Mes­sage of Is­rael’s Am­bas­sador to the Philip­pines EFFIE BEN MATITYAU

The Philippine Star - - WORLD NEWS -

We are celebrating our 70th birth­day and some spe­cial ju­bilees rep­re­sent­ing the ma­jor mile­stones in our peo­ple-to-Peo­ple and bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

Is­rael is nick­named to­day as “The Startup Na­tion” — an ac­knowl­edge­ment of our po­si­tion in the world of hi-tech. How­ever, the very cre­ation of Is­rael can be re­garded as a start-up en­ter­prise, as it was built from scratch.

In 1918, ex­actly 100 years ago, WWI came to an end. The vic­tors of the war are draw­ing ter­ri­to­rial borders for fu­ture na­tion-states in the Mid­dle East. Most of them will later evolve into Arab States.

One ter­ri­tory was an ex­cep­tion — the his­tor­i­cal Holy Land, des­ig­nated to be­come, once again, the home­land for the Jewish peo­ple. It was named “Pales­tine” and given to the Bri­tish Em­pire as a man­date until 1948.

In 1918, the Jewish pop­u­la­tion of this ter­ri­tory is no more than 60,000 peo­ple — the size of a small town in the Philip­pines. To­day, we are a na­tion of nine mil­lion peo­ple, among us, more than two mil­lion Arab cit­i­zens; to­gether, rep­re­sent­ing one of the most ad­vanced economies, a science-based so­ci­ety, and one of the big­gest hubs of in­no­va­tion in the world.

I must ad­mit that we did have some good role mod­els and in­spi­ra­tion in our past that you all know from the time of “Ex­o­dus” and one of the most prominent fig­ures of all times, Moses… by all ac­counts, he was the first user of tablets. How­ever, poor Moses, he was lost in the desert for 40 years for he did not have Waze, which was in­vented by Is­raelis 10 years ago. Waze is just one ex­am­ples among so many other in­ven­tions af­fect­ing our daily life in ev­ery cor­ner of the world.

So, this is our real story: more than 3,500 years of his­tory, 100 years jour­ney to state­hood, 70 years of in­de­pen­dence; from start to start-up na­tion.

In ad­di­tion to our Na­tional Day, we also cel­e­brate a num­ber of ju­bilees: the first one is a great moral vic­tory of the Philip­pines; 80 years ago, Pres­i­dent Manuel Que­zon es­tab­lished the Open Door pol­icy, which was fol­lowed by the open hearts of the Filipinos.

As a re­sult, 1,300 Jewish peo­ple were saved by this coun­try from the Holo­caust. 1,300 gen­er­a­tions were born ever since. Among them, many gen­er­a­tions of Filipino fam­i­lies, cre­ated by those refugees who de­cided to stay and call the Philip­pines home.

The de­scen­dants are mak­ing a real difference in this so­ci­ety and they are a great bridge of friend­ship be­tween our coun­tries and peo­ples. The Open Door pol­icy is one of the main pil­lars in our re­la­tions ever since.

A sec­ond pil­lar in our re­la­tions was cre­ated on Nov. 29, 1947. It was, once again, an­other Manuel — Pres­i­dent Manuel Roxas — who to­gether with Vice Pres­i­dent and Foreign Af­fairs Sec­re­tary El­pidio Quirino led the Philip­pines to a historic vote in the United Na­tions, lead­ing to the for­mal cre­ation of the State of Is­rael.

The no­ble acts of all these lead­ers laid the foun­da­tion of our friend­ship beyond pol­i­tics, and the Philip­pines earned a grate­ful Jewish peo­ple.

This is the right oc­ca­sion to say, on be­half of my coun­try, “Thank you, Philip­pines!”

The last event in our ju­bilee cel­e­bra­tions took place 60 years ago when we signed our Friend­ship Treaty, friend­ship is in­deed the mark­ing of our re­la­tions; “Friends in need are friends in­deed” is our way of co­op­er­a­tion, which among oth­ers, led our two coun­tries to abol­ish visa re­quire­ments al­ready back in 1969. You opened the gates and hearts to our peo­ple, we open our gates to you!

In recog­ni­tion of great deeds and our shared his­tory, the Em­bassy of Is­rael, to­gether with the Que­zon Fam­ily, the Roxas and Quirino Foun­da­tions, and the Gov­ern­ment of Que­zon City, are go­ing to ded­i­cate a spe­cial Friend­ship Mon­u­ment at the Que­zon Me­mo­rial Cir­cle — the most sym­bolic of places.

Last, and not least, of our cel­e­bra­tion to­day is per­sonal. I am soon go­ing to say good­bye as my tour of duty nears to its end.

Four years passed but I would like to tell with a big smile fit­ting this coun­try that thanks to you, my re­sume was greatly en­riched. First, as a pro­fes­sional model for se­nior cit­i­zens. Sec­ond, I’m an ex­pert judge of beauty pageants, un­der the watch­ful eyes of my bet­ter half.

Third, I’m a well-trained selfie pho­tog­ra­pher in the selfie cap­i­tal of the world.

I was also hon­ored with a Doc­tor of Laws hon­oris causa from the Tar­lac Agri­cul­tural Univer­sity, which I will carry with pride.

But, the most en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence truly was your friend­ship. My dear­est friends, be­cause of you, we truly had a great and unforgettable tour of duty. We don’t know about you, but we are go­ing to miss you. Maram­ing sala­mat po!

(From right) Am­bas­sador of Is­rael Effie Ben Matityau, Foreign Af­fairs As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary and Chief of Pro­to­col Jer­ril San­tos and Vice Dean of the Diplo­matic Corps, Am­bas­sador of the Czech Repub­lic Jaroslav Olša, Jr. of­fer a toast for the pros­per­ity and well-be­ing of the Filipino peo­ple and the friend­ship be­tween Is­rael and the Philip­pines.

Singer-song­writer Ogie Al­casid steps up en­ter­tain­ment dur­ing the Na­tional Day event.

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