Earlier today, Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, Jacob Keidar let it be known that he was rescinding his participation in a panel event at the Jewish Community Center of Zurich (ICZ). The event is sponsored by the New Israel Fund of Switzerland; panelists include Haaretz editor-in-chief Amos Schocken, NIF president Talia Sasson, and former Shin Bet security service head Carmi Gillon.
In response to the Israeli ambassador to Switzerland’s cancellation of his scheduled appearance at a New Israel Fund (NIF) panel event in Zurich on Sept. 18, NIF released the following statement:
Unfortunately, we see once again that, instead of shaping public opinion, Israel’s Foreign Ministry is allowing political point scoring to trump good public policy. In doing so, the Ministry is damaging Israel’s reputation in the international community as a democratic, tolerant, and pluralistic country.
The conference is to be held in Zurich on September 18th and thousands of supporters of Israel were invited. US President Barack Obama, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and numerous Israeli Members of Knesset have appeared at other NIF-sponsored conferences within the past year. By canceling his appearance, Ambassador Keidar and the Foreign Ministry harm the local community and the interests of the State of Israel.
Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund, said:
“We sought to have a discussion about whether Israeli democracy is in danger. Ambassador Keidar has given us the Netanyahu government’s clear answer.”
He continued: “Healthy democracies invite robust debates on critical issues–they don’t boycott them. The New Israel Fund will continue to create spaces for people who care about Israel to come together and chart our course toward a better future for Israel. Ambassador Keidar and the Foreign Ministry owe Swiss supporters of Israel an apology.”