15 December 2018 - 8 Tevet 5779 - ח' טבת ה' אלפים תשע"ט
US embassy move to Jerusalem sparks protests in Hong Kong Print E-mail

As the official ceremony to mark the new US embassy move to Jerusalem on 14 May was completed, many demonstrations took place in countries around the world against the decision to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s internal and sovereign capital.

In Hong Kong on 17 May, an anti-Israel demonstration took place at Admiralty Centre outside the Israeli Consulate. It was organised by the Social Democratic organisation and several Indonesian migrant workers’ organisations.

Around 50 people participated, including some local leftwing activists, politician Leung Kwok-hung (known as “Long Hair”), Indonesian domestic helpers and a few Western residents. After making anti-Israel speeches against “the massacre of the Palestinian people” and opposing the US for transferring its embassy to Jerusalem and for its support of Israel, the protesters walked to the US Consulate. No arrests were made and the protestors went on their way.

(Issue Jun 2018)

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs launches a Facebook page for Iraqi Arabs E-mail

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) recently launched a new Facebook page, specifically dedicated to engaging and creating a dialogue with the Iraqi public.

The page, called “Israel in Iraqi-Arabic”, will serve as a digital bridge between the two peoples. It focuses on content of interest to Iraqi audiences, such as touching stories about the large Jewish-Iraqi community that previously lived in Iraq and today lives in Israel, as well as similarities between the Israeli and Iraqi cultures. The page will also introduce the diversity and achievements of Israel to the Iraqi audience.

Yuval Rotem, Foreign Ministry Director-General, noted: “The Facebook page is intended to address the growing interest of the Arab world in Israel. Social networks allow us to reach this audience – our neighbours – and to introduce them to the true face of Israel in ways that were not possible before.”

“Beyond our general Arablanguage accounts on Facebook and Twitter (@IsraelArabic) we chose to dedicate a page to engaging with Iraqis in light of the glorious history of the Iraqi Jews (who today live in Israel), and the rising interest of Iraqi citizens in our story in recent years, something we became aware of after receiving many positive comments on our existing social media accounts from Baghdad and across Iraq. We believe this Facebook page will promote a positive, fruitful dialogue that will lead to a closer acquaintance between Israeli society and Iraqi society in all its components – Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and other populations,” added Rotem.

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Indian-born Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a global leader in interfaith dialogue and human rights activism on four continents, was honoured by the Simon Wiesenthal Center with its International Leadership Award at a ceremony at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles on 17 April.

Officially called Gurudev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a revered spiritual and humanitarian leader, spearheading an unprecedented worldwide movement through a myriad of programmes and teachings, and a network of organisations, including the Art of Living and the International Association for Human Values, which has a growing presence across 155 countries. Gurudev has reached an estimated 370 million people and has also played vital roles in peace negotiations globally.

“Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is well known for worldwide activism and relief efforts on behalf of endangered and displaced minorities across the Middle East and Asia – including Christians and Yazidis in Iraq,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Wiesenthal Center’s Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action. “We honour him for courageous deeds on behalf of forgotten victims of violence and terrorism,” he continued.

Cooper added: “As a leading Jewish human rights NGO we also thank the Hindu leader for his longtime friendship and empathy for the Jewish people. He helped the Wiesenthal Center to bring its ‘Courage to Remember’ Holocaust exhibition to the people of India, and spoke at a history-making anti-terrorist conference in Bali, co-sponsored by the Wiesenthal Center and LibForAll Foundation following the horrific terrorist attacks in Indonesia.” Cooper noted that the event included Jewish leaders from Israel and a Holocaust survivor, Sol Teichman, who gave the first-ever public presentation by a survivor in the nation that is home to the largest Muslim population in the world.

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Israel’s population almost 9 million on 70th anniversary E-mail

As the State of Israel marked its Independence Day 2018 in April, the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel announced that the population of Israel numbered 8,842,000 – more than ten times the population at the establishment of the state in 1948 (806,000).

Currently, the population is comprised of Jewish and “other” people (79.09%) and Arabs (20.9%). About 75% of the Jewish population is comprised of native-born Israelis, and more than half are at least secondgeneration Israelis.

Since the establishment of the state, over 3.2 million immigrants have arrived in Israel. As a result, the number of Jews in Israel as a percentage of total Jewish population in the world grew from 6% on the country’s first anniversary to 44% on the eve of the 70th.

In 1948, only Tel AvivJaffa had more than 100,000 residents. Today, 14 cities in Israel have a population of over 100,000, and six others have over 200,000 residents: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa, Rishon Lezion, Ashdod and Petah Tikva.

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Philippines Vice President apologises for Holocaust memorial photo E-mail

The Vice President of the Philippines, Leni Robredo, issued a public apology last month for a photograph showing her and members of her political party posing and smiling at a German Holocaust memorial.

Robredo, who was elected separately from President Rodrigo Duterte, attracted widespread criticism over the photo, which was posted on Twitter by a lawmaker from her opposition Liberal Party. “While there was no malice in it, I take full responsibility and so I would like to apologise for whatever offence to the sensitivities of the people it caused,” she said in a statement on her website.

The tweet, since taken down, showed Robredo and several Liberal Party members of the Philippine House of Representatives smiling as they posed for a picture at the Berlin memorial. House of Representatives member Teddy Baguilat, who tweeted the photo of the smiling lawmakers, issued an apology for the “lapse”.

All the people in the photograph were on a study trip paid for by a German foundation. Baguilat stated that they all fully understood “the plight experienced by Jews under the Nazis and we would be the last to disrespect their memory”.

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