23 October 2019 - 25 Tishri 5780 - כ"ה תשרי ה' אלפים תש"פ
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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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)

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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Germany appoints its first envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism E-mail

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) recently welcomed the German government’s appointment of Dr Felix Klein as the country’s first Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

“Already a leader in Europe in the fight against antiSemitism, Germany has taken another praiseworthy step in addressing the need for a dedicated and expert individual to protect the well-being of the country’s Jewish community, and Dr Felix Klein is without a doubt the best choice for the position,” said WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer. “As Special Representative for Relations with Jewish Organizations in the German Federal Foreign Office over the last four years, Dr Klein played a pivotal role in Germany’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism, drawing wide attention to the very real threats experienced by Jewish communities across Europe, to the dangers of far-right extremism, and to the importance of preserving the memory of the Holocaust,” Singer added.

The Federal Cabinet of Germany appointed Ambassador Felix Klein to be Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Anti-Semitism, effective 1 May 2018. “Felix Klein will advance the cause of Jewish life in Germany with persistence and tact and will devote his energy to fighting anti-Semitism,” said Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of the Interior.

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Israel’s national carrier, EL AL Israel Airlines, has launched an upgraded service between Hong Kong and Tel Aviv. Its inaugural Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight from Tel Aviv to Hong Kong touched down on 4 March.

Competition from local Asian carriers is becoming stronger. With increased flight paths from Asian cities to Israel, a host of local carriers are now allowed to compete for passengers. EL AL therefore took delivery of a new plane to maintain its market share in the key Hong Kong hub.

Market conditions for EL AL in Asia have changed in recent years, due in part to the Israeli government’s open-sky policy, which has been seen as a positive step to increase tourism and attract more business travellers from Asia to Israel. The number of Asian travellers is rising every year, especially from China. For example, the number of Chinese visitors to Israel hit a record high in 2017, up 41% over the previous year. Also in 2017, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, launched direct flights to Tel Aviv. It now offers four to six weekly flights direct to Tel Aviv, and will be flying daily soon.

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with registration 4X-EDC, is named “Tel AvivJaffa”. The inaugural flight was greeted by a water salute on the apron of Hong Kong International Airport.

A celebration ceremony for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner took place in the Plaza Premium Lounge and departure gate later in the day, hosted by Massada Apelman, the former General Manager of EL AL Hong Kong, and Rachel Skuratovsky, General Manager of EL AL Hong Kong. Dr Rafael Aharoni, Chairman of the Israeli Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, and Ahuva Spieler, Consul General of Israel to Hong Kong, were the officiating VIP guests at the event.

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