Despite close ties in the 1950s and 1960s, an almost complete rupture in relations between Israel and African states occurred around the oil crisis and Yom Kippur War in 1973, over Israel’s captured land and the Palestinian issue. Relations had gradually been restored by the 1990s, but Africa was still generally neglected by Israeli policymakers. Since 2016 Israel has pursued a more visible and vigorous African engagement strategy; a diplomatic drive that was to culminate in the first Africa–Israel Summit in Togo, in October 2017 (since postponed). This paper approaches Israel’s push into the continent from an African perspective in an effort to highlight what African leaders can gain from Israel, and vice versa. Despite successfully courting East African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda, Israel has a long way to go to show African leaders how they will benefit from closer ties. Although Israel does face objections from regional powerhouses, including South Africa and Nigeria, this is by no means a threat to its overall foreign policy goal of drumming up continental support, especially from smaller African states. However, winning their consistent loyalty in forums such as the UN remains elusive. By demonstrating the benefits it could bring to Africa in these less contested countries, Israel could motivate African leaders to take its offers of friendship and cooperation seriously.