26 February 2017 - 30 Shevat 5777 - ל' שבט ה' אלפים תשע"ז
One to One Interview
Ruth Kahanoff speaks about Israel in Asia and opposite directions Print E-mail

Ruth Kahanoff, Deputy Director General, Asia and the Pacific, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Israel was in Hong Kong as a guest of the Hong Kong government Department of Information Services in January, 2012. Jewish Times Asia had the opportunity to speak with her and ask her about Israel in Asia.

Jewish Times Asia: You are no stranger to Hong Kong, nor Asia, how do you see things now?

It has been many years since I was here working in Hong Kong so I was pleased to get this invitation and be here to see all the changes and reacquaint myself with the region. The visit has already reminded us of the importance of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong itself has many opportunities for us and Hong Kong in partnerships to do things in China is also interesting, especially in South China. I believe we need to explore the opportunities on top of what the very able consul-general is doing.

We can consolidate the work going on in Guangzhou, so it is a good moment for us to get a feeling for the place and to get more ideas on where we can operate, economically, but also in research and development and with the academic communities, besides in cultural affairs.

“Move on with the political process”- ex-head Shin Bet Print E-mail

Carmi Gillon, ex-head of Shin Bet - the Internal General Security Service of Israel (ISA) - passed though Hong Kong on a speaking tour in October, 2011. He speaks with some authority on Israel-Palestine issues as he was head of the ISA at the time of the political process with the Palestinians in the early 90s - while at the same time Hamas suicide bombers were newly on the street.

It was said then that: ‘You have to continue with the political process as though there was no terrorism; and you fight terrorism like there was no political process’. He still says, “I think from then until now, 2011, that is the best way to tackle the situation and the best way to deal with it.”

He was not speaking to Jewish Times Asia on behalf of the Israeli government but as a very loyal citizen of Israel, as he stated his position: “I believe we should proceed with the peace process with the Palestinians taking any opportunity possible. I think that the risks are not that high and we should take the risk.”

“On the other hand, we need to be strong when we combat terrorism in our different ways,” he continued. “And, because of this latter stance and opinion, I was publicly attacked by human rights organisations like Amnesty and others. But, I feel those terrorist acts of killing children, women, and old people - on behalf of an ideology, a criminal ideology - that by adopting such policies as we did, then we could give the right answers to those rockets from Gaza as we had to redeploy settlements and carry out other such problem operations. I believed Israel had no alternative.”

Jumping into the present Jewish Times Asia asked: what are the most promising avenues for peace in the immediate future?

Gillon: “To answer that let me begin by saying, to hark back again, that the good thing about Yasser Arafat was, he was very powerful. The bad thing about Yasser Arafat was, he had no intention to reach peace, not inside him. I met Arafat at least one hundred times - and that’s a real number - when he came into Gaza now and then, from July 1994 onwards.

Father Desbois the memory keeper Print E-mail

In January 2011, The Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre (HKHTC) welcomed Father Patrick Desbois, author of the book and documentary film Holocaust by Bullets. Father Desbois was the keynote speaker for the community’s United Nations Holocaust Day Memorial Ceremony. He also partnered with the HKHTC and spoke to 2000 students at 15 different schools in the area.

Father Desbois is a Catholic Priest living in France, who has dedicated his life, with uncompromising determination, to uncover the truth behind the deaths of over 1.5 million Jews exterminated by Nazi mobile units in the Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Poland during the Second World War.

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