JTA NEWS
21 May 2019 - 17 Iyyar 5779 - י"ז אייר ה' אלפים תשע"ט
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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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Tourist numbers to Israel reach record level E-mail

A record 3.1 million tourists entered Israel in the first nine months of 2018, up 15% from the corresponding period in 2017, the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported.

The number included 2.9 million tourists, and 200,000 day visitors who entered Israel for less than 24 hours. Of the 2.9 million tourists, 2.6 million flew to Israel and 324,000 arrived by land.

2018 looks set to be a record year for tourism. Israel had 3.8 million tourists last year and around three million tourists in 2016.

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PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT RECEIVES WARM WELCOME IN ISRAEL E-mail

Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, together with his wife, his daughter and a delegation of senior government officials and business leaders, made an historic trip to Israel from 2 to 5 September.

The visit was the first by a Philippine President since diplomatic ties were established between the two countries 61 years ago, in 1957.

The visit highlights the friendship between Filipinos and Israelis, which began when President Manuel L. Quezon opened the doors of the Philippines as a sanctuary to an estimated 1,300 Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust. The trip was also an opportunity for Philippine workers currently living in Israel to meet the President. Most of them are working in hospitals or are employed as carers for elderly Israelis.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with President Duterte on 3 September at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem. Duterte also met with Reuven Rivlin, President of Israel.

During the visit, three bilateral agreements were signed in the presence of Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Duterte. The first was an agreement on “Temporary Employment of Filipino Home-Based Caregivers in Israel”, which will completely cancel all fees paid to agents and will have positive repercussions on similar agreements with other countries in the future. The second agreement was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on “Scientific Cooperation”, which will encourage and establish scientific co-operation programmes between the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology and the Philippines Department of Science and Technology. The third agreement was an MOU on “Cooperation in Encouraging Bilateral Investments” between Invest in Israel (part of the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry’s Foreign Investments and Industrial Cooperation Authority) and the Philippines Department of Trade and Industry’s Board of Investments.

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