Jerusalem (TPS) – The Tourism Ministry announced on Tuesday that it would extend visas and cancel visa fees for Chinese tourists in an effort to encourage tourism from China.
“The approval of the ten-year multiple entry visa and the cancellation of fees for Chinese tourist groups are important steps that combine with other marketing steps to break into the Chinese market,” said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. “The Tourism Ministry’s range of activities will lead to an increase in the number of tourists arriving in Israel from China and will contribute to the realization of the tourism potential from this region.”
The changes mean that Chinese tourists can now more easily obtain a visa that is valid for up to ten years, rather than just the standard three months. The Tourism Ministry hopes that the cancellation of the NIS 35 fee for visa applicants will prompt more Chinese visitors to visit Israel, after research showed that the visa fee was a significant stumbling block for potential visitors and that Chinese visitors spend more money in Israel than those hailing from any other country
The new regulations were made in conjunction with the Interior and Finance Ministries. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said that “China is a most important country and we are working on a new track with the Chinese government. It is very important that as many tourists as possible visit Israel from China.”
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin developed the first direct flight route from China to Israel in conjunction with Hainan Airlines and also opened workshops to advise hotels on how to accommodate Chinese consumers.
A total of 47,000 Chinese tourists visited Israel last year, and the Tourism Ministry hopes that figure will reach 100,000 by the year 2018.
The photos, released earlier this week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), show that China is building military aircraft hangars on the disputed Spratly Islands. That violates a promise China’s president, Xi Jinping, made to President Barack Obama less than a year ago, that “China does not intend to pursue militarization” of the islands.
Moreover, a United Nations tribunal ruled last month that China’s claim to the Spratly Islands and other nearby territories is “unlawful.” Yet the international community has taken no action against either the illegal Chinese occupation or China’s militarization steps.
Israeli policymakers might want to keep an eye on these developments. Israel’s leaders have said any future Palestinian state would have to be completely demilitarized. But can Israel rely on the international community to enforce the demilitarization rules if the Palestinians violate them?
Perhaps the most infamous experiment in demilitarization involved the Rhineland, an area of western Germany along the border with France, Belgium and Holland. The 1925 Locarno Pact, signed in the aftermath of World War I, required that the Rhineland be permanently demilitarized. But when Hitler sent his troops to occupy the Rhineland in March 1936, the Locarno signatories–Britain, France and Italy–stood idly by.
Pacifist sentiment was strong in England; treaty or no treaty, the Brits were in no mood to confront the Nazis. Lord Lothian, the veteran British diplomat, rationalized the militarization of the Rhineland as “no more than the Germans walking into their own backyard.” The French, who now found themselves within shooting distance of the Wehrmacht, were not quite so sanguine about the latest developments. But with France mired in economic troubles and national elections just months away, French Prime Minister Albert Sarraut was unwilling to risk a costly conflict with Hitler.
The United States was not a party to the Locarno agreement, but what President Franklin Roosevelt said mattered in the world arena. In this case, he didn’t say much. Determined to maintain friendly relations with Germany, FDR refrained from explicitly condemning Hitler’s Rhineland action. He would not even send U.S. observers to a League of Nations discussion of German aggression. Shortly after the Rhineland crisis erupted, Roosevelt headed off for a two-week fishing trip in the Bahamas, which coincidentally helped him evade questions about the controversy.
Israelis don’t need to go back to the 1930s for examples of how the world might respond if a Palestinian state began importing tanks or missiles. They have had some bitter experience in this area in recent decades.
The late Israeli diplomat and politician Abba Eban describes in his autobiography how the Nixon administration pressured Israel to accept a ceasefire in the 1970 War of Attrition, promising that Egypt would not be allowed to move its missiles close to the Suez Canal. “Within a few days of the conclusion of the cease-fire agreement,” Eban writes, “our head of military intelligence…was reporting…the Egyptians had begun to move their missiles forward as soon as the ink was dry on the agreement.” Nixon’s response “was evasive,” Eban charitably recalled. The U.S. administration “professed not to know that the violations were taking place.” No action was taken against the Egyptians.
An even more current example presents itself. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which consists of 10,506 soldiers (and 848 civilian advisers) is pledged to ensure that southern Lebanon is kept “free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL deployed in this area.” That commitment from the international community is supposed to protect Israel’s northern border. Yet Hezbollah has stationed more than 100,000 missiles in that area, according to Israeli military estimates. The missiles are aimed at Israel. And UNIFIL refrains from intervening.
All of which leaves some Israelis wondering how international promises would fare if a demilitarized Palestinian state decided to re-militarize. When push comes to shove, would world leaders decide, as FDR did, to go fishing?
Donald Trump’s website mentions only two foreign countries by name: in its Positions section it deals with “Reforming The US-China Trade Relationship To Make America Great Again,” and in its Issues section, which is a series of videos with the candidate spending about a minute speaking forcefully on the issues, the one country that’s mentioned as an “issue” is, you guessed, Israel.
Should Israelis and US Jews be concerned that the Jewish State is so clearly a burning issue for Trump? Not if you believe the opening, where Trump straightens his gaze at the camera and declares, “I love Israel, I’m very pro-Israel.” He hasn’t said it about any other country in quite this total fashion.
But what to Trump is the Israel issue begins and ends with what he considered, back in March, when he shot this video, a challenge to his skills as negotiator. You can be a Trump supporter and still be perplexed by the amount of personal prestige the candidate has invested in being that one American president who finally brought peace to “Israel and the Palestinians.”
“Trump is plainly the best bet for the Jews,” Seth Lipsky wrote in the NY Post Wednesday, citing neoconservative Norman Podhoretz, who berated Hillary for the 2012 rejection by the Democratic convention of restoring both God and Jerusalem to the DNC platform.
True enough, but Trump was booed at his AIPAC appearance last December when he, too, refused to commit to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.
“Trump’s also the candidate siding with religious Americans whose rights are in jeopardy from the proliferating series of laws and court rulings in which religious persons are being asked to bow to a liberalism hostile to religious law,” Lipsky argued.
But religious Jews are not under attack by the liberal government anywhere in America: unlike in Europe, Jewish rituals are not under attack anywhere, with the possible exception of the Bay area; why even the latest NYC policy on oral suction in circumcision is restricted to educational pamphlets, rather than court orders.
The problem with Trump regarding Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria (and, possibly, eastern Jerusalem) is the candidate’s eagerness to make a difference in the age old Israeli-Arab conflict.
Here is what Trump said on tape in March, which the campaign has chosen to keep up there as one of his key concerns:
“I would love to see a deal be made between Israel and the Palestinians. It’s probably the hardest negotiation there is. Great negotiators have tried and they failed. It’s just so deep seated, the hatred, the level of distrust.
“But I’m going to give it an awfully good shot. I want to remain as neutral as possible, because if you’re not somewhat neutral the other side is never going to do it.
“But just remember, Israel, I love you, we’re gonna’ see if we can get something done, it has to be done for both sides, it cannot continue to be the way it is. Let’s see what we can negotiate, let’s see if it can be done.”
Does the last paragraph strike you as something you might tell your child before taking him for his booster shots? It’ll hurt, for sure, but remember, Daddy loves you very much and when the doctor is done poking you Daddy will buy you an ice cream cone.
There’s no doubt that presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is easily as worrisome when it comes to Israel. She is surrounded by anti-Israel advisors, one of whom is a radical Muslim. It is a tough call to make — which Roman emperor will bring more trouble to tiny little Judea: Hillary, who might end up just talking the talk but avoid the actual walk; or Trump, who might just, God forbid, decide to test his skills — and then what would Israel do when the Arabs agree to some of his proposals and a victorious Trump turns to Netanyahu and says, Brother, I got you a great deal, just hand over control of eastern Jerusalem and take the Jews out of the “territories.”
We welcome a civilized discussion of the concerns raised in this article.
Israel has sent Russia 500 million predatory insects as part of its assistance in developing an independent Russian agriculture.
Following the European boycott on Russian produce as a result of the Russian invasion of Crimea, Russian agriculture was abruptly cut off from its traditional economic base, and so the state is investing great efforts in developing and sustaining the local agriculture — which is where Israel’s superior agricultural know-how comes into the picture. Israeli companies are now working to construct hothouses for Russian farmers, and consult them on utilizing innovative methods, including using natural, non-toxic methods to get rid of pests.
BioBee Biological Systems, in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, just south of Beit She’an in northern Israel, is a unique company which breeds and implements beneficial insects and mites (swirskii, phytoseiulus persimilis) for agricultural purposes. These have proven priceless in pest control in tomatoes, cucumbers and roses.
BioBee also sent Russian farmers its home-grown bumblebees for pollination, without which there is no horticulture.
Part of the collaboration involves experiments being carried out by BioBee in using bumblebees to pollinate cherry orchards in Crimea. The company expects that should the trials prove a success this would open new markets for Israel in pollinating cherry trees around the world.
Crop pollination by insects has been estimated at $14.6 billion to the US economy, for instance, but bee diversity has declined considerably in the US and Europe, with many species disappearing from much of their former range, and some species going extinct. The UK alone has lost three species of native bumblebee, and six more are listed as endangered. Four bumblebee species have gone extinct from Europe, and similar declines are seen in China.
Chinese agricultural publications have described falling and increasingly unpredictable yields of insect-pollinated crops, particularly in the areas with the most intensive farming. Where crops are grown in vast fields, there are not enough insects to go around. And where insecticides are sprayed frequently, those vital little pollinators cannot survive.
Israeli innovation offers a viable solution to a major problem plaguing world agriculture, combining non-toxic pest control in a growing number of crops, with a complementary plan to revitalize the bumblebee hives around the world.
The United States, UK, Australian and French embassies in China have all issued alerts to their citizens and staff in Beijing, telling them to be extra vigilant this holiday season.
The heightened state of alert was particularly aimed at the Sanlitun district, a popular shopping district featuring high-end stores and restaurants.
The U.S. embassy said it had “received information of possible threats” targeting the district, home to many of the embassies, around December 25.
Beijing police have also reinforced their presence at shopping malls around the city. However, the city’s Public Security Bureau explained the extra security came in response to increased traffic at the commercial centers during the holiday season.
In a statement on their official microblog Beijing police said they issued a “yellow” security alert for Christmas and New Year, the second lowest level, Reuters reported. The alert was focused on areas like malls, which are likely to see more people visiting during the festivities. “Beijing police are planning ahead and taking many measures … to ensure good public order,” it said.
China officially handed a sparkling new foreign ministry building to the Palestinian Authority on Friday in its capital city of Ramallah.
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang had visited Israel and Ramallah from Wednesday to Friday, meeting with both Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders, according to China’s CRI news agency.
But Yang was present Friday in Ramallah to present the new building to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki. And he added a gift at the end of the ceremony.
“We are proud of the relationship that has existed between China and Palestine over the years, and we’re also happy that China is also contributing in the building of the Palestinian institutions towards the statehood,” al-Maliki said.
“This is really a reflection of exactly how China would like to contribute and to be present in the future of the Palestinian people.”
Yang said the new building would be not only a landmark in Ramallah, but also a landmark in the friendship between China and the Ramallah government.
“China consistently supports the Palestinians in their pursuit of the righteous cause of recovering their legitimate national rights, Yang said.
“China also sincerely supports Palestine to enhance its economy, people’s livelihood and capacity building. China would like to continue with the assistance it can offer to help Palestine realize its economic independence and sustainable development as soon as possible.”
After the ceremony China granted the PA an additional grant, this for a sum of $4.7 million.
Abbas thanked Yang and noted the “historical friendship” with China, which he said “has always supported the Palestinian people to realize freedom and independence.
“We highly appreciate the support China offers to Palestine on political, diplomatic and investment aspects. The Palestinian government and people thank China for everything you have done for Palestine.”
(JNi.media) A Jewish Memorial Park was inaugurated last week in the Fushouyuan cemetery at Shanghai’s Qingpu District, to mark the 70th anniversary of the War and the survival of the Jewish Refugees who fled to China from Eastern Europe. According to Shanghai Daily.
A memorial stone was unveiled in the park, inscribed with the name of Ho Fengshan, a Chinese diplomat in Vienna who risked his life to issue visas to more than 3,000 Jews. The stone is also inscribed with the names of 24 famous Jews “who had contributed to the development of Shanghai.”
Israeli Consul-General Arnon Perlman called for preserving the memories of Shanghai’s Jews for the benefit of future Chinese generations. “This is something that is very, very important to remember for all of us — whether it’s Jews, Israeli or Chinese — to remember the friendship between China and Israel and between Shanghai and Israel,” Perlman said, according to shanghaiist.com.
The park authorities have began an outreach effort to Jewish communities worldwide, to locate tombstones of other Jews who may be buried in Shanghai, as part of a plan to place all the local Jewish graves in the same park, “as an important memorial venue for both offspring of the deceased and the public to remember the history and the friendship between Chinese and Jewish people,” Shanghai Daily reported.
A Shanghai Jewish Memorial Cultural Fund is being planned to support infrastructure development, maintenance and expansion of the memorial park, as well as to launch non-governmental studies “to preserve historical memories shared by Chinese and Jewish people.”