READ AS THE AMBASSADOR SPEAKS
Live blogging of a speech is, by its very nature, a paraphrasing rather than a verbatim account of what is being said. On first posting it is grammatically imperfect and spelling and typing errors are unavoidable. The purpose of live blogging is to keep the non-present user as up to date as possible. Thereafter, the imperfections are corrected.
With this in mind, the posting at regular timed intervals would pass neither a typing nor a writing examination, but will be posted as close to real-time as is possible. The subsequent sub-editing will bring the copy up to the standard that SAJR users are used to.
Each new posting will be time-stamped and questions and answers will be paraphrased.
Users are welcome to post their own questions to the Ambassador which will be posed from the floor, if time allows, or e-mailed to Mr Lenk to answer afterwards.
TENTH POST: Posted 20h51
QUESTION: Are there actually negotiations going on?
LENK: I think that we are 5 or 7 months into it. That we are hearing nothing is good news. There are tough issues at hand. As an Israeli with 3 daughters I believe we have to try.
Pictured at the event, from left: Avrom Krengel, Arthur Lenk, Leon Reich, Mike Fisher
QUESTION: The way I see it is that we make concessions all the time. Why do you believe they will compromise?
LENK: I am not a spokesman for the Palestinians. But on both sides there are those who have the realisation that we are going to have to live alongside each other. The reality that there is goijg to be two states is a hard one. On our side and theirs…
QUESTION: I get the impression that this whole peace plan is marking time until Obama leaves (office). How does the US situation in the US play into the question of peace.
LENK: I am not prepared to speak on behalf of US. But, interestingly, Obama visited both SA and Israel this year and convinced both the people of SA and Israel that he was friendly. But regarding Israel, the US is not a new relationship. The US have been the closest ally of Israel for the past 40 years. If I had to choose a best friend for Israel, it would be America. Wouldn’t you?
NINTH POST: Posted 20h39
QUESTION: Population of Israel is very diverse in culture but is the only democratic country in region. Do you think Israel will ever have to choose between being a Jewish State and a democratic state.
LENK: I really hope not. It has never been our desire to rule over other people. I don’t know that compromise is close – but I think it has been there in Israel forever.
QUESTION: It is heartening to hear that Israel has many friends in SA. But not our government. DIRCO. T&I. Electioneering.
LENK: I can only speak to one side of it. You as South Africans have to speak. I think that my brothers and sisters here in SA are skilled at showing why SA Jewry is important. My job here is as a diplomat representing a foreign country. I think there are enough people in Christian and Jewish SA who realise that SA has much to gain from better relations with Israel.
QUESTION: I cannot see the Israeli Govt uprooting 600,000 citizens.
LENK: I don’t know what the plans are that are being talked about – and if I did, I wouldn’t say. But it is common knowledge that land swops are part of the discussions. I believe that societies gain by having Jewish neighbours.
EIGHTH POST: Posted 20h30
QUESTION: Lieberman’s lack of knowledge of SA?
LENK: He’s my boss, but, okay. There is full and constructive engagement between the two countries. I think it is
QUESTION: Predecessor had difficulty with Parliament’s Foreign Affairs subcommittee.
LENK: haven’t met them yet. Will soon. Met them in Israel before he came out. Lenk says he sees his role as meeting with everyone. “It is my job and my responsibility to meet with people who don’t agree with me.” It’s nice to know SA Jewry has my back.
QUESTION: How can Israel engage with Palestinians when they want all of Israel.
LENK: Good question. There is a split in values of Fatah and Hamas. I agree with you on Hamas, not regarding Fatah. They are not Zionists. They should be Palestinian patriots. They should negotiate, go back to their people and discuss pragmatically that they are going to have to live alongside each other. I hope that both our leaders and Palestinian leaders are fighting hard for peace.
Can we find peace? I don’t know. But we have to try. As we did with Egypt, Jordan.
SEVENTH POST: Posted 20h20
Israel is engaging with SA as are the SA Jewish community.
We have to get out and tell that story. [“Like Ant sitting here live blogging”]
It is am honour to be among you tnight.
SIXTH POST: Posted 20h17
Israel is a start-up nation. Because Facebook says so. Because Google says so, Apple, Intel, Microsoft. Because the high tech innovators outside of the west Coast are in Israel.
What can Israel get from SA?
The idea that unsolvable problems can be solved is an SA lesson. Israelis need to hear that. Palestinians need to hear it, the Iranians.
But in SA you needed to get married. We and the Palestinians need to get divorced. But we need to talk. And we need to talk more. And more. This is the policy of the State of Israel. Bibi said so again today.
The truth is that to the north of Israel we have the awfulness of a leader killing and gassing his own people. We are pleased for the people of Syria that their seems to be a resolution to the gas.
To the south we have Egypt. Clearly, what they call the Arab spring has a long way to go, says Lenk.
Then there is Iran. From an Israeli perspective there is nothing better than Iran being brought back to normalcy. It’s a question of strategy vs. tactics. Israel wants the P5+1 to push Iran hard.
FIFTH POST: Posted 20h08
There is R1-bil a year in bilateral trade. Bilateral tourism is huge. SA Media has taken a very great interest in the ambassador.
The two big take-aways Lenk has found:
- We need to put Israel’s narrative out these
- We need to talk about the issues we have in common
What we need to do in SA is to tell our story about how we want to live in Peace and prosperity with our neighbours.
Lenk says he spoke at UJ and quoted from SA policy – everything SA says it wants to do – creating jobs, exporting produce due to opposite seasonality, water, agriculture, innovation, high tech – things that SA says it has need for, Israel has the ability and expertise to assist.
All over SA emerging farmers are benefiting from Israeli technology.
FOURTH POST: Posted 20h01
Ambassador gets roar of applause.
Ever the joker, Lenk told guests he hoped they will get their R30’s worth.
Been here for three and a half months and he and his family are overwhelmed by the welcome from the community. The legendary relationship between SA Jewry and Israel is clearly correct.
Lenk says he sees so much potential for the relationship between Israel and SA. The dynamic excitement he has experienced in SA 20-years since democracy – the only other community excitement like this in the world is in Israel.
The cw was that SA would be a tough assignment. Lenk says that is wrong. This is not a bad post. It is a challenging posting, says Lenk, but a privilege.
The SA Christian admiration for Israel is amazing. When he was invited to Moria for a major ZCC event stunned him. He was treated as THE VIP.
THIRD POST: Posted 19h51
Avrom Krengel welcomes all – he says that although the new ambassador and deputy have literally criss-crossed the country and engaged the community and the country and it seems they have been here longer.
As we have seen over the past two weeks the relationship between SA and Israel can flare up at a moments’ notice. But, says Krengel, he believes the new ambassador can do great things.
Thanks Likud-SA for setting up the event.
SECOND POST: Posted 19h47
The room is filling fast – with everyone from community dignitaries to the Yid in the street – it seems that Likud-SA’s savvy marketing and the interest of the community, not least in the topic of the day, has really struck a nerve. The Ambassador has arrived and just suggested to me that we set up a live on-site question and answer session on SAJR Online.
Avrom Krengel has also arrived and Mike Fisher, chair of Likud-SA Gauteng is welcoming guests.
FIRST POST: Posted 19h40
The ambassador was expected to begin speaking shortly before 8pm but, between Jewish time and Beyachad security – and the fact that the sold-out event had to be moved to a bigger venue, given the, I think we can expect a slightly later start.
Media interest is high with 5 different media houses attending.
LENK PRESENTS CREDENTIALS AND VEGGIES TO ZUMA Read how cleverly the ambassador made his point on the day that the Israeli flag flew over the Presidential Guesthouse last month
LENK SHINES THROUGH AGGRESSION ON SABC Watch how gingerly the ambassador handled an over-aggressive SABC interviewer last week