'Countries can learn from Israel-Diaspora model'

"It’s high time we share our really precious knowledge in this field," public diplomacy and diaspora affairs minister tells 'Post.'

June 21, 2012 02:43
2 minute read.
Global Village 2012 conference in Jerusalem

Global Village 2012 conference in Jerusalem 370. (photo credit: Scoop 80)


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Israel can provide a model to other countries when it comes to building a successful relationship with their diaspora communities, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Wednesday.

“I do think that we have a lot to share, and it’s high time that apart from hi-tech, drip irrigation, medical and all kinds of other wonderful inventions, we share our really precious knowledge in this field with other countries around the world,” he told The Jerusalem Post.

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Some 200 representatives from almost 40 countries, including cabinet ministers and heads of organizations, participated in the first-ever Global Village 2012 conference in Jerusalem last week.

The three-day Inaugural International Conference on Diaspora-Homeland Partnerships brought together cabinet ministers, experts and NGO leaders from the Jewish and other diasporas to examine ways that diaspora communities could help their countries of ancestry. It focused on efforts to maximize and sustain the impact of diaspora resources, goodwill and commitment, and the evolving nature of the diaspora-homeland relationship in philanthropy, investment, diplomacy and the exchange of knowledge.

“We have wonderful and interesting know-how in certain fields, such as immigrant absorption, but also in relations between the motherland and our Diaspora, which we always considered very Jewish and Zionist and unique,” Edelstein said. “I think it’s high time that in the modern world, in which hundreds of countries are interested in these issues, we should start treating it as professional know-how.”

He noted that there could also be a beneficial by-product.

“It’s not just about Israel. It’s also about sharing the organizational knowledge of Jewish communities in the Diaspora with ethnic communities in other countries.”

Edelstein said decades of sustained support from the Jewish Diaspora had been crucial to every facet of Israel’s development and prosperity. He said other countries could learn from Israel in two major ways.

“One is the economic aspect. For example, no one ever managed to organize something similar to the Israel Bonds, and many countries are interested in this idea of people investing back in their countries, those that are in good shape and those that are not in good shape.”

The second way, he explained, “was more focused on how to connect the second and third generations of the diaspora to their homeland countries, and here programs like Birthright and Masa were of great interest to the participants.”

Edelstein said he thought the conference could develop into a biannual event.

“We have started a standing committee of different countries, and I’m talking about all kinds of countries, from Korea, Lesotho and Jamaica to countries in South America and Europe,” he said. “All of them came out of this conference with a feeling that Israel is a pioneer in this field.”

The Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry sponsored the conference, in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry and the Joint Distribution Committee’s Center for International Migration and Integration.

“More and more countries recognize that the current ‘global village’ has created almost unlimited opportunities for cooperation with diaspora communities, and that this is a strategic value of the highest order,” Edelstein concluded. “We found it appropriate to initiate this conference in Jerusalem in light of the considerable international interest in the Israeli example as a model.”

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