foreign press 248.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In the coming days, at the invitation of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, some three hundred members of the Russian language media, from nearly fifty different countries will be converging in Tel Aviv, as Israel hosts the 12th Annual World Conference for the Russian Language Press. This is the first international media congress of its kind to be held here and will be attended by many among our national leadership.
The conference is a highly esteemed event for the international network of Russian language media. Far from solely focused on Russian-speaking countries, the Russian media is active across the world and we have been overloaded with requests to participate and contribute to the conference.
There are of course over one million olim from Russia and the Former Soviet Union, and a wide range of Russian publications based here is Israel – of which we are immensely proud.
For the many Russian-speaking Israelis, like me, this will be a significant event, bringing together familiar cultures, and engaging with the crucial issues of media and journalism – the very essence of modern communication and the dissemination of information.
THERE IS an even more important reason for my being happy to be charged with bringing this event to Israel. It is no secret that Israel faces many difficulties in presenting its policies and desire for peace in the international arena, and this conference provides a crucial opportunity to overcome many of these obstacles.
The event will afford us the opportunity to establish strong friendships and forge a deeper, mutual understanding with journalists from countries as far ranging as Russia and America, Vietnam and Finland, Ireland and the UAE, along with over one hundred local members of the media.
While based in Tel Aviv, the participants will visit important sites around the country including Jerusalem, Nazareth and the Galilee, and will see firsthand the wealth of diversity and the multi-layered fabric that makes up Israeli society.
The opportunity to showcase our small country in this manner to so many influential figures is of immense importance. Today, there are in excess of 250 million people for whom Russian is a first language, with a further 150 million Russian speakers around the world – ranked alongside Arabic as the fifth most spoken tongue.
There can be no overestimating the potential impact of providing the media which serves such a vast population, with an accurate portrayal of the reality on the ground and the threats and obstacles we as Israelis face on a daily basis.
Moreover, the strategic value of the Russian speaking community is paramount considering the crucial position held by Russia on the international stage – especially on the issue of Iran and its genocidal leaders’ nuclear aspirations.
HOWEVER, SECURITY is far from the only area of cooperation between Israel and Russia, indeed despite the global economic downturn, trade between Russia and Israel continues on an upward curve.
Since 2003, the value of Israel’s exports to Russia has risen over 300 percent, including chemicals, fresh produce, plastics and rubber. In return, Russia’s exports to Israel have in the past years reached record highs – a true testament to the valued relationship and cooperation between our two peoples.
Bringing this important conference and its participants to Israel,
allows us to highlight Israel’s extensive contribution to technology,
medicine and trade, and encourage further development and cooperation.
During their stay, the participants will also mark an occasion of joint
relevance to Russians and Israelis, when they take part in a ceremony
commemorating sixty five years since the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Indeed, it is my intention as the responsible minister, to ensure that
the journalists attending will take away with them a deeper
understanding of Israel’s values, contributions, and aspirations for
peace; and when standing side by side to mark the downfall of one of
history’s most evil tyrannies, the danger of allowing Iran to carry on
Hitler’s work will be fully appreciated.
I want to pay tribute to the Israeli Association of Russian Speaking
Journalists for their endeavors to bring the conference to Israel. It is
always a pleasure to see initiatives such as these, originating from
non-governmental networks and organizations – and it is an even greater
pleasure to see them adopted and succeed.
Equally, I am grateful to the World Association of the Russian Speaking
Press for accepting Israel’s invitation to host this important event. I
hope each and every participant will come back and visit us soon.
The writer is Minister for Public
Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs.