19 February 2019 - 14 Adar I 5779 - י"ד אדר א' ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson dies E-mail

Robert Faurisson, a former French academic whose denial of the Holocaust inspired many claims that the genocide did not happen, died on 21 October in his hometown of Vichy. He was 89.

British-born Faurisson was a staunch defender of Marshal Philippe Petain, the French leader who collaborated with Nazi occupiers of the country during WWII, and whose government was named for its former seat of Vichy. Faurisson was convicted several times for claiming there were no systematic mass killings of Jews by Nazi Germany.

A former professor of French literature at the University of Lyon, Faurisson claimed there were no gas chambers in wartime Europe, saying deported Jews died instead of disease and malnutrition.

He said The Diary of Anne Frank was a hoax, and was convicted by a French court in 1981 of inciting hatred and racial discrimination for a book claiming that reports about the Holocaust were “grossly exaggerated” and that genocide was not a policy fundamental to Nazism.

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China’s Vice President Wang Qishan made a significant four-day visit to Israel in October, to attend the 4th IsraelChina Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation, be the guest of honour at the Prime Minister’s Innovation Summit and attend a ceremony inaugurating the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation.

The visit was also noteworthy as it was the first visit by a senior Chinese leader since the former Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited the country in 2000. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Vice President Wang on 22 October at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, where the esteemed visitor signed the guestbook.

Vice President Wang was accompanied on the trip by a large delegation of Chinese businesspeople and executives, including the founder of the Alibaba Group Jack Ma and many ministry officials. In all, around 13 senior Chinese ministry officials were part of the delegation.

Prime Minister Netanyahu told Vice President Wang: “Welcome to Israel. This is the most important visit by a Chinese leader in the last 18 years. It’s a sign of our growing friendship. The fact that the Vice President of China came to Israel at my invitation for the Prime Minister’s Innovation Conference is a tremendous compliment to Israel and a reflection of the growing ties between China and Israel. And I look forward to our discussions.”

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Singapore minister visits Israel E-mail

Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean visited Israel from 15 to 18 October for the third leg of his journey through the Middle East. During his stay he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo called on Netanyahu on 17 October. Both leaders reaffirmed the countries’ strong bilateral co-operation in areas such as security, education, research and development, and technical fields, and discussed ways to further expand that co-operation. They also had a useful exchange of views on regional and international developments. He reiterated Singapore’s consistent and longstanding position on a two-state solution. “We support Israel’s right to live within secure borders and in peace, and also the right of the Palestinian people to a homeland,” he said.

Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security, received a briefing from the Israel Cyber National Directorate on cyber-security issues. “Given the transboundary and cross-cutting nature of cyber security, both sides had a productive discussion and shared best practices,” said the Prime Minister’s Office in a statement.

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Outspoken Malaysian Prime Minister describes Jews as “hook-nosed” E-mail

In an interview with the BBC’s HardTalk programme last month, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad described Jews as “hooknosed” and blamed Israel for creating the troubles in the Middle East.

In the interview, widely reported by the British media, he said: “If you are going to be truthful, the problem in the Middle East began with the creation of Israel. That is the truth. But I cannot say that.”

Calling Israelis “special”, Mahathir challenged historical accounts that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, saying the figure was closer to four million. When asked about the description of Jews in his book The Malay Dilemma, he said: “They are hook-nosed. Many people called the Malays fat-nosed. We didn’t object; we didn’t go to war for that.”

“This kind of blatant antiSemitic rhetoric is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to go unanswered,” said World Jewish Congress (WJC) CEO and executive vice president Robert Singer.

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University of Haifa grants honorary doctorate to Angela Merkel E-mail

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was granted an honorary doctorate from Haifa University on 4 October. Germany is Israel’s largest trading partner in Europe and for the past few decades has been perhaps its staunchest supporter.

Merkel was in Israel for the latest in a series of joint government consultations focusing on economic issues, with an emphasis on innovation, technology and development projects.

The university said it was awarding the honorary degree in recognition and appreciation of Merkel’s leadership grounded in principles of equality, freedom and human rights; her service as a role model to women around the world, and her warm friendship and the robust ties between the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Israel.”

The degree was conferred at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where Merkel also met with a diverse group of graduate students from the university, including some from Germany.

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