Nurturing emerging relationships
Both the State of Israel and post-colonial Africa were culminations of long-held messianic dreams, the first held by a two-thousand-year Jewish diaspora, the second by nations or tribes that chaffed for centuries under colonial oppression in their own lands.
Under David Ben-Gurion, its first prime minister, and his visionary foreign minister Golda Meir, Israel seized the opportunity to make friends in Africa, the geographic sphere lying immediately beyond its encircling enemies. The chosen vehicle was Mashav, Israel's international cooperation agency.
Sadly, Mashav’s projects and relationships in Africa were abruptly interrupted in the late 1960s following Egypt’s loss of Sinai and the intensification of Cold War pressures. But the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War saw the gradual reestablishment of Israeli diplomatic relations with Africa, as geopolitical obstacles receded.
Israel has been rebuilding its ties with the continent since the late 1980s, and AJC’s Africa Institute helps nurture these relationships.
Since its founding in 2006, AJC’s Africa Institute has been a pioneer in advocating for Israel’s reengagement with Africa.
Through AJC Project Interchange, the Institute has hosted more than a dozen missions from various African constituencies, including government ministers, public health officials, water management and treatment experts, journalists, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, and university presidents.
In more recent years, the focus has been on promoting business ties between Israel and Africa by bringing annual delegations of African business leaders to Israel. During their visits, these business professionals meet their Israeli counterparts and learn of technical developments and technological solutions in the fields of agriculture, health, and education that have enabled Israel to attain its current impressive level of economic success.
The Institute continues its engagement with the alumni of the Project Interchange experience, cultivating relationships with them long after they return home and building sustained support for Israel and the Jewish community.