19 February 2019 - 14 Adar I 5779 - י"ד אדר א' ה' אלפים תשע"ט
Sharp increase of Israelis receiving Polish passports E-mail

Recent data released by the embassy of Poland in Israel regarding the approval of naturalisation applications by Israelis shows that around 11,000 Israelis became Polish citizens during the years 2015-2017, more than the total for the years 2002-2010.

In total, the embassy issued 28,736 passports to Israeli applicants during the years 2002-2017. Poland is a member state of the European Union and its citizens may settle and work anywhere in that Union’s 28 member states.

About 200,000 Jews and their relatives left Poland in the 20 years that followed the founding of Israel in 1948 amid widespread expressions of anti-Semitism and other economic circumstances.

In January this year, Poland’s parliament passed a law that briefly criminalised blaming the Polish nation for Nazi crimes. In June, an amendment was introduced that replaced the threat of criminal charges against perpetrators with the prospect of lawsuits in civil courts. The legislation of the original law triggered the worst diplomatic row that Poland had had with Israel since the fall of communism. In February, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the law as dangerous to historical research. In a statement, his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, defended the law, and Netanyahu described the statement as “outrageous”.

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Israel-Asia Leaders Fellowship alum opens new Chinese accelerator E-mail

Limin Wang, an alumna of the Israel-Asia Leaders Fellowship, has opened DayDayUp, a new Chinese accelerator in Tel Aviv. It is part of a global chain of Chinese accelerators providing tailor-made programmes for companies interested in entering and scaling up in the China market.

Tel Aviv is the fifth location for DayDayUp, which also has accelerators in Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuxi and San Francisco. Key investors include Alibaba Mobile Business Group, Xiaomi, Dianping and Peakview Capital.

“Israel is well known as the global leader in innovation,” says Limin. “We are dedicated to assisting Israeli hi-tech companies to start up and scale up in China, as well as establishing efficient channels for Chinese companies to access Israeli innovative technologies, particularly in AI and blockchain. Our vision is to create result-oriented deals, to facilitate 100 Israeli projects to localise in China in three years.”

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Carmel School Graduating Class of 2018 E-mail

Carmel School Association Elsa High School held its 6th annual Graduation Ceremony this May, with the Shau Kei Wan campus playing host to an intimate and emotional event.

In attendance were many longstanding Carmel families and stakeholders, some of whom have already seen more than one child graduate from the school. Among the distinguished guests were the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Shay Razon, whose son Ofir was graduating; Dr Rafael Aharon BBS, Chairman of the Israel Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and a longtime friend and supporter of the school, Rabbi Mordechai Avtzon and Rabbi Asher Oser.

The keynote speaker was Consul General of Israel to Hong Kong and Macau Ahuva Spieler, who spoke in praise of the graduates’ admirable commitment and many and varied achievements.

The school choir dazzled the audience with beautiful, apt renditions of A Million Dreams and Bring on Tomorrow, a number from the musical Fame, which was performed by Elsa High School to great acclaim earlier in the year.

Three of the graduates, Eleanna Amias, Ofir Razon and Steffi Zhang, spoke beautifully and entertainingly, and the Carmel School Principal, Mrs Rachel Friedmann, addressed those in attendance, speaking especially about the ways in which this Class of 2018 reflected a new phase of development and growth for the School, with the graduates demonstrating through their academic achievements, social conscience and Carmel pride how far Elsa High School has come since its inception just nine years ago.

As a final symbolic gesture marking both the end of the ceremony as well as the students' transition to a new chapter in their lives, the graduates turned their tassels and entered the ranks of Elsa’s growing alumni community.

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Singaporean and Malaysian activists amongst those on Gaza-bound boat E-mail

On 29 July, Israeli navy ships at the military port of Ashdod, Israel, intercepted a Norwegian-flagged activist boat trying to break a decade-plus blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The boat was carrying 22 people, including two from Singapore and one from Malaysia, who were carrying medical supplies. They were all transferred to Ashdod.

According to a statement released by the group, two Israeli citizens – including boat leader Zohar Chamberlain Regev – have been charged with attempting to enter Gaza and conspiracy to commit a crime, and were released on bail.

The rest are still being detained. They include Singaporean independent filmmaker Jason Soo, 42, and orthopaedic surgeon Ang Swee Chai, 69, according to the activist group Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC), which organised the aid mission.

Mr Soo is known for his documentary 1987: Untracing The Conspiracy, about detainees arrested under the Internal Security Act in 1987. According to the group, Soo was with Dr Ang and was creating a documentary about her. Dr Ang quit her job in 1982 to treat casualties in war-torn Lebanon. She is the widow of Francis Khoo, a fellow activist who fled Singapore in 1977 to evade the Internal Security Department. She holds both Singaporean and British passports.

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Israel to set up a new facility to polish diamonds from China E-mail

Chinese diamond companies will soon be able to send large stones for polishing at a new manufacturing facility in Israel.

Bourses in the two countries reached the agreement in June during a visit to Israel by Lin Qiang, president of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange (SDE). The new factory is due to open in January at the next International Diamond Week in Israel.

The deal is part of a wider Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that Qiang signed with Yoram Dvash, his counterpart at the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE). Under that MoU, the two nations’ diamond industries will also make offices and other trading spaces available for each other to use, and allow joint participation in educational courses, the Israel Diamond Institute (IDI) said. Both sides will also help each other develop their diamond industries.

“This is a very unusual situation, whereby Chinese diamantaires will send their large diamonds to be polished in Israel,” Dvash said. “It is a testament to the well-known expertise of the Israeli polishers and the technological advances of the industry here.”

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