- Written by Office of the former President Peres
The Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Zhang Ming visited the Sheba Medical Center this morning to support President Peres and his family on behalf of the Speaker of the Chinese Parliament, the Chinese Leadership, and the Chinese People
The Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs passed on a message of hope for the speedy recovery of the Ninth President and said:
"Peres is the father of strategic relations between Israel and China"
The Chinese Deputy of Foreign Affairs arrived this morning (Thursday) at the Shiba Medical Center to support President Peres’ family on behalf of the Chinese leadership, the Chinese people, and the Speaker of the Chinese Parliament Zhang Dejiang – who is currently in Israel on an official visit.
The Chinese Deputy of Foreign Affairs met with Chemi Peres, son of the Ninth President, and Rafi Walden, son-in-law and personal doctor of Peres. During their meeting, he gave them a unique letter from the Speaker of the Chinese Parliament and the Chinese Leadership, passing with it a message of hope for the President’s speedy recovery, saying: “We came in order to support your family in this difficult time". The Chinese Leadership, and especially Speaker of the Chinese Parliament, requested to pass on their well wishes and prayers for the good health of the Ninth President Shimon Peres, who is an important figure for the entire Chinese people. "The Chinese people admire and respect Shimon Peres just like the rest of the world. He is a great and important friend to the Chinese people and we have immense respect and deep appreciation for him". I have him many times and he impressed me time and time again at every meeting with his wisdom, philosophical thought, and renewed vision for the relationship between our two countries.”
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs also referred to Peres’ role in the strong ties between Israel and China, saying: "Peres is one of Israel's founding fathers. For us he is an important and admired leader who contributed greatly to the establishment and growth of the State of Israel. He is one of the main leaders for peace, who devoted his whole life and work towards creating peace and stability in the Middle East and around the world. Peres laid the groundwork for talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and above all he is the father of strategic relations with China – opening the doors for political and economic relations between China and Israel. With his work on behalf of China, he contributed to the economic advancement and scientific development of China. In every one of his visits to China he was received by the Chinese leadership and the Chinese people as a distinguished guest. With his historic visit to China in 1993, he continued a tradition of political visits and delegations in order to strength the relations between our two countries."
Chemi replied to the Deputy Minister, saying: "I wish to thank the Speaker of the Chinese Parliament, the Chinese leadership and the Chinese people, on behalf of my entire family. My father holds a special and deep respect for the culture, the Leadership and the People of China. Strengthening relations between Israel and China has always been extremely important to him, and he put a lot of effort into broadening those relations. He appreciated and supported the visits of joint delegations and worked towards strengthening our economic and scientific collaborations. My father has spoken a lot about the common values and traditions that are shared between China, the Jewish people and the State of Israel. On the same day that he was hospitalized, he even met an economic/scientific delegation comprised of Chairmen of Chinese companies, and enjoyed telling them all about the unbelievable story of the State of Israel as the Start-up Nation.
Chemi went on to tell the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs that in the past year, many governors and the Chairmen of of various companies have asked Peres to assist them in establishing innovation centers in order to contribute to the strengthening of China's position in the economic and technological fields. Chemi said: "this vision of collaboration with the help of the innovation centers made him really enthusiastic and he has worked eagerly to promote it.”
My father has always been a fighter as he is doing right at this moment– he is fighting to leave the hospital, and I know his greatest desire is to return to work in full force. He always talks about being optimistic and now we are clinging to his optimism. It takes a lot of patience, and we are thankful for the prayers and the waves of love and well wishes that we are receiving from all across the world.
Rafi Walden, Peres' son-in-law and personal doctor, briefed the Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs on the medical status of the Ninth President. As someone who had accompanied Peres on his last visit to China in December in order to attend groundbreaking of the Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology, he was able to recount Peres' excitement over the new frontier of the relations between Israel and China.
Photo Credit GPO provided by the Office of the former President Peres
- Written by President’s Spokesperson
Marking two years since Operation Protective Edge, President Rivlin tours region bordering Gaza Strip, speaks with soldiers serving in the area, and meets local authority and regional heads
Marking two years since Operation Protective Edge, President Reuven Rivlin today (), toured the region bordering the Gaza Strip. He was accompanied by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, GOC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir, and Gaza Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Yehuda Fox.
The President received a situation update and heard about the IDF operations in the area on a day-to-day basis, and in particular following the recent terrorist rocket attack on Sderot. During his visit, President Rivlin was shown a terror tunnel discovered by the IDF, and discussed the initiatives the IDF was taking to tackle the problem of the tunnels.
The President then went on to the ‘Black Arrow (Chetz HaShachor)’ viewpoint where he met with dozens of soldiers of the Bedouin Tracker Unit, combat engineers, and members of the Givati Brigade who were serving in the region. He told them, “Two years after Operation Protective Edge, the south has returned to its daily routine. The IDF guards the front in the very best way, and the front in return shows its appreciation. Just as we saw yesterday, we will not tolerate any disturbance of the quiet, and in the face of any such disturbance we will respond swiftly and firmly. On both sides of the border there are civilians who want to live in quiet and we will be sure that the citizens of Israel will continue to live in harmony. We do not seek war. Yet, after having sat with our wonderful commanders I know that if war is forced upon us, we have an army as ready and professional as could be asked. The plan that was presented to me reflects operational strength.”
The President reiterated that, “Two of our sons remained behind after the war which took place two years ago. The State of Israel has a moral responsibility to return Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.”
The President thanked the soldiers and said, “On my own behalf, and on behalf of all the Israeli people I want to say thank you to the commanders, to the servicemen and women. The calm here is not taken for granted; the children and the families who are now enjoying the summer holiday do so thanks to you.”
The President then spoke with the media covering his visit. He said, “We are not interested in an escalation. Just as the other side want to live in peace and live comfortable lives so do we. At the same time, we are ready to face any hostility toward us. I am impressed by the readiness of the IDF to face any challenge in order to safeguard Israel’s security. I can say to the citizens of Israel, the IDFis prepared and ready to face any threat above or below the ground in order to prevent any trouble not just around Gaza, but across the country.”
Later, the President met with the local authority and regional heads from the Negev and the southern region.
Photo President Rivlin with the heads of regional councils in the Negev.
Photo by Mark Neumann / GPO
- Written by Pamela Hickman
The Jewish Refugee in World War II -The Philippines as a Case Study
On November 24th 2015 a symposium focusing on “The Jewish Refugee in World War II – the Philippines as a Case Study” was held in the Constantiner Lecture Hall of the International School of Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem (Jerusalem). The meeting was a collaborative event of the Philippines Embassy of Tel Aviv and of Yad Vashem, with people from the Philippines Embassy graciously welcoming all guests as they arrived. The meeting opened with words from His Excellency Nathaniel Imperial, Ambassador of the Philippines in Israel. He spoke of the Philippines in the 1930s and 1940s and of how a small number of good men had made the Philippines the sanctuary for 1200 Jews from the late 1930s to 1941. Of this group of fortunate Jews, who called themselves “Maniliners”, there was one lady was in attendance at the meeting. Ambassador Imperial also made reference to Berlin-born Frank Ephraim (1931-2006), who arrived in Manila at age eight and who has written his story in “Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror”. It was decided to hold the Jerusalem meeting in November to connect with commemoration of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) which occurred on November 9th 1938. Referring to the film “Rescue in the Philippines” to be viewed at the symposium, the Ambassador mentioned with pride that it had been shown at the Presidential Palace of the Philippines with the President in attendance.
Next to speak was Mr. Yossi Gevir, senior assistant to the chairman of the Yad Vashem directorate Mr. Avner Shalev. Mr. Gevir spoke of the importance of Yad Vashem’s educational and cultural activities – each event adding insight and sensitivity to our knowledge of the Holocaust - claiming that this event had its own special uniqueness. The aim of Yad Vashem, founded in 1953, he explained, was not for Jewish people to wallow in self-pity resulting from the Holocaust tragedy, but to build a bright, new future for Jews as based on their past. Referring to the Philippines, he reminded the audience that Manuel Quezon, first president of the Philippine Commonwealth, and his associates could have turned a blind eye to the fate of Jews during the Holocaust, but that they gave expression to their own moral principles and values; in his words: “Yad Vashem salutes these people”.
We then heard “Hoping to Be a Refugee: Jewish Migration Efforts during the Holocaust”, a talk given by Dr. David Silberklang, senior historian of the International Institute for Holocaust Research and editor of “Yad Vashem Studies”. He opened by quoting Chaim Weizmann as having said at the time that the world consisted of countries where “Jews cannot live or cannot enter”. Silberklang spoke of the situation of the Jews as not even having been discussed at the 1936 British Royal Commission and that Europe’s Jews had become trapped and were becoming increasingly desperate. There had been thoughts of sending them to such countries as British Guiana and Madagascar. In 1930, President Hoover tightened immigration to the USA, limiting the issuing of visas till 1938. Other countries, such as Mexico, South Africa and Argentina tightened regulations. Australia opened its doors but Canada did not, its doors remaining closed till 1948. In some countries, Jews being classified as “enemy aliens” were singled out and then deported. In 1938 and 1939, Swiss border guards were returning Jews to Germany. In 1941, Turkey turned away the “Struma”, a vessel carrying more than 700 Jewish refugees; the passengers met a tragic end when the boat was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine in the Black Sea. Denmark restricted immigration as had Latin American countries and the USA expressed the desire to send Jews elsewhere during World War II. So Jews all over Europe found themselves in the bizarre situation of wishing to become refugees! There was the Hotel Polski affair in 1943, a plan to bring Warsaw’s Jews out of hiding, with the promise that they would be transported to freedom, mostly to South America; this vile trap ended up with some 3000 of them being deported to the camps. Some Jews saved themselves by jumping from trains, then walking for thousands of kilometers. Some made it to Israel, this being referred to as the “tiyul” (hike). But so many Jews had none of this luck. Some came close to getting out, others had no hope. Those who managed to get to the Philippines were the lucky ones.
Guest-of honor Dr. Barbara Sasser, one of the producers of the film “Rescue in the Philippines” and granddaughter of one of the Frieder brothers instrumental in the operation, opened her talk by expressing how honored she was to be a part of the Yad Vashem symposium. She spoke of the eclectic group of men involved in bringing Jews to the Philippines – General Eisenhower, American high commissioner to the Philippines Paul McNutt, Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon and the five Jewish Frieder brothers from Cincinnati who were involved in the cigar industry, growing tobacco in the Philippines. These eight men, who met over poker games and cigar-smoking, saw the need to help Jews in Europe. Dr. Sasser spoke of the film we were about to watch as honoring these men, that this little-known story, whose message remains relevant till today, should be told widely, especially in schools. And she asserts that the film also honors the Philippines for accepting the Jews, reminding the people attending the Yad Vashem meeting that the Philippines was among the 33 countries and the only Asian country to support the creation of the State of Israel in 1947. Dr. Sasser has derived much pleasure from meeting people who have lived the story, some of whom had immigrated to Israel.
The vital importance of “Rescue in the Philippines” (USA, 2014, 3 Roads Communications and Frieder Films, English with Hebrew subtitles) directed by Cynthia Scott Johnson and Russell Hodge and produced by Barbara Sasser and Peggy Ellis, is in bringing the details of this important chapter of Holocaust history to public awareness. Some of the film’s several speakers vibrantly piecing the story together with first-hand information and personal recollections (some of the speakers quite elderly) are members of the Frieder family, others are Jews who were among the immigrants to the Philippines and there are also speakers from Manuel Quezon’s family. We learn of the closely-knit Frieder family – the five brothers with their cigar empire, their lavish lifestyle and their dedication to Manila’s Jewish refugee community and synagogue. We learn of their open house on Friday nights and of the fact that they did not view themselves as heroes. We hear about the relaxed lifestyle Jews were leading there, both adults and children: we see a photo of a Passover Seder with 10-year-old George Lowenstein asking the three questions traditionally asked by a young child. President Quezon had requested that those Jews immigrating to the Philippines should not be a burden on the community, hence the heartbreaking process of selection. Indeed, the film clearly brings home of the fact that thousands more Jews could have been brought to the Philippines had the Japanese not brought the process to a screeching halt with their attack on Pearl Harbor and invasion of the Philippines in December 1941, followed by their indiscriminate murdering and brutal prison camps. Paul McNutt tricked Phillip Frieder into leaving the Philippines and the Quezon family had to leave. The Japanese allowed Germans and Austrians to “return home”. General Douglas MacArthur liberated the Philippines in 1945, but the worst was yet to come, with the Japanese burning down everything they could get their hands on in their wake as they retreated from Manila. The Frieder cigar factory was leveled and rebuilt in the USA.
President Quezon, referred to by one speaker as a hard-core politician, a person who loved partying, a man of self-assurance, a person not colonial in his approach, and, above all, as a “kind of Schindler”, died in exile in the USA.
The symposium at Yad Vashem was an informative, enriching and humbling experience.
Photos : courtesy of the Embassy of Phillipines
- Written by Israeli Mission to the European Union
The 9th joint Seminar of Israel and the European Commission on Combating Anti-Semitism, Xenophobia and Racism is taking place on December 16th and 17th, 2015 in Brussels.
The Seminar will bring together experts on anti-Semitism and hate crime from both sides in order to discuss two major issues: (1) Anti-Semitism, incitement and racism on social networks and the internet in general as they are prevalent phenomena today. (2) The security of Jewish communities in Europe - a subject, which is unfortunately on the agenda due to threats posed to Jewish communities by terrorists in Europe.
The seminar has been held for nine consecutive years, alternately in Jerusalem and in Brussels. It has been attributed great professional importance due to the issues discussed and the high quality and diverse backgrounds of its participants.
The Israeli delegation is headed by Ambassador Yuval Rotem, Senior Deputy Director General, Head of Department of Public Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel (MFA). He will be accompanied by a delegation of experts in the field of combating anti-Semitism, among them Akiva Tor, Head of the Department for Religious and Diaspora Affairs at the MFA and Gideon Behar, Director of the Department for Combating Anti-Semitism at the MFA.
On the European side, Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice and Consumers will be opening the Seminar, and EU representatives from law enforcement bodies, court and media of the European Union will take part, as well as participants from a wide range of countries in Europe. Additionally, a meeting with First Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans will be held in order to discuss anti-Semitism.
Ambassador Yuval Rotem: “The level of anti-Semitism in Europe remains high, and the number of anti-Semitic incidents have been increasing in recent years. This requires thorough action from the EU and European countries in order to counter this phenomenon. In this context, the current expert seminar is an important tool for achieving the goal of eradicating anti-Semitism, and we highly welcome this annual gathering."
In her opening statement Commissioner Vera Jourova said: "The European Commission is extremely concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism and a general increase of hatred-based violence. I am happy that today we come together to look for common solutions for an extremely worrying phenomenon. We are focusing on what unites us: the fight against racism, against xenophobia, and in particular against anti-Semitism.
The recent terrorist attacks in Europe confirm the need for a comprehensive EU response to terrorism and security threats, taking account of all available tools. We must address the root causes of terrorism and of extremism. And this starts with prevention. We are working to ensure that the EU response to extremism does not lead to the stigmatisation of any one group or community."
Ambassador Yuval Rotem, Senior Deputy Director General, Head of Public Diplomacy Directorate at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "We must understand, political leaders and lay leaders alike, that our rhetoric and the words we say, or neglect to say, have meaning. Silence in the face of hatred is meaningful; muteness in face of anti-Semitism is dangerous. We must rise to the occasion of condemning manifestations of hatred and appearances of anti-Semitism, wherever and whenever they appear, and against whoever reveals them. I therefore welcome the occasion of the EU's engagement in tackling the issue."
Among the issues which were addressed in the framework of the dialogue were
Addressing on-line anti-Semitism in social media and on the internet: Enforcing legislation and the technological capabilities of IT companies
The security of Jewish communities in Europe
De-radicalization policies, security and EU hate crime legislation
Operative Conclusions of the Israel's 5th Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism
Operative Conclusions of the European Commission's First Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights
- Written by MFA
International Conference on Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism Leading to Terrorism: The Challenge of Terrorists Acting Alone or in Small Cells.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted (November 9-11) an International Conference on Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism Leading to Terrorism: The Challenge of Terrorists Acting Alone or in Small Cells, with delegates from 41 countries and 10 regional and international organizations, as well as representatives from civil society organizations. The Conference was hosted in cooperation with the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and in consultation with the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate. The hosting of the conference in Israel highlighted its important role internationally in the field of counter-terrorism.
During the Conference, high level officials and experts dealing with this critical issue in their different countries, examined the phenomena of terrorists acting alone or in small cells in a holistic manner. Each of the panel discussions focused on a specialized topic, such as detection, prevention and intervention; criminalization and prosecution of terrorists acting alone; countering the use of different internet platforms by terrorist groups for the purpose of inciting, recruiting and training individuals for terrorism; and the role of penitentiary services in rehabilitating and reintegrating violent extremist offenders. Participants exchanged information, views, lessons learned and good practices based on their national experience during an interactive breakout session with a case study of hypothetical attacks by a terrorist acting alone.
In recent years, states have strengthened their law enforcement measures to prevent the departure and travel of suspected foreign terrorist fighters. As a result, states might be confronted with a potentially growing number of individuals, who might rather seek to commit acts of terrorism at home. The threat posed by self-radicalization, terrorists acting alone or in small cells, and newly emerging terrorist groups, and the potential of the Internet to be utilized by recruiters and to promote violent extremist ideologies and incite the commission of terrorist acts, have all prompted greater international concern. This conference is considered as a major step towards building better understanding of this phenomenon, its origins and driving factors, and how international cooperation is key in order to counter it successfully.