Love Thy Neighbor: Uniting the Region

By SSI National

The saying,  “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer,” is often referenced in times when one is looking to understand another’s agenda against them. Historically, Israel and the Jews have always had people against them. Some publicly, many privately, but for the most part, Israel developed enemies not because of something that it had done, but simply because of existing.

In recent times, we see that many countries once considered Israel’s enemies are slowly turning into friends. New friendships are forming between Israel and the countries in the Middle East and some countries in Africa.

Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu recently traveled to Africa. This is the first time in several decades that an Israeli PM has done so. Netanyahu will be visiting Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. The hope is that these relations can be strengthened and to create a new bond between all of the countries. Interesting to know is that before his trip to Africa, he was said to have met with the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheik Mohamud. This is believed to have been the first high profile contact between both countries in many years. Although neither party confirmed what was spoken about, they still were able to confirm that they did in fact meet.This news may be shocking to people, but it is also a breath of fresh air because this can potentially mean that steps are being taken in the right direction by both countries. New alliances may be forming that can have a positive impact for the region in the near future.

Many may not know, but a little over two percent of the Israeli population are Ethiopian Jews (150,000+ people). The Ethiopian Jews are a core part of Israeli society. Some of the best musicians are Ethiopian Jews including the successful hip hop couple “Strong Hard Coffee” (Kafa Sachor Hazak). Miss Israel of 2014, Yityish Aynaw, is also an Ethiopian Jew. And Avraham Neguise, a member of the Knesset Likud party, has played a dominant force in helping bring the last 23,000 Ethiopian Jews over to Israel. These are facts that can help harbor relations between Israel and Ethiopia and many other countries of Africa.

These historical meetings can relate back to the work Students Supporting Israel is doing on college campuses. Many students cross paths with one another every day and never realize that their ties to one another were closer than they might have imagined. Israel is a country that touches everyone’s life every single day. Whether you are using your computer, your phone, or eating cherry tomatoes for lunch, Israel has a place in each and every student’s life on campus. Israel is a leader in Technology, Environment, and Humanitarian Aid. They have been able to find solutions to adverse problems that they have due to living in the desert, but this allows for countries around them to implement these developments. Israel is always willing to share their new advances with their neighbors.

The meetings between PM Netanyahu and the Presidents and Prime Ministers of the African countries, are proof that in life we progress to new relations whether we expected them or not. We should always keep an open mind to new acquaintances. These developments happen to better our lives and better the world we live in.

When we look at our campuses we should understand that if relations between previously hostile countries can be created, relations between people and students should also be possible to achieve. Developing personal connections on the grassroots level today will make sure that our leaders of tomorrow will develop their pro Israel relations on and off campus. If the Israeli Prime Minister was able to leave his comfort zone and go to Africa, the students who represent Israel on campus should also have the strength and will to reach out to other students who may be unaware of Israel, or may hold different views from their own. No matter how different people may be, humanity of our world can only better through the strength of unity.