The Arena | Orly Goldklang

Orly Goldklang

Deputy editor of "Makor Rishon" weekly newspaper. Previously served as the editor of the “Dyokan” (Portrait) magazine section, and as deputy editor of the political section.

What is the most significant advantage Israeli diplomacy currently enjoys?

Israeli diplomacy's most significant advantage today is the one the State of Israel itself enjoys - its military and economic power. Over 70 years of existence, the young nation of Israel has evolved into a high-tech superpower, and is a role model in these fields for many other countries. It has succeeded despite the immense challenges posed by massive immigration, security threats, and many other issues which strain its budget.

 

Israel chose in its early days to shape its own destiny and avoid dependency on foreign aid. Aside from being a source of economic and military aid to many other countries, Israel can also take pride in being an inspiration and a role model - a state that has built itself up not by assuming victimhood, but by assuming responsibility over its own fate.

Photo: Eric Sultan, with permission by the photographer

What is the greatest disadvantage that Israeli diplomacy suffers from?

Israel's Prime Minister is one of its best speakers and public advocates, and its public image is widely discussed in public discourse. Nevertheless, Israel’s public relations and image remain its Achilles’ heel. Despite being under continuous threat and attack - a nuclear threat from Iran, and terrorism in the Northern and the southern borders, as well as the country’s interior - Israel finds itself apologizing each time it defeats those who seek its destruction. This paradox of power brings the small but successful Israel to continue clinging to the image of “Samson the Poor” - a phrase coined by former PM Levi Eshkol.

What do you think is the most important opportunity Israeli diplomacy currently has?

The Trump era is of course a golden opportunity for Israel. The administration supports the State of Israel and its leader, and is not in the habit of constantly disputing Israel’s official positions or its security interests. The United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is a valuable ally who helps promote Israeli interests.


Israel must take advantage of this window of opportunity. It should make full use of the unreserved support of the Trump administration to improve its reputation in the many arenas in which its enemies still insist on fighting it and its right to exist.

What is the central challenge and/or threat Israeli diplomacy faces?

These days, it is far more difficult to garner international legitimacy than secure state borders. Many in Israel and abroad are working nonstop to defame Israel, distort the security context in which it operates, and deny Israel the right to defend itself; not infrequently, they also seek to undermine Israel's very right to exist. 

 

These actors often successfully bring about internal dispute regarding these topics. In the words of the poet Nathan Alterman: "Then the devil sought out... I will do only this: cloud his mind and let him forget that he is right and just".

 

Delegitimization - and particularly from within Israel - poses the most significant threat to us. Where Israel stands united and confident, it usually does better in persuading other nations of the righteousness of its cause.

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