Endeavor to Maintain 26-Century-Old Relations
22 March, 2012
Endeavor to Maintain 26-Century-Old Relations

Exclusive Interview with the Ambassador of the State of Israel to Georgia

He arrived at 3 o’clock in the morning, when it was still dark. But it was really dark in Georgia in those days, being the third night after the August war between Russia and Georgia – the year 2008. However, he came from the country for which war is no novelty, and therefore, he was not shocked by what he saw here. Mr. Itzhak Gerberg represents the State of

Israel in Georgia. Their hello calls for peace (Shalom), but they have never actually achieved it. However, Jews are maybe one of the toughest nations as they have a strong lust for life. They never give in and they are always optimistic notwithstanding the great difficulties they face. Let’s meet him and find out what he thinks about Georgia, and how he tries to maintain the bilateral relations that go 26 centuries back.

 

G.J: Maybe, for you it is much safer to live and work away from Israel due to the unstable political situation…

I.G: It’s not really true. For instance, a bomb was detected in an embassy car in Tbilisi few weeks ago. So, I’m not sure if you are correct, as it might be dangerous in other places for us too.

G.J: Do you think that this tense situation prompts many local people to leave the country and move to other countries?

I.G: I don’t think so, because whoever plans to arrive in Israel, he knows that it is the country in the state of war. It’s no secret and they take it into consideration. Therefore, if they still decide to arrive, they are probably ready to live with this idea.

G.J: I have heard that when a person gets on a bus in Israel, he does not have a guarantee that terrorists will not travel with them. So, for you it’s becoming an ordinary thing…

I.G: Well, I couldn’t call it normal, but we learnt how to live with it.

G.J: All right. Now let’s shift to Georgia. What do you think of this country as a person?

I.G: I have served in five countries other than Georgia; so it’s really easy for me to compare. Your country is very beautiful and very friendly. I have never before felt so much at home. I enjoy very much being here. You are in between Asia and Europe and that’s why, you have the opportunity to take the best out of the two.

G.J: What do you think of Georgian cuisine?

I.G:  Your food is very tasty and the wine is one of the best in the world (this is the confession of the representative of the country that has wonderful wineries herself.) With Tamada (Georgian traditional head of the table) the atmosphere becomes nicer; you can sit and enjoy the food and drinks and never get bored – it is really interesting for me to attend your feasts.

G.J: What can you say about Georgian culture?

I.G: I love your culture. You have a significant spectrum of culture. It includes almost everything – music, ballet, literature, theatre, etc. I think you are doing very well in all of these spheres. I think that people traditionally respect culture in Georgia; you are very much cultural-oriented nation.

G.J: Can you name your favorite Georgian artist?

I.G: I will surprise you now. My favorite Georgian composer is Ilia the Second – the Patriarch of Georgia. We are very close friends with him. I accompanied him to Jerusalem to his official visit. He is a very good composer, he meets the world standards. I have the disc with his music.

G.J: Could you name your favorite pastime?

I.G: I like skiing. Whenever I have time, I ski at Georgian winter resorts.

G.J: And your ordinary day?

I.G: The day of an ambassador starts early in the morning and ends with receptions. There are a lot of meetings and a lot of work to do. We are doing our best in terms of promoting relations between the two countries.

G.J: What do you think of Georgian penitentiary system?

I.G: I am not a big expert, but I hear that a reform is being implemented which I strongly support.

G.J: What is your opinion of Georgian mass media?

I.G: I think that the printed media is professionally skillful and much more informative than the electronic one. My problem is that I don’t read Georgian newspapers, but the translations, which  I get and what I read in English-language newspapers are very good. It looks like that there is a higher standard in newspapers, but I am not an expert; due to the language barrier it is difficult for me to judge.

G.J: What do you think of Jewish Diaspora in Georgia?

I.G: About 5000 Jews live in Georgia. The calculation shows that in the last 30 years, around 95 thousand have returned to Israel. Of course, there are many allowances (for instance, they learn Hebrew for free, get homes, etc,) for all Jews returning to their historic homeland not only from Georgia, as Israel is the country of immigrants. However, Georgian-born Jews always remember Georgia with great love and affection. There are five flights - direct ones from Tbilisi to Israel. So, it shows that a lot of Georgians travel to Israel.

G.J: Do you have any exchange programs?

I.G: Yes, we do and not only for the students but for the professors as well. They come to different Georgian institutes. Recently, we had a delegation of six deans from Georgia to Israel. Mashav – Israel’s Agency for International Development and Cooperation is also a big hit, from  which many people have benefited.

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