On Tuesday evening, March 9th, business leaders, members of the Israeli and international diplomatic corps, academics, and Israeli society figures gathered at the residence of Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen, head of the EU Delegation to Israel, and his spouse Mrs. Jean Marie Murphy, to celebrate Europe Day. The 60th anniversary of the founding of the European Community was especially meaningful coming on the heels of critical national elections in France which ultimately bolstered support for European unity.
The celebration opened with a reception and open bar for the guests to enjoy as they socialized. Ambassador Faaborg-Andersen, began the formal portion of the evening by remembering the origins of the EU, which “rose from the ashes of two world wars” before eventually becoming the “ambitious political project that has changed the life of Europeans from that day onwards.”
Ambassador Faaborg-Andersen noted although much had changed since then, the EU was just as important today, because “Europe as a political entity will either be united or not be at all. Only a united Europe can be a sovereign Europe in relation to the rest of the world. And only a sovereign Europe can guarantee independence for its nations and security for its citizens.” He added that the fundamental component of that union was “shared values and democratic standards.” He also highlighted the prominence of the EU in geopolitics and international trade, as well as the strong relationship between the EU and Israel.
Ambassador Faaborg-Andersen then reminded the guests that for all of its strength and success, Israel still struggled to deal with key aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which remains unresolved. He emphasized that it would be in Israel’s best long-term interests for a two-state solution to succeed, and that the EU was ready to advance such a peace initiative at any time.
After the Ambassador spoke, a pre-recorded message was played from Mrs Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. In her message, Mogherini, standing in front of the European Commission building in Brussels, discussed the important role that European unity has played over the last 60 years, and sent her congratulations on this momentous day.
Following the Ambassador, the Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resource Yuval Steinitz addressed the audience. The Minister discussed strong historic ties between the EU and Israel, and Israel’s shared values with Europe. He also applauded the efforts to support Holocaust education, and stated that anti-bigotry should also include other forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Israel activities. Minister Steinitz also listed some of Israel’s strengths that he believed could be shared with Europe, including entrepreneurship and innovation, and national security and counterterrorism.
Following the speeches, the Anthems of Europe (Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”) and Israel (Hatikva) were played. Guests were then able to enjoy a live musical performance and even dance, and continue sampling from the dinner reception. Among the many prominent academics, business leaders, diplomats and military dignitaries present were Ambassador Meron Reuben from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chairman of the Israel-EU Chamber of Commerce Gad Proper; Israeli politician Yossi Beilin, and Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan, head of the Israeli Center for Young Leaders and the Israel School for Young Ambassadors.
Steven Aiello, founder of the Debate for Peace MUN program (debateforpeace.wordpress.com).
Photo Credit Silvia G. Golan