The Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Israel and China: Norman
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
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
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.