The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference

December 8, 2017 by Michael Kuttner
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The JP Diplomatic Conference took place on Wednesday 6 December and as usual attracted a variety of speakers ranging from politicians to diplomats and business leaders. J-Wire’s Michael Kuttner was there.



This year’s meeting took on added significance as it occurred on the eve of President Trump’s speech in Washington where he was expected to make a dramatic announcement about recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and moving the US Embassy there. This no doubt explained the capacity audience as Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, arrived to speak. Originally not on the schedule of VIP’s his last minute appearance fuelled feverish speculation that he would drop a few loaded hints at what was in the White House pipeline.

However as any astute observer of the diplomatic scene could have foreseen there was no way that the PM was going to pre-empt the President of the USA. Having already instructed his Cabinet colleagues to remain “shtum” on the subject, all those waiting with baited breath for some sort of revelation experienced anti climax moments as the PM spent his entire speech extolling Israel’s enhanced position in the world today and its cutting edge technology which nations far and wide are clamouring to have access to.

Other Government Ministers who spoke, namely Israel Katz (Transport), Naftali Bennett (Education), Ayalet Shaked (Justice) and Avigdor Liberman (Defence) all dwelt on the threats posed not only to Israel but also the international community by terrorists and Iran which is considered the leading sponsor and promoter of terror today.

Although the JP interviewer tried very hard to get comments from them about Trump’s impending announcement all of them declined to comment or elaborate. LIberman best summed up the situation by repeating the phrase “I know nothing.”

Attendees were also addressed by Yair Lapid the leader of the Yesh Atid Party who described his family’s experiences in the Shoah and drew the conclusion that Jews must never be at the mercy of others again. Avi Gabbay the leader of the Labour Party also spoke and outlined his vision for peace and a fairer society.

President Rivlin was warmly greeted and remarked that as a seventh generation Jerusalemite he naturally was very excited to hear what President Trump was going to say. He emphasized that Jews and Arabs were going to have to learn how to live in peace with each other and this was the big challenge in the years ahead.

Two panel discussions took place. The first concerned “Global terror and the threat to Israel and Europe.” Panelists taking part were the Spanish Ambassador, the French Ambassador, the UN Special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, the Head of the EU Delegation to Israel and Caroline Glick a senior contributing JP Editor. Nothing new was really revealed. The UN speaker tried hard to justify a non-existent peace process, the Spanish and French Ambassadors detailing terror attacks which have taken place in their countries and the Head of the EU Delegation vainly trying to explain how the EU is serious about fighting terror. Caroline Glick received sustained applause for her forthright statement that Europe and others make a double standard distinction between terror in their countries and terror which murders Israelis.

The second panel dealt with the topic of the War against BDS. Participating were the JP Senior Knesset Correspondent, the Director General at the Ministry of Strategic Affairs & Public Diplomacy, and a Professor from the Northwestern University School of Law Kohelet Policy Forum who is involved with combating BDS. The consensus seemed to be that although BDS had been a failure there were developments at universities in particular which needed to be monitored and combated.

Other wide-ranging presentations included: a video by the KKL-JNF detailed the amazing development undertaken by this unique organization; an address by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) Middle East Bureau Chief informed listeners of the wide-ranging advocacy which this media group undertakes in spreading the truth about Israel; the IDF Military Advocate General speaking about the legal challenges faced by the IDF in fighting against terrorists deliberately embedded amongst civilian populations; an eye-opening speech by the CEO and President of Pluristem Therapeutics which is developing a world first serum to prevent the dire effects of radiation poisoning. This is particularly critical given the current and future threats of nuclear war posed by rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran. Also speaking was the Vice President Regional Affairs of Noble Energy who outlined the exciting developments resulting from the discovery of large quantities of gas in Israel’s territorial waters. The Director for the Israel Center for Disaster Medicine & Humanitarian Response at the Sheba Medical Center gave a most revealing presentation on how his volunteers assist in rescuing, healing and treating victims of man-made and natural disasters worldwide.

The most heartwarming and emotional speeches were given by a daughter and father, Avital and David Rubin, both of whom are victims of terror. Avital spoke about growing up with terrorism and David, a former Mayor of Shiloh in Samaria, graphically detailed the horrendous physical and mental traumas which affect countless Israeli adults and children. In an effort to do something constructive he has been instrumental in establishing the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund which provides therapy to children traumatized by terror acts. Their combined first hand accounts of how terror has destroyed and challenged families brought home to the assembled audience the real situation which is most often glossed over or ignored by the media.

This wide-ranging array of speakers provided a unique opportunity for diplomats the media and the general public to learn about topics which normally are not discussed in great detail.

The announcement from the White House later that evening (Israel time) provided a fitting conclusion to a day devoted to Israel’s successes and challenges.

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