November 12, 2006
Livini to GA: We must tell Israel’s story through a human lens
One of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni top priorities is to close the gap between Israel's militant image abroad and the reality of a vibrant, multi-faceted nation.
In her address Sunday afternoon to the opening session of General Assembly (GA) of the United Jewish Communities (UJC) in Los Angeles, Livni pledged "to invest a lot of time and money" in a Brand Israel campaign to project the country through a human lens.
A reported 5,000 North American delegates are attending the four-day meeting at the Los Angeles Convention Center, exceeding earlier projections. The delegates were met by tight police security and a banner with the GA motto "One People, One Destiny."
The opening Sunday afternoon session combined some Hollywood razzle-dazzle and star power, with pep talks by UJC and Jewish Agency leaders, a welcome by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a report by an Israeli Druze volunteer, and an appeal by Karnit Goldwasser, whose soldier husband Ehud was kidnapped by Hezbollah terrorists.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, following Monday's meeting with President Bush, is scheduled to address the assembly Tuesday afternoon on "The New Frontlines: Facing the Future Together." Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu is to speak Monday afternoon.
In addition to Livni, five Israel cabinet ministers are in attendance, joined by a group of top Israeli business leaders, together making for an exceptionally high-profile Israeli presence.
During a news conference for the North American Jewish press, Livni acknowledged a sense of frustration among Israelis that the initial expectations of a quick military campaign to wipe out Hezbollah had not been fulfilled.
"We realize that there are some things that cannot be solved by military means," she said, but noted that a framework had been established for peace on the Lebanese-Israeli border, if the international community enforced the embargo on weapons to terrorists.
She described the fighting in July and August as "a conflict between values rather than between states."
Asked to comment on last week's U.S. elections, Livni said that the swing to a Democratic-run Congress would not affect relations with Israel and she wished all new and returning senators and representatives a hearty mazal tov.