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Avidar was born in Alexandria, Egypt. His family, originally from Greece, moved to Egypt at the end of the 19th century. His parents Isaac and Fortuna Aboudara immigrated to Israel in 1967, immediately after the Six-Day War.
In 1982, Avidar enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces and served in the Nachal Unit. Later he graduated from the Intelligence Corps Officer Training School. He served as officer in a special unit (504) with the rank of Captain (Res). Today he holds the rank of Major (Res).
After completing his army service in 1989, he graduated from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem with a B.A. in Middle East and General Studies, and, in 2009, completed his M.A. degree in Middle Eastern Studies at the Tel Aviv University.
Avidar is married to Ornit and has three children.
In 1992, after his B.A. studies, he was accepted to the Foreign Ministry Cadet Training Course, and, a year later, he was appointed as Vice-Consul in Philadelphia, United States, where he served for three years. His main duties included working with opinion-makers in the Jewish community and American elected politicians in the five states covered by the consulate.
From 1996 to 1998, Avidar was responsible for the Foreign Ministry department dealing with Inter-Religious affairs—specifically with the Islamic issue. He was active in developing contacts with Muslim leaders in countries with which Israel had no diplomatic relations.
This period marked the height of the suicide-bomber era. Despite this, and at his initiative, Avidar managed to get Islamic leaders, together with the Israeli Chief Rabbi, Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, to sign a "Convention on the Sanctity of Life" which condemned suicide bombings. Amongst signatories to this Pact were Abdurrahman Wahid, later President of Indonesia, and Maulana Ajmal Qadri, an important religious leader in Pakistan.
In 1998, Avidar was appointed as Foreign Policy Advisor to the Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, and, in 1999, as Foreign Policy Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, Ariel Sharon. During this period, he held the position of the chairman of the "Third Track" peace negotiation committee with the Palestinians.
In 1999, Avidar was sent to the Emirate of Qatar as the Head of the Israeli Delegation. He developed contact with the Qatar ruling class and was credited for that. After the eruption of the second Intifada in 2000, Qatar was the only country to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, as opposed to Oman, Tunisia and Morocco, which broke off their diplomatic relations with the country. As a mark of appreciation the then Foreign Minister, Prof. Shlomo Ben-Ami appointed him as Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macao.
From 2001–2005, while he was Consul-General in Hong Kong, Avidar devoted most of his efforts to promoting Israeli exports and the Israeli business presence in Hong Kong. The number of Israeli companies operating in Hong Kong doubled and the value of exports reached US$1.8 billion. In addition, Avidar assisted leading Israeli companies to improve their operational activities and obtain benefits over and above those in place.
In 2006, after returning to Jerusalem, Avidar was given the responsibility for humanitarian and economic contacts with the Palestinian Authority within the Middle East Economic Division of the Foreign Ministry.
During the Second Lebanon War he volunteered to act as Spokesman to the Arabic language media and appeared a significant number of times on Al Jazeera as well as other Arabic satellite channels. Immediately after the end of the Second Lebanon War, Avidar resigned from his position in the Foreign Ministry to take a period of leave.
In October 2006, Avidar was appointed by the Board of Directors of the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies as its Managing Director. Among the companies under his responsibility and direct management are: IDI, HODM, IDT, IDINY and IDI Asia Pacific.
During his tenure as Managing Director, the Institute worked with its counterparts to better enable those in the diamond industry to operate in China. The IDI hosted the World Diamond Congress in May 2007. In November that year the Institute also hosted the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Israeli and the Liberian diamond sectors. In 2008, Avidar visited Sierra Leone at the invitation of the Sierra Leone government and met President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma and Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana and the Liberian Minister for Mines.
In May 2012, Avidar was elected president of the Israel-Africa Chamber of Commerce. The Israel-Africa Chamber of Commerce was established in June 1996 to provide Israeli companies interested in doing business in Africa with pertinent economic knowledge on the continent, allowing them to easily and successfully operate in a cultural, intellectual and political arena which is different from their own.
In June 2014 he was elected for second term, unanimous.
In May 2015 Eli Avidar, Managing Director of the Israel Diamond Institute, was elected co-VP with Roland Naftule from the US. Avidar was also elected as a member of the Board of Directors, a member of the Executive Committee, and a member of the President’s Council.
In January 2016, Avidar was appointed Managing Director of the Israel Diamond Exchange, concurrent with his role as Managing Director of IDI.
In June 2016 Avidar completed his role as President of the Israel-Africa Chamber of Commerce, received the Medal of Honor of the Chamber and was awarded the title "Honorary President".
In 2008, Avidar founded – and is the head of – The Smart Middle East Forum". The objectives of the forum are to encourage new and different policy initiatives, and present the leaders and citizens of Israel with alternatives, which will reflect the necessity of creativity and the understanding of the cultural elements of this part of the world.
The basic principles of strategic dialogue of the Forum are:
- Israel must strive towards peaceful relationships with countries in its region, and, whenever this is impossible, keep the lines of communication open.
- In those countries which do not recognize Israel's right to exist, dialog should be held with moderate opposition groups.
- Israel’s policy in the Middle East must be supported by an understanding of the motivation of the regional attitudes and the ability to recognize the cultural differences between the players in the local arena.
- People and leaders in the Middle East do not function on absolute values – "both" are natural phenomena.
- The concept of time in the Middle East can vary – temporary achievements do not negate long-term objectives.
- The processes of the development of ideas, concepts and dialogue in the Middle East are basically evolutionary: While creativity and reconstruction are accepted with a positive attitude in western culture, in the Middle East they are regarded as dishonorable and an erosion of heritage. Thus development must be evolutionary, not revolutionary.
- Initiative and proactive policy are crucial factors in the Middle East. Complacency and the absence of long-term planning is regarded in the Middle East as an irrevocable weakness.
In 2010, Avidar became Chairman of the Leadership Empowerment Society. The objectives of the society are:
- To promote a new and different leadership model, in Israeli society.
- To be engaged in setting up seminars and workshops for the development of the principle of 'Leadership; within our Community'.
- To hold Conferences throughout the Country, to recruit volunteers who will join in developing social involvement and public leadership in Israel.
- To hold surveys and research into how Israel and its Arab neighbors conduct their policies on mutual subjects.
- To bring the society's concepts and activities to public awareness, through publications and PR, in order to encourage participation in its programs.
The founders of the Society comprise leading personalities from all walks of life in Israel.
He wrote two books in Hebrew, the first one was translated to English The Abyss: Bridging the Divide between Israel and the Arab World (2015)
The Abyss spans across six decades and explains why the main diplomatic initiatives have so far failed to solve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and what needs to be done to break out of the vicious circle of ignorance and mutual suspicion that characterizes the conflict. Avidar uses his experience as diplomatic advisor to former Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon and as head of Israel's representative office in Qatar to reveal secret diplomatic meetings as well as the dynamics of the unique and complex diplomacy of the Middle East. He also tells about the activities of the 504 division of the Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Unit, in which he served as an operator of agents.
- "Smart Middle East Forum" – Eli Avidar, Chairman
- Television confrontation with a Syrian spokesman during the "Cast Iron" operation.
- Television confrontation on Al-Jazeera TV station during the Second Lebanon War
- Book by Eli Avidar "The Abyss: Bridging the Divide between Israel and the Arab World"
- Article by Eli Avidar "Death of the Iranian ‘fig leaf’ in Lebanon "
- Article by Eli Avidar "As black gold gets cheaper"
- Article by Eli Avidar: "Where is our gratitude to the Kurdish people?"
- Eli Avidar at the Kimberlez Process Convention in Israel 2010: "How does a smart phrase from the former president of Egypt, Anwar El Sadat, relates to the Kimberley Process in 2010?"
- Article on Gilad Shalit issue
- "Eli Avidar on Facebook"
- "Eli Avidar on Twitter"