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On Netanyahu’s visit to Africa, and snapshots of 2 grieving families in Israel (Arlene Kushner’s blog)

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July 8, 2016

(for photos, go to http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/, but today’s posting isn’t up on the site yet…Ed.)

Prime Minister Netanyahu has just completed a tour across four East African nations – the first prime minister to travel into the continent in decades. He has been greeted with considerable warmth and it seems the tour was a diplomatic success.

His first stop was Uganda, timed for a ceremony on July 4, marking the 40th anniversary of the daring rescue by Israel of hostages held at Entebbe (a rescue operation in which his brother Yonatan was killed).  During his speech there, he spoke of the courage needed “to defend our values and our lives”: “we and all the civilized nations must rededicate ourselves to the spirit of Entebbe, a spirit of daring and resolve, a spirit of courage and fortitude…”



He met there with several African heads of state – from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, South Sudan and Tanzania.

Netanyahu on Thursday revealed that one of the leaders at this summit meeting arranged a phone call for him with a (as yet unnamed) Muslim leader of a Muslim African country with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations, and they have agreed to meet at a future date.

The JPost on Friday further shares reports that in recent months the prime minister met secretly in Tel Aviv with Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohammud.  (Netanyahu says this is not who he spoke to by phone this week.)


Here we have a video of a talk he gave in Kenya, on Tuesday, which provides a very good sense of how he has handled himself in Africa, and how he was received:




Following this, in Rwanda, he spoke of a painful shared heritage of genocide, and visited a memorial for the one million Tutsis killed in 1994.  Incitement to murder precedes genocide, he cautioned. Take words seriously. Don’t rely on the international community, and have the capacity to defend yourself.




In Ethiopia, his last stop, he declared that:

All African countries can benefit from renewed cooperation with Israel.  Israel is coming back to Africa.” Agreements on bi-lateral cooperation were signed, and he delivered an address to the Ethiopian parliament.

Among those who came with him were Ethiopian-born MKAvraham Neguise (Likud – pictured) and Penina Tamano-Shata, lawyer and former MK.

Credit: calcalist

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared Ethiopia ready to back Israel’s bid for observer status in the African Union.

Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO

This is a status that will serve Israel well, diplomatically and politically.  It provides an example of the sort of connections Netanyahu is seeking.


Israel, in her early years, had a strong relationship with several African nations. But this fell apart in the sixties, with the tensions of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  By the 1970s, many African nations had broken ties with Israel and were firmly in the Arab camp.  Israel is working hard to reverse this situation now – offering badly needed expertise in a variety of areas, from agriculture to water management to combatting terror, and looking for diplomatic support in international venues such as the UN.


And so, we are “looking up.”

But I want to close with another video that might be best thought of as bittersweet. Perhaps not the right word. Here is Orit, a daughter of Rabbi Micki Mark, who was killed by a terrorist this week.  There is the terrible pain in her words, but, with it, an attitude that is so strong, so resilient and so remarkably free of bitterness that we cannot but be deeply moved.  The world needs to see this.

WATCH: Terror Victim’s Daughter Cries, ‘None of Us Deserve This!’

Days after Rabbi Michael Mark was shot in his car in a drive-by Palestinian terrorist attack, his grieving daughter shared words of pain and strength. Her inspirational words, powerful enough to make anyone cry, are a clear testimony of the amazing role model her father was to her and many others.

Rabbi Mark’s wife, Chava, badly injured in the attack, has regained consciousness and is said to be getting stronger.


Also incredible: The family of Hallel Ariel got up from shiva (the week of mourning) on Thursday morning.  Hallel’s parents  – Rina and Amichai – then took themselves from Kiryat Arba, where they live, to Otniel, where the Mark family is still sitting shiva, to pay a condolence call.  Out of their pain, they reached out to provide comfort. This is Israel.

Screen shot: Channel 10


Yehi Shalom.

“May there be peace within your walls….For my brothers and companions’ sake, I will say, Peace be within you!”

From Psalm 122.

There are many versions.  I rather like this one:


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