Since his arrival in Nepal, Israeli Ambassador HANAN GODER-GOLDBERGER has organized a number of programs to explore the possibility to bring Israel’s technology here. Israel has supported Nepal in the process of modernization since the establishment of relations more than five decades ago. The envoy shares how good he feels to be in Nepal. Excerpts of his interview with NEW SPOTLIGHT:
Nepal and Israel have a long history of bilateral relationship? How do you see it in the present context?
Our relations are good! They are applicable to all different subjects and dimensions of bilateral relations, at the level of people to people, at the level of government cooperation and exchange of visits between peoples of Israel and Nepal. Whenever I go around, there is always a very good feeling, the feeling of good relations between Nepal and Israel.
How do you evaluate the development of Nepal-Israel relationship?
The two countries established their bilateral relations 50-52 years ago and our relations have remained good. When Nepal established the diplomatic relations with Israel, that was the only country of the subcontinent with such relations. Our development support is mainly in the field of knowhow. This is the only way to bring change.
Israel has provided a significant support to Nepal for its modernization in the past. How is Israel supporting Nepal now?
Under our scholarship program, almost 2000 Nepalese went to Israel in order to have the experience that we practice on a day to day basis in Israel. There is a Shalom Club of the Alumnae. This is a group of Nepalese who went to Israel in one of these programs, came back, and are involved in community projects here. These people meet occasionally and function as an important bridge between our two nations. At the same time, and parallel to those Nepalese that go to Israel, we bring experts here to have workshops, to run seminars for professionals here in Nepal. And again it’s about all the subjects, whether you talk about health, agriculture, education, gender issues, NGOs and all kinds of issues that we are sharing the knowhow on and I think this is going very well. Let me tell you something about this cooperation, which comes at all levels. This cooperation comes from the heart and goes to the heart, by the way, this is the reason that so many Israelis love to come to Nepal, that is because of the open heart Nepalese have for Israel, and Israelis.
From construction to agriculture and health, Israeli support to Nepal covers several areas. How do you view Nepal’s progress in agriculture and other sectors?
You have to look at the statistics. The number of schools that Nepal had 50 years ago and the number of schools that you now. I have seen that you have made a huge progress so far. May be the cup seems only half empty but do not forget it is also half full .It is true that Nepal has a lot of more things to achieve. But, when you look at the achievements in the last 50 years and, let alone in the last five years, it is amazing!. The number of schools that opened in Nepal in the last five years is really a major change. The percentage of people that are going now to have formal education is increasing by three to five percent every year. This is an educational revolution! The same thing you can say about the health sector. Forty or fifty years ago there was hardly any treatment facilities , now there is a flourishing number of hospitals. Again, you still have a long way to go, there are a lots of things to look forward and in this health sector you have to run forward all the time, because if you don’t run forward, you are left behind as medicines and health services are improving worldwide. So, Nepal should keep on running forward and we will do our best to run together with you and we will do everything needed for cooperation with all sectors.
Since your arrival here, a lot of Israel’s experts in health, social and other sectors have visited Nepal, how can experts from both the countries benefit from each other?
When you talk about knowhow, partnership and cooperation, it is not something that one can measure by volume. The friendship between the nations is going on forward and forward. I really feel that heart is open from many Nepalese and I think this cooperation is good for all of us. Sharing the knowhow does not mean that we give something, we share the knowhow and when experts are coming here they learn a lot from the Nepalese counterparts. Don’t think Nepal has nothing to offer to other nations and to other countries, you have a lot to give from what you have achieved and the ways that you practice here. So, every cooperation is good for both nations and we are proud to be part of it.
Israel is known as a successful model in community health and modernization of agriculture. What Nepal can learn from it?
Nepalese have shown that they can make a real difference. Provided that technology is introduced, Nepalese too can generate money from agriculture. We have just celebrated the Nepali Israeli Tomato day. We have recently celebrated the first anniversary of the Maha Farm. The idea of this farm started when Nepalese who went for agricultural work in Israel, understood and realized that they can use their working journey to be a professional experience tour. This farm is introducing to Nepal modern agriculture system and brings for the first time here the usage of drip irrigation system into commercial practice. Twelve Nepalese from twelve different districts who worked in Israel came here and established the farm. This is the result of hard work of plenty of people.
How do you see the future of farm?
The experts involved in it showed that Nepalese can produce up to 20 tons of tomato from the one ropani instead of 6 tons from one ropani. This change is the result of seeds brought from Israel. They hired the area- the farm, and they invested all their savings and they started producing and this is what we are marking. Now I’m grateful, we are all grateful because we are all consumers. So let’s say thank you to these farmers, to theses entrepreneurs that went and learnt and practiced what they learnt and produced here what they experienced in Israel. The potential here is amazing and let me just emphasize one fact, the traditional Nepalese farmers produce 6 tons from a ropani but these farmers are producing 20 tons of tomatoes, three times more than their normal traditional production. I think we have a few workshops in this issue and again we are very happy to share this knowledge.
Israel is one of the popular destinations for Nepalese workers, what is the present state of Nepalese in Israel?
Nepalese are considered in Israel as hardworking and disciplined people. They are very hard working and they earn up to one thousand five hundred US dollars per month. This is why many Nepalese are trying to go to Israel in order in the agriculture sector and also as care givers for needed people in Israel.Let me say one more thing, may be, when you have gold in your pocket, you don’t appreciate it, but you have a golden country from the Everest to the Terai, to the beautiful parks in Terai from Pokhara to the east, it is a beautiful country and, not only that, excuse me for giving my compliments to my colleagues here, nice people are here, clever people are here.
Nepal has been passing through a very critical political transition with constitution writing and peace process as top agenda. What is your observation about this in Nepal?
Things are moving forward and it has reached the stage where Nepalese people think what they think and what they believe and the way they want the future of this country to be looked at and it is up to the Nepalese people to make this decision. You have chosen a certain process, a certain system. And we will support any agreement that you wish. We will be happy if you come to the settlement as soon as possible and we will go all the way with you.
How hopeful are you?
Nobody should rush you, nobody should tell you, whether you should prioritize it, yesterday, today or tomorrow. Only you will come with your solutions and only you will finalize this process. When all parties sit together in a round table, they smile, they talk and they have a dialogue, and this brings me to be optimistic because once there is a dialogue, you would find the way, you would find the Nepali way because you must find the solution.
How do you see the state Middle East?
Situated in the place which sometimes can be problematic, the Middle East is not a stable place and unfortunately there are moderate elements in the Middle East and extreme elements in the Middle East. These changes in the Middle East that we saw recently are still unclear. Unfortunately we don’t know where the Middle East is going. Some people say that it is going to be an Arab spring. But, in the spring you have flowers, I don’t see lovely flowers flourishing out of this development. But we will see if it comes, then it will be excellent for all the peoples of the Middle East. It’s not that we do not have to be worried. In order to achieve peace, you have to be prepared for war. Weak nations can not survive and let me SAY: For peace we will compromise wherever a compromise is needed. But , I emphasize, there is one thing we are not going to compromise, which is our security.