Czech festival showcases warm ties between Prague, J’lem

“This is the largest Czech cultural festival in Israel ever,” said Czech Ambassador Tomas Pojar says.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
May 24, 2012 04:24
1 minute read.
Czech Ambassador to Israel Tomas Pojar

Czech Ambassador to Israel Tomas Pojar 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Foreign Ministry, Czech Republic)

 
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Israel’s friends in Europe can sometimes seem few and far between, but for a loyal ally it can always count on the Czech Republic. Its special relationship with the central European country was on display last week when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received a warm welcome in Prague. Another manifestation of the strong ties between the two is the Days of Prague festival that will take place next week in Israel.

The series of cultural events are spread throughout the country and will kick off on Sunday.

“This is the largest Czech cultural festival in Israel ever,” said Czech Ambassador Tomas Pojar in a briefing with journalists at the embassy in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.

Participants include jazzist Jaroslav Jakubovic, the Kuhn Choir and the Forman Brothers theater company. Most events will be held in cooperation with the Israel Festival, but the embassy is also organizing Czech food tastings at Little Prague, a pub chain, and a live public screening in Ashdod of the Czech national soccer team’s match in the Euro 2012 championship.


According to the ambassador, none of the Czech artists invited refused to come for political reasons, as is sometimes the case elsewhere. He said good ties between his country and Israel dates back almost 100 years when Tomásˇ Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, visited the Yishuv, the Jewish settlement in the British Mandate of Palestine.

“Perhaps the reason for good ties with Israel is the anti-clericalism in the Czech Republic,” said Pojar, whose father was also the Czech ambassador to Israel and who spent a few years as a teen living in Herzliya. “Perhaps it’s something else.”

There has been talk of holding a reciprocal “Days of Jerusalem” festival in the Czech Republic, but Pojar said the initiative would have to come from the city’s municipality.

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