Actor Aki Avni
Photo: Rami Zarnegar

Actor travels to Ireland to promote Israeli diplomacy

Aki Avni to battle misinformation on Irish university campuses as part of government campaign

"There's great hatred for Israel. We're dealing primarily with ignorance," actor Aki Avni told Yedioth Ahronoth Wednesday, upon his return from a diplomacy-oriented trip to Ireland.


Avni was part of an eight-member delegation sent to the European country as part of a Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry campaign to show the world "Israel's pretty face." Some 100 Israelis have been dispatched to university campuses worldwide as part of the effort.


"We are facing a young generation that's exposed to a lot of misinformation," Avni said. "We didn't go there to garner support for government policy, but to present a different side of the conflict, and to tell them directly that by calling for boycott of Israel they won't bring hope for peace."


The actor said that there is still much to be done to battle misinformation, and called on Israelis to join the fight. 


"I don't think that the entire responsibility should fall on the government," he said. "We're citizens who live here and must contribute to this thing called diplomacy.


"Everyone should ask himself whether he is doing his best to ensure our future in this country."


Muslim envoy: Israel's my country too

The delegation visited several universities in Dublin, where anti-Israel protests were held to mark the "Israeli Apartheid Week." It might have been the first time that pro-Palestinian activists, who have had free reign within the Irish public in recent years, have come across a pro-Israeli group.


The goodwill ambassadors took part in debates and interviewed for local media – although a few of the scheduled interviews were cancelled due to what the delegates deemed an attempt to silence them.


Among the delegates was Dima Taya, a 20-year-old Muslim resident of Qalansuwa who is serving as a Sherut Leumi volunteer with the police.


Taya has found herself arguing with Iranian students who opted to attack Israel.


"I told them, 'You don't know that Israel is a real democracy where Muslims have more rights than in any other nation. This is my country exactly like it is the Jews' (country),'" she said.


A haredi youth and a member of the Ethiopian community were also part of the diverse group.


Avni, on his part, returned from the trip satisfied with what he had accomplished.


"The pro-Palestinians are very powerful there, but I felt like we contributed," he said. "They attacked Israel, but in the end they stayed and listened to us. Later, they spoke with us one on one. I saw that they want to get more information and hear the other side of the story."



פרסום ראשון: 03.06.12, 09:00
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