Danny Danon, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, offered words of support and advice to students at San Diego Jewish Academy on Jan. 31.
Danon, who was in town for another speaking engagement, was invited to speak to students from San Diego Jewish Academy, Torah High and Southern California Yeshiva High School, said San Diego Jewish Academy Head of School Chaim Heller.
The Ambassador referred to Israel as “the only free country in the Middle East,” and encouraged the students to take pride in their heritage.
“Be proud to come from this country,” Danon said in front of hundreds of students. “We should minimize the damage of this change of resolution and start to do a real dialogue.”
Students asked Danon questions about the state of the U.N., and he responded by saying he would like to see the U.N. be more effective.
According to the New York Times, President Donald Trump has been looking at ways to change the United States’ commitment to the U.N., including the possibility of ending funding for any U.N. agency that engages in certain activity.
The criteria for the defunding includes “organizations that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization, or support programs that fund abortion or any activity that circumvents sanctions against Iran or North Korea,” according to the Times.
Danon suggested a reform of the U.N. instead.
“The U.N. is on high alert because of the new president,” he said. “I spoke with the new American Ambassador yesterday... and I told her we need to reform the U.N. We shouldn’t shut down the U.N. We do need the U.N. but we need to reform the U.N. to make sure the money goes to the right places.”
Damon also told students that if they see reporting that they believe is biased, they should write letters to the editor to voice their opinions and “be unafraid to make the change.”
“These students should be very proud and not listen to what they hear in the media,” Danon said in an interview after his presentation. “They need to take a stand. It was absolutely important that they know that now more than ever.”
Heller said he was grateful the Ambassador could inspire the students to be more proactive.
“It’s incredibly moving that the Ambassador of the United Nations from Israel would take time out of an incredibly busy schedule to come and meet with students in San Diego who care so deeply about Israel,” he said. “I hope the students know that each of them makes a difference. If you see something that is wrong, you send a letter to the editor, call up a newspaper, call up the television station and become an active participant in this democracy.”
Beny Mizrachi, student government president at San Diego Jewish Academy, said he was thankful Danon could speak to the students.
“It was really cool to have him speak and get his perspective on the issues that Israel and the world are facing,” the 12th grader said. “It’s a really unique thing that we don’t get often in high school.”