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Ambassador's speech to diplomats on YH67

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Speech by Ambassador Arthur Lenk at Yom Ha’atzmaut event at embassy on 29 April 2015 to over 300 members of the diplomatic corps and prominent members of government, SA Jewry and SA's Israeli population. Before proceedings began, Lenk asked everyone to send their "thoughts and prayers to the people of Nepal. It has been an awful few days there and we wish a quick recovery and rebuilding. They are in our hearts."
by AMBASSADOR ARTHUR LENK | May 05, 2015

My friend Acting Chief Director, Roy Seplhathelo, Ambassadors and colleagues from the diplomatic community and representatives of the South African government and civil society.My South African Jewish and Israeli brothers and sisters, Friends of Israel,

khumalo andile HOMEHag atzmaut sameach everyone!


RIGHT: Lechaim! Ambassadors Lenk and Setlhapelo toast Israel

Please join me in thanking the outstanding choir from the King David Victory Park School. These children who sang our two anthems so beautifully are a wonderful human bridge that personify the connection between Israel and South Africa.

I am so glad you are with us again this afternoon.

It is clear that our two countries have more in common than sometimes meets the eye. Both of us have diverse, vibrant democracies born out of great tragedy which offer inspiration, hope – and even sometimes frustration – across the globe.

yom-haazmaut-2015-Ilan2 HOMEBoth of our democracies held closely watched elections during the past year and what was most notable about the elections, in the end, was their lack of news: they were normal, standard, trustworthy… in areas of the world that such events are abnormal, rare and often suspect.


The KDPS Linksfield choir opened proceedings by singing the national anthems of SA and Israel and, later, entertained guests with a Hebrew song


Both of us care deeply about peace, security and development in the Middle East and across Africa. 


Agreement

We agree that a negotiated settlement for a two-state solution is the best path for Israelis and Palestinians. We both hope for the growth of more stable, moderate governments that share our values.

Both Israel and South Africa have vocally rejected terrorism in Africa and across the Middle East.

Israel certainly fully agrees with the words of President Zuma following the horrific terrorist attack in Kenya earlier this month: "Terrorism in any form and from whichever quarter, cannot be condoned.

South Africa stands firmly with the international community in condemning all terrorism."

yom-haazmaut-2015-Ilan1


RIGHT: DIRCO Mid-East Desk Ambassador told guests at the posh garden party about the long, strong ties between the two countries - and the huge and disproportionate contribution SA Jewry had made in building SA and in the struggle. 

Read: SETLHAPELO PRAISES ISRAEL, SA JEWRY

Friends, There have been some very interesting visits of prominent Israeli public figures to South Africa during the past year including the Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, Deputy President of our Supreme Court Amnon Rubinstein, who met with the President of your Constitutional Court and Member of Knesset Dov Lipman who visited Parliament and had excellent meetings across the political spectrum. We have welcomed excellent visits to Israel from President Zuma's esteemed envoys to our region and prominent Parliamentarians. Israel remains hopeful that these interactions will further develop as part of our interest in a widening conversation between our governments and people.


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The reason that extending our dialogue is worthwhile is that there is a genuine interest between our peoples. Israeli pavilions at the Africa-com telecommunications exhibition and the Nampo agribusiness fair drew significant traffic and exchange. This week in Israel, South Africans are attending the Agritech fair in Tel Aviv and in October, others will participate in Israel's water and greentech exhibition, Watec. Significant numbers of Israeli visitors bring income, investments and know-how to South Africa. According to SARS, Israeli imports grew again in 2014, for the fifth consecutive year.

8-Ambassador Arthur Lenk presents creds to Pres Jacob Zuma - Picture Ilana Lenk -HOMEOur Embassy's "Start-up Tel Aviv" contest attracted dozens of top young South African innovators who competed for a chance to learn from Israeli creativity. We will have a second such contest starting next month. Our friends at the South Africa Israel Forum and Investec took two delegations of innovators on study trips to Israel to inspire the developing of new ideas here in South Africa.


LEFT: Ambassador Lenk handing his credentials to President Zuma


Cooperation between the SAPS and Israel's Police has grown significantly in the past year. Joint efforts on investigations both in South Africa and in Israel paid dividends. I am proud that Israel's Police representative to South Africa, Superintendent Nir Gambar, born in Ethiopia and today, a senior officer in our police force, is with us here this afternoon.    

Cultural cooperation grew, too. An Israeli-SA co-production was a hit at the recent Dance Umbrella and Israeli artists participated in the 2014 Oppikoppi music and Franchoek book festivals and have been invited again for 2015.

Ruth, Aiden and I are no long surprised how much people – from all walks of life, from all faiths, all backgrounds are open and interested in partnerships between Israel and South Africa. And that is what all of us at the Embassy work on throughout the year. We are proud tell Israel’s story: on Facebook and on Twitter, on university campuses and in the media, about our successes and challenges. We seek out opportunities to emphasize Israel's interest in finding additional topics and partnerships that will resonate with South Africans and help people here and in Israel.

And Israel is very much here in South Africa. I am glad that so many friends from different communities are here today: My brothers and sisters from South Africa's impressive Jewish community who are such a key to this country's future. Faith leaders from a variety of Christian churches. Representatives of a wide range of political parties. Business partners and leaders from both sides.

8-Ambassador Arthur Lenk's gift to President Jacob Zuma - Picture Ilana Lenk


RIGHT: The basket of fruit and veg that Lenk handed to Zuma as a gift on presenting his credentials. The produce was grown in all 9 SA provinces and all with Israeli assistance


Many of you here today were with thousands of friends at solidarity rallies in Johannesburg and Cape Town last year, standing with Israel and calling for peace in the midst of the conflict in Gaza. I remain grateful. It was a clear message of how many people here see positive synergies and shared interests between our countries.

Before I close, I want to note that today is the 40th anniversary of the murder of Giora Raviv, the Chief Security Officer at our Embassy here on 29 April 1975. As I mentioned on Yom Hazikharon, last week, we are erecting a memorial to Giora on the grounds of the Embassy, together with his family, in late June. May his memory be a blessing.

So thank you all for being with us this afternoon. Toda raba to my Embassy partners who did such a great job putting today’s celebration together.

Please join me in raising a toast… To friendship, cooperation and success. To the President and the people of South Africa. L’chaim!  

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