The Arena | Rachel Azaria

Rachel Azaria

MK for the Kulanu party, chair of the reform Knesset committee and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem. Has led legislation to extend maternity leave and increase paid leave for employees. Works to disband the Chief Rabbinate’s monopolies over religion, especially in the field of Kashrut, and to formalize the relations between the state and Judaism. Promotes women in the workforce, the military, and other institutions

What is the most significant advantage Israeli diplomacy currently enjoys?

Israel’s strong and advanced economy is a very substantial diplomatic advantage. While bigger and seemingly stronger economies were on the brink of collapse in the 2008-9 global economic crisis, it barely put a dent in Israel’s economy. Israel's advanced hi-tech industry sustains its image as a leading global force in the fields of technology and economy, and its innovations are known worldwide. I feel we have not yet truly tapped the enormous potential of these achievements on the international level.

Photo: Official photo, courtesy of the author

What is the greatest disadvantage that Israeli diplomacy suffers from?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a major challenge for our diplomatic efforts. For over 50 years we have been locked in an almost impossible political, security, and legal situation which is extremely difficult to manage on an international level. Despite these challenges, Israel’s diplomats do an incredible job of representing the state, but it is a never-ending battle over public image and perceptions. 

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

To me, the City of Jerusalem represents an incredible opportunity for Israeli diplomacy. It has religious, cultural and strategic sites that are important for many countries and their citizens. Nevertheless, there are many areas which we can still introduce to the world. A wide gap hangs between its often rough exterior and what actually takes place within it in everyday life. The ability of different communities to co-exist, the rich and diverse local culture – Israel can leverage them to highlight the diversity of Israeli society.

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

The BDS campaign is currently our biggest diplomatic threat. Israel is being attacked by prominent public figures and leaders – many within academia – who will do anything they can to delegitimize its existence as a Jewish state. In order to deal with this threat, we must intensify our public diplomacy efforts, and simultaneously continue to promote Israel’s image in areas unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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