Israeli-Chinese relations take a step back

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of Israel  ,
Sunday, September 14, 2008

There are lots of Chinese working as labourers in Israel, and lots of Israeli backpackers trying to stretch out their shekels in China.

Now Israeli-Sino relations have taken a nose-dive with a comment from Israel's only medalist at the Beijing Olympics.

Here's the story (From Shanghai List) plus a sampling of comments on its site:

Bronze medalist windsurfer Shahar Zubari and Israel's only medal recipient at the Beijing Olympics has stirred up a storm of controversy after referring to the Chinese as "scum" in an interview with 7 Yamim, a weekend supplement of the mass-market daily Yedioth Ahronoth. The comments made by the 20 year old athlete led the Chinese embassy in Israel to cancel the party it had planned in honour of Israeli athletes who had participated in the Beijing Games, and sent Israel's Culture, Science and Sport Minister Raleb Majadele scrambling to send an apology to the Chinese ambassador:

"I would like to condemn the irresponsible remarks made by Shahar Zubari," Majadele wrote.

"I would also like to emphasize that they do not reflect the views of the Israeli people on the Chinese nation," he expressed to the ambassador.

Majadele wrote that during his stay in Beijing during the event, he discovered "a cultured, polite people who are pleasant and friendly."

"I hope that the regrettable remarks made by Shahar Zubari do not harm the fruitful relations between our countries," he added.

And some comments it provoked:

1. eh , I don't think he calls anyone scum

This is all he said :

"Their traditions are bizarre and even their speech is weird," he said, adding, "I also don't like their food."

He later apologized.

An Israeli Cabinet minister called the Chinese ambassador Wednesday to apologize after Israel's only Beijing Olympics medalist used a curse to describe the Chinese in a newspaper interview

Majadle, who attended the Olympics, told the ambassador that they "do not reflect the views of the Israeli people toward the Chinese people," and praised the Chinese for their hospitality during the Games, according to a statement from Majadle's office.

Zubari published an apology in Yediot on Tuesday. "I want to apologize from the bottom of my heart" for the comments, he said, explaining they were made "without thinking."

2. "I have met many Israelis outside of Israel and all have been wonderful and friendly people."

Me too. I wouldn't say that they were wonderful people, most of the time in my experience they acted badly, essentially quite a rude and obnoxious bunch.

"I am Chinese , I was angry at first, but then after hearing what the Israeli ambassador and minister said, I am calm now."

3. he obviously is a bumpkin who has never been overseas a lot, at least the exotic countries. Judging by his looks, he is probably a Shephardic Jew. He goes to a country that is very different from Eilat, where he comes from, and he blurted out his ignorance. Being an athlete in the Olympics, I am sure the Chinese authorities and the like would have gone out of their way to be nice to him. Of course, Israeli officials might be afraid this could hurt Chinese purchase of Israeli weapons, since there is now even less need to do so, as Chinese weaponry manufacture becomes more sophisticated.

On another interesting note, young Israeli backpackers in Nepal are the most disliked by the locals for their lack of cultural sensitivity, stinginess and rudeness. Many young Israelis head to Nepal and India, to load up on hashish, get drunk, and de-stress from military duty in the Palestinian territories.
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