Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, discussed Israel’s diplomatic revolution over the last two decades in Willard Straight Hall on Monday.
In his lecture Dayan detailed how “Israel is looking to the future” and how the country has undergone “a silent revolution in its relation to the world,” which has catapulted Israel to the world stage by integrating it into the global, political-economic weave.
“Israel has never been less isolated than this,” Dayan said.
“As we speak now, this moment, something that was inconceivable 20 years ago is happening,” Dayan said. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is visiting China while, simultaneously, the president of Israel is visiting Vietnam. We did not even have diplomatic relations with these countries 25 years ago.”
Dayan attributes the meteoric rise of Israel to the distinctly innovative nature of Israeli citizens.
“In a country of little more than 8 million people, every two and a half hours a new innovation company is established in Israel,” Dayan said.
“Israel is the No. 2 most innovative country in the world,” he said, citing the World Economic Forum. “Our technological and security expertise allowed us to establish comprehensive ties with many many countries in the world, from India to Argentina to Cyprus.”
The Israeli cybersecurity industry, according to Dayan, encapsulates how Israeli innovation built new economic and political ties with other nations.
“Cybersecurity is the industry of the future — actually, of the present,” Dayan said, correcting himself. “[Israel] is becoming — in fact, is — the cyber-security capital of the world.”
Dayan said Israel attracted 10 percent of the global investment in cybersecurity in 2014, then 20 percent in 2015 and 25 percent in 2016.
These new technological and diplomatic development brought immense wealth to Israel, he said.
“After the Yom Kippur War in 1973, [Israel] had enough foreign reserve to last 3 months,” Dayan said. “These days, we have foreign reserve that exceeds $100 billion.”
Dayan added that, in addition to Israeli innovation, the changing political landscape of the Arab world drove the Israeli diplomatic revolution.
“Yes, there are countries not yet open to friendship with Israel,” Dayan said. “But, it seems that when you are afraid of someone, like many of the Arab countries are afraid of Iran, that’s a good recipe for making friends … Israel’s relationship with other Arab countries is much better now.”
Dayan also painted a pessimistic picture of the current situation in the Gaza strip.
“I think Gaza is tragic,” Dayan said. “It chose to become a middle-eastern Somalia, a place of warlords who uses every single penny that is contributed to armaments. They chose to become a Somalia.”
“The Hamas leaders said, ‘we could have been Singapore, but we don’t want to be Singapore, we want to fight Israel,’” Dayan added. “It is quite tragic that Gazans are held hostage by the Hamas’ desire, or perhaps, their shared desire.”
In response to a question about Israel’s position on President Donald Trump’s statement that the United States no longer insists on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the consul general said Israel is open to contemplating many kinds of solutions.
“Let me clarify what President Trump said,” Dayan said. “President Trump said that any solutions good for all [are] good for me, which I believe to be a sensible position.”