March 28, 2022 — Jerusalem, Israel
A group of American mayors is visiting Israel this week with Project Interchange, an educational institute of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). The educational seminar is the second delegation under the auspices of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) and AJC.
“Our time in Israel provides American mayors the opportunity to learn about and see in person a young, complicated, and exciting country that is a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. The U.S. and Israel have had a special relationship ever since Israel’s founding in 1948 and this trip will provide an opportunity for U.S. mayors to better understand that relationship and how our nations work together. It also will provide an opportunity for us to meet with mayors and others in Israel to discuss the common problems we face and the best ways to solve them. I am honored to be leading the U.S. delegation and thank AJC for its partnership with the Conference and for making this visit possible,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, who is chairing the bipartisan mayoral delegation.
Melanie Maron Pell, AJC Chief Field Operations Officer, who is accompanying the delegation, said: “AJC has worked closely with mayors and municipal leaders for decades on issues of mutual concern. As on previous mayoral visits to Israel with AJC, this group will learn about Israel, engage in fruitful exchanges with their Israeli counterparts on approaches to common challenges.”
Organized by AJC Project Interchange, the seminar is designed to further enhance U.S.-Israel relations at the important municipal level. The program’s intensive sessions and visits throughout the country will enable the mayors to gain a first-hand understanding of Israel’s vibrant democracy, diverse society, and regional challenges.
Importantly, the mayors will visit localities throughout Israel to meet with municipal leaders to discuss best practices for dealing with the Covid pandemic, urban revitalization, electric buses and other smart city innovations, and administration of diverse cities.
In Israel they will meet both Jewish and Arab mayors and municipal officials. The U.S. mayors also will visit the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with civic and business leaders, including Palestinians engaged in hi-tech initiatives.
In addition to visiting significant historical, cultural, and religious sites, the delegation will visit Ashdod, Netivot, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, including the Old City, Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Gaza.
The participating mayors include Ravinder Bhalla, Hoboken, NJ; James Brainard, Carmel, IN; Jane Castor, Tampa, FL; Greg Fischer, Louisville, KY; David Holt, Oklahoma City; James Hovland, Edina, MN; Keith James, West Palm Beach, FL; Quinton Lucas, Kansas City, MO; Nancy Vaughan, Greensboro, NC; and Acquanetta Warren, Fontana, CA.
A highlight of the AJC-USCM MoU is an annual mayor’s delegation to Israel. The first group of mayors visited Israel in May 2019.The current delegation is one the first Project Interchange delegations in two years due to the pandemic.
The MoU followed on the visits to Israel, in 2017 and 2018, of bipartisan delegations of U.S. Mayors, also organized by AJC Project Interchange.
About AJC Project Interchange: For over 40 years, Project Interchange, a nonprofit educational institute of AJC (American Jewish Committee), has brought over 6,000 influential figures to Israel from 115 countries and all 50 U.S. states, offering them broad exposure and firsthand understanding of the complex issues facing Israel and the region. Ajc.org/projectinterchange