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On Tuesday June 6th, 2023, on a lovely spring evening, diplomats, military personnel, Israeli government officials, Israelis of Swedish descent and key figures in the tech industry were hosted by Ambassador of Sweden, Mr. Erik Ullenhag and his wife Maria Velasco in their beautiful residence in Herzliya to celebrate Sweden's 500 years of independence. The National Day of Sweden celebrates the birth of modern Sweden with the election of King Gustav Vasa in the 16th century, which set the stage for Sweden to emerge as an independent modern nation out of the Danish-dominated Kalmar Union. 


Upon entering, guests were welcomed by the Ambassador and his wife, who were accompanied by Ukrainian officials in an act of solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Inside the house, guests encountered a modern demonstration of Israeli-Swedish friendship and mutual innovation – a robotic arm, manufactured by the Swedish ABB corporation in Israel, lifting up the flag of Sweden on one side and the flag of Israel on the other. The celebration was a delightfully Swedish affair – With ABBA music playing in the background throughout the evening by a band that was located on the roof, meatballs and Swedish cider served front and center, and flowers bearing the colors of the Swedish flag dotting the courtyard and parlor. 


The ceremonial part of the evening began with the Swedish national anthem, followed by the anthem of Israel, and concluded with the anthem of the European Union, performed by the talented Keren Eilenberg accompanied by Doron Mizrahi on guitar. Following the anthems, Ambassador Ullenhag gave his remarks and welcomed all guests to his residency for the national day celebrations and the golden jubilee of King Carl XVI Gustaf. Ullenhag mentioned the sincere friendship between Sweden and Israel, emphasized Sweden's deep commitment to Israel's security, and condemned the recent missile attacks, noting that he witnessed their impacts while visiting youth being treated for post-trauma by animal therapy methods. 


The Ambassador called for a two- state solution living peacefully side by side. He thanked those who are involved in the work of promoting peace, gender equality, human rights, and women's rights in particular, as a true feminist who strives for a better, more equal society. Ambassador Ullenhag also expressed his gratitude for the people dedicating their lives for the remembrance of the holocaust, as the worst crime against humanity in history, and in the fight against anti-Semitism. He continued thanking those who are strengthening Swedish-Israeli ties in the academic and the technological fields, ties that go back to Israel's early years, when Sweden sent the largest number of volunteers, approximately 50,000, to join the Kibuzzim movement to help build the country. Ullenhag concluded his speech by thanking all of the Israelis who enjoy Swedish goods such as IKEA, Spotify, Abba music, Astrazeneca and more. 


Ambassador Ullenhag’s speech was followed by a speech by the honorary guest May Golan, a minister without a portfolio at the Prime Minister office, who spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. In her speech, Ms. Golan stressed the similarities amongst the two nations as they are both vivid democracies with many shared values as demonstrated, for example, by the recent visits of the two countries' Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Israel and Sweden respectively. Minister Golan also emphasized the Kibbutz Tech program, which aims to bring Swedish youth for internships at Israeli high-tech companies in order for them to be impressed by the Israeli innovation environment. Mrs. Golan concluded her speech by expressing Israel's appreciation for Sweden's contribution, as the president of the EU, to the improvement in the stance of Israel over the past few years. Golan also expressed gratitude for Sweden's activities with regard to the preservation of the memory of the Holocaust and the struggle against anti-Semitism, as well as its successful presidency of the IHRA – the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. On behalf of the Israeli government, Minister Golan wished the Kingdom of Sweden continued prosperity and success, and the strengthening of friendship between our two countries. 


Guests mingled inside and outside the elegant residence, enjoying a delicious buffet and a selection of beverages. Among the distinguished guests in attendance were Ambassador Gil Haskel, Chief of State Protocol at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ariel Goldstein (Senior Counsel of MK Benjamin Netanyahu); Tali Eshkoli, Eurovision Israel producer; Roneh Aharon, CEO of ABB technologies (Israel Branch) and others members of the company, who were responsible for the aforementioned robotic arm, Attorney Shashi Gaz and Angela Scharf and Doris Sperer from the "Women Wage Peace Organization" .

The event was sponsored by CEVT, IKEA, Vinnova, ABB, Surgical Science, SKF, SOL, SAS, Volvo, Kopparberg, and H&M. 


www.diplomacy.co.il & @debateforpeace congratulates the government, people, and Embassy of Sweden winning EUROVISION and on the occasion of their National Day 


Steven Aiello Founder--DebateforPeace https://debateforpeace.org 

Photo credits:  Silvia Graciela Golan 

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