It is not every day that we in Israel receive a generous dose of love from overseas but that happened last week. Senior officials of the Guatemalan government, together with public dignitaries and businessmen from all over the world, gathered together to celebrate the special relationship between Israel and Guatemala. This relationship began 75 years ago and continues to this day.
Five years ago Guatemala moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and influenced other countries to do likewise. The embassy move was mentioned again and again at the event and topped the agenda.
The relationship between Israel and Guatemala extends to many areas, chief among them humanitarian issues. The international Humanitarian Coalition, that operates in 38 countries in the world and whose center is located in Guatemala, is headed by Rabbi Yosef Garmon, who was also behind the planning of the conference together with businessman Yonatan Michael, president of the Sabras organization. The two were featured speakers at the event, and received many praises from all the others speakers for their activities on behalf of Guatemala.
Other participants in the event included Jimmy Morales - the president who signed the embassy’s move to Israel and his wife; Mario Bucaro - the present Minister of Foreign Affairs and Guatemala’s first ambassador in Jerusalem; the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time of the embassy’s transfer and the former president of the Congress; Supreme Court justices, members of Congress, Sheikh Ibrahim Motupa from the USA, and dozens of mayors including Mayor Jorge Pinto who was the first to name a street in his city after Jerusalem. Also attending were pastors from all over Guatemala, mayors and representatives from El Salvador and Honduras, members of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities in Guatemala, presidential candidates in the upcoming Guatemala elections and hundreds of guests from all sectors of the state.
The Humanitarian Coalition has provided considerable humanitarian aid to Guatemala and recently has headed an initiative to build a technological school in the 'New Jerusalem' neighborhood that was established in 2018 for the victims of the Fuego volcano. In recent months, the coalition headed by Rabbi Garmon has collected containers filled with clothing and food for children suffering from malnutrition in Guatemala.
"I am touched to stand here," said Rabbi Garmon, "and I thank each and every one of the dignitaries who came to this important conference from all over the world. Our overriding message is connection and peace through looking forward and not backward."
Sabras chairman Michael said that "I have been working here for over 30 years and am happy to lead humanitarian projects. We were privileged to save thousands of children and change the quality of thousands of lives for the better," he said.
Pastor Raul Marroquin said that "I have been working with the Humanitarian Coalition in recent years for the advancement of humanitarian goals. It is very important to strengthen the ties between countries through the private sector and not just the political sector. I call on businessmen from both sides to join together for further prosperity."
During the conference, those present watched a video of Foreign Minister Eli Cohen greeting them, and the head of the National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi conveying greetings from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
This article was written in cooperation with Shuva Israel