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.
The Thai musicians then played the Thai National Anthem.
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