UJIA Regional Director, Eldan Kaye, Northern Sports Quiz Speech
Good evening. I am Eldan Kaye, UJIA’s Regional Director. Although you may not hear it through my Scottish and American twang, I was born and raised in Israel. I see Israel as a modern-day miracle. We have so much to be proud of in our very short history. A history that faced so many near-death experiences that you may compare it to a cat with its nine lives. Our 8 million or so population is almost ten times larger than it was in 1948 with the establishment of our homeland. Nearly two-million of which are not of the Jewish religion. Israel is in fact a blend of Arabs; Muslims; Christian; Druze; Bedouins; Cyrcassians and Jews that are all Israeli citizens and an inseparable part of our land. When I was in school studying Israel’s history, I recall a profound moment in reading the decleration of independance which was announced by David Ben Gurion (our first prime-minister) upon founding the state of Israel. I wish to share a part of it with you tonight: “it (the State of Israel) will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will (also) guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; (and) it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions…”. What an incredibly democratic declaration. We should all be tremendously proud of the democratic oasis that we have created and maintained in the past sixty-seven years. A democracy in which, all citizens are treated fairly and equally regardless of who they are or where they come from. The skyscrapers of Tel Aviv, multi-cultural Jerusalem (my hometown) and sun-soaked Eilat hold within them the incredible assimilation story of Jewish people from around the world as well as, the inhabitants of the land before the founding of the state. Our Hi-Tech industry has prompted hundreds of international conglomerates to open up Research & Development facilities in Israel and people world-wide are baffled at the miracle of our main engine of growth. From the world-renowned Waze (GPS Navigation) to the latest innovation in waste management turning household compostable rubbish into cooking gas. It’s highly likely that the chips inside your mobile phones are designed and created in Israel. There is just so much to be proud of. However that only tells part of our story. The Galil, the most Northern region of the country is Israel at its weakest. A mere two-hour drive from Tel Aviv the differences are vast. Its’ one million-three hundred thousand population is generally uneducated, poor and lacks the tools, skills and the appropriate infrastructure to access education and employment in the region. Forty-Five percent of the population is not Jewish making it an incredible example of co-existence and diversity. One in two children live beneath the National Poverty Line, literally struggling for food and housing. The polar opposite of the economic powerhouse described earlier. This is where we come in. For the past twelve years, UJIA have invested millions of pounds in the Galil in order to transform the region. The focus of UJIA in the Galil is to help narrow the disparity with a multitude of innovative programmes. Most are founded in building a variety of educational establishments from kindergartens to universities – education is the best leveler. Integration can also be achieved through sport. No programme illustrates this better than our ‘Equalizer Project’. Please turn your attention to your nearest screen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjpRwtNZGRk Over the years, we have supported projects similar to the Equalizer, supporting children like Eli and Mohammad as well as, vastly improving the infrastructure at the disposal of local leadership. Those of you who have done some calculations will surely be thinking how can one organization, however successful, change a region of 1.3 million people? In simple terms, we cannot do this alone. We are however, fortunate to have major partner organisations throughout the whole world who share this vision with us. Such is the proven success of the UJIA vision that in some cases, for every £1 we invest in the Galil these supporting organisations can leverage our funds to an enormous £5, enabling us to make a REAL difference. We plan to lead the investment in the coming decades and tonight ladies and gentlemen we are asking you to play your part. Please open your heart and support our crucial mission. This evening, we are not asking you for a donation but rather for an investment in the future. Join us to invest in democracy; diversity and equal opportunity for the whole population of the Galil, supporting Israel’s struggling underclass. Through prosperity and unity comes peace. Together, we can help the the Galil become a serious competitor. I want to thank you in advance for your support and generosity.