Skip to content
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Diplomacy Means a Search for Common Ground

Filed under: Israel

An Insider’s View of Israeli Diplomacy

Dore Gold at the Hudson Institute, November 27, 2018

We’ve made efforts with South Africa. I’ve led Israeli diplomatic missions from the foreign ministry to South Africa and we try to always find common ground not just coming with – oh, we have a new water desalination system and we’ll give you a bargain price on it. That’s not the way to change attitudes. I can tell you this, that at one point in my South African efforts I feel that it’s important to give people an ideological basis for talking to you, for building a new relationship. So I discovered in one of my trips that Nelson Mandela during the apartheid regime was hiding out in an area just outside of Johannesburg and it was a farm that was largely Jewish owned. And he stayed in Jewish house which had a great library and one of the books he read was a book that’s familiar it was a good number of you. It was called The Revolt. It was written by Menachem Begin. So I heard, for example, that the foreign ministry of South Africa has a kind of built-in hostility towards Israel. I said, did you know that the head of your national movement read an important book by the head of my national movement of how to resist colonialism? And you suddenly put your discussion on a different frame, in a different framework. And so good diplomacy should offer desalination, should offer agricultural projects and we do that, but it should also offer the ability of two sides to establish common ground. That’s something I try to do in Africa and I think there’s a lot of that that we can do with the African countries.