31 March 2020 - 7 Nisan 5780 - ז' ניסן ה' אלפים תש"פ

Brave East Asian diplomats, responsible for providing shelter and protection to thousands of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, were commemorated at a recent international workshop at Tamkang University’s College of International Studies in New Taipei City last month. This was the first time an event to honour these diplomats was organised.

Entitled “Politics of Life, Politics of Light: Humanitarian Diplomacy and Jewish Studies in East Asia,” the workshop was co-chaired by Professor Ber Kotlerman, of the Department of Literature of the Jewish People at Bar-Ilan University, and Ambassador Fabrizio Bozzato of Malta.

Conference participants hailed from across the globe, and included Chiune Sugihara’s son Nobuki Sugihara, who currently resides in Antwerp, and Ho Feng-Shan’s daughter Ho Manli, who lives in San Francisco. Both of them spoke about their late fathers, whose actions were so integral to the lives saved.

In November 1939, Chiune Sugihara, a career diplomat, was serving as Japan’s Consul in Lithuania. When Lithuania was annexed to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1940, all foreign diplomats were asked to leave Kovno.

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Israel’s baseball team qualifies for 2020 Tokyo Olympics Print E-mail

Israel has qualified for the Olympic baseball tournament for the first time. The Israeli team made history by defeating South Africa 11-1 in Italy, after beating the Netherlands and tournament host Italy last month.

The team, which features a great many semi-professional Jewish-American college players, had the country’s best showing in the last World Baseball Classic in 2017, surprising many by making the main tournament where it finished in sixth place. While the World Baseball Classic only requires that players be eligible for citizenship of the country they represent, this differs to what is asked of Olympian athletes. For Olympic qualifying tournaments – and in the Olympic Games themselves – players must actually be citizens of the country they represent. To remedy this setback, the national team’s Jewish American quota received Israeli citizenship especially to meet requirements.

The Israel Association of Baseball runs five leagues throughout the country for players aged six and upward.

(Issue Oct 2019)

Israel and Japan sign a defense equipment agreement E-mail

Israel and Japan signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding on 10 September at the headquarters of the Japanese Ministry of Defense in Tokyo.

Israel’s Director of Security for Defense, Nir Ben Moshe, was accompanied at the ceremony by Yafa Ben Ari, Israel’s Ambassador to Japan.

Japan was represented by Director General, International Affairs, Mr. Suzuki and Director General, Equipment Policy, ATLA Mr. Aoyagi.

“I applaud the important agreement that was signed this morning with the Japanese Ministry of Defense,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement following the signing. “The agreement will deepen and strengthen security relations between the countries. We have brought Israel-Japan relations to an alltime high.”

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More Israelis infected with Zika virus during visits to Thailand E-mail

Israel’s Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment reported in September that two more Israelis had been infected with the Zika mosquito-transmitted virus during a visit to Thailand, and were later diagnosed in Israel.

So far six Israelis have contracted Zika in the past six months while visiting Thailanda dramatic increase from two cases since 2016, Israeli doctors reported to the Journal of Travel Medicine.

The popular holiday destination takes in about 35.6 million tourists a year, according to 2017 figures, but yet is a growing international health concern; the Journal of Travel Medicine notes that four cases of Zika have been recorded in Thailand since February 2017, as well as two additional cases recorded after its publication.

According to Prof. Eli Schwartz, head of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases at the Sheba Medical Centre, a total of about 40 Israelis have contracted the illness since the 2014 Zika endemic in South America.

“Most of the infections by Israelis so far have been in the South American region where the outbreak began. But in the last six months, we are suddenly seeing a lot of adherence from Thailand to Israeli travellers returning from popular places, such as Koh Phangan, Phuket, and Koh Samui,” Schwartz says.

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Republic of Nauru to recognize Jerusalem as Capital of Israel E-mail

The Republic of Nauru, a Pacific island country in Micronesia, has officially recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Nauru’s mission to the United Nations in New York said, in a letter dated 16 August, that: “The Mission of Nauru has the honour to convey the decision of the Government of the Republic of Nauru to formally recognise the city of Jerusalem as the capital city of the State of Israel.”

Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz commended the island nation for its recognition in a tweet, which states that “We will continue to strengthen Jerusalem and to bring about the recognition and opening of diplomatic missions and embassies in our capital.”

Nauru’s population in 2017, according to the World Bank, was less than 14,000 people joins the Central American country of Honduras, which has also recently recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Honduras subsequently opened a diplomatic office in the city. The office is considered an extension of the existing Honduran Embassy in Tel-Aviv, according to the government.

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