It is a rare and truly remarkable honor to personally witness a nation come into
While many of Israel’s more veteran citizens were afforded the
special, even amazing, opportunity to see our modern Jewish State attain
independence, those of us in the younger generations lacked that direct personal
experience. I thought of this as I flew to the new nation of South Sudan
recently and began working to forge positive cultural and economic ties with the
embryonic country’s leadership.
All students of international relations
know that Sudan in particular, and northern Africa in general, are areas fraught
with tension, famine and, all too often, bloody warfare. While many factors
drive these desperate conditions, in Sudan the primary obstacle to peace and
economic development has been the presence of dictatorial Islamic forces
committed to suppressing minorities and stifling contacts with the West. Sudan
has been the scene of repeated mass killings launched by the regime, today based
in northern Sudan, rendering the south a place where lawlessness, wanton rape,
murder and narcotics and weapons trafficking were the norm.
establishment of this nascent nation, South Sudan, which came into existence
earlier this year, was born out of a sincere desire by the resident Christians
to create a stable country modeled upon democratic values and an economy based
upon honesty and transparency. While the citizenry is mired in desperate poverty
from which it is unlikely to escape anytime soon, the decision by the people of
South Sudan to join the community of nations is viewed as a source of tremendous
hope for a brighter future.
Given that we as Israelis are surrounded by a
region largely hostile to our very existence, it is critical that we always work
to forge positive relationships with any and all parties who demonstrate an
inclination to be our friends and allies.
I truly believe that such a
hope exists within this new nation and therefore saw it as my personal and
national obligation to forge bonds with South Sudan as early in its existence as
LIKE ISRAEL, South Sudan is a nation born out of chaos and
conflict. Like Israel, South Sudan lives with hostile neighbors at its borders.
Indeed, just like Israel, its people live with a sense of resolve and confidence
that their existence is a God-given right. I marvel at this ironclad
I found in the South Sudanese government officials a real
appreciation for these commonalities between the two nations. In particular, I
was assured that the South Sudanese government would plan to open an embassy in
Jerusalem, an act that would strongly position them as a trusted friend and
While much of the Western world is responding with relative
indifference to the creation of “yet another state” in North Africa, I strongly
feel that the creation of this new nation deserves the attention and admiration
of the entire international community. South Sudan’s is a story of national
independence that can give all of us hope at a time of wrenching global
uncertainties. Whether it be the Arab Spring, the continuing threats from Iran
and North Korea or the constant spread of Islamic jihad into all corners of the
world, we live in a time of great instability. The creation of South Sudan is
proof that positive progress is still happening in the march of
I believe that Israel can have a real friend in South Sudan,
precisely in a region where most would expect to find only foes. Fostering such
friendship will not necessarily be easy. It will require dedication and vision,
not to mention an Israeli commitment of limited resources. But I know that if we
sow the seeds, some of which I and others have already planted, this new nation
will be a source of pride not only for Israel but for peace-loving peoples all
around the globe.
The writer is the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and
chairman of the World Likud.