Jan 17, 2004 — A mission of nine students from the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University High Schools (MSTA) traveled to the Republic of Palau on Jan. 9 as an expression of gratitude for that nation’s steadfast support of Israel in the United Nations. Other than the United States, the three nations of Micronesia — the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Marshall Islands and Palau — are the only nations who consistently vote in favor of Israel when resolutions condemning that country come before the UN General Assembly.
At a reception held prior to their departure, Avram Sand, an MSTA Senior, thanked Stuart Beck, permanent representative of Palau to the UN, for his assistance and encouragement in arranging the trip for MSTA’s Israel Club. “We hope to impart an understanding of the Jewish people and Israel and lay the foundations for friendship between our peoples,” Mr. Sand said.
“The purpose of this mission was to demonstrate ‘hakarat ha’tov,’ appreciation and recognition of Palau’s support of Israel,” said Daniel Schuval, director of student life at MSTA who escorted the group. “We also endeavored to learn more about the history and culture of our friends halfway around the world and to develop stronger ties with them.”
The interest in Palau by the Israel Club was the result of research done by Mr. Sand, who interned at the Micronesian Mission to the UN during the summer of 2004. Mr. Schuval proposed the trip to the ambassador, who welcomed the idea and helped with planning.
“This trip was a mitzvah,” said Ambassador Beck. “We are thrilled that you undertook this mission and had the opportunity to express your gratitude and that of the Jewish community. We are proud to vote on Israel’s behalf and to demonstrate that Israel is not alone.”
Zina Kalay-Kleitman, minister-counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN, commented on the importance of Israel’s relationship with the Pacific states. “Every friend Israel has in the UN is very valuable and this was a beautiful endeavor that will hopefully create good will,” she said.
The students were hosted at Palau Community College and met with political leaders, visited schools, hospitals, and outer islands. They brought kosher food for their 7-day trip as well as a Torah scroll to be used during daily prayer services. The students plan to produce a documentary to be used as an educational tool highlighting Palau’s history and its relationship with Israel.