Philippines and Israel Commemorate 60 Years of Diplomatic Ties at the Open Doors Monument

13 November 2017, Tel Aviv - The Philippine Embassy in Israel, in cooperation with the Municipality of Rishon LeZion and the Christian Friends of Magen David Adom in the Philippines, organized a ceremony at the Open Doors Monument in the Holocaust Memorial Park in Rishon LeZion to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Israel.

Neal Imperial, the Philippine Ambassador to Israel, joined Rishon LeZion Mayor Dov Zur and Holocaust survivor Margot Pins Kestenbaum in laying wreaths at the monument, in memory of the lives that were spared due to the Philippines' open door policy during World War II. Ms. Kestenbaum, who had fled to Manila with her family as a child, represented the Jewish diaspora that had taken refuge in the Philippines during that time, together with Mr. Max Weissler.

In his remarks, Mayor Dov Zur stressed the need to remember the three-fold contributions of the Philippines to the Jewish people, namely: courage in facing evil; the country's historic vote in favor of the establishment of the state of Israel; and a mutual humanitarian commitment which continues to this day.

The mayor reminded the audience that the Monument symbolizes the 1,300 Jews saved by the Philippines' gesture of empathy and support: "Each [of these survivors] represents an act of friendship ... that signifies the victory of human compassion against human horror."

Ambassador Imperial, in his own remarks, lauded the city of Rishon LeZion for its efforts to keep the story of the Philippines' Open Door policy alive and, in so doing, honoring the foundation of the deep friendship between the Philippines and Israel.

"It was a time when our moral compass pointed in the right direction, when human compassion and hope prevailed over hate and prejudice," Ambassador Imperial recalled. "It [serves] as a reminder to ourselves, and to other countries, that we must do the right thing when faced with a similar moral choice. Humanity will be the better for it."

The Philippines and Israel established diplomatic relations on 9 August 1957. END

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(L-R) Rishon LeZion Mayor Dov Zur, Ambassador Neal Imperial and former Israeli Ambassador the Philippines Menashe Bar-On during the event at Open Doors Monument in Rishon LeZion

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Ambassador Neal Imperial with Ms. Margot Pins Kestenbaum and Mayor Dov Zur after offering wreaths at the Open Doors Monument

 

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Ambassador Neal Imperial addressing the crowd who attended the celebration at the Open Doors Monument for the 60th anniversary of the establishment of PH-Israel diplomatic relations

 

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Ambassador Neal Imperial with Mr. Max Weissler, another Holocaust survivor, who fled to Manila with his family