Malaysia is a country that is jam-packed with diversity including many cultures, environments, foods, terrain and foreign influences throughout its rich history. With all of those great things going for it the question arises as to why Tamar didn’t join me on this visit to Malaysia since we all know she loves these things as much as I do. Well, unfortunately Israel citizens are not permitted to enter Malaysia and Malaysians are not allowed to visit Israel, in fact it even says so in their passports! That’s really too bad for everyone since I’m sure Israelis would have a blast adding Malaysia to their Southeast Asia itineraries and, from some of the young Malaysians I spoke to, there seems to be a fair amount of interest and curiosity about visiting Israel as well.
I started to dig a bit deeper into the current state of Israeli-Malaysian relations and I came across an interesting article written by an Israel professor for whom an exception may have been made (or he holds another passport) since he recently spoke at a conference in Kuala Lumpur. You can read about his impressions of Malaysia and its cultural diversity as well as his experiences with colleagues and conference attendees.
As with anything related to Internet research one thing led to another and I found myself looking into whether there is or ever was a Jewish community in Malaysia. After all, there are thousands of Jews in Iran and nobody from Israel is hopping on a plane to vacation in Iran these days or vice-versa. It turns out that there is a very small Jewish community in Malaysia although it was larger in the past. That past is now represented by the Jewish cemetery that still exists today in the middle of Georgetown on the island of Penang. There were a couple of articles written about this cemetery and they gave me the idea that I could just rent a motorbike and drive around looking for it myself.
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