Diplomacy & defense
In the center of a foreign capital, the Star of David is shining bright, surrounded by tall and proud Israeli flags.
This sight has become so unusual, even in Western European countries. But in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, it goes without saying-- the Eurasian Muslim superpower is a symbol of coexistence. Jewish communities throughout the country not only live peacefully but maintain close relations with the governing authorities.
When arriving at the local synagogue Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu couldn't hide his excitement.
It was a demonstration of strength. Not only on the local level but in a much broader context as well.
Speaking in front of the congregation, Netanyahu hailed the community as the perfect model for relations between the Jewish state and the Muslim world in this new era.
"Israel receives a strong standing among the nations not with a bowed head but by being steadfast and proud," said the Prime Minister. "And I say this here, in Central Asia, in an Islamic country that respects Israel, that honors coexistence and tolerance, and constitutes a model of what needs to happen – and can happen – in our region as well."
"Perhaps the most dramatic change, which the Lubavitcher Rebbe could not have foreseen, is what is happening between us and the Arab world but I will tell you about that another time," he continued. "Great changes have come in the spirit of that first meeting when he said 'Light the candle of truth, do not be afraid, be strong and of good courage.'"
"So here, in this synagogue, in the spirit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on this historic visit, I tell you together with the people in my delegation and together with my wife: 'The Glory of Israel will not lie [I Samuel 15:29]'," Netanyahu declared, adding "A Happy Hanukkah to you all."
Ellie Hochenberg is the i24news diplomatic correspondent.