Netanyahu in Singapore

February 21, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited the Singapore Jewish community, at the Maghain Aboth synagogue ahead of tomorrow’s arrival in Sydney.

Synagogue visit Photo Chaim Zach/GPO

Community children greeted him at the entrance singing and waving Singapore and Israeli flags.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “I feel that Singapore and Israel are kindred nations. I find it a special privilege and an honour 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.

70 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 centres. 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.”

Presidential dinner Photo: Chaim Zach

Later Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara attended a dinner together with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching at the presidential palace in Singapore.

During the event an orchid was named after the Netanyahus.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said of Israel’s diversity: “We brought people from hundred lands and we have a thriving Arab community inside Israel, over a million of our citizens are Arab citizens. They participate in the national life. I opened a school year, this year, in an Arab school in the Galilee and talked to young girls there who want to be doctors and I said: ‘This is your country. Study, learn, thrive.’

This culture of diversity and tolerance is the opposite of what we see in many parts of the Middle East and unfortunately in other parts of the world – cultural intolerance, cultural tyranny, cultural violence. And I think there’s a great battle that is taking place right now in the world in the beginning of the 21st century and we all have a stake in making sure that tolerance, diversity and progress win the day; that modernity wins the day against barbarian medievalism.
I think this is something that is shared by everyone, by our societies, by the countries of the West, the countries of Asia, the Muslim world itself.

I was recently in two Muslim countries, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, and you understand how much they want to seize the future. You understand how much they teach tolerance because I was in a synagogue like the one I was in today and just as today, Jewish children were singing Hebrew songs in a country that is predominantly Muslim.

This is what we want to see. We want to see that tolerance and that acceptance, which I believe will ultimately decide the fate of our region and the fate of peace.

I want to assure you that I am committed to peace and the people of Israel yearn for peace, all of us. We pray for peace because we have experienced, as you said, the cost of war, we lost loved ones. I myself was wounded in battle. Peace is better. Infinitely better. And I believe that the key to peace is the abandonment of the goal of liquidating people, accepting them and working out the various conflicts.

I think there’s an opportunity to do this today because I sense a great change in the Arab world in many Arab countries, and I hope, as we discussed earlier, to be able to use that newfound attitude towards Israel to help to solve the Palestinian Israeli conflict as well. This is something that we’re making a lot of efforts to, most of them are, so we say, not publicised, not public.

Equally, there is one thing that I can say about the exceptional achievements of Singapore. I think that the fact that we are working together, we are cooperating in the economy, in trade, in technology, in medicine, in every field. I think this strengthens both our countries. We have extraordinary reputations in the world but the fact is that when we combine them, we have an even more powerful brand if I can use that jargon term. That brand is very powerful.

We spoke today about collaborating in third countries. We’re already doing that in one African case, I think we should do it in many countries in Africa, in many countries in the Pacific. I think we have a lot to offer humanity and our success in not only the betterment of our own societies and our own peoples but we can carry this progress far and wide.

Israel is pivoting towards Asia in a very clear and purposeful way.  Next month I’ll go to China, somewhat later this year Prime Minister Modi of India will come to visit Israel. Perfectly poised between China and India is Singapore and I’m not speaking merely in a geographic sense, I’m saying that as a gateway to Asia, Singapore is a perfect partner. Israeli companies already understand that and I hope that after this visit, many more will understand that. We believe in Singapore, we admire Singapore, we admire the consistent leadership and vision that you had and that you continue to exemplify, Prime Minister.


6 Responses to “Netanyahu in Singapore”
  1. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    The prominent Australians who signed this statement show their gross ignorance in doing so.

    Do the likes of Hawke and Rudd think their prior status gives them the automatic right to pronounce on issues they’re too lazy to do their homework on? They have plummeted in my estimation. Not that they were ever high in my estimation, but I did harbour a degree of respect for them. No more. What a farce.

  2. Leon Poddebsky says:

    Asia and much of Africa, are untainted by the atavistic antipathy to Jews, which is a feature of Western civilisation. At times this virus is dormant, but regularly becomes activated by this or that stimulus.
    People of genuine good will, not fake “humanitarians,” wonder why “prominent Australians” ignore the multitude of iniquities on their doorstep, but expend disproportionate passion, energy and reputation in their frenzied paroxysms of irrationality and hatred directed against Israel.
    Why do such Australians not even utter murmurs of protest about, e.g., the cruel, inhuman treatment of the indigenous people of West Papua, Australia’s closest neighbour, who suffer under the Indonesian jackboot? These people, unlike the Arabs who call themselves “Palestinians,” do not wish to harm any one; they just want their freedom.
    The answer is obvious.

  3. Goldie Kelmann says:

    262 St.Kilda Road St.Kilda
    Rudd, Hawke , Carr and other Labour union members have shown their ignorance regarding Israel and its history .
    Their anti Israel comments show their anti Jewish bias and are an embarassment to both the Australian Prime Minister and the Australian people .
    The Israeli defence forces are the most moral army in the World and should be cherished and held up as a light to the cruel and amoral terrorist surrounding countries.The Israeli Prime Minister should accordingly be treated with respect and
    Honour .

    • Lynne Newington says:

      In regards to Kevin Rudd, I was gobsmacked with what came out of his mouth considering breaches of security when prime minister and the dammning of Julie Bishop when she was shadow minister for foreign affairs.

  4. david singer says:

    Inspirational and very uplifting remarks by Netanyahu in Singapore.

    Bob Hawke and Kevin Rudd should hang their heads in shame. I hope they read what Netanyahu said.

    So should the 60 prominent persons who signed a statement prepared by the Australian Palestine Advocacy Network who conveniently forget that the Palestinian Arabs rejected proposals to end the Jewish-Arab conflict and grant them their own independent State in
    1. 1922
    2. 1937
    3. 1947
    4. 1993 to 2000
    5. 2000/2001
    6. 2008

    The conflict could have ended at any time between 1948 to 1967 with the stroke of an Arab League pen after Jordan had forcibly evicted all the Jews living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and occupied those areas exclusively.

    Prominent Australians are so busy becoming prominent that they obviously forget the opportunities for peace rejected by the Arabs for the last 100 years – and still offered today by Israel.

    Arab rejectionism still reigns supreme in refusing to recognise Israel as the Jewish National Home recognised by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

    These prominent Australians need to really find some spare time to read the history of the conflict and the attempts of the Jews and the intenational community to resolve it.

    They clearly lack that knowledge.

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