27 May 2018 - 14 Sivan 5778 - י"ד סיון ה' אלפים תשע"ח

Indian-born Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a global leader in interfaith dialogue and human rights activism on four continents, was honoured by the Simon Wiesenthal Center with its International Leadership Award at a ceremony at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles on 17 April.

Officially called Gurudev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a revered spiritual and humanitarian leader, spearheading an unprecedented worldwide movement through a myriad of programmes and teachings, and a network of organisations, including the Art of Living and the International Association for Human Values, which has a growing presence across 155 countries. Gurudev has reached an estimated 370 million people and has also played vital roles in peace negotiations globally.

“Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is well known for worldwide activism and relief efforts on behalf of endangered and displaced minorities across the Middle East and Asia – including Christians and Yazidis in Iraq,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Wiesenthal Center’s Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action. “We honour him for courageous deeds on behalf of forgotten victims of violence and terrorism,” he continued.

Cooper added: “As a leading Jewish human rights NGO we also thank the Hindu leader for his longtime friendship and empathy for the Jewish people. He helped the Wiesenthal Center to bring its ‘Courage to Remember’ Holocaust exhibition to the people of India, and spoke at a history-making anti-terrorist conference in Bali, co-sponsored by the Wiesenthal Center and LibForAll Foundation following the horrific terrorist attacks in Indonesia.” Cooper noted that the event included Jewish leaders from Israel and a Holocaust survivor, Sol Teichman, who gave the first-ever public presentation by a survivor in the nation that is home to the largest Muslim population in the world.

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Israel’s population almost 9 million on 70th anniversary E-mail

As the State of Israel marked its Independence Day 2018 in April, the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel announced that the population of Israel numbered 8,842,000 – more than ten times the population at the establishment of the state in 1948 (806,000).

Currently, the population is comprised of Jewish and “other” people (79.09%) and Arabs (20.9%). About 75% of the Jewish population is comprised of native-born Israelis, and more than half are at least secondgeneration Israelis.

Since the establishment of the state, over 3.2 million immigrants have arrived in Israel. As a result, the number of Jews in Israel as a percentage of total Jewish population in the world grew from 6% on the country’s first anniversary to 44% on the eve of the 70th.

In 1948, only Tel AvivJaffa had more than 100,000 residents. Today, 14 cities in Israel have a population of over 100,000, and six others have over 200,000 residents: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa, Rishon Lezion, Ashdod and Petah Tikva.

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Nepal and Israel discuss bilateral consultation Print E-mail

The first meeting of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel was held in Kathmandu on 20 March.

Matters of bilateral relations and mutual interest between the two countries were discussed. The meeting reviewed the current status of bilateral co-operation in the fields of the economy, technology and culture, and discussed ways to further develop the co-operative relations and partnership in the days to come.

The Israeli side was led by Gilad Cohen, Deputy Director-General for Asia and Pacific Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

(Issue May 2018)

Philippines Vice President apologises for Holocaust memorial photo E-mail

The Vice President of the Philippines, Leni Robredo, issued a public apology last month for a photograph showing her and members of her political party posing and smiling at a German Holocaust memorial.

Robredo, who was elected separately from President Rodrigo Duterte, attracted widespread criticism over the photo, which was posted on Twitter by a lawmaker from her opposition Liberal Party. “While there was no malice in it, I take full responsibility and so I would like to apologise for whatever offence to the sensitivities of the people it caused,” she said in a statement on her website.

The tweet, since taken down, showed Robredo and several Liberal Party members of the Philippine House of Representatives smiling as they posed for a picture at the Berlin memorial. House of Representatives member Teddy Baguilat, who tweeted the photo of the smiling lawmakers, issued an apology for the “lapse”.

All the people in the photograph were on a study trip paid for by a German foundation. Baguilat stated that they all fully understood “the plight experienced by Jews under the Nazis and we would be the last to disrespect their memory”.

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Former Israeli Ambassador to Japan lights torch at ceremony marking Israel’s 70th anniversary E-mail

Ruth Kahanoff, former Israeli Ambassador to Japan, was one of 12 prominent members of Israeli society to light a torch at an official ceremony on Mount Herzyl in Jerusalem on the 18 April, the eve of the Yom Hat’Atzmaut 70th anniversary of the State of Israel.

Ambassador Kahanoff lit a torch in the name of MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation. MASHAV was established 60 years ago as the official foreign aid arm of the State of Israel.

Since then, it has sent thousands of experts and instructors to every corner of the world to share the know-how and experience that have transformed the world into a better place for hundreds of millions of people. MASHAV is the bearer of tidings, and embodies the Jewish/Israeli concept of Tikun Olam – healing the world (the commitment to work towards a better world).

Ambassador Kahanoff has extensive diplomatic experience and has made a significant impact on Israel’s foreign relations. She has also served as MFA Deputy Director General for the Asia-Pacific Region.

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