JTA NEWS
18 March 2019 - 12 Adar II 5779 - י"ב אדר ב' ה' אלפים תשע"ט
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Israeli nationals arrested for goldsmuggling in Japan E-mail

Police in Japan arrested two Israeli citizens in January on suspicion of smuggling gold bars into the country, under the guise of importing automobile parts, Ynet reported.

A total of 420 kilograms of gold bars were seized by police in two smuggling raids, according to local media. The gold was worth about US$17.3 million in total.

The two Israelis, Reuven Rosen, 58, and David Cohen, 55, are both recognised residents of Japan and have Japanese spouses. They are now being held for violating Japanese customs laws. Rosen pleaded guilty, while Cohen denied many of the charges, according to Japanese police, Ynet reported.

The smuggling duo is believed to have brought in around four tons of gold bars into Japan since March 2017, as a part of a smuggling ring that is believed to originate in Hong Kong.

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AJC David Harris honoured by Japan E-mail

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs honoured American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO David Harris with its prestigious Foreign Minister Commendation, one of Japan’s highest honours presented to foreign citizens.

“It is for his hard work, his essential contributions to [relations between Japanese and Jewish people], and unwavering dedication that we are here to honour him,” said Ambassador Kanji Yamanouchi, the Consul General of Japan to New York, who presented the award during a special ceremony at his residence last month.

In attendance were AJC lay leaders, staff, and family of Harris, along with diplomatic staff from the Japanese Consulate. Japan is the 12th country to honour Harris’s global work in building bridges of friendship and co-operation.

The certificate of commendation, hand-written by Foreign Minister Taro Kono, notes that the award is “in recognition of his distinguished services in contributing to the deepening of mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and other countries through his contributions to promote relations between Japan and the Jewish community”.

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First Bar Mitzvah celebrated at re-opened Budapest synagogue E-mail

A synagogue in Budapest that was recently returned to Hungarian Jews following centuries of disuse hosted its first Bar Mitzvah in 332 years.

The young celebrant, Yonatan Sebok, had his rite-ofpassage event on 26 January at the Buda Castle Synagogue, which re-opened last September, according to Chabad.org

The first Jewish wedding to be held there in centuries is in the planning stages, according to the report.

The Buda Castle Synagogue used to be a Jewish museum. Government authorities signed it over to EMIH, the Chabadaffiliated federation of Jewish communities in Hungary. President János Áder attended the 6 September re-opening.

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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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