JTA NEWS
16 November 2018 - 8 Kislev 5779 - ח' כסלו ה' אלפים תשע"ט
JTA NEWS :
Regional
Singaporean and Malaysian activists amongst those on Gaza-bound boat E-mail

On 29 July, Israeli navy ships at the military port of Ashdod, Israel, intercepted a Norwegian-flagged activist boat trying to break a decade-plus blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The boat was carrying 22 people, including two from Singapore and one from Malaysia, who were carrying medical supplies. They were all transferred to Ashdod.

According to a statement released by the group, two Israeli citizens – including boat leader Zohar Chamberlain Regev – have been charged with attempting to enter Gaza and conspiracy to commit a crime, and were released on bail.

The rest are still being detained. They include Singaporean independent filmmaker Jason Soo, 42, and orthopaedic surgeon Ang Swee Chai, 69, according to the activist group Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC), which organised the aid mission.

Mr Soo is known for his documentary 1987: Untracing The Conspiracy, about detainees arrested under the Internal Security Act in 1987. According to the group, Soo was with Dr Ang and was creating a documentary about her. Dr Ang quit her job in 1982 to treat casualties in war-torn Lebanon. She is the widow of Francis Khoo, a fellow activist who fled Singapore in 1977 to evade the Internal Security Department. She holds both Singaporean and British passports.

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Israel to set up a new facility to polish diamonds from China E-mail

Chinese diamond companies will soon be able to send large stones for polishing at a new manufacturing facility in Israel.

Bourses in the two countries reached the agreement in June during a visit to Israel by Lin Qiang, president of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange (SDE). The new factory is due to open in January at the next International Diamond Week in Israel.

The deal is part of a wider Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that Qiang signed with Yoram Dvash, his counterpart at the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE). Under that MoU, the two nations’ diamond industries will also make offices and other trading spaces available for each other to use, and allow joint participation in educational courses, the Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) said. Both sides will also help each other develop their diamond industries.

“This is a very unusual situation, whereby Chinese diamantaires will send their large diamonds to be polished in Israel,” Dvash said. “It is a testament to the well-known expertise of the Israeli polishers and the technological advances of the industry here.”

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Indonesia-Israel tourist visits reopened E-mail

The on-again-off-again permission for Israeli and Indonesian tourists to visit each other’s country is now back on again, according to official diplomatic channels.

Indonesia has reopened its doors to Israeli tourists after the Israeli Foreign Ministry held talks with its counterparts in Jakarta via international channels to resolve the recent visa crisis.

In the June issue of Jewish Times Asia, we reported that Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, would soon be issuing tourist visas to Israelis. However, Indonesia’s Immigration Directorate General Agung Sampurno denied a report by an Israeli media portal that claimed Indonesia was issuing tourist visas to Israelis. He said the granting of visas to foreign citizens from a country that did not have diplomatic relations with Indonesia was possible only through the Calling Visa mechanism, which is overseen by the Foreign Ministry and its related agencies, including the Immigration Directorate General. “The report stating Indonesia was issuing tourist visas to Israelis is a hoax,” Agung said.

In May, Indonesia decided to ban the entry of Israelis in response to the escalation of the conflict on the Gaza border. Israel responded in kind, barring Indonesian nationals from entering the country.

Israel’s Ambassador to Singapore, Simona Halperin, conducted quiet talks with officials in Jakarta and was able to reach understandings with them, which led to each country lifting its ban on the other’s tourists.

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Wrestler wins youth medal in Japan championship E-mail

Noah Leibowitz, an 11-yearold Japanese Orthodox Jew, recently competed for the first time and won a first-prize medal at an All-Japan youth wrestling championship in July.

Noah took the wrestling world by storm going head-tohead with two defending champions. “I was very nervous and everybody was watching. The mats are on the floor and all the people sit around the mats. It was a crazy environment. It looked like David and Goliath,” Leibowitz told The Jerusalem Post.

But he didn’t flinch, and in fact he hardly gave up a point on his way to winning his first national title.

“Noah is wrestling with the SWAT team police wrestling club, one of the most elite clubs. All the guys who are coaches are former Olympians,” said Leibowitz’s New York-born father, David, who moved to Japan 25 years ago.

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Xiamen opens trade liaison office in Israel Print E-mail

Xiamen, a port city on China’s southeast coast, has opened a trade liaison office in Israel, becoming the third Chinese city to do so this year. The other two are the capital, Beijing, and Dongguan, an industrial centre in southern China.

Representatives of the Xiamen Torch Hi-Tech Development Zone will scout for technological innovation for the Chinese city’s largest companies from an office in Tel Aviv, according to an official announcement.

All three initiatives are designed to facilitate business ties between Chinese companies and Israeli entrepreneurs offering technological innovation.

The scale of Chinese cities – even modestly sized ones such as Xiamen have millions of residents – means that the country’s municipal governments are large enough to provide the foreign commercial aid usually supplied by the embassies of national governments.

(Issue Sep 2018)

 
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