The Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Israel and China: Norman Kaplan
Chapter 7: Excerpted and translated from << My China>>, authored by Hon. Amram Olmert, Former Minister-Counsellor, Embassy of the State of Israel, Beijng, China


On the 24th of January, 1992 there was a signing ceremony for the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Israel. Since the time of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two states, many and varied relationships have developed.

Agriculture, Science, Hi-tech, Economics and Trade, Culture and the main subject of security--all of the above were the essential raw material (for the development of relations) between Israel and China. The subject of agriculture was a long time bridge that existed before the formal relations between Israel and China and both took on a very important place in the international relations between the two countries.

In public Israeli awareness, Shaul Eisenberg, is seen as a pioneer in relations with China. It is known that Eisenberg is the person who formed a connection between the military industrial industry of Israel with their Chinese counterparts. According to various press releases agreements were made which reached the sums of billions of dollars with the aid and involvement of Shaul Eisenberg. Symbolic of this is the fact that Shaul Eisenberg died when in China.

For some reason public attention did not focus on an additional person who had an equally important role in the creation of contacts between China and Israel--contacts that in short gave birth to the establishment of diplomatic relations. This man is known as Norman Kaplan. Norman Kaplan was born in Cleveland, Ohio in the U.S.A. in the 80's of the last century Norman studied physics at the famous Harvard University, where he learned to understand Chinese culture and became attached to it. As a result of this he formed a close friendship with a Chinese student who was in a post doctorate program at Harvard University and who was the first Chinese student to be accepted to Harvard for the study of physics.

Dan Dai Wu the Chinese student heard much from Norman about Israel and about his hope that Israel and China would form formal diplomatic relations. Norman and Wu believed that such relations would be very advantageous to both sides. The camaraderie that was formed at the university continued on after the completion of studies and the Wu's return to China.

At a certain point, Wu turned to Norman with a request that he help him to establish contact with Israeli scientists.

Norman passed on Wu's request to professor Yuval Neeman, a well known physicist and Minister of Science in those days. Norman met Neeman during the visit of Neeman to Harvard University. Neeman responded to Wu (the Chinese man) and sent by way of Kaplan an encouraging letter. During the coming years Norman served as a contact person between Israel and China. In 1984, at the request of Wu, Kaplan organized a meeting between Neeman and the Chinese Assistant Minister of Science.

As a result of this, the road was paved for an exchange program for scientists between China and Israel. The understanding that was achieved by these scientific exchanges, allowed the assistant minister of science during a visit to Cairo in 1985 to declare that "Israeli specialists and Israeli academics would be able to come to China as individuals to participate in scientific conferences and exhibitions in China." This pronouncement gave public and formal support to an otherwise unrevealed process that was happening. Kaplan also underwrote at his own expense these meetings between Israel and China. As a result of his activity and broad support Kaplan received recognition from the Chinese. In 1988 he was introduced to high ranking Chinese officials who informed him that China was ready for full diplomatic relations with Israel.

As a result of all of the above, the President of Israel, Chaim Herzog, thanked Kaplan for his efforts. George bush Sr. who was the U.S. President then and the Vice President at the time sent Kaplan a personal letter in which they valued his part in the Chinese willingness to create full diplomatic relations with Israel. The next step was a meeting between the foreign minister of China and the foreign minister of Israel. Parallel to the efforts that Kaplan made toward the establishment of full and normal relations between Israel and China, He provided significant funds for the bringing of Chinese scientists to Israel and Israeli scientist to china.

In 1990, Professor Yosef Shalhevet, who had been director of the Vulcan Institute of Agriculture, was appointed to be director of the office of Communication of the Science Academy with scientists in Beijing. At this time this position was considered parallel to that of an ambassador. After the establishment of diplomatic relations with China, Professor Shalhevet served as an advisor for matters of science and agriculture in the Israeli embassy (in Beijing)..

The establishment of full relations with China in 1992 concluded the involvement of Kaplan in the complicated process of establishing these relations.

Today Kaplan is a business man in china and is the owner of the factory for the production of RC. Cola in China.

The receipt of this franchise and permit for the production and distribution was in direct competition with Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola and was accompanied with legal struggles. Kaplan received much help from the Chinese authorities as a reward for his involvement in establishing diplomatic relations between China and Israel.


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