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Welcome to Plain Talk, a column that looks at issues as they appear.

On Sunday June 4, 2017, the man who was born a year before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 is expected to touch down on Liberian soil. Mr. Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is making a maiden visit to Liberia. Welcome!

When I asked one of my Israeli friends in Liberia recently about his country and his Prime Minister, he said, “He is a very smart young man. Due to that, he has been able to move on well diplomatically.”

Then, I said “what does Israel want in Africa and from Africa”? His answers provided several thoughts: build strong diplomatic ties, seek better investment and help to provide training in the area of security. There may be a lot more to that. In the first place, who is Benjamin Netanyahu?

To answer the question, let me start with this quote from Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu. “My first name, Benjamin, dates back a thousand years earlier to Benjamin - Binyamin - the son of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Sumeria 4,000 years ago, and there's been a continuous Jewish presence in the land ever since.” https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/benjamin_netanyahu.html.

Many things rumble through my mind in view of his description: First, he may be saying that his name is rooted in the holy Bible, and anything with its root in the Bible is strong; that he is a man of great substance and value who needs not be taken for granted; and more to that, he stands prepared at any time to defend his root and his people.

But back to the issue! Relations between Israel and Liberia spanned several years, and many consider his visit as reawakening that spirit of trust and confidence. He is a man whom many Liberians love for his level of smart diplomacy in global politics.

Mr. Prime Minister, your visit did not come as a state visit to Liberia, but rather, at a time when all ECOWAS leaders are meeting in Liberia. For me, the plain Talk is you should have come on a state visit to Liberia. Note that Liberia was one of the African nations to vote 'yes' to Israel becoming an independent and sovereign nation and a Jewish state in 1947 at the UN, while Ethiopia abstained from the votes for fear of its Arab neighbors’ reactions.

Despite, Mr. Prime Minister, you have paid a State Visit to Ethiopia. Anyway, this is not a time to question him, rather time for serious business. To further strengthen Liberia-Israel ties, Ambassadors were exchanged between Liberia and Israel in 1957, four months after its first African Embassy was opened in Accra, Ghana.

Many will ask why Israel is developing interest in Africa at this time? Israel first became to develop interest in Africa after it was left out of all Afro Asian Summit in 1956 in Bandung. Israel did not take lightly to that exclusion.

Mr. PM, as you come today, Liberians will like to see Israel expanding its political, military and agricultural tentacles here. We do know in the past that Israel was helpful in training an elite force of the Liberian presidential guard, known as the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit-SATU during the regime of former President Samuel K. Doe.

To initiate that in August 1993, President Doe visited Israel and promised to encourage other African Countries to reconsider their decisions after over 30 countries broke diplomatic ties with the State of Israel.

Relations actually broke down between 1971 and 1974. He met with Prime Minister Menachem Begin on August 23. So, Liberian President Doe, to some level, served as lobbyist for Israel at the time.

Doe went on like this: ''We in Liberia shall do our best in persuading some of our friends, African countries, to reconsider their decision and to resume relations with the state of Israel.”

The Plain Talk is Israel’s friendship at this time is necessary not only for diplomatic reasons, but also security wise. Emerging from war, Liberia security remains fragile, according to a recent UN Security report. So, it would need a strong partner like Israel in helping in this direction.

Also in West Africa, there is threat of terrorist cell being built, but with its strong level of security, Israel can help its West African brothers. One of the leaders in Africa Israel saw as a potential threat was former Libyan President, Muhammad Khadafi. Now that he is gone, perhaps Israel may reduce its fear, even though counties like Sudan, Mauritania, Djibouti and Somalia may still remain of concern.

Such friendship will be of good help to Liberia because in terms of agriculture, Israel has good knowledge. So, it is about time Liberia and Israel further cement the ties for the benefit of both nations. But before that goes on, Liberia must trust its political and diplomatic wings.

It would not be a good game for Liberia to begin to deal with countries which do not have close ties with Israel. But on the other hand, it would be of interest if Liberia continues to play a positive role in helping to cement diplomatic ties with such countries so that at the end, a true friendship would emerge between Israel and those countries.

I leave you with this quote from Golda Meir, the fourth former Prime Minister of Israel and first female at the time: “Trust yourself; create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/golda_meir.html

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