3 April 2016 - 24 AdarII 5776 - כ"ד 'אדר ב ה' אלפים תשע"ו
Israel’s population up from last year E-mail

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics has reported that Israel’s population has grown by 2%.

Figures are announced annually on the eve of Yom Ha’ Atzmaut, Israel’s National Day. This year, Israel marked its 67th anniversary, and its population now stands at 8,345,000. When Israel was established in 1948, the population was just 806,000.

Israel’s Jewish population numbers 6,251,000 (74.9%), and there are 1,730,000 Arabs (20.7%) and 364,000 others (Christians, non-Arabs and other religions) (4.4%). Around 75% of Israelis were born in the country, compared with 35% in 1948.

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Ambassador in Thailand disappointed with Hitler comments E-mail

Israel’s Ambassador to Thailand expressed extreme disappointment over statements made last month by a minor Thai royal denying the holocaust of WWII.

Ambassador Simon Roded expressed “disappointment and extreme regret” over the comment by ML Rungguna Kitiyakara, a descendent of 19th-century King Rama V of Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported.

On his Facebook, ML Rungguna praised Nazi leader Adolf Hitler as a genius and patriot, and said the holocaust was “Propaganda”. Mr Roded’s statement, written in Thai, said it was “a shame that someone with such opportunity, and education... would perpetuate a myth that history has proven false.” Around 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the Third Reich.

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Historic WWII Jewish cafe to be rebuilt E-mail

The Shanghai Hongkou District government will rebuild a cafe and renovate several historic buildings that served as iconic spots for Jewish refugees during WWII as the city plans to have it inscribed as a UNESCO Memory of the World Register with other buildings.

This is also to coincide with a planned event in September in Shanghai to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Shanghai Ghetto and the end of WWII The Shanghai Ghetto was home to about 23,000 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Many of them lived in the Tilanqiao area of Hongkou District. “The city has completed collation of the refugee list, data bank, literary, video and audio material,” said Chen Jian, curator of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, who is working with the Hongkou District government on the UNESCO application.

The Wiener Cafe Restaurant, which first opened in 1939, will be rebuilt in a new location on Changyang Road opposite the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. The three-storey wooden and brick structure that combined Western and Eastern architecture served as a popular shelter for Jewish residents living nearby. The owner sold the cafe after the war. It was demolished in 2009 to make room for a subway. “We have kept the building’s blue prints and key components such as beams and some wooden curving on walls for the rebuilding,” Chen said.

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On 1 April, Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in his capacity as Minister of Finance, signed a letter to confirm that Israel will join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). More than 50 other countries have also joined the new bank.

Israel’s membership in the bank will open opportunities for integration of Israeli companies in various infrastructure projects, which will be financed by the bank.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang announced the AIIB initiative during their respective visits to Southeast Asian countries in October 2013. It is envisaged that the bank will promote interconnectivity and economic integration in the region and co-operate with existing multilateral development banks.

In October 2014, representatives from 21 Asian countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding on establishing AIIB in Beijing. The new bank will complement the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The bank plans to invest a total of US$100 billion in infrastructure projects in Asian countries; half of that amount has already been budgeted by China. The International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions have expressed their willingness to cooperate with AIIB.

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Israel’s president attends funeral of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister E-mail

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin visited Singapore on 27 March and paid his respects to Singapore’s late first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at the lying in state for the leader who died at age 91.

The president also attended the state funeral for Lee which was held on Sunday 29 March.

“‘A good name is better than a good perfume’ (Ecc. 7:1), for a good name will last forever. In memory of a leader whose deeds and legacy will be remembered always. A dear friend of Israel and the Jewish people,” Rivlin wrote in the official book of condolences.

Rivlin’s visit to the Southeast Asian state was the first by an Israeli president since that of Chaim Herzog in 1987.

The former prime minister is credited with transforming the city-state from a British colonial outpost into one of the world’s wealthiest nations on a per-capita basis. He believed in a strong, pervasive role for the state and had little patience for dissent.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement on the passing of the former leader:

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