JTA NEWS
16 August 2018 - 5 Elul 5778 - ה' אלול ה' אלפים תשע"ח
JTA NEWS :
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Indonesian Islamic leader attends conference in Israel E-mail

A top member of Indonesia’s largest Islamic movement visited Israel in June, at the invitation of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), a US advocacy group that was holding a major conference in Jerusalem.

Yahya Staquf is the Secretary General of the 60-million-member Nahdlatul Ulama movement, the largest traditionalist Sunni Islam Muslim organisation in Indonesia, established in Jakarta in 1926.

Braving angry protests at home, he was in Israel in order to spread what he called a message of interfaith compassion. Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and support for the Palestinians there is strong. Staquf’s presence triggered angry reactions, as seen on Indonesian social media.

However in an interview prior to the visit, Staquf said he remained committed to the visit and hoped the controversy would bring more attention to his message of tolerance. “Some people here are amazed by my decision to come, because they think it must be dangerous for this man to come, thinking that many, many Muslims must be threatening him with death or something,” Staquf told The Associated Press.

Staquf addressed the AJC conference, appearing alongside a rabbi in his discussion. His also had meetings at Israel’s Hebrew University and talks with local Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders.

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Al Quds Day marches held in the UK and Germany E-mail

As in recent years, thousands of demonstrators rallied through London and Berlin on 9-10 June for the annual Al Quds Day marches.

Al Quds Day was initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 as a day of support for the Palestinians and a call for the destruction of Israel. The anti-Zionist and ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta organisation was applauded by participants for its role in the event, in which Israeli flags were stomped on, ripped and burned.

While the US, Israel, Canada, the Netherlands and even the Arab League consider Hezbollah as a whole to be a terrorist organisation, Germany and the UK are among the European nations that still differentiate between its political and military wings. While the military wing is outlawed, the political wing is still considered “legitimate”.

Small counter-protests were organised by pro-Israel groups in Berlin and London. In London, Israel supporters played the Israeli national anthem and the song Toy loudly on speakers. Toy was the Israeli winning entry in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

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Golan Heights wine off the shelf in Japan E-mail

A major department store chain in Japan recently cancelled the participation of an importer specialising in wine from the Golan Heights at an event celebrating Mediterranean cuisine. The decision came over fear of protests from activist groups.

The Japanese store Daimaru, which held the fair in May in Tokyo, withdrew an invitation to the Naturael importer to sell its products, The Associated Press (AP) reported, because it sells wine that is produced in the Golan. Naturael sells wine, olive oil and date syrup made in Israel throughout Japan.

Daimaru told AP that it has no policy against Israeli products in general and that wine from other areas of Israel was sold at the fair. “Today we cannot ignore geopolitical issues,” Satoshi Nishio, a spokesman for Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co. “We have to start paying more attention to where products are coming from.”

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Vietnam hosts international start-up event E-mail

The coastal city of Da Nang in Vietnam hosted the third International Start-up Conference and Exhibition, or SURF 2018, on 29 June, attracting participants in technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. The theme of the event was “linkthewaves”.

Around 2,000 attendees, including 20 investors and 30 speakers, participated in the conference and exhibition at the city’s administrative centre. A start-up pitch competition, part of the conference, is the largest in central Vietnam, and this year’s event offered a cash prize of US$6,000 for the winner. Participants had the opportunity to share experiences and ideas with start-up programmes and experts from Israel, Canada, Ireland, the UK, Finland, Singapore and Vietnam.

Deputy Chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy in Vietnam, Doron Lebovich, said SURF 2018 marked the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries. He said Israel and Da Nang, as well as the Da Nang Entrepreneurship Support Centre, had developed positive partnerships with start-up programmes, and the city’s leadership had strongly committed to building a start-up programme and ecosystem.

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EL AL enters into codeshare arrangement with Hong Kong Airlines E-mail

Furthering opportunities to increase passenger numbers on Asian routes, EL AL Israel Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines announced on 4 June that they have entered into a codeshare agreement.

Subject to government approval, the arrangement will open up significant opportunities for both carriers. Hong Kong Airlines routes include Auckland in New Zealand, Tokyo (Narita) and Osaka in Japan and Seoul in South Korea.

EL AL currently operates six weekly flights between Hong Kong and Tel Aviv with its brand-new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Featuring a threeclass configuration, EL AL’s Boeing 787-9 offers 32 seats in Business Class and 28 in New Premium Economy Class.

As an added benefit, members of Hong Kong Airlines’ frequent flyer programme, Fortune Wings Club, can earn loyalty points when they travel on EL AL codeshare flights, similar to when they travel on Hong Kong Airlines-operated services.

The codeshare agreement will also enable EL AL to add destinations in New Zealand, Japan and Korea to its growing network around the globe, strengthening its presence in Asia Pacific. Customers of Israel’s flag carrier will now benefit from one-stop travel connections to Auckland, Tokyo (Narita), Osaka and Seoul via Hong Kong. Hong Kong Airlines currently serves Auckland five times weekly and offers multiple daily flights to the other popular Asian cities.

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