17 February 2019 - 12 Adar I 5779 - י"ב אדר א' ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Israeli Paralympic swimmers are being denied visas to compete in Malaysia E-mail

Malaysia has once again been in the spotlight regarding a sporting event to be held in the country. It has refused to grant visas to an Israeli swimming team, which would allow them to compete in world championships this summer.

More than 600 swimmers from 70 nations are expected to compete in the World Para Swimming Championships scheduled to take place from 29 July to 4 August in Kuching.

Israeli sports authorities have been attempting to obtain the visas for two months but have received no response from the Malaysian Government. Malaysia, which has a proPalestine stance, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Malaysia came under fire for excluding Israeli windsurfers from the Youth Sailing World Championships in 2015.

“Everyone says it will work out, but we have still not received an invitation or visas. We are continuing to apply pressure,” said Nisim Sasportas, who chairs the Israeli Olympic Committee.

According to Swimming World Magazine, competing in the World Championships is one of the factors that qualifies swimmers to compete in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

Malaysia’s 93-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohammad has a long history of making anti-Semitic remarks, and the country criticised Australia in November for considering a move of its embassy to Jerusalem, and a month later for recognising West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

It is not uncommon for Muslim countries to bar Israelis from participating in international competitions, but sports governing bodies have started to take action against this type of discrimination.

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Beresheet spacecraft ready for lift-off E-mail

The first Israeli spacecraft to the Moon is expected to launch soon from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and will carry a time capsule containing information and significant national symbols. Israeli non-profit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) are organising the project.

In the time capsule, future generations will find three discs, each containing hundreds of digital files. Among them are the Bible, the Israeli flag, Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah, and Israel’s Declaration of Independence. It also contains many other cultural materials, including Israeli songs and paintings, dictionaries in 27 languages, encyclopedias and a children’s book inspired by the mission to the Moon.

The spacecraft, named Beresheet (the Hebrew word for Genesis), will launch alongside other satellites as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. There are no plans for the time capsule or the spacecraft to return to Earth.

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Saving lives in India and Sri Lanka with rapid emergency response E-mail

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) and United Hatzalah teamed up recently to train first responders in India and Sri Lanka in mass-casualty incidents and disaster management.

The 12-day mission in December, which was funded by the AJC, took five experts from United Hatzalah of Israel to numerous locations throughout India and Sri Lanka to help train members of local response organisations in how to provide a quick and effective emergency response to large-scale emergencies, ranging from natural disasters to terrorist attacks.

United Hatzalah, established in 2006, is a volunteer-based emergency medical services organisation based in Jerusalem. It has a network of over 5,000 volunteer medics, normally on motorcycles, as first responders.

Local participants in the December mission included the Indian Red Cross, the 108 emergency system (India’s 911), local responders such as Fire and Rescue, and emergency medical service (EMS) crews from each of the participating cities.

The mission began in Gurugram and continued on to New Delhi, where the United Hatzalah team gave lectures to dozens of emergency responders and held a combined training drill for all of the participants, guiding them through the procedures used in Israel.

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Manila-Tel Aviv flights in final hurdle Print E-mail

Pushing closer to a final flight path, the Philippine Government is in final talks with Saudi Arabia on the rights to fly over the country’s airspace when Philippine Airlines launches Manila-Tel Aviv flights this year, according to local media reports.

Philippine Transportation Undersecretary Manuel Tamayo said: “We have rights already as far as Israel is concerned. Hopefully, we should get to overfly Saudi Arabia to Israel. So we’re pushing for the signing of the overfly agreement by this quarter, as Israel is a seasonal market. Most passengers would like to travel there during the cold months.” Tamayo added that flying over Saudi Arabia will allow carriers to save at least one hour of travel time on the Manila-Tel Aviv route.

Israel and the Philippines signed a bilateral air services agreement in 2013, but so far no direct flights have been established. However Tamayo stressed that national carrier Philippine Airlines is keen on launching flights from Manila to Tel Aviv. Until last year Saudi Arabia had refused to allow aircraft headed to Israel to fly over its territory, however in March last year Air India was able to launch Delhi-Tel Aviv flights that fly over the kingdom.

(Issue Feb 2019)

Speaker of South Korean National Assembly visits Israel E-mail

The Speaker of the National Assembly of South Korea, Moon Hee-sang, visited Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, on 24 December, along with 25 senior officials, including four members of the National Assembly.

The delegation held a work meeting hosted by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who commented: “Israel and South Korea share a common destiny.”

He noted that South Korea lives “under the threat of missiles from North Korea, and we are threatened by Iran on a number of fronts”. Likewise, both countries “live in tense regions”.

Touching on Israel’s evolving status in the Middle East, Edelstein said that “it is hard to think of a solution in the form of dialogue with the Iranian side. However, new winds in the Middle East are a source of optimism: a number of countries that up until now refused to have any contact with Israel are changing their policies, and I hope that they are a harbinger of change in our region.”

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