Photo Credit: Haim Zach / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Jewish community at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Singapore, Feb. 20 2017

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Singapore Jewish community Monday (Feb. 20) at the Maghain Aboth Synagogue.

Children from the community greeted him at the entrance to the synagogue, singing and waving the flags of Singapore and Israel. During the visit, the prayer for the State of Israel was said.

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“I bring to you greetings from our eternal capital Jerusalem and I bring you greetings from a kindred nation,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said. “And I feel that Singapore and Israel are kindred nations. I find it a special privilege and an honor to be the first Israeli Prime Minister to make an official visit to Singapore. This follows the visit of Premier Lee to Israel, the first official visit of the Prime Minister of Singapore to Israel and it’s an obvious bond, a growing bond.

“Seventy years ago if you looked at Israel and you looked at Singapore, there wasn’t much to see. But there’s a lot to see and it’s not I think accidental that our two nations formed this bond between us because we are both inspired to do things, to punch above our weight. Israel is the innovation nation, we’re both entrepreneurial centers. We have innate talent and we have great drive to succeed.

“I believe that great powers around the world look at Israel and Singapore today and see tremendous economic opportunities. Tremendous. And one reason that that is the case is that we have an unbridled spirit and we put it to use. That spirit is something that we’ve enshrined in our peoples for a long time, for a long time. The Jewish people have passed learning from one generation to another, an inquisitive mindset and the ability to produce new things.

“I don’t have to say that to the Jewish community in Singapore because you’ve been here for almost two centuries and you have that entrepreneurial quest for many, many decades and I think that you serve as a human bridge between Singapore and Israel. I know that you care for the State of Israel. I know you care for Jewish traditions. This gathering is an indication of that concern and that passion.

“I also want to point out to you that I recently visited two Muslim countries, one is Azerbaijan and the other is Kazakhstan. And in those Muslim countries, in Kazakhstan I visited a synagogue. And Jewish children in Kazakhstan were singing Hebrew songs, as they sang here, in a Muslim state and that reflects the kind of world we’d like to see: a world of tolerance; a world of diversity; a world that is opposed to the world that is being challenged today by the forces of barbarism and intolerance.

“This is a battle for the future of humanity. That future is represented in Israel, which also is a diverse country, which also has minorities, which respects peoples. And we see that same respect here in Singapore. So it’s not only that we’re both innovation nations, it’s not only that we’re small people and have defied the limitations of our size. It is that we are committed to a better world, a world of diversity, a world that follows the values that we as a people have held for so many years, for so many decades and in fact, for a millennium.

“It is therefore for me a tremendous pleasure to be here and I want to ask you, all of you, a simple question: Who of you has not been to Israel? No shown hands. All of you have been to Israel? Then I have one request of you, come again. I want a reciprocal visit this year. This year in Jerusalem, I look forward to meeting you there.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.