22 October 2018 - 14 Heshvan 5779 - י"ד חשון ה' אלפים תשע"ט

Israel and Myanmar have signed an education co-operation agreement that will, among other things, enable each country to edit passages concerning its own history in the other’s textbooks.

Some political commentators around the world see this development as controversial as Myanmar, formerly Burma, moves away from a military dictatorship but has also more recently become embroiled in claims of the “ethnic cleansing” of some its people. However, some say the move could be a positive step towards normalising its relationship with countries around the world.

Israel and Myanmar do share similarities, with the world’s media creating negative sentiment towards both nations when it comes to human rights and military aggression.

The official co-operation agreement was signed on 28 May. Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely tweeted the news of the signing of the agreement on her official Twitter account with the headline “Education agreement with Myanmar, continuing cooperation with our friends around the world.”

Under the new agreement, which Israel’s newspaper Haaretz, obtained, the two countries will “co-operate to develop programmes for the teaching of the Holocaust and its lessons of the negative consequences of intolerance, racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia as a part of the school curriculum in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar”.

The two countries will encourage the development of other joint projects in the field of education, including encounters between educators and young people from both countries. Under the accord, which is considered standard and resembles those signed with other nations, both countries will act to encourage contacts and cooperation between academic institutions, schools and even pre-schools – as well as participation in conferences, training courses and educational and professional study tours.

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Police in the Philippines uncover online scam by Israeli nationals E-mail

Ongoing investigations are still underway as at least eight Israelis suspected of a multimillion-dollar online scam are in custody in the Philippines after being denied bail by the Philippine Justice Department, according to Philippine media reports.

In June almost 500 people were arrested in three adjacent call centre offices run by Israelis. This operation may be the tip of the iceberg and may result in other similar operations worldwide being investigated by Israeli law enforcement.

Police chief Oscar Albayalde said that in one of the Philippines’ biggest anti-cybercrime busts in years, 474 Filipino employees and the Israelis were taken into custody following the raid on three buildings in Clark Freeport, a former US Air Force base north of Manila, where the alleged online fraud was committed.

The suspects lured victims into investing in foreign stocks in a purportedly flourishing London-based company then took their money through an online app after obtaining their bank account and credit card details, said Chief Superintendent Marni Marcos, who heads the national police AntiCybercrime Group. The Israeli men were arrested “while in the act of managing, operating and manning the three target buildings,” while the Filipinos were caught communicating and doing online transactions with foreign clients from Europe, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Russia, Albayalde said in a statement.

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Israel to reduce visa fee for Indian travellers E-mail

To strengthen its relationship with India, the Israeli Government has reduced the visa fee for Indian travellers from Indian Rupees 1,700 to 1,100. The revised fee is applicable to the B2 visa category, which is for people travelling for business, meeting/conference or tourism purposes.

In the past three years, the number of Indian tourists visiting the country has increased significantly. Hassan Madah, Director, Israel Ministry of Tourism Director (India & Philippines), said: “We are happy to announce the reduction in visa fees for Indian travellers with immediate effect. I am confident that this move will encourage more people to choose Israel as a holiday destination and boost inbound numbers from India.”

He mentioned that with the introduction of Fast Track visa processing few months back, Israel experienced a significant boost in its travel industry and that he was confident the reduced visa application fee would help raise those numbers.

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Australia will not move its embassy E-mail

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop, has said that Australia will not be moving its embassy to Jerusalem, despite her Liberal Party’s support for the move.

The party approved a nonbinding resolution supporting the move and calling for a suspension of aid to Palestine until it stops paying jailed terrorists and their families. The motion was approved by a vote of 43 to 31, the British newspaper The Guardian reported. “While I understand the sentiment behind this resolution, the Australian Government will not be moving our embassy to Jerusalem,” Bishop said, according to the newspaper.

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Jewish veteran receives MBE from the Queen Print E-mail

A 101-year-old Jewish British veteran of WWII received an honour from the Queen on 1 June for his services to education. Mordaunt Cohen received an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire).

Cohen told the Jewish Chronicle he was “deeply humbled” to have been recognised for the years he spent teaching young people about the war and his experiences. Born in Sunderland, he joined the British Army after hearing about the plight of the Jews in Nazi Germany. He served in the jungles of Burma, now Myanmar, with the 251 West African Heavy Anti-Aircraft Unit, commanding Nigerian volunteers. After the war he became chairman of the Association of Jewish ExServicemen, through which he worked to ensure the memory of the thousands of Jewish soldiers who served in the British Army was not forgotten.

(Issue Jul/Aug 2018)

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