Israel celebrates 74th Anniversary

Ambassador Eliav Belotsercovsky with His Grace, Bishop Dr. Lekganyane

15 June 2022

Eliav Belotsercovsky, Ambassador of Israel to South Africa hosted a function to celebrate the 74th anniversary of Israel’s independence. Belotsercovsky said that during these 74 years Israel has moved a long way since its main exports were Jaffa oranges. Israel today is known as a Start-Up nation, a world hub of innovation and entrepreneurship and based on the GDP per capita is the 28th economy in the world. It is a world leader in Agriculture, Water management, Cyber Technology, Automotive industry, to name but a few and boasts 8 Nobel Prize laureates in sciences.

Remarks by Ambassador Eliav Belotsercovsky

This year we are celebrating 74 years of our independence. 74 years is an old age for a person but in historical terms it is still a very young age, definitely for a country. Israel today is indeed a young and dynamic country. But we did not have it easy and time and time again had to face attempts to destroy our State. To prevail we had to pay the terrible price in the lives of our young people who sacrificed themselves for the defense of our country. Tragically we are continuing to pay this price also today.

If we look at Israel we see a vibrant democracy with an independent judicial system and free press that often attacks the Government. Our democracy is the basis of our country and the core of strength of our people. Being a Jewish State we are very proud of the active and energetic participation of the country’s minorities in political, economic, social and cultural life of the country. Their contribution to the success of our state cannot be over-emphasized. Currently, an Arab Islamic Party is a member of the ruling coalition and we have two Arab Ministers. This in addition to MP’s, Judges, Mayors, Ambassadors, Academics, lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs and many others. Last but not least our national football team consists of a very high number of Moslem players including the Captain.

During these 74 years we have moved a long way since the times when our main exports were Jaffa oranges. Israel today is known as a Start-Up nation, a world hub of innovation and entrepreneurship and based on the GDP per capita is the 28th economy in the world. It is a world leader in Agriculture, Water management, Cyber Technology, Automotive industry, to name but a few and boasts 8 Nobel Prize laureates in sciences.

The Abraham accords, signed on September 2020, were an important milestone in the reconciliation process between Israel and the Arab world. The accords had enabled a realization of the tremendous potential between our countries. 10 days ago a Free Trade agreement, first of a kind with an Arab country, has been signed between Israel and UAE. Ties are getting stronger and stronger also with Morocco and Bahrain. We also look forward to normalizing the relations with Sudan. The relations with Egypt and Jordan are getting stronger and we look forward to more and more countries joining the Peace camp.

And yet we are facing our greatest challenge of all, reaching an agreement with the Palestinians. We are neighbors and we are bound to live side by side with each other. Both of us have to compromise in order to let our people prosper. The Israeli people are thirsty for peace. There is tremendous support for a compromise that will lead us to true reconciliation. However, unfortunately, we have yet to find a partner on the other side.

On a more positive note Israel is investing in its relations with Africa. Today we have diplomatic relations with 44 out of 46 sub-Saharan African States. In February Israel has confirmed its status as an observer in the African Union. Only last week another African leader visited Israel, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Togo.

Israel continues to work together with African countries and so far has trained more than 60,000 African experts in Israel and in different African countries. Israel has undertaken different projects in the fields of healthcare, agriculture and social development in all of the sub-Saharan Africa.

Here in South Africa, in Limpopo, the Israeli NGO, Innovation Africa, has connected running water to close to half a million people. The Embassy has worked with NGO’s to create vegetable gardens at schools and provide food for the students. We have also trained young women to deal with GBV violence. And yet this is only a small part of what we can do together.

On a more personal note, seven months ago me and Elena arrived, for the first time, to South Africa. Right from the start we were literally overwhelmed by the beauty of the land and even more, the warmth and the friendliness of the people. It’s also the first time for us to meet a real beauty queen, Lalela Mswane, who took third place in the Miss Universe contest in Israel, and is with us here today. She is not only beautiful but also a very courageous young woman. So far it has been a truly remarkable experience and each and every one of you, present here, has contributed to it. We would like to thank all of you for being with us, for supporting us and for getting the relations between Israel and South Africa stronger and stronger.

Embassy of Israel in South Africa