israid kenya 311.
(photo credit: Mickey Alon)
So much attention in the past couple of weeks has been focused on Israeli
legislative proposals (which Israel’s vibrant, unfettered and cacophonously
vocal civil society is more than capable of grappling with) that many missed an
event thousands of kilometers away from debates in Knesset.
Israel’s relatively new ambassador to the United Nations, achieved a rare
victory in the General Assembly that momentarily deviated from that body’s
traditional single- minded obsession with Israel as an international
Clearly not dispirited from spending the previous four years
as ambassador to the UK, a job that would send most of us reaching for the
12-year-old Scotch, he secured the backing of 133 of the UN’s 193 member nations
in support of an Israel-drafted resolution that will make farming technology
more accessible to developing nations in Africa.
With 75 percent of the
world’s population living in poverty and more than two billion people facing
water scarcity, you would have thought unanimous support for such a motion would
be a no-brainer. But Arab nations – led, sadly, by the representative of the new
government of Iraq – encouraged a 35-country coalition to abstain, despite the
fact that many of the abstainers are precisely the countries that would benefit
from the proposal that aims to empower women in rural areas, promote food
security and farmer education, and slow down the effects of climate
In all likelihood, European and American international
development and aid budgets will be put on the chopping block due to the
deepening economic crisis. Global food prices have soared as all of us doing the
weekly shop know too well, but imagine the ramifications for millions of the
world’s poorest people who are now also facing the fallout of a worldwide
recession that could not have come at a worse time. And a cruel famine affecting
up to 12 million people once again threatens to destroy lives in the developing
world – this time in the Horn of Africa.
Israeli technologies lead the
world in agriculture, desalination, water management and waste-water
Israel’s agro technological expertise has been deployed in
some of the world’s harshest conditions, helping millions of people. Now the
need is more urgent than ever.
For decades, Israeli agronomists have been
sharing their expertise with some of the poorest regions on earth, aiming to
create sustainable self-sufficiency in food and fresh water supplies. You’ll
find these extraordinary Israeli men and women in more than 30 African nations,
often through MASHAV, the superb international development program based at the
Foreign Ministry. They are eradicating pests in Cameroon that destroy crops and
leave people hungry, increasing milk yields in desperately poor Ethiopia and
wrapping grain in special plastic containers in Kenya to preserve the
They are persuading young Africans to stay in rural areas rather
than join the migration to the cities, and to become effective farmers and
entrepreneurs. These young Africans will in turn be feeding their families and
Food security is an impending crisis in world
Israeli agricultural and water technology have already helped
to feed millions of people. Indeed, Israeli experts are committed to standing at
the forefront of helping the world’s developing nations meet this urgent new
It is Israel’s freedom of thought, expression and scholarship
that helped create these technological breakthroughs and brought food and clean
water to the poorest tables in the world. Innovation is as much part of Israel’s
DNA as her civil freedoms.
Both Israel’s vibrant democracy and her
life-saving technological know-how will continue to flourish. In an unstable
neighborhood, Israel’s future depends on it.The writer is the executive
director of The Israel Project’s Israel office.