21 May 2019 - 17 Iyyar 5779 - י"ז אייר ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Controversy at Miss Earth 2018 beauty pageant E-mail

Miss Earth Lebanon was forced to withdraw from the Miss Earth 2018 annual beauty pageant after posing in a photo with Miss Earth Israel. The annual event was held in the Philippines.

A photo posted on Facebook on 17 October, showing Miss Earth Lebanon Salwa Akar with Miss Earth Israel Dana Zreik, went viral. Akar posted the picture with the caption: “My advocacy is to help people find peace and love within themselves so they can love each other and become peaceful with our mother earth.”

According to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arabic-language spokesman Ofir Gendelman, Akar’s title was “revoked in Lebanon because she ‘dared’ to take this photo with Miss Israel... Lebanese apartheid must be condemned.” Israeli news website Ynet said Akar claimed she did not know Zreik was Israeli because the Israeli-Arab contestant spoke to her in Arabic. However Miss Lebanon’s pageant organisers did not accept the explanation, as the photo shows that Zreik was wearing an Israel sash.

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World Bank lists Israel 49th in Doing Business Index Print E-mail

Israel has climbed five spots on the World Bank’s “2019 Doing Business Index”, published in November, and is now ranked 49th out of 190 countries after a seven-year downward trend.

Published annually, the index analyses a variety of criteria, including government regulation, access to electricity, taxation and the availability of financing to determine a country’s ranking in terms of the ease of doing business there. The top five countries/jurisdictions this year, in order, are New Zealand, Singapore, Denmark, Hong Kong and South Korea. The US is ranked eighth and the UK is ninth.

(Issue Dec 2018)

US State Dept offers reward for information on Mumbai attacks E-mail

On the 10th anniversary of the co-ordinated terror attack on sites in Mumbai, the US State Department offered a new reward of US$5 million for information leading to the arrest of its planners and facilitators.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered “solidarity with the people of India and the city of Mumbai on the 10th anniversary of the Mumbai terrorist attack” he said in a statement on 26 November. “We stand with the families and friends of the victims, whose loved ones were lost in this act of barbarism, including six American citizens. The barbarity of 26/11 shocked the entire world.”

On 26 November 2008, 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic terrorist organisation based in Pakistan, carried out a series of 12 co-ordinated shooting and bombing attacks on locations throughout the Indian city. The Nariman Chabad House was among the specifically targeted locations.

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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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