September 10, 2017 — Jerusalem, Israel
A bipartisan delegation of U.S. mayors is visiting Israel with AJC (American Jewish Committee) Project Interchange for intensive dialogue and briefings. The week-long educational seminar, sponsored entirely by AJC Project Interchange, is designed to further enhance U.S.-Israel relations at the important municipal level. The delegation is chaired by Mayor John Giles of Mesa, Arizona.
The seminar is intended to provide these policymakers with a first-hand understanding of Israel, its vibrant democracy, diverse society, and regional challenges. They will meet with senior Israeli, Palestinian, Israeli Arab leaders, and other influential figures across the political and social spectrum.
“We are honored to host this extraordinary group of leaders at a vital time to visit the state of Israel,” said AJC Assistant Executive Director Dan Elbaum, who is accompanying the delegation. “We are confident that they will learn a great deal about high tech, security, diversity and emergency services that will assist them in their governance of their respective cities. Moreover, in this era of increased antisemitism both at home and abroad, the visit of these mayors to the Jewish state is a powerful statement of solidarity."
Importantly, the mayors will meet with their Israeli counterparts to discuss best practices for their home communities on economic development, technology start-ups, to crime, at-risk youth, education, urban revitalization, and city administration. The delegation also will observe how Israel balances the preservation of its heritage with modern municipal management and the provision of social services.
In addition to visiting significant historical and cultural sites, the delegation will visit Tel Aviv, Israel’s South (the border with Gaza) and North (the Syrian border), and Jerusalem, including the Old City. The delegation will also travel to Bethlehem and Ramallah to meet with Palestinian government and civic leaders.
Several sessions dealing with Israel’s strategic environment, diversity and coexistence, and inter-religious cooperation are also on the agenda.
The mayors will witness Arab-Jewish cooperation firsthand through organizational visits and will learn about Israel’s humanitarian assistance, including aid provided at Israeli hospitals treating wounded individuals from the Syrian Civil War.
Photo caption: U.S. mayors visiting Israel with AJC Project Interchange tour a water desalination plant.