The Embassy of Spain in Israel welcomed this week Minister of Tourism for the autonomous community of Andalucia Francisco Javier Hernandez, on a visit to launch a campaign promoting tourism to this historic region in southern Spain.



At a reception held at the residence of Spain’s Ambassador to Israel, Fernando Carderera, the ambassador introduced Minister Hernandez to assembled guests representing Israel’s business and travel industry leaders. In his remarks, Ambassador Carderera noted that Spain is the third most popular tourism destination in the world, welcoming more than 70 million foreign visitors annually.





Minister Hernandez unveiled Andalucia’s latest promotional campaign, aimed primarily at three million Jews of Sephardic origin living in Israel and throughout the Diaspora.  He disclosed the campaign slogan -- “visit Andalucia to discover your roots: a wonderful voyage back to your sources” -- and screened a video featuring the attractions of such cities as Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada, as well as the Costa del Sol.   



Following the video, guests -- among them Spanish Tourism consul for Italy and Israel Carlos Hernández Garcia-- enjoyed a concert of flamenco music and dance performed by an Israeli trio while partaking of paella and other Spanish delicacies.



Photo Silvia Golan





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On November 8, 2016, as millions of Americans cast their ballots, the American Embassy hosted an extravagant election night celebration. The event featured American food and music, and patriotic games and party favors, and was attended by a maximum capacity crowd at the Dan Panorama hotel in Tel Aviv, overlooking the sea.



The evening featured a full roster of events and activities. Guests enjoyed American cuisine and live music. Embassy representatives around the room wore special badges to designate them as “election experts,” happy to answer questions about the American electoral process and American politics. Stands around the party offered a variety of election-related contests, as well as posters with interesting facts and explanations about American elections. 






The election games included Bingo; “Match the vice president;” “Who said that” (presidential quotes); a trivia faceoff, an Instagram contest and more. At the end of the evening, a raffle was held for the winners of each of the competitions. But every participant went home a winner, with American flags and stress balls “to relieve the stress of the elections.” There was also a photobooth, with photos then getting superimposed onto backgrounds like Mount Rushmore and the White House.  



Ambassador Dan Shapiro spoke to the crowd, touching on the divisiveness of the recent election and the polarization of the American two-party system, especially in recent years. Ambassador Shapiro invoked the words of President Abraham Lincoln, who he called perhaps the greatest US president, and who sacrificed time, effort and ultimately his own life to bridge political differences and reunite the nation. 

The ambassador also spoke about the importance of the right to free and fair elections. He noted that the commitment to free elections was one of the many liberal democratic values shared between Israel and the United States, something. Ambassador Shapiro also thanked all of the Embassy staff whose hard work over the last few months enabled Americans living in Israel to cast their votes for the presidential and local races.





At the end of his speech the ambassador had another announcement to make. This one wasn’t about the elections, but it was about an event no less momentous in American history. Pulling out a baseball cap and placing it on his head, Ambassador Shapiro connected the celebration to the World Series victory of his beloved Chicago Cubs, an event for which generations of Chicago baseball fans waited for over a century.

The festivities were due to continue, with the party continuing into the early hours of the morning. Early Wednesday morning, the US Embassy’s American Center in Jerusalem hosted breakfast for all those who wanted to watch the election results coming in. For some the election results brought excitement, for others disappointment, but the Embassy ensured that everyone went home well-fed, with a smile on their face, and a greater appreciation for American values, culture and the electoral process. In a time and place in which politics can too often divide people, the celebration and the ambassador’s words were important reminders that diplomacy—between people and nations, can be a powerful and valuable tool for bringing peace and reconciliation.





 Article wirtten by  Steven Aiello  founder and director of the "Debate for Peace program"


Photos  Silvia Golan









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 President Reuven and First Lady Nechama Rivlin this evening (Monday) hosted at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, an official state dinner in honor of the visit of President of Guatemala Jimmy Morales and First Lady Patricia Marroquin de Morales. At the beginning of the evening both Presidents delivered toasts.


President Rivlin welcomed his guests and said, “It is an honor and pleasure to host you here in Jerusalem, the eternal city, Jerusalem, a city dear and holy for the people of Israel and for those of faith around the world.” He added, “The honorary doctorate you received today from the Hebrew University – the jewel in our crown – is a sign of the recognition of the community in Israel, and the importance of your mission and achievements so far. At the same time, this award expresses your true friendship, and that of your country, toward Jerusalem and the Jewish people.”


The President added, “As the leader of your country, you are faced with challenges in the present, in the here and now – they are important, demanding, and urgent. In the face of these challenges, Israel is a faithful partner of Guatemala under your leadership. Israel is not a just partner in words, we are your partners in actions, in the facts on the ground.” The President went on to stress the importance of the wide ranging cooperation between the countries in the fields of medicine, agriculture, and food provision. The President concluded that, “Your visit is just the beginning, and an opportunity for the State of Israel to give thanks to a country who is a true a friend of Israel.”


President Morales thanked the President and said, “This is a great honor for my family and me, and for my delegation, to be hosted here at a dinner which is testament to the excellent relations between our countries. It is a great privilege and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness which we have received on this visit. We truly feel at home. On my visit I am also accompanied by my mother who has long dreamt of visiting the holy land, and for this I thank you.”


He added, “I want to stress the cooperation and also the assistance and professional training to thousands of our citizens through scholarship programs and to state that a great number of our cabinet ministers were recipients of this help, including our Health Minister, and our Education Minister, among many others who are thankful to Israel. This activities are part of the great efforts of our governments to advance economic and social development. The exemplarily bilateral cooperation between us will only grow further.”


He concluded emotionally by saying, “In the name of the more than six million people of Guatemala, I convey to the Israeli people a warm embrace, we love and appreciate you.”


Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)




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President Reuven Rivlin this morning (Monday) at his residence received the diplomatic credentials of new ambassadors to Israel from the Belgium, Latvia, Switzerland, Greece, and Finland. Each ceremony began with the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem of the visiting country, included an honor guard, and - after the presentation of the credentials - the signing of the guest book, before the playing of Israel's national anthem 'Hatikva'.



Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr. Olivier Belle  , Ambassador of  Belgium to Israel.



President Rivlin first welcomed Ambassador of Belgium H.E Mr. Olivier Belle and said, “I know you will feel at home here as I was made to feel during my visit in your country.” He noted, “You have an important role to fulfill regarding the ongoing agreements that we are working on together.” President Rivlin spoke about the importance of the relationship and friendship between the two peoples, and of “the need to fight - not Islam - but to fight terror, because terror is terror is terror wherever it occurs.” He added, “You are the army and the police that protects the heart of the European Union. We must carry on to work together to share the burden of security in the face of the threats.”

President Rivlin concluded by extending an official invitation to the King of Belgium to visit Israel in the near future.

Ambassador Belle thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, “We have just arrived but feel at home, and have already visited much of your country.” He noted, “There are many challenges,” and that “Israel is a special country for Belgium. We have a long friendship and it is necessary every day to consolidate this friendship – based on shared values - and I will do my best to do so.” The Ambassador spoke of the need to work to fight against discrimination and antisemitism, and added that Belgium was proud of its bilateral relationship in the fields of culture and innovation especially. 






Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Ms  Elita Gavele  , Ambassador of  Latvia to Israel.

The President then welcomed Ambassador of Latvia, H.E Ms. Elita Gavele, and noted that “Within a year we will celebrate 25 years of the relationship between our countries.” He congratulated the Ambassador on her country’s joining the OECD, and noted, “For both states, Israel and Latvia, this is very important as we don’t have much natural resources but we have a lot of human resources and we appreciate very much the cooperation between our people.”

The President spoke of the importance of Holocaust education, and added, “We would like to emphasize the importance of your efforts to educate the next generations about what happened in the Holocaust, and to understand this must be remembered by all mankind and humanity."

Ambassador Gavele thanked the President and noted that “The Jewish people in Latvia have done so much for our country, and there are nearly 4,000 Israeli citizens here from Latvia,” who she noted were an important bridge between the two peoples. She noted that the Latvia President was due to come to Israel in 2018, and that there were high level ministerial visits planned including the Agricultural Minister who was arriving later in the day. The Ambassador noted, “We will celebrate our 25 years of relations with cultural events and discussions," and commented on the success of recent political consultations. She stressed, “A main issue is to improve our economic relationship”.




Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr  Jean-Daniel Ruch  , Ambassador of Switzerland  to Israel.



President Rivlin then received the diplomatic credentials of Ambassador of Switzerland, H.E Mr. Jean-Daniel Ruch. The President noted that “Next year we will commemorate 120 years since the first Zionist Congress which took place in Basel. Fifteen Zionist Congresses took place in Switzerland, and indeed it is well known across the Jewish world that Herzl said ‘In Basel I established the new Jewish state’.” He noted “This reminds us how important Switzerland was for the new Jewish renaissance”, and added, “Switzerland is also very important to Israel in terms of commerce, and we are also cooperating in many other fields including on the need to safeguard the whole world,” in the face of security threats.


Ambassador Ruch thanked the President and said that he felt, “The relationship between our peoples is an emotional one stretching back – as you said - to the first Zionist Congress,” and added that, “Israel in the conscious mind of Switzerland is a country with which we share many similarities - countries that are around the same size, with diverse societies.” He noted that “We also have many personal connections. There are around 20,000 Swiss citizens living in Israel, the largest Swiss community east of Europe. This has developed into a vast array of economic, cultural, and nowadays scientific links and cooperation.” He said that, “Among many in Switzerland, Israel is seen a almost a sister country when it comes to hi-tech and the development of sciences.” He noted that fostering this relationship would be one of his priorities. 


He concluded, “Switzerland - as the nation which hosts the ICRC, and the host of numerous peace conferences - is keen to see a just and lasting peace in this region. We remain committed and remain available - of course peace must come from the actors - but we will do whatever we can to bring peace to the people of this region.”




 Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Mr  Konstantinos Bikas  , Ambassador of  Greece  to Israel.


President Rivlin then welcomed Ambassador of Greece, H.E Mr. Konstantinos Bikas. “It is a real honor to welcome an ambassador from the state which is the birthplace of democracy," said the President, and added, "the connection between the Greek people and the Jewish people is thousands of years old. As much as someone could never say that the Acropolis is not part of the Greek people, no one could say the Western Wall is not the place where Jews have prayed for centuries. We do not need to imagine history - we can see history.”

The President spoke of increased Israeli tourism to Greece and of the strengthening relationship between the two countries. He also stressed the importance of the upcoming trilateral meetings with Cyprus.

Ambassador Bikas thanked the President for his “Kind and wise words”. He said “Our relations in the last years have become strategic ones, based on the history we share, the values we share, on the democracy we share. History is something both for Jews and for Greeks that can never be taken away, it is part of who we are and we must respect it.”



Photo : President Rivlin welcoming H.E Ms.  Anu Saarela , Ambassador of  Finland  to Israel.



Lastly, President Rivlin welcomed Ambassador of Finland. H.E Ms. Anu Saarela and said, “I admire Finland’s attitude toward education, the most important thing for every leader in Finland. Israel is considered the Start-Up nation with great universities, and I know that the cooperation between our two peoples in these issues is very important.”

He added, “We can agree to disagree on many issues, but we share the values of democracy and the dignity and the honor of all people.”

Ambassador Saarela said, “Thank you for kind words about my country. We share much more than divides us," she noted. "We want to learn from Israel, from your multiculturalism – the way you have built this country with people coming from all over. We also share the quest for innovation and hi-tech, I am sure we can deepen those ties even further," she added.

The Ambassador stressed, “We also share the objective of peace. I would like to especially stress what you said, and salute you for defending the fundamental values we share of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. These are the values on which our countries are built.”

She concluded, “Next year Finland will celebrate 100 years of independence, and we are looking forward to presenting Israeli society with many sides of our culture, innovation, and more.” 


Photo   Mark Neumann GPO









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