• Issue: November 1964
  • Designer: A. Kalderon
  • Plate no.: 121
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

1898: Vision of Free Africa

" ... There is still one other question arising out of the disaster of the nations which remains unsolved to this day, whose profound tragedy only a Jew can comprehend. That is the African question. Just call to mind all those terrible episodes of the slave trade, of human beings who merely, because they were black, were stolen like cattle, taken prisoner, captured and sold. Their children grew up in strange lands, the objects of contempt and hostility because their complexions were different. I am not ashamed to say, though I may expose myself to ridicule in saying so, that once I have witnessed the redemption of Israel, my people, I wish to assist in the redemption of the Africans."

From "Altneuland" written in 1898 by Theodor Herzl, visionary of the Jewish state and founder of the Zionist movement.

The story of African-Israel cooperation, if it is to be correctly understood, must be appraised in the light of the histories and contemporary experiences of these peoples. Both have known a past of national dependency and racial discrimination and both have only in recent years attained their independence and freedom. Not only are there no ideological barriers to stand in the way of fruitful mutual exchange, but on the contrary, the Africans and Israelis have, by virtue of their common pasts and because of the present-day challenges which confront them, found just cause for a large measure of fellow-feeling and mutual understanding. Thus Israel's repeatedly demonstrated desire for accord and cooperation has been welcomed and acted upon, particularly since the people of Africa have seen in Israel's non-discriminatory society molded out of a hundred different origins a living example of social equality and amity. Mr. David Ben-Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel, gave poignant expression to this when he declared:

"This State is creating social patterns which are particularly appropriate for new countries - patterns based on mutual aid and free cooperation. It is developing an attitude to labor which brings advancement and prosperity to the worker; it is training an army which is not only capable of guarding the nation's security, but has become one of the principal factors in the merging of the communities".

Thus it is that the emergent states of Africa have found in Israel a testing ground and pilot plant of apt distance, size and scale. Here they have found proof of efficient peasant farming, evidence of a successful industry graded to available resources, an infectious dynamism, a propulsive mystique of national destiny, and above all, a genuine willingness to share lessons and experiences with all comers.

Israel has, in recent years, been confronted with problems of development quite similar to many that the new African states now face. Because this has happened recently in Israel, is still happening, the transfer of experience is readily accomplished and freely given.

Israel has some form of cooperation in the field of development with some 60 states, many of them on the African continent. The nature of this cooperation is varied and extensive, parallel and cyclic. On the one hand, Israeli technicians create, organize and occasionally man in person the African replica of enterprise which Israel has tried out with success - a hospital, a youth training center or a popular housing estate. On the other, African trainees come to Israel to train in these same spheres, eventually to go back and to play their role in the development of their countries. As the new African physicians, engineers or nurses finish field and academic training in Israel they return home to supplant Israeli seconded personnel in the direction of affairs.

This exchange has grown from year to year, and has now reached the proportions of a vast enterprise in international cooperation. Israel has become a center for conferences, seminars, study missions and courses of every conceivable kind. Scholarships have been afforded by the Israel Government to many hundreds of young Africans to attend courses in Israel in medicine, engineering, agriculture, husbandry, youth leadership, nursing, building construction, public administration, physical education, irrigation, rural planning, etc.

In the African countries joint projects are established with the aid of Israel capital and personnel. Teams of Israeli experts leave on fact-finding missions, as planning advisers, on definite assignments planned by the interested countries, or as experts sent at the request of international organizations. Their fields of activity cover agricultural training and planning, medicine and sanitation, teaching and education, commerce and finance, transport, aviation and others.

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