15 December 2018 - 8 Tevet 5779 - ח' טבת ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Deadly floods hit India E-mail

The tiny historic Jewish community in the southern Indian state of Kerala largely escaped harm from the deadly floods there that started in June and persisted until recently.

More than 350 people in Kerala have been killed and over one million have been displaced by the floods, which were the worst the state has experienced in a century. The Jewish community has about 26 members, most of whom reside in areas that were not affected, although the synagogues experienced flooding.

IsrAID dispatched a threeperson relief team to the state. The group, assembled from the organisation’s team stationed in Nepal since the 2015 earthquake, included an engineer, a project manager and a relief specialist. IsrAID is planning a long-term operation in Kerala to deal with the aftermath of the floods.

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Israeli-American suspected of murder in Taiwan captured E-mail

An Israeli-American man suspected of the grisly murder of a Canadian English teacher in Taipei was tracked down in the Philippines and was flown back to Taiwan on 5 September.

Police have identified him as 37-year-old Israeli-American tattoo artist Shlomo Mayer, who goes by the handle “Oz Diamond”.

It is alleged that Mayer and a 30-year-old African-American man named Ewart Odane Bent ambushed, murdered and dismembered a 43-year-old Canadian English teacher, Ramgahan Sanjay Ryan, with machetes on 21 August.

Mayer fled the country on 23 August and ended up in the Philippines. Taiwan and the Philippines have an extradition agreement, which means that Israel’s Foreign Ministry decided to not become involved in the handling of his case, despite a request from his family to intervene.

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Thai Government donates funds to Barzilai Medical Center E-mail

On 22 August, Penprapa Vongkovit, Ambassador of Thailand to Israel, handed over a donation of 72,654 NIS [about US$20,300] on behalf of the Royal Thai Government to Dr Chezy Levy, CEO and Medical Director of the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, Israel.

The donation is an expression of appreciation to the hospital for medical treatment rendered to Thai workers in the south of Israel, and will support the work of the hospital.

Barzilai Medical Center is a medium-sized hospital with 600 beds, located in Ashkelon, southern Israel, about 10 kilometres from the Gaza strip border.

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Nobuki Sugihara finds forged visas in Lithuania’s archives E-mail

Nobuki Sugihara, son of the late Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, travelled to Lithuania last month and visited the state archives. The documents and files in the archives include life-saving visas that his father provided to thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

According to the LETA news agency, Nobuki Sugihara discovered that the seals and signatures on some visas said to have been issued by his father differ from those on the Japanese consulate’s official documents. Some of the forged visas were issued after the closure of the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, according to a report by the archives. The report did not say who may have forged the visas, or when and why.

Sugihara lived in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city, between 1939 and 1940 and opened Japan’s consulate there. In 1940 he gave transit visas into Japan to some thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazis. The recipients had destination visas into Curaçao, a Caribbean island that was a Dutch colony, supplied to them by Jan Zwartendijk, the Dutch honorary consul in Kaunas.

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Vietnamese Embassy celebrates National Day E-mail

The Embassy of Vietnam in Israel hosted a get-together in Tel Aviv on 28 August to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of Vietnam’s National Day, officially celebrated on 2 September, and the 25th founding anniversary of Vietnam-Israel diplomatic ties, which is officially held on 12 July.

Attending the event were Israeli governmental officials and representatives of the Vietnamese community and friends. Vietnamese Ambassador to Israel Cao Tran Quoc Hai highlighted Vietnam’s remarkable achievements over the decades.

He said the country had overcome many challenges to maintain an annual average economic growth of 7%, thus significantly improving people’s living standards and ensuring national security, politics and social stability. The country has been transformed from a food importer to one of the leading exporters in the world for rice, coffee, aquatic products, cashew nuts and pepper, he said, adding that many of these products have become popular in Israel.

Regarding relations between Vietnam and Israel, Ambassador Hai said the two sides have witnessed significant strides in co-operation in various fields, including defence, security, trade, agriculture, science and technology. Both countries have conducted high-level delegation exchanges, including visits to Vietnam by Israeli Presidents Shimon Peres in 2011 and Reuven Rivlin in 2017.

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