Interview with H.E. Mr Ilan Mor
Ambassador of the State of Israel to the Republic of Croatia
Since joining the Israeli Diplomatic Service in 1983 and throughout his career, Ambassador Mor has held a wide variety of diplomatic posts, with particular focus on geostrategic issues at home and abroad. Ambassador Mor holds a B.A. in Political Science and Working Relations and an M.A. in International Relations both from the University of Tel Aviv, Israel. H.E.Mr. Mor speaks Hebrew, English and German fluently. He is married to Ms. Ora Mor and has a daughter and a son, and two wonderful grandchildren.
Your Excellency, this is your second mandate as an Ambassador. Can you look behind and highlight great achievements of your diplomatic career?
I have enjoyed many interesting events and experiences throughout my career like meeting in person the late President Reagan in Los Angeles or other heads of States, but few things which I did, can be considered as highlights in it. One of them is my initiation to form a committee of experts to check the textbooks in the high schools in Germany to find out how Israel’s image is presented to the young generations of Germany. Another one was to bring one of the Israeli national theaters' “The Cameri theatre of Tel Aviv” to Hungary with “Ghetto” theater performance that tells a story of the Jewish people in a Ghetto and it was also presented to high school students. Another important milestone based on my initiative was to introduce the anthology of Hebrew poems in Hebrew and Hungarian language to the Hungarian audience.
All an all, my activities throughout my career were focused to present Israel in a different way, a way not presented in the media. Trying to balance between the political news coming from the Middle East and news dealing with Israel being a startup nation, a country which is contributing to the world by implementing very old and noble Jewish principle named “Tikkun olam” - making the world better place to live in. This is what I have been doing also in Croatia since I came.
Excellency Mor, tell us please a bit more about your daily life?
My daily life as an Ambassador here or anywhere depends on two elements connected with each other: one is the political developments in Israel and instructions coming from Jerusalem, and of course, the political and social developments happening in the host country, in our case in Croatia. Sometimes reacting to unfolding events but most of the time, initiating ideas, meetings and projects with the very devoted local staff I work with. A part of the daily routine is also being well informed about what is going on here in Croatia and, of course, being able to present to Jerusalem a clear picture of today’s Croatia. Being a diplomat and Ambassador is never ending process of learning and educating yourself. So if it is a routine, it is a kind of a very demanding one. Part of my routine is also getting to know the country and its people, and before the pandemic I used to visit many places all over Croatia, privately and officially and by doing so, presenting Israel in a way they have not heard before. So, this is in a way very nice routine, though challenging.
Israel is a country which is contributing to the world by implementing very old and noble Jewish principle named “Tikkun olam” - making the world better place to live in. This is what I have been doing also in Croatia since I came.
What is the biggest challenge today of being an Ambassador of the Israel?
In Croatia, there is an overall basic friendship, admiration and understanding to Israel and what Israel stands for. Yes, the Middle East conflict is a part of my agenda as an Ambassador fighting false allegations, conspiracy theories, and fake news. Another part of the challenge is to stand against those in a society who deny the Holocaust and belittle it. As an Israeli and the Jewish person, this is one of the biggest challenges for me, but in Croatia, I have a wide space to present Israel as it is- a peace loving country, a democracy with very advanced economy, science and culture. Israel and Croatia are friendly countries with the desire to strengthen its bilateral relations.
Can we highlight talents, hobbies or any interesting facts related to you?
I like walking and doing anything connected to nature. I used to swim and ride a bike a lot, but I cannot do it anymore. I love playing chess, even though I am not as good as I would like to be. I like music, especially jazz, I love reading books mostly biographies.
What gastro diplomacy do you use to get new partners/allies in diplomacy?
As Napoleon once said “an army marches on its stomach", gastro diplomacy is also a part of our daily work, and I invite you to check Embassy YouTube channel and find out yourself how to prepare Israeli dishes.
Who or what shaped you as a diplomat. How?
I must tell you, I was very much inspired by the legendary Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, the late Mr. Abba Eban, who, even though passed away many years ago, is still being considered as the #1 diplomat of Israel. His diplomatic and his rhetoric capabilities have become part of the political and diplomatic struggle of the State of Israel throughout the years.
During your imposing career several roles were related to media and communications. In your opinion, should diplomats be included more in fighting fake news and how? What are social networks benefits in diplomacy?
There is no doubt we have to fight the fake news by presenting the truth about any story. But, this has become very difficult because there is no limit to the number of half-truths - which are worse than a big lie - that are being disseminated in the social media, and the ability to judge what is the truth and what is the fake news has become very hard. Seeing is to believe it! is one of the principals to fight fake news. The 21st century diplomacy has changed it modus operandi and moved from traditional diplomacy to the electronic one - first and foremost on the social media. The social media has become the center of our activities, as diplomat, as a mean and as a target by itself, in order to reach as much positive influence as possible and in order to mobilize the public opinion to support your country and what it stands for.. It is accessible, it is quick and If you are not there – you do not exist.
There is no doubt we have to fight the fake news by presenting the truth about any story. But, this has become very difficult because there is no limit to the number of half-truths - which are worse than a big lie - that are being disseminated in the social media, and the ability to judge what is the truth and what is the fake news has become very hard.
How is the message about Holocaust delivering today, would you change something?
The Holocaust and what it stands for, has been challenged ever since. There have been, and still are, people who made it their life project to present the Holocaust as a hoax. There are numerous conspiracy theories about the Holocaust, which the great majority of the people do not accept, but at the same time, there is a segment in every society, which is ready to listen to these kinds of lies, ridicules theories and this becomes more and more dangerous as we are getting far away from what happened 82 years ago. The number of Holocaust survivors is diminishing, any time soon there won’t be people who survived Holocaust and can testify firsthand about their horrible experience in the SHOAH. This is why we have to continue putting the horrors of the Holocaust, of the Shoah in the center of our educations’ systems everywhere in the world as a lesson and as a warning.
How the COVID-19 crisis has changed the life of the embassy?
The life in the Embassy has changed dramatically. We work in divided groups, communicate via the Internet and try to find more and more projects that will continue to bring the positive messages from Israel to as many as people who stay at home and keep social distance because of the Corona pandemic. I still hold lectures, meet and connect people and companies but mainly on the virtual world of the Internet, which I must admit, has its advantages – it is very accessible, fast and forces us to be target oriented in our missions. The biggest disadvantage is the fact that we do not meet each other in person – the human touch has disappeared and for us the diplomats it is a big blow to our activities.