During his visit to Israel, Guterres extolled the contributions of the Jewish people throughout history and the profound achievements of the modern Jewish state.
Among the recurring themes discussed during United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ first visit to Israel was the Jewish people’s enduring contributions and Israel’s achievements on the world stage.This sentiment represents a reassuring change of pace from the rampant Israel-bashing that frequently occurs during UN sessions.
From his initial press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to events at the Israel Museum and Yad Vashem, Guterres has extolled the Jewish people’s unique impact on world history and the extent to which the nation of Israel has affected a variety of fields and disciplines.
At the Israel Museum on Tuesday, where Guterres and Netanyahu participated in an event featuring Israeli technological advances, the Secretary General reflected, “It is important to remember the enormous contribution of the Jewish people to world culture, to world science, to world philosophy, to world civilization. I think that this contribution enables you to be the world’s most successful knowledge-based economy.”
‘Enormous Admiration’ for Israeli Innovation
At the press conference with Netanyahu on Monday, Guterres expressed his “enormous admiration for the achievements of Israel in innovation, technology … and especially the cooperation Israel can provide to different countries in the world in which drought is condemning more and more populations to despair and forcing many people to flee.”
Guterres specifically commended Israel for its efforts to further sustainable development initiatives in Africa, a continent that is home to some of the most impoverished nations in the world. Israel has not only strengthened diplomatic ties with a number of African nations, it has also shared a wealth of knowledge and technology related to agriculture, water management, and energy.
On the whole, Guterres’ visit to Israel has been marked by a willingness to identify anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism and a seemingly genuine appreciation for the nation’s tremendous impact on the world. Whether Guterres’ statements in Israel will translate into a more equitable stance toward Israel in the UN remains to to be seen.