The 26th April brought thunderous and unseasonably heavy rainstorms to Tel Aviv and other locations in Israel. That evening the garden of the official South African ambassadorial residence in Ramat Gan was the scene of that countries 24th Freedom Day celebrations – and the rains stopped for a few hours. What luck!


The event was hosted by His Excellency Ambassador Sisa Ngombane and Mrs. Thatanyana Ngombane. The evening opened with a smart reception with guests mingling happily on the beautiful lawns. Honoring the assembly with their presence where, amongst many others, the ambassadors of the Netherlands, Tanzania, Italy, South Korea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and more; senior (and other) members of the diplomatic corps in Israel, captains of industry, art, science, education and culture in Israel; and many other VIP guests from various walks of life that link South Africa and Israel.


Renditions of the national anthems of South Africa and Israel preceded Ambassador Ngombane’s address to the guests. The ambassador brought greetings from the President of South Africa to the President of Israel and the Israeli people, on the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel. His warm welcome was tinged with sadness when he diplomatically included a note of sympathy to the Israelis on the just-announced death of ten teenagers who had been swept away in sudden floods while on a tour. His message also included noting that April is a sad month for South Africa, the month when several famous and gallant freedom fighters, politicians and diplomats died. Quoting Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, who eulogized at the funeral of the legendary Hugh Masekela:  “[He] is gone, Masekela is no more. All that energy, all that vitality, all that zest for life, (what the French call joie de vivre), all that passion and belief in higher destiny for mankind, especially for African people, all that charisma - they have all been extinguished. That is the way of mortal man.” Mortality ….

 Ambassador Ngombane added: “We are also gathered here to reaffirm our vision of an African continent, which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united; and which aspires to a world that is just and equitable. We are also mindful of the long road ahead and the challenges we confront, South Africa’s contribution to the African continent is to address the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. In this regard, we are determined to build on the achievements we have made and confront the challenges we face to accelerate progress in building a more prosperous and equitable society. South Africa is hard at work and focused on growing the economy in order to be able to address these challenges.”

 The theme of South Africa’s 2018 celebrations is none other than “Nelson Mandela” – a fitting theme indeed. In a memoir, the late revered Nelson Mandela writes: “The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.” The ambassador noted that President Matamela Ramaphosa, conscious of this, has pledged South Africa’s solidarity with the struggling people of Western Sahara and Palestine for their self-determination and expressed a wish to see a speedy resolution of these conflicts.

Mr.  Meron Reuven, chief of protocol for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded on behalf of the State of Israel. He opened his words with sincere congratulations to the government and people of South Africa on the occasion of Freedom Day. “South Africa, the Rainbow Nation is a mosaic of cultures and languages. It is committed to pluralism, and to its democratic spirit.” Mr. Meron also mentioned the deep Jewish historical roots in South Africa: “Many Jews escaping persecution in Europe, found safe haven in South Africa, for which we, the Government of Israel and the Jewish people will always remain grateful.” He added: “Today, with the principle of equality and justice for all deeply etched in your national flag, our happiness in celebrating your Freedom Day is especially great.”



In addition to the wide range of beverages offered, fine South African wines and unique liqueurs enhanced the pleasant atmosphere. The very generous buffet dinner featured the mouth-watering South African specialty – biltong – strange to the Israelis and other non-South Africans, but a very welcome touch of “home” to SA expats. Many of the guests wore traditional African tribal and other costumes that made the entire evening special and welcoming.

The directors and staff of join in congratulating Ambassador and Mrs. Ngombane, the government and people of South Africa and the embassy staff on this wonderful day and beautiful event.


© Copyright Jonathan Danilowitz May 2018

Photos Silvia G Golan






The event will be graced jointly by Dr Augustine Mahiga (MP), Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania and Ayelet Shaked (MK), Minister of Justice of the State of Israel. It will be Dr. Augustine Mahiga first official visit to Israel

For the first time since the establishment of the state of Israel: an Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania will be inaugurated.

The Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania, Job Masima, invites the Media to a historic occasion of the inauguration of the Embassy to be held on May 8 at 16:00 PM at 12 Abba Hillel Silver, 12th floor, Ramat Gan. The event will be graced jointly by Dr Augustine Mahiga, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tanzania and Ayelet Shaked, Minister of Justice of the State of Israel. It will be Dr. Augustine Mahiga first official visit to Israel

Ambassador Masima is the first Tanzanian resident ambassador to Israel. He presented his diplomatic credential to President Reuven Rivlin at a moving ceremony on 15 June 2017 in a style ever witness in the diplomatic community. He surprised President Rivlin when he stood up, put his hand in his pocket and withdrew a cream satin skullcap, which he put on his head and proceeded to recite in Hebrew the sheheheyanu prayer of thanks for reaching this day. Rivlin put his hand in his own pocket and took out a black kippa to cover his head. After completing the verse, Masima assured Rivlin of the solidarity with Israel of the government and people of Tanzania.

 Until the arrival of Ambassador Masima, the Tanzanian delegation was headed by the Honorary Consul of Tanzania in Israel, Kasbian Nuriel Chirich, who worked intensively to increase cooperation between the two countries in all fields.

The secret of Tanzania’s magic lies in the fact that it is a paradise for nature lovers. Located in East Africa, it boasts 16 National Parks, 31 Game Reserves, 44 Game Controlled Areas, 4 Ramsar Sites, 33 Wildlife Management Areas.

The country features a breathtaking array of landscapes, including volcanoes and snow-capped mountains, lakes, savannahs, marshlands, rainforests, and more. Some of the world’s largest lakes, including Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Nyasa, are located within Tanzania’s 945,087 square kilometers. It is not a coincidence that Tanzania has become one of the most popular destinations for Israelis traveling to Africa. It has a unique culture, natural riches, beautiful and exciting nature reserves, and the islands of Zanzibar.

Photo Embassy of Tanzania





 "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





Embassy of the Netherlands Hosts a Koningsday Celebration in Herzliya at the Ambassador’s Residence

On Wednesday evening, the Ambassador of the Netherlands H.E. Mr. Gilles Arnout Beschoor Plug and his wife Lousite hosted a reception at the ambassador’s residence in Herzliya to celebrate Koningsdag. Koningsdag or King’s Day is the birthday of King Willem-Alexander and a National Holiday.

Ambassador Plug opened the evening with a few sentences of Hebrew, before switching to English. Peppering his remarks with humor, the ambassador pointed out that the out of season rainy weather reminds him of Dutch weather. Remarking on the Israeli-Dutch relationship, Ambassador Plug emphasized that it was a strong and improving relationship, including multilateral and comprehensive cooperation, as well as the ability to have an open and free dialogue and resolve any political issues.

The ambassador focused his remarks on environmentalism. Noting the agricultural and water conservation achievements of Israel, Ambassador Plug mentioned a conference planned to showcase environmental concerns and other areas of bilateral cooperation on environmental issues. As an example of those efforts, he cited the orange flowers used to decorate the event, pointing out that they had chosen to use Israeli flowers rather than importing Dutch flowers, thereby reducing the environmental footprint.

The ambassador also noted that many Dutch products, like cheese and ale, didn’t need to be imported exclusively, since they’re already readily available in Israeli supermarkets. In concluding his remarks, Ambassador Plus called on other embassies to join the efforts to celebrate in an environmentally friendly manner and read a short message of congratulations to King Willem-Alexander on his birthday.


Deputy Minister of Defense Eli Ben-Dahan addressed the audience next, offering an official birthday greeting from the government of Israel to King Willem-Alexander. Minister Dahan acknowledged the long history between the Jewish people and Holland, including a successful community-based in Amsterdam and great thinkers like Baruch Spinoza, as well as the darkest moments during the Nazi occupation, immortalized by Anne Frank.

Ben-Dahan pointed out that this connection led to a close relationship between the two nations from Israel’s founding, at both the diplomatic and the people to people level. He noted the high-level of trade cooperation between the countries as further proof of their strong relationship: the Netherlands ranks in the top 7 countries in the world for both imports to and exports from Israel.

The anthems of both countries were performed, and then a toast was raised to the King and the best wishes of the people of the Netherlands. The guests were then able to enjoy a spread including traditional Dutch cheeses, and appetizers such as dumplings savored with jam, herring with onions, and mushrooms, with the Dutch beer Heineken as a beverage. Among the distinguished guests were Ambassador Meron Reuven, chief of protocol for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Rodica Radian-Gordon, head of the Europe Division at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Tamar Manor, owner of a Dutch Farm is located in the Northern Negev at Moshav Sde Tzvi, run by Uzi and Tamar Manor, as well as numerous Israeli and foreign diplomats, business leaders, members of the Dutch community in Israel and members of the diplomatic corps.  staff congratulates the King and Queen of the Netherlands together with The Ambassador and his family, the Embassy Staff and the people of Netherlands on this festive occasion.


Photos by Silvia G. Golan

Ms. Zohar Yaron is a member of Debate for Peace ( founded by Steven Aiello)



Following : Excerpt from PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the 70th Independence Reception for the Diplomatic Corps

(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)

Israeli Independence Day, Thursday, 19 April 2018 / 4 Iyar 5778
President Rivlin hosts 70th Independence Day reception for foreign ambassadors and diplomats from around the world
President Rivlin: “We may have to build fences to stop terrorists, or to act in different ways to assure the safety of our people, but we will never close the door on peace. I know you all see this as a priority. So do we. And while there are no shortcuts in the Middle East, we can work together to show the Palestinians that we can live together side by side in peace.”
“The Iranian regime continues to support terror and hatred and to endanger world’s security. This is a challenge for the whole world, and the whole world must face it together. We all must do everything we can to stop these evil regime.” 
“The heart breaks when we look at the pictures in Syria. We took care of thousands injured that have arrived at our gates. The next generation will ask us all, what did we do to stop the tragedy in Syria? What did we do to stop these crimes; crimes against humanity, crimes against innocent children, women, civilians.”
Israel’s President and First Lady, Reuven and Nechama Rivlin, today, (Thursday,) welcomed ambassadors, diplomats, and military attachés from around the world to the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, in honor of Israel’s 70th Independence Day. Also participating in the event were Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Mrs. Sara Netanyahu.
In his address, President Rivlin noted that the uniqueness of the event marking Israel’s 70th anniversary, “Today we are marking history, we are marking 70 years of the State of Israel. We are marking 70 years of Jewish independence. We are marking 70 years of a vibrant democracy, 70 years of strong and independent civil society, 70 years that this nation has held high the torch of freedom and equality in a difficult region.”
The President spoke of the country’s many achievements in many fields, and said, “For 70 years, Israel has been reaching out around our region, and around the world, to share our knowledge and our experience. From food security, to cyber security, Israel is making a better tomorrow for millions of people, today. And over the last 70 years, we have managed to make peace with many who used to be enemies. In all of these achievements, we are never alone. And we have never been alone. Israel was created thanks to a wide international support, and we continue to do good, with the help of all of you, dear friends and allies.” He added, “And today more than ever, international cooperation is the key to a better, safer, more peaceful future. Our friendships are not just between governments, not between companies or business, they are between peoples. And I know that all of your peoples, along with us, hope that we won’t have to wait another 70 years for peace in this region. We will not stop trying. Yes, we will do everything to defend ourselves. We may have to build fences to stop terrorists, or to act in different ways to assure the safety of our people, but we will never close the door on peace. I know you all see this as a priority. So do we. And while there are no shortcuts in the Middle East, we can work together to show the Palestinians that we can live together side by side in peace.”
The President went on to stress, “Of course there are others who do not want peace, and added, “The Iranian regime - not the Iranian people - continues to support terror and hatred and to endanger world’s security. This is a challenge for the whole world, and the whole world must face it together. We all must do everything we can to stop these evil regime.”
He added, “The heart breaks when we look at the pictures in Syria. We took care of thousands injured that have arrived at our gates, but the atrocities by Assad’s regime and by Assad himself are of the worst in the history of the world and of this ancient region. The next generation will ask us all, what did we do to stop the tragedy in Syria? What did we do to stop these crimes; crimes against humanity, crimes against innocent children, women, civilians.”
The President concluded by saying, “Thank you for coming to celebrate with us today, in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, and today, the capital of the State of Israel.”

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."

 Photo credit: Kobi Gideon (GPO)