19 January 2018 - 3 Shevat 5778 - ג' שבט ה' אלפים תשע"ח

After an historical visit to Singapore and then to Australia, in February Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived back in Asia and made an official three-day visit to China in March, accompanied by his wife Sara.

The visit followed an invitation by Chinese President Xi Jinping, and marked 25 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Beijing on 20 March and hosted an official dinner. Netanyahu also met with his Chinese counterpart, Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

In Beijing, Netanyahu was welcomed in the Great Hall of the People by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. The national anthems of China and Israel were played.

The visit stressed the continued strengthening of economic co-operation with the Chinese government, increased Israeli exports to China, attracting Chinese investments in Israel, and increased industrial and research co-operation between Chinese and Israeli companies.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was accompanied by a senior business delegation of dozens of Israeli businesspeople from the various industries and companies active in China, as well as from companies interested in penetrating the Chinese market. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin; Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen; Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis; Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “We will continue the talks on establishing a free trade agreement between China and Israel and we will hold the third joint Israel-China innovation conference. Of course we are continuing to develop new markets and to open new markets for the Israeli economy. I expect all ministers to co-operate on this, and they are doing so.”

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Israel beaten in World Baseball Classic in Tokyo E-mail

Team Israel saw its Cinderella run at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) end in March with a loss to Japan in Tokyo. Japan snapped a scoreless tie with five runs in the sixth inning on the way to an 8-3 victory in front of more than 40,000 fans packed into the Tokyo Dome.

Israel, the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the showcase tournament, dropped its last two games in the second round and did not advance to the semifinals in Los Angeles. Japan, with a tournament record of 6-0, and the Netherlands advanced from Pool E.

Israel had startled the baseball world by opening the tournament with four straight victories, including a 4-1 win over powerhouse Cuba in the first game of the second round, but lost 12-2 to the Netherlands and needed to beat Japan to move on. In the first round, the Israelis squeaked past third-ranked South Korea, 2-1, in extra innings, outscored fourth-ranked Taiwan, 15-7, and defeated ninth-ranked the Netherlands, 4-2, to finish first in Pool A with a 3-0 record.

This is the first year that Israel has qualified for the tournament. In 2012, its inaugural WBC squad narrowly missed advancing past the qualifiers.

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Switzerland to launch Holocaust remembrance app E-mail

A new app to teach youth about the Holocaust will be a centrepiece of Switzerland’s chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Switzerland took over the rotating chairmanship of the 31-member intergovernmental group from Romania on 7 March.

The app, called Fliehen vor dem Holocaust, or Escaping the Holocaust, allows users to learn about the fate of four individuals by using multimedia tools.

In a ceremony at the Swiss embassy in Berlin, Benno Bättig, secretarygeneral of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, said that educators must take on “the challenge of virtual reality” so youth will grasp that “we are speaking about people”, not merely about numbers.

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Agricultural Ministry signs MOU with Japan E-mail

Aiming to increase the quantity and quality of global food resources, Israel’s Volcani Center and Japan’s National Food Research Organization (NARO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for agricultural research co-operation in March.

The agreement, signed at the Agriculture Ministry’s Volcani Center, calls for collaborative research projects in the fields of water technology, environmental protection, agricultural sustainability and plant sciences. Researchers and managers of NARO – a government body located near Tokyo with about 4,900 employees – recently visited the Volcani Center, where they viewed the site’s laboratories and innovation under development. Some of the technologies on display include robotic systems, and precision agriculture and irrigation systems used to improve new plant varieties, a statement from Volcani said.

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Yad Vashem pressures online retailer Amazon E-mail

The Yad Vashem Holocaust museum has called on the online retailer Amazon to remove books that deny the Holocaust from its websites.

Robert Rozett, director of the Yad Vashem Libraries, sent an email in March to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, requesting that he immediately remove the books from the sites.

“It has been clear for many years now that Holocaust denial literature is freely available for purchase over Amazon. Many of the items appear with glowing readers’ reviews and recommendations for further reading in the same vein,” Rozett wrote in the letter, The Jerusalem Post first reported. His letter continued, “Once again, given the presence of anti-Semitism around the globe, which has become more prevalent in recent years, we strongly urge you to remove books that deny, distort and trivialize the Holocaust from your store.”

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