- Written by Jonathan Danilowitz
"Welcome to the world of LGBT (usually the acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender). This time the “T” in the acronym stands for both Transgender and Tech (short for technology).
British Ambassador to Israel, H.E. David Quarry, together with his partner Mr. Aldo Henriquez, generously opened their official residence and threw a party attended by some 300 guests, celebrating the LGBTech side of computing, IT, artificial intelligence, Nano technology and more. Among the guests were several diplomats (we spotted El Salvador’s Ambassador Werner Romero), movers & shakers of the LGBT community and of course, technocrats of all stripes and colors. This was the evening to have your cellphone or laptop tuned up instantly!LGBTech is an organization that opens the technical world to everyone, but especially encourages open diversity in the techno workplace. It seems that many LGBT people are afraid to come out as such, and that many employers are afraid (or unaware) of the need for employee equality and diversity. LGBTech covers all the bases.
The event was held in the beautiful garden on a delightful spring evening last week. Guests mingled, chatted, networked, met old friends and made new ones. Buffet serving tables offered a range of dishes, while the bar, needless to say, was a popular meeting place. The hosts greeted everyone on arrival, and afterward mingled in the crowd, making for a fine relaxing evening before the start of the “official” ceremony.
Ambassador Quarry addressed the guests, reminding them that that was the third time the British Embassy has hosted such a reception (together with the main sponsor of the evening, Mercedes Benz). He especially welcomed the guest of honor and keynote speaker, Lord Browne of Madingley, British business leader and former CEO of BP. Mr. Shachar Grembek, the main organizer, and president of LGBTech also spoke briefly, introduced a short video (The “Israel Diversity Standard” - 7 reasons for workplace diversity) and then handed over to Lord Browne, who presented the awards (the main reason for the gathering).
Lord Browne recalled his first visit to Israel, 20 years ago, for the half-century anniversary of the State of Israel. “We’re the same age, “he said and I wanted be here for our mutual 70thbirthday too”. Much applause. He shared his experiences of his own coming out in the very conservative British business community.
The awards, for dedication and commitment to the needs and ideals of Israel’s LGBT community, including small businesses and start-ups, were presented to Mr. Avi Sofer and to Ms. Nina Halevy. Each made a short thank-you speech, acknowledging the honor and recognizing the importance of LGBTech even - or especially - in 2018).
It was a joyous event. Kudos to the Ambassador and Mr. Henriquez and to the British Embassy, for their initiative and generosity. The event was also a launch for another fine LGBTech initiative - raising money to support the Senior LBTQ+ community. An admirable and thoughtful task.
Photo Credit: Ben Kelmer
- Written by President’s Spokesperson
Following : Excerpt from PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the 70th Independence Reception for the Diplomatic Corps
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks today (Thursday, 19 April 2018), Independence Day, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem:
"There are two things that you can do to help Israel celebrate this great Independence Day. The first thing is – speak out against Iran. Iran is the enemy of us all – of Israel, the Arab world, Civilization. It openly speaks today, 2018, the 21st century, it openly speaks about liquidating Israel, openly! It encircles the whole Middle East which it wants to conquer, it fires rockets into Riyadh and Saudi Arabia, it is occupying Lebanon effectively, it’s trying to inflame Gaza again, it is in Iraq, and it is trying to establish a military base in Syria, which all peace- loving nations should resist, speak out against Iran. If history has taught us anything, it is that a murderous tyranny must be opposed in the beginning. Stop bad things in the beginning.
The second thing you can do to advance peace is to move your embassy here. We are delighted with President Trump’s decision to move the embassy here. It says a simple thing: Peace must be based on truth.
Recognizing reality is the way you build peace. You cannot build peace on a foundation of lies because it crashes on the rocks of reality. It’s important to establish those principles that will ultimately guide peace: that Israel has a capital, that the Jewish people have had a capital for 3,000 years and that it’s called Jerusalem - is uncontestable. It’s time to recognize that fact. I’m delighted to say that there are at least half a dozen countries that are now seriously discussing with us, moving the embassy to Jerusalem, and thank you Guatemala for doing that. There will be others to follow.
So please, there’s a simple principle, you’re familiar with it: First come, first served. I’ve decided that the first ten embassies to come here will get preferential treatment. We’ll help you! All of you should do that. And I want to say how delighted we are here to see you at the President’s house, in our capital Jerusalem on this day, but we want to see you every day. So 'This year in Jerusalem.' Thank you for coming here, thank you for celebrating our independence and our rebirth here in the Jewish state."
- Written by Nicholas Levy
On Wednesday March 21, Central Asia came to central Israel, with a spectacular Nowruz (New Year) celebration. The Embassy of Kazakhstan in Israel, together with the municipality of Rishon Lezion and the Association of immigrants from Kazakhstan in Israel, hosted a festive celebration which connected Israeli and Kazkhstani culture, and marked both the traditional Persian New Year, as well as the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover.
Rishon Lezion Park was set up to look like a village from Kazakhstan, with elaborately decorated huts, tapestries, and adorned tables. Guests enjoyed refreshments, and boxes of chocolate with a Kazakhstani label.
The Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Israel H.E. Mr. Doulat Kuanyshe welcomed the guests. He remarked on the similarities between the two holidays of Nowruz and Passover, with both being holidays of the spring, leading to cleaning homes, and of course tables filled with food and family celebrations.
Yossi Nahmani, the deputy mayor of Rishon Lezion spoke on behalf of the municipality. Mr. Nahmani greeted the guests in Russian, before reverting to English. He explained that fittingly, the park was on the site of a former school that had been used to teach Hebrew immigrants. Mr. Nahmani also remarked on the similarities between Passover and Nowruz, and emphasized the friendship between Israel and Kazakhstan. In closing, he invited everyone to attend future events in Rishon Lezion.
Sofa Landver, the Minister of Immigration and Integration and herself an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, spoke on behalf of the government of Israel, wishing the guests a joyous holiday--for both Passover and the Nowruz. Additional speakers addressed the audience in Russian, further highlighting the poly-lingual and multicultural component of Kazakhstan and the celebration.
In closing, guests were reminded of how Nowruz is a holiday which brings people together--uniting Turkic people from Iran, Turkey, and all of Central Asia, led by Kazakhstan.
Following the speeches, four different singers performed in English, Hebrew, French, and Russian. The guests enjoyed a lavish buffet lunch with traditional Kazakhstani cuisine, along with some Israeli dishes.
Diplomacy.co.il wishes a Happy Nowruz and Passover to all those celebrating.
By Nicholas Levy / Photo credit: Lea Sarsour
- Written by Silvia Golan & Steven Aiello
Nawruz -- saying goodbye to Winter and hello to Spring -- Is a Persian Holiday marking the New Year.
On Wednesday evening March 21 the Baha’i community in Israel held its annual Nawruz celebration in the heart of Jerusalem. The Baha’i faith, with its emphasis on unity and equality among people, has millions of followers worldwide, with its global center in Israel. However, its origins are in present-day Iran, and thus Nawruz, the Persian New Year, is celebrated by the Baha’i community as well.
The Baha’i World Centre in Israel includes the shrines of Baha’ullah and the Bab in Acre and Haifa respectively, the renowned Baha’i gardens, and other sites including a new Pilgrim Reception area. The center receives a million visitors a year, including Baha’i religious pilgrims, as well as international tourists.
As is its tradition, the Baha’i community in Israel held a festive celebration to commemorate the Persian New Year, or Nawruz. Painstaking efforts were undertaken to recreate a miniature version of the Baha’i gardens in the David Citadel hotel, bringing a taste of the Baha’i shrines to Jerusalem. The Baha’i leaders stood at the entrance greeting guests warmly. Coming from all over the world, they wore the traditional attire of their respective countries of origin. Live music further added to the relaxing ambience of the evening.
Ms. Sarah Vader, Deputy Secretary of the Bahai International Community Secretariat, opened the evening and welcomed the distinguished guests. Mrs. Vader read greetings from President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu on behalf of the government and people of Israel. Ms. Tahereh Pourshafie from Australia, then sang a beautiful prayer in Farsi.
The Secretary General of the Baha’i International community, Mr. Joshua Lincoln, talked about the significance of Naw-Rúz. He mentioned that “To the Baha’i, Naw-Rúz is not just the arrival of spring. The renewal in the world of nature is in fact a symbol of spiritual renewal, and an occasion for the individual to explore how to contribute to the material and spiritual welfare of others. Therefore it is an opportunity to reinvigorate the powers of the spirit and to re-examine matters of the heart and conscience.” He then spoke about the various events that the Baha’i International Community organized, including:
- The Bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh in October 2017 – and the way it was celebrated and marked around the world including through the arts;
- The upcoming International Bahá'í Convention;
- The 150th anniversary of the arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in the Holy Land
Followed Mr. Lincoln’s speech, Ms. Vader introduced a group of colorful artists from the Pacific Island on stage. The guests enjoyed the performers, live music, and a lavish buffet, as they celebrated Nawruz with the Baha’i community.
Diplomacy.co.il wish the global Baha"i community Happy Baha"i New Year
Photos By Silvia G. Golan
- Written by Reut Rivlin, Debate for Peace
Influential women from all walks of life met at an International Women’s Day summit at the residence of the Ambassador of Ireland, H.E. Alison Kelly on Monday evening March 19. In addition to networking and exchanging ideas, the group heard from Ambassador Kelly, Major General Kristin Lund, Head of Mission at UNTSO, and representatives from the Women Wage Peace movement.
Ambassador Kelly opened the evening by expressing her support and appreciation for the Women Wage Peace initiative. She also welcomed fellow ambassadors, and the guest of honor, Major General Kristin Lund, the Head of Mission at United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).
Pascal Chen spoke on behalf of Women Wage Peace. She explained the enthusiasm that has come with remarkable growth over the last year, and the movement’s rise to over 30,000 registered members, from all walks of life. Chen thanked the diplomats for supporting the initiative and for their empowerment of local women activists. Chen closed by thanking Ambassador Kelly for helping to facilitate training of Women Wage Peace members.
Major General Lund discussed the challenges facing gender equality globally, based on international economic and socio-economic reports, such as more than a billion women worldwide lacking legal protection, and estimates that gender pay gaps will only be fully eradicated in 200 years. She contrasted those challenges with groundbreaking successes in facing and addressing discrimination and oppression, citing the #MeToo movement as one example.
Major General Lund highlighted recent efforts within the UN, led by Secretary General Antonio Guterres, including achieving gender parity of UN senior leadership for the first time in history. Listing various challenges facing women around the world, the general stated that empowerment of women and protection of their rights are part of the UN’s mission. Emphasizing that women can play a key role in peacebuilding, Major General Lund called for action, saying that “the time is now.”
Following the speeches, there was a poetry reading by a woman writer and activist. The guests then enjoyed a musical performance, with songs sung in Arabic, English and Hebrew. International Women’s Day is March 8, but events promoting women’s rights and empowerment may be held throughout March.
By Reut Rivlin, Debate for Peace