Israeli Ambassador Nadav Eshcar wrote to Việt Nam News on the 73rd anniversary of Israel’s Independence.
The modern State of Israel was established 73 years ago. It marked the end of thousands of years’ long journey of the Jewish People to self-determination and political independence. The young State faced enormous challenges. Among them, harsh climate, water scarcity and arid soil, inhospitable for agriculture. Moreover, Israel had to face hostility from its neighboring countries, and to manage a major wave of Jewish immigration from different parts of the world. This was a challenging task, as the Jewish immigrants came from different cultures, had a different mentality, and above all – they spoke different languages. At the time, political, security, social and economic goals seemed beyond reach. Nevertheless, there was no other choice but to move forward and build a State.
I remember my Grandfather telling me his life story and how back in Poland, he was a librarian, but when he immigrated to Israel, he had to become a farmer. He learned how to grow cotton, in his socialist-communist village called ‘Kibbutz’, when the outside temperature was over 40 degrees Celsius. “How could you do that?” I asked him with amazement, and he replied, “There was no other choice. In Europe, my whole family was murdered in the Holocaust. We can never go back there. We must have our very own place, and every drop of sweat was worth it”.
Slowly but surely, the State of Israel developed, and against all odds it managed to face the many challenges ahead. Israel developed smart solutions enabling growing food crops in spite of the harsh conditions. In its early years, top Jewish scientists from Europe and America joined the efforts to develop the young country and began establishing Universities in order to educate the future generations of scientists, who could develop relevant technological solutions for the countless challenges ahead.
The progress made in the scientific fields led to the development of other sectors relying on science, like the pharmaceutical industry as well as the defense industry. Education played a central role in the country and in the lives of every family, becoming the backbone of the country and the Israeli society. At first, the educational system focused on creating a unified society, with one language and one narrative. In later years, it shifted its focus to the importance of education for the sake of acquiring knowledge in order to contribute to the progress of the Nation and the people.
In the past years, Israel has become a world leader in variety of fields, especially in technological aspects. I truly believe that our achievements are the result of the harsh conditions our country faced in the beginning. Today, Israel is a leading country in smart agriculture, water technologies, cyber security and medical innovations. Israel is also prominent in telecommunications and the automotive industries. Israel is considered one of the most innovative countries in the world. It is evident even during these difficult times in which the whole world is dealing with the terrible COVID-19 pandemic. Israeli scientists and doctors have managed to develop an innovative experimental treatment to cure the disease among those who have already been infected.
At the first phase of the clinical trial, 33 out of 35 individuals, whom contracted the virus and undergone the experimental treatment, recovered and were released from the hospital within 48 hours. Our hope is that during the following phases of the trials, the treatment will continue to be successful and thus soon, alongside the COVID-19 vaccine, we will have developed a treatment, which can cure from the virus, and in time end this pandemic.
We still face many challenges, and we can learn a great deal from our Vietnamese friends on how to achieve peace and conciliation with our neighboring countries. In the last years, we made a significant step in that direction, and after many years maintaining peace with two Arab countries – Egypt and Jordan, we have now succeeded in establishing diplomatic relations with four more – UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. This is a tremendous development for us and for the Middle East. However, we are still longing for the day we will achieve long lasting peace with all the countries in the region.
On July 12, 1993, Israel established diplomatic relations with Việt Nam, inaugurating the Israeli Embassy in Hanoi for the first time the same year. Israel was very proud to have established relations with Việt Nam, greatly admiring the spirit of the brave Vietnamese people. During our short journey together, in less than 28 years, we accomplished many achievements. We have learned to get to know each other. Top leaders and officials from both sides have exchanged visits, our trade has been steadily growing, and soon, I hope, we will be able to sign a Free Trade Agreement.
We cooperate with Việt Nam in agriculture, water management, education, innovation and start-up, science and defence. Israeli tourists, who flocked to Việt Nam in large numbers, are eagerly waiting for the sky to be open again so that they can visit this beautiful country. This is why direct flights between the two countries are also on our agenda. There is a great curiosity amongst Vietnamese and Israeli alike about each other’s cultural heritage. Today, Israel sees Việt Nam as a strategic partner for the future, and intends to further advance the relations greatly. It is our hope and belief that Việt Nam sees Israel in the same way. VNS