Israel not isolated, Lenk tells Christian Zionists
One of the questions Peres had been asked, said Lenk, was about Israel being isolated in the community of nations.
Peres had answered that “Israel does have a few small friends,” recounted Lenk. “Like China… like India… like the USA… like Europe… like Africa…” A thunderous standing ovation greeted the ambassador’s introduction.
RIGHT: Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk at the recent SAFI Conference with conference co-ordinater Mark Hyman
Israel, explained Lenk, was far from isolated. It enjoyed security co-operation treaties with neighbours Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. “We have strategic relations with Saudi Arabia and most of the Arab countries.” He told the 600-odd enthusiastic delegates to the conference. “They don’t think we are a problem.”
Syria, said Lenk, “is no longer a threat to Israel. Hezbola has its attention on other things and it is bleeding.”
He said that both Greece and Cyprus had very good and wide-ranging treaties with the State of Israel.
At Lenk’s meeting with Israel’s top diplomat, Dore Gold, at the invitation of his counterpart at the SA department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) on the prior Thursday, said Lenk, Dirco had asked the Israeli delegation questions about their relations with other BRICKS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA) countries.
LEFT: Dore Gold signs the visitors’ book at the Mandla Home Museum in Soweto as Lenk, left, and Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein look on
Pic: ANT KATZ
The Israeli director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), was able to report that Israel enjoyed strong partnerships with all of these states.
“Africa has been front page news almost every day this week in Israel,” said Lenk. The Prime Minister of Kenya had visited Israel and Dore Gold had been in South Africa. Prime Minister Netanyahu will also be travelling to four African countries this year, said Lenk.
“At Dirco we heard that Indian politicians are telling South Africa to get on the train,” he said. “Most of Asia is friendly with Israel.”
There are, however, certain challenges Israel faces, Lenk told the Johannesburg audience. “Lebanon is a threat. Hezbolla is a danger. Iran is a problem.” Israel, said Lenk, will keep their eyes on all of them.
“Having circled the globe, let’s home in on South Africa,” the ambassador said. “You must have all heard that my boss was here this week. We spoke to the South African government about core issues – they are saying that they want to see growth in our bilateral relationships in many important areas.” Lenk said he did not expect South Africa to say so publicly, but that he had been happy about what had been discussed.
RIGHT: Gold’s inscription: “We Jews understand implicitly the struggle for Freedom which Nelson Mandela led here. For us, Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.”
Pic: ANT KATZ
“Last month we moved the embassy to Cape Town for two months,” said Lenk. They had held an agricultural expo. “We showed (Western Cape) Premier (Helen) Zille how Israeli businesses have created jobs in the Cape and assisted South Africa in its food security.”
Israel has become a super-power in cyber-defence, said Lenk. And Israel was happy to partner with South Africa in that.
He also said that the Israeli Embassy will not be celebrating a diplomatic celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israel’s national day – this year. Instead of their traditional and expensive diplomatic garden party, “Israel is bringing our smartest food and water experts and we will hold conferences in Johannesburg and Cape Town,” he announced. He said it the present time of crisis for SA with the drought and food-security issues, he believed Israel would be able to be a better partner in this way.