Subchapter 3: People-to-people relations and public opinion


The appreciation for Israeli achievements and aid was not limited to leaders. Early sources on Israeli development aid highlight other stakeholders acknowledging positive impacts of their coming to Israel or working with Israeli trainers. The following merit reproducing, although it is impossible to fully verify the exact sources and contexts of the quotes:

  • • “Israel has gave me more in eight days than I could obtain from two years in a British university.” (Secretary General of Ghana Trade Union Congress, I957).71
  • • “My prayer and hope is that Nigeria, too, ten years after independence, will prove a land into which many flock to hear and learn another success story. To Nigeria the story of Israel gratifies the soul” (renowned Nigerian journalist Ebenezer Williams, quoted in I960).72
  • • “Had I not come here to see things for myself, I would still be in the belief that the Jews are enemies of Africans, aggressors and exploiters, as they were said to be by the enemies of the Jewish nation.” (visiting Nigerian. I960).73
  • • “It seems logical (...) since we are small we can learn more from a small, efficient country than from a big efficient country” (official from Senegal, I960).74
  • • “Israel has bestowed many gifts upon us. Most valuable for me (...) atmosphere in the Centre, the human contacts in Haifa and elsewhere.” (Ghanaian trainee, 1973).75

Recipients identified a range of special qualities of Israeli experts: devotion, innovativeness and flexibility. Another issue is the heritage of the 1960s Israeli development projects (with opinions that emerged at the time often lasting until today) from the African point of view. This matter hasn’t been sufficiently researched and only at the time of writing first results of a specific research regarding cooperative villages established in Tanzania and Zambia, done by the Africa Centre at Ben Gurion University, emerged. The results are mixed and conclusions difficult since other donors intervened in the same places and subject fields after Israelis left. Observations on the common people’s memory of and attitudes towards Israeli presence include their awareness that nice houses were built during the time and impacts in terms of health and competences gained. Good memories of the profitability and lasting legacy of cooperative thinking and working are also mentioned. On the other hand, afterlife of the mistrust towards Israelis is often encountered. Examples include a fertiliser’s storage facility which remained unattended by the locals after Israeli enforced, rapid departure, which led chemicals to penetrate the soil and made it uncultivable (which now is blamed on Israelis); or examples of rumours, like those that Israeli project was a cover-up for gold digging, or that the Israelis actually hid a treasure somewhere in the fields.76

Sub-Saharan embassies in Israel

In order to approximate the attitudes of SSA countries’ officials and citizens towards relations with Israel and Israeli development aid, representatives of four embassies of SSA countries in Tel Aviv were interviewed. The embassies were chosen so as to represent a diverse profile of countries, in terms of geographical location, history of development, historical record and the current nature of relations with Israel. A record of opinions expressed follows.


Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of Ghana Kwasi Asante underlined technology transfer and capacity building that takes place as a part of cooperation with Israel at various levels. Israelis have done significant projects in the spheres of neonatal care, early childhood education and water and sanitation. There are also transfers of knowledge in agriculture, gender issues, ICT and public administration. Israel takes the actual needs of the recipient in due consideration. In the field of agriculture, Israeli technologies are key to raising yields and youth employment in agriculture, which is mostly sustenance agriculture so far. But there are significant transfers also through a private sector, active in the fields of agriculture, ICT, energy and construction. Ghanaian law demands a minimum share of local workers to be employed by each foreign business, thus enhancing knowledge transfer. According to the interviewee, the feedback from trainees who went through training in Israel is excellent. He cited one speaking of “pragmatic, flexible, practical and hands-on solutions for Ghanaian development”, which he would bring home. The material impacts are hard to measure, yet they are visible in the way a person reapproaches work, duties, lifestyle, searches for solutions and application. Attitude towards Israel is very positive in Ghana, with every Ghanaian Christian craving to visit the Holy Land. This is also a platform for bilateral cooperation on tourism and culture.77


According to Jon Chessoni, Chargé d’Affaires of the Kenyan Embassy in Israel, both MASHAV and the Israeli non-governmental sector have a role to play; he described Kenya as “hungry for Israeli technologies” and lauded Kenyan goodwill towards Israel. While agriculture is still important. Kenya wants to move forward with other sectors; moreover, it moves from aid towards trade as a source of development; thus, joint ventures are needed.78

In an interview with the Embassy’s political attaché, Anthony T. Mathenge, development was assessed as the largest sphere of cooperation between Kenya and Israel. There are three main areas: agriculture, food security and water and sanitation, while there is also some cooperation in education and justice. Galana Kulanu is the largest, most visible project. While agriculture will still be important for Kenyan economy for a long time, services sector is growing very fast and effort is made to create jobs for young people within it. Thus, cooperation with Israel is sought after also in innovation and entrepreneurship. IT companies bring in their employees to learn from Israel themselves. As for Israeli private companies. Agrostudies was mentioned, and its cooperation with Kenyan higher education institutions for the purpose of identification of potential students.

According to the interviewee, Israel is assessed as doing efforts to align as much as possible with recipient’s needs. Galana Kulanu is an entirely Kenyan idea, within which MASHAV responds to concrete needs for training. Israeli cooperation with stakeholders is commendable, wide also includes good ties with the Kenyan ministries. There is no possibility to follow-up on every trainee or student after coming back from Israel and the interviewee acknowledged that the Kenyan side needs to do more to fully use that potential. The new programme offering seed money for alumni

through Israeli embassy is an idea that can bring results. Moreover, people are trained in Israel in very specific fields, in which there are not many professionals in Kenya—like neurosurgery, where each additional doctor that is trained and practicing makes a big impact. So the process should be seen in an accumulative way, as capacity building for more and more people, which changes their lives, work and output.

Trainees leave with very positive view of Israel, they assess the content and the delivery methods as excellent; courses are engaging and condensed, which is good, but also does not give much time to seethe country. Interactive way of teaching is different from the Kenyan one and eye-opening to Kenyan educators. These methods are to be adopted by the Kenyan Ministry of Education within the sustainable development curriculum. This is a concrete example of a long-term impact. Some Israeli NGOs are present: SACH treated more than 30 Kenyans already. After 2016 presidential visit in Israel, there are efforts to develop a scheme for training cardiologists—bringing children to Israel for treatment is an emergency solution for some, yet Kenya needs its own capacities in the area.

Israel is commonly associated by Kenyans with security, agriculture and water. Joint challenges are seen and the fact that Israel overcomes them is appreciated. Addition must be made of the religious association, as majority of Kenyans are Christian. Pro-Palestinian attitudes happen in some more educated circles, concerned with issues of nationalism and self-determination, rather Muslim than Christian, but do not take an organised form.79


The representative of the Embassy of Nigeria Emmanuel Edugwo highlighted the importance of aid in agriculture, where Israel has lots of expertise needed for industrialising Nigerian farming. The 2015 MoU provides for transfer of technologies on drip-irrigation, aquaculture, livestock, sustainable land management, mechanisation; Israeli water management is seen as a miracle. Israeli aid is fully in line with the government’s development plans which include engaging its massive youth population in agricultural work on vast areas of unused arable land. Together with development of an entire chain for storage and transport and work on standards, it will diminish unemployment, bring food self-sufficiency and allow for export. Israel is seen as delivering what it promised, and on time. It responds to challenges which are commonplace in Africa and its engagement is sought after, particularly in the face of increasing draught and desertification.80

An additional insight into realities of Israeli aid to Nigeria w'as gained in an interview with former Israeli ambassador Noam Katz. In his opinion, ties with Israel depend much on internal matter of the balance between Nigerian Christians and Muslims. Still, Christians identify Israel with the land of the Bible, while Muslims appreciate Israeli technologies and aid. They are profoundly interested in enhancing own well-being and much less in world politics. Israel works with both communities, for example it used church-related networks to promote an agricultural project, and on another occasion, it funded a mosque before developing a water project. Care is taken to base aid on local needs and common values and to limit changes to communities, so as not to create socio-economic tensions. Ties with leaders from both communities are good, and visibility of Israeli projects is provided by local media—at least because they are interested in what local politicians are doing.81


Zambian president visited Israel in the early 2017, accompanied by “ministers for foreign affairs, agriculture, trade, energy, tourism, water development and environment, transportation, health, and industry and employment” and argued for a stronger cooperation with Israel as a “pace-setter in survival instinct, because it has a desert; but they have a thriving education, agriculture and information and communication technology sectors and we can explore and learn from them”.82

Zambian Embassy in Israel was established in 2015, testifying to the rise of interest in cooperation. In turn, since its opening, relations have gained on scale. There is a strong desire to benefit from Israeli expertise and experience in agriculture, water, health and renewable energy. In the opinion of the Ambassador of Zambia, Martin Mwanambale, Israeli side prefers the development cooperation to take place between non-governmental entities, particularly businesses, rather than through governments. Still, such interactions are also seen as good for knowledge transfer. The most important field for cooperation is agriculture, due to large unused arable lands in Zambia. Diversification of energy sources is also very important—the country depends on hydropower, which is not always reliable due to climatic reasons, hence the need to develop alternative sources of energy such as solar power.

According to the Ambassador, there were 15 Zambian students in Agrostudies programme at the time of the interview and there were hopes for more. Students and trainees were impressed by Israeli innovations and experts, who are practice-oriented, experienced and do the work themselves, irrespective of their place within the hierarchy. The Embassy maintains contact with students. While the first months are difficult for them, later on they appreciate their stay enormously. Cultural issues they tackle are not only related to the Israeli environment but also to the diversity of countries of origin within the group of students. MASHAV is flexible to offer trainings on what is actually requested. Flexibility is also required to adjust the level of advancement of the technology transferred to the particular Zambian recipient, as Israel has both state-of-the-art and simple technologies. SACH and Doctors Without Borders are the NGOs that could operate in Zambia soon. Zambia is a Christian-majority country with populace generally sympathetic to Israel and only a small minority opposing

International behaviours 253 cooperation. As for the media, it is mainly the state-owned press that shows interest in development cooperation issues.83

Participants of courses and projects

Questions related to overall perceptions of aid and experience of sub-Saharan trainees were addressed to people involved in Israeli programme. Paul Hirschson, as many others, says that in SSA. Israel is identical to drip irrigation and agriculture. According to his experience on-the-spot, Israeli solutions are the ones that work, contrary to many Western ones. This is due to the similarity of natural environment and fact that Israeli agriculture is based on small family- or community-based units, just as in sub-Saharan countries (and unlike in the Western farming, where the dominant model is a huge farm belonging to one person or a company and hiring contracted workers). Together with equality between the donor and recipient, this is a perfect mix. Of course the Arab-Israeli conflict is a topic of conversations. Yet for a village with no electricity and water, the priority and a huge step forward is to get solar panels, water pumps and drip irrigation. The way Israel is received is sometimes even a bit unfair towards the West. Due to the history of exploitation and decisive roles in international order. Western aid is seen as fulfilment of obligation while Israeli one as purely voluntary. Aid extended in 2015 during Ebola outbreak created lots of goodwill towards Israel also due to these reasons. Hirschson echoes Golda Meir saying that knowledge is the one thing that cannot be taken away from people and much more important than infrastructure. This is a broader issue connected to a general problem of exit strategies for projects. Israel has no financing to forever run the clinic it established. Africa saw too many donor-funded hospitals and schools standing empty. Knowledge empowers a person to establish own business, proceed and even hire people. Israeli aid is seen, in his opinion, as fostering independence of recipients.84

In the opinion of the MCTC staff, built upon talks with participants, knowledge of Africans coming for courses in Israel is limited to associations with conflict and the Holy Land. After their stay—including discussions with Israeli professionals (who often have very self-critical attitudes), some sightseeing and private interactions—they usually modify their outlooks, mostly in a positive way. They particularly appreciate openness of the Centre’s staff, take note of lack of hierarchy and informality in relationships and are very attracted to the communal farming models. Still, particular reactions are a very individual question.85

According to Yudith Rosenthal, developing countries look at Israel as a country which developed very quickly and believe that they can find the answers here. However, there are limitations, since results in the field of education take years. Moreover, there is a shift in methods all over the world. Beneficiaries’ motives for coming are related to professional framework, ongoing transformation of education system or eagerness to visit the Holy

Land. The motives to some extent impact on the actual experience. To many trainees from SSA, an encounter is shocking, as they come across a very different culture, with informal, open structures, where, however, certain boundaries do exist. A course participant of the Ofri Center’s course gave a positive feedback, concentrated on the willingness to bring the experience home. The interviewee was impressed by Israel’s ongoing development despite lack of natural resources and by the education system. Treating foreigners with suspicion was noticed as one negative phenomenon. Sagiv’s research engaging former course participants in Tanzania brought similar observations with participants’ underlining: sensitivity of the Israeli staff to the needs of course participants; attitudes that promote mutual knowledge exchange; cultural differences and knowledge gaps that are obstacles to success; religious motives in and spiritual satisfaction from visiting Israel; positive impact of the visit on perception of Israel; enhanced knowledge, high motivation to change own life and even empowerment to, for example, set up an own business as a result of course participation.86

The founder of WaterWays feels welcomed in SSA countries, Christian or Muslim. Israeli experience in dealing with problems that SSA faces is the fundamental argument. African people are usually aware of the Israeli-Arab conflict but do not react to it emotionally. The interviewee, at the time of writing, was engaged in advising a new Ugandan business, set up by young people who studied agriculture in Israel and wanted to implement what they learned in their home country.87

In the experience of Innovation: Africa, gaining knowledge of Israel or discussing political issues is no point of interest for the recipients, living in remote villages with no infrastructure. According to Ophelie Namiech from IsraAid, in the case of South Sudan, the appeal of Israel (for those who happen to have any associations with it) emerges from three factors: Israel being appreciated for its help in achieving independence; religious connection through Christianity; and the inclusive and community-driven approach of Israeli organisations operating in South Sudan. Contact with the organisation generates some interest in Israel, yet by far, the main subject of the relationship and conversation is the activities on the ground. Some communities even tell donors that they will engage only if the IsraAid leads the project.88

It may well be that Biblical connotation is the strongest and sometimes the only one; it is also often mentioned in press reports. In Ghana, where Evangelical churches grow in strength, visiting Israel is seen as a big achievement but can also be difficult when it emerges that Israel is a state like others. Some misunderstandings also arise when it turns out that Judaism differs from Christianity in such issues as the nature of Christ. The same occurs in Ethiopia, where there is enthusiasm for people coming from Israel and locals want to know as much as possible about it as the “land of milk and honey” and of Bible and Jesus.89 Sub-Saharan Christianity features an extent of conflation between Judaism and Christianity, which has been lost in the European culture.

The case of sub-Saharan students

Some limited quotes from sub-Saharan students studying in Israel contemporarily are available—for example, personal stories told on Agrostudies website concentrate on their individual development path and professional plans and are not a commercial for studying in Israel—yet no systematic analysis was found. Thus, a limited survey was carried out, based on interviews with the help of asemi-structured qualitative questionnaire. The interviews were carried out in December 2016 at the Sde Boker campus of the BGU and in March 2017 at the Rehovot campus of the HUJ. The process of reaching the interviewees in Sde Boker was informal, in the case of Rehovot mediated through an academic coordinator; participation was voluntary. The pool of interviewees consisted of eight persons (seven men, one woman; five studying at Sde Boker and three at Rehovot) from Ethiopia (onestu-dent). Ghana (two), Kenya (three) and Nigeria (two). Most interviewees had rural background. They studied environmental studies, water management, aquaculture biology and microbiology in agriculture; one student studied Israeli studies. Four of them were in Israel on MFA-founded scholarships; three on scholarships by the PEARS Foundation and one on a joint scholarship of the African Development Bank and Israeli Chemicals Ltd. For most of them, this was not their first year of stay in Israel, as they enrolled in multi-year programmes leading to graduation, or continued studies after graduating from a previous programme in Israel.

As for their way into Israel, the most common path was through a local teacher, expert, colleague from work or a friend. It usually was after recommendation of such a person that endeavour was made to apply for a programme and scholarship. Most of the interviewees wanted to study abroad at some point; for some, Israel was the second choice (after another Western country), but for the majority, Israel was the first choice due to high esteem it has for its expertise in the fields they study. Some of the interviewees cited religious reasons as a subsidiary factor that made them interested.

As for the expectations before arrival, most were not particularly interested in the country as such, aside from its achievements in fields related to their subjects of interest. They were usually afraid of the conflict, which they said was very visible in the media. Yet these reservations were quickly verified after arrival, as they saw a normally functioning country; they had no feeling of insecurity, maintained standard rules of behaviour and in some cases perceived Israel as safer than home-countries. They had great admiration for the way the state is organised, citing agriculture, irrigation. transportation or heritage preservation. They underlined that the people they worked with at the University are hard-working, professional, timely, eager to share knowledge and demanding but approachable, ready to explain and to learn from the students, able to see what is the best in every person and to motivate.

On the other hand, the interviewees admitted that they faced challenges, of which some were common to foreign students in alien countries in general

(not specific to stay in Israel); some a common experience of foreign students in Israel; while some specific for African students in Israel. The first challenge is language: not all Israelis know English, while for the students, it is difficult to master good command of Hebrew on top of their studies. The second is a sense of boredom or tiredness of life being defined only by studies for a long time. At the Rehovot campus, the issue is connected to the very tight, packed programme of studies, while at Sde Boker—to scarcity of social life and entertainment options. The third difficulty is cultural clash, Israeli culture being Western, individualist, while SSA cultures tend to be more communal. The impression is that Israelis, although mostly helpful, do not want to become friends or engage in joint activities and that the rules of hospitality in Israel are much less embracing then in the students’ countries of origin, leading to a sense of alienation. The fourth trouble, reported by some of the interviewees, was what they perceived as manifestations of ignorance, superiority or racial prejudice by common people on the street or in the shops. There are instances of unpleasant behaviours—refusals to respond to greetings, other measures of avoidance. One interviewee cited being frequently picked up for unnecessary checks of documents, possibly out of suspicion that he might be an illegal migrant. An impression is that people know little of Africa, of how diversified it is; it is treated as a one big country and in a very (negative) stereotypical way. Lastly, some students mentioned lack of a perspective for staying in Israel, resulting from country’s preference for people with Jewish background. Still, most of interviewees declared willingness to stay if granted another scholarship or planned to apply to another programme abroad.

All of the students interviewed were convinced that learning in Israel is an enormous opportunity for their personal, academic and professional development and that it would not be possible if not for a scholarship; a situation often referred to as a "blessing”. They say they benefit a lot, get cutting-edge knowledge and competences. So they were very satisfied with the content of their studies, despite it being challenging for them sometimes, and most of them were satisfied with material conditions offered by the scholarships (varying depending on the donor).

The students were impressed by Israeli achievements won in conditions similar to, or even worse than, those in their homelands; they would like to see these solutions replicated in their home-countries, and many of them hope to work in that direction. Apart from technical solutions, what they admire is the Israeli attitude: thinking above the problem, actively trying to find solutions, refusal to depend on anybody or on the government, strong sense of willingness to contribute and responsibility for tasks. The possibilities for an actual transfer of their knowledge to Africa, however, were seen as limited. Their studies in Israel were not framed by the state-of-origin, and after coming back, they will need to look for a job with little chance of finding one matching their expertise (though two of them started some development-related activities in their home-countries, which they hoped to expand). On the other hand, a diploma from agricultural studies in Israel is recognised as coming from the country having the best expertise and viewed with admiration, so it increases chances of employment. The most frequently cited possible opportunity for graduates of agriculture studies in Israel was working for Israeli companies active in students’ countries of origin. Some informal mechanisms already seem to exist which enhance graduates chances to get such a job and most of the interviewees were aware of other students from their country who used to study in Israel. In the case of Kenya, some sort of networking between them emerges (they were even summoned to meet the President of Kenya when he visited Israel in 2016 and he motivated them to proceed and bring knowledge back to Kenya). Otherwise they did not see much particular interest in their studies from their home countries’ governments or embassies.

As for the Israeli governmental or non-governmental presence in their countries of origin, the interviewees were able to name several Israeli companies, profoundly those linked to agriculture (Amiran, Dizengoff, NETAFIM). By those closer to the issue, the companies were appreciated for providing trainings alongside selling products and for providing jobs to alumni of studies in Israel. The students usually could not mention a particular MASHAV project, though they had an overall impression that people trained by MASHAV or MASHAV incoming experts do wonderful things in their countries; they also referred to humanitarian projects implemented in times of crises. They would like to see more and better structured cooperation between the governments, so that Israeli solutions are more systematically adopted. There are obstacles to this, however. Cultivation of old ways and lack of linkage between knowledge centres and communities in need, for example farmers, was pointed at, along with the overall inefficiency of governments in home countries, with political elites said to be interested mainly in supporting own stay in power and lacking commitment to work systematically enough.

Public opinion polls and civil society organisations

Analysis of SSA public opinion is difficult since there is very limited number of polls done, they are rare and do not cover all the countries. One historical poll concerned 300 students from West Africa studying in Paris and asked in 1962 about the most admired country. Israel popped up third (12.4%), after the USSR and China, ahead of Cuba, the US and France.90

The 2007 Views of the Middle East Conflict Pew Global Research Centre poll showed that populations of Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Ghana (descending order) sympathised more with Israel than with the Palestinians (with quite high percentages of those for “both” or “neither” in Kenya and Ethiopia). The most dominant preference for Israel was demonstrated by the inhabitants of Ivory Coast. Tanzania’s population was the most divided, while in Mali and Senegal pro-Palestinian attitudes were dominant (with a significant share of those not preferring any side). SSA respondents were divided as regards their trust in the Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and predominantly critical of Hamas. Apparently, these countries’ UN voting roughly reflects popular sentiments. Simultaneously, the 2007 Pew polls: Views of the US and American Foreign Policy and Global Unease With Major World Powers proved that there was no deep divide between sub-Saharans and North Africa Arabs. The opinion that “Arabs and Africans can live together peacefully” was prevalent in Ethiopia (both among non- and Muslims) and backed by the majorities in Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal. An opposing view was dominant in Tanzania and Uganda (also among Muslims). SSA perceptions of South Africa changed with the fall of apartheid, with positive opinions in all countries polled, ranging from 91% in Ivory Coast to 66% in Uganda. Overwhelmingly positive attitudes towards the US, the American ideals, ideas and business style in eight out of nine SSA countries (except Tanzania) polled in 2007 might be also taken as an indication for positive attitudes towards Israel. In Ethiopia and Nigeria, opinions on the US were divergent between non-Muslims and Muslims. Positive attitude remained dominant also towards American policies in Africa— except for Ethiopia and Senegal. In the 2007 Pew Allies and Threats in Africa poll, al-Qaida and related terror groups were among the top 3 biggest threats in the opinion of respondents from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania. Iran was mentioned among the top 3 threats in Nigeria and Tanzania.

In the 2012 BBC World Service Nation Branding Pol! covering a limited number of countries, respondents most positive towards Israeli policies were found, inter alia, in Nigeria and Kenya. Respondents in Ghana were more divided. In the 2013 edition of the survey, opinions of Israel among respondents from these three Sub-African countries further improved. The 2014 edition witnessed overall improvement in perception of Israel (50% negative, 25% positive) with Ghana and Kenya again among those rating Israel most positively (respectively 54 and 47% respondents having positive attitude towards Israel). However, the attitudes in Nigeria evolved towards negative opinions.

As for pro-Israeli organisations in Africa, Oded mentions Ugandan Abayudaya—a tribe formed by people who self-declared themselves as Jews around 1920.91 However, it is hard to trace any pro-Israeli activity of the group, concerned mostly about own safety and gaining recognition from Israel. African Voices for Israel, started by American Voices for Israel, represents American Jewish organisations and concentrates on bringing opinion-makers for visits to Israel (governors of African banks, Christian pastors, etc.). Otherwise, the pro-Israeli movement in SSA is driven mostly by Evangelical Christian Churches and related organisations. Examples include South African organisations: the Institute for Christian Leadership Development (focused on promoting African development adherent to

Christian values, including through Jerusalem conferences and tours) and the Africa-Israel Initiative (which promotes economic and Christian development in Africa and right-wing stances on Israel, for example, backing its possession of the West Bank). The International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, a global Evangelical organisation particularly supporting unity of Jerusalem is increasingly active in SSA, though its impact on-the-spot is hard to evaluate. The conservative, faith-based Israel Allies Foundation, founded in 2007, expands into SSA as well, with parliamentary Israel Allies caucuses established in Congo, DRC, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zambia.


The dominance of the “trans-Saharan Pan-Africanism” (led by Kwame Nkhrumah, backed by Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda), embracing North African Arab countries in contrast with “Sub-Saharan Pan-Africanism”, exclusively Black, fearing Arab internal divisions and imperialism plus the ensuing diplomatic trade-offs, coupled with the Cold War confrontation logic, impacted on the geostrategic environment of Israeli African policy.92 However, peace between Israel and Egypt, end of apartheid in South Africa, the ME peace process leading to creation of the PA and Israel’s peace with Jordan dissolved the major arguments that had served the Arabs in their efforts against Israel—at least until early 2000s, when the peace process died down. This provided space for renewal of relations with SSA and opened doors for Israel to present its perspective on the events.

Contemporary Israel’s bilateral relations with sub-Saharan countries bloom, while multilateral ones are still problematic. Voting behaviours of sub-Saharan countries result from overall state of their external relations. In the past, geopolitical considerations had mostly negative impact on voting patterns. At the time of writing, these considerations had a neutral (weakness of Arab states) or positive impact (struggles with extremisms). The issue exerting a negative impact is the unresolved conflict with the Palestinians, yet it has varied degree of importance for SSA states. There is no causal relation between voting patterns and the extent of aid received, although aid programmes usually go together with better relations on various levels. Though there was no correlation between amount of Israeli aid and the voting pattern in the early 1960s, the countries which were the largest beneficiaries in 1972 all behaved in a more or less pro-Israeli way in 1967. In 1973, however, aid did not play significant impact on the timing of their decisions to break relations.

Contemporary SSA countries’ positions seem to reflect overall growing tiredness with unproductive proliferation of anti-Israeli UN resolutions. They increasingly refuse to participate in the most controversial votes. Some correlation of these behaviours was found with the dominance of Christianity and the levels of Israeli aid received, but none factor can be seen as decisive. In the case of each country, there is a unique amalgam of factors determining relations with Israel and voting behaviours. These factors are not necessarily interrelated, as seen from the example of Kenya.

Significantly, even “in the darkest hour”, sub-Saharans did not question the right of Israel to exist, were against its expulsion from the UN and strongly reserved towards branding it in the same way as racist South Africa. Nevertheless, lack of diplomatic relations and SSA overall harsh attitudes on the international scene was received by the Israeli side as deeply offending and trust-breaking. SSA states remain committed to the two-state solution and see it as in line with developing relations with Israel.

From the point of view of SSA countries, relations with Israel stand firm on three pillars: religion—Christian linkages; development cooperation— appraise of Israeli achievements and aid; and geopolitics—as a counterweight to Arab and Muslim influences. These reasons stood behind close relationships in the 1960s and are valid also today. Interviews showed that the first two reasons are most important. Contemporarily, Israel is associated in most countries with two things: the Bible and the agriculture.

Israeli development aid is the most visible and broadly appreciated factor in relations. It engages leaders and common people. On the political level, it is rather a dependant factor than a decisive one: internal politics, external pressures and sub-Saharan countries’ foreign policy interests proved over the history to be the ones that determine the temperature of relations with Israel. On the other hand, when development programmes can be pursued, they serve building meaningful, reciprocal relationships. Memory of Israeli programmes was among significant factors that steered renewal of relations. Relationships built in the process of training create large amounts of goodwill towards Israel. Israel is perceived as reliable, professional and bringing what is needed. This is well reflected in bilateral and people-to-people relations. The process applies to governmental and non-governmental sectors alike, with non-governmental sector, particularly enterprises, the most visible to some interviewees.


  • 1 Oded 2009; Holbik 1967: 201; Rivlin, Fomerand 1976: 327; Neuberger 2009: 34; Ajami, Sours 1970: 407: Neuberger 2009: 34; Rodin 1969: 174-176; Decalo 1998: 59-60; Oded 1990: 6-7; Reich, 1964: 20-21; Kreinin 1964: 3-5; Saran 1974: 13.
  • 2 Rodin 1969: 173-174; Decalo 1998; 35; Sharma 1976; 270-328.
  • 3 Mayer 2013; Levey 2001: 102.
  • 4 Sharma 1976: 262.
  • 5 Oded 2009; Peters 1992: 3; Schler 2018: 108; Kreinin 1964: 8, 10, 74.
  • 6 Carol 2012: 42, 123; Bishku 2017; Mboya 1963: 90; Carol 2012:123; Kreinin 1964: 107.
  • 7 Levin 1972: 40.
  • 8 Rivlin, Fomerand, 1976: 338; Saran 1974: 11-12; Alpan 1976: 104; Sharma 1976: 487.
  • 9 Kreinin 1964: 10, 137.
  • 10 Kreinin 1964: 178; Decalo 1998: 111-114; Gitelson 1974: 6-7.

Lizak 2012: 35; Nadelmann 1981: 188; Bishku 2017: 78-79; Peters 1992: 23;

Levey 2001: 106; Kreinin 1964: 177.

Rodin 1969: 194.

Schier 2018: 97-98, 109-119; Levin 1972: 39-40.

Ojo 1988: 17.

Ojo 1988: 26, 36.

Decalo 1998: 61-62.

Levin 1972: 39; Peters 1992: 58; Sharma 1976: 270-280; Gitelson 1980: ill;

Levey 2012: 30.

Levey 2012: 98-157; Levey 2003a: 30; Nadelmann 1981: 193; Gitelson 1980: 107-108.

Sharma 1976: 291, 505; Ojo 1988: 38; Rivlin. Fomerand 1976: 340. 345-348;

Levey 2012: 72.

Peters 1992: 48: Oded 2016; Carol 2012: 228; Neuberger 2009: 29-30.

Sharma 1976: 482-483.

Rivlin, Fomerand 1976: 346; Decalo 1998: 143; Nadelmann 1981; Peters 1992:46;

Kwarteng 1992; Oded 2010: 134-135; Sharma 1976: 299; Levey 2008: 206. 209.

Levey 2008: 206, 209, 218. 220; Ojo 1988: 165; Neuberger 2009: 19-20; Peters 1992: 51,218-219; Nadelmann 1981: 200. 205, 207; Carol 2012: 229, 231.

Levey 2008: 206, 209; Schier 2017; Gitelson 1974: 12; Carol 2012: 227; Akin-sanya 2010: 22.

MERIP Report 1973:18.

Africa Report 1976: 54; Decalo 1998: 148; Oded 1990: 1, 21; Nadelmann 1981:

218; Peters 1992: 105; Interview with Yael Abessira; Osia 1983: 71-86.

Decter 1977: 124.

Akinsanya 2010: 29; Ojo 1985: 8, 14-15; Carol 2012: 292-294.

Decalo 1998:162; Neuberger 2009: 34; Oded 2010: 136-137; Kitchen 1983; Oded 1986: 15-17.

Carol 2012: 357, 399; Peters 1992: 97-99. 127; Babatunde 2017: xci-xciii: Oded 1986: 2-5, 7-8, Bishku 2017: 87-88.

Ojo 1988: 86-88, 91-93: Kwarteng 1992; Oded 1986: 9-10, 19, 22; Osia 1983: 36-59, 98.

Ojo 1988: 97; Oded 2006: 65-79; Oded 1990: 33-34, 42-50, 65-73,79.

Peters 1992: 137-138: Decalo 1998: 166: Ojo 1988: 3; Joyce 2000: 77: Neuberger 2009: 33.

Eichner 2016; Taylor 2010: 11.

Bishku 2017: 90, 92; Oded 2016; Bishku 2017: 92; Navon 2013; Keinon 2016b.

Keinon 2016b.

Wei 2011; Sudan Tribune 2012.

Erlich 1994: 165-166; Kreinin 1964: 55; Peters 1992:1-2,8; Sharma 1976: 283-284,

414; Patten 2013: 116-140.

Nadelmann 1981: 207; Erlich 1994: 167-173; Levey 2008: 210-212.

Erlich 1994: 173-178; Bishku 1994: 46; Ronen 2013:161-162; Carol 2012: 62.

Bishku 1994: 50; Patten 2013: 144-145; Joyce 2000: 69, 93.

Beloff 2016: 104-109; Bob 2018.

Kagame 2017.

Office of the President of Rwanda.

Oded 2011:319-325.

Interview with Anthony T. Mathenge.

Rodin 1969: 226, 239-242, 245; Oron 1961: 236; Decalo 1998: 108, 128, 197;

Draper 1967.

Nadelmann 1981: 188; Kochan 1976: 259-260; Sharma 1976: 414-418; Decalo

1998: 110; Akinsanya 2010: 20.

Rodin 1969: 245, 252-257; Decalo 1998: 42-43, 50, 53, 56.

Kochan. Gitelson. Dubek 1976: 290-293, 304-309.

Carol 2012: 212-213; Decalo 1998: 50, 56.

Oded 2010: 8, 10; Kochan 1976: 260; Carol 2012: 220; Peters 1992: 28; Kochan 1976; 260-262.

Carol 2012: 221, 225; Akinsanya 2010: 22-24; Peters 1992: 32. 34; Oded 1990: 10; Oded 2010: 132.

Gitelson 1976; Manis 1970.

Akinsanya 2010: 51-52; Decalo 1998: 141-142.

Organization of African Unity 1973.

Ojo 1988: 55-59, 63, 75; Clapham 1998: 113; Levey 2008: 213.

Decalo 1998: 106, 123-124; Ojo 1988: 60, 65-66; Nadelmann 1981: 216-217;

Oded 1990: 13; Peters 1992: 76.

Peters 1992: 164; Ojo 1988: 68-69.

Interview with Arye Oded; Ojo 1988: 62; Kwarteng 1992; Akinsanya 2010: 46-49.

Nadelmann 1981: 218; Peters 1992; 88-92; Ojo 1988: 89-90; Peters 1992: 103.

Ojo 1988: 62; Akinsanya 2010: 36; Kwarteng 1992.

Peters 1992: 99; Ojo 1988: 96. 98, 10

Mogire 2008: 563; Bishku 2017: 92.

Keinon 2016b; Keinon 2016c; Lazaroff2016.

Keinon 2016a; Keinon 2017b; Salman, 2019: 99-100.

Interview with Arye Oded Interview with Anthony T. Mathenge; Keinon 2016b.

Ahren 2016a; Udasin 2016; Cashman 2016; Keinon 2016d; Behar 2017.

Landau 2018.

Interview with Anthony T. Mathenge.

Decalo 1998: 3-4.

Lengyel 1960: 23-24.

Holbik 1967: 204.

Reich 1964: 19.

Saran 1974: 15.

Gez 2016.

Interview with Kwasi Asante.

Chessoni 2017.

Interview with Anthony T. Mathenge.

Author's phone interview with Emmanuel Edugwo. May 2017.

Interview with Noam Katz.

Keinon 2017a.

Interview with Martin Mwanambale.

Interview with Paul Hirschson.

Interview with Shahar Re’em.

Interviews with: Yudith Rosenthal. James Alau Sabasio; Sagiv 2015.

Interview with Ornit Avidar.

Interviews with: Genna Brand, Ophelie Namiech, James Alau Sabasio.

Interviews with: Dikla Rom, Dana Manor.

Levey 2012: 210.

Interview with Arye Oded.

Akinsanya 2010: 9-14.

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