14 September 2019 - 14 Elul 5779 - י"ד אלול ה' אלפים תשע"ט

The Israeli government is now under pressure to bar military representatives from Myanmar from attending arms expositions held in Israel, as long as Myanmar remains under an international arms embargo over its human rights violations, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has decided.

The decision followed a report in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper after army officers from Myanmar recently attended the Israel Defense and Homeland Security expo in Tel-Aviv in June. Shortly after, requests for visas to attend arms expositions coming from the nationals of countries to which Israel refuses to sell arms would be rejected.

Sales personnel at several of the Israeli booths said they were unaware that sales to Myanmar had been banned. Others said there was no problem with showing Myanmar officials the merchandise, since they understand the restrictions on their country. Last year, the United Nations concluded that Myanmar had perpetrated ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in the country.

Haaretz reported that the official visitors to the security expo included military representatives from several countries that don’t have official relations with Israel, including South Sudan, another country under an arms embargo over human rights violations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said at the time that “Israel does not sell arms to Myanmar and this policy has not changed.” With regard to the presence of visitors from South Sudan, Nahshon said that “Israel complies with the UN resolutions on the arms embargo.”

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Hungary is home to highest concentration of Jewish genetics E-mail

A recent study conducted by the MyHeritage firm and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research revealed last month that Ashkenazi Jewish genes are more common in Hungary than any other place in the world aside from Israel.

Research indicated slightly more than 7.5% of 4,981 people tested had more than 25% Jewish Ashkenazi genes. Hungary has about 100,000 people who are considered Jewish by the largest organisation representing Hungarian Jewry. That number accounts for about 1% of Hungary’s population.

Gilad Japhet, the CEO and founder of MyHeritage, said in a statement that comparative testing in other countries suggests that Hungary has the highest prevalence of Ashkenazi Jewish genes in the world, second only to the State of Israel. Based on UN estimates, Hungary’s population is 9.7 million.

The study also found that 12.5% of the people tested in Hungary had 10% or more Ashkenazi Jewish ethnicity, compared to only 4.7% of people in the US and 4.0% in Canada.

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Lufthansa airline subsidiary to offer routes to Japan from Israel E-mail

Germany’s Lufthansa Group subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines (commonly referred to as Swiss) has announced that it will operate five weekly flights from Tel- Aviv to Osaka, Japan, with a stopover in Zurich, Switzerland, Israel Hayom reported.

Ofer Kish, CEO of the Lufthansa Group in Israel, said: “In light of the Lufthansa Group’s growth in the Israeli market and in Europe in general, we are happy to expand our flight offerings, which will allow families and individuals to visit the most beautiful places on earth, efficiently and at a reasonable cost.”

The decision follows a rise in the number of Israelis flying to Japan since the summer of 2018. In addition, beginning in March 2020, Swiss Airlines will operate flights from Tel-Aviv to Tokyo, as well as daily flights to Washington, which will also include a stopover in Zurich.

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Israeli brewery apologise after placing Gandhi image on beer bottle E-mail

A public diplomatic spat between India and Israel has been averted amid outcry in India, as an Israeli beer brewer Malka Brewery apologized for using an image of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi on their bottles.

The beer company claimed not to have known of Gandhi’s championing for a ban on alcohol. The picture of Gandhi appeared along with photos of famous Israeli leaders on beer bottles produced earlier this year by Malka Beer, a boutique brewery in Northern Israel, India Today News reported in July.

The image nearly set off a diplomatic tiff between Delhi and Jerusalem. “Malka Beer offers its heartfelt apologies to the people and the Government of India for hurting their sentiments. We highly respect and value Mahatma Gandhi and regret our action of putting his image on our bottles,” Malka’s brand manager, Gilad Dror, said in a statement.

The picture of Gandhi enraged Indian immigrants in Israel, who brought the matter to the attention of the Indian embassy in Tel-Aviv, Ynet news reported.

Malka officials said they wanted to honor world leaders and were embarrassed to learn that Gandhi favoured banning alcohol sales in India. The company said the beer bottles in question were produced in a special line for Israel’s Independence Day, and were mostly gone from the shelves.

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Boris Johnson becomes new UK Prime Minister E-mail

British Jewry congratulated former foreign secretary Boris Johnson in July on his election as the head of the Conservative Party, which ensured his succession of Theresa May as Prime Minister.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote in a statement: “We wish Boris Johnson every success as Prime Minister at this critical time for our country. We have had a long and positive relationship with Mr. Johnson as both Mayor of London and Foreign Secretary, and we look forward to this continuing as he enters Downing Street.”

The Liberal Judaism movement of the United Kingdom reacted more coolly to the news about Johnson, a rightwing politician who recently angered many left-leaning Jews and others when he compared veiled Muslim women to “letterboxes” during a debate. Liberal Judaism UK Tweeted on the microblogging platform that it “Looks forward to working with @BorisJohnson, the new Prime Minister, as we have with Prime Ministers over the last decade.”

Johnson has been known for his erratic opinions, as voiced across the media.

In 2014, Johnson called Israel’s attack on Hamas in Gaza “disproportionate,” and “ugly and tragic,” adding that “it will not do Israel any good in the long run.” Conversely, in 2019, he insisted that “it’s totally unacceptable that innocent Israeli civilians should face the threat of rocket fire and bombardment from Gaza.”

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