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 President Peres bestowed the Presidential Medal of Distinction Upon President Napolitano

President Peres: "The State of Israel thanks you – you stood resolutely by us over the years."
"The time has come for peace and we must find an agreed upon solution accepted by both parties"

President Napolitano: My unflagging relation with the State of Israel and the Jewish people, my determination to fight anti-Semitism and attacks on Israel are an integral part of my anti-fascist commitment.

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, bestowed the Presidential Medal of Distinction upon the President of Italy, His Excellency Giorgio Napolitano, at a ceremony in Rome. The award is the highest civilian honor in Israel. The ceremony took place the day after President Peres attended the joint event in the Vatican hosted by Pope Francis along with Palestinian President Abbas.

President Peres thanked President Napolitano for his steadfast support for Israel and said, "I am proud to confer upon you the Presidential Medal of Distinction in honor of your steadfast commitment to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. You raised a clear voice in support of Israeli democracy." President Peres addressed yesterday's event at the Vatican and said, "The time has come for peace and we must find an agreed upon solution accepted by both parties. We still face threats, namely terror from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. We must overcome terror and improve the situation for all the people of the region. Israel stretches out its hand for peace with the Palestinians, our neighbors. I have experienced both war and peace and everyone deserves the right to live in peace."

President Napolitano "My unflagging relation with the State of Israel and the Jewish people, my determination to fight anti-Semitism and attacks on Israel are an integral part of my anti-fascist commitment. I am honored to receive this distinguished award." Turning to President Peres he said, "Peace is a part of your legacy and today we must say with conviction, the time has come for peace."

The recommendation for the award is as follows: "Over the years, President Napolitano demonstrated his uncompromising commitment to the well-being and security of the State of Israel, and inspired by him, the Italian Communist Party adopted new and independent positions in relation to the Middle East. At the time, President Napolitano clearly and consistently voiced his views on the question of Prisoners of Zion in the former Soviet who requested to emigrate to Israel was denied. President Napolitano has condemned every manifestation of terrorism, he has hosted meetings between Israelis and Palestinians in an effort to seek a solution to the Middle East conflict on the basis of mutual recognition. The President represents a figure of leadership in the European arena in the fight against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. President Napolitano's relations with the State of Israel and the Jewish people have been steadfast and characterized by a deep sense of friendship. He has repeatedly expressed his steadfast position regarding Israel's unequivocal right to live in peace and security."

Later in the visit, President Peres will meet with the Foreign Minister of Italy, Federica Mogherini, and the President of the Italian Senate, Mr. Pietro Grasso.

Background Information on the Presidential Medal of Distinction:

The Presidential Medal of Distinction is awarded to private individuals and organizations that have made unique and outstanding contributions to Tikkun Olam (Bettering the World), Israeli society and the State of Israel's image around the world, and which constitute examples of initiative, innovation, creativity and vision. The medals themselves feature the North Star to symbolize the right path and a menorah, the symbol of Israel and the continuous link between past and present. The medal is crowned with the words from Samuel 9:2 "from his shoulders and upward." The Presidential Medal of Distinction is comparable to the "Legion of Honor" (France) or the "Order of Canada."

The advisory committee for the Presidential Medal of Distinction includes retired Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, former President Yitzhak Navon, Professor Suzie Navot, Dr. Mohammed Issawi, Rabbi Dr. Ratzon Arusi, Gil Shwed and Professor Anita Shapira. Previous winners of the award include President Obama, President Clinton, Elie Wiesel, former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, the Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Zubin Mehta, Attorney Uri Slonim, Judy Feld Carr, The Rashi Foundation and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.


Photo Credit: Haim Tzach/GPO





Following the invitation of Pope Francis during his visit to the region:

Pope Francis, President Peres and President Abbas will issue a joint call for peace at a ceremony in the Vatican

At the ceremony, which will take place in the garden of the Vatican on Sunday 8th June at 19:00 (local time in Rome), there will delegations of

Rabbis, Imams and Christian faith leaders


The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, will depart on Sunday 8th June, for a special visit to the Vatican at the invitation of Pope Francis. At the center of the visit will be an event hosted by Pope Francis with President Peres, Palestinian Authority President Abbas and delegations of Jewish, Christian and Islamic faith leaders, at which they will issue a joint call for peace to people across the world.

The event has been designed to incorporate and respect all three religions and will include readings dedicated to each of the three religions – the Rabbis will read from the Tanach, the Christian leaders from the New Testament and the Imams from the Quran. All the readings will be dedicated to peace. After the religious readings, Pope Francis will read religious verses with President Peres and President Abbas which the three will choose and symbolize the yearning for peace.


President Peres will fly to the Vatican at the head of a delegation consisting of Rabbis, Druze leaders and Imams and will call upon leaders of all faiths to work together to ensure that religion and the name of the Lord will not be used to justify bloodshed and terror. President Peres will place particular emphasis on the importance of inter-religious dialogue. The Israeli delegation, which was composed with the assistance of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, will consist of faith leaders from across Israel who will carry the message of peace. The delegation will include Rabbi Dr. Rasson Arussi of the Chief Rabbinate Council, Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber, Rabbi David Rosen, the Spiritual Leader of the Druze faith in Israel Sheikh Moafaq Tarif and Chairman of the Muslim Community of Israel, Sheikh Mohammad Kiwan. The Palestinian delegation is also expected to include a faith delegation consisting of Islamic and Christian leaders.


The event will take place in a location in the garden without religious symbols and which is not a place of prayer to ensure that it would be in accordance with Jewish tradition. Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yosef blessed President Peres for his work towards peace between nations and for his efforts to ensure religion is not used to justify terror and bloodshed, he also wished him luck for his visit.


The event at the Vatican is taking place at the initiative of Pope Francis who announced his historic invitation during his visit to the Middle East. The Vatican is preparing to provide a live feed of the event to billions of people of faith across the world. In addition to his visit to the Vatican, President Peres will meet with political leadership of Italy including President Giorgio Napolitano and Minister of Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini.





Magdala Center  Inform you with great joy that Pope Francis

Will bless the Tabernacle for the “Duc In Altum” Spirituality Center

during His Pastoral visit to the Holy Land.


We are honored to cordially invite you on May the 28th, 2014

to the Inauguration of the first stage of the Magdala Center


15:00 Inauguration of the Archeological Park


17:00 Dedication of the “Duc In Altum” Spirituality Center

Presided by His Beatitude Fouad Twal

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem


Event Itinerary:


§  13:30 hrs ISR – Media Tour in the Archaeological Park with the IAA Archaeologist


§   15:00 hrs ISR – Opening of the Archaeological Park with the Israeli Authorities.


Spokemen: P. Juan Solana, IAA Sub Director, Project Benefactors and Archaeologists.


§  16:00 hrs ISR – Cut the ribbon & Toast


§  17:00 hrs ISR – Dedication of the Spirituality Center presided by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal.


§  17:20 hrs ISR– Reading the Pope Francis messages.


§  17:30 hrs ISR – Gratitude to the benefactors of the Project.


§  17:45 hrs ISR – Mass of consecration


§  19:15 hrs ISR - Reception

More info   054-2504235




His All Holiness Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch for 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, planted an olive tree in the KKL-JNF Grove of Nations today. The Ecumenical Patriarch invited the Pope to join him in Israel to commemorate the historic meeting fifty years ago between their two predecessors.


The Ecumenical Patriarch was accompanied by five Metropolitans of the Greek Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy, Metropolitan Iakovos of the Princess Islands, Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima and Metropolitan Job of Telmessos. A number of archbishops, bishops, Orthodox clergy and other guests attended the event.


KKL-JNF World World Chairman Efi Stenzler said, "In the past two decades, the world has witnessed alarming environmental issues –climate change, the loss of biodiversity and the pollution of natural resources. In the midst of this crisis, one religious leader has discerned the signs of the times and called people's attention to this ecological and social situation. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has persistently proclaimed the primacy of spiritual values in determining environmental ethics and action. His endeavors have earned him the title "Green Patriarch". I was amazed to see that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World for "defining environmentalism as a spiritual responsibility."


"In the KKL-JNF, we too see our environmental actions in Israel as a spiritual responsibility. We have been the caretaker of the land of Israel for the last 114 years. In that time, the KKL-JNF has led Jewish people from around the world on an unprecedented forestry project. Together we have transformed this desolate land into a marvelous green country. We have planted over 248 million trees planted throughout the years in order to make this miracle happen."

The Ecumenical Patriarch remarked that his tree was "just a seed", and that he planted his tree in the hopes that Orthodox believers around the world would follow in his footsteps and join him in planting their own trees in Israel, as a symbol of the living dialogue between the various monotheistic faiths that the Patriarch and the Pope have been encouraging during their joint visit.

"The life of relationships begins with dialogue," His All Holiness said, "and the life of the environment begins with trees. One tree, one dialogue can make a difference. But together, many trees and many dialogues can impact the environment, whether it would be the natural environment or the environment of international relationships.


Planting this olive tree is a special honor, for me, my church and my nation. I planted many trees around the world, in churches, monasteries, schools and more. However, planting a tree here, in the Holy Land, has an important and superior value for me.

I live in a village known as olive village and I hope this olive tree we have planted here will bare many fruits. I thank you for this privilege to plant a tree, which will further deepen my roots in the holy land."

His All Holiness has commented on the issue of environmental protection claiming that "the environment is a miracle of creation and therefore it is holy. I consider environmental pollution as a sin. Hence, I believe that protecting and preserving the environment is not only an economical or social issue, but rather a theological one. "


Known as the "Green Patriarch", the environmental initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch have been acknowledged for a decade in Europe. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore and Scenic Hudson honored him with the international visionary award for environmental achievement at ceremonies in New York City.

In Europe, the Sophie Foundation of Norway awarded Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the prestigious Sophie Prize for pioneering efforts in linking faith to the environment.

Photo Caption: (Left to right) KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.


Photo Credit: Sasson Tiram, Courtesy of KKL-JNF.






The Israel-Spain Chamber of Commerce (CCIE) renewed its activities with new leadership. The new President of the CCIE is Mr. Micha Harish. This renewal was celebrated with an important meeting that took place at the Bank Leumi Auditorium on Tuesday, May 15.


The program started with greetings by Mr. Micha Harish, CCIE's President, Mr. Haim Aharon‎‏, President of the Federation of Bi-National Commerce Chambers, and Mr. Herzl Inbar, Israel's Ambassador to Spain and President of the Israel-Spain Friendship Association (Asociación de Amistad Israel-España).


Mr. Micha Harish presented a message from Mr. Shimon Peres, Israel's President, who expressed the importance of Israel's diplomatic, cultural and economic relations with Spain. Mr. Micha Harish mentioned the importance of these relations for himself and his involvement in these relations, starting with the honor of representing Mr. Shimon Peres, Israel's President at the time, in covert meetings with Felipe Gonzalez, Spain's President, in Madrid. These meetings resulted in diplomatic relations on January 16, 1986, and later in a summit meeting of the two presidents in Hague, Holland, which had great historical and emotional importance. Mr. Micha Harish organized and participated in this meeting.


 The program then continued with detailed expositions by the following distinguished representatives of Spain in the event:

 · Sr. Fernando Carderera Soler, Spain's Ambassador to Israel, talked about the bilateral relations between Spain and Israel, and the economic presence of Spain and Spanish companies in Israel. He also explained why now is the best moment to invest or do business in Spain. His detailed descriptions and explanations showed his high degree of expertise in diplomatic, cultural and economic affairs and relations between Spain and Israel.


· Dr. Enrique Barón Crespo, Ex-President of the EU Parliament and Spanish Minister of Transport, talked about the Spanish Economy and the opportunities that it offers to the Israeli business community. Dr. Barón Crespo has held an incredible number of political responsibilities, academic functions and other posts, which shows his high degree of expertise in diplomatic, cultural and economic affairs in EU, and particularly Spain. He mentioned the fact that while young he was interested in the agricultural advances in Israel, and spent time living in two kibutz establishments. He was also instrumental in the in the start of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel.


· Sr. Lope Llamazares Rodriguez, Regional Director of Exports of the Plimon/Textron Group from Barcelona, talked about the business culture of the Spanish businessmen.

· Mr. Henrique Cymerman, acclaimed journalist of Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia and Antena 3 TV channel, talked about Barça Vs. Real: is it only sport, or also economy and politics?


· Mr. Micha Harish then closed the event with a summary.

This event was organized with the significant help of the CCIE's Directive Commission lead by Mr. Eyal Oren.

The program moderator was Moshe Shoham, General Director of the Israel-Spain Friendship Association.


About CCIE, Micha Harish, and the Israel-Spain Commerce Community:

CCIE is undergoing renewal under the leadership of Mr. Micha Harish. Since Israel's was founded, efforts were made to establish diplomatic and economic relations between Israel and Spain. Mr. Micha Harish worked ceaselessly for the establishment of formal relations between the two countries in 1986, and for the building and strengthening of the bilateral commerce relations while holding the post of Minister of Commerce and Industry under Prime Ministers Rabin and Peres. Micha Harish accepted the post of President of the CCIE, after being approached a few months ago by Sr. Fernando Carderera Soler, Spain's Ambassador to Israel, and asked to take this post. He was also requested to do so by Mr. Haim Aharon‎‏, President of the Federation of Bi-National Commerce Chambers, and other distinguished personnel.


Spain is presently getting in the stage of economic recovery from the economic crisis in the world. Previous experiences in such crises in the world show that one of the outcomes following these crises outcome is the opening of many new business opportunities. This is the time to boost the economic enterprises between Israel and Spain, and the CCIE can contribute significantly to the establishment of new initiatives and commercial opportunities for Israeli and Spanish companies, for the benefit of both countries.