The Jerusalem Post
THERE ARE individual historic events and there are national historic events. The Slovenian National Day reception hosted at Shenkar College by Ambassador Andreja Purkart Martinez was a mix of both. During her adolescence in Slovenia, the ambassador could not imagine that her country’s independence from Communist rule with the dissolution of Yugoslavia was so close at hand.
As a law student in 1991, she felt a special privilege to be part of so historic an event as “the establishment of a new country and the hope that we had at the time.”
When Essawi Frej was first elected to the Knesset on a Meretz ticket in 2013, it’s doubtful that he ever dreamed he would be making history. But it was in his history-making capacity last week that he was at the reception marking the 30th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence, and its accession for the second time to the presidency of the Council of the EU. In the very strange coalition that makes up the current government of Israel, Frej, though not the first Arab minister, is the first to actually hold a portfolio, and one that is entirely appropriate. He heads the Ministry for Regional Cooperation, a perfect choice for someone who understands both the Israeli and the Arab outlook and the cultural differences between the two. Purkart Martinez said that she was honored that he had found the time to attend the reception.
Speaking of similarities and differences between their two countries, Frej said that while Israel and Slovenia were more or less the same sizes, half of Israel’s land mass is desert, whereas all of Slovenia is filled with lush green forest.
AS for similarities, Frej noted that both countries share the same fundamental values of freedom, democracy and respect for law, order and human rights.
“Both our peoples are a proud people, and despite our relatively small number of citizens, we strive, and succeed, in preserving the ancient cultures and languages of our diverse people,” he said. Frej and ambassador Purkart Martinez each mentioned areas of bilateral cooperation such as economics, trade, science, culture, education, academics and sport. Frej remarked that most of Israeli trade to central Europe goes through the Port of Koper in Slovenia which serves the interests of both countries. In recent years, there has been an increase in this trade which Israel would like to see continue to grow in depth and in breadth.
Frej also made the point that prior to the pandemic, Israeli tourism to Slovenia increased considerably, which he said was not surprising “considering it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.” He was pleased to see the resumption of direct flights between Israel and Slovenia as of June 29.
The minister and the ambassador each dwelt on the expansion of bilateral relations following the visit to Israel in December last year of Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa. In this respect, Frej listed innovation, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.
The ambassador said how delighted she was to meet people who had traveled to her country, appreciated its beauty, and were willing to contribute new ideas for joint projects.
Turning to her country’s rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, she pledged that Slovenia “will continue to support Israel in its right to live in peace and security with its neighbors.”
Among its key priorities during its presidency are the strengthening of the European Health Union, preparedness for future pandemics, economic recovery and climate change. From the very beginning, Slovenia’s motto has been green, smart and creative, she said. Beyond finding ways to improve the environment, it is important for Slovenia to support the strengthening of security and stability in the neighborhood and the world and in continuing its political dialogue with Israel.
The reason that Shenkar College was chosen for Slovenia’s National Day celebration was that it had agreed to host Slovenia’s exhibition The Future of Living which includes, practical, sustainable, and beautiful designs from recycled and raw materials. The exhibition is currently on display at Jerusalem Design Week at Hansen House.
The ambassador paid tribute to Slovenia’s Honorary Consuls in Israel, Adi Rosenfeld and Eival Gilady as well as to Dror Dotan, the president of the Israeli-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce for their steadfast support over the past 30 years.
DURING HIS visit to Israel last week to officially move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez was given the Shield of Jerusalem award by the Friends of Zion Museum. It was presented to him by the Museum’s director Daniel Voiczek, as a token of appreciation for his courageous stand.
FOR THE third time in an eight months period, Gil Haskel, the chief of state protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ministry’s Director-General Alon Ushpiz hosted the Honorary Consuls Corps, comprising 160 top-ranking Israeli business people and lawyers, many of whom are presidents or executive members of binational Chambers of Commerce.
The gathering included briefings by heads of various foreign desks, as well as panel and round table discussions.
Foreign policy is not the monopoly of diplomats alone, said Ushpiz, acknowledging that diplomats who choose to work unaided, are not the most efficient, and can learn a lot from people who are not professional diplomats but who in one way or another work in the field of foreign relations.
Diplomats working together with Honorary Consuls are part of a national effort to strengthen Israel’s foreign relations in general, he said. Haskel referred to Honorary Consuls as the salt of the earth.
Dean of the Honorary Consuls Gad Propper, who is the long-time Honorary Consul of New Zealand, emphasized that Honorary Consuls are not state employees but work in a volunteer capacity as envoys of foreign countries, while at the same time enhancing Israel’s image in the countries which they represent. The meeting was an example of the cooperation between professional diplomats and Honorary Consuls, he said.
Deputy Dean Ami Orkaby, who is the Honorary Consul for South Korea and Honorary Consul-General for Mongolia said that few people are aware of the enormous contribution that Honorary Consuls make to the State of Israel. Briefings were given on bilateral relations and political dialogue with the US, Russia and the EU. There was also a discussion on regional issues.
AMONG THE recipients of the 29th annual B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism for 2021 was Nurit Canetti of Army Radio. The irony is that there is a distinct possibility that she may not have a job for much longer. In the 70 years of its existence, many attempts have been made to close down the IDF’s public radio station(s). Now it seems that Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi
are adamant in their desire to bring about its end. In a way, this is stabbing freedom of expression in the back. If it’s a budgetary problem, let two or three other ministries take responsibility for it – the Ministries of Culture and Communications for instance, and possibly the Ministry for Immigration and Integration and maybe even the Foreign Ministry because all four have messages for a broad public.
Kohavi has just had his term extended for another year – which gives him plenty of time in which to destroy Army Radio. Political analysts are doubtful that the present government will last for much longer, which means that Gantz could conceivably disappear from the political arena. Yet these two men whose own careers are nearing conclusion, are willing to ruin the careers of numerous
people, some of who – because of their ages – have little hope of finding work elsewhere.
One of the excuses for wanting to shut down the station is that is allegedly broadcasting material that is harmful to the IDF. If that is so, then revamp the content and issue a warning that anyone broadcasting material of this nature will be fired – but don’t get rid of the station and all of its staff. Shimon Alkabetz, the current head of the station, is due to conclude his term in August by which time it is anticipated that Army Radio may also conclude 70 years of activity. There’s still time for other ministries to throw it a lifeline.
AT THE conclusion of two days of emotional farewell broadcasts on Reshet Bet in which colleagues, politicians
and former politicians told veteran political analyst Hanan Kristal how much he would be missed, and how they could not imagine Reshet Bet without him, Kristal’s message to them was to safeguard Reshet Bet. It may have the highest radio ratings in the country, but that’s no guarantee that it is safe. There seems to be a move afoot to get rid of public broadcasting and although Army Radio may be first in line for the ax, it is not alone. Yoav Krakowski, who has worked alongside Kristal for the past 20 years said that almost everything he knows he learned from Kristal, and lunch-time news and current affairs presenter Esti Perez-Ben Ami said she would continue to call him and talk to him on air.