It was 55 years ago (on the 25th May 1963 to be exact) that the then-named Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, at a meeting of African leaders. The OAU subsequently became the African Union (AU), but it is interesting to note that all this was preceded exactly 60 years ago at the First Congress of Independent African States, in Accra, Ghana. That pan-African meeting laid the foundation of the OAU.

Last Thursday evening a gala reception to celebrate Africa Day was held at the Kfar Shmaryahu residence of the Nigerian Ambassador to Israel H.E. Mr. Enoch Pear Duchi. Fifteen countries with diplomatic ties to Israel jointly hosted the lavish event. Flags of all the countries vied for attention, as did the colorful national dress of many of the diplomats and of their spouses. Cocktails and snacks were offered as the arriving guests mingled and chatted in the beautiful garden setting, before the official part of the event began. In attendance were ambassadors and diplomats of many countries, VIPs, Israelis with close business or personal ties to Africa, and of course many local African personalities. We noticed among others,the Head of the Protocol for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Meron Reuben, Yahel Vilan - Director of Department East and Southern Africa , Africa division Israel MFA, the ambassadors of Kenya, Zambia, Ruanda, Kazakhstan, South Korea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, the European Union and Ireland. Also honoring the hosts with their presence were  Ms. Nathalie Mimoun  (Honorary  Consul of France), Kasbian Nuriel Chirich (Tanzanian Honorary Consul), Deputy Head of Mission at the Swedish Embassy  Staffan Jonsäter and Col. Aviezer Segal IDF Defense Attaché to Africa International Cooperation Division.

First, the national anthems of the AU and of Israel were played to the gathering. That was followed by the opening address by H.E. Ambassador Mr. Martin Mwanambale of Zambia, an address that was a fascinating revelation to many. “As you may be aware, the establishment of the OAU led to the liberation of the African continent culminating in the defeat of the apartheid system in Namibia and South Africa, thereby ensuring a continent free from colonialism and apartheid … Africa Day is a time when we collectively celebrate our unity and reconfirm our desire for an integrated, united, prosperous and peaceful Africa, contributing significantly to a global development agenda. Through our continental organization, we also continue to promote unity and maintain fraternal bonds with the African Diaspora”. The ambassador gave a detailed overview of recent (and not so recent events) in African states, with a broad outline of the AU’s “AFRICA 2063” goals, which include a united continent and a major reduction in corruption. “In line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union launched its own strategic framework for socio-economic transformation, “Agenda 2063”, as we aspire to a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development accelerating the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives such as NEPAD, amongst them. In so doing, we also recognize that there can be no meaningful development without peace on the continent. Hence in Agenda 2063 we aspire for a peaceful and secure Africa. We envisage that mechanisms for peaceful prevention and resolution of conflicts will be fully functional at all levels by 2020, to silence all the guns on the continent. We are hopeful that concerted efforts by the AU and its subsidiary bodies, in cooperation with the United Nations, will lead to peaceful and durable solutions to the conflicts in our continent”. His Excellency mentioned that Africa is the world’s richest continent in terms of natural resources, but that much is wasted through poor agricultural methods and again – corruption. He added how much Israel has done in improving Africa, providing resources, training, science, and technology.

He added: “On behalf of the African group, I have the honor to express our warmest and sincerest congratulations to the Government and People of the State of Israel for the milestone marking 70 years of independence this year and for the tremendous developmental achievements Israel has registered in such a short span of time. 

We look forward to your Government’s continued support to the African continent. In this regard, we look forward to Israel broadening its footprint on the continent by opening new diplomatic missions in the various capitals”.

In conclusion, the Ambassador added that it was an honor to propose a toast to the good health of “our leaders in Africa and Israel, the growing cooperation between Africa and Israel and the good health of the peoples of Africa and Israel and all distinguished guests here present.”

 

 

 

Ambassador Michael Oren, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister of Israel’s Office, responded on behalf of the State of Israel. He gave a brief overview, recalling that Israel and Africa share a 4000-year old history, specifically in Egypt, Ethiopia and more recently, in North Africa. Israel has always been a supporter of Africa, offering aid, infrastructure, technology and agriculture, both there and by inviting young Africans to study and train in Israel. He noted that Africa and Israel share values of peace and advancement and that the links between African States and Israel have always been mutually beneficial. “Israel’s Prime Minister (Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu) has visited Africa no less than three times in last two years. We share resources, especially in the battle against terror”. Ambassador Oren thanked the diplomats in attendance and on behalf of the government and people of the State of Israel, wished them all sincere congratulation for Africa Day.

His remarks were followed by an address by Knesset Member Dr. Avraham Neguise, Chairman of the Caucus for Israel-Africa Relations, and also Chairman of Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs.  He too reviewed Africa-Israel relations, and ended with a call for African nations to “stand on the right side of history” by moving their embassies to Jerusalem; to support Israel at the United Nations where our country is so often unfairly attacked and to enable Israel to regain its observer status at the AU.

 

 

The guests were then invited to taste the cuisines of the African countries in attendance. Each country had a space with offerings typical of their homelands. It was a fascinating (and for those without self-control!) a deliciously fattening experience. Extremely unusual, very inviting, and very generous. The bar remained open, ensuring that everyone had a wonderful time.

The management and staff of diplomacy.co.il join in wishing all the embassy diplomats and staffers a wonderful Africa Day and extended success for the future ever-improving relationships between African States and the State of Israel.

 Photos by Silvia G Golan

(c) Copyright Jonathan Danilowitz June 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

On May 23 a reception commemorating the May Revolution of 1810 was held in the elegant residence of the new Ambassador of Argentina in Israel, H.E. Mr. Mariano A. Caucino and his wife Mrs. Barbara Caucino. The event commemorated the first successful revolution in the process of independence of the countries of South America, which until then depended on the king of Spain

As is traditional in this festive day, each gift was given an “escarapela” with the Argentinian national symbol - the blue and white colors of the Argentine Flag. The escarapela’s were given to each by members of the Embassy to be worn on the chest. The residence, located in Herzliya Pituach, was also adorned with vases whose interior highlighted blue and white flowers

 

 

Argentine musicians, who came especially for the event, Federico Mizrahi and Gustavo (bandoneon), together with the singer Bar Pinto, delighted the audience with their songs, especially tangos and milongas.

 

The Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis, a member of the Israeli parliament of Argentinean origin Haim Yelin, and the Head of the Protocol for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Meron Reuben, arrived as guests of honor.

Among the guests were Dani Gazit, former Ambassador of Israel in Argentina, the producers Yair Dori and Freddy Zyskrot, the Executive Director of the Israel Latin American Chamber of Commerce Gabriel Hayon, Leon Amiras and Mario Lev, Olei; the businessman Carlos Begas, Superintendent Moti Meiry representative of the Israeli Police, the singer Rachi, psychologist-actress Eleonora Berlante, filmmaker Jorge Gurvich, as well as clerics of Argentinean origin, ambassadors, representatives of the JNF-KKL, business people and other prominent members of the Argentinean and South American community in Israel.

There was plenty of Quilmes beer, exquisite homemade empanadas of meat, corn, cheese and onion and the delicious “alfajores de maicena”.

 

 

The ambassador offered a warm welcome to the guests, saying: "Argentina celebrates 70 years of diplomatic relations with Israel, at this moment the relationship between the countries is the best throughout the 70 years, and proof of this is the visit from Prime Minister Netanyahu to Buenos Aires, the first of an Israeli prime minister in all of history, who chose to begin his tour of Latin America in Buenos Aires.

I congratulate the Argentine community in Israel, having already had the opportunity to meet several members of the community who occupy prominent positions in a variety of areas."

The Ambassador expressed that he would like to deepen the bilateral relationship and promoting shared values of respect for human rights, human dignity, and progress, in addition to strengthening the ties of scientific, technological and educational cooperation.

He recalled that Argentina was not exempt from acts of extremism, mentioning the attacks on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the AMIA building in 1994 that were blown up by terrorists, killing more than 100 people and leaving hundreds of wounded.

He expressed that he pleads for the fight against terror highlighting the international effort to strengthen the security of our peoples

He thanked the members of the Jewish community in Argentina, stating that without their talented members, Argentina and the world would not be the same.

 

Then the Minister of Science, Technology, and Space, Ofir Akunis, addressed a few words congratulating the new Argentine ambassador in Israel in his new administration mentioning the special bonds of friendship of the two countries:

“It is an honor and my pleasure to participate this evening in Argentina’s 208th National Day celebrations, as well as celebrating 69 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries. Over the years, these relations have been expressed through active, creative and robust cooperation in many different areas. This relationship has also been significantly strengthened through the contributions of the large and warm Jewish community in Argentina, as well as those of the many Argentinian expats living in Israel.

On this occasion, I feel an inevitable obligation to remember and remind us all of the tragic terrorist attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and the Jewish Community Center in 1994, which took the lives of so many and left an open wound in both Argentina and Israel. This year, on the 26th anniversary of the attack on the embassy, an Israeli delegation made up of family members of the victims visited Argentina. The presence of many official representatives in the ceremony that was held at the National Remembrance Museum, demonstrated the commitment of the present government in Argentina to the memory of this tragic event. We are all now full of hope that after so many long years of waiting, the investigation of these attacks will soon be completed and those responsible will finally be brought to justice. Unfortunately, Iran, which was responsible for these attacks in the 90’s, continues until this day to threaten regional stability by means of its use of terrorism and outright military force.

 Your Excellency the Ambassador and respected guests, over the past year, following the change in government in Argentina, we have seen a significant continuation in the improvement of relations between our two countries: For the first time, an acting Prime Minister of Israel visited the South American continent and chose to begin his visit in Argentina. At the beginning of this year, the Vice President of Argentina, Gabriela Michetti, visited Israel as the head of an economic delegation. And at the same time, expectations continue to rise over the creation of ever closer and warmer relations between us, an increase in trade, cultural and scientific exchanges and of course a rise in reciprocal tourism.

In conclusion, Your Excellency the Ambassador, again, please convey the best wishes of the Government and the people of Israel to the government and the people of Argentina on this, your National Day. We wish you many years of peace, stability, security, and prosperity.

לחיים”

 

 

At the end of the event, some guests talked about the Argentina - Israel friendly football match, which was sold out within hours of opening the sale lines

Israeli fans will have the opportunity to see global stars Lionel Messi, who plays for Barcelona; Sergio “Kun” Aguero of Manchester City in the United Kingdom; and Angel Di Maria of Paris Saint-Germain. The match comes just one week before the start of the World Cup, so the Argentines will fly directly from Israel to Russia. The Israeli event organizer, Cometc, also posted match details on its website.

 www.diplomacy.co.il  staff congratulates the Argentinian Government together with The Ambassador and his family, the Embassy Staff and the people of Argentina on this festive occasion. .

 Photos by Silvia G. Golan

 

 

 

 

 

 

The President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, has arrived in Israel in order to reinforce the economic relations between the two countries. During the visit, a bilateral free-trade agreement will be signed for the first time between Panama and Israel. This is the first agreement of its kind to be signed by Israel with any country in Latin America.

 

 

 During his visit, President Varela will be accompanied by the Vice President of Panama, Isabel Saint Malo, Augusto Arosemena, the Minister of Commerce & Industry; the Minister of Agriculture Development, Enrique Charles, as well as a delegation of businessmen. 

 A special economic event held at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv, at the invitation of the President of Panama, for the purpose of exposing Panama to investments. Panama's Ambassador to Israel, Mrs. Adis Urieta Vega, advised that among the subjects which were presented at the Conference are: cyber protection, tourism, medical devices, clean technology, and water.

 

 

 

The president of Panama, H.E. Mr. Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez, visited Israel for several high-level meetings, and to advance diplomatic and economic cooperation between the two nations.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Varela at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem. They held both a private meeting and an expanded meeting with their entourages. During the meetings, the following were signed:

* A bilateral free trade agreement – The agreement will lift restrictions on trade between Israel and Panama, in both directions, and enable free trade.

* A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on establishing a center for agricultural excellence in Panama. Israel will establish in Panama a center that will combine Israeli technologies and training. This would be the first such center in Latin America and is expected to significantly assist agriculture in Panama.

 

During his visit, President Varela visited Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, toured the Holocaust History Museum, participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, visited the Children's Memorial, and signed the Yad Vashem Guest Book.

 

As a guest of the Keren Kayemet Le’Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), President Varela planted a tree in the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem as part of his first official visit to Israel. President Varela also requested the help of KKL-JNF in order to plant a forest the size of “one million hectares”in Panama, utilizing the professional knowledge and international experience KKL-JNF holds in the field of forestation.

In addition, President Varela and his wife Mrs. Lorena Castilla de Varela joined Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nehama for a dinner in their honor at the President’s residence.

 

Panama is located in the center of the American continent, which makes this a strategic location. Panama has a sophisticated banking system, has had a fully-dollarized economy (since 1904), a sympathetic government and extensive trade relations with the entire continent. It is considered to be the Latin investment capital. The expansion of the Canal and the establishment of the Diamond Exchange in the country – are opening up business opportunities in these areas as well. Panama has the second largest free-trade zone in the world.

 Photos by Silvia G. Golan

 

 

 

 

Paraguay helped Jews escape Nazi Germany. We will never forget this. You did this before the Holocaust, during the Holocaust, and after the Holocaust. It was an act of benevolence and mercy that is forever etched in our hearts. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, today (Monday, 21 May 2018), along with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, attended the opening of the Paraguayan Embassy in Jerusalem (Malha Technology Park). Prime Minister Netanyahu and Paraguayan President Cartes unveiled the plaque and signed the guestbook.

 
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Paraguayan President Cartes then held a private meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem.
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
 
"I want to begin with a salute to a great friend of Israel and a great personal friend of mine, President Horacio Cartes Jara of Paraguay. Thank you, Horacio. You’re an unbelievable friend, and I have to say that this represents the friendship between our countries but you gave it personal expression.
 
You came here with a great delegation. We signed agreements. That was also a formal expression of something that was informal and from the heart. You came to see me in Buenos Aires, I don’t forget that, and now you come here to open the embassy. 
 
A great day for Israel, a great day for Paraguay, a great day for our friendship. You’ve done much for your country, much for your country, and now  you're  doing something for both our countries. And this follows the example and I would say the practice of Paraguay for many, many years. 
 
Paraguay helped Jews escape Nazi Germany. We will never forget this. You did this before the Holocaust, during the Holocaust and after the Holocaust. It was an act of benevolence and mercy that is forever etched in our hearts. 
 
Paraguay supported the creation of the State of Israel, the recognition of the State of Israel in the United Nations. We will never forget that. Paraguay, before but especially under your leadership, took a very bold stance in international affairs and refused to cooperate with the lies directed against Israel. We always remember that. Thank you Horacio . Thank you, and thank you Paraguay.
 
We have great cooperation and it’s going to get greater. We have delegations; I reviewed all the visitors, the parliamentarians, the experts, the ministers, the delegations that go back and forth. It’s time. It’s time to do a lot more. It’s time to let our cooperation, how should I say this, flow like water. We’re discussing water, we’re discussing agriculture, we’re discussing technology, we’re discussing security, but we’re doing and we want to do more, and we will do more. And because of this, you have not only the support of our government but the profound gratitude of the people of Israel. We remember our friends. We have no better friends than you. Thank you, Horacio. Thank you, Paraguay."
 
Paraguayan President Cartes :
 
"This occasion is of special significance because it expresses the sincere friendship and brave solidarity between Paraguay and Israel.
 
From the depth of my heart, I appreciate this country that courageously defends its right to live in peace and it is building a praiseworthy economically prosperous state that ensures its future and that of its children."
 
=================================
 
Later in the afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, met with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes. The two met privately and then held an expanded meeting with their entourages. Among the subjects discussed were diplomatic and economic issues and strengthening agricultural, economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries.
 
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
 
 
"Welcome my friend. It's a pleasure to welcome President Cartes to Jerusalem on this historic day. You've been leading in so many areas and now you are also among the leaders who have put their embassy in Jerusalem, which has been the capital of our people for only 3,000 years. And you are a great friend and we welcome you in this spirit of deep friendship, a friendship from the heart."
 
 
"I am very moved by the decision of Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes to move Paraguay's embassy to Jerusalem. We have met several times. He told me 'I want to do this.' I told him 'Do it.' He did it. In a few weeks he will conclude his term of office and he told me 'Before the end of my term, as an expression of the friendship between Israel and Paraguay, I will move the embassy.' He spoke and he did. You have our heartfelt thanks."
 
 

 

PM Netanyahu with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes at the opening of the Paraguayan Embassy in Jerusalem.

Photo credit: Kobi Gideon (GPO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, today (Wednesday, 16 May 2018), at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, attended a reception for the Guatemalan delegation on the occasion of the opening of the Guatemalan Embassy in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

"Toda raba, muchas gracias. Muchas gracias, President Jimmy Morales.

Today you made history, and you feel the friendship, Amistad that goes back 70 years and will continue now into the future. This is what this day is about. It’s honoring the past and seizing the future. We honor the pas.

We are now in the King David Hotel. It’s called the King David hotel because 3,000 years ago, King David, outside this window, built our capital, our ancient capital. And it’s been the capital of the Jewish people ever since.

The kings of Israel, the prophets of Israel, the heroes of Israel fought for this city and preached here the great truths of humanity.

We lost our independence; the city was destroyed; the Temple was destroyed. This happened almost 2,000 years ago. And after it happened, a group of rabbis were looking at the ruins of the Temple. A fox came out. The rabbis wept. A fox, from the ruins. They all wept. But it is said that one rabbi, Rabbi Akiva, he smiled, he laughed. They asked him, Rabbi, why are you smiling, why are you laughing? He said, because salvation will come. Our people will come back. Jerusalem will be rebuilt. This is what we did.

And 70 years ago Jerusalem again became the capital of the independent Jewish state, and what a glorious capital it’s become, what a glorious state Israel has become.

The exiles have ingathered in the Land of Israel. We rebuilt our national independence and built one of the most thriving, powerful states, not only in this region, but a global force in the world.

We are seizing the future and we are seizing it together with you, Guatemala.

We talked about what we can do now for the future. We have many plans. We’ve begun carrying out those plans. I intend to follow your visit here, by coming to Guatemala tomorrow. I invite you all to come with me.

Our plans require many things, they require the mind and they require the heart, but the most important thing they require is first of all to honor the past. And I think we’re doing that today. But in order to seize the future, a future of prosperity, a future of progress, a future of peace, we must also confront the enemies of peace, and this is something that Israel is doing from the heart of the whirlwind. We have been forced to defend ourselves again in the last few days.

[Translation from Hebrew]

 

I am happy to say that today, at least, we had a day of relative calm along the Gazan border. That’s good. It happened because we were properly organized, and because of the determination of the IDF soldiers who are defending our borders.

They are not defending us from some civilian demonstrations. This is a warlike move by the Hamas. The Hamas spokesperson said today that about 50 of the 60 who were killed are Hamas operatives. We have similar figures. That is why Israel will continue to defend itself for as long as necessary and will not allow those who call for its destruction to storm its borders and threaten our communities.

We will defend the State of Israel.

[End of translation]

Mr. President, this is an opportunity to tell you how deeply we feel about Guatemala, about our friendship. Also about Latin America. You know that last year, I took the visit, the first visit of an Israeli prime minister, can you imagine, south of Texas? Well, what I discovered is enormous reservoirs of goodwill, enormous reservoirs of hope, enormous reservoirs of positive attitudes towards Israel.

So we intend to come to Guatemala, we talked about it in a meeting of the Latin American countries, to see that friendship blossom, first in Guatemala, and then everywhere else in Latin America. You are the bridgehead.

Thank you for coming here. Thank you for your friendship.

This year in Guatemala."

Photos credit: Haim Zach /  Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)