In the late 1950s, Israeli officials launched a broad-sweeping initiative to present their country as a champion for women’s advancement in the Global South. One of their earliest projects was to sponsor thousands of African women to study in Israel, where they participated in courses related to nutrition, social work, education and public health. Drawing upon the personal archives of the study tour’s architects and the transcripts of lectures and discussions held on these tours, this article addresses two questions: why did ‘women’s advancement’ become a cornerstone of Israeli development aid, and how did Israeli officials utilise the discourse of ‘women in development’ to promote their interests? By exploring these questions, the article illustrates how Israeli officials sought to harness the language of women’s advancement to gain the support of new African states at the United Nations, contain the influence of Arab countries in Africa, and shape international opinion regarding Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian Arab minority and its relations with neighbouring Arab states.
- Arab-Israeli conflict