From a recent Jerusalem Post editorial (“Israel in the Philippines”, November
18, 2013) readers might have taken away the impression that Mashav, Israel’s
Agency for International Development Cooperation, ceased its activities after
third world nations turned their back on Israel after the Yom Kippur War and the
“Zionism = racism” declaration.
From my involvement with Mashav in recent
years, I can reassure readers that this is not the case.
Mashav is the
organization that puts into effect the emphasis on Development Diplomacy, which
is an important focus of Israel’s foreign policy. From the foundation of the
state, Israel has been a kind of development laboratory in numerous fields, and
in 1958 Mashav was created so as to offer the fruits of Israel’s experience to
Since then, Mashav’s activities have broadened from
assistance in agricultural methods, education, particularly in early childhood,
public health and the role of women in promoting development to include
humanitarian projects, including assistance to nations suffering from the
effects of natural disasters, on the basis of the ideals of “Tikkun
Israel has also been involved from the start in the international
discourse, in the United Nations and other bodies, on Global Development Policy,
and was a leader in bringing about several declarations in the General Assembly
on Agricultural Technology for Development and Entrepreneurship for
Israel’s experience and insights have also led to emphasis
on promoting innovative thinking, entrepreneurship, water management, energy
conservation, protection of children and empowerment and equality for women, and
the role of the judiciary in promoting these goals.
involvement goes much farther than formulation of policies.
Mashav’s activities is working with governments and NGOs in those states who ask
for help; the focus is on capacity building – showing how to set up projects
with minimal budgets, and assisting in the initial stages until these projects
find their feet. These activities are ongoing in Africa, Central and South
America, and Asia.
Among many other projects, Israeli experts have helped
their local counterparts to: • Set up kindergartens in African countries,
including training teachers and advising on equipment • Set up AIDS clinics in
remote areas in Africa • Set up programs for the elderly in South America • Set
up advice centers for setting up small businesses in Central America Some
examples from my own experience:
• In 2010 Mashav conducted a week-long seminar
for Family Court Judges in Zambia, on gender-based violence. Together with Dr.
Hanita Zimrin of ELI, the child protection organization, I traveled to Lusaka
and 25 or so judges learned, not only about the theoretical aspects of violence
in the family and its effects particularly on children, but also about how
Israel’s court system, social services and voluntary sector address these
• In September 2011, I lectured at a seminar, organized by Mashav
together with IOM, the International Organization for Migration, at the Mount
Carmel International Training Center (MCTC) in Haifa on violence against women
As well as participants from Africa (Cameroon, Ethiopia,
Kenya) and Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala,
Peru), senior officials from police forces and prosecutors, lawyers and
advocates for women, and other professions, attended from China (PRC ), Georgia,
India, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Russia, Serbia, Thailand, Ukraine and
I also lectured at a similar workshop in October 2012 which was
organized at MCTC, this time also in cooperation with UNESCO , and in June
• In May 2012 the MCTC hosted a workshop on trafficking in women
and children, including issues relating to trans-national surrogacy;
representatives from 19 countries attended, including Jamaica, Antigua and
Barbuda, Barbados, Albania and Turkmenistan. The US embassy in Tel Aviv took
part in organizing the workshop.
• In cooperation with OSCE, the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, UNODC , the United Nations
Office on Drugs and Crime, IOM and Israel’s Justice Ministry, an international
seminar for judges on the critical role of the judiciary in combating
trafficking in persons took place in August this year. This was a fine
opportunity for Israeli judges to meet their counterparts from five continents
and discuss, on the basis of Israel’s success in prosecuting traffickers in
women and girls, how judicial officers in the various countries can cooperate
and learn from each other.
These activities, in Israel and abroad, spill
over into diplomatic and personal connections which are of outstanding
importance in advancing Israel’s case in the face of mendacious campaigns by our
Since its foundation, over 270,000 persons, mainly middle and
high-ranking government and NGO representatives, from most of the countries of
the world, have participated, in their home countries or attending seminars at
MCTC, in Mashav’s activities. Every year, thousands more, including from
countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations, take part in seminars
and pilot projects.
From my discussions with participants from a wide
variety of countries, it is clear that alongside the material learned from
Israeli experts, they come away with a highly positive view of Israel.
Participants from China and India are astonished at how much has been achieved
by a tiny country with only eight million inhabitants; a participant from Nepal,
visiting Yad Vashem, asked repeatedly how the Holocaust could happen and why
Israel did not exist before 1948.
This view of Israel is communicated to
their colleagues, and there are many reports of senior officials of foreign
governments who carry with them into their influential positions the impressions
of Israel which they gained from involvement with Mashav projects or attending
seminars at MCTC.
Mashav is a significant player in Israel’s ongoing
public diplomacy efforts, despite its minimal budget, and its widespread
activities are proof that the suggestion that Israel is isolated has no basis in
The author is a retired judge of the Jerusalem Family Court.