15 December 2018 - 7 Tevet 5779 - ז' טבת ה' אלפים תשע"ט

Israel’s government has finally signed a long-awaited agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Trade and the Chinese association of contractors to bring many thousands of Chinese construction workers to Israel, the Ministry of Construction and Housing announced in January.

An Israeli delegation that recently visited China to conclude the agreement was headed by Israel’s Finance Ministry’s housing chief, Avigdor Yitzhaki, and the Construction and Housing Ministry’s director-general, Asher Armoni. They met with representatives of China’s Ministry of Commerce. An official ceremony is scheduled to take place later this month.

Jewish Times Asia first reported in September 2015 that Israel was looking to hire 20,000 Chinese construction workers, mostly for the housing sector. At the time, the two countries lacked any official formal agreement related to such co-operation. In general, Chinese workers are brought into Israel under private contracts between Israeli and Chinese companies.

Israel’s construction sector currently employs 216,000 workers, including 37,000 Palestinians and 6,000 foreigners, with some 3,700 Chinese. The Finance Ministry said the lack of skilled Israeli and Palestinian construction workers, as well as the instability in employing Palestinians – whose permits can be revoked due to the security situation – have created a shortage of workers.

This new agreement paves the way for the 20,000 quota, with 6,000 workers slated to arrive in the first six months of 2017. “After more than 18 months of effort, I am glad that our representatives signed an agreement to bring thousands of Chinese workers as a catalyst for a solution to the housing crisis,” commented Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon.

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Dr Lael Best wins Pravasi Bharatiya Award Commission E-mail

India’s President Pranab Mukerjee conferred the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman (PBS) for 2017 on Israel’s Dr Lael Anson E. Best, for his services in the field of medical sciences.

PBS is the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians by the government of India. He was one of the 30 non-resident Indians who received this prestigious award for 2017, and is only the third person from Israel to be given the award.

Dr Best, a cardiothoracic surgeon, completed both his Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine and his Master’s Degree in Surgery at the University of Gujarat, India, before emigrating to Israel in 1979. He has headed the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Rambam Medical Center in Israel for 25 years.

His special interests are surgery of the esophagus and trauma of the chest, lung cancer, and pediatric thoracic surgery, surgery of the mediastinum, lung and pleura. He also teaches residents and medical students and has earned numerous awards in his respective fields.

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Yad Vashem holds its first Annual Dinner in Asia E-mail

The first Yad Vashem Dinner in Asia was held at the Jewish Community Centre in Singapore on 8 December.

The event was co-chaired by Philip Ong, a local Singaporean businessman, and Searle Brajtman, Director of the English Language Desk of Yad Vashem’s International Relations Division. Over 100 guests attended this groundbreaking event, including Israel’s Ambassador to Singapore Yael Rubinstein and Consul General Yitzchak Yitzchak, as well as prominent members from the local Jewish communities and local Christian groups.

The keynote speaker was Auschwitz survivor Eva Slonim OAM from Melbourne, who movingly described her experiences during the Holocaust and stressed how her fellow inmates in the concentration camps asked her to give testimony about what happened so that the world would learn from those experiences and not allow them to happen again.

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Vietnam and Israel pledge closer defence ties Print E-mail

Senior defence officials from Vietnam and Israel have pledged to expand defence ties.

A statement by Israel’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Hanoi on 11 January said that following talks between the two countries, they would look to increase activities in defence research, development and production as well as technology transfers. Expanded defence ties will also facilitate training and education programmes and exchanges, it said.

The MoD said the talks were led by General Pham Ngoc Minh, deputy chief of staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, and Mishel Ben-Baruch, director of the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s International Defense Cooperation Division (SIBAT).

(Issue Feb 2017)

Israeli hikers rescue injured Japanese backpacker in Nepal E-mail

A Japanese backpacker, Akihu Sujiyama, 40, was seriously injured in December when a rockslide fell on her while she was hiking the Annapurna Circuit. Her leg was broken and she began to lose blood rapidly.

Israeli hikers in the area heard her anguished screams and ran to help her. They immediately applied a tourniquet, and were able to use a satellite phone in their possession to call a rescue helicopter.

The Chabad emissary for the region, Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz, who had received word of the incident via a Chabad situation room located in Israel, arrived with the helicopter as well. The woman was evacuated to a hospital in Kathmandu, where she received life-saving blood transfusions and underwent surgery that saved her leg.

Later, the Japanese Consul General to Nepal went to the local Chabad house to thank the hikers who had rescued Sujiyama.
“We thank the Nation of Israel,” he said. He also told Rabbi Lifshitz that Sujiyama wanted to directly thank the Israelis who had saved her life, and wanted to say that she “loves the Jewish people.”

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