5 November 2019 - 7 Heshvan 5780 - ז' חשון ה' אלפים תש"פ
Philippine Mayor wants city villages to learn from kibbutzim E-mail

Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa has urged city villages to learn from the practices of kibbutzim, a selfsustaining agriculture-based community that is unique to Israel.

“They are independent villages where they have a system to become selfsustaining,” Espinosa said in an interview to local media. The Mayor cited, in particular, the hydroponics system being practiced in the community, where they grow plants without soil and using mineral-rich water instead. He said the kibbutzim have “perfected” the system. “Imagine if we can develop some sort of independence and ingenuity, innovations,” Espinosa said, adding that they no longer have to rely on support from the city government, Internal Revenue Allotment and permit fees.

The Mayor noted that since the basic industry in city villages is selling home-cooked food or viands, engaging in hydroponics would make a great impact on the people’s livelihood.

Israel’s Ambassador to the Philippines, Rafel Harpaz, told the Mayor during his visit on 4 June that they also encountered problems when the kibbutzim were just starting. However, he said, through the years “they were able to develop it.”

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Record number of Muslim tourist visited Israel last year E-mail

A record number of visitors from Muslim countries came to Israel last year, including nearly 55,000 from countries that have no diplomatic relations with the country.

According to figures provided by the Population and Immigration Authority, 72,109 citizens of Egypt and Jordan (the only Arab countries with which Israel has full diplomatic ties), Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Qatar, Malaysia, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia visited Israel in 2018.

These numbers mark an increase of 15% from the previous year, when 62,658 tourists from the aforementioned countries travelled to the Jewish state.

In 2018, 12,363 Jordanians and 4,947 Egyptians came to Israel, along with 54,799 citizens of the remaining countries that do not have formal relations with Israel.

A significant number of 37,555 Indonesians visited Israel last year, marking a 5% increase from 2017. Last October, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the world’s most populous Muslim nation was “very important” to Israel. Two months later, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem expressed its “most profound sympathies” to victims of a devastating tsunami that killed 280 people in Indonesia.

Perhaps surprisingly, the second-largest contingent from countries that don’t have ties with Israel came from Malaysia, a non-Arab Muslim-majority nation that made headlines earlier this year for banning Israelis from a Paralympic swimming tournament. After Israel slammed the move as “shameful,” Malaysia lost the right to host the competition, but defiantly said it would not compromise on its decision “on the ground of humanity and compassion for the Palestinian plight.” Nearly 14,000 Malaysian nationals came to Israel in 2018 — 4,000 more than the previous year.

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Redbubble decries its accidental Auschwitz apparel E-mail

Due to public outcry, online marketplace Redbubble has removed items featuring an image of Auschwitz from its for-sale pages.

The site, whose kitsch centres upon the user’s ability to customise items, sold clothing and household goods, cushions, tote bags, and miniskirts emblazoned with images of Auschwitz.

The items, priced between US$20-50 were branded “nauseating” and “disgusting” by the official Auschwitz Memorial charity, which reported the seller to company officials.

Auschwitz Memorial tweeted: “Do you really think that selling such products as pillows, miniskirts or tote bags with the images of Auschwitz – a place of enormous human tragedy where over 1.1 million people were murdered – is acceptable?”

Redbubble, whose HQ is in Australia, responded with an apology. “Redbubble takes a strong stance against racism and violence, including the atrocities committed in Nazi concentration camps.”

It added: “We have onsite reporting functions in place should community members discover works that breach these guidelines that have not yet been removed by our team.”

“We are grateful when any such material on the site is brought to our attention.”

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South Korean Christian delegation ask for forgiveness as they visit concentration camp E-mail

A sombre crowd of dozens of South Koreans made pilgrimage to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in Poland last month. Their visitation is a gesture of peace, an apologetic act to ‘ask for forgiveness for centuries of Christian anti-Semitism’.

“We write this letter to say sorry and ask you to forgive us,” their open letter said. “We visited Yad Vashem and Auschwitz [...] all these sufferings experienced for 1,700 years in the Christian world are our fault. [...] We are truly sorry for what Christians have done to you.”

The visit coincided with both the Holocaust Remembrance Day as well as the annual March of the Living. More than 10,000 Jewish and nonJewish youth from 40 countries, together with dozens of Holocaust survivors and dignitaries from around the globe, participated in the 31st annual event. This almost-two-mile march from Auschwitz to Birkenau is intended to pay tribute to all victims of the Holocaust, as well as a call for an end to antiSemitism.

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Nepalese Ambassador tours Gush Etzion settlements Print E-mail

In April, Nepal’s Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Anjan Shakya, paid a visit to the Judean mountain community and settlements of Gush Etzion.

The tour started with a visit to the community of Gevaot, where the ambassador learned about the area and how Gevaot serves as a model for inclusion. Gevaot hosts the “Sadna” communal village, a sanctuary for young adults with disabilities.

Afterwards she met with Gush Etzion Regional Council Head and Mayor, Shlomo Ne’eman, in his office. There she learned about the heritage of Gush Etzion. Ambassador Shakya explained that she decided to visit in order to learn about the Gush and return her findings to Nepal.

Mayor Ne’eman explained that a blessing given to a portion of the tribe of Judah (hence the eponymous Judean Mountains) is that the area is able to produce high-quality wines. He presented the ambassador with several bottles of Gush wine as a gift. The ambassador invited the Mayor to visit Nepal.

(Issue Jun 2019)

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