- Written by Steven Aiello
The sights, sounds, and flavors of Central America were brought to Tel Aviv on September 12th, 2019, when the Central American embassies of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras celebrated 198 years of independence at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv.
Each country had a stand adorned with flags, flowers, and other items representing the country, along with brochures offering more information. Embassy representatives were on hand to explain more about the country. There was also an exhibition of paintings to enjoy, as well as typical Latin American cuisine to taste.
After guests received by all four ambassadors and enjoyed the opening reception, the official ceremony commenced with the playing of the national anthems of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Israel. Each ambassador sang his own country’s anthem, but the Ambassador of Guatemala delighted the audience by singing the national anthem of Israel in Hebrew. The master of ceremonies, Emma Maor, opened the evening by calling up the ambassadors, together with former Minister of Agriculture, Uri Ariel.
On behalf of the Ambassadors of Central America, H.E Mario E. Castillo, the ambassador of Honduras, welcomed and thanked all the guests on this historic occasion. The ambassador mentioned the importance of the values of “courtesy, tolerance, and understanding” in the region, and how democracy has led to political, economic, and social development. He noted the success of agriculture, including world-renowned coffee, and tourism, and also emphasized the importance of looking forward to future opportunities for growth and cooperation.
Ambassador Castillo mentioned the Central American Integration System (SICA) which has facilitated trade between the member countries and promoted regional growth, along with the 17th Meeting of Heads of State and Government of the Dialogue and Concerting Mechanism, and the first Mesoamerican Business Meeting, held in Honduras; with the participation of nine regional countries. This meeting was a farther step in advancing “inclusive and sustainable economic growth”, as well as “logistical mobility and commercial facilitation, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In concluding his remarks, the ambassador thanked Kerem Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL), the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Mashav, and Gina art gallery, and wished everyone a happy Jewish New Year.
Former Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel spoke on behalf of the government of Israel, emphasizing the deep and historic bonds between Central America and the Jewish people. Mr. Ariel noted the shared values, as well as vibrant cooperation between Israel and the Central American countries, in finding solutions to challenges ranging from climate change and resource depletion; global food security to technological threats and border defense. He finished his remarks with a toast to a future of peace, security, and prosperity for Central America.
Hernán Felman, Vice President of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL)-Jewish National Fund, also addressed the audience. Mr. Felman noted the successful partnership between the KKL and Central American countries on agricultural issues and expressed pride in the status of the KKL as one of the NGOs recognized by the United Nations for its work on the international scale.
Following the speeches, a toast was held for the independence and success of Central America, and continued bilateral relations with Israel. A video showed the beautiful sights of the four countries, and guests enjoyed live music and a wonderful dinner with traditional cuisine from Central America.
Among the distinguished guests were: Chief of State Protocol in the Israeli Foreign Ministry Meron Reuben; Modi Ephraim, head of the Latin American and Caribbean desk of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; David Cohen former Ambassador of Israel to El Salvador; Deputy Chairman of the Jewish National Fund and former Member of the Knesset Yigal Yasinov, and the Honorary consul of Costa Rica, Nathan Allalouf, and his wife, the owners of owner of Allalouf & Co. Shipping Ltd.
Diplomacy.co.il congratulates the embassies of Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala and Honduras, and offers best wishes on the momentous occasion.
Steven Aiello Founder--DebateforPeace
Photos by Silvia Golan
- Written by Spokesperson of the President's Office
President Rivlin with Ambassador of France H.E. Mr. Eric Danon
President Rivlin received diplomatic credentials from the new ambassadors of France, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Georgia and Slovenia as they began their terms as ambassadors of their countries to Israel
President Rivlin to all the ambassadors:
“I look forward to welcoming you here in January for the ceremony marking 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Your presence will strengthen the important bilateral relations between our countries and is an important part of the fight against anti-Semitism.”
President Rivlin to the French ambassador:
“In recent weeks we have seen evidence of growing Iranian activity in Syria and Lebanon. Lebanon bears sovereign responsibility for all Hezbollah action. We say clearly to the Lebanese government and its allies around the world: Hezbollah’s aggression must be stopped before we find ourselves dragged into a conflict that neither Lebanon nor Israel want. Israel will not tolerate threats to the safety of its citizens.”
New ambassadors from Lithuania, the Netherlands, Georgia, France and Slovenia today, Thursday 12 September / 12 Elul, presented diplomatic credentials to President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin as they took up their posts as ambassadors of their countries to Israel, in an official ceremony at Beit HaNasi. Upon arrival, the national anthem of the ambassadors’ home country was played the Israel Police Band and they then reviewed an IDF honor guard. After presenting their credentials, the ambassadors had an audience with the president, at the end of which they each signed the Beit HaNasi guest book. ‘Hatikva’ was played at the end of each ceremony.
President Rivlin with Ambassador of Lithuania H.E. Mrs. Lina Antanavičienė
The first to present her credentials to the president was the new Lithuanian ambassador, Lina Antanavičienė. The president began his remarks by sending his best wishes for a swift recovery to the Prime Minister of Lithuania. He expressed his appreciation for the way Lithuania teaches and commemorates the Holocaust and our shared history. “I see remembering the past as one of the most important elements of my posting, as well as concentrating on the future,” the ambassador said.
President Rivlin with Ambassador of the Netherlands to Israel H.E. Mr. Hans Docter
The new ambassador of the Netherlands to Israel, Hans Docter, was next to present his credentials to the president. The president began by saying, "We are currently marking 70 years of relations between our two countries. Yesterday, our new ambassador presented his credentials to King Willem-Alexander and today you are here to do the same thing.” The president noted the excellent relations between the two countries, based on a long shared history that stretches back to Jewish immigrants to Holland following their expulsion from Spain in the late 15th Century, and during the Holocaust when Anne Frank became a symbol of Dutch Jewry.
Ambassador Docter said, “We are two small, innovative and entrepreneurial nations and together we can work to make the world a better place.”
President Rivlin with Ambassador of Georgia H.E. Mr. Lasha Zhvania
Ambassador of Georgia Lasha Zhvania then presented his credentials to the president, speaking fluent Hebrew. This is the second time he serves as his country’s ambassador to Israel. In his remarks the president spoke about the warm hospitality he I received on his visit to Tbilisi two years ago. He also said, “we are both quite small countries, but the relations between us are big, deep and significant. We must deepen and expand the economic relations between our countries and do more together in the field of agriculture."
Ambassador Zhvania thanked the president for his warm welcome and said, “My agenda here is to further deepen our excellent relations, and I hope that my president will visit here soon.”
The president then received the credentials of the new French ambassador, Eric Danon, who was accompanied by his wife and 14-year-old son. The president spoke about his state visit to Paris in January. "I hold special memories of my visit along with my dear late wife Nehama, and of the warm hospitality shown by President Macron and the first lady and send them both my warmest regards. We are marking 70 years of diplomatic relations between our countries, and have always resolved any disagreements that have arisen, as old friends are able to do.”
“We appreciate France’s efforts for regional security,” said the president and continued, “but in recent weeks we have seen evidence of growing Iranian activity in Syria and Lebanon. Lebanon bears sovereign responsibility for all Hezbollah action. We say clearly to the Lebanese government and its allies around the world: Hezbollah’s aggression must be stopped before we find ourselves dragged into a conflict that neither Lebanon nor Israel want. Israel will not tolerate threats to the safety of its citizens. With the Iranians, Hizbollah is building factories to produce missiles to fire on Israel and that is something that Israel cannot afford. The government of Lebanon cannot make excuses that it is not their responsibility. Hizbollah is part of Lebanon, part of the government of Lebanon, part of the people of Lebanon.”
The French ambassador thanked the President for his warm welcome and said, "France tries to improve the situation in the region and bring stability and security to all its inhabitants. Let me assure you that I am here to help in all aspects of our bilateral relations, to maintain the excellent relations between the countries, with particular attention to the security of the State of Israel.”
President Rivlin with Ambassador of Slovenia H.E. Mrs. Andreja Purkrat Martinez
Finally, Ambassador Andreja Purkrat Martinez of Slovenia, accompanied by her daughter, presented her credentials. The president greeted them and thanked the president of Slovenia for accepting his invitation to participate in the event marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. He also noted the good relations between the countries and the wide range of areas where they can cooperate, adding he would be happy to see even more Slovenian tourists visiting Israel. Referring to Slovenia’s membership of the UNESCO Executive Board, the president stressed that on the question of Jerusalem, decisions based on political considerations cannot ignore historical facts.
The ambassador thanked the president for his remarks, saying, “As soon as I arrived here, I felt at home, even though this is my first time in Israel. It is an honor to be my country’s ambassador here, and for this to be my first posting as ambassador. We see great importance in developing the relations between the countries and peoples, and I will be working towards those goals.”
Photo credits: Mark Neiman (GPO)
- Written by Silvia G Golan
An exhibition of outstanding Uruguayan jewelry and scarfs by Denise Lasnier Jewels, Textil Jewelry Cantarelli and Satka was displayed, last week the same exhibits were displayed at the Jerusalem Arts and Crafts Fair.
Brochures of various destinations in Uruguay were available to guests with the intention of promoting Uruguayan tourism.
Uriel Kohn, an Israeli who hails from Argentina and owner of"Tesha Neshamot" which publishes Hebrew translations of foreign writers( a few months launched "Mafalda" in Hebrew) explain that Levrero's book " Leave everything In My Hands" (in Hebrew as “Smoj alái” ) was enthusiastically launched. Uriel mentioned that 4-5 years ago his publishing house printed Levrero's acclaimed trilogy that included three essays, The Place, The City and Paris, this Hebrew edition being the first translation of the book into a foreign language.
"Tesha Neshamot" has in the past published books by Ecole Lissardy, also translated into Hebrew, in total,4 Uruguayan books the past three years.
"The reception was extraordinary," he said, giving some numbers. Lissardi's books were sold between 6 and 7 thousand copies each and those of Levrero between 3 and 4 thousand copies each. "For Israel, that is extraordinary," he said.
Other important public figures present were.H.E. Mr Meron Reuben,Chief of State Protocol, Ambassador Mr. Modi Ephraim, Deputy Director-General for Latin America and the Caribbean MFA, Mrs. Nitza Raz-Silbiger, Director of State Protocol,Yehuda Meshi Zahav,founder and director of ZAKA-Israel’s rescue and recovery volunteer organization, Nadav Tamir - Director of International Affairs of The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation ,Roy Roznek, member of the international committee of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, Superintendent Moti Meiry representing Israel's Police Force , Editor Uriel Kohn, journalist Jana Beris and more...
Catering was exotic with Latin American delicacies, not forgetting traditional alfajores.
Diplomacy.co.il offers it's sincere congratulations to the State of Uruguay including the ambassador and all relevant diplomats based at the Embassy in Israel.
Photos by Silvia G. Golan
More pics at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/diplomacy.israel
- Written by Jonathan Danilowitz
The usual locations that embassies use to celebrate events are hotels, event halls, the actual embassy or the official ambassadorial residence.
The Guatemalan Ambassador, H.E. Mario Adolfo Búcaro Flores chose an unusual but highly appropriate spot to host guests to celebrate the country’s 198th anniversary of her independence – plus one year since the embassy moved back to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem: the celebrations were held at Jerusalem’s Friends of Zion (FOZ) Museum; Guatemala has long and illustrious record of being a solid and dependable friend of Israel.
It began in 1947 when Guatemala voted at the United Nations, at the end of the British mandate over then-Palestine, to divide the Mandate territory into two states, one Arab, one Jewish. Then in 1948, when Israel was re-established, Guatemala quickly recognized the nascent state. In 1957 she opened her first Israel embassy, in Jerusalem. Even though the embassy subsequently moved to Tel Aviv, Guatemala and Israel maintained excellent relations. And one year ago, President Morales ordered the embassy and the ambassador to restore the embassy to Jerusalem. The second country to do so (after the USA).
A glittering guest list that included the Ambassadors of several countries, including H.E. David Friedman of the USA and H.E. Mario Edgardo Castillo Mendoza of Honduras, Israeli government officials, the Mayor of Jerusalem (who also gave a short address), consuls, commercial attaches, VIPs and Guatemalan citizens in Israel.
First to address the audience was MK Amir Ohana, Israel’s Minister of Justice. “Today we celebrate the shared values of two long-time friends - the people of Guatemala and the people of Israel”. Mr. Ohana spoke of Guatemala’s history, and of its ongoing support of Israel and the Jewish people. He called on Guatemala (and at the same time, on leaders of other free countries) to recognize and to declare that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations. He congratulated Guatemala on the anniversary and asked the ambassador to extend best wishes from the Israeli government and people of Israel to the Guatemalan government and people.
Ambassador Búcaro Flores responded in a warm and praiseworthy address. He thanked MK Ohana and the State of Israel, calling Israel “a true friend”. He mentioned the symbolism of holding the event at the FOZ Museum, as Guatemala is indeed a “friend of Zion”. “Together we are building a better, tighter diplomatic relationship between our two countries.” He noted with gratitude the training that Israel had given in Guatemala in agriculture, science, education, medicine, conservation, security and more, and that Guatemala aimed to be the largest exporter of agricultural products to Israel in 2021 – the upcoming shmita year.
An excellent and moving address by Dr. Mike Evans followed. Dr. Evans has authored 71 books and has written for the New York Times and the Washington Post. He also established the FOZ Museum. He spoke generously of Israel-Guatemala relations, praised Guatemalan president Morales and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, USA President Trump and Ambassador David Friedman; each for their part in the successes being celebrated that day in Jerusalem. He ended his address with a rousing call: “God bless Guatemala”, to much applause.
Ambassador Friedman opened his remarks with warm recognition of Jason Greenblatt, special envoy to Pres. Trump, who had just announced his retirement. He went on to talk of “giant” USA’s close ties with “little” Guatemala, but of their joint appreciation and friendship and support for Israel. “Although the USA was the first country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, Guatemala will always be recognized as the second. No one can take that away.” He congratulated the Guatemalan ambassador and the people on their brave move, and on their 198th anniversary.
Finally, two awards were made: Dr. Evans awarded Ambassador Búcaro Flores the prestigious FOZ “Lion of Judah” award; the Honduran ambassador Castillo Mendoza awarded him. Both ambassadors responded briefly, in gratitude for the awards. Ambassador Búcaro Flores took the opportunity to announce that his country will be establishing 84 libraries in Israel, a gift to the country.
After beautiful renderings of the national anthems of both states, guests were then invited to mingle, to renew old friendships, to make new ones, and to enjoy a buffet supper at the museum.
The director and staff of www.diplomacy.co.il join in wishing Guatemala many many more years of success and liberty as a sovereign state.
Photos Silvia G. Golan
- Written by President’s Spokesperson’s Office
President Rivlin to the British Ambassador:
"Let me assure you - there will be no Isra-exit from our bilateral relations.
Holocaust and anti-Semitism education are not only important for the Jewish community in Britain, but for everyone and all communities, and appreciate the work your government is doing in this field."
President Rivlin to the Irish Ambassador:
"Israel and Ireland are both strong democracies, but even when we disagree, as we sometimes do, we cannot accept boycotts as a valid response."
Ambassadors from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Equatorial Guinea and Bulgaria presented their credentials today, Wednesday 7 August / 6 Av, to President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin at an official ceremony at Beit HaNasi as they take up their posts in Israel. As each ambassador arrived, their national anthem was played by the IDF Band, their national flag was raised and they reviewed an honor guard of IDF soldiers. After presenting their letters of credence to the president and an audience with him, they signed the visitors’ book and Hatikva was played.
The first to present their credentials to the president was Ambassador Dusko Kovacevic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who did so in Hebrew. He then shook hands with the president and asked if he had pronounced everything correctly. The president replied with a smile, “you said it perfectly, and within a week, you’ll speak the language fluently.” The president welcomed the ambassador to Israel and said, “your country is an example that it is possible to bridge conflicts and to seek peace. I believe that we can deepen the relations in a range of fields and hope that with you here as ambassador, we will do so.”
The ambassador expressed his condolences to the president on the death of Nechama ז"ל and said he was proud to serve his country in Israel. He added that the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of security and economy were very important and expressed his hope that the relations would extend to additional fields. “Let me express my sincere gratitude for the assistance that Israel immediately sent in 2014 when we experienced massive floods. You were among the first countries to send assistance and we will never forget it,” said the ambassador, who ended his remarks by saying in Hebrew, “toda raba - thank you very much - Mr. President.”
The president requested the ambassador’s help in returning the Sarajevo Haggada to Israel. The Haggada, the story of the Exodus from Egypt read on the Pesach festival, was apparently written and illustrated in Spain in the 14th Century, and over the years found its way to the Sarajevo Museum. During the Holocaust and the civil war that followed it, the book was hidden by the museum’s librarians in a mosque and other places. “The Haggada is dear to our hearts and we would deeply appreciate it if we could return it to the Jewish people.”
Next the ambassador of Equatorial Guinea, Luciano Ncogo Ndong Ayecaba, presented his credentials to the president. He will be his country’s first resident ambassador in Israel, and the president said, “I have no doubt that this will help strengthen the relations between our countries. It is an exceptional opportunity and I hope that you and your family will feel at home here.” The president also mentioned that he hoped Israel would resume its observer status at the African Union. The ambassador thanked the president for his warm reception on behalf of himself and his family. “As a Catholic, I am deeply moved to be here. We are two small countries and we have much in common. I am sure that we will be able to do a great deal together,” he said.
The next to present his credentials was Ambassador Neil Wigan of the United Kingdom, accompanied by his wife Yael and two children. Ambassador Wigan presented his credentials in fluent Hebrew, saying “It is a great honor and a deep personal pleasure to be here again, Mr. President, and to present you with my letters of credence as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Israel.” The president, with a smile on his face, said that he was sure that his wife and children would feel at home, shook hands with the children warmly and said that he was delighted they had come back.
The president welcomed the ambassador and quoted the famous Liverpool FC song, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. “Our relations are strong and strategic, including in the field of counter-terrorism, and that is how they will remain, said the president. “We see you as very good friends and let me assure you there will be no Isra-exit from our bilateral relations. Please send my warmest congratulations to Prime Minister Johnson, my dear friend, and of course to Her Majesty the Queen.” The president stressed the importance of fighting anti-Semitism together, saying “we see Holocaust and anti-Semitism education not only as important for the Jewish community in Britain, but for everyone and all communities, and appreciate the work your government is doing in this field.”
The president recalled the visit of Prince William to Israel warmly as someone who does much to bring people around the world together and spoke about the Land of the Monasteries project that Israel is leading in the Jordan valley. “This area is so important to Christians and is significant to the whole region as a place where working together could bring millions of pilgrims and create prosperity and economic growth. I invite you, together with representatives of the Royal Family and the Pope, to come to the opening of the project when the restoration work is completed.”
The British Ambassador told the president how excited he was to return to Israel, where he met his wife Yael on his first posting here in 2002. “It is a great honor and a huge personal pleasure to come back here as ambassador. The Royal Family feels a strong connection to Israel, particularly Prince Philip. The relations between our two countries are close, the prime minister volunteered on a kibbutz, and there is no doubt that this says something about the quality of our relations. After Brexit, we very much want to deepen and extend the relations even further. Israel has a great deal to offer those who visit, and as a historian, the Land of the Monasteries project interests me very much. On the question of anti-Semitism, our government is committed to working with the Jewish community to ensure that they are able to live their lives safely. We see Israel as a friend and even when there are disagreements, that friendship is very important to us.”
The president extended an invitation to a British representative to participate in the ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau that will take place at Yad Vashem in January 2020. “Britain played a crucial role in the Second World War,” said the president and the ambassador replied, “my grandfather was the commander of the forces that liberated Bergen-Belsen and the issue is important to me personally.” At the end of his remarks, the president said, “I wish you all success and I am sure you will feel at home here.”
Ambassador Rumiana Bachvarova of Bulgaria was the next to present her credentials to the president, who said, “I remember my visit to Bulgaria in 2016 very well, during which we unveiled the memorial to the rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews. The links between the Bulgarian people and Israel are good and warm and I am sure that through government-to-government relations we will be able to strengthen the links in a range of areas.”
The ambassador thanked the president for his remarks and noted the importance her government attaches to the relations between the peoples, the governments and the business sectors. “It would be a great honor for me in my new position to realize the great potential of our relations,” she said.
The final ambassador to present his credentials was Ambassador Kyle O’Sullivan of Ireland. The president welcomed the new ambassador and said, “Israel and Ireland are both strong democracies, but even when we disagree, as we sometimes do, we cannot accept boycotts as a valid response. Our bilateral relations are important and we have a wide range of links, not only at the governmental level but also between the peoples. The fifth president of Israel, Chaim Herzog, was born in Ireland and his son is now the Chair of the Jewish Agency.” The president added, “we are making efforts to rebuild confidence between Israel and the Palestinians but we are only one side of the equation. The Palestinians must also understand that they need to make an effort. It would be helpful if you tell them that they must also be part of such efforts. Thank you for the Irish contribution to UNIFIL who play an important role in keeping the peace on our northern border. With a smile at the end of his remarks, the president said “We are known more for our wine than our beer, and I hope you will enjoy our Israeli wine. Welcome to Israel, and I hope you feel at home.” The president spoke to the ambassador’s wife and said, “we may be a little loud, but I hear that Irish people also know how to make a noise when necessary.” Laughing, the ambassador’s wife said, “I have three sons…”
The Irish ambassador thanked the president for his remarks, saying “I listened very carefully to what you said and I agree on many issues. We appreciate the importance you attach to defending democracy and its values, and Israel’s democracy is indeed famous – vibrant and lively. This is something we share. You face many challenges, and we are aware of that. I am glad to see that we can listen to each other and discuss matters, even if we do not always agree. Of course, on the question of the quality of Irish beer, we are in absolute agreement,” he said with a smile, thanking the president for his warm reception.
Photo credit: Mark Neiman (GPO)