President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of March 30 with a delegation from Israel that was here to attend the 2015 Taiwan & Israel Co-Education and Co-Innovation Forum. In addition to welcoming the delegation to Taiwan, the president also expressed hope for continued expansion of cooperation and interaction between the two countries.
In remarks, the president stated that while the ROC and Israel are located quite far from each other geographically, the two have a similar historical experience. Some six million Jews were killed during World War II, while the Japanese invasion of China led to the deaths of over 20 million Chinese, he said.
Recounting history, the president noted that many nations from Europe and the Americas in 1938 convened the Evian Conference in France to discuss the plight of Jewish refugees. The majority of the nations attending the conference, however, were unwilling to accept large numbers of these refugees, and consequently many Jews living in Nazi Germany were unable to find their way to other countries. Then the ROC Consul-General in Vienna Feng-Shan Ho (何鳳山) realized the danger facing the Jews, and based on the spirit of humanitarianism, liberally issued them visas. He issued a total of about 2,000 visas, which assisted the Jews to escape Nazi persecution. As a result, Ho is known in the international community as "China's Schindler," and after the war was honored by Israel as "Righteous Among the Nations."
The president stated that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the ROC's victory in the War of Resistance against Japan and the retrocession of Taiwan. At the same time, this year is also the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The ROC is planning a series of commemorative activities to mark these events and highlight the importance of freedom and condemn war. Among those being invited to attend the events will be Manli Ho (何曼禮), the daughter of Ho Feng-Shan, as well as a grandson of John Rabe, a German businessman who helped establish a safe zone for Chinese during the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. The government, the president said, will issue a presidential citation to Ambassador Ho posthumously to recognize his heroic rescue efforts.
The president then discussed cooperative relations between the ROC and Israel, stating that to date the two sides have signed 21 agreements. The two countries maintain close interaction in economics and trade, science and technology, agriculture, medicine, mutual assistance in customs, anti-money laundering, aviation, and youth affairs, with many achievements in these fields, he said.
The president commented that both the ROC and Israel emphasize democracy and education, and Israel has become an international model in the pursuit of innovation. According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 published by the World Economic Forum, Israel ranks in the top five globally in the quality of scientific research institutions, firm-level technology absorption, number of applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty per million population, and capacity for innovation, which the president said that the ROC should seek to emulate. Meanwhile, the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute in its 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) ranked Taiwan eighth in the world, which indicates that the ROC has achieved preliminary successes in its efforts to promote innovation. The president hopes the two countries in the future will continue to strengthen cooperation and interaction, and will work together in promoting educational development and industrial innovation.
The delegation was led by Israel's Leo Baeck Education Center Managing Director Dani Fesler and Vice President of Development Eran Dubovi.