Israel-Taiwan relations suffered somewhat of a diplomatic blunder recently, after Taipei's Ministry of National Defense posted a photograph showing students wearing Nazi uniforms during a MND-organized summer camp on its website.
The faux pas prompted a media ruckus. The Israeli consulate in Taipei appealed to the defense ministry and the latter removed the photos.
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Simona Halperin, director of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei met with Taiwan's deputy national defense minister on Friday, and he extended his personal apology for the incident.
The photo (Screenshot)
A spokesman for the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense issued a statement saying the ministry was disappointed by the military news agency's "misguided" decision to post the photo in the first place.
"We want to apologize to the public and to Israel," he said in the statement, adding that the young men in the photo "obviously lacked knowledge of history."
Military spokesman Lo Shao-ho made an official apology over the incident to the public.
Lo said he had contacted the three students in question, and they all expressed regret for their action: “They said they wore the uniforms for fun as they are all military fans... They didn't mean to offend anyone and that they are sorry for causing the stir."
"We were shocked and sad to see the photograph," Halperin said, adding she was sure the MND's move was made out of "ignorance as to the sensitivity of the issue and not out of any support for Nazi atrocities."
Halperin continued to point out that the controversy also shows that Taiwan should teach its students about such issues so they may better understand their significance.
"The Israeli mission in Taipei is willing to collaborate with the relevant authorities in Taiwan in order to formulate such an educational plan, which would prevent such incidents from reoccurring."
Halperin stress she was sure that the incident, though embarrassing, would not impeded the two nations' diplomatic relations.
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