24 June 2017 - 1 Tammuz 5777 - א' תמוז ה' אלפים תשע"ז
Philippine President visits Manila Synagogue E-mail

A historic visit by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to the Beth Yaacov Synagogue in Makati City on 4 October carried the blessings of the New Year’s holiday, which symbolises soul searching, forgiveness and atonement.

President Duterte visited the synagogue to apologise personally to the Jewish world for statements he had made connecting the Jewish Holocaust and his war on drugs.

The President made it clear that he had not meant any disrespect to the Jewish people. Referring to his personal life, he commented that his wife Elizabeth Zimmerman is actually a daughter of a Jewish father who found the Philippines as a shelter and home.

President Duterte expressed his respect and affinity to the Jewish people and Israel, paying homage to Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu and his desire to strengthen ties with Israel.

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Israeli PM to visit Singapore soon Print E-mail

According to a report by the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Singapore within the next three months. The Israeli newspaper reported that Mr Netanyahu had announced his plans to visit Singapore and three other countries: Australia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

Netanyahu’s planned trip, would make him the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Singapore. His visit is to reciprocate for a visit earlier this year by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Jerusalem on 19 April. This was the first-ever visit to Israel by a prime minister of Singapore since Singapore was founded 51 years ago, and since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1969.

The Israeli Prime Minister did not give the exact dates of his trip, the report added.

(Issue Dec 2016)


Israel hosts representatives from China’s National Development and Reform Commission E-mail

In November, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with representatives from China’s National Development and Reform Commission, a macroeconomic management agency with broad administrative and planning control over the Chinese economy, to discuss ways to promote the trade between the two countries.

The meeting was part of the schedule of a three-day summit that saw upward of 200 Chinese officials and businessmen arrive in Israel for strategic dialogue with local businesses, entrepreneurs and officials.

The Chinese delegation is working on a programme optimising the ties in a number of key areas. Those include establishing a climate that’s conducive to business transactions between the two states, including assisting Israeli imports, launching more direct flights between the countries, encouraging contacts between businessmen and academics on both sides and, most importantly, signing a free trade agreement.

Israel has been seeking to establish a free trade zone with China for the last few years. During a July 2013 visit to China by then-Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Beijing agreed to conduct a special survey to assess the potential of a free trade zone.

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Israel marks first “Aliyah Day” E-mail

With over 40% of Israelis having been born outside of the country, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption marked its first-ever “Aliyah Day” on 8 November to celebrate the contributions immigrants have made to building Israeli society.

About 40% of Israel’s population of around eight million citizens were born outside of the country. Over three million people have immigrated to the Jewish state since its inception in 1948, coming from every corner of the globe, ranging from the US to Mozambique.

According to Ministry of Immigrant Absorption figures, two million Jews have immigrated to Israel since 1972. The country with the most Jews making aliyah was the former USSR, with 700,000 people moving to Israel in the 1970s and 1990s. The US follows with 117,000 – a trend that has picked up in the last few decades.

The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s director-general, Alex Kushner, said that the numbers of people making aliyah from North America have remained stable, at about 3,000 people a year.

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Airline competition to fly direct from Asia to Israel will now clearly be stepped up with the announcement that Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific will launch direct flights in March 2017.

The airline will begin operating four weekly flights on 26 March. Currently, EL AL Israel Airlines offers the only direct flight to and from Hong Kong. In April this year, China’s Hainan Airlines launched direct flights between Beijing and Tel Aviv, joining EL AL as one of only two airlines operating an Israel-China route. Korean Airlines also flies to Tel Aviv via Seoul daily.

Cathay Pacific will offer three ticket classes: tourist, business and a separate 28-seat premium economy department. Cathay Pacific has not previously operated in Israel. They have an arrangement through Tal Aviation, which is also the Israeli representative of Air Europe, Germania, American Airlines and Air Baltic.

Cathay Pacific’s new route will be subject to final government approval. As reported in the September 2015 issue of Jewish Times Asia, there are many other Asian carriers in the process of getting clearance to fly to Israel. These include Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific. Israel and Japan signed an aviation agreement in July 2015. Israeli and Japanese airlines will jointly operate up to 14 weekly flights in each direction. The new aviation agreement will allow for the introduction of a regular route between the two countries, although no official starting date has yet been approved. More recently, Singapore Airlines has also been in negotiations to fly between the two countries.

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