Our Face around the World
The State of Israel currently has 81 embassies, 21 consulates and another 6 delegations / economic offices around the world. Ahead of the 73rd Independence Day celebrations of the State of Israel, the Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization, led by Sigalit Ben Hayoun, invited four of their leaders, all TAU Alumni, to a Webinar that addressed the unique challenges of Israeli ambassadors in the international arena, and especially during the COVID19 crisis.
The event was Participated by:
- Yaffa Ben-Ari, Ambassador of Israel to Japan, Alumna of the Faculty of Social Sciences
- Shani Cooper, Ambassador of Israel to Ghana, Liberia and Sierra-Leone, Alumna of the Faculties of Social Sciences and Humanities
- Sandra Simovich, Consul General at the Israeli Consulate General in Munich, Alunba of the Buchmann Faculty of Law
- Ran Peleg, Consul General, Head of the Israeli Consulate General to South West China, Chengdu, Alumnus of the Buchmann Faculty of Law and the Coller School of Management
The event was moderated by Prof. Hanna Lerner, Head of TAU’s School of Political Science, Government and International Affairs, Alumna of the Faculty of Humanities.
Yaffa Ben-Ari, Ambassador of Israel to Japan, said:
"Israel's branding in Japan was revived during the COVID19 crisis. Not only did the success of the vaccine operation give Israel a positive image in the Japanese media, but also the exposure of the Israeli passengers on ‘the corona ship’ in the early days of the crisis. The embassy's increased activity in creating content on social media - when most of the population has switched to Home Office - has also attracted a lot of attention in the past year.
The treatment we gave the Israeli tourists on the Corona ship, both during the quarantine on the ship and in the process of their release and transfer to Israel, was difficult and complex, especially at the beginning of the epidemic, when anxiety and lack of knowledge about the nature of the epidemic made it difficult to deal with various factors. The treatment of the rescue of many other Israelis from around the world in those first months showed how much the State of Israel, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its emissaries, treats its citizens with extraordinary devotion.
The COVID19 crisis has created many challenges. Beyond the medical and economic challenge arose the need to adapt to a new reality of uncertainty, and to find creative solutions for the continued functioning and achievement of goals.
The worlds of culture and the arts, as well as the tourism industry, have suffered a severe blow here as well. Israeli diplomacy has shown rapid adaptability. In accordance with the new normal we have created new platforms. We recruited relevant content and designed it for public media: a short story by Etgar Keret titled"Outside" was produced as a short video in Japanese in a unique co- production with Japanese artists. This work was widely circulated, including screening on billboards simultaneously in the main square in Shibuya in Tokyo, in Times Square in New York City and on the building of Habima – the Israeli National Theater in Tel Aviv. The work has been translated into 20 languages".
Ran Peleg, Consul General, Head of the Israeli Consulate General to South West China, stated:
"Precisely in China, where everything is open on the one hand, but closed to the world and with no flights on the other, I feel that the diplomat's role returns to the traditional definition of representation on the ground, which bridges and connects Israeli factors – commercial and others – towards cooperation with the Chinese. This is through personal, unmediated contact with decision-makers, things that cannot be produced via a Zoom. When COVID19 broke out in China, only the Foreign Ministry staff at the consulate remained, with great uncertainty and in a somewhat apocalyptic atmosphere. The task was, first and foremost, to ensure the safe evacuations of Israelis who were here, in addition to conveying and reflecting the reality in China, in a credible manner. Today, Corona virus is hardly evident in China, and the random cases which are diagnosed are quarantined and taken care of well enough that a 2nd wave has not occurred here”.
Shani Cooper, Ambassador of Israel to Ghana, Liberia and Sierra-Leone, said:
"Malaria is more present here than COVID19. I admit that I asked my daughters to try not to get injured during this period... COVID19 arrived here late, and although the testing rate in Africa is lower than the World Health Organization’s requirements, a total of 4.5 million people got infected with COVID19, which constitutes about 3% of the total infections among the world population. In this context, it can be said that Africa was lucky."
Sandra Simovich, Consul General in Munich, commented on the role of the diplomat in this era:
"In the short term, Diplomats nowadays have ways of producing more speaker platforms today, digitally. But the joy in meeting face to face again is present, and we weren’t meant to create virtual diplomacy. Chemistry and interpersonal interaction are very important to diplomacy, and there is no substitute for that".
Among the alumni who watched the Webinar live, in real time:
Ehud Eitam, Head of an Israeli Delegation abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, former Israeli Ambassador to Turkey and Costa Rica; Adva Rogalin, CEO at Kibbutz Ga'ash Commercial Properties; Dr. Alon Nevet, Deputy Director of the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center; Irit Savion Waidergorn, Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Training Department, and many others.