A photography exhibit is to open early next year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Israel’s representative office in Taiwan and three decades of friendship between the two sides, Israeli Representative to Taiwan Omer Caspi said in an interview.
The exhibition, titled “Israel in Taiwanese eyes,” is to showcase 30 photographs taken by Taiwanese during visits to Israel, said Caspi, who heads the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei (ISECO).
Although the pictures are not specifically tourism promotion photographs, Caspi said his office chose these amateur images to show attractions that ordinary Taiwanese would be interested in when visiting Israel because of the similarities with Taiwan.
One, for example, features a barbecue stand in an Israeli market, a nod to how much people in Taiwan love street food and the immediate draw similar street food scenes in Israel could be to them, Caspi said.
The 30 photographs, which would be enlarged and displayed at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, were selected from 150 submissions.
As a member of the photo selection committee, Caspi said he found it extremely difficult to screen the many choices available.
The committee had to make sure it did not choose the works of only a few photographers, but also had to overcome the challenge of dealing with the challenge of photographs taken on mobile phones that had relatively low resolution, he said.
“But it was nice. And I think it’s a good connection also with the people here, and in learning about what they see in Israel,” Caspi said.
After completing its run in Taipei in the middle of February, the photo exhibition is to tour other parts of Taiwan so that more people can view it, he said.
The Israeli representative office is also arranging a fashion show featuring young and upcoming Taiwanese and Israeli designers, and Caspi said he hoped the show can be staged by the middle of next year.
Both events are aimed at celebrating the 30th anniversary of the inauguration of ISECO, which was established in 1993 to bolster exchanges between Israel and Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.
Israel and the Republic of China have never formed official diplomatic relations. Israel established official diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China in 1992.
Despite the lack of official ties, Caspi said his country cherishes its unofficial relations with Taiwan, and the upcoming events celebrate the two-way friendship that has developed over the past three decades.
Since the office opened in 1993, Israel and Taiwan have signed more than 20 agreements in several areas, ranging from education and science to health, social issues and a reciprocal driver’s license agreement, Caspi said.
Also, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, two-way trade last year reached a record US$2.4 billion, 33 percent higher than a year earlier, he said, citing official numbers.
However, Caspi said he believed that there was great potential to further increase bilateral trade and investment.
One area with particular potential is water management because Israel is one of world leaders in water technology and different aspects of water management, irrigation and desalination, he said.
Water is extremely important to the manufacturing of Taiwan’s world-leading semiconductor sector, and that was magnified last year when Taiwan faced a serious drought, he said.
“I think we can identify all these issues and try to find the right innovation in Israel that will accommodate the needs of Taiwan. It can be renewable energy, it can be wastewater management,” Caspi said.
Human rights is another major area for cooperation, he said.
In 2005, the UN designated Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the date on which the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland was liberated in 1945.
Since 2016, the German Institute and the Israeli Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei have held an annual commemoration event in Taiwan, and the Taiwanese government has taken part in the past two years, Caspi said.
This year’s event was held at Taipei Guest House, with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) attending.
“I think it is very important that the [Taiwanese] government is now involved in that. And the fact that it is done this way, and in this place, it like amplifies it, and gives the right message to the people, to the schoolchildren,” Caspi said.
Caspi assumed his post in August 2019, not long before the COVID-19 pandemic began. He said the only good thing about COVID-19 was that he and his family were able to spend all their holidays traveling around Taiwan.
He and his wife and two children, aged 11 and 13, were able to travel around Taiwan and to the outlying islands of Penghu, Matsu and Kinmen.
He added that he is hoping to visit other islands off Taiwan’s east coast, especially Green Island (綠島) and Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼), before his tenure in Taiwan ends.
As the world is now reopening to tourists, Caspi said Israel is also hoping to welcome more Taiwanese back for travel.
The envoy said Israel is relatively small, but its location in a region straddling three continents with thousands of years of history makes it an ideal tourism destination.
The “Israel in Taiwanese eyes” exhibition is to open at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall on Jan. 11 and run until Feb. 20, ISECO said.
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