(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Ambassadors Zhan Yangxin of China, Jonathan Andrew Carr of New Zealand and Gnama Henri Bacye of Burkina Faso presented their credentials to President Reuven Rivlin, but it was Bacye who came up with a creative cry for help that will be an appealing challenge to many people who have reached pension age but don’t want to retire.
Thanking Rivlin for all the help that Israel has given to his country, particularly in the field of agriculture, Bacye, a nonresident ambassador stationed in Cairo, said at Thursday’s event that Burkina Faso was in need of much more help not only in agriculture but in many other areas, and suggested that Israelis who had reached pension age but did not want to retire might care to come to his country and share their know-how and experience. He recalled that when Burkina Faso achieved independence from France in 1960, Israel was one of the first nations to recognize its economic needs and to come and help it develop. Bacye conveyed regards from Prime Minister Isaac Zida whom Rivlin has hosted in Israel and an invitation for a state visit from President Blaise Compaoré.
The son of a farmer, Bacye said that he had grown up hearing about Israel all his life and had always wanted to come. The week in which he presented his credentials coincided with Agritech 2015 – the 19th International Agricultural Exhibition and Conference at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, which he was able to visit with his country’s agriculture minister. In Jerusalem, he visited Yad Vashem which he said illustrated the failure of humanity. He also visited the Christian holy sites and the Western Wall where he prayed for peace for the world, for his family and for his country.
Being in Israel and in Jerusalem the holy city was an exciting and emotional experience for him, he said.
Carr, New Zealand’s non-resident ambassador stationed in Ankara, came wearing a Maori cloak over his suit. Among the people accompanying him was New Zealand’s Honorary Consul Gad Propper who told him about Rivlin attending the ANZAC Day commemoration in Jerusalem last Friday.
Carr, who is an expert on the Middle East and is fluent in both Chinese and Arabic, said that New Zealand considers itself to be a friend of Israel. “We don’t agree on everything,” he acknowledged, “but our approach to our friends has been to listen to everything carefully.”
New Zealand as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council is preparing a draft resolution aimed at reviving the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
While appreciative, Rivlin emphasized that the transfer of the negotiations to an international body would not bring peace and would only intensify tensions. Direct negotiations are the only way to overcome this tragedy between two peoples who have to share the same terrain, he said. Nonetheless he urged New Zealand to continue with its peacemaking efforts.
Rivlin was pleased to welcome the Chinese ambassador who has been in Israel for the past two months and to thank him for the Chinese government having made helicopters available to help in the rescue of the Israelis trapped in Nepal. He also recalled that China had provided a haven for Jews who had fled the Holocaust.
Zhan said Israel is an important country in the Middle East and that the Jewish People had made a great contribution to civilization. He noted that Israelis have been great trailblazers.
While relations between Beijing and Jerusalem are excellent, with China being Israel’s No. 1 trading partner in Asia and No. 3 in the world, Zhan said he was looking forward to further expansion “so that we can transform expectations into reality.”