President Shimon Peres, today (Thursday, March 14th 2013), at his Jerusalem residence, during a meeting with the leaders of the Catholic Church in Poland, welcomed the new Pope. President Peres said, “The newly elected Pope represents devotion, the love of God, the love of peace, a holy modesty and a new continent which is now awakening. We need, more than ever, a spiritual leadership and not just a political one. Where political leaders may divide, spiritual leaders may unite. Unite around a vision, unite around values, unite around a faith that we can make the world a better place to live. May the Lord Bless the new Pope.”
President Peres invited the new Pope to visit Israel and said, “I would like to take this opportunity to invite the newly elected Pope to pay a visit to the Holy Land at the earliest possibility. He’ll be a welcome guest in the Holy Land, as a man of inspiration that can add to the attempt to bring peace in a stormy area. All people here, without exception, without difference of religion or nationality will welcome the newly elected Pope.”
Addressing relations with the Vatican President Peres said, “The relations between the Vatican and the Jewish people are now at their best in the last 2000 years and I hope they will grow in content and depths.”
President Peres also spoke about the outgoing Pope and said, “I have much respect for the resigned Pope, Benedict, I found him a dear friend of our people, a profound thinker and he really contributed so much to bringing together, historically and otherwise, the relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people. I’m sure that the new Pope, Francis, will continue. He will remind all of us , as a shepherd of our time, that the Lord loves the poor not only the mighty, that the Lord calls us to peace not for hatred, that the Lord calls us to serve each other, to build a world where people are together without hatred.”
(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres was in France yesterday (Sunday, March 10th 2013), conducting a special meeting with the heads of the Jewish community of France and with a delegation of Imams including the heads of the Egyptian, African, Moroccan and Senegalese communities and heads of central mosques. The meeting took place the day before memorial events in France to mark one year since the terrorist attacks in Toulouse.
During the meeting with the Imams, President Peres was pleased by their support for Israel, their moderate approach and tolerance towards other faith communities and their vocal, steadfast opposition to terror in all its forms. At the start of the meeting Imam Chalghoumi talked about the memorial events one year after the terrorist attacks in France (March 11th and March 15th) and said: “Tomorrow, March 11th, is a terrible day of mourning for us, a day on which terror struck from which we all suffered. I wanted to tell you, Mr. President, that we Muslims are victims like the Jews, of the same extremist who went on a journey of murder, who took the lives of children. We are here to say to our brothers the Jews and the French: We are all threatened by terror, hurt by terror and we all call with optimism for peace at the end of this terrible year. We teach the believers that human life is holier than the holy sites! Holier than Mecca, the Vatican or Jerusalem.”
President Peres thanked the Imam for his words and expressed his appreciation. “Whoever was responsible for the murder of French citizens and Jewish children in Toulouse showed the ugly face of terror, and your words show the way of peace. You are leaders of an Islam which seeks peace, as we do. I am very grateful for your words, and I thank you for coming. I see in you brothers in this path, dialogue between us is important and valuable and that is why this meeting between us is so important. We will work together, for all the peoples of the world, for Israeli’s and Palestinians, for peace in the world.”
Imam Chalghoumi addressed the issue of the approach of the Muslim community leadership towards the State of Israel and said that the delegation are interested in bridging the gap between faiths and peoples, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not an excuse to hate the State of Israel – we are not interested in that hate and do not believe in it. We visited Israel and saw the country; we want to know Israel as it really is and to get to know people from different perspectives.”
During President Peres’s visit with the Jewish community the leaders of the community in France, including the leadership of the community in Toulouse, updated President Peres on manner in which they have been coping since the murders a year ago. They asked to hear from President Peres about ways in which the peace process with the Palestinians could be re-started, the latest developments with regards to Iran and the general situation in the Middle East in light of the Arab Spring. President Peres and the community leadership also discussed incidents of anti-Semitism in France.
(Communicated by the MFA Spokesperson)
Israel strongly condemns North Korea’s nuclear test, and joins the international community in expressing the grave danger that this act poses to regional stability and international peace and security.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nuclear test, together with its ballistic missile launch in December 2012, is part of its extensive ongoing nuclear and missile programs. These reflect North Korea’s negative role in the region and raise grave concerns regarding proliferation of nuclear and ballistic technologies.
These actions by the DPRK, in violation of its international obligations, must be met with a swift response by the international community. A clear message must be sent to the DPRK and to other countries, that such activities are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.
Funeral of the late Mayor Edward Koch
Address by Amb. Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel
Monday, February 4, 2013 at Temple Emanu-El
Mrs. Thaler, President Clinton, Mayor Bloomberg, family and friends,
I stand here today, conveying these heartfelt condolences, not only on behalf of the President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanhayu, but on behalf of all the people of Israel.
While President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and even myself, had the pleasure of knowing Ed Koch personally, I stand here on behalf of our entire country who felt as if they did as well. He was one of us.
We owe Ed Koch a great debt of gratitude for his long-standing support, friendship, unconditional love and commitment to the Zionist movement and to the Jewish homeland.
With his unique combination of charm, ‘chutzpa’ and deep conviction, he became a clarion voice for Israel and one of the most important and influential American Zionists of our time.
What he did for New York and Israel, was way beyond the confines of an office. Ed Koch never let us down. Never.
Our quintessential Mayor literally “bled for the Jewish state” when he was lightly hit in the head by a rock, during his 1990 trip to Israel at the time of the First Intifada.
It made headlines, but the real story is what followed, when he joked to the man next to him that ‘the stone was meant for you.’ Standing next to Ed at that time was Jerusalem’s mythological mayor Teddy Kollek. The two had become lifelong friends, with Ed Koch calling Kollek “the mayor of all mayors.”
Mayor Koch might have gotten a little more than he bargained for but, it was his warm heart, not his battle scars that defined his relationship with Israel.
The bond that Ed shared with Teddy, between two mayors, two leaders, is the one New York and Jerusalem share. It is what Israel and the United States share.
In addition to his contribution in the political arena, Ed served as an important role model, and source of inspiration, to many mayors and community leaders all over the world.
He took an active role in shaping the image of New York, leaving behind him a distinct legacy for the advancement and promotion of the performance and image of the City.
“Koch,” his name used as a term of endearment, was a major catalyst in what later became known as the “branding of New York” as the capital of the free world, as an eclectic urban fascination for the entire world to celebrate and experience.
During his tenure, as well as during his post City Hall years, he was an icon and a champion in turning the “Big Apple” into the strongest brand name in modern urban history.
When I first came to New York as Consul in the year 2001, it was the post-Koch era, but that didn’t stop Ed from continuing to be an accessible and valuable resource to us all, Israeli diplomats as well as leaders in the Jewish community.
He would often call to discuss issues in the news, wanting to get the facts straight, and always curious and eager to know more.
Ed Koch was one of a kind and a true friend of Israel. Before he died, he made it known that he wanted his gravestone to be inscribed with the most famous prayer in Judaism: “Shema.” It is a declaration of faith, a pledge of allegiance to one God and to the nation of Israel.
The Shema is said upon arising in the morning and upon going to sleep at night. It is said when praising God and when calling upon Him. It is the first prayer that a Jewish child is taught to say and it is the last words a Jew says prior to death.
The prayer begins with the most sacred of words:”Shema Yisrael,” literally “Hear, O Israel.” Mayor Koch, whether it was your candid outspokenness or your warm friendship, Israel hears you loud and clear.
May your memory be blessed and may your rest be in peace, dear friend.
Baruch Dayan HaEmet
(Communicated by the COGAT Spokesperson)
The “Grizim” underground electrical lines that supply electricity from Israel to Gaza’s northern region have been refurbished and upgraded over the past week.
These lines supply 12.5 MW of electricity, which constitutes ten percent of the total amount of electricity supplied by Israel to Gaza every day. Israel supplies most of the electricity used by the residents of the Gaza Strip.
This process has significantly increased the capacity of the electricity lines, thereby providing a more stable source of electricity to the residents of northern Gaza. The northern region of Gaza is home to two large cities; Beit Hanoun, and Beit Lahia, whose populations consist of approximately 70,000 residents.
The “Grizim” electrical lines were replaced or repaired in certain sections to deal with recently discovered instabilities. The work was conducted by a team of 15 electrical engineers from the Israeli Electric Corporation, in coordination with IDF personnel to ensure their safety.
The Israeli government has maintained and even expanded its policy of assisting the civilian Palestinian population residing in Gaza. In the wake of Operation Pillar of Defense (Nov. 2012), additional measures have been implemented that have allowed for expanded imports into Gaza.
The Consulate General of Israel in New York was saddened to learn of the passing of former Mayor Ed Koch and has released the following statement:
“This morning we lost a great friend, one who stood not only by the Jewish people and the State of Israel, but also by humanity. The Consulate General of Israel in New York was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend, Ed Koch. History will remember Ed Koch as one of its greatest leaders, who epitomized everything that we love about the world’s greatest city. He was always outspoken, true to his word and a staunch defender of human rights. The ties between New York and Israel, between the United States and Israel, are as strong as they are today because of towering figures such as Ed Koch.”
PICTURED: New York Mayor Ed Koch Sits with Israeli President Chaim Herzog during Herzog’s Visit to New York, 1983
Photo Credit: Yaacov Rosenblat, GPO
(Communicated by the Office of the President)
President Shimon Peres, paid a visit to the official residence of Archbishop Elias Chacour in Haifa earlier today. President Peres sang traditional Christmas songs with the local children’s choir from the Christian-Arabic school in I’billin.
President Peres delivered a festive greeting to Christians in Israel and across the world and said: “It is for me a privilege, as president of the State of Israel, to send profound wishes on behalf of all of Israel for a Happy Christmas to the whole Christian world and to express the hope that the Middle East may enter an era of peace and prosperity. The State of Israel is committed to protecting all the holy sites and the freedom of worship for everyone. In the Holy Land coexistence between Jews, Christians and Muslims will continue. From the city of Haifa, a model of peace and coexistence, I wish to send one clear message to the world – a message of peace and unity between all faiths, between all nations.”
President Peres added: “We are proud of the Christian community in Israel and are also proud that they feel fully at home, completely free to worship in their own way and to continue with their own traditions. I wish them and all Christians everywhere a Merry Christmas.”
President Peres was welcomed at the festivities by a children’s choir dressed in traditional Christmas outfits, leaders of the Christian community in northern Israel and Archbishop Chacour who said: “I thank the president of the State of Israel for coming to speak with the Christian community and share his blessings with us before Christmas and the New Year. The Christian community in Israel is small but proud of being Israeli citizens. The community will continue to work in partnership to build the state, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder with Jews and Muslims.
Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav said: “In Haifa we don’t have coexistence but one existence – in Haifa we celebrate the Festival of Festivals with complete equality between all religions and that is my wish for Christians across the Middle East this Christmas.”
Lt. Gen. (res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Israel’s 15th Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, passed away yesterday at the age of 68 after battling cancer. Lipkin-Shahak was born in Tel Aviv in 1944, a few years before the modern State of Israel was founded, and throughout his amazing life, helped shape it into what it is today.
His military service saw him joining the Paratroopers in 1962, rising to the rank of deputy battalion commander for his brigade during the Six-Day War in 1967. During his career, he was twice awarded with the Medal of Courage, one of Israel’s highest military honors. His role in Operation Spring of Youth as a Lt. Colonel, the 1973 raid in Lebanon against members of Black September, the terrorist organization responsible for the Munich Olympics attack, is one of the most famous military operations in history (also forever immortalized in Hollywood by Steven Spielberg’s Munich).
In 1995, Lipkin-Shahak succeeded Ehud Barak and became the 15th Chief of Staff of the IDF, during a very important time in Israel’s history, with the peace process in full swing as well as constant suicide bombings from Palestinian terrorists. After retiring from the military in 1998, he was elected to the Knesset the following year. Over the next few years, in addition to representing Israel as a Parliamentarian he served as Minister of Tourism and later on as Minister of Transportation.
He is survived by his wife, journalist Tali Lipkin-Shahak, and five children.
Israel’s leaders had extremely kind words to say of Amnon, with his former colleague in both the IDF and in politics, Ehud Barak said in a statement he was an “exemplary example of courage, leadership and perseverance in the battlefield and in the diplomatic battle.”
Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu called him “a hero of Israel who dedicated his best years to the defense of the state of Israel….His heroism was evident in the brave way he conducted himself throughout his illness. Not for a moment did he ever lose his dignity.”
President Shimon Peres said “Amnon was a true hero who carried the torch of peace, a rare and exceptionally wise man. His students and soldiers saw him as a role model like no other, they trusted every word he said and people queued at his door seeking his wisdom, honesty and courage.”
May his memory be blessed.