JTA NEWS
20 October 2018 - 12 Heshvan 5779 - י"ב חשון ה' אלפים תשע"ט
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2018 PyeongChang Games welcomes Israeli and Jewish athletes E-mail

Israel sent its largest-ever Winter Olympics squad to compete in the 2018 PyeongChang Games, held from 9 to 25 February in PyeongChang, South Korea.

The Israeli squad consisted of eight skaters, an Alpine skier and a skeleton racer. The squad were short-track speed skater Vladislav Bykanov, Alpine skier Itamar Biran, skeleton racer Adam (AJ) Edelman, and figure skaters Alexei (Oleksii) Bychenko, Daniel Samohin, Evgeni Krasnopolsky, Paige Conners, Adel Tankova, Ronald Zilberberg and Aimee Buchanan. Three of the current teammates also competed in the previous Winter Games in 2014: Bychenko, Krasnopolsky and Bykanov.

Unfortunately no medals were won this year. However, Alexei Bychenko and Daniel Samohin glided their way to the highest-ever ranking of Israeli Olympic skaters and achieved personal-best scores. Bychenko, the flagbearer for Israel’s Winter Olympic squad at the opening ceremony, was placed 11th in the men’s single skating free skating finals on 17 February.

Three of the 2018 Olympics teammates (Biran, Samohin and Zilberberg) are Israeli by birth. Bychenko, Bykanov, Krasnopolsky and Tankova are Ukrainian natives, while Edelman, Conners and Buchanan were all born in the US.

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Israeli-Thai Agriculture Technologies seminar E-mail

The Economic and Trade Mission at the Embassy of Israel in Thailand hosted a seminar on 7 February about IsraeliThai Agriculture Technologies. It was devoted entirely to innovation in agriculture as a promotion for the Israeli Agritech 2018 Conference, which will be held from 8 to 10 May in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The seminar acted as a platform for policy-makers, CEOs, directors, researchers, consultants, managers and famers from Thailand and Israel. The aim was to share ideas and improve their knowledge of farm mechanisation, precision agriculture and innovative agriculture solutions, in order to increase the productivity of the industries and face current challenges.

Since Israel’s early days, the country’s agriculture sector has been forced to provide its citizenry with advanced technological solutions. Situated in an arid region, Israel has innovated precise agriculture, drip irrigation, and the recycling, purifying and reuse of wastewater for agriculture purposes. “Israel’s strength and achievements are based on a long-lasting experience confronting water shortages and desertification. Due to Israel’s understanding of the importance of food security, championed by a thriving agro-technology industry, it has positioned itself as a strategic provider of advanced solutions for the world’s increasing foodsupply demands,” said Dagan Alony, Head of the Economic and Trade Mission to Thailand.

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Japan’s Prime Minister honours Chiune Sugihara E-mail

In a visit to the former Japanese consulate in Lithuania in January, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe honoured a Japanese diplomat credited with saving an estimated 6,000 Jews from almost certain death in 1940.

Chiune Sugihara was serving as Japanese consul in Kaunas, then the capital of Lithuania, when he disobeyed his superiors and issued Japanese visas to Jews fleeing Nazi-occupied Poland, despite his country being a close ally of Nazi Germany.

Abe’s visit to Lithuania was the first by a Japanese prime minister. “The courageous and humanitarian action of Mr Sugihara provides us with guidance as to how to we should survive in this world, where rule-oflaw-based international order is being challenged in various forms,” Abe told reporters.

“He worked far from Japan and in very difficult circumstances, but he had a strong belief as a Japanese diplomat and saved many Jewish people,” Abe added, after he had toured the former consulate and sat at Sugihara’s desk. “I am really proud of him as Japanese.”

Japan had several of its former leaders convicted and executed by an Allied tribunal as war criminals after the end of WWII.

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Israeli and Indian officials to meet to discuss terrorism E-mail

Senior officials from Israel’s foreign office in India are likely to hold a meeting this month with officials from India’s Ministry of Home Affairs to discuss the possibility of working closely on securityrelated matters, a senior government official said.

The meeting will be the first among many and a part of the “follow-up action” taken by the two governments after Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited India in January.

A senior ministry official did not disclose the details of the meeting’s core agenda, but said issues related to terrorism, internal security, and foreign affairs, affecting both Israel and India, will be discussed.

“The meeting is the first one between government officials from both sides after the visit of Mr Netanyahu. We are hoping that both countries work closely and co-operate with each other on matters of security,” the official said.

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Hamas scientist to be deported from the Philippines E-mail

The Philippine government announced on 22 January that it would deport an elderly Iraqi man described as a scientist for Hamas and accused of helping the Palestinian terror group fire missiles at Israel.

Iraq tipped off the Philippines about the presence of Taja Mohammad al-Jabori, national police chief Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters. However, the arrest was due to visa problems rather than any evidence of militant activity, the police chief emphasised.

“He’s an illegal alien; his visa has expired so he has to be deported right away,” Dela Rosa said.

Taha Mohamed al-Jabouri, 64, arrived in the Philippines in August 2017 as the country was getting ready to host a gathering of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in preparation for a November summit meeting that included President Trump.

“He admitted being a member of Hamas. He’s a chemist and he has been responsible for improving the rocket technology of Hamas in firing their missiles from their area towards the other side, for Israel,” added Dela Rosa.

The police chief said it was the first time Philippine authorities had dealt with an alleged member of Hamas, a group labelled a terrorist organisation by the US, the European Union and Israel.

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