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Diplomats and Holocaust survivors came together at the Swedish Ambassador’s Residence in Herzliya on Tuesday afternoon to mark the 110th anniversary of the birth of diplomat and hero Raoul Wallenberg.

Raoul Wallenberg is world-renowned, and revered, for his courage in saving tens of thousands of Jewish lives while stationed as the Swedish representative in Budapest, Hungary, during one of the cruelest periods of humanity. Risking his life countless times for Jews he had never met before and would never see again, Wallenberg is, as the speakers noted at the ceremony, a paragon of humanity. Sadly, he paid the ultimate price, disappearing into the abyss of post-World War II USSR, never to be heard from again, with his family lacking even the closure of confirmation of his death to this day.

H.E. Mr. Erik Ullenhag, Ambassador of Sweden to Israel, noted the mixed emotions as he stood there, proud of the bravery and sheer humanity of Wallenberg in his capacity as a Swedish diplomat, while remorseful that years went by without initial appreciation of Wallenberg, or sufficient efforts to help his family get closure, or even tell his story properly.

Ambassador Ullenhag thanked several countries who have been instrumental in sharing the inspiring story of Raoul Wallenberg, including Australia, Canada, Israel, the United States, and the city of Budapest, who have all made Wallenberg an honorary citizen as a tribute to his heroism.

The ambassador noted that everyone of us can find inspiration in Raoul Wallenberg the human, who “showed us that one person can make a difference.” Knowing the great personal risk he was putting himself in, Wallenberg told his colleague Per Anger "I've taken on this assignment, and I will never be able to go back to Stockholm without knowing inside myself that I'd done all a man could do to save as many Jews as possible". That was the last time he would see his friend.

Ambassador Ullenberg concluded his remarks by noting that anti-Semitism is still a challenge all around the world, including in Europe. Wallenberg’s actions, he said, show the moral obligation for all to speak out. “The greatest danger to a society is not the evil from the evil people. The greatest danger is when the good people are silent. Each and every one of us has a role and a responsibility to fight anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance of today. Not all can be heroes like Raoul Wallenberg. But all of us can do something. That is the best way we can honour the legacy of Raoul Wallenberg.”

  

 

Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Yair Lapid, the son of a Holocaust survivor, spoke on behalf of the state of Israel. Minister Lapid brought this message home, by sharing his own personal story of how Wallenberg had transformed the destiny of an entire family. The foreign minister explained how his father, a thirteen year old boy in the Budapest Ghetto, was rescued by Wallenberg. To this day the family has the faded Swedish document that Wallenberg used to save Jews—a ”Wallenberg passport” as it was known.

Thanks to Wallenberg’s courage and empathy, the elder Lapid survived the war, moved to Israel, married, had children and grandchildren. He ultimately served as the Justice Minister of Israel, with his son the Foreign Minister and alternate Prime Minister of Israel—just one example of the ripple effects of Wallenberg’s actions. Minister Lapid explained that in his eyes, the story of Raoul Wallenberg shows that any person can make a difference by caring about others, and gave thanks on his family’s behalf for the gift of life that Wallenberg bestowed upon them.

 

 

H.E. Ambassador Levente Benkő of the Hungarian Embassy in Israel, expressed his own appreciation for the initiative to commemorate the 110th birthday of Raoul Wallenberg. The ambassador noted that Wallenberg was “not only a Righteous among the Nations, but a symbol of heroism, of perseverance and of humanity.” Ambassador Benkő stressed the importance of the event happening in Israel, in the presence of survivors, as evidence of the perseverance of the Jewish people. He explained that sections of the Danube riverbank in Budapest are named after Raoul Wallenberg and other diplomats who acted to save human lives during the darkness of the Holocaust, reiterating that their heroism comes from a choice made to endanger themselves to save others, when they could have simply opted to save themselves. The ambassador said that although Wallenberg was Swedish, Hungarians see him as a hero for all humanity.

Ambassador Benkő noted that Hungarian state responsibility for the horrors of the Holocaust years in Hungary, include three principles by the current government of Hungary: the moral imperative of “Never Again”; zero tolerance against all forms of antisemitism, and protection of the Jewish community. Moreover, “Hungary fully understands that the State of Israel is the ultimate guarantor of Jewish security which is the precise reason why we are steadfast supporters of the Jewish state in the face of unfair international criticism.”

 

 

Ambassador of the United States H.E. Mr. Thomas Nides posed the question of how Raoul Wallenberg would see our world today, with wars and conflicts engulfing the world, including in Europe, with the conflict in Ukraine. The ambassador expressed his belief that Wallenberg would be happy to see Sweden joining NATO, as well as support a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian context as the key to maintaining a Jewish, democratic state.

Following the remarks by the diplomats, a video was played, in which those who had been saved personally by Raoul Wallenberg reflected on their own experiences and the impact on their lives, with several of the survivors in attendance. Former Justice Minister of Canada, Irwin Kotler, also gave a pre-recorded address in which he outlined the ways in which Raoul Wallenberg had foreshadowed what would be recognized as basic human rights and international law principles post-World War II. The guests then enjoyed a reception and the chance to share their impressions. Distinguished guests in attendance included Holocaust survivors and their families and foreign diplomats; David Castel, Honorary Consul of Sweden; Former Knesset Member Colette Avital; Dani Dayan, chairman of Yad Vashem; Danny Rainer and Vivian Epstein of the International Raoul Wallenberg foundation, and Steve Linde and Greer Fay Kashman of the Jerusalem Post.

 

Steven Aiello
Founder--DebateforPeace
 
 
Photos credit: Silvia G. Golan
More Pics at Facebook  Diplomacy Israel / Israel Diplo /  Silvia G. Golan
 
 
 

 

 

A “Vin d'Honneur” reception was held on Wednesday evening on the occasion of the visit to Israel by the Minister of Economy of El Salvador, Mrs. Maria Luisa Hayem.

 

H.E. Ambassador of El Salvador, Mrs. Susana Gun de Hasenson and Mr. Dave Hasenson hosted the reception at the Embassy of El Salvador in honor of the ministerial visit, during a whirlwind week of economic diplomacy. Minister Hayem arrived in Israel earlier in the week for over two dozen meetings and engagements aimed at promoting Israeli-Salvadorian economic ties spanning a range of areas in the public and private sectors.

 

During the visit Minister Hayem met with Israeli counterparts, including Minister of Economy Orna Barbivai, Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology, Orit Farkash Cohen, Ambassador Jonathan Peled, Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador Eynat Schlein, head of Mashav, Israel’s agency for international development. The focus of the meetings was on sharing best practices for jumpstarting economic growth and development, and creating sustainable employment opportunities. This includes fostering the development of human talent via promoting entrepreneurship and innovation opportunities, and encouraging the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

 

Minister Hayem also met with Israeli academic institutions, signing an agreement with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to advance joint research projects and to facilitate incorporating Israeli students into El Salvador’s international cooperation program.

 

 

Ambassador Susana Gun de Hasenson thanked her staff, and Honorary Consul Yossi Abadi for their work to facilitate the successful itinerary, and then welcomed Minister Hayem to the podium. Minister Hayem mentioned the similarities between the two countries, including in economic markets and said that she hoped El Salvador could learn from Israeli innovation and emulate some of its economic success. The meetings in Israel helped identify challenges that El Salvador could face, while also illuminating the best way forward to overcome those challenges. The minister noted the dedication of all members of the government to building a brighter future of opportunities for Salvadorian citizens.

Following her speech, Minister Hayem presented the ambassador with a gift as a token of appreciation for her work to strengthen Israeli-Salvadorian ties. The minister herself was then presented with a gift by Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan, on behalf of the Ambassadors; Club of Israel.

 

Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the embassy of El Salvador on the successful visit and offers best wishes for continued economic growth, development and innovation.

  
Steven Aiello
Founder--DebateforPeace
 
 
Photos credit: Silvia G. Golan
 
 

 

 

Tel Aviv Shines Blue and Yellow as the European Union Delegation and Members Mark Europe Day with a Show of Support for Ukraine


EuroParty 2022 was held on Thursday evening, May 12, in Tel Aviv’s Ganei Yehoshua park. This year’s celebration of Europe Day was dedicated to showing support for Ukraine, with a concert featuring Ukrainian and Israeli musicians, and a fundraiser for victims of the war.


The evening opened with refreshments served in the open-air space of the Wohl Auditorium. Tables were set up to display handmade Ukrainian crafts for sale, with proceeds going to the charities supporting Ukrainian victims. 


Ambassador of the European Union to Israel, Mr. Dimiter Tzantchev, opened with greetings in Hebrew, noting that in his third posting in Israel, he is witness to the growth in the Israeli-EU relationship across numerous dimensions. 


The ambassador touched on many of those areas of cooperation, from health (12 million doses of Covid 19 vaccines imported from the EU to Israel) to trade (EU-Israel trade rose from 31 billion euros to 37 billion euros in 2021, accounting for 30% of Israel’s international trade), to research and innovation (Israel is an active member of the Horizon Europe program). 


Ambassador Tzantchev emphasized the EU’s commitment to peace in the region, and to Israel’s safety. He stated the EU’s clear condemnation of the recent wave of attacks in Israel, stating his remarks in English and Hebrew.


The theme of the night of course was European unity, peace and prosperity, represented by the May 9, 1950 Schuman declaration. The ambassador discussed the EU and member states’ unprecedented support for Ukraine, and stressed appreciation for Israel “standing with Europe and the US on the right side of history”, and to Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz for being the first Israeli cabinet minister to visit Ukraine.

 


Minister Horowitz spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Complimenting the ambassador’s impressive display of Hebrew, the minister noted that the Schuman declaration “serves as a symbol of the power, vision and determination of the human spirit.” He reiterated the values shared by Israel and the EU: “peace, democracy, rule of law, and sanctity of human life.”


Minister Horowitz expressed his appreciation for the EU’s Comprehensive Strategy on Combatting Antisemitism. He also noted the European Union’s efforts to advance peace, tolerance and democracy in the region and thanked the EU for providing financial support for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian national economy.


Following the speeches, the national anthems of the European Union and Israel were played, and a toast was then raised. After enjoying dessert, guests were invited to the amphitheater for a concert featuring Ukrainian singer Viktoria Leléka and her European Jazz Quartet, and Israeli pop star Ivri Lider. Viktoria Leléka introduced her songs with stirring words of the need to bring peace for all people, as well as with the environment. 


The distinguished guests at the celebration included H.E. Mr. Gil Haskel, Chief of State Protocol at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Assaf Moran, Director of the Department for Multilateral European Organizations and NATO at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Professor Tamar Safra from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov hospital); Dan Catarivas, Director of the division of Foreign Trade and International Relations at the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel; Boaz Moldawsky, President of The Israel Diamond Exchange; Gidon Bromberg Director of EcoPeace Middle East Israel, as well as ambassadors, military attaches, and Israeli business and civil society leaders.


Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the EU mission and all EU members on Europe Day and offers best wishes for peace and prosperity.

 
Steven Aiello
Founder--DebateforPeace
https://debateforpeace.wordpress.com/about/

Photos credit Silvia G. Golan 

More Pics at Facebook  Diplomacy Israel / Israel Diplo /  Silvia G. Golan

 

 

 

On Friday morning, May 20, H.E. Ms. Feruza Makhmudova, Ambassador of Uzbekistan to Israel, met with Debate for Peace students at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. Ambassador Makhmudova is the first female ambassador appointed to represent Uzbekistan as an ambassador, and she spent time talking with the Model UN and diplomacy students about the bilateral nations between Israel and Uzbekistan. The students also watched several films highlighting the sights, sounds and colors of Uzbekistan.


Ambassador Makhmudova explained that although formal relations between the two countries only began following Uzbekistan’s independence in 1991, they rest on a bedrock of goodwill between the Jewish people and their neighbors in Uzbekistan, including the historic communities of Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent and Khiva. Uzbekistan maintains a strong Jewish community today, with numerous synagogues, and the diaspora community in Israel is a boost for enhancing the relations between Israel and Uzbekistan.


The Ambassador mentioned the beauty and diversity of Uzbekistan, with over 130 nations and languages and 16 religions represented, many living in the various mahallas (community neighborhoods). Among the goals for strengthening bilateral relations she noted enabling the import of fruits and vegetables from Uzbekistan, sharing that the produce from Uzbekistan is richer in taste and diversity. Other areas include sharing technological know-how and promoting innovation

 


Students from the College de frere, Open University Model UN Association, University of Haifa, Tel Aviv University international MA program, and Petah Tiqva Model UN club all participated in the discussion. The students received booklets describing some of the touristic highlights of Uzbekistan and were invited to visit Uzbekistan. Discussion was also initiated on the topic of student-exchanges and academic partnerships. In closing, Ambassador Makhmudova stressed Uzbekistan’s desire to advance via diplomacy, open communication and goodwill with all nations, and welcome students to come for a visit themselves.


Rafael Rotstein from the Open University told Diplomacy.co.il he “learned a lot about this rising country in Central Asia, and the new government's ideas for internal, regional and global development through Diplomatic Relations based mainly on dialogue” through the fascinating meeting. Uwar Mathew Donato from the Tel Aviv University international MA program added that

He was struck by something the ambassador said "We believe in respect for one another and peaceful relations with our neighbors and other countries in the  world" -highlighting the importance of better dialogue and good cooperation.

 
Steven Aiello
Founder--DebateforPeace
 
 
Photos credit: Debate for Peace/Steven Aiello
 
 
 
 
 
In honor of Israel’s 74th Independence Day, President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog host a festive reception for the foreign diplomatic corps
 

Today, Israel’s 74th Independence Day, President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog hosted a festive Independence Day reception at the President’s Residence for the foreign diplomatic corps.

At the official reception in the gardens of the President's Residence, the guests were treated to a selection of boutique Israeli wines and cheeses and fine Israeli ice cream. The diplomats were also treated to a musical performance by the eclectic Jerusalem-based brass band Marsh Dondurma.

The reception was attended by around 400 guests, including ambassadors and high-ranking officials from around 120 countries and organizations. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his wife Lihi, Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll, Office of the President Director General Eyal Shviki, MFA Director General Alon Ushpiz, and other dignitaries also participated.

 

 

President Isaac Herzog’s full remarks:

It is a great privilege to celebrate Israel’s 74th Independence Day with you all, in this traditional gathering, which began with our first president, Dr. Chaim Weizmann. Gathering here amongst friends old and new, in a strong, independent, Jewish democratic State of Israel evokes the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”

Growing up in Tel Aviv in the 1960s, my mother and father were clear in articulating that our modern-day miracle in our ancient homeland was not to be taken for granted. They recounted in our ears the all-encompassing hope for the State of Israel coupled with the deep uncertainty they experienced with the establishment of the Jewish state.

My wife Michal and I and our friends, Minister Lapid and dear Lihi, all recall hearing from our parents the struggles of these early days. It is therefore such a privilege to gather today and salute our parents’ and grandparents' generations for what they created.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today we celebrate 74 years of a vibrant, multicultural democracy, in which all faiths are respected and all worshipers enjoy freedom of religion. Seventy-four years of courage and creativity in turning seemingly-impossible challenges into a catalyst for cutting-edge innovation.

Seventy-four years of keeping our hands outstretched in peace while standing strong against those who oppose us. And here, on this festive afternoon, Michal and I are delighted to open our home both to those who helped solidify our independence and to those with whom we could have only dreamed of sitting together on our 74th birthday.

 

 

Dear friends, since assuming office I have had the opportunity to travel to several countries, including many of our Middle Eastern neighbors. Throughout our region, I was met with sincerity and warmth, hospitality and curiosity, open-mindedness and dialogue. I encountered a willingness to find common ground and a profound effort to work together, despite our differences.

In short: I have seen a historic change.

The Abraham Accords, signed back in 2020, are but the most recent, exciting example of peace, following the groundbreaking, historic peace agreements with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994. Peace made possible by a decision to focus on future prosperity and wellbeing rather than past conflicts and hate; by an understanding that lasting peace not only requires meetings between politicians, but is dependent on true friendship between peoples.

Step by step we are all learning to navigate this Renewable Middle East, building on win-win cooperation, stability and modernization, and slowly realizing the extraordinary potential of our region. If we succeed, the impact can be far broader than our Middle Eastern community. The world at large can benefit from the Middle East transforming into a global hub of sustainable solutions at the forefront of renewable energy, climate technology, innovative agriculture,
and environmental preservation. The entire world can benefit from a Middle Eastern strategic alliance of moderate forces, that can act to deter and defeat radical actors, and can enhance the security of our region.

As we well know, when peace takes root, extremism and terror insist on preserving the old path of incitement, violence and hate.

Just this week, Israel faced another murderous terror attack, following weeks of terror. But in the face of threats, assaults and hatred our message is rather clear:
When they attack us, we grow stronger. When they try to divide us, we grow more united. Israel we will do whatever is necessary to protect our cities and our citizens.

Dear friends, I am excited that after 74 years, this vision of a developed Middle East is materializing. And, I call upon each of the countries represented here today: Join the momentum created by the Abraham Accords; inform your citizens of the potential and the treasures of Israel; urge them to explore Israel’s medical institutions and scientific industry; encourage companies and corporations to explore opportunities and take advantage of the innovation, resources, and entrepreneurial spirit resonating throughout the Middle East. Join us in creating shared initiatives and ventures, and in rediscovering and redesigning the region.

Ladies and gentlemen, I take this opportunity to personally thank Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid, Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz, Chief of State Protocol Gil Haskel, and their teams, and each and every member of the Ministry’s dedicated staff and outstanding diplomats.

Thank you all for your cooperation, for your professionalism, and for your hard work together with me, with my director-general, and with the team at the Office of the President and its diplomatic department.

Happy Independence Day to all!

 

Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid also attended at the reception for the diplomatic and consular corps hosted by President Herzog. Following are excerpts of his remarks:

 “States are established by optimists. Pessimists sit and wait for the worst to happen, and it usually does. Optimists try to make their dreams come true. I know most of you by now, and I know the stories of your countries: Garibaldi and modern Italy, Mahatma Gandhi and India, Jomo Kenyatta and Kenya. All very different stories, all with one thing in common - our nations were created because there was a magical coming-together of circumstances and ideas that made people believe in the impossible. David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, once said: “A Jew who does not believe in miracles…is not a realist.” The State of Israel is a miracle. But miracles do not happen by themselves. They need to be helped. They need an army to defend them, an economy to support them, and good friends to stand beside them.

 “This past year, a new government was established in Israel, which also set out a new policy direction. We opened new embassies and consulates in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco. We appointed more than forty new Ambassadors around the world. We created new and exciting partnerships, like the Negev Summit where six Foreign Ministers, in an extraordinary and intimate atmosphere, formed new cooperation that is changing the Middle East. Like our renewed relations with Europe, restored on the basis of dialogue and honesty. Like our return to Africa and acceptance as an Observer to the African Union after too many years.

 “We also strengthened our most important alliance, with the United States. Opponents of our alliance tried to test it in a vote in Congress on funding for the Iron Dome. It ended with a majority of 420 in favor to only 9 opposed. I doubt there is another country in the world that earns such sweeping, bipartisan support in American politics. It was an impressive display of friendship, and an expression of an alliance based on shared values.

 “More tests await us, and we need to cooperate with you all to make the world a safer place. First and foremost, there is the Iranian threat: a fundamentalist terror state trying to achieve a nuclear capability. The world cannot afford a nuclear Iran, it would cause a new arms race endangering everyone on the planet.

 “One learns over the years that friends are not only those who support you in difficult moments, but those who know how to share in your happiness as well. I thank you, my friends, for coming to share in our happiness today. Happy Independence Day!”

 

Photos credit Silvia G. Golan 

More Pics at Facebook  Diplomacy Israel / Israel Diplo /  Silvia G. Golan