JTA NEWS
23 October 2018 - 15 Heshvan 5779 - ט"ו חשון ה' אלפים תשע"ט
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Israel hosts first international scientific conference E-mail

From 28 to 29 May, under the auspices of the Science and Technology Ministry, the first international ministerial-level science conference was held in Jerusalem.

More than 20 countries around the world sent delegations headed by ministers and deputy ministers of science, including two from Asia: India and Thailand. The theme of the conference was Thinking Out of the Box.

The main topics included scientific intellectual innovations, from the birth of an idea until execution and global success; Israel’s efforts to supply creative and innovative solutions to scientific challenges resulting in great importance to humanity, and the role of public policy and the prioritisation of resources while advancing innovative research and application in efforts of discovering solutions to future challenges.

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Remembering those who perished in the Holocaust E-mail

Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, is observed every year. It is a day of commemoration of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of actions carried out by Nazi Germany.

The day was inaugurated in Israel in 1959 and takes place on 27 Nisan, a week before Israel’s Independence Day. In Israel, flags are flown at half mast and a state ceremony is held at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Authority. At 10am, air-raid sirens are sounded for two minutes and all activity comes to a halt.

Outside of the country, the day is marked with ceremonies and programmes that include the lighting of memorial candles. Jewish communities get together and solemnly observe and remember the millions of Jews who were murdered.

The Hong Kong Jewish community held its Holocaust Remembrance Day on 11 April at the Jewish Community Centre. The event was organised by the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre (HKHTC), with the support of Kingdom of the Netherlands, Anne Frank House and the Consulate General of Israel in Hong Kong. This year’s theme was “Remembered: Children of the Holocaust”.

All of Hong Kong’s Jewish congregations were represented. In addition, representatives from many consulates, including those of the Netherlands and Germany, joined the evening’s gathering. Opening remarks and introductions were read by Glen Steinman, HKHTC Director. The evening’s programme started with the screening of a moving and tearful video in memory of the children of the Holocaust.

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Historic Air India flight to Ben Gurion Airport causes controversy E-mail

As reported in the March 2018 issue of Jewish Times Asia, Air India announced at that time that it was in the process of beginning to operate direct flights from New Delhi to Israel via a route passing over Saudi Arabian airspace. Many civil aviation sources doubted whether the Indian airline would manage to schedule its first flight so quickly and easily.

To further complicate the situation, Israel’s national carrier, EL AL airlines, had complained that Air India had an unfair advantage, as the flight path by Air India significantly reduced the flying time over Saudi Arabian airspace, where EL AL was prohibited to fly due to security concerns. The airline is also now pursuing a court action. EL AL Airlines announced on 28 March that it was filing a petition with Israel’s High Court of Justice to restrict any new flights to Israel via Saudi airspace until it too is permitted use the shorter route.

With the inauguration of the Air India route between New Delhi and Tel Aviv, Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for the first time to a commercial flight to Israel. Air India flight 139 landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on 22 March after a flight of over 7.5 hours, and received a water cannon salute upon its arrival. The flight marked a diplomatic shift for Riyadh that Israel said was fuelled by shared concern over Iranian influence in the region. Saudi Arabia is warming up to closer ties with Israel, even though there is no official diplomatic channel.

“This is a really historic day that follows two years of very, very intensive work,” Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said in a radio interview, adding that using Saudi airspace would cut travel time to India by around two hours and would reduce ticket prices.

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Embassy educates Thai university students about the Holocaust E-mail

An official from Israel’s Embassy in Thailand visited two Thai universities in March as part of a campaign to raise awareness among students about the Holocaust and antiSemitism.

Yuval Waks, deputy chief of mission, political and public affairs said the embassy hosted movie screenings at schools that highlighted the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. He explained: “[O]ften this subject is completely foreign to Thai students as it is not taught in school here, so the movie, we have found, is a great medium to communicate such a grave subject... Thai students don’t know much about the European part of WWII.”

A recent screening at a university featured the film Life is Beautiful, an Italian comedydrama about a Jewish-Italian shop owner who tries using his imagination to protect his son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp. Previous films shown included Schindler’s List and The Pianist.

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Hamas engineer killed in Malaysia E-mail

A Hamas-affiliated Palestinian engineer from the Gaza Strip was shot dead on 21 April near the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur in an assassination blamed on Israel’s intelligence service Mossad. Hamas has threatened retaliation against Israel for the slaying.

The dead man was an expert on attack-drone and rocket systems, according to Israeli sources. Gaza-based Palestinian news site Safa reported that Dr Fadi Muhammad al-Batash, 35, was leaving a mosque after morning prayers in the town of Gombak when he was struck by about 20 bullets fired by two people on a motorcycle.

In a statement released on its website, Hamas said that Batash “was working for the Palestinian cause”. “The Islamic Resistance Movement mourns the son of its sons, the righteous, and a knight of its knights, a scholar of young Palestine scholars and the guardian of the Book of Allah, the son of Jabalya the Mujahedin,” read the statement. “The martyr was
distinguished by his excellence and scientific creativity and has important contributions in this area and participated in international conferences in the field of energy. The martyr was an example in calling God and working for the Palestinian cause.”

Hamas dispatched a senior delegation to meet with Malaysian officials and follow up on the investigation into the shooting. Senior Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batash accused Mossad of being responsible for the assassination, and called on Malaysian authorities to conduct a “comprehensive and rapid investigation” before his killers escaped.

“We, as a family, accuse the Mossad of being behind the assassination of Dr Fadi Muhammad al-Batash, a researcher in energy sciences,” he told the AlMayadeen news network.

According to reports in Malaysia, police believe that Batash was “targeted” by two people who were riding a BMW motorcycle and had waited for him to arrive at the mosque for some 20 minutes. “This was a targeted killing and not a terror[ist] attack because there were other people at the scene but the assassins focused only on [Batash],” the police chief was quoted as saying, adding that “we’re not ruling out any line of inquiry, including the possibility that elements identified with ISIS are behind the assassinations.”

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