Italy and Israel, a partnership for a better future

Israel and Italy enjoy a heritage of thousands of years of history and the responsibilities it comes with.

June 3, 2015 16:06
3 minute read.
Sergio Mattarella

ITALY’S NEW President Sergio Mattarella arrives to inspect a guard of honor at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, February 3, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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June 2 was the Italian National Day; an opportunity to do much more than hold a traditional diplomatic reception. My goal is to make us, Israelis and Italians, aware of the potential of our partnership.

Our co-operation is already remarkable in many domains. Israel and Italy enjoy a heritage of thousands of years of history and the responsibilities it comes with. We continue to develop our extraordinary cultures in all fields from the arts to scientific research. Thanks to a bilateral agreement which allocates resources of the two governments to supporting companies and laboratories of both countries, our entrepreneurs, scholars and researchers are jointly making strides in the most advanced areas, from neuroscience to aerospace.

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I want to stress the potential of this relationship not only for our peoples but for the rest of the world, starting with our difficult neighborhood: the Mediterranean. A sea that, tragically, sees thousands of migrants saved by the Italian Navy daily in an unprecedented humanitarian effort. It is a hotbed of dangerous sources of terrorism. But it can also be a starting point of a joint effort for progress and to fight the barbarians who are threatening our common civilization. Italy does not consider the Mediterranean as the periphery of Europe, but as the heart of our actions and the goal of our opportunities.

One way to begin taking concrete action is by working together on areas where we can make a difference. Expo 2015 in Milan is a great opportunity. Its theme, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” is tailored to showcase the wonderful story of Israel, where the labor and the ingenuity of a people are greening the land, feeding its inhabitants and proposing a model of innovation in the service of humanity. The size and scope of Expo is much beyond any optimistic expectation: twenty million visitors for 148 pavilions, six months of exhibition for common people, children and their families, scholars, entrepreneurs, scientists, heads of state and governments from all over the world.

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As out by The New York Times, Expo Milan is the place to be this year. It is a great opportunity for Israel, with its wonderful pavilion. It’s a great source of pride for Italy. Visitors can learn everything about nutrition and food culture and enjoy the many innovative daily attractions of the exhibition. By signing the Charter of Milan (, they can be part of the unparalleled effort of the many scholars, officials and people who united to implement a strategy for the sustainable use of the planet’s resources, which addresses major issues from water management to biodiversity, from the use of new technologies to cultural identity.

All this is our future and also our culture, the roots of ancient peoples who are able to look forward. Ancient peoples in young states. We share important links between our two national movements. The founders of Zionism were looking at the Italian Risorgimento and made important visits to Rome. The Jewish Brigade made a generous contribution to the liberation of Italy 70 years ago. A few weeks ago at the Independence Hall in Tel Aviv we celebrated the end of World War Two and I had the privilege to honor the liberators of Italy, among them Enzo Sereni, a patriot of both countries who was killed in Dachau after having parachuted in Italy. I was with scholars and authorities of Israel and Italy, but, above all, I had the pleasure to thank a veteran of the Jewish Brigade, Asher Dishon.

We shared many difficulties and we celebrated important events, the rebirth of the State of Israel, the liberation of Italy after a ruinous war. We now have to work together for a better future in this region. We can do it starting from the historical root of our common culture and leveraging the opportunities created by science. We will do it because we are EXPOnential Partners!

The author is the Italian ambassador to Israel.

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