The Vital Role of NGOs in Promoting Bipartisan Cooperation with Europe - Opinion

NGOs provide additional efforts to the official channels in a variety of fields, such as defense, national resilience, innovation and energy.

 OMRI ATTAR, ELNET COO (photo credit: ELNET)
(photo credit: ELNET)

In an era of intense political polarization, fostering mutual understanding and cooperation between nations has become increasingly challenging, both in the West and in Israel.

However, amidst this complex landscape, there are crucial entities that transcend political divisions and serve as a bridge-builder between countries – international bipartisan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the sphere of diplomacy. These NGOs provide additional efforts to the official channels in a variety of fields, such as defense, national resilience, innovation and energy.

The current atmosphere has made relations somewhat dependent on the role that international NGOs play in strengthening ties between nations that share democratic values and strategic interests.

At the heart of Europe-Israel relations lie shared historical values cherished by both entities. Israeli and European leaders should foster a safe and open environment that encourages dialogue and exchange of ideas between policymakers. This approach strengthens the foundation and infrastructure of mutual trust and understanding, facilitating cooperation on shared fields of interest.

In addition to shared values, the impact of the war in Ukraine has led to overlapping strategic interests between Europe and Israel as they face similar challenges in Europe and the Middle East. NGOs should engage, alongside official efforts, in promoting strategic cooperation in fields such as defense, national resilience, innovation and energy. 

By highlighting the potential for mutually beneficial partnerships, Europe and Israel should work hand in hand to facilitate discussions and initiatives that enhance bilateral ties. In doing so, they will foster a synergistic environment conducive to shared prosperity, benefiting both sides.

In the current global context, relying solely on official channels may hinder progress and jeopardize the much-needed advancements between nations. NGOs that work closely with policymakers excel at bridging this divide by maintaining a non-partisan and direct approach. European and Israeli leaders should endorse an environment where different perspectives can be understood and respected in direct and frank discussions.

In a world grappling with global and local polarization, all efforts by NGOs serve as invaluable forces in strengthening Europe-Israel relations. NGOs engaged in global diplomacy assist nations to focus on what is important - shared democratic values, strategic interests and the ability to mitigate political divisions. 

We need concurrent efforts to bridge political and cultural gaps while fostering strategic cooperation. By promoting frank and direct dialogue, mutual understanding and collaboration, NGOs contribute to official and diplomatic efforts to build a more peaceful and stable region. As we navigate the challenges of our era, it is crucial to recognize and support the vital role played by such organizations in building bridges across nations and shaping a better future for Europe and Israel.

Omri Attar is Chief Operations/Financial Officer of ELNET-Israel.