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At the David Citadel Hotel, it was a special surprise in this Jerusalem winter to see a replica of part of the beautiful gardens at the Bahá’í Center in Akko. The colorful “welcome mat” set the tone of the annual reception of the community to celebrate the Bahá’í New Year, Naw-Ruz. This New Year celebration is especially important, as October 2019 will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the forerunner and herald of the Bahá’í Faith. 2019 is also the 176th year of the religion’s founding.

Bahá’í’s from around the world were among the extraordinary guests. (Israel – and Haifa in particular – is the center of the world Bahá’í movement. All faithful must come to Israel at least once in their lifetime to live and volunteer to serve). Among the luminaries were  Carmel Irandoust (Bahá’í Deputy Secretary-General), David Freeman (representative, Bahá’í International Community), Amir Halevi  (Director-General, Israel Tourism Ministry), Ambassador Meron Reuben, (Protocol chief of state, Israel Foreign Ministry), Noga Sher-Greco (Director of Religious Tourism, Israel Tourism Ministry), Shmuel Elgrabi (Israel Government Bahá’í Advisor/Coordinator),  patriarchs and leaders of other religious orders, ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic corps, politicians, VIPs and media personalities.



It was impossible not to enjoy the exquisite buffet dinner offered to the guest as they mingled, renewing old acquaintances and making new friends. A five-piece orchestra provided live musical accompaniment, adding to the ambiance of the hotel’s grand ballroom. The formal part of the evening began with a short presentation by Ms. Irandoust, who read the greeting from Israel’s State President to the Bahá’í community on the occasion of the Naw-Ruz. President Rivlin’s charming message ended with wishes of “peace and joy” for all Bahá’í members, worldwide.

Dr. Joshua Lincoln, Secretary General of the World Bahá’í community, then welcomed and addressed the guests. He offered thanks to everyone for attending to help celebrate the New Year, then spoke of the significance of the centennial year; the history of the Bahá’í religion; the joyous transition from winter to spring which coincides with the New Year celebrations; and of Bahá’í successes and expansions around the world, including openings of new temples and the spread of harmony and peace.

Dr. Lincoln’s address did not ignore the suffering and persecution of Bahá’í faithful in many parts of the world, still to this day, especially in Iran. (Persia/Iran being the birthplace of the Prophet, and the Persian language is an important factor in the religion).



Responding on behalf of the State of Israel, Amir Halevi of the Ministry of Tourism opened his remarks by wishing the community “Shana Tova” – a happy new year. “The Bahá’ís are a community - a young community by Jewish standards - with a deep history and rich social relations with other communities here in Israel. … I am pleased to say that since the creation of the State of Israel, we have positive, friendly and mutually respectful relations.” He added:  “The Bahá’ís have contributed not just to the physical beauty of our country, but also to its social fabric.” He mentioned that thanks to the injunction to visit Israel, Bahá’í tourists from some unusual countries visit, including from Tonga, Tuvalu, St. Kits and Nevis, Kiribas, Lesotho, the Seychelles and many more.

Some information that might add interest: Bahá’í is a relatively new, independent monotheistic religion. There are about six million faithful, all around the globe, with religious texts translated into hundreds of languages. Bahá’í beliefs include, among many others, the unity of God; faith in fundamental harmony between religion and science; volunteering; equality between men and women; monogamy; non-violence, compulsory education; using a common world language (like Esperanto) and world peace.

The Director and staff of www.diplomacy.co.il send warmest greetings to the world Bahá’í community on this auspicious occasion. 




Photos by Silvia G. Golan








On Sunday, March 17, the Irish Embassy in Israel celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with the annual embassy-sponsored celebration. Held in Ramat Gan, the party hosted hundreds of diplomats, Irish expats, and Israelis with business or cultural ties to Ireland.

St. Patrick's Day is an Irish holiday held annually on March 17. Although it was designated an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, in more recent years it has become a celebration of Irish cultural heritage within Ireland and abroad. Saint Patrick's Day is the most widely celebrated national celebration in the world, thanks in part to the Irish diaspora.

As guests entered, they were greeted by Ambassador Kelly, wearing a green scarf and her traditional smile. The guests could immediately enjoy Irish music played by the Irish folk band. Guests enjoyed Irish beer, along with the refreshments and live music.

When Ambassador Kelly started her speech, she thanked Jameson and Guinness, Kolan electronics, and all who had helped organize the celebration. The Ambassador also noted the Irish soldiers serving in the peacekeeping force, UNTSO, as well as the work of the Irish Israeli Business Network and the Israeli Irish Friendship League in bringing the two nations closer together.

The ambassador shared statistics on the success of Ireland in general, and Irish-Israeli ties in particular, including $1 billion in annual trade between the Israel and Ireland. She also noted the strong interest in supporting both sides in achieving lasting peace on the Israeli-Palestinian front.



Following Ambassador Kelly, Dr. Michael Oren, Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy in the Prime Minister's Office, spoke. Dr. Oren congratulated Ireland for the lovely St. Patrick's Day celebration. He noted the many similarities between the countries, such as economic profiles as small countries with significant foreign investment in research and development, a history of struggle for national independence, a large diaspora with deep connections to the motherland and a dormant national language which both countries struggled to revitalize. Dr. Oren finished by thanking Ireland for its contributions towards peace in the region and the world.



Following the speeches, guests enjoyed more live music, including traditional Irish dances, started, and guests continued to enjoy the Guinness beer and Jameson whiskey. Dr. Oren surprised the audience by joining the band to play music. Throughout the event, one could feel the happiness and energy of St. Patrick’s Day.



Among the distinguished guests in attendance were Ambassador Meron Reuben, chief of state protocol in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; former Ambassador Oded Ben Hur; Esther Mor - World WIZO president; Moni S. Bar, CEO of Budget rental cars in Israel; Vered Swid, former  Director of the Authority for Advancing Women’s Rights for Israel, along with ambassadors and various diplomats, business and cultural leaders, and those with a unique Irish connection.

Diplomacy.co.il offers congratulations to the Ireland Embassy on its National Day, and best wishes for peace and prosperity.

 Photos by Silvia Golan
Steven Aiello



On March 13th the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to the State of Israel entertained a celebration event for the Day of Restoration of Independence of Lithuania in the Asia Auditorium of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. The ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to the state of Israel, H. E. Edminas Bagdonas, hosted his fellow ambassadors, Israeli-Lithuanian citizens, military personnel and European officials. The Minister of Communications of Israel, Mr. Ayoob Kara, represented the government of Israel.


Ambassador Bagdonas thanked all the guests who showed up and mentioned the achievements of Lithuania since restoring independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. He stated that the relations between Lithuania and Israel are the strongest they have ever been. The ambassador said that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the first Israeli PM to visit Lithuania and the two countries have strong cooperation in fields like technology and trade.”


Minister Kara thanked Ambassador Bagdonas for his speech and thanked Lithuania for its fight against Anti-semitism in the last few decades since its independence. “Lithuania and Israel are two young democracies who fought for their independence. Our nations are tied not only by the past but also in the efforts for a better future.”



After the speeches and national anthems, the main event started - the concert of the Girls choir “Liepaites” of Vilnius Choir singing school. The girls sang in Lithuanian, Hebrew, and English, and performed alongside classic piano music. The choir has been awarded with more than 10 prestigious international awards and has performed in more than 12 countries.


The evening ended with a glass of wine. To the question, if the event went successfully the ambassador replayed: “Look at the people around us, of course, the event was successful! I believe we succeeded in telling the story of Lithuania to Israel and the world.”


 Photo 1  courtesy of the Lithuanian Embassy in Israel

Photo 2   by Adam Kremer








The Hungarian diplomatic trade mission in Jerusalem will be a branch of the Hungarian Embassy in Israel as per the statement of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban last month that a diplomatic mission would be opened in Jerusalem.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, today (Tuesday, 19 March 2019), participated in the dedication ceremony for the Hungarian diplomatic trade mission in Jerusalem. They toured the facility, cut the ribbon at the entrance and jointly unveiled the plaque.

The Hungarian diplomatic trade mission in Jerusalem will be a branch of the Hungarian Embassy in Israel as per the statement of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban last month that a diplomatic mission would be opened in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

"This is a very exciting moment for us because it's the first European diplomatic mission opened in Jerusalem in many decades and three Hungarian diplomats are going to be assigned to this office for trade purposes. That's important for trade, for diplomacy and for the move that Hungary is leading right now to change the attitude in Europe towards Jerusalem.

This has already been done by President Trump in his historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the American embassy here. And there's a plot waiting for you right next to the American embassy.

Only four weeks ago Prime Minister Orbán was here and he said that he would open this office and in four weeks this office is opened. I want to extend my appreciation and thanks to him and to you and to say that we're delighted with the relationship, the friendship, between Israel and Hungary. It has never been as strong. Our trade has never been stronger. Our cooperation in all areas: Security, diplomacy, everything has never been stronger.

I want to extend special thanks for two things that the government of Hungary is doing. One, the battle against the falsehoods and slanders leveled at Israel in international forums. You've been superb and I want to congratulate and salute you for it. The second is your stance against antisemitism which has been robust and important and consistent. I want to encourage you to continue this with the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

Let's continue this because this is a path of real friendship. So welcome friend."

Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjarto:

"We have always fought for a fair and balanced approach on behalf of the international community towards Israel. I have to underline here once again that we reject to combine restrictive economic and commercial measures with political issues.

We will not apply the decision of the European Commission on labeling. We do not support the list of companies in the settlements to be announced by the high representative of Human Rights of the United Nations and we urge for tighter, better and more dynamic cooperation between Israel and the European Union."

Also attending the ceremony were US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, US Ambassador to Hungary David Cornstein, Hungarian Ambassador to Israel Levente Benko, Czech Ambassador to Israel Martin Stropnicky and Israeli Ambassador to Hungary Yossi Amrani.



PM Netanyahu and Hungarian FM Szijjarto at the dedication ceremony for the Hungarian
diplomatic trade mission in Jerusalem. Photo: GPO/Amos Ben-Gershom.






On Wednesday evening, March 6th, the Embassy of Romania in Israel together with the Romanian Cultural Institute in Tel Aviv celebrated Romania’s Presidency of the European Union Council with a multicultural concert held at the Enav Cultural Center. Romanian Jazz vocalist Teodora Enache dazzled the audience with a rich repertoire of songs in different languages.


Enache is a world-class singer, familiar with fusing different genres. The concert in Tel Aviv, titled “Roots-Shorashim”, featured Romanian and American jazz, Israeli, traditional Romanian and Sephardic songs, as well as unique compositions from Enache herself. Enache was accompanied by Brazilian percussionist Joca Perpignan, Israeli pianist Gil Zohar, and Romanian guitarist Calin Grigoriu, further adding to the intercultural and international theme of the conference.


The concert was built around Enache’s belief that “regardless of the place where we are born, and beyond any social, religious or ethnic limitations- we all share the same root.” As such, guests included both diplomats and Israeli and Romanian citizens. Following the concert, guests were invited to a reception to continue the celebration.




Romania holds the EU Council Presidency from January 1 to June 30, 2019, in conjunction with Croatia and Finland. This is Romania’s first time holding the presidency. Romanian has set as its priorities during this period promoting a Europe of convergence, a safer Europe, Europe as a strong global actor, and a Europe of common values, under the common theme of “cohesion.”

Steven Aiello
Photos Silvia Golan