Opinion: Ethiopian Israelis Could Be Israel’s Best Ambassadors In Africa

By Staff Published: June 19, 2016, 12:01 am

From Jerusalem Post. Story by Dr. Avraham Neguise, Member of Israel’s Knesset and chairman of the Caucus for Israel-Africa Relations.

Until recently, Israeli efforts in Africa have been notable but have not been deployed to scale.

With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set to visit four East African countries this summer, there is a golden opportunity for Israel to strengthen diplomatic, humanitarian and commercial ties with the continent.

Only 3 percent of Israeli trade today is with Africa.

In addition to seeking our help fighting Islamic terrorism, what Africa wants most is what Israel can give: water, agriculture technology and green energy. We have the best water technologies in the world – we can grow food even in the harsh Arava desert – and have the expertise to bring green energy to the 600 million Africans who don’t have electricity.

The best ambassadors for this message are Ethiopian Israelis. The very same young people who filled up our squares with protests about the lack of social and economic opportunity could be trained to advance Israeli business and diplomatic efforts throughout Africa.

Imagine that every Israeli ambassador on the continent – at the United Nations – would be like Israel’s current ambassador to Ethiopia, Belaynesh Zevadia.

The lie of “Zionism equals racism” would be a thing of the past.

Imagine every Israeli water, energy and agricultural company fielding a sales force of thousands Ethiopian Israelis throughout the continent. Imagine an Israeli-Diaspora Peace Corps to advance Africa’s humanitarian and development agenda that has a strong contingent of Ethiopian Israelis among them.

To advance our interests in Africa without leveraging the talents of Ethiopian Israelis would be a missed opportunity of historic proportions.

Israeli leaders have long felt a natural affinity for Africa.

Today the Israel-Africa opportunity is great. As the prime minister recently remarked, “Israel is coming back to Africa; Africa is coming back to Israel.”

An Israeli-related company is producing 6 percent of Rwanda’s energy from the sun. We could power the whole continent with green energy.

There are tens of billions of dollars in international development programs that could be leveraged on behalf of Israeli efforts in Africa. Ethiopian Israelis would be in the best position to tap and utilize those funds on behalf of the people of Africa, as we raise the Israeli flag.

Read more at Jerusalem Post.

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