Israel’s 71st Independence Day
Ambassador Roi Rosenblit
National Museum, Banjul, 29 May 2019
“The idea of settling conflicts between peoples by peaceful means applies to all countries, in the Middle East as in Vietnam” said Prime Minister of the Gambia, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara in Jerusalem after signing an Agreement of Friendship between the Gambia and Israel on October 1966.
That was Sir Dawda’s third visit to Jerusalem. Visiting also in 1962 and 1965, He met our Presidents, our Prime Ministers David Ben Gurion and Levy Eshkol, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan and others. In his first visit, in 1962 – three years before independence, the first agreement on cooperation was signed between the countries. Other agreements signed included cooperation in healthcare, agriculture and scholarships for Gambian students to study in Israel.
Tomorrow it will be my great honor to visit Sir Dawda here in Banjul, and emphasize how much we cherish the strong friendship between our two peoples.
Indeed, now – in 2019 – we are revitalizing these old agreements and reviving this ongoing friendship. President Barrow told me how much he appreciated his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu two years ago.
Gambian Minister of Education Claudiana Cole here present, Lord Mayor of Banjul and other officials visited Israel for high level seminars. Others are in Israel as we speak. In Mansa-Konko, children are getting better education while playing football, thanks to an idea adopted by Gambia’s Omar Keita while training in Israel. Soon, thanks to Professor Babatunde and Lamine Diatta of the University of the Gambia, ten Gambian experts in agriculture will go to Israel for a year for a “learning by doing” program.
When Professor Ceesay reached out to me with rare and unique photographs representing the history of our two nations, I was fascinated by the opportunity. What better time than the Holy Month of Ramadan, and Israel’s 71st Independence day, to celebrate our friendship.
The exhibition we are about to see is about beginnings and baby steps, about two young countries and two peoples seeking to share knowledge and to make the world better, in the same spirit of giving and doing good that the Holy month of Ramadan is all about. I hope to see Gambian leadership following Sir Dawda and visiting Israel soon.
Long live the Gambia, Long live Israel!