News from Ireland Israel, Ambassador’s Message 11 June 2015

Here’s some updates on events in Israel with an Irish interest.  You can stay in touch with us through our website ( ) which carries a live-feed of the Embassy’s Twitter account with links to articles and photographs of interest, and through my twitter account @EamonnMcKee.

Prof. Guy Beiner was not long returned to Ben Gurion University after his sabbatical when he organised an Irish symposium on 1 June last.  The main speaker was Queen’s University Professor Keith Jeffery, a renowned historian most know for his history of Britain’s external intelligence service MI6 (MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service, 1909 to 1949 (London, 2010). Prof. Jeffery also wrote the seminal Ireland the Great War which was the topic of his fascinating talk at BGU. He is a wonderful and engaging communicator about history and he held the audience with his wit and erudition.

We had a full house at BGU with over a hundred guests, comprising faculty, students and even some interested locals. The event was supported by a grant from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. For the Irish themed party afterwards, Guinness and Tullamore Dew provided product support and lively traditional Irish music came courtesy of the band Black Velvet. The day was a great mix of the educational and the social, perfect.

Thanks to Guy for his enthusiasm, energy and academic brilliance not least on Irish history: His book Remembering the Year of the French: Irish Folk History and Social Memory (Madison, 2007) was highly acclaimed.

The Israel Ireland Friendship League gathered to recall a unique piece of history at the Armoured Corps Museum at Latrun. It is a wonderful place, set on top of the strategic hilltop guarding the road to Jerusalem with panoramic views around the rolling hills. Peaceful now, even with the presence of tanks serried in all their quiet might, Latrun has been the scene of some fearful battles, including in 1948. An Irishman, Mike Flanagan, took some Cromwell tanks from his own unit of the British Army to help the nascent state of Israel defend its existence. My remarks at the event available on this blog (photos found on the sites noted above).

Thanks to the passion and commitment of Prof. Linda Ben Zvi at Tel Aviv University, this year’s Samuel Beckett Event was not a lecture as is traditional, but a performance of Krapp’s Last Tape by ITIM Theatre Ensemble, with the great Doron Tavori in the lead role under the brilliant direction of Remi Yerushalemi. We had a panel discussion with the audience and of course an after-party. Thanks to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for a grant which made this possible and to Guinness for adding another Irish dimension through their support for the after-party. My opening remarks on this blog.

Finally, we are approaching the bicentenary of the battle of Waterloo. This is seen as the climatic and definitive encounter between France and counter-revolutionary forces allied under Britain’s leadership. However, there was an important, even vital, Irish dimension and you might find my blog on this of interest: you can find it on this blog. How we in Ireland view Waterloo says much about our awakening as a society from what Joyce termed ‘the nightmare of history’.

Shabbat Shalom,


Eamonn McKee

Ambassador, Tel Aviv

on Twitter: @EamonnMcKee


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