerpts of his remarks:
“We believe that the future of our peoples is based on the intensity of the relationship between researchers of both countries, and we are concretely supporting ever more visits and common projects between Israel and Israel. To show the commitment of the Italian government to this endeavor, the Italian Minister of Education and Science Stefania Giannini is once again visiting Israel. Moreover, an important delegation of Italian universities and research institutions has come to improve the already very strong cooperation with Israeli counterparts.
“To mark 15 years to the Italian Israeli Government to Government Agreement on Scientific, Technological and Industrial Collaboration, under which Italy allocates millions of Euros each year, the Embassy of Italy, in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce Italy–Israel, is holding an unprecedented set of activities: ten parallel scientific conferences all over Israel. They will relate to all the areas of research and innovation where the partnership between the two countries flourishes.
“During the month of June, the Italian Trade Agency (ICE-Tel Aviv), in collaboration with Sheraton, will organize a series of initiatives aimed to promote authentic Italian food and Italian kosher products, as part of Italy's "Extraordinary Italian Taste" campaign.
“On the evening of June 22, in collaboration with the Israeli Opera, the Verdi masterpiece “Rigoletto” will be performed at the Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem. The extraordinary opera performance, with young and talented italian conductor, Francesco Cilluffo, will be attended by 5,000 spectators, and an “Italian Lounge” offering Italian products will welcome our guests.
“Finally, on June 22-23, the Italian Minister of Agriculture will visit Israel, meet his colleague Uri Ariel and inaugurate the Expo Milano 2015 Forest in Yatir, a project developed thanks to KKL, which underlines the importance of Israel’s participation in last year’s universal Expo, and the fact that Israel and Italy are EXPOnential Partners.”
Minister Giannini added: “On the occasion of our National Day, there will be the presentation in Israel of the Italian translation of the Talmud. For the first time, the Babylonian Talmud has been translated into Italian, also thanks to a contribution of the Italian Government of 5 million Euros. This huge and ongoing endeavor was recently presented in Rome by Rav Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome, at the presence of the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella.”
In his remarks on behalf of the government of Israel, Minister Steinitz praised the natural beauty of Italy, Israel’s Mediterranean neighbor, and welcomed the mooted cooperation between the two countries in developing the region’s natural gas resources.
The kosher affair was catered by La Familia, with pizza margherita baked fresh on site by Peppe. Beverages and spirits were provided Pellegrino, Neroni, Aperol, Galliano and Vini di Lombardia, who were sponsors of the evening’s festivities. Other sponsors included Alitalia, which raffled off two airline tickets to Italy; Alfa Romeo, which had a demo car on display; Ferrero, which had a booth handing out Kinder chocolates; Caffe Lilly, which served espresso; and Arte Glideria, the Tel Aviv gelateria that served up its award-winning gelato.
The evening’s entertainment featured the Arakne music and dance and ensemble, and jazz played by the in the Shlomi Goldenberg trio.
The Jewish National Fund, which is the agency in charge of afforestation in Israel, awarded the Italian embassy a certificate of sustainability in recognition of the embassy’s pledge to plant 120 trees in order to offset the carbon footprint of the event.
Photos by Silvia G. Golan
More pictures at Facebook Diplomacy Israel
PM Netanyahu addresses Diplomatic Corps on Independence Day 2016
PM Netanyahu: I want to state unequivocally and in front of diplomats from around the world: I continue to support two states for two peoples: a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. It's about time.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the occasion of Israel’s Independence Day, made the following remarks at the President's Residence in Jerusalem to the Diplomatic Corps:
"I have a special affection for the diplomatic service because I entered public life 34 years ago as Israel's Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington D.C. At the time, the number of states that had formal diplomatic relations with Israel was very small. Today we have full diplomatic relations with 159 states. There are not many left. And those that are left I can count maybe on the fingers of one hand, at a stretch you can go to the other hand.
Those with which we don't have some kind of active liaison, there's been a great change in our fortunes in our foreign relations. Scarcely a day passes that we don’t have diplomatic delegations or trade delegations or technological delegations or security delegations not only from our great traditional ally the United States, and of course the European countries, but also from Asia, from Africa, from Latin America, from every part of the world.
Countries are coming to Israel for two main reasons: One, they identify that Israel has significant contributions to make in our common battle, the battle of civilized countries against the dark forces of Islamic radicalism, those headed by Iran and Isis as the President correctly said.
They seek our help in intelligence, in logistics, our experience in combatting terrorism, in strengthening security, our common security
The second reason that people are coming here is, in a word, technology. The future belongs to those who innovate. Israel is the innovation nation. It is eager to share its contributions, its abilities, and some significant sparks of genius with the rest of mankind and womankind. If you hold a cellphone, a good chunk of it was made in Israel or thought up in Israel. If you eat a salad, and you eat a cherry tomato – Israel. If you have Alzheimer's, I hope you don't, but you have cures that are made in Israel. And if you want to work out a riddle – how to have a water surplus when you have no water? Come to Israel. Or make more milk per cow? Come to Israel.
And many countries are coming for these two reasons – security and technology. Which means fighting the forces of the past and seizing together the opportunities of the future.
This coincides with the consistent attempt to delegitimize Israel, but I think that ultimately this trend will overcome and dominate because the future belongs to those who seize the future.
So today, I want to tell you why I am hopeful about the future. 68 years ago, the State of Israel was born. It was weak, disorganized. It was isolated and besieged. Today, Israel is strong. It's stable. It's prosperous; it's vibrant.
And many of your nations, those represented here, are cooperating in so many ways (sometimes more than we can publish), many important ways.
For over a decade, I've been honored to lead the people of Israel as their prime minister.
I am hopeful because I have seen with my own eyes the common sense and uncommon courage of the Israeli mothers and fathers who send their precious children to defend our country.
In my 66 years, I have traversed the land more times than I can count. I mean traversed it literally with my feet when I was a soldier like the young soldiers who are honored here today at the President's house. But I've traversed it in many other ways – going into communities, going into cities and into farms and to see the life force within our people…
I'm hopeful because the young Israelis I meet are willing, if I can borrow a phrase, are willing to bear any burden and pay any price for bettering our nation.
Most of all, I'm hopeful because I know that we will never give up on peace.
In my lifetime, I have seen Israel make peace…you can applaud, it's fine…in my lifetime I've seen Israel make peace with two Arab states – states that once fought brutal wars against us. And, in recent years, I've seen formerly hostile states in the region and beyond, but especially in the region, form new and deep partnerships with us. I think this is a matter of great importance because I think this creates new hope.
We can advance peace with the Palestinians directly and through the support of other nations, including in the region. It was once thought that the only way that we could advance peace with the Arab states was to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That would certainly help enormously. But it's also true that we might solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem by enjoying the support of Arab states who now see Israel more and more not as an enemy, but as an ally against the forces that threaten their own countries as well.
I have a deep and abiding faith that Israel will have peace with many more of our neighbors and that our century-long conflict will end.
How will it end?
I know there is skepticism about my position. You can just repeat it ad nauseam and it becomes…it assumes the cachet of self-evident truth, but the facts are important. I have taken steps that no other prime minister in Israel's history has taken to advance peace. So far, they've not been answered. But I want to state unequivocally and in front of diplomats from around the world: I continue to support two states for two peoples: a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. It's about time.
That remains the core of this conflict: The persistent refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any boundary. And this is why this conflict preceded the Six-Day war by nearly 50 years. But I don’t believe that any issue is so complex that it cannot be solved. All we ask for is the right to live in peace in our ancestral homeland, the land of Israel.
And my call for peace today is not hypothetical.
I just gave a Twitter conference. It's the sign of the times. I think President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau preceded me. Talk to everyone in the world. And they said, "Are you willing to sit down and talk peace?" and I said, yes. Yes, I am. In fact, I'm willing to do so right now, today. To meet President Abbas today in Jerusalem. If he'd like, in Ramallah. If any of you ladies and gentlemen want to offer a different place that’s fine with me too. I have my preferences; we'll talk about it later. Right now. Today. And not next week. This week.
Because you cannot make peace with somebody who even refuses to sit down with you. And because every minute that President Abbas refuses to accept my call for peace robs Palestinians and Israelis of the opportunity to live without fear. It robs our children and our grandchildren of the opportunity they so richly deserve.
Peace is my vision.
Mutual recognition is my hope.
Security is my duty.
And I will work every day of every week of every month to advance peace and security for our people. I ask all of you to join me in providing hope for a better future. You can encourage President Abbas to accept my offer of direct talks today. Because direct talks are not merely the most likely and best path for peace. Ultimately, it's the only way that you will achieve a peace that will endure. And Israelis and Palestinians deserve no less.
Thank you all for your service. Thank you for coming here to honor Israel's Independence Day
PM Netanyahu addressing members of the Diplomatic Corps at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. Photo: GPO/Haim Zach.
Europe Day at the EU Ambassador.
The weather was gorgeous, the Ambassador’s home is beautiful and welcoming, and the occasion was exciting. It was on May 9 1950 that the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman first proposed the political cooperation that subsequently led to the European Economic Union (EEC) and ultimately to the European Union (EU) of today. The idea was to “make war between European nations unthinkable”.
His Excellency Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen, head of the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel opened his address to the President & the assembled guests with a few words in Hebrew, thanking everyone for attending. His friendly speech emphasized the importance of Israel-European relations: “As the Jewish philosopher Spinoza wrote back in the 17th century: ‘Peace is not the mere absence of war – it is a virtue, it is a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence and justice’. … The mutual commitment to pursue these values also constitutes the very core of the EU-Israel relationship, together with the strong cultural and historical ties that bind the Jewish people and Europe together. Let me at this point make very clear, as we just marked Yom HaShoah last week: anti-Semitism has no place in Europe. We will not accept that Jewish communities in Europe are attacked and do not feel safe. Attacks against Jews are attacks against all Europeans and against our European values. We are determined to fight anti-Semitism on every front – whether on the extreme right or the extreme left or when it is instigated by extreme Islamists.
“EU-Israel relations have flourished over the years, now spanning trade, open skies, science and technology and political cooperation. Our relationship with Israel is now probably the most developed that the European Union enjoys with any third country. And we are keen to further deepen and strengthen our mutually beneficial relations.” The Ambassador pointedly embellished the point and quoted the President as having said: "We are not doomed to live together, but rather it is our destiny to live together."
He spoke meaningfully of the current problems in the EU with refugees flooding in and Europe struggling to ensure that the asylum seekers’ rights are respected. He added: “During the past year, terror has struck in Europe on several occasions perpetrated by fanatical individuals who hate our values and way of life. In Israel, you are living daily under the threat of terror, be it from rockets aimed at your cities or knife-wielding youths attacking, without warning, innocent people walking the streets. This is unacceptable. We strongly condemn terror no matter what form it takes.
“And so we are both confronted with the challenge of how to shelter our open societies against the threat of terror, fanaticism and intolerance without sacrificing the very values that we want to protect. … How do we strike the right balance between freedom of speech and legitimate criticism on the one hand and effective action against incitement, prejudice and fanaticism on the other? How do we avoid that groups of people or whole segments of the population are being ostracized and discriminated against because the majority feels that they don't fit in?”
The Ambassador ended by thanking the guests again, and expressing the hope that the EU could welcome President Rivlin in Brussels very soon.
The State President charmed the assembled guests with his response. He thanked Ambassador Faaborg-Andersen for his hospitality and added: "Your celebration is also our celebration. Israel and the European Union are bound together by many bonds; we share strong economic ties which benefit both sides and I am happy to say that the list of agreements between us is too long for me to mention here. Let me simply say to you, our largest and most important trading partner: Israel's relationship with the European Union is indispensable.
"It is true that Israel and the European Union do not always see eye-to-eye on issues of policy, but our cooperation and our mutual progress must not be held hostage by the lack of progress between Israel and the Palestinians. This would be a victory for those who are not ready to accept that the only way to solve the conflict is by building trust between people."
The President reiterated that in addition to the strong economic trade between Israel and the EU, both are committed to fighting racism “and to promoting tolerance and a shared society … let us be sure to continue to work hand-in-hand." President Rivlin added that it is time to give thanks to those heroes who fought (and fight) for peace, and that Israel is very proud to develop culturally and in other ways side by side with the EU. “Israel is a miracle and the Europeans have contributed to this miracle. We reaffirm our deep commitment to friendship with Europe.”
The President concluded by expressing solidarity with the people of Europe in the face of the many challenges: "This has not been an easy year for Europe. Europe is facing internal economic challenges, a refugee crisis, and unfortunately many horrible acts of terror. In these difficult times, I wish to express Israel's solidarity with Europe. I wish to reaffirm our deep friendship with you, and commitment to the values we share."
The formal part of the celebrations ended with a rendering of the national anthem of the state of Israel and then of the European Union (Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”).
As guests mingled and enjoyed the lavish reception, they were entertained by the music of the Polyphony Youth Ensemble. (The Polyphony Foundation’s purpose is to help bridge the divide between Arab and Jewish communities in Israel by creating a common ground where young people come together around classical music.)
Photo Silvia Golan
Celebrating KingsDay 2016 :The Netherlands National Day
On April 20th 2016 the new Dutch Ambassador H.E. Mr. Gilles Arnout Beschoor Plug and his wife Louise held a reception at his residence in Hertzliya Pituach. Their lovely home was decorated with diverse paintings, flowers, and other items predominantly in the orange color scheme symbolizing the Netherlands.
The honorary guests, were Mr. Yoav Gallant, Minister of Construction and Housing and Chazan Daniël Colthof. Among the guests were Vered Pear Swid, Director General of the Prime Minister's office and head of the Authority for the advancement of the Status for women, Gad Proper, Chairman of the Israel-EU chamber of Commerce, and Ambassador Meron Reuben ,Israel Ministry Foreign Affairs, Pinhas Kimelman Deputy CEO – Finance Osem Group and Marc de Klyn, famous Artist painter from Holland.
In addition there was a stand of The Dutch Farm in the garden with traditional products . The Dutch Farm is located in the Northern Negev at Moshav Sde Tzvi, run by Uzi and Tamar Manor.
The official ceremony commenced when the Ambassador addressed with some words in hebrew and then continued in english. He welcomed the guests and explained that :
“King’s Day year is celebrated at another date. Let me reassure you that the King hasn’t changed, his birthday is still on the 27th of April, that he and his family are all well – but we forwarded this reception with a week to the 20th of April because of Pesach next week.
He emphasized that they advanced the celebration of National Day from the 27th of April, the exact birthday date of the King, to the 20th of April, due to the oncoming Passover Holidays. He spoke of the wonderful, friendly and cooperative relations between Israel and Holland and that he was absolutely delighted with the idea of spending many years in Israel with the necessary adjustments that go along with it, such as the Israeli Cuisine, the Israeli People and the different climate.
Minister Gallant responded on behalf of the Government and the State of Israel and its people : "I am pleased to represent the government of Israel at the celebration of Koningsdag – King’s Day.
The Netherlands and Israel have a long tradition of friendly relations, including an excellent relationship between our prime ministers, who recently met in Davos.
We enjoy close economic relations - the Netherlands is Israel’s fifth largest trade partner and the leading European investor in Israeli companies. Investments currently stand at 5 billion dollars, and we hope they will continue to expand.
The Israel-Netherlands Forum was held in Israel for the first time in December 2013, with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and a number of ministers attending. Prime Minister Netanyahu will pay a return visit to the Netherlands in September 2016, which we hope will further boost ties. Further to this, an Israeli-Dutch Innovation Day was held in The Hague in February 2016, on the topic of “smart cities”.
Our two countries also have close security cooperation, including on cyber-security, the military, counter-terrorism, and the police.
I am also pleased to mention the ceremony on the 14th April to announce a third honorary Israeli consul, Arjen Lont, from the northern provinces of the Netherlands, which further deepens our strong ties.
We wish the Netherlands success in your presidency of the European Union which began this year, and hope that under Dutch leadership, we will see a more balanced approach towards Israel in all EU forums.
Europe today faces great challenges in light of the immigration crisis. We watch with concern the growth of the radical right and the rise of antisemitism in Europe. We note the stand of the Netherlands against antisemitism, and we wish that this will continue.
We understand the Dutch people place importance on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and would welcome your engagement by encouraging the Palestinians to return to negotiations. By engaging in direct dialogue with no pre-conditions, the vision of two states living side by side, in peace and security, can be advanced.
We thank the Netherlands for the donation of a goods scanner at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, and the intention to donate another for the Allenby crossing. Projects like this enable increased import and export for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria. This can improve their conditions, while maintaining the security of Israeli forces.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Over 5,000 Dutch people have been recognised by Yad Vashem as 'Righteous Among the Nations', for saving Jews in the Holocaust, despite great personal risk. This is among the most per capita in the world, and testament to the values of the Dutch people.
Let us raise a toast to the bonds of friendship between The Netherlands and Israel; May our relationship continue to flourish in the years ahead."
To conclude the ceremony, The Ambassador invited the Cantor, Mr. Golthof, whose parents immigrated to Israel from Holland and it was the Ambassador himself who accompanied Mr. Golthof on piano, singing both the Dutch and Israeli Anthems. A truly unforgettable moment.
President Rivlin hosts welcome ceremony for Greek President Pavlopoulos
President Rivlin: "Countries in this region must recognize the common danger posed by militant Islam and IS, unite against this enemy, and to form one alliance; a regional security and economic alliance to bring an end to global terror."
President Reuven Rivlin today (Wednesday, 30 March 2016) hosted at his residence, an official welcome ceremony for President of Greece, H.E. Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who was making a state visit to Israel. The President welcomed his guest on the red carpet, before the two stood for the national anthems, reviewed a guard of honor, and delivered brief public statements. They then went on to hold a working meeting during which they discussed the strengthening of bilateral ties between the two countries.
President Rivlin welcomed President Pavlopoulos and said, "It is a great honor for us to host you, a true friend of Israel." President Rivlin stressed the historic connection between the two peoples and noted, "Throughout history there has been close and fruitful contact between the people of Greece and the people of Israel, in both the world of ideas, and in the world of deeds. Today we are two western democracies seeking peace, stability, and security, and who share the same space here in the Eastern Mediterranean, which we have in recent years discovered is quite a small space indeed."
"We are not just friends, but neighbors. The wars and lack of peace and quiet in the Middle East have created a turbulence which has directly impacted upon both of us. The chaos in Syria and the need to face terrorism without a doubt continue to constitute challenges which we must deal with, alongside our economic efforts."
The President stressed the shared danger posed by extremist Islam and IS in the region. He said, "Close and neighboring countries in the Eastern Mediterranean must recognize the common danger posed by militant Islam and IS, unite against this enemy, and to form one alliance; a regional security and economic alliance to bring an end to global terror. It is my hope that our meeting, which is taking place amidst an ongoing strengthening of ties between our countries and peoples, will reinforce the strategic alliance which is growing and taking shape between our peoples."
President Pavlopoulos thanked President Rivlin for his warm words and welcome and stressed that he was delighted to be visiting Israel, and remarked on the warm relationship between the two countries, "The shared position of our two peoples in this region and our abilities, enable us through cooperation to overcome the challenges we face."
He added, "The roots of the relationship between our two peoples stretch further back than our diplomatic relations. We must understand our tasks. We can cooperate on a range of issues, yet the most important issue is that of regional peace, protecting democracy, human life, and mutual assistance."
"There are many challenges in our region and in Europe in general. Now is the time to act according to our shared values. You have experienced what it means to be refugees. In Greece we are receiving refugees just as our ancestors did, as human beings who deserve rights. Yet when it comes to terrorism, the example of the jihadists and IS, we cannot accept this, and we must be absolute in the face of this. Their terror is aimed at all humanity. We must make clear to Europe that we stand against terror together, and that when it comes to the issue of the refugees we will not allow expressions of hatred between people, which is source of racism and anti-Semitism. I view with great concern the rise in the wave of hatred. We must eliminate it, with the memory of the Holocaust; we must fight against terrorism, but for human life. We must not allow the European continent to return to darkness, Europe must continue to be a continent of enlightenment and humanity."
He concluded by saying to President Rivlin, "Your patience and tolerance are evidenced in the many issues we have to discuss. I extend to the Israeli people my wishes for peace and security, in which they may live in health and prosperity, and face the great challenges before us. I see in you a great and dear friend of my country."
President Rivlin with President Pavlopoulos of Greece in Jerusalem. Photo: GPO/Mark Neiman.
The Baha’i International community opened its annual, international 'Naw Ruz' New Year reception on 22nd of March at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, welcoming more than 250 guests from Israel's political, academic and diplomatic elite and members of the Baha’i International Community .
The entrance to the ballroom was decorated with exquisite indoor gardens, fountains and beds of flowers of all sizes and colors and created a luscious and decorative ambiance as guests entered the ballroom reception where joy was permeating the atmosphere with warm exchanges among the guests and Bahai Hosts.
A mix of many Bahai volunteers from all over the world, such as Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Cameroon, Peru and China, were there to greet guests and make them feel welcome and honored. Some of them were dressed in their colorful national attire.
A remarkably rich and great variety of different foods was displayed at all corners of the ballroom, from diverse salads to meat and salmon spreads, humus and 'full' , fresh juices of all kinds and colors, tropical fruits and fruit salads, and the list is long.
To add to the cultural atmosphere' a string quartet 'GOLDENSTRINGS' was playing different classical pieces of music, enriching the ambiance with that extra touch of elegance.
Mr Lincoln and Mrs Sarah expressed "
The New Year celebration is an opportunity for the Bahá’ís to express their gratitude and appreciation to their friends in Israel, It is a time of hope, joy and renewal , The joy can be felt in the atmosphere and the exchanges that people are having.
A representative from the Israeli Foreign Office was also present at the reception to welcome the Bahai community
To conclude, the atmosphere was exceptionally inviting and a tremendous amount of hospitality was extended to all the guests, making them feel so welcome and respected.
Happy Naw Ruz - New year from www.diplomacy.co.il Staff !!!!!
For the Baha'i World News Service home page, go to:
Welcoming Reception for H.E. Ambassador Mr. Koji Tomita and to commemorate the 5th year since the Great East Japan Tōhoku Earthquake and tsunami on 11th March 2011
Last Monday the Japan embassy hosted a Welcoming Reception for H.E. Ambassador Mr. Koji Tomita at the Ambassador's residence in Herzliya Pituach .
The guests of honor were Mr Mark Sofer, Deputy Director General for Asia and Pacific of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maj Gen Rami Ben Efraim , former Israel military attache to Japan who was dispatched to the event as an Israeli Medical team member and Mr Shachar Zahavi, IsraAID founding Director . Among the guests also were the Ambassador of Jordan, H. E. Mr Walid Obeidat and his wife, H.E. Mr Hazem A. Khairat the new ambassador of Egypt to Israel, former Israeli Ambassador to Japan Nissim Ben Shitrit, Ambassador Meron Reuben Israel Ministry Foreign Affairs , Moshe Arens former Defence Minister of Israel, Dr. Yossi Beilin who has served in multiple ministerial and leadership positions in the Israeli government and his wife Daniela, Gil Sheffer Honorary Consul of Japan and his wife , Amir Halevi Director General of the Israel Ministry of Tourism, Murhaf and Taher Abusaleh from the Druze Community in the Golan Heights and Linda Tomer International - Israeli Singer .
Master of Ceremony Mr Takada , Counsellor of the Embassy introduced the new ambassador H.E. Mr. Koji Tomita
Mr Tomita opened the event and expressed his feelings with a heartwarming remark:
" I just like to extend my warm welcome to everyone and express how I feel as I embark on an important mission in this great nation. I have been working in the Foreign Service for 35 years, and I find myself exceedingly fortunate and privileged to come to the State of Israel for my first ambassadorial posting. I am determined to bring all my experience and energy to the task of creating stronger and deeper cooperation between our two countries.
Fortunately, we have a strong momentum going for us to advance our cooperation in all fronts, following the exchange of visits at the highest level of our Governments in recent years: Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Japan in 2014 and the return visit by Prime Minister Abe last January. I intend to exploit this momentum to the fullest extent.
At the same time, I need to point out that our friendship has not started just a few years ago. It has been nurtured over many decades, thanks to the efforts of many people dedicated to stronger ties between our two countries. Indeed, there are many, many such people among the guests tonight, but please allow me to single out a few groups of Israelis.
On 11th of March, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck our country. The triple disasters of the earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear incident caused the untold damage and misery. But as we went through the darkest period after that fateful day, I cannot put into words how much our pains were alleviated by the outpouring of support and goodwill extended by our friends across the world.
The IDF’s Civil Defense Team was the first to operate on the ground among the international medical teams we received during that period. The township where they operated, Minami-sanrikucho, was one of the worst hit areas by the tsunami, with hundreds of people dead or missing and almost of half of the houses destroyed. Their presence made a real difference in preventing a post-disaster health crisis.
Many private Israeli volunteers have also worked tirelessly to help those who suffered. Notable among them are the members of the two organizations: IsraAID-F.I.R.S.T and Zaka. Their selfless devotion made a strong impression on the mind of the victims in Tohoku.
As we commemorate the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, I would like to extend to all those involved the deepest gratitude of our whole nation. Thank you very much.
History has not always been kind to our two nations. But I like to believe that it has made us better peoples, more compassionate, more resilient and more united. Indeed, we are both nations united under shared history. And that is an important basis for our mutual respect and affinity. I am determined to build on this strong foundation an even closer partnership. "
He also mentioned his wife and proudly announced
Anyway, I was informed a few days ago that my son succeeded in getting accepted by the university of his choice. I am happy for my son. I am happy for my wife. And above all, I am happy for myself because my wife can join me in this beautiful city in the near future.
So hoping the next time you come to my residence I can greet you with my wife, I would like to conclude my remarks. Thank you very much."
After the ambassadors' remarks , Mr Takada introduced the guests of honor who emphasized the wonderful relations between the two countries ,especially during the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake
The enjoyable evening continued with a wonderful display of the vast variety of luscious foods, such as the traditional Japanese, Indian, and Israeli cuisine.
All the women of the Japanese Embassy were dressed in the traditional Japanese Kimono attire and made the guests feel welcome and at home.
Best of luck to the New Japanese Ambassador to Israel and may they enjoy fruitful relations with Israel and much success to his son.
Photo Silvia G. Golan
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Korea, Committed to Diplomatic Relations with Israel.
Last Thursday evening His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea & Mrs. Lee Gun-tae hosted a sparkling reception to inaugurate the newly-built chancery and the Korean National Day. The lovely building, located in Herzlia Pituach, is the first specially-built edifice in Israel by an Asian country – a sign of dedication to firm and lasting bilateral relations between the Republic of Korea and the State of Israel.
The guest of honor was H.E. Mr. Shin Dong-ik, President of the Korean Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS), who came to Israel especially for the event. Among the many ambassadors a diplomats present were also VIPs and socialites, including Uri Ariel, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development; Member of Knesset Joseph Yonah, Vered Pear Swid, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office and head of the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women; Chairman of the Israel-EU Chamber of Commerce Gad Proper; Ambassador Meron Reuben, (Israel Ministry Foreign Affairs); Franco Vella, General Manager of Sheraton Tel Aviv (which was also the caterer for this event); Jane Yacoubzadi , Public Relations Manager of the Sheraton and many more.
The Korean Ambassador made a short speech of welcome, in which he pointed out that although the Korean National Day falls in October, the embassy decided to delay the celebration so as to coincide with the inauguration. This was followed by a live rendition of the national anthems of both countries, and then remarks by the Korean Foreign Minister. He expressed his delight at being able to be in Israel for the event and added: “This building is a testimony to Korea’s commitment to deepening our friendship with Israel. Korea is not only the first Asian country to build a chancery in Israel, but we had made the construction decision in the middle of a global financial crisis in 2008, when our financial budget was quite pinched. And today I would like to reiterate our gratitude to the Israeli government for helping us to make this building a reality.
“Many Koreans have been inspired by the story of Israel and its people in overcoming great hardships throughout its history with perseverance, hope and faith in God. Around thirty thousand Koreans make pilgrimage to Israel every year. More than 200 Koreans are currently studying the “Tanach” in Israel, including the Torah and biblical archaeology. Our two countries share many things. Both were founded in 1948. Since then, both overcame great adversity with the unwavering goals and commitment of their people to become global beacons of economic prosperity. Today, Israel – the ‘start-up nation’ – is a center of innovation that has more high-tech start-up companies than most other countries in the world. And Korea rose from the ruins of the Korean War to achieve rapid economic development, dubbed the ‘Miracle of the Han River’ ”. The Minister also mentioned the strong bilateral ties and the firm economic cooperation between the two democracies.
“In closing, I would like to thank all of you for being here today. And I hope you will continue to work closely with our Embassy in Israel to further promote the friendly relations between our two countries. I wish you all good health, happiness and prosperity.
M.K. Uri Ariel responded (in Hebrew followed by and English translation) on behalf of the government and people of Israel. He pointed out that already in 1950, the young Israel sent aid to Korea in the Koran war. Diplomatic relations between the two states were only established in 1962 “ … and today include cooperation in many fields, including security, commerce, scientific research, culture and more.” He added that Korean Air, which operates three weekly services between the two countries, is still the only Asian airline to fly to Israel.
“Perhaps better than any other country in the world, Israel understands the challenges posed by North Korea. Israel faces similar geo-political challenges, so Israel would like to enhance the security cooperation and political dialog with the Republic of Korea.” M.K. Uriel took the opportunity to renew the invitation of Israel’s president, Reuben Rivlin and of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to Korea’s President, Her Excellency Park Geun-hye, to visit Israel. He ended his address by asking the Korean Foreign Minister and the Ambassador to send Israel’s warmest greetings to the government and the people of Korea.
A light buffet meal was offered as guests mingled in the happy atmosphere as the event drew to a close.
Photo Silvia G Golan
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr.Koji Tomita , Ambassador of Japon to Israel.
President Rivlin receives diplomatic credentials from new ambassadors to Israel from Japan, Egypt, Malta and Bosnia & Herzegovina
President Reuven Rivlin today (Thursday) received during a ceremony at his residence, the diplomatic credentials of four new ambassadors to Israel from Japan, Egypt, Malta, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Each ceremony began with the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem of the visiting country, included an honor guard, and - after the presentation of the credentials - the signing of the guest book, before the playing of Israel's national anthem 'Hatikva'.
Ambassador of Japan, H.E Mr. Koji Tomita presented his letter of credentials to the President who congratulated him on his appointment, and asked he send his warmest regards to the Emperor of Japan. He said, "I am aware of your country's great work for the benefit of all the free world," and added, "I am aware of your desire to play a positive role in our region." The President went on to stress that militant Islam was causing great distress across the region, "It is clear to us what is happening in our region is likely to impact the whole world. We know that you are highly respected by the Palestinians, and I know that you are able to help us build bridges between Israel and the Palestinians, and build confidence and the understanding that it is in our mutual interest to live together." The President concluded, "An ambassador with your great experience can help us with our neighbors in the region. We are looking forward to the future, and to working to strengthen the ties between Israel and Japan."
Ambassador Tomita thanked the President for his warm words, and said that the Emperor had asked him to convey his personal greetings, and had expressed to him his strong desire to deepen the cooperation between Israel and Japan. He said, "The issues you raised are the issues which I would be delighted to assist move forward during my tenure." The Ambassador added that it was his hope to be able to help in promoting the vision of the Prime Minister of Japan, to use diplomacy to bring a resolution to the conflict. He concluded, "I will do all in my power to advance cooperation between our countries in order to realize the desire of our leaders to strengthen the ties between us."
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Hazem Ahdy Khairat , Ambassador of Egypt to Israel.
President Rivlin then welcomed new Ambassador of Israel to Egypt, H.E. Mr. Hazem Ahdy Khairat, "I welcome here at the President's house ambassadors from around the world. But it is very special to welcome ambassadors from our close and important neighbors. Egypt is 'Um El Donya', 'mother of the world' and especially in our region Egypt plays a most important role. We live together in a difficult region. We have found a way to live together in peace and friendship. This is a message to the whole region, and the whole world. I was in Egypt during times of war, and I was in Egypt during peace. The peace agreement between our countries is an international treaty and it is for both us, a top priority. We may not agree on everything, but we respect each other and because of this we will build a shared future."
Ambassador Khairat thanked the President for the warm welcome and said, "We must take responsibility for the benefit of those who live in this region, to bring prosperity, justice, hope and equality."
The President wished him success in his new role and said, "I sincerely hope that you and your family will feel at home."
Before departing, the Ambassador signed the official guestbook in Arabic and wrote, "I presented today my letter of credence to his honor President Rivlin. We spoke in a constructive atmosphere regarding the urgent matters and agreed to work together to reach a comprehensive, and just peace in the region."
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Ms. Cecilia Attard-Pirotta , Ambassador of Malta to Israel.
Then, Ambassador of Malta, H.E Ms. Cecilia Attard-Pirotta presented the President with her diplomatic credentials. President Rivlin congratulated her on her appointment and said, "I welcome you happily as a neighbor on the Mediterranean Sea, and I thank you as the Jewish people will never forget that Malta was the only country that didn't demand a visa from the Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. We are looking forward to working with you during your time here as ambassador."
Ambassador Attard-Pirotta thanked the President and said it was a privilege to represent her country in Israel, and noted, "Last year we marked 50 years of diplomatic relations. We are looking forward to deepening our economic ties, as well as sharing knowledge and experience. I will certainly do all I can in order to strengthen our bilateral relations."
Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Ms.Jelena Rajaković , Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Israel.
Finally, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina, H.E Ms. Jelena Rajaković presented the President with her credentials. The President said, "You have faced many challenges in your region in the past, just as today, we are dealing with ongoing conflict in our region. In Israel Jews and Arabs live together, and we often look at your country, as one which solved the conflict in your region, and could help us find the way to create better relations." The President noted the good relations between the two countries and said, "The ties between us are strong, yet we must strengthen them further. We appreciate your efforts on Holocaust education, and your work to combat anti-Semitism."
Ambassador Rajaković thanked the President for his words and said, "Bosnia and Herzegovina was created by a peace agreement and is comprised of different groups and communities. We have a very complicated constitutional structure, but we manage it peacefully. We are close friends of Israel, and enjoy good relations, and there are many opportunities to strengthening these ties."
Photos : Mark Neumann / GPO
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Thursday) during an official ceremony at his residence received the diplomatic credentials of the new Ambassador of Israel to Egypt, H.E. Mr. Hazem Ahdy Khairat. His appointment marks the end of a three period since November 2012, during which there had not been an Egyptian Ambassador in Israel.
President Rivlin welcomed the Ambassador and said, "I welcome here at the President's house ambassadors from around the world. But it is very special to welcome ambassadors from our close and important neighbors. Egypt is 'Um El Donya', 'mother of the world' and especially in our region Egypt plays a most important role. We live together in a difficult region. We have found a way to live together in peace and friendship. This is a message to the whole region, and the whole world. I was in Egypt during times of war, and I was in Egypt during peace. The peace agreement between our countries is an international treaty and it is for both us, a top priority. We may not agree on everything, but we respect each other and because of this we will build a shared future."
Ambassador Khairat thanked the President for the warm welcome and said, "We must take responsibility for the benefit of those who live in this region, to bring prosperity, justice, hope and equality."
The President wished him success in his new role and said, "I sincerely hope that you and your family will feel at home."
Before departing, the Ambassador signed the official guestbook in Arabic and wrote, "I presented today my letter of credence to his honor President Rivlin. We spoke in a constructive atmosphere regarding the urgent matters and agreed to work together to reach a comprehensive, and just peace in the region."
Ninth President Shimon Peres and Chinese Ambassador to Israel Zhan Yongxin premiered a music video for a song written by Peres entitled "Chinese Melody" at a ceremony held in honor of the Chinese New Year – The Year of the Monkey
During the event, Peres referred to the strengthening of relations between Israel and China and said:
Chinese Ambassador to Israel, Zhan Yongxin, expressed his gratitude to the Ninth President and said:
At the end of the event Peres addressed the recent "moles inside culture" campaign and said:
Ninth President of Israel Shimon Peres and Chinese Ambassador to Israel Zhan Yongxin today (Wednesday), held an event marking the Chinese New Year at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, which was attended by senior officials of the Chinese Embassy in Israel and many honored guests.
The celebration centered around the launching of a unique video clip of the Ninth President's song "Chinese Melody" - written in honor of the strong friendship between Israel and China. The song, which highlights the thriving relations between Israel and China, was a gift from the Ninth President to the Chinese people to honor the New Year the Year of the Monkey.
The song was performed by Miley- a 12-year-old Israeli girl who spent most of her childhood in China due to her father's diplomatic work. After her return to Israel, and because of the unique connection she felt to the two countries, she decided to perform the Ninth President Shimon Peres' song "Chinese Melody" in Chinese as a duet with Grace, a professional Chinese singer.
After the premier of the song at the event, Peres referred to the strengthening of relations between Israel and China and said: "Israel loves China, and Israelis like the Chinese. Over the last fifty years China has had a revolution never before seen in history and has became a state where the economy, culture and science thrive. China has turned from a weak nation into one of the most powerful, and she has never neglected her culture. I am glad that we could celebrate here, together, the New Year – The Year of the Monkey symbolizes the love of life. I am confident that China will continue to thrive economically, socially, and culturally".
At the end of the event Peres addressed the recent "moles inside culture" campaign and said: "Were our prophets also moles? Was Amos also a mole? Our culture is alive and well and no one can shut it down."
The Chinese Ambassador expressed his appreciation to the Ninth President and said: "The relationship that exists between Israel and China is booming, and there is no better way to celebrate the opening of the New Year – The Year of the Monkey, than at the Peres Center for Peace with our friend, the distinguished Ninth President Shimon Peres."
During the ceremony, Miley, the Israeli girl who performed in the video clip, stated: "I spent my childhood in China, and so I always felt connected to the state and its citizens. China always will be a part of me, and so I was excited to sing this song - representing both of my homes."
Chinese culture, known for its rich ceremonies and traditions, cherishes such cooperative ventures. A song written by President Shimon Peres, who is a revered figure in China, and sung as a duet with an Israeli and Chinese singer in their own language, expresses great respect for Chinese culture.
The Ninth President hopes to see art and music strengthen the important political relationship between Israel and China.
The clip will be broadcast on Chinese media channels, which are broadcast around the world, on 8.2, New Year's day, and also will be distributed through the Ninth President and the " Hoi Bo" network, which is the most popular social network in China.
Photo Silvia G Golan
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr.Gilles Arnout Beschoor Plug , Ambassador of Netherlands to Israel.
President Rivlin receives diplomatic credentials of new ambassadors to Israel from the Netherlands, Austria, Costa Rica, Moldova, and Vietnam
President Reuven Rivlin yesterday (Monday) received the diplomatic credentials of new ambassadors to Israel from the Netherlands, Austria, Costa Rica, Moldova, and Vietnam, during a special ceremony at the President’s Residence.
New Ambassador of the Netherlands, H.E. Mr. Gilles Arnout Beschoor Plug, who arrived together with his wife, and senior staff, presented his letter of credentials to the President. President Rivlin welcomed him and expressed his appreciation for the long history of close friendship between the two peoples. “I am aware of your in-depth understanding of the situation in our region, and welcome your intention to help wherever you can. Between our two people, there is a long history, and we appreciate greatly the Dutch people, culture and of course your football,” said President Rivlin, and added, “I am delighted to welcome you and your wife, and hope you will feel at home here in Israel.”
Ambassador Plug thanked the President, and said, “I want to express my appreciation, and the appreciation of my country for your work for the sake of coexistence. So that we can further our good relations and offer the assistance you spoke about, we must further deepen and strengthen our strong bilateral relations. Indeed we have recently established a bilateral forum between Israel and the Netherlands which this year will meet for the second time.” He concluded, “One of the great strengths we share is diversity. Israel is a diverse society and Holland welcomed over hundreds of years many groups – including many Jewish communities – and we know how this can enrich the country.”
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Martin Weiss, Ambassador of Austria to Israel.
Next, new Ambassador of Austria, H.E. Mr. Martin Weiss, presented the President with his diplomatic credentials. President Rivlin welcomed him warmly and said, “We greatly appreciate your country’s strong and clear stand, and all you are doing to combat anti-Semitism. Every person should be able to worship as they chose.”
Ambassador Weiss thanked the President and said that his country placed great importance in the expansion of trade with Israel. He said, “We share in your desire to expand the bilateral trade between us, and we shall be working toward this.” He stressed, “We also share your desire for peace. The establishment of peace in the region will lead to a better future, full of potential for all the peoples of the region.” Ambassador Weiss then said in Hebrew that he was sorry he could not conduct the whole meeting in Hebrew but he was learning, to which the President responded “Danke schön!” At the end of the meeting, the Ambassador surprised the President with an Austrian football shirt, signed by the national team.
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr.Esteban Penrod Padilla , Ambassador of Costa Rica to Israel.
The Ambassador of Costa Rica, H.E. Mr. Esteban Penrod Padilla, was next to present his credentials to the President, who noted to him that Israel still remembered and appreciated that Costa Rica was one of the first countries to recognize Israel’s independence. He said, “This showed your understanding of the wishes and the prayers of the Jewish people to return to their homeland, and to Jerusalem at its heart. We hope that everyone will understand that Zionism has become reality, and that we will be able to build confidence and bring to an end the conflict. We appreciate greatly Costa Rica's support for Israel over many years, and I am delighted to welcome you to Israel.”
Ambassador Padilla thanked the President and said in Hebrew, “I am very happy to be returning to Israel, the holy land, which I love so much.” He went on to say, “Israel is a beacon for the whole world, in hi-tech, innovation, agriculture and more. Our countries are far apart geographically, but have similar values of democracy. I see a bright future for the relations between our two nations.”
Photo :President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mrs. Gabriela Moraru , Ambassador of Moldova to Israel.
The President next received the incoming Ambassador of Modlova, H.E. Mrs. Gabriela Moraru. The President spoke of the wide ranging bilateral relations and cooperation between the countries as an expression of the historic and cultural bonds
between the peoples. He said, “I hope the good will and relations between our peoples will continue to grow stronger,” and added, “We appreciate your decision to allocate International Holocaust Memorial Day as a national day of remembrance.”
Ambassador Moraru thanked the President and said, “I am proud to come to represent my country in Israel. I hope that during my tenure we will be able to increase the cooperation between our nations. Israel is a model of democracy and innovation. I wish for the peace and prosperity of Israel and its people.”
Photo: President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Cao Tran Quoc Hai, Ambassador of Vietnam to Israel.
Lastly, new Ambassador of Vietnam, H.E. Mr. Cao Tran Quoc Hai presented his credential to President Rivlin. The President welcomed him and said, “We are now celebrating 22 years of relations which we appreciate. We are excited by your advances and economic progress out of your desire to serve your people. The cooperation between our countries is important and has been successful, and should continue to be so.”
Ambassador Cao spoke of the importance of the contribution to Vietnam made by Israel’s Mashav program which focused on sharing knowledge, empowering human capital, and offering technological assistance in a range of fields. He said, “It is an honor for me to represent my country here. I am sure we will be able to deepen our cooperation in agriculture and innovation among other areas.”
Photo : Mark Neyman / GPO
DFM Hotovely meets with Foreign Minister of Rwanda Mushikiwabo
Palestinian incitement, which gives rise to such sickening acts of terror, deepens the hostility between the sides and distances the prospect of dialogue.
In their meeting, the two discussed Israel's continuing contribution to the development of Rwanda's agriculture and national water system. Deputy Minister Hotovely expressed deep appreciation for Rwanda's support for Israel in the international arena, and for Rwanda's impressive development in all areas.
Deputy Minister Hotovely remarked:
"I would like to welcome you to Israel. It is indicative of Rwanda's very positive stance towards Israel that your previous visit was held during Operation Protective Edge. I am always pleased to see a woman in a key position, and especially so in this case, given Rwanda's leading role in terms of the advancement of the status of women in its parliament. Unfortunately, during your visit, we have experienced a terrible terror attack against a young Israeli woman murdered in front of her children by a Palestinian terrorist. The Palestinian incitement, which gives rise to such sickening acts of terror, deepens the hostility between the sides and distances the prospect of dialogue."
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely with the Foreign Minister of Rwanda, Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo. Photo: Miri Shimowitz.
Kazakhstan Independence Day in Israel
Kazakh and Russian have equal status as national languages in the Republic of Kazakhstan, and were clearly the dominant languages among the elegant guests at the reception hosted by His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr. Doulat Kuanyshev, and Mrs. Gulmira Mamytbayeva, at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv last Thursday.
The hotel ballroom was decorated with Kazakh themes, including at the entrance a beautiful cake adorned by the country’s flag. Guests from Israel’s diplomatic corps, Kazakh society, Israeli VIPs and others had ample opportunity to greet and meet as drinks were served. Among the special guests were M.K. Sofa Landver (Minister of Immigrant Absorption), Ambassador Shlomo Morgan (Israeli Foreign Ministry), Ehud Olmert (former Prime Minister), Hezi Bezalel ( businessman and honorary consul of Rwanda), Yair A. Stern (Director General, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra) and Stella Yudko (concert producer).
After the ceremonial part of the evening the guests were treated to a range of exotic entertainments by Kazakh musicians, dancers and singers. Flowing costumes, mysterious melodies, and unusual musical instruments all made for interesting performances.
His Excellency Ambassador Kuanyshev opened his address to the guests with a very warm welcome to all who came to honor the Republic of Kazakhstan on its national day celebrations. He made special mention of the guests of honor who graced the occasion: Avi Gabai, Minister of Environmental Protection of the State of Israel; Michael Brodsky, Ambassador-designate of the State of Israel in the Republic of Kazakhstan; Ambassador Meron Reuben, Ambassador Zvi Rav-Ner; and Olzhas Suleymenov, writer and poet, who was for many years ambassador of Kazakhstan to UNESCO. The Ambassador spoke of the economic spheres is his country, diversification of the economy and improving the economic climate. “On the personal note, for me this was the first year working in Israel. In this connection I would like to thank for the support and sympathy from Israelis, allowing me quickly get accustomed here and to feel so at home.”
He continued: “I would like to express special gratitude to my Israeli compatriots repatriated from Kazakhstan, and also to all compatriots from the former Soviet Union. We celebrated the 70th anniversary of Great Victory together with them. I am also glad to meet with those Israelis whose ancestors were not the citizens of the USSR, but who had to be evacuated to the Kazakh land during World War II. They comprise refugees from such countries as Poland, Romania, etc. Their children and grandchildren built Israel, but they remember those who saved the lives of their grandparents.
“In 2015 our relations were heightened. We hope to conduct a series of important bilateral events next year. They include the 7th session of Inter-Governmental Commission, signing of the convention on avoiding of double taxation. We also look forward to the visit of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, to Kazakhstan. In this context, we hope to bring commercial and economic cooperation and tourist and cultural connections between our countries to a new level. Also we expect to solve two key issues: visa-free trips and restarting of direct air links.
“In conclusion, I would like to thank again our guests for their warm congratulations on the occasion of the Independence Day.” The ambassador sent his warm greeting to the people of Israel for the Chanukah holiday.
In responding on behalf of the Government and the State of Israel and its people, Minister Avi Gabai thanked the Ambassador and sent warm greetings to the President of Kazakhstan its people of their anniversary.
“When Israel and Kazakhstan established diplomatic relations between them in 1992, a cornerstone was laid for close and important relations which developed and expanded with the passing of time. Israel was among the first countries to recognize the independence of Kazakhstan. Over more than two decades, the strong relations between the two countries have been based on mutual respect, common values and close cooperation.
“The broad and deep cooperation between the peoples and the states encompasses many fields: political, economic, cultural, academic interreligious, tourism, development issues etc. … The deepening of the cooperation in those areas was discussed and advanced during the political dialogue between Israel and Kazakhstan last month in Jerusalem.
“We will forever remember and be grateful to the Kazakh people for the shelter and salvation they provided to thousands of Jews who fled for their lives from the horrors of the Holocaust.
“Mr. Ambassador, allow me to thank you personally for your efforts to promote the relations between our two nations. Please convey to President Nazarbayev and the people of Kazakhstan our warm greetings on the occasion of 24 years of your independence. May the future bring with it prosperity to your country and a strengthening of the links of friendship between Israel and Kazakhstan.
The event took place during the Jewish Festival of Lights – Chanukah. The hosts graciously invited religious authorities to be present with the traditional nine-branched chandelier / candelabrum. In a moving ceremony, the correct number of candles was lit, with an honor of lighting accorded to His Excellency the Ambassador, while the appropriate blessings were recited. A tradition of thousands of years.
A fine buffet dinner accompanied the entertainment that followed.
Photo by Mark krugliak
Celebrating the King of Thailand.
Culturally, Thailand and Israel are worlds apart. But there is so much in Thai art, music, food and nature that Israelis appreciate and enjoy. Thus the Thai atmosphere in the Grand Ballroom of Tel Aviv’s Hilton Hotel last Thursday was especially appealing and welcoming. The cream of Thai and Israeli society gathered to celebrate and congratulate His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on his 88th birthday, a day also recognized and observed as Thailand’s National Day. Beautiful traditional Thai décor, including baskets of flowers and multicolored decorated and sculpted fruits, Thai silk flowers, and Thai musicians brought especially from Thailand, welcomed and delighted the guests. Cocktails and snacks, including imported Thai beer were served before the formal speeches and dinner. Thailand in Tel Aviv!
Guests included many ambassadors and diplomats, not to mention government, society and business leaders. Amongst others were Dov Kalmann, representative of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) in Israel, Zvi Gur of El Al Israel Airlines, Asher Roseman of Roseman & Co., and of course, Naomi Hurvitz, Chief Executive and owner of the luxurious Sheva Thai Spa at the Hilton Hotel.
Her Excellency Ambassador Angsana Sihapitak addressed the gathering. In her opening remarks she welcomed the guests and noted that: “His Majesty is the world’s longest-reigning monarch and has reigned over the Kingdom of Thailand for almost 70 years. The name Bhumibol Adulyadej means ‘strength of the land, the incomparable power’. He is the riveting and unifying power of the Thai nation”. The Ambassador paid tribute to His Majesty, his achievements, his work for the good of the people, also pointing out that as a constitutional monarch he is above politics for the betterment of all.
Ambassador Angsana Sihapitak gave a brief overview of Thailand’s political empowerment as a member of ASEAN and other important alliances in S.E. Asia. She continued: “For our bilateral relations with Israel, we appreciate the stance of the Israeli government for their constructive gesture and understanding. Thailand & Israel have enjoyed the excellent relationship in all aspects throughout the sixty years of diplomatic relations (that we celebrated last year).
“The Thai-Israel Friendship Foundation was established in 1985, under the Royal Patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Mahachakri Sirindhorn who visited Israel in 1977 accompanied by Her Royal younger sister Princess Chulabhorn, to promote a long-lasting friendship and cultural exchange. In 1996 a Thai Pavilion was built in Modi’in Park, situated near the site of “Thailand-Israel Friendship Grove” where over a thousand trees were planted by the Friendship Foundation earlier in 1989, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of His Majesty’s Accession to the throne.”
In conclusion, she proposed a toast to the good health and happiness of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and to the long lasting friendship between the Kingdom of Thailand and the State of Israel.
On behalf of the State of Israel, the government and the people of Israel, Knesset Member Mr. Miki Zohar responded. First, he warmly congratulated His Majesty the King, and continued: “This year we mark the 61st anniversary of the diplomatic relations between our countries. We look forward to continuing the pace of work and cooperation in a variety of fields. We have already held many events both in Thailand and in Israel, and more are yet to come.”
The Minister mentioned several cooperative projects, and then moved on to tourism: “Over 150,000 Israelis visit Thailand each year. El Al Israel Airlines operates a daily flight, and sometimes even twice a day, between Tel Aviv and Bangkok. Your country is the leading Asian tourist destination for the Israelis.
“Madam Ambassador, please convey our warm congratulations to your government and to the Thai People on the occasion of your National Day. May Thailand enjoy peace and prosperity, and may the ties of friendship and cooperation between Israel and Thailand become even stronger in the years ahead.”
Then too, the musicians played the Israeli National Anthem.
A lavish buffet dinner followed, but not before a striking display of traditional Thai dancing by professionals in Thai national dress. The grace and beauty delivered a note of Thai culture to the Israeli audience, and, we feel sure, a sense of well-being of “at home” for the Thai guests. The Thai musicians also played a striking version of the popular Israeli melody, “Hava Nagila”.
Yes, strong ties exist between Thailand and Israel.
Photos Silvia G Golan
Romania Celebrates its National Day in Israel
The grand lobby of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art was the scene of an elegant gathering of the Israeli Diplomatic corps and other VIPs on Monday evening on the occasion of the National Day of Romania. The event was hosted by her Excellency Ambassador Andreea Păstârnac, the Romanian Embassy and the Romanian Cultural Institute. “Bine aţi venit” (welcome) was the heading on the video above the podium, and indeed, the large Romanian-society presence plus Ambassadors, diplomats and other VIPs felt warmly welcomed. Among the guests were Shlomo Keidar, board member, and Micha Harish, chairman, of A.M.I.R. – the roof organization of Romanian immigrants to Israel; Knesset member Prof. Yossie Yonah; Dr. Rosalie Sitman, head of Tel Aviv University’s Foreign Languages Division; Michail Terzimpasis, Director of the Greek National Tourism Organization in Israel; Nico Nitai, Manager & Artistic Director of Tel Aviv’s Karov Theater; Meron Reuben, Israel’s Chief of State Protocol; Ambassador Shlomo Morgan of the Israeli Foreign Ministry; and Baldi Olier, Romanian-born flamenco guitarist described by “The Jerusalem Post” as Israel's undisputed king of flamenco.
Guests enjoyed a buffet of snacks while mingling and renewing friendships and making new ones. Besides soft and other drinks, a range of fine Romanian wines was on offer, including Nomad Feteasca Neagra 2009 and several crisp whites. Large companies, Romanian and Israeli, added their cache to the event, proving sponsorships and support, TAROM being the major sponsor. Others included the Ben Haim and Carmel Wineries, Sixt, Sano, Elbit Systems, Bank Leumi, Ophir Tours and more.
After a brief introduction, the Romanian singer, actor and entertainer Sofia Vicoveanca presented haunting Romanian folklore songs. Ambassador Andreea Păstârnac then addressed the gathering, as usual, in her fluent Hebrew. She welcomed the guests who had joined in to celebrate her country’s National Day. “On December 1st 1918, in the aftermath of the Great War, the Great Union was accomplished. This year, today, on this occasion, I would like to mention the role of the Jewish soldiers, who fought shoulder to shoulder with the Romanian soldiers, in order to fulfil the national dream… their courage will be always remembered.”
“Terrorism has no borders and creates victims all over the world, here, in Europe, in France, Belgium and in other countries. Unfortunately, terrorism strikes in Israel too, and I convey my condolences to the families, friends and relatives of the victims. Since its inception as a state, Israel paid and will continue to pay a heavy price in the fight against terrorism. Romania too faces difficult times. We are all aware of the tragedy that occurred during the concert in the “Colectiv” club, where 60 young people died. There were debates about the way the Romanian society responds to this kind of challenge.” The gathering then responded to her call for a minute’s silence “ …. in memory of the victims in Bucharest and for the victims of terrorism.”
“It is in our nature to remember close friends. When the tragedy occurred, Israel was the first country who sent help in Romania. Together with the doctors, skin for transplants and a cream-drug to help faster recovery from burns were brought to Romania. Hadassah and Tel Ha’shomer hospitals received three wounded Romanians, but unfortunately, one of them died in Hadassah. Today, we have good news regarding the other two wounded treated at Tel Ha’shomer. We send them our best wishes and we hope they will be able to return home soon. Our most heartfelt thanks to you.”
Ambassador Păstârnac then introduced some of the Israeli medical teams that had responded so courageously; Dr. Shoham Yaron, Dr. Nimrod Parver, Dr. Monica Sandu, Prof. David Linton and others. “We would also like to thank Dr. Herman Bercovici, Honorary Consul of Romania to the State of Israel and the personal doctor of the Israeli Prime Minister, who spared no efforts to assemble the help needed and send it to Romania.”
On a lighter note the Ambassador spoke of the Romanian wine culture and its implications for viticulture in Israel. A most pleasing connection.
Israel’s Minister of Health, Yaakov Litzman, responded: “I am pleased and honored to represent the Government and the people of Israel in congratulating Romania on the occasion of its National Day. Israel values the very good and special relations existing between our two countries since the creation of the State. Romania is the only country of the former Eastern Bloc that maintained its diplomatic relations all along this period.
“We welcome the close cooperation between us in the political strategic economic and cultural fields. Both countries are willing to expand this cooperation for the benefit of all.
“Israel highly appreciates the support of the Romanian Government to the Jewish community in Romania and also its support Holocaust-related issues and the fight against anti-Semitism. In this context, Israel congratulates Romania on assuming the Chairmanship of IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) in 2016. The 400,000 strong community of Israelis originating in Romania has made a very important contribution to the building of the State and they serve as an additional bridge in the relationship between both our countries.
“Finally I wish to congratulate the Ambassador of Romania and her staff for their vigorous activity to promote the relations between the two countries and peoples. To conclude, Madam Ambassador, please convey to the President of Romania, its Government and its People our best wishes for your National Day. May Romania enjoy stability and prosperity and may the relations of friendship between Israel and Romania continue to expand and flourish in the years to come.”
Photos : Silvia G. Golan
A truly glittering gathering of diplomats, celebrities, society leaders and business associates assembled at the ambassadorial residence of his Excellency Shigeo Matsutori, Ambassador of Japan to the State of Israel, and his wife Mrs. Kaori Matsutomi, at their lovely Herzlia Pituach home. The celebration was in honor of the 82nd birthday of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Akihito of Japan. Needless to say, Japanese art and culture were everywhere. For Israelis, the classic formal greetings and bows between the Japanese (and between in-the-know westerners and their Japanese counterparts) are a breath of fresh air. There was much fresh air that evening, which added to the grace and charm.
Also adding to the charm was the display of a genuine formal tea ceremony by properly-clad Japanese hostesses; not to mention the wide array of saké, Japanese beers, wines and other beverages at the generous bar. Guests mingled and chatted, renewing old friendships and making news ones as snacks and drinks were served before the formal speeches and dinner. Among the guests were their Excellencies the Ambassadors of Spain, Zambia, Thailand, Georgia, Panama, Myanmar, South Africa and many others; the charges d’affaires and cultural and military attaches of many embassies in Israel; present and former members of the Knesset and other Israeli governmental officials. To mention just three important attendees by name: Eli Lancman, Chairman of the Israel-Japan Friendship Society; Ehud Rassabi, Honorary President of the Society and the Chamber of Commerce; and Ze’ev Lavie, Director of the Israeli Federation of Chambers of Commerce.
Entertaining the guests during the cocktails were an accomplished flautist and violinist, playing Japanese melodies. The formal segment of the evening began by them playing beautiful renditions of the Japanese national anthem, followed by that of Israel.
His Excellency the Japanese Ambassador opened his remarks by thanking everyone for attending, mentioning in particular Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection, Avi Gabai, and Israel’s Attorney-General, Yehuda Weinstein. Ambassador Matsutori made special mention of, and sent his condolences to the victims of, the “sorrowful incident” of terror in Paris. He added: “In this context, I believe we have a lot to learn from Israel in its spirit and resolution, defying terror, fighting back terror and making progress way forwards for nation building.” He also spoke of Japan’s interest in furthering a possible two-state solution leading to peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, noting that Japan also has problems and disputes with some of its neighboring countries and adding that: “I hope both Israel and the Palestine Authority will pedal more vigorously and visibly towards the peace.”
The Ambassador spoke of the excellent bilateral relations between his country and Israel: “I would like to emphasize that, thanks to mutual visits at the highest level, there has been great progress in the bilateral relationship in the political, economic and cultural arenas, particularly economic and business interaction is coming to a next dimension.” He noted that a Japanese airline began flights to Tel Aviv under a code-share agreement in October; new visa systems have been introduced, first for qualified engineers, with more to come (next for students); Japanese mega businesses have started coming to Israel while their corporate profits reach historic highs; and that a bilateral investment treaty is being negotiated, “the first of the kind Israel ever has with liberalization compacts. We are at a final stage and I hope it will come soon.”
On a note of sadness Ambassador Matsutori noted that he has only four more weeks to serve in his post in Israel and that: “My wife Kaori and I are very sorry to leave now just as our bilateral relationship is taking high momentum, and also in private life, my wife and myself, have so much enjoyed staying here in Israel. We’re very sad to be separated from many good friends …. In conclusion, I wish to propose a toast to the continued good health of Their Majesties as well as each one of you present here, and to an even more fruitful friendship between our two countries.”
Minister Gabai responded on behalf of the Government and the State of Israel and its people. He followed his warm congratulations by noting that although Japan and Israel are geographically at the two extreme opposite ends of Asia, the two countries have very warm and close ties. “Japan is a good friend, a like-minded country. There are mutual interests and investments, and these have led to good and lasting bilateral ties”. The Minister added that he had attended several diplomatic events in the past, but could not recall such a well-attended and beautiful one.
“The direct dialogue between our leaderships has allowed us to reach important agreements, mainly in the areas of science, technological innovation, cyber and homeland security. This is why among other things, Israel decided to extend and widen its activities throughout Japan. Just a few days ago, on November 16th, we opened a new Trade Office in Osaka. To add to that, an agreement for encouraging mutual investments will be signed soon and will send a strong signal to both sides. Japan has been for many years at the cutting edge of environmental technology and innovation – an inspiration worldwide. Japan is also at the forefront in moving from waste to sound materials management and I, as the Minister of Environmental Protection, believe we could learn a lot from your knowledge and experience. We are committed to continue and strengthen the good relations which exist between us.”
He asked the Ambassador to convey respectful good wishes and congratulations to the Emperor and to the people of Japan.
Needless to say, sushi, tempura and yakitori featured on the dinner buffet that followed, but also Spanish paella, Chinese dim-sum and American beef. Not to mention a special section featuring kosher dishes for observant guests. The saké flowed like water, and guests were offered a recipe leaflet to enable them to try the Japanese dishes at home. Maguro namerou, anyone?
Photos : Silvia G. Golan
Angola Celebrates 40 years of Independence.
Independence for any country is the diamond in the crown. Angola gained independence after 500 years of colonial occupation, followed by 14 years of civil war. The relief, the incentive, the independence are a fabulous reward.
Last Sunday evening the Angolan Ambassador to Israel, his Excellency Feliciano Antonio dos Santos and his wife hosted a charming celebration of the 40 years of Angolan independence, at Tel Aviv’s Dan Panorama Hotel ballroom. Ambassadors and Diplomats graced the event, together with the cream of Israel’s business and social community. Among the Ambassadors who honored Angola with their presence were their excellences from The Philippines, South Africa, Japan, Ghana, Zambia, in addition to His Excellency Raphael Singer, Israel’s Ambassador to Angola, who came to be here for the event, and more.
A delicious and generous dinner preceded the formal events, which began with a rendition of the national anthems of Angola and Israel. Then His Excellency Ambassador dos Santos addressed the gathering, welcoming the guests and thanking them for attending. He pointed out that: “The Angolan people, led by President José Eduardo dos Santos, are building a new Angola. It is this Angola that you can see in the photographs displayed here and the video being screened at this event.” Angola is the second major oil producer on the African continent and the fifth largest producer of diamonds in the world, so the current drop in oil prices has not done Angola any good, to say the least.
His Excellency continued: “The spectacular socio-economic growth of Angola, the most visible aspect of which is the construction of thousands of kilometers of roads, railways, new airports, new cities, hospitals and schools, accompanied by a promising national plan of executive training programs, has obviously had the participation of companies and businessmen from friendly countries, such as Israel. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Israeli companies and businessmen who operate projects in Angola, some of whom are present here with us today.” He mentioned the importance of cooperation by investors and added: “Your Excellency, Mrs. Gila Gamliel [representing the State of Israel at the event], allow me to stress my country's satisfaction with the excellent state of our bilateral cooperation and to express my wish to see it strengthened even further.”
The Ambassador stressed his country’s contribution to the United Nations, and its standpoint regarding peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, leading to a: “…peaceful and lasting solution based on two states, living side by side in peace and security.” He ended his address by reaffirming Angola’s commitment to see the process of peace negotiations resumed between the government of the State of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority.
Knesset Member Gila Gamliel responded on behalf of the State of Israel and its people. She warmly congratulated the Government and the people of Angola on the occasion of the country’s 40th anniversary. She added that the two countries have had a firm relationship for over 20 years, including diplomatic ties and cooperation in business, agriculture, water and energy. “We also see Angola as a partner in culture, the arts and education, with the goal of enhancing our people-to-people relations.” Ms. Gamliel noted the importance that Israel attaches to Angola’s UN positions, and expressed the hope that Angola would use its influence to help Israel regain its status as an Observer State in the African Union.
But she also spared no words when mentioning the radical Islamic terror that had recently raised its ugly head, not only in Israel, but now in Paris too. Her harsh criticism of the way some nations have responded to terror against Israel reflected the embodiment of Israel’s disappointment.
MK Gamliel ended her address by asking the Ambassador to convey “hearty warm wishes of the Government and people of Israel to the Government and people of Angola. We wish Angola peace, stability and prosperity … and good relations and friendship between the State of Israel and the Republic of Angola”.
A beautiful cake with the Angolan flag was cut by the two dignitaries, after sharing a glass of champagne and drinking to one another’s health.
Photos att Angola Embassy
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr.Nestor Alejandro Rosa Navarro , Ambassador of Uruguay to Israel.
President Rivlin to Russian Ambassador: “Without security, we will never be able to move the process forward.”
President Reuven Rivlin received, during a ceremony this morning (Monday) at his residence, the diplomatic credentials of the new ambassadors to Israel from Uruguay, Russia, Slovenia, El Salvador, and Albania.
First to present his credentials was new Ambassador of Uruguay, H.E. Mr. Nestor Alejandro Rosa Navarro. The President welcomed him and said, “The relationship between Uruguay and the Zionist movement goes back over 100 years. And we appreciate that Uruguay was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Israel.” He added, “We also appreciate greatly the firm stand Uruguay has taken against the violence and incitement against Israel.”
Ambassador Navarro responded by thanking the President and said, “The warm relationship between our two people has a long history, and we are committed to working to deepen the good relations between us through economic and cultural cooperation.”
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr.Alexander Petrovich Shein , Ambassador of Russia to Israel.
The Ambassador of Russia H.E. Mr. Alexander Petrovich Shein was next to present his diplomatic credentials to the President. President Rivlin began, “I want to express my deepest sympathies to the families of those who perished in the plane disaster in the Sinai. Our thoughts with their families and all the Russian people at this time.” He went on to add, “We live in a small world, where an event in one region can affect the world. We understand Russia’s strategic concerns, while we need to be aware of all that is going on around us. The name of the game is security - without security, we will never be able to move the process forward.”
Russian Ambassador Shein thanked the President for his welcome and noted, “President Putin sees Israel as a very important partner in the Middle East, and Russia is keen to widen our bilateral relations with Israel – there is much potential for cooperation in the areas of hi-tech, culture, agriculture, and more.”
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mrs.Barbara Susnik , Ambassador of Slovenia to Israel.
Following, Ambassador of Slovenia H.E. MS. Barbara Susnik presented her diplomatic credentials to the President, who congratulated her on her appointment and said, “We greatly appreciate the good relations between our countries, and we are proud to have been among the first nations to recognize Slovenia’s independence.”
Ambassador Susnik expressed her condolences over the passing of Fifth President of Israel Yitzhak Navon, and spoke with the President about the historic and significant friendship between Israel and Slovenia.
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Werner Matias Romero Guerra, Ambassador of El Salvador to Israel.
Next, Ambassador of El Salvador H.E. MR. Werner Matias Romero Guerra, presented his diplomatic credentials, and said, “Throughout the years, Israel has been by our side, through good and bad times. It is a great honor for me to represent my country in Israel, and work to strengthen our bilateral ties in many fields.”
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E DR. Bardhyl Canaj , Ambassador of Albania to Israel.
Finally, Ambassador of Albania, H.E. DR. Bardhyl Canaj presented his diplomatic credentials to the President and invited the him to visit Albania, noting that the President was “well known in Albania and the media followed his activities and statements closely.” The President thanked him for the invitation, and wished him much success in his new role.
Photo Kobi Gideon /GPO
U.S. Embassy Launches Visa Awareness Campaign
TEL AVIV – The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv launched its “You Ask, We Answer” video series to provide information on navigating the visa application process. The series features short videos starring Ambassador Dan Shapiro and members of the Consular staff. The goal behind the videos is to better inform the Israeli public about navigating the process for receiving a visa to the United States.
“It’s important to us that visa applicants have clear information to help make the process as easy as possible,” said David Schwartz, Consul General at the U.S. Embassy. “At the same time, we wanted to provide this information in a fun, entertaining, and engaging way, so we focused on answering the most common questions we receive from our applicants.”
The short videos will be posted on the Embassy’s official website, Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Twitter account.
the Embassy Facebook page,
and a telephone hotline (03-905-8062).
Visa information can also be found on the Embassy’s websites: israel.usembassy.gov and hebrew.israel.usembassy.gov.
Photo provided by the USA Embassy
The 97th anniversary of the establishment of the independent Czechoslovak State on October 28, in 1918, which declared independence from the Hapsburg Empire at the end of World War I and the Day of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic, were celebrated in Israel at the Ambassador of the Czech Republic H. E. Ivo Schwarz and his wife Eva in their Hertzliya Pituach residency , together with Mr Pave Petrásek Military and Air Attaché to Israel,LTC and wife Andrea
The Orchestra that came especially from the Czech Republic for the event played a pleasant classical and favorite Czech tunes.
The Honorary guests were the Israeli Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel, and a delegation of ministers and business representatives who came specially from the Czech Republic : The Czech Minister of culture Daniel Herman, The Czech Minister of Regional Development Mrs Karla Šlechtová, the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Mrs.Michaela Marksova, Michael Zantovsky former ambassador of Czech Republic in Israel, among the israeli guests were present : David Hercky Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic , Ambassador Shlomo Morgan from the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Dan Propper.
The ceremony started with the orchestra playing the Czech National Anthem, followed by the Israeli National Anthem "Hatikva".
The Ambassador addressed the guests and thanked them for joining the celebrations of the Czech National Day. He then briefed about the recent Czech history, on October 28, 1918, when the first independent Czechoslovak state was founded, one of the few European states with successful multi-party parliamentary democracy, democratic government and Jewish friendly policy.
The ambassador then specified that this year´s celebration is a special one. "At the same time we are commemorating also 25 years of the re-establishment of our diplomatic relations, interrupted by the communist regime in 1967. It was a great merit of our first Democratic President after 1989, Mr. Václav Havel, who renewed the tradition of a strategic friendship between the two countries, and I am happy that this year has been also dedicated to him." The Ambassador went on explaining that this is the reason why so many representatives from the Czech Republic are attending the event - the minister of culture, Mr. Daniel Herman, the minister of regional development, Mrs. Karla Šlechtová, the minister of labor and social affairs, Mrs. Michaela Marksová, and the director of the Václav Havel Library and former ambassador in Israel Mr. Michael Žantovský. All of them participated on a number of events during the Václav Havel Week, which ends today with this reception.
The Ambassador mentioned the fact that during this year several public places in Israel were named after Václav Havel, who was the first head of state for the former communist bloc who visited Israel – similarly to Masaryk in the 1920s. Many streets and squares in this country bear the name of Masaryk, and I am very glad that more and more Israeli municipalities are deciding to honor in this way also Václav Havel. He concluded by saying: "I am looking in a positive way to the future. I strongly hope that our relations will develop in the same way towards a better future for all of us. Therefore, I am happy to see you here to support us in our effort, and celebrate the independence day of a state on the spiritual foundation of which the Czech Republic was established. "
Then, the Czech Minister of culture Daniel Herman addressed a warm and friendly speech about the event .
On behalf of the government and the people of Israel, Uri Ariel, Israel's Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, congratulated the Czech Republic on the occasion of its National Day: "It is a great honor to address the residents of a country that is a close, loyal and devoted friend of Israel. I would like to take this opportunity to express how deeply we appreciate and value the close relationship between our countries and our people".
He then continued by saying that "Israel will never the forget the difficult years in which Czechoslovakia stood firmly by our side when the State of Israel was first established, nor will we forget the supply of Czech ammunition that we received and the training for our pilots when Arab forces invaded our land in order to destroy the newly-born Jewish State".
"The close friendship between our two countries is not a thing of the past. It persists to this very day, and, as time passes, it becomes increasingly strong"; and reaffirmed by stating that: "The Czech and Israeli governments have a long-standing tradition of joint meetings, known as G2G, in which corresponding government ministers meet and discuss plans for collaboration. We hope to convene for the fourth meeting in this series in 2016".
"The relationship between Israel and the Czech Republic has several unique expressions, including parallel university chairs established with government funding in both the IDC in Herzliya and the Masaryk University in Brno, and the Czech-Israel Forum that has already convened several times. We intend to continue to develop other unique elements of this bilateral relationship".
"We attach highest importance to promoting relations between the younger generation of Israeli and Czech citizens. Therefore, we are in the process of promoting a working holiday agreement that will allow young adults from both countries to
He concluded by conveying sincere wishes to the Czech Republic to continue enjoying peace and prosperity, and strengthening the ties of friendship and cooperation between the Czech Republic and Israel in the years ahead.
The celebration continued happily in the drizzling weather, while the guests enjoy each other, the fine bar and excellent buffet, with typical food. Separately, kosher food was served that included some specialties prepared for the event.
The beautiful and friendly atmosphere continued with the orchestra, which played Mr. Václav Havel"s favorite tune, Lou Reed song "It'ss just a perfect day I want to spend it with you".
Happy Czech National Day from www.diplomacy.co.il Staff !!!!!
Photos Silvia Golan
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr.Peter Hulenyi , Ambassador of Slovakia to Israel.
President Rivlin receives diplomatic credentials of new ambassadors to Israel
President Reuven Rivlin received, during a ceremony this morning (Monday 2 November 2015) at his residence, the diplomatic credentials of the new ambassadors to Israel from Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Norway, Ireland, and Sierra Leone.
Ambassador of Slovakia, H.E Mr. Peter Hulenyi, presented his credentials to the President who welcomed him and said, "Slovakia is one of Israel’s closest allies in Europe. On my visit to Bratislava as Speaker of the Knesset, I was greatly impressed by the strong connection between the Jewish community and the Jewish people, to Slovakia. I appreciate greatly your support in the international arena and especially your efforts to prevent Palestinian unilateral moves." The President concluded, "I hope you and your wife will feel at home here in Israel."
Ambassador Hulenyi thanked the President, and began in Hebrew to note, "It is a great honor for me to be here today." He continued, "Today is the 2nd November, both as the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, and the day on which I present my credentials – is one of the most important days of my life. It is quite incredible to see what your country has achieved in such a short time."
He spoke of the cooperation and bilateral relations between the countries and said, "I see great potential in our economic cooperation. While we are both small countries, we are powers - you of innovation, and we of production in many fields."
The President responded by saying, "The great achievements of Slovakia in the last two decades are testament to the potential of our cooperation."
President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Periyasamy Pillai Selvaraj, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Israel.
Ambassador of Sri Lanka, H.E Mr. Periyasamy Pillai Selvaraj presented his credentials to the President who congratulated him on his appointment and said, "There are great similarities between the way our countries are made up of many communities. We know very well how hard you have worked, and what you have achieved for the sake of your people and your nation, and we would be pleased to see the ties between us strengthen, and through cooperation, reach achievements of which we will both be proud."
Ambassador Selvaraj thanked the President and said, "From the moment I arrived in Israel, I felt at home. The connection between our peoples is very important, and we wish to widen our cooperation especially in the fields of tourism, agriculture, and industry. I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for the good relations between our peoples, and the express my hope that they will go from strength to strength in the future."
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Jon Hanssen-Bauer, Ambassador of Norway to Israel.
Ambassador of Norway, H.E Mr. Jon Hanssen-Bauer presented his credentials to the President. President Rivlin welcomed him and said, "I know that you have much experience and understanding of this region, and the need to ensure the security of the citizens of Israel in order to bring an end to the conflict with the Palestinians. We want to live in peace, not just with a peace treaty."
The President went on to speak about the relations between the two countries, and said, "There is much potential for cooperation between our countries, especially in the fields of innovation and energy – where we can work to find solutions to benefit the whole world."
Ambassador Hanssen-Bauer thanked the President and said, "I want to convey the deep appreciation of King and Government of Norway. This year we mark 65 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries, of which we are very proud. Our cooperation has grown over the years, and this year alone there has been an increase of 20% in our investment in Israel, which is out of a faith in the strength of the Israeli economy. I see great importance in my role to increase and expand the relations between our countries."
The Ambassador added, "We are proud of the fact that we hosted the Oslo Accords, and are very aware of the difficulties since. We are here in order to assist in the reaching of an agreement which will bring peace and security to Israel. I want to express my deep appreciation for your personal efforts to strengthen Israel as a democratic and Jewish state, and to protect equal rights and opportunities for all the citizens of Israel.
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mrs Alison Kelly , Ambassador of Ireland to Israel.
Ambassador of Ireland, H.E Ms. Alison Kelly, presented her credentials to the President who welcomed her warmly and said, "In many ways, Israel and Ireland are so similar. Ireland, like Israel, is a beautiful country, filled with a mix of tradition and faith. I want to express my high regard for the ongoing economic, cultural, and academic cooperation between our countries."
The President noted that the Ambassador had arrived during a very difficult period, and that stressed that Israel was committed to the status-quo on the Temple Mount, and said, "Israel has no war with Islam, and we have no intention to change the status-quo agreement on the Temple Mount – we have not, and will not change one letter of the agreement."
Ambassador Kelly thanked the President for his warm welcome and noted she was deeply honored to be representing Ireland in Israel. She spoke of the expansion in the bilateral relations between the two countries and said, "My team and I will continue to work to strengthen and expand the cooperation between our countries, especially in the fields of technology and medical advances, among others."
Photo President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Osman Keh Kamara , Ambassador of Sierra Leone to Israel.
Lastly, Non-resident Ambassador of Sierra Leone, H.E Mr. Osman Keh Kamara presented his credentials to the President who welcomed him warmly and said, "I want to express my appreciation for the good relations between our countries, which we see expressed in the many citizens of Sierra Leone who participate in the Ministry of Foreign Affair's Mashav program."
Ambassador Kamara said, "Thank you for your warm words about my country. You have helped us immensely in our struggle against Ebola, and in the development of dialysis treatment. I want to express my deepest appreciation for your help. I will do all in my power to ensure that my time as Ambassador to Israel will serve to strengthen and further the ties and cooperation between our countries."
Photos: GPO/Mark Neiman
Visit to Israel of Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández 28-30 October 2015 : Joint Communique
Israel and Honduras share friendship and mutual appreciation that are reflected in the close bilateral relations of the two states.
President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández will be visiting Israel accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes the Honduras ministers of foreign affairs, defense, agriculture and national infrastructures, and the chief of staff of the Honduras armed forces. The visit testifies to the close relations between the two states and the importance accorded by Israel and Honduras to promoting and deepening their bilateral relations. President Hernández is a graduate of MASHAV, Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation, the first MASHAV graduate to become a head of state.
In the past, Honduras has proven its commitment to Israel’s security and continues to support Israel’s right to live securely and in peace with its neighbors. The president of Honduras has called for both sides to return to the negotiating table in the spirit of the “two states for two peoples” solution.
Israel is following the efforts of the Honduras government to deal with the challenges confronting it and commends the government on its successes in combating violence, drug trafficking and organized crime, as well as the task force it has established, in cooperation with the Organization of American States (OAS), to fight against corruption and impunity and to contribute to strengthening the rule of law (MACCIH).
Honduras, together with its neighbors, is promoting a regional agenda that comprises bilateral agreements and the Plan for the Alliance for Prosperity, as well as national economic projects such as a land bridge between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and the construction of logistical centers for the promotion of global trade.
As a graduate of MASHAV, President Hernández noted the important of Israeli aid to Honduras’ development through the training of Honduras citizens in MASHAV courses in Israel and in Honduras.
Israel will continue to cooperate with Honduras, as it has over the years, in the fields of agriculture, education, health, science and technology, and water management, especially in light of the serious drought Honduras has been experiencing in the past year.
A course in agricultural water management is taking place right now in Honduras, given by an Israeli expert in the field, and another delegation is expected to leave in the coming weeks for Tegucigalpa to share Israeli know-how in combating desertification and dealing with a shortage of water for agriculture and drinking.
Agricultural cooperation with Honduras will focus on water management and irrigation, dairy cows, improved seeds and logistical aid for farmers. Israel will also share with Honduras the knowledge it has acquired in civilian security and cyber security.
This visit by the president of Honduras is an important element in the upgrading of relations between the two states and symbolizes the friendship between the two peoples, who share common values based on democracy, human rights, respect for law, the desire for development and growth, and the aspiration to peace.
Photo Miri Smonovitz
Celebrating Hungarian Freedom and Democracy
Recounting the vivid history of Hungary’s road to freedom is fascinating. On Thursday evening his Excellency Ambassador Andor Nagy and his wife hosted a dynamic reception at the ambassadorial residence in Herzlia to celebrate Hungarian independence and freedom; something to celebrate, in the light of this modern nation’s history.
Honoring Hungary, her independence and her diplomatic representation to the State of Israel were leaders of the diplomatic corps and of Hungarian and Israeli society. Among those present (in no particular order if ranking) were his excellency Ambassador Ilan Mor, Israel’s envoy to Budapest, and Hungary’s Justice Minister Professor Dr. László Trócsányi (both of whom came to Israel especially to attend this event), Ambassador Oded Ben-Hur (Senior Diplomatic Advisor to the Knesset), Adv. Orit Noked (former Israeli Minister of Agriculture), Rishon le Zion’s Mayor Dov Zur (Rishon & Budapest are sister cities), Ubong A. Johnny, Economic & Political Counselor of the Embassy of Nigeria, Zvi Herman (presently director of the Center for International Agriculture & Development Corporation), Meron Reuben (Israel’s Chief of State Protocol), Professor Gady Golan (president of the Ort Hermelin Academic College) and ambassadors, consuls and attachés from a wide range of embassies and consulates. A glittering gathering indeed.
Generous Hungarian-style snacks and beverages smoothed the way into what became a congenial gathering. Gentle Hungarian melodies by Tibi Golan and his ensemble added a pleasant note to the atmosphere.
The formal part of the evening began with a brief welcome by the host Ambassador (who also demonstrated his Hebrew skills with humor) and then a presentation of the national anthem of Hungary followed by that of Israel.
After his welcoming comments, Ambassador Nagy spared no words on the horrors of the blood thirsty wave of terror in Israel. “As diplomats we are guests in your country, but naturally we are affected by these terrible events, too. I personally stumbled upon a stabbing attack last Monday in Jerusalem, walking on Yafo Street… All of a sudden people were running and shouting in panic around me some 15 meters from the light-rail station. I heard shooting and took shelter in a shop along with other people so I know what I am talking about… We condemn in the strongest possible terms violence directed against innocent people and we believe Israel has a fundamental right to maintain law and order. This kind of random violence will not result in anything other than more hardship, harm and insecurity.”
After a short introduction reviewing the professor’s impressive political and scholastic background, Ambassador Nagy then called upon guest of honor Professor Trócsányi to address the gathering.
His emotional opening words touched our hearts: “It is a great honor and pleasure to be here. I am filled with emotions. I stand in front of you not only as a politician, but also as a Christian. I am a Hungarian. I am also a European, son of the Jewish-Christian civilization. In Israel, in the Holy Land, I feel like I came home.”
The professor continued with an outline of Hungarian-Jewish history: “… We not only have similarities, but we have ties, strong ties which connect our nations: I talk about the long-time Jewish presence in Hungary. We have had flourishing times … Many Jewish people were among the most appreciated members of the society. They changed their native German or Yiddish languages for Hungarian ... Jewish Hungarians stood out in business, law, sciences, arts and literature … the Second World War came with all its horrors, and Hungary has lost many lives again, among them 600 thousand Jewish citizens, the most of whom have been deported to death camps. As our President of the Republic, János Áder said last year in a memorial speech: Auschwitz is the largest Hungarian cemetery … what makes unbearable times bearable is hope.
“We have to pay tribute to all the Hungarians – many of whom were Jewish – who were in the forefront of the fight for democracy and national independence.
“Hungary is a different country now … after breaking from the Soviet political bonds, the relationship between Hungary and the State of Israel could be rewritten … Hungary is home to the third biggest Jewish population in the European Union. We say ‘yes’ to Jewish presence and we say welcome to a Jewish renaissance on-going in my country … My government is proud and happy to renovate synagogues all over the country. I recently opened a Jewish art festival at the synagogue of Szeged, along with my friend Mr. Ilan Mor, ambassador of Israel to Hungary, who is with us this evening.
“I am proud that my government has a zero tolerance policy against racism and anti-Semitism. In Hungary, Holocaust denial and hate speech are crimes under the Penal Code adopted during the Orbán government. We say ‘no’ to terrorism that resolves nothing but brings unnecessary suffering. We wish for the sake of all of us, a lasting peace in the Middle East.”
Professor Trócsányi made reference to the “unprecedented migrant crisis” presently affecting Hungary & Europe. He also referred to the dark period when Hungary was under Soviet control and could not choose its diplomatic friends … “We, Hungarians, Israelis, came a long way in a short period of time. My message is one of peace and friendship. And of hope that our friendship will grow further. I think we need it more than ever in this troubled world.
Responding on behalf of, and bringing greetings from, the Government and the people of Israel, was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, Silvan Shalom. The Minister extended his thanks and congratulations to the Ambassador and to Hungary on the occasion of the National Day He continued: “Israel-Hungary relations are good and friendly, and are based, among other things, on the memory of the Holocaust, the existence of a large Jewish community in Hungary as well as a large Hungarian community in Israel. In addition to our positive relations in all areas, including economics and culture, we have ongoing political dialog at the various levels, including senior officials. We look forward to the visit of Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó, in November, when we will have the opportunity to jointly discuss issues that are currently on the agenda.”
Minister Shalom mentioned state visits and cultural exchanges, strengthening the warm bilateral diplomatic ties. This is not to forget that: “We still face numerous challenges in our bilateral relations: deepening cooperation on economic, academic, cultural and security matters. I am sure that both embassies will continue their efforts to realize these goals – to the benefit of both countries, Hungary and Israel.
“Mr. Ambassador, please convey our heartfelt congratulations to your government and to the Hungarian People on the occasion of your National Day. May Hungary enjoy peace and prosperity, and may the ties of friendship between Hungary and Israel become ever stronger in the years ahead”.
Guests were then invited to partake of a grand buffet dinner consisting largely of Hungarian specialties. For many of those it was the first time being exposed to real “Hungarian goulash” and “klops”, and not to mention the famous dessert pastry “Kürtőskalács” (kurtos to the initiated).
Nobody went home hungry.
Photo Silvia Golan
Ambassador Shapiro Reopens New and Improved American Center in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM – U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro reopened the U.S. Embassy’s American Center in Jerusalem (ACJ) during a dedication ceremony on Monday, October 19. Ambassador Shapiro cut the ribbon inaugurating ACJ’s new and improved multi-purpose room, which boasts cutting edge multimedia capability, digital video conferencing, and expanded space for exhibitions, conferences, lectures, concerts, and other events. Ambassador Shapiro was joined at the event by Embassy and Israeli government officials, many partners in the Embassy’s people-to-people programs, alumni of U.S. government exchange programs, as well as guests and contacts of the ACJ.
“The current tensions remind us of the critical need for continuing our joint efforts,” said Ambassador Shapiro. “This new space will give us even greater capabilities to do so.”
In his remarks, American Center Director Bill Murad announced that the Center has also expanded its educational advising services under the Department of State’s EducationUSA program, and will be enhancing resources available for students interested in studying in the U.S.
For upcoming events at the American Center, visit Facebook.com/AmericanCenterJerusalem
About the American Center in Jerusalem
The American Center, an office of the Public Diplomacy Section of the U.S. Embassy in Israel, strives to initiate and strengthen bonds between Israelis and the United States, and to promote understanding of U.S. policies, society, values, and culture. The Center provides a platform and venue for promoting public awareness of these topics through its library and information services, educational advising for students interested in studying in the U.S., academic, professional, and cultural exchange programs, and meetings with American experts, in cooperation with local institutions.
Ribbon cutting reintroduces Jerusalemites to Center
Germany - Israel: a Unique Relationship
There cannot be many countries with which the Federal Republic of Germany does not have diplomatic ties. Bigger, smaller, further, nearer, richer, poorer – all are important. But the bilateral diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel are surely unique.
It was in 1965, some 20 years after WW2 ended, and about 17 years after the establishment of the modern State of Israel, that the two countries agreed to exchange ambassadors. Now, 50 years later, and 25 years since the Berlin Wall crashed down and Germany was reunited, the German Embassy in Israel decided to celebrate these events with a grand soiree, held at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. And what a celebration it was.
The stain of Germany’s Nazi past is not easily forgotten. There was heated objection by many Israelis, and others, to German-Israel ties. There had also been violent objections to accepting German reparations (“blood money”, some said) when the reparations agreements were signed in 1952. Germany’s first Ambassador to the State of Israel had been career officer in the Wehrmacht, and subsequently also Germany’s military attaché in Turkey – facts that in the eyes of many did not make him particularly suited, to put it mildly, to serving as German Ambassador to Jerusalem.
Much water has flown under the bridge in the past 50 years. The beautiful reception, the star-studded guest list, the warmth of the greetings, the VIPs from Germany in Israel especially for the event – none of this could have happened if German-Israel ties were not special and unique. And if the German and Israeli leadership had not worked hard to find forgiveness for the past. Guest included many diplomatic officials, Ambassador Shlomo Morgan from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, former MK Colette Avital, Keith Mines of the U.S. Embassy, Heike Vecchini (personal Assistant to the Berlin Mayor), Volker Pellet (Political Advisor to the Mayor), Israeli artist Yaron Brovinsky, and the entire Deutsche Philharmonie Merck orchestra with conductor Maestro Wolfgang Heinzel. Absent due to last minute political issues was Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who was to have brought greetings on behalf of the State of Israel.
His Excellency Ambassador Dr. Clemens Von Goetze, together with his wife Dr. Sonja Von Goetze, hosted the glittering reception in the Museum’s grand lobby. The cream of the diplomatic corps mingled with Israel’s cultural, social and business world and the guests from Germany. Fine wines and beverages, German beer (of course!) and a beautiful buffet made for a very convivial gathering. (Guests with kosher requirements were not forgotten.) And it would be a failing not to make special mention of the décor, especially the giant flower arrangements everywhere, that added to the sparkle.
The formal part of the proceedings began with an orchestrated concert rendition by the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck of Israel’s national anthem, followed by that of Germany. His Excellency Dr. Von Goetze then addressed the gathering. His warm opening remarks of welcome included regrets that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who was to have graced the event, was unable to attend, but had instead sent a pre-recorded video message.
After his charming welcoming remarks, Dr. Von Goetze made unabashed reference to the “monstrous crimes” that his country had committed against the Jewish people in that dark bygone era, and thanked early Israeli leadership for nevertheless reaching out a hand of friendship to the perpetrators, who had assumed responsibility, resulting in the bilateral ties. He expressed his gratitude to Israel for the trust it places in its German diplomatic partner. The Ambassador spoke not only of the friendship between the governments and between the peoples, but of the broad range of ties: cultural, scientific, political and educational, among others.
And he did not fail to note the trying times at present in the Middle East, and particularly in Israel, with terror raising its ugly head again. “I sincerely hope that calm will return and that the incitement and violence will be contained”. Germany and its European Union partners are still seeking to bring peace, for two peoples living in harmony in two states. His gracious thanks to the guests for their presence were warmly applauded.
The video message from President Rivlin was screened. The President spoke sincerely of the long road of 50 years of close ties, making special mention of the heartfelt welcome he had received, especially from Chancellor Angela Merkel, during his recent state visit to Germany, and of the shared values of freedom and democracy between the two countries. “Chancellor Merkel will visit Jerusalem in December and we are looking forward to welcoming her and her party”. The President ended by congratulating Germany and expressing his sincere regrets at not being there.
His Honor the Mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Ron Huldai was invited to the podium to address the gathering. “It is no coincidence that this special event is taking place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The only Jewish-German encounter that was possible after the horrors of the Holocaust was the human encounter between people; and one of the few areas where that encounter was sustained – was in the field of art”. In his learned comments, the Mayor paid special tribute to the contribution that German immigrants, the “yekkes”, had made to Israel in general and to Tel Aviv in particular. “Lawyers, architects, doctors, scientists, artists, industrialists and merchants. Their arrival made a vital contribution to the development of the first Hebrew city of Tel Aviv”.
Mr. Huldai also noted the close ties between Berlin and Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and that the Mayor of Berlin, Mr. Michael Muller, was in the audience, having traveled to Israel especially to be present at this auspicious event. “When I met with Mayor Muller earlier today, we discussed … the ties between our cities – through art and culture, technology and entrepreneurship, tourism and academic exchange. I believe that these ties are the best expression of the blossoming relations between Germany and Israel.” He noted too that Tel Aviv-Jaffa has sister-city ties with several other German cities.
Mr. Muller’s address was also very special. His charisma came through clearly, even though he spoke in German, a language many of the guests could not understand (the address was translated into Hebrew, again leaving many foreign guests in the dark). His Honor mentioned the popularity Berlin enjoys with Israeli tourists, and of the close ties between Tel Aviv and his city. A new cooperative project has just been launched: “Tel Aviv Startup City and the Place To Be Berlin are both cities known for their startup friendly surroundings and infrastructure. It comes naturally that the next step is to enhance the already existing cooperation. Both cities, hosted by ‘Berlin Partner for Business and Technology’ and ‘Tel Aviv Global’, are excited to launch a new collaboration: a startup exchange program.
The two countries will be offering start-ups free co-working spaces in both cities, advice on visas, regulations and legal issues around starting up companies in both Israel and Germany will also be made available, as well as one-on-one mentoring assistance for any startup who is interested”.
The Berlin Mayor thanked his Tel Aviv hosts for their warm welcome and congratulated Germany and Israel on the close friendship and warm ties.
His Excellency Ambassador Von Goetze then invited guests to take their seats in the Museum’s Recanati Auditorium for the special concert: Symphony #3 in A minor, “The Scottish” Op. 56 (Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy), followed by Symphony #8 in F minor, Op. 93 (Ludwig von Beethoven). The concert, by the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck orchestra conducted by Wolfgang Heinzel, was a glorious finale to a splendid evening.
This will be a hard act to follow for the diplomatic constellation.
Photos by Silvia G Golan
Spanish Tel Aviv Celebrates: No Rain in Spain
Well of course it rains in Spain, but on Tuesday evening at the elegant ambassadorial residence of the Spanish Envoy to Israel, His Excellency Ambassador Fernando Carderera and his wife Victoria, the weather was perfect. (In a pleasant courtesy to the guests, small Spanish fans were available.) The garden setting was beautifully decorated. As enormous floral arrangement in the Spanish national colors adorned the overhead balustrade. The swimming pool was graced with a giant flag of Spain, perfectly centered. All the waitstaff wore sashes in Spanish brocade, and on each table, bunches of tiny roses to add to the effect. Even the paper napkins were embossed with the Spanish Crown. The atmosphere was enhanced by background music; melodies from guitarist Noa Drezner, a Spanish-Israeli flamenco musician. A great start to a great event.
Guests mingled happily as Spanish “tapas” were served, together with sparkling wine (the famous “Freixenet”), St. Miguel beer and a choice of regular wines and soft drinks. Israel is apparently an important enough market, because two sales directors from Freixenet came from Spain to be at the party. Other guests included members of the diplomatic corps, socialites, educators and the cream of the Spanish and Israeli business community. Among the guests: Prof. Aviva Doron
Professor of Literature and head of the Research Unit for the Cultures of Spain at University of Haifa, Spanish-born Prof. Alfred Tovias of the Department of International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Micha Harish and Moshé Shoham, respectively President and Director the Israel-Spain Chamber of Commerce, Gideon Thaler of TAL Aviation (representing Air Europa in Israel), Israeli Chief of Protocol Meron Reuben, Evgeny Piskunov of the Russian Embassy, and many others.
The traditional tapas included tortilla, chorizo, “Jamon Iberico” (specially flown in for the occasion), churros, cheeses and more. Guests observing “kashrut” were catered for in a special section, a reflection on the importance the Spanish Embassy places on the Judaism rooted in Spain.
In fact, in his very brief welcoming remarks, after first expressing “ … our heartfelt condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims of the recent terrorist attacks”, His Excellency Ambassador Carderera then mentioned: “ … an important event: the new Law granting Spanish Nationality to the Sephardim, became effective a few days ago. There is an extraordinary tale behind the Sephardim. It’s a tale about people that were expelled from Spain in the XV Century. They left Spain, but kept Spain with them. They lived in Turkey, or in Morocco, or in Latin America, and yet every mother and every father, for five hundred years, would teach their kids the Ladino language, the songs, the recipes. And the kids would tell their kids, for generations. Today, 523 years later, the Sephardim stay true to their Spanish origin.
With this law, Spain gives back [to] the sons and daughters of Sepharad their right to be full Spanish citizens. This law opens the door that was closed a long time ago and welcomes them back. We are seeing a lot of interest in Israel, and we hope many will benefit from it. … The Government of Spain has just announced that all applications that were submitted before this law have been resolved … more than 4,300 Sephardim have just been granted Spanish nationality. We will be very happy to receive many of them at the Embassy and to give them their Spanish passports”.
The Ambassador also added a few words in Hebrew, much to the delight of the assembled guests. He ended with: “I now have the pleasure to invite you to join Minister [Avi Gabai] and myself in a toast to the long life and wellbeing of our Heads of State, His Excellency President Reuven Rivlin and His Majesty King Felipe the Sixth of Spain, as well as to our mutual friendship”.
Israel’s Minister for Environmental Protection responded on behalf of the Government and the people of Israel. The Minister noted that Spain and Israel share many aspects in common and that “ … in January 2016, the two countries will mark 30 years of diplomatic relations ... In this period our diplomatic relations have become more and more intense”. He noted too the business sector cooperation, including in mobile and communications, energy, cyber security and water. “Israel is particularly proud of its long standing participation in the annual media exhibition in Barcelona. About 100 Israeli companies took part in the event this year”.
He added: “As the minister of Environmental Protection I can say that this partnership and cooperation is especially important in the field of environmental protection. Spain and Israel are both Mediterranean countries. And as such we all know how important role the Mediterranean coastal areas play as strategic fields for the harmonic and sustainable development of territories and people of the Mediterranean area. Based on our shared past, our common characteristics as two western but also Mediterranean countries and above all our deep commitment to future cooperation, I am confident that the relations between our two nations will continue to flourish and grow. I wish you all happy Festa Naçional d' España.”
The national anthems of Spain and Israel were played, and guests went on to enjoy a “Tablao Flamenco”. Dancing, singing, music. A tablao (colloquial term for the Spanish "tablado", or floorboard) is a place where flamenco shows are performed. Developed during the 1960s throughout Spain, replacing the "cafés cantantes" (cabarets).
Photos by Silvia G Golan
Celebrating 66 National Day of the People’s Republic of China
The National Day of China is officially commemorated on October 1st. On that day, many large-scaled activities are held nationwide. These include Military Review & Parade at Tiananmen Square. Other activities include flag-raising ceremonies, dance and song shows and fireworks displays.
At the entrance to the event hall, the invitees could enjoy an exhibition of paintings depicting various themes related to the founding of the People’s Republic of China and their victory in WWII.
A short movie featuring members of the Chinese Jewish community who arrived there as refugees from Germany, their contributions and the close relations with members of the Chinese society was presented.
President Rivlin spoke next. He thanked the Ambassador for his warm welcome and likewise stressed the close friendship between the two countries, a friendship reflected in mutual understanding, one that honors and respects the oldest of traditions but produces the modern technology and economic development. “I am especially proud,” the President added, “of the cooperation between our two governments and our peoples on issues such as environment, agriculture, and energy. We will work together for a better and more prosperous future for all our children, for the whole world.”
The performance program that followed included a few dances, a Chinese Martial art show and a Tea Show.
The executive director and staff of www.diplomacy.co.il join in congratulating the government and the people of China on their national day celebrations.
Photos Silvia G Golan
Photo Dancers by Tal Brody
Photo Dancers by Tal Brody
Celebrating Independence, Celebrating Friendship Honduras , Guatemala and El Salvador, celebrated the Central American Independence Day
KKL-JNF, together with the Honduras and Guatemalan ambassadors to Israel and the Charge d'Affairs of El Salvador, celebrated the Central American Independence Day in Herzliya on September 15, in a gesture of friendship with Central America. Honored guests included representatives from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Minister for Tourism Yariv Levin.
Even the hazy weather due to an unseasonable sand storm did not stop Central American diplomats and their invited guests from jointly celebrating the 194th independence day of their countries at the seaside Daniel Hotel in Herzliya.
Hosting the congenial event held in cooperation with KKL-JNF were the Ambassador of Honduras Jose Barahona, the Ambassador of Guatemala Alfredo Vasquez, and Charge d'Affairs of El Salvador Irma Vallecillo.
Photo by KKL JNF
Ambassador of Honduras Jose Barahona, Israeli Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin , Charge d'Affairs of El Salvador Irma Vallecillo ,Ambassador of Guatemala Alfredo Vasquez, KKL-JNF Board member Nisan Cialic
September 1st is the Slovak Republic Constitution Day. In Slovak, this holiday is called 'Deň Ústavy Slovenskej republic. It commemorates the adoption of the Slovak constitution on September 1st, 1992.
It was hosted by the Ambassador designateת His Excellency Peter Hulenyi and his wife Tatiana Hulenyi Ova. The atmosphere was pleasant and cordial. The delectable Slovakian food prepared by “Little Prague was delectable and the guests also enjoyed the traditional Czech beer, Staropramen that was served.
Following the address by the ambassador H.E Peter Hulenyi :
" Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen! Gvirotaj ve Rabotaj!
It is a great pleasure and honor to welcome you all at the celebration of a Slovak Constitution Day. Tarsu li leareach otchem be admat Slovakia. And although the ground is literary speaking Slovak, the temperature here is still a little bit more Mediterranean.
Allow me to share with you four brief points:
First: I have to underline that relations between Slovakia and Israel are traditional excellent. Nevertheless as we usually say, there is always a potential to develop. Exploring and using this potential, that is a goal of the Slovak Embassy in Israel and my personal mission as well.
For the second: As we are aware, the common history of Slovaks and Jews goes throughout centuries. Therefore I am delight to see its continuation in Israel thanks a vivid and active community of expatriates from Slovakia. I would like to use this occasion and express my gratitude for this.
Third: I am firmly convinced that the tragedy of Slovak Jews during the Second World War should not be forgotten. We have to remember and recall the murder of more than 70 thousand Slovak citizens. In this respect I am glad I could announce that a first Holocaust museum will be open in Slovakia next year. The inauguration will take place on January 26, 2016 in Sered, the city where a concentration and labor camp was located during the WW II.
Finally: Let me go back to the potential of future cooperation mentioned in my first point. Israelis are known in Slovakia as a Start-up Nation and Slovakia is a country of automotive industry with the highest number of cars per capita produced in the world. Both countries are good examples of a success story and could benefit from mutual cooperation. Common activities should be focus on start ups, cyber security, information technologies as well as agriculture, pharmacy and tourism. At the same time a people to people relation in culture, education and R&D should get an adequate attention as well.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen! Gvirotaj ve Rabotaj!
Aviv Shiron, Deputy Director General for Europe was the guest speaker.
He talked about the twenty two years of good and friendly relationship between Israel and Slovakia.
These are reflected not only in the trade between two nations which currently stands at $200 million, but also in the high-level official and political visits. These include visits by The Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic Pavol Paška, together with the former Minister of Health Zuzana Zvolenská in the summer of 2014, Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák’s visit in November 2014, and the visit by Deputy Minister of Defense Milan Koterec in June 2015.
Photo Silvia Golan
Uzbekistan Celebrates 24years of Independence
On Wednesday evening the cream of Uzbek society in Israel gathered in the ballroom of Tel Aviv’s Dan Panorama Hotel, together with the diplomatic community and other invited Israeli VIPs and guests. The occasion: to celebrate the 24th National Independence Day of the republic of Uzbekistan. Hosting the evening was His Excellency Oybek Eshonov, Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the State of Israel, together with his charming wife, Mrs. Mohira Eshinova. The foyer to the ballroom was decorated with motifs and cultural icons of the country, so that the proper atmosphere for an ethnic evening began right away.
The ethnic motive continued with Uzbek music and an interesting giant video showing scenes of the country. The generous buffet dinner and drinks carried through, with typical foods and tastes to remind us of the Uzbek people. Some of it remarkably similar to Israeli dishes – a reminder of the large numbers of the Jewish community in Uzbekistan who have settled in Israel, and brought and shared their heritage.
Among the guests were members of cultural and artistic circles, Diplomats, business leaders, society members, the media and more. Guests included Mr. Amnon Cohen, who was born in Uzbekistan - former Israeli Cabinet Minister (five times) representing the SHAS political party - and today the Chairman of the Israel-Uzbekistan Parliamentary Friendship Association; delegates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs included MM.Zvi Bar-Ner, Deputy Director General for Euro-Asia, Mrs Ofra Farhi, Head of the Economic Department in charge of Euro asia , Ambassador Shlomo Morgan from the Protocol Department who translated Minister David Azoulay's speech in English , Oren Anolik and Oded Josef.
Ambassador Eshonov was introduced by the Deputy Chief of the Mission, Mr. Murod Gulyamov. His Excellency began his address to the guests by welcoming the assembly and thanking them all for helping to celebrate the auspicious event. “It has been 24 years since Uzbekistan has proclaimed its sovereignty and entered into the new phase of historic development. Within a short period of time, our country has gone through a difficult but glorious journey.
Today we are rightfully proud of our achievements in all spheres of our society. The proof of this progress can easily be seen in the enormous changes in each family, large-scale transformation in our towns, villages and the country as a whole. … Over the last 10 years the economic growth of our country consistently exceeded 8%. Uzbekistan is ranked number five among the countries with accelerated economic development.”
The Ambassador mentioned that Israel had been one of the first countries to recognize the new Republic. He spoke of the centuries old friendship, brotherhood and harmony with the Jewish people, and added: “I would like to use this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to the Government of the Israel for ongoing policy in strengthening bilateral cooperation. Our countries continuously keep active political dialogue and put a special importance into strengthening trade and economic relations. In the near future Tashkent will host the next round of policy planning consultations between the Foreign Ministries of our two countries. I also look forward to the support of our initiative to organize the first session of intergovernmental commissions in the capital of Uzbekistan taking place before the first half of next year.”
His Excellency ended his address with warm greetings: “On the eve of Israeli New Year, I would like to wish good health and great success to you, and peace and prosperity to all people of Israel. Let "Rosh Hashanah" bring much joy and happiness to each family and each house in Israel.”
Israel’s Minister of Religious Services, Mr. David Azoulai, responded on behalf of the government and the people of Israel, in Hebrew, followed by a translation into English.. He thanked the hosts and the host country and extended warm congratulations on behalf of the State of Israel. “Israel was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Uzbekistan, and since the establishment of diplomatic relations 23 years ago, we have enjoyed a friendly relationship in all fields. This friendship between Israel and Uzbekistan is based on mutual respect, shared values and a similar view of the strategic challenges we face. For this reason, we have developed cooperation in numerous areas – close political ties, economic cooperation as well as cooperation in the fields of culture and education. The two countries are partners in the fight against religious extremism and work to promote tolerance among peoples and religions.”
Mr. Azoulai added: “We cannot speak of Israel-Uzbekistan relations without mentioning the magnificent Jewish community that lived and flourished in Uzbekistan. Israel has a moral debt to the leadership of Uzbekistan for the warmth and tolerance it has shown and continues to show to the Jewish community. This is true both for the ancient Bukharan community, whose presence in Uzbekistan dates to the destruction of the First Temple, and for the Jews who fled the horrors of Nazi Germany and took refuge in Uzbekistan during WWII … and the important role the Uzbek leadership and people played in rescuing the Jews who decided to flee to Tashkent.”
The Minister concluded: “Please allow me to conclude by thanking you personally for your work to promote the relations between our countries. Please convey the respect and gratitude of the People of Israel has for the Uzbek people and leadership to President Karimov. Allow me to send the most sincere congratulations from Israel on your 24th anniversary of independence. We look forward to continued cooperation and courageous friendship between Israel and Uzbekistan”.
The two speakers welcomed Ms. Yulia Masti Moroz, also Uzbek-born and now resident in Israel, who sang the national anthems of both countries.
After dinner and the formal part of the evening, guests were entertained by a charmed performance of Uzbekistan music and dance, by a quartet of musicians and a magnificent dancer, all brought out to Israel especially for this event.
Congratulations Uzbekistan, may the country go from strength to strength.
Photos Silvia G Golan
Official opening of Embassy of Zambia in Israel
Israel and Zambia are interested in deepening bilateral relations, with emphasis on water, green energy and agriculture. Zambia is in the process of incorporating advanced technologies and sees Israel as a natural partner in its endeavors.
The dedication ceremony for the Embassy of Zambia in Israel took place on Monday (8 September) in the presence of Zambian Foreign Minister Harry Kalaba and the Director General of Israel's Foreign Ministry, Dr. Dore Gold.
During his visit in Israel (6-10 September), FM Kalaba is conducting meetings with Israel's Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water, the Minister for Social Equality, and the Deputy Foreign Minister. He will also meet with Israeli companies in the fields of agriculture, solar energy and technology, with the aim of promoting cooperation.
Zambia and Israel enjoy friendly relations. Diplomatic ties between the two countries were renewed in 1991. The previous president of Zambia, Michael Sata, worked during his term of office to open an embassy in Israel. Both countries are very interested in deepening bilateral relations, with an emphasis on promoting cooperation in the fields of water, green energy and agriculture. Zambia is in the process of incorporating advanced technologies and sees Israel as a natural partner in its endeavors.
At its peak, the Jewish community in Zambia numbered 1000; today, only 30 Jews remain. Recently a museum on the history of Zambian Jewry opened in the city of Livingston. The Jewish community maintains the three Jewish cemeteries in Zambia.
In the past year, three African states have opened embassies in Israel: South Sudan, Rwanda and Zambia. These states join the 11 African states already represented in Israel, a fact that demonstrates the importance of relations between Israel and Africa and the enhanced cooperation between the states.
Zambian Foreign Minister Harry Kalaba with MFA Director-General Gold at opening of Zambian Embassy in Tel Aviv
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam Celebrates.
And not just any celebration; but the 70th anniversary of the National Day of the country. The invited guests gathered to celebrate in the elegant ballroom of Tel Aviv’s Dan Hotel. On giant screens, a video showing the extent of Vietnam’s advances (and the tribulations which were overcome) over the years. The country has much of which to be proud.
While cocktails and snacks were served, members of the Diplomatic Corps mingled with the top echelons of Israeli and Vietnamese military, scientific, educational, agricultural and VIP society. Among those present were many Ambassadors (to mention just three: Sri Lanka, South Africa, Croatia); Mark Sofer, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Igor Zakashansky, Head of the Wing Chun Kung Fu Federation of Israel; Prof. Uriel Reichmann of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, and the Honorary Consul of Vietnam Mr. Igal Ahouvi with his partner, TV personality and model Galit Guttmann, and many others.
His Excellency Ambassador Ta Duy Chinh welcomed his guests in a moving address. He spoke of the establishment of the country (the declaration of independence 70 years ago by then President Ho Chi Minh), the difficulties and successes of the country and its warm people. “Over the past 70 years, with a solid unity and unwavering determination, Vietnamese people have heroically overcome all kinds of challenges and difficulties, tirelessly endeavored toward that end and have recorded outstanding achievements”. His Excellency noted that the country is no longer at war, and has become an attractive tourist destination. “From a country with a name hardly found in the world maps a century ago, Vietnam today enjoys the diplomatic relations with 185 countries including all five permanent member of UN Security Council”. No small achievement. The Ambassador mentioned the trade, economic and business ties with more than 200 countries and territories. “With the outstanding achievements and contribution over the past 70 years, Vietnam today becomes an important player for peace, security, stability and development and a pro-active, responsible and reliable partner in the international community”.
His Excellency ended his address: “On this auspicious occasion, on behalf of the state and people of Vietnam, I would like to express our deep gratitude to all the friends of Vietnamese people all over the world for their precious friendship, supports and cooperation given to our people over the past 70 years. Vietnam and Israel share many common values and similarities and since the establishment of the diplomatic relations 22 years ago, our friendship and cooperation have been steadily strengthened and deepened. Our political ties and mutual understanding are growing. With these remarkable achievements, we have every reason to believe that Vietnam and the State of Israel can further work together to bring our bilateral relationships to a higher stage for the interests of our two countries and for peace, security and prosperity in the region and in the world. The steadily growing relations between our two countries are only made possible thanks to the endeavors by both peoples and governments, and by our business and think-tank communities”. He then proposed a toast to the National Day of Vietnam; to an ever-growing friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and the State of Israel; and to [y]our good health and happiness.
Minister Avi Gabai, Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection, then responded on behalf of the State of Israel. He thanked Ambassador Ta Duy Chinh for his kind words and then added: “This July, Israel and Vietnam marked 22 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations. We have introduced real content into our relationship over a range issues such as economic, agriculture, science, technology and more”. Minister Gabai mentioned the model dairy farm that the Israeli “MASHAV” institute has established in Ho Chi Minh City in cooperation with the Provincial Government, all based on Israeli knowledge and equipment. The farm functions as a demonstration center for farmers in the region. He also mentioned that: “Last year, over 850 students from Vietnam attended an 11-month long agricultural training program in Israel and next year we are expecting 700 students from Vietnam to attend an agricultural ‘learning through experience’ program”.
Trade and cooperation between the two countries has expanded as bilateral relations have expanded. The Minister ended his address by reemphasizing Israel’s deep commitment towards Vietnam, and expressed the hope that cooperation between the countries would expand further. “As Minister of Environmental Protection, let me add that we would be pleased to see cooperation expand also to environmental issues. On behalf of the State of Israel, its people and its Government, I ask you, Mr. Ambassador, to please convey our warmest congratulations to the Vietnamese people”.
The speeches were followed by a live rendition of the national anthems of both countries, after which a rich buffet dinner, in grand style and with many typically Vietnamese dishes, was offered to the guests.
Vietnam-Israel diplomatic relations - 22 years and counting …
Photos: Silvia G. Golan
The President expressed his distress over the wave of anti-Semitism which has swept the world. The Pope agreed with the President on the issue, noting that those who seek to threaten Israel's existence are rooted in anti-Semitism.
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Thursday, September 3) visited the Vatican and held a private meeting with Pope Francis. He was welcomed to the Vatican in an official reception which included a traditional honor guard of the Vatican's Swiss Guard and then received by Prefect of the Papal Household, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, before going on to hold a private meeting with Pope Francis. Afterwards President Rivlin met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
The meeting between President Rivlin and Pope Francis took place in the Pope's private library and lasted for around an hour. The meeting began with an exchange of gifts during which the President presented the Pope with a stone tablet bearing the Aramaic inscription "House of David", a copy of the stele found at the entrance of the ancient city of Dan in the north of the Hula Valley, dating back to around the ninth century BCE.
The President said, "I wanted to present you with this inscription, as a symbol of hope and living together, for all faiths." Pope Francis warmly thanked the President for what he noted was a moving and symbolic gift.
The inscription contained the earliest known reference outside of Scripture to "Beit David", the "House of David", and refers to events mentioned in Chronicles II (Chapter 22), in Kings II (Chapters 8-9). The original inscription is now located at the Israel Museum. This replica, with the Aramaic words 'House of David' highlighted in gold - was made in honor of Pope Francis, to mark the visit of President Rivlin to the Vatican.
The gift was chosen in particular as an expression of the deep roots shared by Judaism and Christianity, and as King David is regarded by both Judaism and Christianity as the founder of the House of David, revered in tradition as being from which would come the redemption of humanity, and from whom the Messiah would be descended.
Pope Francis presented the President with a bronze coin, bearing an image of intertwined olive branches, symbolizing the shared responsibility of all states and nations, to work for the sake of peace. The gift included a personal dedication to the President which read, "To seek that which unites, and to overcome that which divides."
During the meeting with Pope Francis which lasted around an hour, the two spoke about a wide range of issues, including the Pope's ability to bring people together, and act as a mediator in the case of conflicts around the world, and the conflict in the Middle East in particular. They spoke about the urgent need to rebuild confidence as a prerequisite to the renewal of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The President said, "I said to the Pope that I see in him a bridge, and asked of him to serve as such in the most difficult of places for mediation, where there no trust exists between the parties."
In their discussions the President expressed his distress and concern over the wave of anti-Semitism which had swept the world, and noted that any call for the destruction of Israel was rooted in anti-Semitism, which the whole world needed to condemn and overcome.
The Pope agreed with the President on the issue, and said that anti-Semitism should be seen as an evil ill, while all those who sought to threaten Israel's existence were rooted in anti-Semitism.
The President explained to the Pope about his visit last week to the area in the Jordan Valley known as 'Land of the Monasteries' due to the plethora of churches and monasteries surrounding the traditional baptism site on the Jordan River, where according to Christian tradition, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The area has recently become the subject of a joint initiative by the Israeli security services in partnership with the Nature Reserves Authority, with the cooperation of Christian community leaders, aimed at developing the area to improve access for pilgrims and visitors.
The President said, I told the Pope that the initiative has the potential to bring together the peoples of the region - Jordanians, Israelis, and Palestinians, and all those of faith - Christians, Muslims, and Jews."
Notably moving during the meeting, was the President's explanation to the Pope of his childhood memories, walking down to the Western Wall to hear the traditional sounding of the Shofar (ram's horn) at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, which had to be done in secret. The President said to the Pope, "There and then, I promised myself that I would fight so that no one should feel as I did then, and that I would do all within my power to ensure that the ability of each person to freely express their faith was an accepted fact."
Also during their meeting the President updated the Pope on the progress toward reaching a solution in the financial crisis surrounding the Christian schools in Israel, and assured him that all the relevant authorities were doing everything possible to find a solution as soon as possible.
Later on Thursday, the President was scheduled to hold a working meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, and address a special event at the Great Synagogue, hosted by the Jewish community.
Photo :President Rivlin meets with Pope Francis
Ukraine Celebrates in Tel Aviv.
From the moment we entered the grand ballroom at the Dan Panorama Hotel last Monday evening we knew this was going to be special. The receiving line, headed by His Excellency Ambassador Hennadii Nadolenko and Mr. Nadolenko, was followed by a “guard of honor” composed of smiling young ladies in Ukrainian national dress, adding a colorful welcome touch as we entered the hall. The giant ballroom, beautifully decorated and perfectly air-conditioned, was indeed welcoming. It was not hard to detect the Ukrainian influence as guests mingled over cocktails and snacks, followed by a superb buffet dinner. A credit to the hosts (and no less, to the hotel caterers and chefs).
Ukrainian, Russian, French, German Hebrew, English and more – the languages and cultures mixed comfortably as the whisky, vodka and wine flowed generously. Elegant ladies, smart cultural and military attaches, many Ambassadors and consular officials, Ukrainian nationals, Israeli business and society people and of course the media. Ukraine has been in the news a lot lately, for better and for worse, and this was an event that everyone hoped would signify only the betterment on that country.
Ambassador Nadolenko opened the proceedings with an eloquent address, first in Ukrainian, followed by a translation into English. He noted that Ukraine declared its independence 24 years ago, on the 24th August 1991. He mentioned that his country has always deeply appreciated the valuable friendship and close economic ties with Israel, with whom it shares values of democracy and the rule of law. “Today Ukraine is going through the most difficult period of its independence – a struggle for territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state. … The war in Donbas … will remain forever in the memory of the Ukrainian people, along with other tragic historical events. … Today, more than ever, the experience and support of friendly countries, including the State of Israel, is valuable for Ukraine. The principle position of Israel and its support of sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine is highly appreciated in our country”.
The Ambassador took care to mention: “We expect that the upcoming visits of the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu to Kyiv and the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to Jerusalem will significantly influence bilateral relations. … We are looking to the future of our country with optimism, despite the difficulties being experienced by Ukrainian people today”.
In his kind comments he also noted that: “Among the most devoted friends we would like to highlight and thank all immigrants from Ukraine in Israel, all those who over the last year supported the Ukrainian people in different ways. We are [also] grateful for the humanitarian aid of Israelis to temporarily displaced persons from Donbass, for help to Ukrainian children, for support in the treatment of wounded in ATO Ukrainian soldiers, for manifestations in support of Ukraine, … for support by people who are not indifferent to Ukraine”.
Responding on behalf of the State of Israel, Minister Ofir Akunis, Minister for Environmental Protection, thanked the Ambassador for his kind words, and congratulated the Ukrainian government and people on this auspicious occasion. He spoke of the shared heritage: “The strength of the relationship between our two nations is based both in the heritage of the Jewish community in Ukraine, which has a rich history going back centuries, and in the contribution of Israeli citizens who emigrated from Ukraine and brought the value of that shared heritage with them to their new home”. The Minister reminded the audience that no less than three former Israeli Prime Ministers were Ukrainian born: Golda Meir, Levi Eshkol, and Moshe Sharet.
Minister Akunis spoke of the growing trade and cultural relations between the countries, especially the increase in agricultural, medical and research & development bilateral relations, for which the Ukrainian Embassy and Ambassador Nadolenko have played an important part.
However, Mr. Akunis did not gloss over the dark years of Ukrainian-Jewish history, culminating in WW2 when millions of Jews were annihilated. The anti-Semitism of past years is over: “We welcome the growing awareness of these events in recent years, and the Government's zero-tolerance policy towards expressions of anti-Semitism. We hope and are confident that this positive trend will continue”. He ended his address this: “Mr. Ambassador, please convey our heartfelt congratulations to your Government and to the Ukrainian People on the occasion of your National Day. May Ukraine enjoy peace and prosperity, and may the bonds of friendship between Ukraine and Israel become ever stronger in the years ahead”.
A beautiful live rendition of the Ukrainian National Anthem, followed by the Israeli anthem ended the formal part of the evening, with the Ambassador and the Minister raising their glasses in a toast to the two friendly countries.
The executive director and staff of www.diplomacy.co.il join in congratulating the government and the people of Ukraine on their national day celebrations.
Photos Silvia G Golan
President Rivlin receives diplomatic credentials of new ambassadors from Cyprus, UK, Germany, Rwanda, and Seychelles
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Thursday) at a ceremony held at the President's Residence, received the diplomatic credentials of five new ambassadors to Israel, representing Cyprus, the UK, Germany, Rwanda, and Seychelles.
Photo : President Rivlin with Ms. Thessalia Salina Shambos
President Rivlin said to Ambassador of Cyprus, H.E. Ms. Thessalia Salina Shambos, "I am delighted to receive you here in Jerusalem, our two countries are more than friends, we are neighbors. As I said to your President when he visited Israel recently, the Jewish people will never forget the help of the people of Cyprus in the aftermath of the Second World War, and the kindness shown to the Jewish refugees. I sincerely hope that during your stay here, we will see the strengthening even further of our excellent relations."
Ambassador Shambos thanked the President for his warm welcome, and noted that she was greatly moved by the welcome and the ceremony. She said, "It is a great honor for me to be here, our good relations truly stem from the heart. The recent visits by senior figures from Cyprus to Israel, and from Israel to Cyprus, is testament to the strength of this relationship. We believe that our history connects us, as two countries who in the past strove for many years for independence and statehood."
Photo : President Rivlin , Mr. David Quarrey and his partner Mr Aldo Oliver Henriquez
Ambassador of the United Kingdom H.E. Mr. David Quarrey presented his diplomatic credentials. President Rivlin said to him, "During your term here, we will celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which perhaps marks the beginning of the diplomatic relations between Israel and Britain. I greatly appreciate the words of Prime Minister David Cameron on the need to fight against fundamentalism – terror is terror, wherever it occurs. We are aware of the importance you place in creating confidence building measures in order to bring an end to the conflict in our region. We must first of all understand, and then make our neighbors understand that we are not doomed, but destined to live together. During your term here, we are looking forward, with your abilities and great experience, to receiving your assistance in building this confidence. I want to also convey my warmest regards to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and extend to her an invitation to visit our region."
Ambassador Quarrey thanked the President, and stressed his desire to strengthen and further the bilateral ties between Israel and the UK. He said, "A big part of my job over the next four years will be to develop the ties that we have in trade, investment, and in science and technology, which are of great benefit to both countries, and also is the best answer we have to those who call for boycotts of Israel."
He added, "As you say it is also vitally important that we work together against extremism in the region. David Cameron has spoken out very strongly on this, and the United Kingdom and Israel must be partners in this struggle against extremism. I think also as you say, there is a great need for progress toward peace in the region - that need is very urgent, and we will do whatever is needed to support the difficult decisions required to achieve peace. I would also like to see more cultural collaboration between the UK and Israel and I hope to be able to give that a higher profile. Indeed, we are marking 400 years since the death of Shakespeare next year, and we look forward to marking that in Israel."
Photo : President Rivlin with Dr Clemens von Goetze
Ambassador of Germany H.E. Dr. Clemens von Goetze was next to present his credentials. President Rivlin welcomed him warmly and said, "Just recently, we celebrated fifty years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. Our joint history is a lesson to the whole world, we of course will never forget the past, but we work towards the future. We appreciate your commitment, especially noted by Chancellor Merkel, to us and to our country, and we appreciate the help of the German government regarding the security of Israel and all that you do when it comes to the war on terrorism. Our good relations are not just between governments or states, but between our peoples, and indeed, our good relations are such that we can even agree to disagree on issues."
Ambassador von Goetze thanked the President, and noted he was greatly moved to be here in Israel. He said, "We cannot ignore that first and foremost, the relationship between our countries is based on a sense of guilt and responsibility for the Holocaust. We are enormously grateful that Israel has nevertheless, stretched out a hand of friendship towards Germany. Indeed we have achieved good relations, and because of the tragic history between us, the security of Israel is for us the most important thing in our bilateral relations. In order to ensure the future it is important that we add to and strengthen our economic cooperation in the fields of high-tech, technology and more. As you said, the essence of the success of our relationship is due to the relationship between peoples and not just governments, given which, it is important for us to strengthen the connections between the young people of both countries."
Photo : President Rivlin with Mr. Joseph Rutabana and family
Ambassador of Rwanda H.E. Mr. Joseph Rutabana presented his credentials as the first ambassador of Rwanda to Israel. The President welcomed him and said, "I am delighted to welcome you here as the first ambassador of your country to Israel. We have excellent relations between our countries, and we see in Africa a promising future. There is no doubt that your arrival will add and strengthen our future cooperation."
The Ambassador thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, "It is a great honor for me to come to the holy land as the first ambassador of my country. We will be delighted to strengthen the cooperation between our countries, in my last visit I saw the extent to which Israel has developed and is developing and provides a wonderful example for my country."
Photo : President Rivlin with Mr Winslow Waven
The non-resident Ambassador of Seychelles to Israel, H.E. Mr. Winslow William Waven, presented his credentials to the President, who warmly welcomed him and said, "We are delighted to receive you here. We know of, and support you in your determined struggle against terrorism. We hope that in the not too distant future, you will have a permanent representation in Israel, which will greatly strengthen the mutual bond between our countries."
The Ambassador thanked the President for his words and said, "Thank you and your government for the warm hospitality I have received in Israel, and my arrival here is very much a testament to the desire on our behalf to strengthen the ties between our countries in a range of issues."
Photo : Mark Neymann / GPO
The warm Tel Aviv evening was softened and smoothed by the elegance and charm of the celebration’s host, His Excellency Mr. Andreas Baum, at the lovely Ramat Gan ambassadorial residence. Guests mingled on the lawns, cooled by the delightful Swiss wines and other refreshments. The Israel diplomatic corps and a large gathering of Swiss nationals and residents of Israel, together with the cream of Israeli society, business people, journalists and friends, made for a “gemütlich” event.
A quartet of musicians, the “Pushkin Music Band” entertained the guests while cocktails and snacks were being served. Before Ambassador Baum addressed the gathering, the musicians gave beautiful renditions, first of the Israeli national anthem, and then that of Switzerland. The event was of course to celebrate the Swiss National Day (German: Schweizer Bundesfeier; French: Fête nationale Suisse; Italian: Festa nazionale svizzera; Romansh: Fiasta naziunala Svizra) of that multi-cultural and multi-lingual democracy, which actually falls on the 1st August. This year marks 724 years on the confederation. Mazal tov.
Following the address by His Excellency (copied below in full, for the convenience of www.diplomacy.co.il readers) a delicious buffet meal was offered, with true Swiss raclette taking pride of place.
“ Honoured guests, dear friends and colleagues,
Photos : Silvia G Golan
The government of Paraguay stood by Israel during Operation Protective Edge and has been supportive of Israel at major international forums.
The Israeli Embassy in Asunción, Paraguay, was reopened on Tuesday 28 July 2015 in the presence of outgoing MFA Director General Nissim Ben-Shitrit and Ambassador Israel Peleg Levy. Paraguay was represented at the opening by Minister of Agriculture Jorge Gattini, the deputy ministers of foreign affairs and industry and other officials.
The government of Paraguay stood by Israel during Operation Protective Edge, a time when Israel was criticized by many countries. More recently, Paraguay supported Israel at major international forums. Israel cooperates with Paraguay in the battle against terrorism and maintains a supportive role in actions against Hezbollah at the tri-border region.
Ambassador Peleg Lewi presented his credentials to Paraguay President Horacio Cartes
Copyright: Dirrección de Informática - SICOM Paraguay
Vive La France! Bastille Day
On July 13th' early evening, at the beautiful residence of H.E the ambassador of France in Israel, Mr. Patrick Maisonnave, the traditional Bastille Day was celebrated with approximately 500 distinguished guests from France, Israel and around the world.
It was indeed a festive event with fine French decor, all "Blue White Red" flags, balloons, lighting effects, and a magnificent Eiffel tower cake…
At the entrance to the ambassador's residency, an old replica of "The Marseillaise" was placed, and an honorary French delegation welcomed the guests.
Throughout the beautiful house and garden, the honorable guests mingled, while drinking fine Israeli kosher wine from "Barkan" wineries, and world famous "Evian" water to cool the hot summer evening.
Among the distinguished guests were noticeable with their elegant white uniform the crew and soldiers of the French marine ship Bismuth that is now harboring in Haifas' harbor, alongside Israeli soldiers all dressed in the marines' white uniform.
Among the versatile guests also noticeable Israeli artists, Clergy people, military personnel and many representatives from the Israeli government and the top business sector.
At 19:30 h/e the French ambassador Patrick Maisonnave opened his speech by welcoming the honorable guests, touching upon the glorious story of the Bastille and the great French revolution, then perused to ensure the long and lasting strong allies between the Republic of France and the State of Israel, emphasizing the bonds and friendship between the two nations and peoples, the commitment of France to the security of the state of Israel, from the times of the Embargo, through the wars that the brave state Israel had to endure in its pursuit of legitimateexistence in the Middle East ,and its strive for peace with the Arab world.
The ambassador ensured that France continues to stand by Israel in the fight against world terror, and mentioned with great sorrow the Charlie Hebdo and the kosher market massacres.
The ambassador Patrick Maisonnave talked about the continuous peace initiatives of France, in spite of some criticism, to help reach agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
The ambassador expressed his appreciation to the 150000 French residents living in Israel, who love and admire Israel.
The ambassador then thanked the Israeli Minister of Environmental Protection Mr Avi Gabbay for the cooperation in the fields of agriculture and the contribution to global ecology.
Mr Avi Gabbay, representing the state of Israel, talked about the true and deep friendship between the two nations that "is not just nostalgic ties", Mr. Gabbay continued to talk about the concept and the meaning of "Liberty ,Equality ,Fraternity " that the two nations share, and the importance of democracy.
He talked about Zionism and how France stood by Israel at the declaration of the independence of Israel by the UN, and is continuing to stand by Israel against Irans' nuclear threats and world terror.
The guest of honor, Mr. Shimon Peres, the former president of Israel then addressed his speech.
His honorary Mr. Peres moved everyone in the vast crowd with his calm, soothing manner of speech, expressing his personal love and appreciation to France, its leaders and the French people, who stood by Israel in its most vulnerable times of need.
Mr. Peres talked about the 4 Jewish head of state in France and the fact that after world war 2 France stood by Israel in spite of its allies and the embargo against Israel.
Mr. Peres recalled sitting with Prime Minister Ben Gurion at the evening of the declaration of the state of Israel by the UN, who then told him that "today we are joyous but tomorrow there will be bloodshed…"
Mr. Peres stressed the fact that only France gave us weapons, allowed ships to harbor in France and allowed to bring Jews to Israel.
He talked about his admiration to the former prime minister Charles De Gaulle, one of the great friends of Israel, then continued to praise the support of France in the "Kaddesh Operation", the "Six Days War" with weapon supply of French fight planes, tanks etc'. Mr. Peres concluded his speech by appreciating and thanking the ongoing collaboration between the two nations.
After the speech, all the attendants were invited join in singing the French anthem "The Marseillaise", followed by the Israeli anthem "Hatikva" and right after everyone raised a toast "Vive la france!"
The elegant celebration went on with best French cuisine and fine wine into the beautiful night, overlooking the Yaffa seashore.
Photos Silvia Golan
On July 9th 2015, the 4th Anniversary of the proclamation of South Sudan Independence was elegantly celebrated at the residence of the first ambassador of South Sudan to Israel, H.E Ruben Marial Benjamin and Mrs. Agar Benjamin in Kfar Shmaryahoo.
His Excellency the ambassador spoke in a most graceful and painful way, but also with an admirable positive and hopeful manner, combined with a great sense of humor! The ambassador emphasized the fact that the people of South Sudan always chose the peaceful way to reach any political solution.
Photos provided by the Embassy
Joint Statement by H.E. Mr. Prahlad Prasai, Ambassador of Nepal to Israel, and H.E. Mr. Yaron Mayer, Ambassador of Israel to Nepal on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the diplomatic relations.
Fifty five years ago, two courageous leaders embarked on a historic path: On 1st June 1960, the Ancient Himalayan country of Nepal and the newly born State of Israel established diplomatic relations to explore new avenues for cooperation and friendship. The two leaders were late B.P. Koirala, the first elected Prime Minister of Nepal and late David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, making Nepal the first South Asian nation to have diplomatic ties with Israel at that time.
Since then, both nations have been enjoying friendly and cooperative bilateral relations in many fields of mutual interests, among those are exchange of knowledge and trainings in agriculture, medicine, health, water, sanitation and other areas within the framework of MASHAV (Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation) trainings and other human resource development programs as well as exchange of visits at various levels including high level visits.
The recent devastating earthquake in Nepal has forced the people of Nepal to face many daunting challenges. We believe that these challenges could be converted into strengths, acts of resilience and opportunities. As a friendly nation, Israel has been doing its best together with the Government of Nepal to assist a friend in need. As an indication of the friendship between our two countries, Israel responded to the call for international assistance made by the Government of Nepal by deploying its search and rescue teams as well as medical services through the Israeli Field Hospital which was flown immediately after the disaster. In addition, Israel dispatched a high level engineering team to Nepal to provide their expertise by inspecting hundreds of buildings and structures affected by the earthquake. Similarly, teams of psychologists and medical clowns provided their services to the affected people. Israel’s cooperation with the Government of Nepal in this matter will continue in the future.
The people and Government of Nepal have profusely appreciated the efforts done by the Israeli teams in Nepal while the country was reeling under the devastation of the earthquakes. At the same time, it would be noteworthy that Nepal, on the other hand, has extended its friendly support to Israel in the past by sending peacekeeping forces to contribute to the peace process in the Middle East as well as working with Israel at many international forums such as the United Nations.
On the happy occasion of the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, may we extend our warmest appreciation to the peoples and governments of Nepal and Israel as well as prominent individuals throughout the years for their contributions in nurturing and promoting the prosperous relations between the two friendly countries.
Finally, we wish to express our conviction that the Embassy of Nepal in Israel and the Embassy of Israel in Nepal would proudly continue to work together in their respective fields to further strengthen the existing relations between the nations. We are confident that the everlasting friendship between our peoples and governments would further grow and flourish in the years ahead.
Photo :Israel-Nepal: 55 years of diplomatic relations
Happy 24th National Day To Croatia!
Mr Dan Oryan, Ambassador of Israel to Macedonia told "Diplomacy"'s journalists about the important collaboration between "Habima" and "HaCameri" - Israel's National Theatres & Croatia's National Theatre.
Photos Silvia Golan
THE NATIONAL DAY OF REPUBLIC OF SLOVENIA 2015
Many distinguished guests and members of the diplomátic community in Israel, gathered on June 30th at the sunset in the Slovenian ambassador residence in Hertzliya in honor of Slovenian 24th national day. Live Jazz and colorful mosaic of people contributed to the special ambience at the event.
The ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to Israel her excellency Alenka Suhadolnik, welcomed the guests with great eloquence, humor and charm. She highlighted the beauty in the relationship between Israel and Slovenia which she was surprised to reveal during her 4 years of service. She expresessed her hope for the ties of friendship between Israel and Slovenia to continue growing even stronger in the coming years. "The potential is enormous, and we are committed to developing the relations between the countries".
The Deputy Director General for Europe at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Aviv Shir-On, congratulated the Republic of Slovenia on the occasion of its National Day. "Slovenia has made great strides since declaring its independence and seceding from Yugoslavia in 1991. Israel was among the first countries to recognize Slovenia as an independent country and provided assistance in the Slovenian War of Independence,while the whole world stood indifferent".
He emphasized that Slovenia is a country known for its natural beauty, making it a highly attractive destination for tourists, including even medical tourism. Israelis have discovered Slovenia and so far thousands visited there each year.
Moreover, Mr Shir-On stated, that our countries enjoy growing economic relations, as is reflected in numerous areas, and especially in innovation. Additionally, the Israel-Slovenia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, based both in Tel Aviv and Ljubljana does important work to promote bilateral trade. In April this year, the CEO of the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute visited Slovenia to further advance trade relations between our two countries. He also mentioned that the port of Koper serves as an important gateway for the distribution of Israeli merchandise to Central Europe.
The guests were inspired to learn that Ljubljana has demonstrated its commitment to commemorating the memories of its Jewish community that perished in the Holocaust while trying to return the property of the victims and survivors to their families.
At the political level, Israel looks forward to strengthening the positive trend of mutual visits and to promote the excellent professional relations between our Foreign Ministries. In fact, at the begining of July, the political director of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alon Ushpiz, will be visiting Slovenia.
Israel and Slovenia also have a strong program of cultural exchanges in the fields of music, literature and the arts. There are growing numbers of books by Israeli authors that have been translated into Slovenian in recent years. Even the book Start-Up Nation, has been translated into Slovenian. Furthermore, an anthology of Israeli poetry will soon be published in Slovenia.
Towards the end of the event the ambassador awarded three finalists for the photography competition. The prize of a flight ticket to Ljubljana was sponsored by Josef Weiss, the owner of Adria Airways.
To conclude, Mr. Aviv Shir-Or expressed his gratitude, on behalf of the State of Israel, to the warm hospitality this evening. "Please convey our congratulations to your government and to the Slovenian People on the occasion of your National Day. May Slovenia enjoy growing prosperity, success, and peace".
Photos Silvia Golan
Cultural farewell to New Israeli Ambassador to Panama
Tel Aviv, July 2, 2015: The Embassy of Panama in Israel gave a cultural reception to bid farewell to the new Israeli ambassador in Panamá, Gil Artzyeli and his wife Viviana.
Photo Silvia Golan
117th Anniversary of Philippine Independence
The sparkle of the reception room at Tel Aviv’s Sheraton Hotel, normally outstanding, faded into insignificance besides the ladies and gentlemen in national regalia and costumes of the host country. The elegance of the fabrics, the designs, the embroidery and the colors were breathtaking. The “star”, modest as she is, was no doubt Ms. Octavia Leeman Imperial, the charming wife of his Excellency Nathaniel G. Imperial, Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines to the State of Israel, the host of the glamorous event.
The invitees included many distinguished Ambassadors, Consuls and other members of the Diplomatic Corps in Israel, including, to name just two, Ambassador Branco Kesic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ambassador Sisa Ngombane of South Africa. Many Military Attachés graced the room in their own smart elegance, adding to the dazzle, including Captain Sophia Baranes of the Foreign Relations Section of the Israel Defense Forces, a rose among the “thorns”. Travel personalities included Boaz Waksman, Chairman of Ophir Tours, and David Hojman, CEO of Maman Aviation (which also represents Philippine Airlines in Israel). The who’s who of Israeli society mingled easily with the many diplomats and members of Filipino society in Israel.
A presentation of the national anthems of both countries signaled the start of the formal part of the evening. Philippine-Israel relations have always been warm and this was reiterated by the Ambassador in his welcome address to the guests. He remarked on the fine bilateral relations between his country and Israel stretching back to 1957, and made special mention of the large numbers of Filipino care-givers working in Israel and the almost universally good conditions under which they work “… the best working conditions in the Middle East”, as well as the number of Filipino students benefitting from their agricultural studies through the Granot AgroStudies Program in Israel. The Ambassador also quoted figures and statistics about the Philippine Republic’s economic stability and its importance in the Far East and as a member of ASEAN, and of APEC.
His Excellency touched on the growth in bi-lateral tourism between the two countries, and the importance of high-level visits by leaders of each country, to the other. He concluded by raising a toast to the good health of Israel’s Prime Minister and President, and to the continuing vibrant good Philippine-Israel relations.
In response, and representing the State of Israel, Mark Sofer, Deputy Director General and Head of the Asia & Pacific Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked the Ambassador and read out a letter of greetings and congratulations from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to H.E. Mr. Benigno Simeon Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines. The Prime Minister’s letter made grateful mention of the fateful decision of the Philippine government to provide safe haven to thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazi atrocities in WW2, and also of the favorable Philippine vote at the United Nations in 1947, when Israel’s re-establishment was in question.
Mr. Sofer related how his own experiences in Manila confirmed just how open, warm and welcoming Filipinos are, so much so that when he mentioned to some of them the welcome that the distressed Jewish refugees had received, the locals were surprised that it could even have been any other way. Ambassador Imperial and Mr. Sofer then jointly cut into a beautiful cake bearing the flags of both countries as a fitting end to the introductions.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the really amazing performance presented by the “Sindaw Philippines Performing Arts Group”. The group is in Israel thanks to cooperation between the Embassy and the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts. They will also be performing at the Philippines Tourism & Country Fair at the Castra Mall in Haifa on 17-18 June, a joint project of the Mall and Haifa Municipality.
The dancers were breathtaking in their elegance and style. Brilliant costumes, stamp-your-feet-tempo music, exquisite singing and unusual exhibits of timing, balance and joie-de-vivre.
Congratulations Philippines, and may the next 117 years take you to even higher plains of success and peaceful advancement.
Photos Silvia Golan
Russian Federation’s National Day
Russia Day is celebrated on June 12th of each year. It marks the consolidation of Russian Statehood with its various symbols, the national flag, emblem and national anthem. The Supreme Soviet of Russia proclaimed it National Holiday since it was on this day in 1990 that the Declaration of the State Sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic was declared.
The event also marked the end of His Excellency Sergei Yakovlev as his country’s Ambassador to Israel. In his farewell speech, Yakovlev, who spoke in Russian and English, thanked Israelis for their friendship and cooperation during his four years of service here.
Photos by Silvia Golan
Last Friday afternoon, a beautiful just-before-summer day in Israel: the setting: the delightful ambassadorial residence of His Excellency Carl Magnus Nesser, Ambassador of Sweden to the State of Israel. The purpose: to celebrate Sweden’s National Day (which is actually on the 6th June – the next day). The guests: decked out in summer finery and representing the Diplomatic Corps and the cream of Israeli society and commerce. A recipe for a wonderful meeting, and so it turned out.
Ambassador and Mrs. Nesser welcomed their guests with charm and warmth, accompanied on the receiving line by Col. Björn Blomberg, Sweden’s defense attaché in Israel. Guests mingled easily as drinks were served and an attractive buffet lunch invited them to partake. As I chatted pleasantly with Michael Storm and Marie Ericson, both working in Ramallah and representing Sweden on EUPOLCOPPS (a united effort to raise the Palestinian police to western standards), Michael suggested that I try “the typically Swedish herrings” from the buffet. “Comfort food” comes in surprising places. The pickled herring, the herring in mustard, the tomato herring, herring in cream sauce, marinated herring – it all reminded me of my family’s delicious Jewish traditional delicacies, and I am not Swedish. For non-herring fans, the generous buffet included many salads, smoked salmon, beef, fresh and roasted vegetables, sushi and more. Nobody went hungry, especially after the tables were cleared and desserts (including summer ice lollipops) appeared.
In his welcome address to the gathering, Ambassador Nesser explained the significance of the day and some of Sweden’s history, remaking that: “… those of us who studied and remember a bit of history are thankful that peace has reigned in our land for so long. And that our erstwhile rivals are now our closest friends”. He followed his comments concerning rivalry and friends with mention of the conflicts in the Middle East and Sweden’s grand efforts to bring peace to still-antagonistic foes in so many M.E. areas, including the Palestinian Authority and Israel. “As Europeans, neighbors and friends, supporting peace here remains a priority.”
Ambassador Nesser touched on the economic ties between Sweden and Israel, noting that Israel is listed as one of Sweden’s priority markets for trade promotion.
The Ambassador paid tribute – with an engaging touch of humor – to the Swedish commercial companies that provided generous support to the embassy, including SKF, ABB, SSAB, H&M, Volvo, AstraZeneca, Swedish Orient Line, Ericsson and SAS, the Scandinavian airline, which also donated airline tickets to Sweden as the prize in an ingenious competition – guests were invited to answer 8 questions about Sweden to win the prize.
Invitees were pleasantly surprised to hear Ambassador Nesser add a brief word of thanks – in Hebrew – to the government of Israel. Back in English he made special mention of, and thanked, the staff of the embassy for their efforts at making the reception such a success.
Responding on behalf of the State of Israel, Deputy Minister of Education, MK Rabbi Meir Porush congratulated the King of Sweden on the occasion of the country’s National Day, and also congratulated Sweden on its success in the very recent Eurovision contest (first place).
The Minister referred to Sweden’s peaceful past 200 years but also to Raoul Wallenberg, Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest in 1944. “I would like to take a moment to praise his heroic actions. Raoul did much to save the Jews of Hungary from the Germans and the fascist Hungarian regime. He was responsible for the rescue of more than 100,000 Jews, granting them Swedish travel documents or housing them in extraterritorial Swedish buildings in Budapest. In this way, he prevented the deportation of thousands to Auschwitz.
“The State of Israel has honored Raoul Wallenberg with the title of Righteous Among the Nations. He will forever be remembered as a man who tied his fate to the Jewish people, and his name is engrained in the collective memory of Jews
Rabbi Porush made mention of the excellent economic ties between the two countries, and of Sweden’s popularity in Israel. “Sweden’s successful health and education policies, which ensure the wellbeing of its citizens, serve as a model for the world”. However, The Israeli MK did not omit to mention the unfortunate aspects of Swedish-Israel bilateral relations: “In Israel’s early years, we shared many common visions for the future, while lately, Sweden has taken steps that have cast a shadow over the relations between us and caused some discomfort in Israel. Despite this, there exists – on both sides – the will to keep our bilateral relations normal, to continue strengthening the economic and trade cooperation between us, and to further promote exchanges in the fields of culture and science”.
In conclusion he wished his Majesty the King of Sweden, the government, and the Swedish people good health and long life, prosperity and success in the coming years.
The formalities ended with a rendition of the Swedish national anthem, followed by the anthem of Israel, presented beautifully by Ms. Keren Eilenberg.
Amongst the distinguished guests were: David Castel, Consul of Sweden in Haifa and President of the Chamber of Commerce of Haifa and the North, Eva Taylor, the Ambassador’s personal assistant, Susanne Millner, Special Adviser for Culture and Public Diplomacy of the Finnish Embassy, Meir Shai of ABB Technologies Ltd, Prof. Michael Levitt, (Nobel Prize laureate, chemistry 2013), Silvia Golan, Executive Director of www.diplomacy.co.il and Eva Yaron, tour guide/emergency evacuation expert for the Swedish Embassy in Israel.
Another special guest was Israeli author Dror Mishani who has published several works based on Swedish crime fiction. “I read Swedish crime novels as my inspiration”, he told your Diplomacy correspondent. Ambassador Nesser presented Mishani with a special award from the Swedish Academy of Detective Fiction, for his novel “The Missing File”. Not bad for an Israeli author.
Sweden and Israel are poles apart, but you couldn’t tell from the way guests mingled. Diplomacy? Yes. But not without the genuine feeling of warmth and friendship engendered by Ambassador Nesser and his charming wife Maria.
Photos Silvia Golan
Celebrating the Italian Republic Day 2015
The gracious hospitality of the Honorary Ambassador for Italy, Francesco M. Talo and his wife Ornella , at their elegant Ramat-Gan residence, was a fitting background to a diplomatic cultural evening of guests, cocktails, food and music on that evening of June 3rd 2015. The motivation and rationale behind the very pleasant evening was to honor the Italian Republic day.
More than 1000 guests had the opportunity to greet and chat while enjoying a buffet of snacks and an open bar. In the background the music, singing and dancing of “A Racne Mediterranean” - national folklore group from south Italy, added to the atmosphere.
The Italian Republic Day, also known as Festa della Repubblica in Italian (Festival of the Republic), is a national holiday in Italy on June 2 each year. It celebrates the day when Italians voted to abolish the monarchy in 1946 so their country could become a republic. Republic Day is a day off work for many people in Italy. Events include: Official ceremonies, Military parades, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, inside the Altare della Patria in Rome.
Outside Italy, many Italian diplomats in embassies celebrate this day worldwide.
On the wide lawn of the Ambassador's house, Mr. Francesco M. Talo, gathered hundreds of guests to celebrate the occasion. Among them were the diplomatic community members, the guest of honor, Minister of Construction - Retired General Yoav Galant, Tal Brody - an American-Israeli former basketball player, and current Goodwill Ambassador of Israel, Mr. Gideon Sa’ar - a former Israeli politician who served as a member of the Knesset for the Likud party between 2003 and 2014. He also held the posts of Minister of Interior affairs and Minister of Education - and his wife Geula Even, a famous encore woman for the Israeli television. Mr. Efi Shtenzler – the World Chairman of the Jewish National Fund, Mr. Itzhak Eldan – former Israel’s head of ceremony, and the President of the Diplomatic Club, and many other dignitaries.
The official part of the event, started with the announcement of Michal Ansky – the ceremony moderator, in Italian and English. After the three national anthems were played (Italian, the EEU and Israeli) and sung by the students of the Rishonim School in Rishon Le’tzion and Roma Club Jerusalem. Ambassador Talo held a short speech praising the close and strong ties between both countries.
The Ambassador congratulated the audience in Hebrew, and said that everyone is welcomed to an Italian house in celebrating the Italian national holiday. He mentioned that this is the 3rd year he is hosting this event in Israel, and enjoy the feeling of unity with the Israelis. The Ambassador will never forget this day one year ago, when the three kids, Gilad, Eyal and Naftali were kidnaped and killed by barbaric terrorists. He remembered visiting the families a few times, and said that he will never forget the integrity and kindness of the families during these hard times. He said that only united we will survive; Working together to overcome differences in a respecting dialog.
The Ambassador remembered World War one, 100 years ago, and the 2nd World War, with the holocaust – the lowest level of inhumanity. He mentioned the Jewish Brigade heroes, who participated in the liberation of Italy and thru Italy returned to Israel. Italy and Israel share mutual history, and the best part are the younger generation of both countries, who share the future of science and technology, music and culture. Yesterday and today some science and technological conventions took place, and tomorrow the opera Tosca, by Puccini, will be played in Masada.
His speech was followed by the warm words of the Israeli Minister of Construction and Infrastructure, Mr. Yoav Galant, who welcomed the dignitaries and the international community in Israel. He said that there is a common history to Italy and Israel. The Jewish community in Italy has been there since the demolition of the Second Temple. His father, a holocaust survivor, had fled the Nazis through Siberia and Italy, spent 2 years in Italy before coming to Israel. 40 years ago, the Minister joined the Israeli Navy Seals, and the equipment and the methods were Italian. The Minister thanked the Italians for educating the young generation against evil and their help to denounce this phenomenon.
After Minister Galant, the President of Israel, His Excellency Reuven Rivlin gave a video message honoring the Italian Republic Day. The President spoke about many years of friendship between the two countries, strong diplomatic relations in areas of tourism, technology and research. Israel participates this year in the Expo 2015 in Milan, were we will demonstrate the Israeli achievements in many fields of technology and agriculture.
After the President speech, the Commissioner of the European Union, Giuseppe Sala, promoted Expo Milano 2015 under the title of: "Feeding the Planet; Energy for Life", mentioning the importance of the Israeli pavilion, one of the attractions on the Expo 2015 exhibition.
After several songs by an Israeli youth quire, followed by jazz music, the singer Einat Saruf organized public singing. The guests could enjoy the fine tastes of Italian food and wines. The wine and Parmesan cheese were brought from Italy especially for this event. Waiters served hot Pizza, Lasagna and Antipasti. There were counters of Illy Espresso and Italian chocolate and delicious ice cream.
I would like to congratulate the Italian people on this important and enjoyable celebration, and to thank the Italian Ambassador and his wife for their gracious hospitality.
Photos Silvia G Golan
27th April commemorates the day in 1994 when the first democratic election was held in South Africa. South Africa celebrates Freedom Day to mark the liberation of the country and its people from a long period of colonialism and White minority domination (apartheid).
In Israel Freedom Day was celebrated on 29th April, like every year at the beautiful gardens of the South Africa Ambassador H.E Sisa Ngombane and Mrs. Thatanyana in Ramat Gan.
Ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic corps in Israel, members of culture, industry, art, science, and many other honored guests from Israeli society and South Africa enjoy the colorful and happy atmosphere with typical food : Boerewors, Pap with Gravy,Bobotie, Cape Chicken curry, Sambuza with chatney , wines and South African spirits.
The evening opened with the national anthems of South Africa and Israel .
Ambassador Ngombane welcome the guests: " We have gathered for the last 21 years all over to celebrate good over evil. In this simple act we also pay tribute to those who have made this day possible. We salute the courage of the leaders and the people of South Africa who stood up against all odds so that we can say we free. In the same breath we honor and remember the members of the international community who not only accompanied us but occupied trenches with us. This is especially so for our African brothers and sisters who some of them paid with their lives.
" President Zuma received an open letter from Mia Couto, a Mozambican writer and poet on 24 April 2015. In his reply he stated :
“I remember you from our days in Mozambique, when you worked at the Mozambique Information Agency and when you were editor of Tempo magazine and later of Noticias.
I cannot forget the friendship that Mozambique accorded my comrades and to me personally. In fact Mozambique became my second home and it remains my home.
You are in pain as your letter indicates, because of the deaths of Mozambicans and the general attacks on foreign nationals in parts of our country. South Africans are also in pain because of the tragic and senseless killings of all seven persons in the past weeks. These are three South Africans and four foreign nationals. May their souls rest in peace and may their tragic deaths unite us all in the quest for peace and an end to violence.
The reports we have received indicate that the attacks last week in Durban were sparked off by the conduct of an employer who fired South African workers who had gone on strike and employed workers from outside the country. Even in the South African context, the employment of scab labour usually triggers an angry reaction from workers who are on strike. We join the country’s trade unions in appealing to employers to avoid such behaviour of pitting workers against one another. The Soweto attacks in January were triggered by the fatal shooting of a young man by a non-South African shopkeeper.
This is a difficult period for our country and its people. Millions of peace loving South Africans are in pain because they are being accused of being xenophobic which is not true. South Africans are definitely not xenophobic. The actions of a small minority should not be used to wrongfully label and stereotype more than 50 million people.
You reminded me of the hospitality and generosity that was accorded to me by Mozambicans during my stay in your beautiful country in exile. We agree that we benefited immensely from international solidarity and friendship during our struggle against apartheid. Our brothers and sisters in the African continent in particular shared their meagre resources with us. Many were killed for supporting our struggle for freedom. The Matola raid in your beautiful country is an example. It is for this reason that we embrace our African brothers and sisters who migrate to South Africa legally. In fact our migration policy is advanced because we integrate refugees and asylum seekers within our communities. They live among our citizens, they are part of us. We are one people as President Samora Machel said after the tragic Matola raid in which many Mozambicans were killed by apartheid security forces.
South Africa has not changed and has not forgotten such comradeship and solidarity. But like most countries that have emerged from conflict, we have deep-seated challenges.
We appreciate the contribution of foreign nationals in South Africa. They contribute to our economic development by investing in the economy, bringing critical skills and through adding to the diversity that we pride ourselves in. But there are also some complaints or problems that citizens have raised which need to be addressed. These include the increasing number of illegal and undocumented immigrants in the country, the displacement of many local small traders by foreign nationals and that some of the migrant traders operate illegally. There are also accusations that foreign nationals commit crimes such as drug peddling and human trafficking, that they take the jobs of locals as employers prefer them as they are prepared to take lower wages and also complaints about free government housing that is secured by foreign nationals. We have emphasised that none of these grievances justify any form of violence against foreign nationals and that it will never be tolerated by government. We are also pointing out that not all migrants are in the country illegally and not all are involved in criminal activities.
The grievances of the South African population have to be balanced with the plight of many refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants from the continent and beyond. We therefore have a lot of work to do to find long-term solutions.
In the short-term we will improve the implementation of the existing migration policy including tightening controls at the ports of entry and borders and also ensuring adherence to the laws of the country, while protecting migrants and the local population from criminal elements who are taking advantage of the tensions caused by socio-economic challenges. Work has also begun to review the country’s migration policy based on the current and recent experiences.
Our government will rely on the cooperation of sister countries in the continent from where most of the migrants come, as we search for solutions”.
" South has also made headlines news for power outages that have been occurring more frequently of late. The South African government developed a strategy to address this problem based on Independent Power Producers ( IPP’s ) playing a bigger role in power generation. In line with this the government has awarded contracts to IPP’s to produce an additional 13 469 MW from a combination of sources such as Bio-Mass, On-Shore Wind, Solar PV and Hydro worth of twenty three billion rands [ R 23 bn] starting on 2016.
Mr Andrzej Golebiowski of Scater Solar which won three bids has this to say :
"The renewable IPPs programme is inspiration and visionary," he said. "It's really big on a global scale. It's over 4 000MW they are planning to reward this year. It's going to make it by far one of the biggest markets globally for renewables. That's pretty impressive."
Golebiowski said that the Norwegian company moved its headquarters from Germany to South Africa when they saw the potential of renewable IPPs in Africa.
" South Africa congratulates the people for the election in Israel on 17th March 2015 and looks forward to working with the new government and address the issues that challenge the two countries in their bilateral cooperation.
Finally we celebrate the 21 anniversary with a lot of reflection but strong, knowing that South Africans can stand up to adversary and be victorious. We will overcome.
On behalf of the State of Israel , Ambassador Avi Granot , Deputy Director General for Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, thanked the Ambassador and congratulated him and the SouthAfrican government and people on this event and said :
" Israel and South Africa both share democratic values and principles. We are both countries that are in the midst of nation building. Israel, as a start-up nation is willing to share its experience in Africa in general and with South Africa in particular.
I would like to highlight the fact that South Africa is Israel's largest trading partner in Africa. Yet there is much potential for future growth in trade as well as in cooperation in areas such as agriculture, water management, advanced technologies, public health, clean energy, food security and homeland security.
Homeland security is indeed a potential field of cooperation, taking into consideration the growing strength of radical Islamic groups as demonstrated by numerous acts of terror that have plagued Africa in recent months ".
" Nation building as well as the realization of the full potential of independence takes time. Indeed, thousands of years ago, it took the people of Israel forty years of wandering in the desert before a new generation, liberated from the shackles of slavery in ancient Egypt, could emerge ready to take on the task of construction of nationhood.
Thus, the time has come for South Africa, after twenty one years of freedom, to disassociate itself from various conceptions of the past which are redundant today and focus more on the future rather than be attached to the past. Specifically, I am referring to the South African approach towards the situation in the Middle East; it is high time for South Africa to zoom out from its one sided pro-Palestinian stance that constrain the development of relations with Israel, which can surely be beneficial to both countries.
It is no secret that we in Israel are disappointed by the lack of progress in our bilateral relations as well as the unbalanced official position and statements of South Africa that ignore the complexities, changes and new challenges in the Middle East and make it more difficult for South Africa to play a significant role in this part of the world. Let us set aside our differences and explore, in the spirit of the late President Nelson Mandela, father of the South African Nation, constructive ways to expand and deepen our bilateral relations and build bridges between our two nations.
Last but not least, we in Israel are very proud of the Jewish community of South Africa which is a part of the beautiful mosaic which is South Africa. It played a role in your struggle for freedom and we believe it can be useful in helping further our bilateral relations.
Your Excellency, please convey the best wishes of the government of Israel to the government and people of South Africa. May South Africa enjoy, peace, stability and prosperity and may the relations between the State of Israel and the Republic of South Africa develop and grow.
Photo Silvia Golan
A Declaration of Intent signed by the Ministers of Agriculture of Israel and Paraguay, establishes the framework to expand cooperation in the areas of irrigation, human capacity building, research and development, agricultural innovation, environment and agro-entrepreneurship.
The Joint Declaration was signed during the Agritech 2015 Exhibition by Israel’s Minister of Agriculture, Yair Shamir, who signed on behalf of MASHAV; and Paraguay’s Minister of Agriculture, Jorge Raul Gattini Ferreira, in the presence of Head of MASHAV, Ambassador Gil Haskel, and Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture’s Director General, Yitzhak Ben-David (April 28).
Photo : Ministers Shamir (left) and Gattini Ferreira (right), sign the joint Declaration. Standing from left to right: Ministry of Agriculture’s Director General, Yitzhak Ben-David; Head of MASHAV Ambassador Gil Haskel; Deputy Head of MASHAV, Ilan Fluss
On the 27th of April, His Excellency the Ambassador of the Netherlands and Mrs. Anne Veldkamp, held a reception at his Residence in Herzliya Pituach, in honor of the National Day of the Netherlands. Amongst those at the event were key Ministry of Foreign Affairs persons, members of the diplomatic and consular corps, and of course many dignitaries.
On the pool side grass, at the Ambassador’s Residence, a carriage containing Dutch cheeses, sweet summer fruits, Heineken beer and Herring from Holland, served the guests who came to celebrate the King’s day. The national color of Holland, orange, was the theme that embellished the sunflowers and the house. At the entrance and living room there were Van Gogh paintings (the Ambassador lives in the same village Vincent Van Gogh lived and painted).
While the guests were mingling at the poolside, The Ambassador read his address to the king of Holland:
The Ambassador also said that this is his last time in Israel. In the summer he is moving to become the Ambassador of Holland in Greece. He surly will miss Israel and his many Israeli friends.
About The King's official birthday…
The King’s official birthday (King’s Day, Koningsdag) in the Netherlands, is celebrated each year on April 27 with parties, street markets, concerts and special events for the royal family. In many towns and cities, particularly Amsterdam, Arnhem, Utrecht and The Hague, the King’s Day celebrations begin on the evening before the day. Some people set up stalls to sell second-hand goods and King’s Day themed products in many city and town centers.
The day features official musical performances on King’s Day. Many people spontaneously sing "Het Wilhelmus". This is a poem written in 1574 and describes the life of William of Orange (William the Silent) and his fight for the Dutch people. It is written as if William of Orange is introducing himself to the Dutch people. Versions are also played by bands performing at King’s Day events and on radio stations.
Each year, the royal family visits one or a few places on King’s Day. They are entertained with displays and performances around local historic events. Royal family members generally join in with the games in a good natured way and greet thousands of people who turn out to see them.
The two national anthems were played and the Ambassador raised a toast and wished that God will bless Holland and Israel.
Photo by Silvia G Golan
President Rivlin receives diplomatic credentials of new ambassadors from China, New Zealand, & Burkina Faso
Newly appointed ambassadors from China, New Zealand, and Burkina Faso this morning (Thursday) presented their diplomatic credentials to President of Israel Reuven Rivlin, during an official ceremony at the President's Residence. In their meetings, the President expressed to each of them his desire for Israel to deepen and strengthen cooperation and mutually beneficial bilateral relationships with each of the states, and in turn the ambassadors noted their high expectations for their time as their countries' official representatives to Israel.
The incoming Ambassador of China, H.E. Mr. Zhan Yongxin said to the President upon presenting his credentials, "I bring with me the greetings of the Chinese President, and wish to express my appreciation of the warm welcome I have received in Israel."
The President expressed his thanks for China's efforts to assist in the rescue of Israelis caught in the Nepalese earthquake disaster. He said, "I want to thank you for your government's involvement in assisting Israeli tourists in Nepal after the terrible earthquake – for this I thank you and your country, from the bottom of my heart."
The Ambassador of China said, "The Chinese and Jewish peoples have enjoyed a long standing friendship and this serves as a solid foundation for furthering our cooperation. We have, since the establishment of diplomatic relations, made considerable progress in our cooperation in various fields, and frequent political interchanges and mutual visits have taken place, especially in the fields of innovation and technology. It is time for us to turn plans into action and transform expectation into reality. I believe we can double the trade volume between Israel and China over the next decade. It is my hope that will be able to embolden our fruitful cooperation in many fields."
Non-Resident Ambassador of New Zealand, H.E. Jonathan Andrew Curr, presented his credentials and said, "The relationship between Israel and New Zealand is very important to me personally as newly appointed ambassador, but also to the people of New Zealand as a whole. There is a very deep relationship between our two peoples, and a great amount of cooperation. We don't always see things exactly the same way in this region, but our approach has always been to listen to our friends and learn and understand their concerns. This visit is an opportunity to understand and learn more of Israel's outlook on developments in the region."
The President welcome the Ambassador and said, "I have been to New Zealand just once in my life but I will never forget the wonderful people I met there. New Zealand is a model of multiculturalism. We enjoy very strong relations between our countries, and though there are differences of opinions, as friends, we can agree to disagree."
The President added, "I would ask you to express to the government in New Zealand, the message that a solution to the conflict will be possible only through direct negotiations, and not through unilateral moves on the part of our neighbors the Palestinians."
Non-Resident Ambassador of Burkina Faso H.E. Mr. Gnama Henri Bacye, presented his credentials to the President and said, "I want to thank you and the State of Israel for your warm welcome. For me, arriving in the eternal city of Jerusalem is a dream come true. I visited the Old City, and at the Western Wall I prayed for peace for your region and the whole world."
The President responded, "I am very pleased to receive your credentials and welcome you to the President's Residence. Our relations with you are of high importance, we are cooperating in a range of subjects. I know that even as we speak, the director general of your Ministry of Agriculture is visiting Israel. The mutual exchange of information is beneficial to both our countries, and we will be happy to continue and deepen our relationship."
The Ambassador added, "I would like that my submitting of credentials today, will be moment of renewal and increasing our relationship." He raised with the President a proposal to encorage Israelis who have retired from full time work, to come to Burkina Faso to aid with their experience and knowledge in their respective fields. The Ambassador also extended an invitation to the President to visit Burkina Faso. The President thanked him for his invitation and stated, "Israeli pensioners certainly represent a wealth of experience and knowledge."
Photos by Mark Neumann GPO
Annual reception (2015) of the global Baha’i community
On Tuesday evening, March 24, 2015, I was privileged to be invited to the annual international Baha’i community reception; an impressive festive event, held at the David Citadel in Jerusalem, to celebrate the Baha’i New Year (Nowruz).
The event was attended by government representatives, ministers and Knesset members, religious leaders in Israel, members of the diplomatic corps, the president of the Hebrew University and other academics, members of the international community who volunteer at the Haifa and Acre Baha’i centers, all of whom came to honor and salute the Baha’i community.
It was amazing to see “transplanted” parts of famous Baha’i gardens at the event’s entrance. Beds of flowers and colorful plants, laid out symmetrically and aesthetically, were admired by all the guests.
We were greeted by Dr. Joshua Lincoln, Secretary-General of the World Baha’i community, and his wife. Six volunteer musicians and singers from the US, England, Ghana and South Africa entertained the guests with delightful singing and music. Sumptuous refreshments and drinks were served. Every detail of the event was meticulous and elaborate, as in the Baha’i gardens.
Dr. Joshua Lincoln opened with the blessing of welcome in Hebrew, English and Arabic. He then read a letter from President Rivlin in which the President congratulated the Baha'i community, the guests and the people of Israel with joy, success, peace and health. Dr. Lincoln expressed the hope that the coming year will be better than the last, and invited the audience to visit the Baha’i chapel, which is open to everyone.
Professor Moshe Sharon, founder of the world's first Chair in Baha’i Studies, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, addressed the assembly:
“No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I lowed myself before one who is the object of devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!
We have only to look around us to realize that today as then these words are relevant and topical. Let me finish with another saying of Baha’ullah cherished by 6,000,000 people around the world “Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.” Thank you and have a very enjoyable evening”.
And something about the Baha’i religion:
The message of the Báb and Baha’u’llah is that there is one God revealed to mankind over the years and who reveals His will. All religions have a common divine origin, and the prophets are messengers of God, including Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, Jesus, Zarathustra and the Báb. They represent successive stages in the spiritual development of mankind. The last messenger, Baha’u’llah, emphasizes global peace, scientific progress and ethical behavior.
Baha’is believe in the unity of God; unity of the human race; in the search for truth; strengthening the common elements of all religions; faith in fundamental harmony between religion and science; volunteering; equality between men and women; monogamy; denial of prejudices and superstitions; strict obedience to the laws of the local government, non-violence, not bearing arms and no warfare and a ban on the participation in the military forces of any country, except for a U.N. force; compulsory education throughout the world; the search for a solution to the problems of the global economy, the use of a common world language (in the past Esperanto, now Lojban) and striving for world peace under international government that derives some of the powers of the countries.
At the Baha’i community reception I experienced the friendly and respectful approach of the hosts in the spirit of Baha’u’llah. His Word is given to people as "food for the soul". The hosts went a step further and added "wonderful food for the body". With that winning combination, plus a real mutual respect, the brave friendship between Israel and the Baha’i Community is not surprising.
Translated from the hebrew by Jonathan Danilowitz
Photos Silvia G Golan
The gracious hospitality of the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Croatia, Samuel Schlesinger, at his elegant Savyon residence, was a fitting background to a diplomatic cultural evening of friends, cocktails and music on Saturday evening. The motivation and rationale behind the very pleasant evening was to honor a close friend of the Consul, Mr. Zvi Rav-Ner. He has been a kingpin at Israel’s Foreign Ministry for many years and is now Head of the Eurasia Division at the Ministry.
Guests had the opportunity to greet and chat while enjoying a buffet of snacks and an open bar. In the background the piano expertise of Faina and Michael Burshtein entertained.
In a short welcome address, Mr. Schlesinger (a successful entrepreneur in his own right) amused the guests by revealing how he too had applied to be accepted at the Foreign Ministry: while Zvi Rav-Ner has had a glittering career there, he himself has “only” had a business and diplomatic career. Mr. Rav-Ner responded, in a telling talk on his background as a child in Poland, his family’s immigration to, and successful acclimatization in, Israel, and his career at the Foreign Ministry.
The main musical program began with three charming pieces by musician and singer Gal Klein. Her expertise is South American music, beautifully rendered and to much applause. This was followed by a more focused piano duet by the Burshteins, playing classical excerpts from Bartók, Dvořák, Brahms and Rachmaninov, again, to warm applause.
This was a somewhat intimate meeting of the diplomatic corps. Among the guests were Ambassadors Alenka Suhadolnik of Slovenia, Croatian Ambassador Pjer Šimunovićand Pajo Avirovikj of Macedonia; Prof. Noah Halperin, Chairman of the National Association of Journalists; former Ministers Rafi Eitan and Avigdor Kahalani; advocate Menachem Miko, radio personality and author of children’s books Sima Lahat, and many others.
Mr. Schlesinger has a fine reputation for his musical soirées, sometimes celebrating events, sometimes honoring others and often publicizing worthwhile charities or social welfare benefits. An invitation to his home is always a welcome indication of an enjoyable evening.
Photo Silvia Golan
It was no surprise that the crème de la crème of the Israeli diplomatic corps and Israeli society were at the Dan Hotel on Monday evening to celebrate with, and to honor, the government and people of Bulgaria, and especially H. E. Mr. Dimitar Mihaylov, Ambassador of Bulgaria to the State of Israel. Bulgaria and Israel have a special bond, reaching back to the darkest days of WW2 when the people of that land refused to cooperate with the Nazi extermination and genocide program, and made every effort (successfully) to save Bulgaria’s splendid Jewish community. The history is long and complicated, but the ultimate result was that the 48,000-strong Jewish community survived almost intact.
The Honorary Consul of Bulgaria in Israel, Bulgarian-born Moni S. Barr introduced the Ambassador. It was only natural that in his brief opening words to the gathering, Mr. Barr, who came to Israel in 1948, made reference to the warm feelings and loyalty most Israeli Bulgarians still feel toward their mother country. “I recall my family talking about the rescue when I was still a child. We will never forget that”, he said. He then introduced Ambassador Mihaylov and invited him to address the guests.
The Ambassador’s heartwarming speech was presented in fluent Hebrew. Ambassador Mihaylov is a man of letters; he has a PhD in Islamic History from Sofia University and earned his MA in Arabic Language and Literature at Damascus University. He was also previously Bulgaria’s ambassador to Syria and has been with the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for close on 24 years – no small achievements for a man in his early 50s. He began by welcoming the guests to Bulgaria’s independence day celebrations, 137 years of development as a modern European country; mentioning too the secondary – but no less important reason for celebrating – 25 years of bilateral diplomatic relations between the two countries. “Establishing relations between Israel and Bulgaria ended the unnatural situation of dissonance between friends, the result of the Cold War. …. The positive result of these diplomatic relations is the warm-hearted and unshakeable friendship and trust between the governments of two friendly nations”. He added: “The friendship is one of the foundation stones on which the future stability of our converging “backyards” stands”.
Responding on behalf of the State of Israel was Minister of the Interior Gilad Erdan. He thanked the Ambassador and congratulated him and the Bulgarian government and people on this exciting event. He too pointed out that this year the two countries are celebrating 25 years of excellent bilateral diplomatic relations. “Bulgaria is among the important friends of Israel in Europe, and your strong support for Israel's policies with regard to the political process is of particular value and importance to us. Bulgaria plays a very important role in helping Israel to strengthen its relations with the European Union and other international organizations”. He added: “The community of Israelis originating from Bulgaria is an important bridge between the two countries and the presence of Israeli companies in Bulgaria contribute much to current economic development in Bulgaria and Israel alike and to the broadening of the cooperation between the civil societies in both countries”.
Minister Erdan also made grateful reference to the manner in which the Bulgarian people fought to save their Jewish compatriots from the terror of Nazism. “The National Day of Bulgaria marks the liberation of your nation, and the Bulgarian people's journey to freedom after many years of repression. The Jewish people in the land of Israel have also experienced this type of renaissance, after having waited for generations for their country to be reborn. We too know the value of freedom, and we congratulate you on this joyous occasion and look forward to many more years of partnership”. The Minister ended with warmest congratulations to the government and people of Bulgaria.
Reni Pilossof, a singer and new immigrant from Bulgaria then gave her truly lovely rendition of the national anthems of both countries. Guests were treated to a delicious and varied buffet dinner, which gave your www.diplomacy.co.il correspondent the opportunity to circulate and to catch up on some of the famous personalities present.
Among the many ambassadors and consular officials who honored the event with their presence were: H.E. Henri Etoundi Essomba of Cameroon and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps; Their Excellencies Prahlad Kumar Prasai of Nepal, Simon Pullicino of Malta, Ernest S. Lomotey of Ghana, Nathaniel G. Imperial of the Philippines, David Cohen (former Israeli ambassador to Bulgaria and ambassador to several other countries) and Sisa Ngombane of South Africa; and many military and cultural attachés, consuls and embassy officials, including Shlomo Morgan, Director of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol Department. It was a grand and elegant meeting of diplomacy, culture, society, the arts, industry and good friends.
Bulgarians in Israel are well-known as cheerful friendly people, and Bulgarian culture is firmly entrenched here, from foods, music, theater and the arts. Among the guests with “traces of Bulgaria” were business-people Ms. Matilda Alkalai and the above-mentioned Mr. Moni Barr; Shelly Hoshen, Int’l. President of the Yad B’Yad Association and nominee for the Rappaport Prize; entertainers and TV and radio personalities Alex Ansky, Levana Finkelstein and Moni Moshonov; movie producer Nissim Levy (his movie “Bulgarian Rhapsody” is making waves now) and several others.
Best wishes to Bulgaria for a bright and sparkling future.
Photo by Silvia G Golan
During the last 25 years Poland and Israel have co-operated to preserve the memory of nearly a millennium of cohabitation of Jews and Poles with its triumphs and tragedies. We share a moral duty to spread the truth of the Holocaust.
On February 27 we are commemorating a quarter century anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. It allowed us to build a special and privileged partnership, based on deep historic roots and mutual support and respect for each other's sovereignty and mutual recognition of the political, security and economic needs of both countries. During the last twenty-five years Poland and Israel have co-operated to preserve the memory of nearly a millennium of cohabitation of Jews and Poles. We share a moral duty to spread the truth of the Holocaust and oppose attempts at denying or distorting it.
Poland was also one of the first countries that recognized the Israeli Declaration of Independence in May 1948 and established full diplomatic relations with the newly created State of Israel. Unfortunately, following the lead of other countries of the Soviet-controlled Eastern Bloc, it cut off the relations in 1967. Poland however was the first Warsaw Pact country to initiate contacts with Israel again in the mid-1980s. Full diplomatic relations were resumed in 199o. From this moment Poland co-operated with the Israeli Authorities to facilitate Jewish emigration from the former Soviet Union to Israel and was also active in revoking UN Resolution equating Zionism with Racism. Since the resumption of diplomatic relations, Poland has supported the participation of Israel in the MEPP and its relations with the EU and NATO.
The restoration of diplomatic relations has led to expanding political, military, economic and cultural cooperation between both countries as well as intensive people-to-people contacts. The political dialogue between both countries has been raised to the level of intergovernmental consultations under the leadership of prime ministers. After this fruitful quarter of century Poland and Israel express satisfaction over their friendly and fruitful relations. Both countries are committed to further strengthening their bilateral co-operation and to solidifying the unique ties between the two societies, based on the almost thousand-year-long relationship between Poland and the Jewish people and resulting from present-day common interest.
President Rivlin with Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz in Warsaw
Photo :Copyright: GPO/Mark Neiman
A charming location, many elegant guests and a wonderful reason to celebrate: these were the essential components of the very successful event last night at Tel Aviv's Dan Hotel, hosted by the Embassy of the People's Republic of China to the State of Israel, on the occasion of the arrival and assumption of office of a new Ambassador to Israel, His Excellency Ambassador Zhan Yongxin. Adding to the joy of the occasion was the fact that China is ushering in the New Year of the Goat, and also celebrating the spring festival.
In his opening remarks, the Ambassador welcomed the assembled guests, also mentioning one uninvited "guest" in particular – the storm raging outside. He thanked everyone for coming, especially in the light of the very inclement (and unusual) weather. The cold outside was matched by the warmth of the reception inside.
His Excellency spoke of his arrival only two weeks earlier, but that he had already been deeply impressed by "this magical [and beautiful] country ... the wonderful [and passionate] people ... the vigorous economy. ... People say this is the Promised Land, but I say: Israel is a Promising Land. ... This is destined to be the most promising and successful land in my diplomatic career."
The Ambassador spoke of the Chinese economic miracle, quoting impressive statistics, past and present, with forecasts for the future. He mentioned his vision for improving the already fine bi-lateral relationship that China and Israel enjoy, and also the mutuality of the two peoples with their long and fascinating histories; and specifically China's role in offering refuge to so many Jews during WW2.
Ambassador Zhan Yongxin has had a dazzling diplomatic career, where his last position was as Director-General, Department of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He pointed out that he is China's 7th Ambassador to the State of Israel (in 23 years of excellent diplomatic relations between the two countries), and that the number 7 bodes success for all concerned "to embrace a better and brighter future". He concluded by thanking everyone for coming "to contribute to promoting friendship" and wishing everyone health and success in the Chinese New Year.
Israel's Minister of Energy, Infrastructure & Water, Mr. Silvan Shalom, responded on behalf of the State of Israel. In a moving speech, the Minister welcomed the new ambassador and his wife, and wished them every happiness in Israel.
"China", he said, is: "... an ancient civilization forging a bright future in the modern world. A society facing immense challenges, yet bringing constant progress to its citizens and to the world. The same is true of Israel. The two countries are vastly different in size, geography, populations, cultures, languages and more. ... Israel has a long history as a people, a short history as a state. We started as a doubt; we wound up as a miracle." Mr. Shalom spoke of Israel as "the start-up nation", mentioning that Israel, after Canada, is the 2nd most important foreign presence on NASDAQ; of her economic success, her efforts (as in China) to promote education, infrastructure, water resources and more. He also made reference to the dark years of European Jewish refugees who found a welcome in China, even as China was itself struggling with the threats of Nazi ideology during WW2. "Israel was one of the first countries to recognize the People's Republic of China and the people of Israel have always seen China as their friend. ... We are two ancient peoples whose values and traditions have left an indelible mark on humanity, but we are also two peoples embracing modernity."
The Minister asked the new Ambassador to make efforts to improve the tourist imbalance between the two countries, and to promote Israel as a desirable potential tourist destination for Chinese travelers. In conclusion, he thanked the Chinese ambassador and again wished him a warm welcome to Israel.
A taste of Chinese culture was presented to the guests in the form of five scintillating dance performances, each representing a different aspect and narrative of Chinese life. Beautiful music, gorgeous costumes, excellent choreography and professional dancing – a recipe for enjoyment. The other "recipe" was provided in the form of a generous and tasty dinner, allowing time for the guests to mingle and enjoy old and new friendships.
Among the guests who honored the Ambassador with their presence were former prime minister Ehud Barak; former minister of industry, trade & employment, Ran Cohen; former minister of internal affairs Gideon Sa'ar (with his wife, TV personality Geula Even); several ambassadors (including of Sweden and South Africa); executive editor of the "Jerusalem Post" newspaper Steve Linde; journalist Tali Lipkin Shahak; Nobel prize laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman; head of the political-military department at the ministry of defense Amos Gilad; Israel's attorney general Yehuda Weinsten, chief of staff of several ministries Moshe Benyamin; former IDF spokesperson Avi Benayahu; Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai; IOC member Alex Gilady; Prof. Raanan Rein, vice president of Tel Aviv University and many other VIPs, diplomats, society personalities and captains of industry.
Long may China-Israel diplomatic relations blossom.
Photos Silvia G Golan
The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Israel mark a quarter century since the fall of the Iron Curtain restored their relations, which evolved from there to the current high level that properly reflects their deep historic roots.
The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Israel are commemorating on February 9 a quarter of century since the moment when the fall of the infamous Iron Curtain finally allowed them to bring their relations back to standard and from there to the current high level that properly reflects the deep historic roots of the Czech-Jewish as well as the Slovak-Jewish interactions.
Czechoslovakia was also one of the first countries that recognized the new State of Israel almost immediately after it had been proclaimed as well as one of the first that assisted it in early struggle for existence. Unfortunately the firm grip of the Stalinist system soon lead to virtual freeze of relations which were eventually cut off completely in 1967.
Thus we can say that our nations had to wait for more than four decades for the opportunity to establish "normality". Even though we cannot get back the time wasted, the virtual outburst of positive relations that filled the last twenty five years in almost every field helps us to make up for the loss. These good relations manifest themselves in many various forms.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have with Israel intensive people-to-people contacts and tourism, rich cultural exchange, business and cooperation in the progressive fields of science, innovations, start-ups and R&D, or frequent intergovernmental consultations. We also share values, concerns and interests in the field of international politics. We also share our strong stand against anti-Semitism in all its forms.
To sum up the past quarter of century into one short impression, we can say that when left to its natural flow and without any outside hindrance the relations between our three countries are undeniably friendly and rich in many aspects. With that, indeed, we can see as a good promise for the future years.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, today (Sunday, 18 January 2015), arrived in Israel at the head of a delegation of over 100 government officials and presidents of leading global Japanese companies in order to expand bilateral economic cooperation.
Japan is considered the third largest economy in the world with a GDP of $4.73 trillion (2013). This is the first visit to Israel by a Japanese Prime Minister since 2006.
At the start of their meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
"I'm delighted to welcome you, Prime Minister. I think this is a reciprocal visit to the one I made in Japan. It gives us an historic opportunity to bring together the great capabilities of the peopleof Japan and the people of Israel. I think there are many economic areas, technological areas and other areas in which we can cooperate, and I look forward to doing that for the benefit of both our peoples."
At the subsequent meeting with 26 Japanese businesspeople and company heads, Japanese Prime Minister Abe said
"Taking the opportunity of the visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu to Japan last year, we are now seeing steady progress in development of our bilateral relationship in a comprehensive manner. And among all the areas that we are working closely, the economy is the one area which has the greatest potential for advancement of the bilateral relations. This time, I brought a business delegation, and all of the members are the distinguished leaders on this front, namely the CEOs who have extensive experience doing business with Israel and also who all share the passion about the business with Israel. Most recently, I understand that the Government of Israel made a cabinet decision to reinforce the economic ties between Japan and Israel. Taking this opportunity I would like to encourage Mr. Prime Minister to have the firsthand experience and also feel the great passion shared by the Japanese business community, major corporations and small to medium enterprises as well as the independent administrative organs."
Photo by Amos Ben Gershon GPO
President Rivlin hosts New Year's reception for leaders of Israel's Christian communities
President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Tuesday), hosted the traditional, annual reception for leaders of Israel's Christian community leaders to mark the civil New Year. The event was attended by nine heads of various churches in Israel, and senior members of the community.
The President welcomed those attending and said, "Over the past months, we have been greatly concerned, by the on-going religious persecution and restrictions on freedom of worship for minorities in the Middle East. Because of their faith hundreds of thousands are being exiled, forcibly converted, attacked, and brutally murdered. This is a war against extremism. A war, being waged against those who want to spread a message of freedom of worship and coexistence, by those who carry the flag of destruction and hatred.
"This is a cause of great worry and pain for all us. We share the Psalms of King David, the words of the Prophets, and a love for Jerusalem, and the Holy Land. As we know, we are all created in the image of God. As the prophet Malachi wrote, "Do we not, all have one Father? Did not one God create us?" We will continue to live together, and build bridges of peace, here, in the land of our fathers.
"May we all, Christians, Muslims, Jews, children of Abraham, together with all those of different faiths, see the fulfillment of the vision of the prophet Isaiah, that "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and no longer learn war." Let 2015 be a year of partnership and friendship. Let it be a year of understanding and mutual respect. I wish you all a peaceful and happy New Year."
Also speaking at the event was Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos III, he said, "In this season in particular, the world, caught up in the darkness of violence, poverty, persecution and war, looks to us, the communities of the Holy Land for renewed hope and inspiration. Our precise paths as political and religious leaders may be different, but first and foremost, our concern is always our people. In this region, we recognize the diversity of the peoples and understand that the harmonious coexistence of the Abrahamic faiths is essential to the integrity of the Holy Land."
Photo Kobi Gideon GPO
Right from the start your DIPLOMACY correspondent realized that this would be a special event. The newly-appointed Korean Ambassador to Israel, His Excellency Lee Gun-tae, greeted his guests warmly, but without a doubt it was his gracious wife, Mrs. Won-ock Youn, together with the spouses of other high-ranking Korean diplomats on the receiving line, who stole the show in their elegant and outstandingly beautiful national-costume dresses.
The Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv was the chosen setting for the celebration of the Korean National Foundation Day. The colorful elegance of the Korean costumes was showcased against the sophistication of the guests, including the many diplomatic military attaches, Israeli army VIPS and heads of the Israel Police. Guests were treated to fine dinner, where the waiters added to the grace of the evening dressed in dinner dress suits, bowties and all.
Among the many VIPs and diplomatic representatives were MK Yair Shamir, Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Mr. Ami H. Orkaby, Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Eitan Haber, Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Korea, Ms. Vered Pear Swid, Director General, Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women at the Prime Minister's Office, Asher Ben Artzi of the International Police Association, Superintendent Yonatan Zilberman, Israel Police Diplomatic Coordinator, Avi Uhr, Corporate Sales Manager of Fattal Hotels, and many others from Israel's society and commercial scene.
Ambassador Lee Gun-tae addressed the guests after a beautiful rendition of the Korean and Israeli national anthems. He reminded us that the actual date of the celebration falls in October, but as he – the host – only took up his appointment as the newest Korean ambassador to Israel just a few weeks before, the party was delayed.
The ambassador pointed out the many similarities between Korea and Israel, including that both were established in 1948, and both have become "models of economic development and mature democracy for many developing countries". He mentioned the excellent bi-lateral and economic relations between the two countries, noting too that many Israelis drive Korean cars and enjoy Korean consumer goods in their homes. Korean Air remains the only airline offering direct regular service to Israel from far-off East Asia. In conclusion, His Excellency warmly thanked the guests for attending and helping celebrate the occasion, and proposed a toast to "the long-lasting friendship between the two countries".
MK Yair Shamir responded on behalf of the State of Israel. He opened by extending sincere congratulations to the Republic of Korea and the Ambassador on his new appointment. He too touched on the similarities between the two countries – mentioning that both lacked natural resources and are located in "difficult" geo-political areas – and on the warm and long-lasting bilateral relations ever since diplomatic ties were established in in 1962.
Mr. Shamir generously praised the Republic of Korea for its successes. He also pointed out that Israel had immediately sent humanitarian aid to Korea after the ferry disaster a few years ago, and as an aside, that many Korean tourists visit and enjoy Israel. The Minister said that both Israel and Korea look forward to ever-improving diplomatic and commercial relations. He ended his address by asking the ambassador to extend best wishes from the government and people of Israel, to the Republic of Korea and its people.
The evening was rounded out by an energetic and appealing performance by young Israeli artists – a performance that put new meaning on: "you're only as old as you feel".
Photos by Silvia G. Golan
The chosen setting for celebrating of the Kenyan National Day this year was the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv. Many of the elegant ladies wore costumes reflecting Kenyan national pride, showcasing the sophistication of the guests who included many Ambassadors and diplomats, military attaches, Israeli army VIPS and other important Kenyan and Israeli socialites and captains of industry and commerce.
His Excellency Ambassador Lt. Gen. Augostino S.K. Njoroge and his gracious wife Mrs. Margaret Njoroge welcomed their guests. The flower decorations in front of the stage were breathtaking, both in their profusion and in their beauty. Scenes from Kenya, spotlighting African wildlife flashed on the large screens, adding to the atmosphere. Guests were treated to a princely cocktail reception, followed by an excellent dinner, where the waiters added to the grace of the evening in their dress suits – bowties and all. Among the VIP guests were ambassadors and diplomatic staff in Israel, including Ambassador António dos Santos of Angola, Ambassador Sisa Ngombane of South Africa, Mr. Nuriel Kasbian, honorary consul of Tanzania, Colonel Nigel Jefferson, British Defense & Military Attaché, Prof. Aubrey Soskolne and his wife Prof. Varda Soskolne, of the Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan University respectively, Mr. Ari Shomer and many others.
A group of young Kenyan schoolchildren studying in Israel and dressed in the national colors of their country sang the national anthems of Kenya and Israel. The Kenyan Ambassador to the State of Israel then addressed the assembled guests. The theme of the address was: "Kenya attaches great importance to the bilateral relations between the two countries". He spoke of the various spheres of mutual cooperation between the two countries, mentioning too that last year Kenya celebrated its 50 jubilee year of independence. Kenya, he added, views Israel as a model state, from which much can be gained in the fields of technology, agriculture, health, education and start-up innovations. Although for many years El Al Israel Airlines offered regular and frequent air service to Nairobi, that service was suspended a few years ago. Now, the Ambassador revealed, Kenya Airways will shortly inaugurate new direct flights between the Kenyan capital and Tel Aviv. The Ambassador also spoke of Kenya's serious terrorist attacks over the past two years and that the country is committed to the war on terrorism which he accurately described as a "global threat". The address ended with best wishes to the guests for Chanukah, Christmas and a prosperous 2015.
Yitzhak Aharonovich, Israel's Internal Security Minister, responded on behalf of Israel. "Kenya is an important strategic partner for Israel and the two countries benefit significantly from our cooperation on [various] matters." An invitation was extended to President Ohuru Kenyatta to visit Israel in 2015. Israel and Kenya enjoy excellent bilateral diplomatic and commercial relations and the Minister warmly welcomed the news that Kenya Airways would soon be introducing air links between the two countries. He too mentioned the recent terror attacks suffered in Kenya, and extended sympathy to the nation on the loss of life and injury to persons. In conclusion Minister Aharonovich asked the ambassador to extend the very best wishes from the State of Israel to the President and the people of the Republic of Kenya on this milestone.
A beautiful cake decorated with the flag of Kenya was then jointly sliced by the two main speakers, to the delight and applause of the assembled guests. Old friendships, and new ones, made the evening a grand success for everyone.
Kenya and Israel – l'chaim.
Photo by Sima Lahat
Photo President Reuven Rivlin with Ambassador of Angola, Mr. Feliciano Antonio Dos Santos
Newly appointed ambassadors to Israel presented their diplomatic credentials today (Wednesday) to President Reuven Rivlin, at an official ceremony at the President's Residence. Each noted their desire to strengthen ties between their own countries and Israel, and to promote partnership and cooperation.
Incoming Ambassador of Angola, Mr. Feliciano Antonio Dos Santos, thanked the President and said, "Israel has played an important and significant role in assisting infrastructure and agricultural development in Angola, and we are benefiting from the experience and understanding which you bring in these fields. I have been asked to take action to strengthen and deepen the relationship between our countries, and to promote cultural partnerships. We hope that with your help, my time here will be most productive."
President Rivlin warmly welcomed the Ambassador and said, "Angola has a central role in Africa; your economy is an example to many states around the world. Between our countries, we share excellent relations, of importance to both sides. We are impressed by your progress in the area of water and agriculture, and successful use of natural resources. I am pleased to welcome you to Israel."
Photo President Reuven Rivlin with Ambassador of the Philippines, Mr. Nathaniel Imperial
The incoming Ambassador of the Philippines, Mr. Nathaniel Imperial said, "I am delighted and honored to serve my country in the holy land. The good will, which characterizes the relationship between our countries, began already in the late 1930's, when our President initiated the 'open door policy' for Jews fleeing persecution at the hands of the Nazis. We released many visas, and if it had not been for the war in the Pacific, I have no doubt that many more Jews would have found shelter in our state. This 'open door policy', was an expression of the solidarity between Israel and the Jewish People, and the Philippines. In Israel, there are many workers from my country, and they enjoy safe employment with good conditions, for which I am both grateful and very proud."
The President praised the good relations between the two countries and said to the Ambassador, "Two weeks ago, we commemorated the 29th of November, when the UN voted for the creation of a Jewish state, and we will never forget that you were the only Asian country to vote in favor. We appreciate and remember this fondly to this day. In Israel, there is a strong and vibrant community from your country, whose integration and contribution to Israeli society is evidenced by so much, including the success of a member of the community on a leading Israeli television talent show. There is a wonderful relationship between our countries, and we look forward to expanding it. It is a great pleasure for us to have you in Israel as a diplomat and as a renowned poet; I hope that your books will be translated into Hebrew so that we can all benefit from them."
Photo President Reuven Rivlin with Ambassador from South Sudan to Israel, Mr. Ruben Marial Benjamin
For the first time, an Ambassador from South Sudan to Israel, Mr. Ruben Marial Benjamin, presented his credentials to the President. The Ambassador said, "I am happy to serve my country in Israel, and I have been sent here following the long and warm relations between us. We understand what it means to be in a long struggle, and Israel is an important friend who has helped us greatly and we appreciate this. I am happy to say that I feel at home in Israel."
The President responded, "I am excited to receive your appointment as the first ambassador from your country. We have much in common, we appreciate greatly the security ties between us, and see in South Sudan an important friend. On a personal note, I wanted to be a soccer player when I was a child, but sadly I wasn't good enough, and so I decided to be the president of my favorite club instead. I know that you are a good soccer player, and so I am happy to invite you to play and train in Jerusalem."
Photo President Reuven Rivlin with the Jamaican (non-resident) Ambassador to Israel, Mrs. Margaret Ann Louise Jobson
Lastly, the Jamaican (non-resident) Ambassador to Israel, Mrs. Margaret Ann Louise Jobson presented her credentials and said, "It is a great pleasure for me to serve as Ambassador to Israel. When I left Kingston they said to me that Israel is an important country for us. Jamaica has special bonds with Israel; the Jews of Jamaica were some of the earliest settlers to the island, and have contributed immensely to the economy and development. I believe there is a strong and sound basis to deepen our ties in the future."
The President responded by saying, "It is a pleasure to host you in Israel's capital, and to renew the presenting of credentials by the Ambassador of Jamaica. The relationship between our countries is excellent, and there is no doubt that your presence will help strengthen and deepen this bond." The President added in relation to the ambassador's status as a non-resident representative, "We will be happy to see you in Israel much more."
Photos Credit Mark Neumann
On December 4th, 2014, the new Ambassador of Japan to Israel Mr. Shigeo Matsutomi and Mrs. Kaori Matsutomi offered a reception at their residence in Herzliya Pituach to celebrate the 81st Birthday. of His Majesty the Emperor (In Japan, the emperor is never referred to by his given name, but rather is referred to as "His Imperial Majesty the Emperor" which may be shortened to "His Imperial Majesty").
The formal part of the event started with violinist playing the national anthems of both countries, followed by the speech of the Japanese Ambassador, welcoming the guests.
Also in the Cultural field, Japanese artists, from modern ballets (contemporary dance) to even Sumo wrestlers, charmed Israeli people.
In addition to two Japanese delegations that visited Israel last July, Israel was proud to welcome on separate visits Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Yoshitaka Shindō and Minister for Economy, Trade, and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi, whose visit culminated with the signing of an agreement of cooperation in industrial research and development.
Representing the Prime Minister of Israel, Harel Locker, Said the following:
About Harel's role on the Japanese issue
Photos Silvia Golan
At the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv Thai Ambassador Boon-Long, his wife Kamolrat Boon-Long and embassy staff hosted a reception on December 3 celebrating 87th Birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the National Day of the Kingdom of Thailand.
There were beautiful Thai traditions: baskets of flowers and multicolor fruits decorated and sculpted, and Thai musicians brought especially from Thailand welcomed and delighted the guests. Typical Thai food and Thai beer were served, and on display was a collection of traditional Thai women's clothing.
Guest of honor was Ms. Limor Livnat, Minister of Culture and Sport representing the Israeli government. Also present were Professor Yuli Tamir, president of Shenkar College and former Labor Party MK; President of the Diamond Exchange, Mr. Shlomo Eshet; Mayor of Herzliya Mr. Moshe Fadlon; numerous ambassadors and diplomats of foreign countries; representatives of the Israeli army and attachés of various embassies; as well as delegates of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and commercial sectors.
The event began with the Thai and Israeli national anthems played by the musicians, followed by Ambassador's warm welcome of the guests.
"Sawasdee krub (in Thai)
In Thailand, we celebrate the National Day on the occasion of the Birthday Anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He is one of the greatest King and the longest reigning monarch in the world. And for Thai people, His Majesty is the sole of the nation and we love him dearly.
During his reign, His Majesty has devoted his time and effort to the development of the country. He has introduced several Royal projects to the Thai people by using his simple know-how techniques, just to help them live happy and prosperous life. These Royal projects touch on the livelihood and well-being of the Thai people such as "the rain making project" in the northeast where draught is always a problem., "the project on crops substitution", in the north for the hill-tribe people to give up producing opium and turn to growing cash crops instead, and "the project on irrigation" (Gam-Ling: Monkey's cheek), for water resource and flood management. These are only parts of the samples of the mentioned Royal projects of more than three thousand (3,000).
In promoting the relation between Thailand and Israel, the Royal Thai Embassy determine to follow His Majesty's footstep by introducing Israelis expertise, experiences and the best practices to the Thai people, so they could improve their way of living and working, particularly in the field of agricultural advanced technology and medical science where we work closely with the Hadassa and Rambam Hospital. We also hope that with the promotion of the exchange business delegations, the investment and trade cooperation between two countries will be flourished in the near future.
To let our Israeli friends learn more about Thailand, the Embassy have been promoting exquisite cultures of Thailand in Israel cities such as Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheva, Nazareth and Tel Aviv. These cultures of Thai cuisine, classical dance and music, Muay Thai, will let our friends realize that Thailand has much more to offer to them, than just Samui, Pa-ngan or the famous Full-moon party.
As you can see now, the exhibition of Thai textile displays in this hall as well as at the Shenkar Institute aim at sharing with you our culture through weaving technique and pattern of textile.
This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Israel. Each and every one of you is parts of this auspicious occasion. You have played an active role in promoting the relationships of the two countries and we wish you be a part of this noble task for years to come.
May I now invite all of you to join me in a toast for the good health and happiness of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand and the long lasting friendship between our two countries."
Ms. Livnat responded on behalf of the State of Israel:
"SA WAD DEE KA
Thailand is a key member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and has one of the largest economies in Asia. Thailand will undoubtedly continue to play an increasingly important economic role in the region. Already, thanks to its vitality, Thailand is paving the way for the ASEAN Economic Community, which will enter into effect in 2015. We hope that this will help Israel to promote its own economic presence in Thailand and throughout the entire region.
Trade cooperation between us has already developed into a significant partnership. Last year, Thai-Israeli trade valued more than one billion dollars.
In addition, Israel has developed close collaborations with Thailand in many sectors, such as health-care. Cooperation between the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, and the Chulabhorn Research Institute in Bangkok in the field of cancer research is a greatly valued area of partnership. We are deeply appreciative of Princess Chulabhorn's role in personally driving the development of this initiative.
Another significant area of collaboration between our countries is seen in the thousands of Thai citizens who come to Israel every year to work in the agricultural sector. These men and women play a very important role in the Israeli economy, and last year, almost 24,000 of them worked within Israel's borders.
The Thailand-Israel Employment Cooperation (TIC) Agreement, made in partnership with the International Organization of Migration (IOM), has helped fuel the historic agricultural cooperation between our countries. The first of its kind in the world, the Agreement has earned both nations esteem in the international community, and greatly benefits the agricultural workers that travel to Israel every year.
Israel is proud to have trained thousands of Thailand's citizens in agriculture and other areas through MASHAV, and remains committed to the well-being and protection of all Thai citizens working within Israel's borders. I would like to take this moment to express my thanks and appreciation to the thousands of Thai men and women who have shown incredible dedication to their work in Israel, even throughout the recent Operation Protective Edge.
Mr. Ambassador, please allow me to conclude by asking you to convey our best wishes to His Majesty the King of Thailand, and the Government and People of Thailand on your National Day. May Thailand continue to flourish, and the friendship between us continue to grow in the coming years.
The warmth of the Ambassador's wife Mrs. Kamolrat and embassy staff added to the beautiful and exquisite celebration.
Photos Silvia G Golan
Photo President Reuven Rivlin with Ambassador Lee Gun- Tae of Korea
New ambassadors from the Czech Republic, Peru, Kazakhstan and Korea today presented their Letters of Credence to President Reuven Rivlin at a formal ceremony at the President's Residence in Jerusalem
New ambassadors from the Czech Republic, Peru, Kazakhstan and Korea today (Thursday, 4 December 2014) presented their Letters of Credence to President Reuven Rivlin at a formal ceremony at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.
President Reuven Rivlin with Ambassador Ivo Schwarz of Czech Republic
President Reuven Rivlin with Ambassador Gustavo Antonio Otero Zapata of Peru at the reception in Jerusalem
Ambassador Gustavo Antonio Otero Zapata of Peru presented his credentials to President Rivlin and said: "I have worked in Israel on previous postings, and feel that I am returning home. I would like to continue to promote the bilateral relationship between our two nations. We thank you for both your assistance and for the Israeli investments in Peru, such as the development of water technology that has made a significant contribution."
President Reuven Rivlin with Ambassador Doulat Kuanyhev of Kazakhstan
Photos : Copyright: GPO/Mark Neiman
The Meshulam Riklis Lobby of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art was the scene of an elegant gathering of the Israeli Diplomatic corps and other VIPs on Monday evening on the occasion of the National Day of Romania. The event was hosted by her Excellency Ambassador Andreea Păstârnac and her husband. Among the many ambassadors, consular officials and society VIPs present were Fr. Angelo Beda Ison, representing the Vatican Embassy; Colette Avital, Romanian-born Israeli diplomat and politician; Mordechai Paltzur, former Israeli ambassador and the person responsible for developing diplomatic relations for Israel with several Eastern European countries (and subsequently Israel's first ambassador to Poland after reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries); Nitzan Chen, the Director of the Israel Government Press Office; Nanci Brandes, Romanian-born Israeli musician, conductor, comedian, entertainer and composer; and many others. Notably missing were two of Romania's Honorary Consuls in Israel, Benny (Binyamin) Baratz and Bruno Landsberg, both unable to attend. As always, the various military attaches in their smart uniforms, with their escorts, added a special sparkle to this beautiful event.
Guests enjoyed a rich buffet of snacks while mingling and renewing friendships and making new ones. Besides soft and other drinks, a range of superior Romanian wines was on offer, to the delight of all present. We particularly enjoyed the Nomad Feteasca Neagra 2009, as well as the crisp whites. Several large companies, Romanian and Israeli, added their cache to the event, proving sponsorships and support, TAROM being the major sponsor. Others included the Ben Haim and Carmel Wineries, Sixt, Sano, Israel Aircraft Industries, Bank Leumi and Zim, and more.
After a brief introduction, the Romanian singer and entertainer Stefania Rares performed beautiful renditions of both the Romanian and the Israeli national anthems. (Ms. Rares later performed a selection of Romanian folk songs for our entertainment, to appreciative applause from the guests.)
Her Excellency Ambassador Păstârnac then addressed the audience - In fluent Hebrew! She began by briefly touching on the historical background of Romanian independence and development. Madame Păstârnac spoke on the excellent relationship – which has survived through thick and thin – between her country and the State of Israel. She mentioned the large number of Romanian immigrant descendants living in Israel today, and of their dynamic and fundamental contribution, not only to Israeli society, but to the economy and well-being of Israel. She reminded us of the historical importance of Romanian immigrants to then Turkish Palestine over 200 years ago. They where instrumental in founding the Carmel Wineries and some of their descenedants, seven and eight generations later, still reside in the Zichron Yaakov area. The Ambassador's message to Israel was one of deep friendship and appreciation for the strong bi-lateral relations the two countries enjoy.
On behalf of the State of Israel, MK Tzipi Livni, Israel's Minister of Justice, responded. She opened her address in English, but noted that the Romanian Ambassador had requested that she address the audience in Hebrew, which she then continued to do. Ms. Livni's greetings to Romania were warm and friendly. She stressed that Romania's continued support and friendship for Israel are not taken for granted, and that Israel appreciates the excellent bilateral relations. "There are some 400,000 Israelis of Romanian descent, which means Israel and Romania are linked not only diplomatically, but at a very societal level too". Israel, she said, is a country for all its citizens, but that does not mean that different societies and cultures must be merged in the giant melting pot. "There is still place for individuality". As an aside, Ms. Livni touched on a facet of the misunderstanding in the world today; the difference between what the world thinks of Israel, and what Israel really is. In conclusion she asked the Ambassador to extend warm best wishes and congratulations to the Romanian Government and people, from the people of Israel.
The entertainment provided by Ms. Rares brought the celebrations to a fitting end.
Photos by Silvia G Golan
On October 28th, 2014, the Czech ambassadorׂ ( designated) ׂׂto Israel, Mr. Ivo Schwarz and his wife Mrs. Eva Schwarz, offered a reception at their residence in Hertzlia Pituach to celebrate the Czech Republic's National day.
Tuesday, 28 October: Independent Czechoslovak State Day - date of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, which declared independence from the Hapsburg Empire at the end of World War I.
The Czech Ambassador welcomed the honorable guest of Israel - The Tourism Minister, Mr.Uzi Landau.
A lavish buffet dinner featuring Czech dishes like Goulash and Blanches followed, accompanied of course by Czech bear and a range of alcoholic and other beverages. Guests mingled happily, renewing old friendships and creating new ones.
The formal part of the event started with violinists playing the national anthems of both countries, followed by the speech of the designated Ambassador for the Czech Republic.
Wording of the speech gave by the Ambassador Ivo Schwarz:
Following the speech of the Ambassador, Minister Uzi Landau addressed the dignitaries and said the following:
Best wishes for many more years of mutual cooperation and success for the two countries - Czech and Israel.
Photos Silvia Golan
On the occasion of the 58th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the visit of H.E. Mr Istvan Jakab, Deputy Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly, and to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reestablishment of the diplomatic relations between Hungary and the State of Israel, the Ambassador of Hungary H.E. Mr Andor Nagy and his wife Mariann Bercsenyi offered a reception on October 23rd at his residence in Hertzliya Pituach.
The fact that two VIP guests have participated at the National Day is a signal for me, that the 25 years anniversary of the reestablishment of the diplomatic relations between Israel and Hungary has great potential.
As ambassador I know very well that there is still a lot to do. I will do my best to build a bridge between the two peoples. "
Minister Lapid said: "On behalf of the Government and People of Israel, it is my pleasure to convey a message of friendship on the occasion of the Hungarian National Day. I am honored to welcome Mr. István Jakab, Deputy Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly, who has come to Israel as we celebrate 25 years of renewed diplomatic relations between our countries.
I know that those incidents do not reflect the majority of Hungarians but if we learn one lesson from those terrible events 70 years ago let it be this; we must all stand against racism and discrimination and never allow hatred to go unchallenged. I know this is a view shared by our friends in the Hungarian government.
After Mr. Lapid's speech, Mr. István Jakab said amongst other things:
" Hungary, a country where Europe's 4th largest Jewish Community lives in. " ..." In his Capital, Budapest, there is the world second largest synagogue in Europe .A country where Estee Lauder, Elena Rubinstein, Judith Muller and the father of the Zionism, Theodor Herzl were born. A country where in 1848-1849 our Jewish compatriots fought for Hungary's liberty ....."
We would like to stress that typical Hungarian wine and food delighted the guests, among them Hungarian beef stew and Hortobagy Pancakes.
It was a pleasant event that counted with guests from different foreign diplomatic services as well as delegates from the Israeli political and economic branches.
Photos : Silvia G. Golan